Srinagar 28 Dec: Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) expresses its serious concern over the failure of the governor administration’s public relations and information set-up in living up to the expectations and its inability to retain its status of being responsive and responsible towards the principal stakeholders, the media. There has been a literal collapse of the communication between the media and the department as a result of which the media is facing serious tensions.
After the governor’s administration took over, the KEG had detailed interactions with the entire information department in which the issues pertaining to the media were discussed threadbare. Later, the concerned adviser to the governor was also briefed in detailed. In fact, a detailed representation about the issues and the way-out was formally handed over.
However, the sluggish pace with which the custodians of the department are working, it seems unlikely that there is any forward movement. Amid the expectations that there would be some forward movement on key issues, flagged by the KEG, the communication literally collapsed and the disconnect continues to be the single dominating response, so far.
In fact, there are attempts at weakening the KEG – as the main custodian of the media in Kashmir, if not actually dismantling it. The department custodians have been playing the numerical card and avoiding acknowledging the main media that runs the show for the society. The department has been working overtime, even before the governor’s administration took over, to inflate the stake holding so that KEG’s ideas and suggestion get dumped in the pandemonium of numbers and associations.
On this front, the department has been liberally accommodating the new “stakeholders” on the advertisement front in such a way that it is used as a quid pro quo.
Kashmir media is currently fighting multiple battles to survive as a vibrant and responsive institution at a time when the society in turmoil faces shrinkage in voices and representation. Ideally, the governance set up should have been supportive but it is using this crisis to abuse the authority and disrupt the well-established tradition of cooperation and communication.
GST implementation by the department is a chilling instance of the systems that overrun the department. Under the law, the government and all the advertisers are supposed to pay GST on the bills raised against them and this amount is being paid to the Taxes Department by the newspapers.
The Information department is not paying this tax and is actually deducting the same amount from the bills raised. The newspapers, however, have been paying this amount from their own accounts. This means they pay the GST twice, one to the information department and the other chunk to the Taxes Department – both from their own earnings.
The tragic part is that the Finance Department has issued a formal order to stop this malpractice but the Information department has not even initiated the exercise for halting their broad daylight illegality. In fact, the officials who should have been in jail for resorting to this malpractice are devising systems and process to kill the media, especially the KEG.
KEG believes that the governor’s administration must enforce accountability in the department and revamp it if it is required. Kashmir media can withstand a crisis as long as it does not come from the department that is supposed to cooperate with the institution during the time of technology and systems transitions. It is high time to help the department in rediscovering its role. (KNB)