Down To Earth's mission is not hidden in reams of corporate gloss. It is open. It is a dare, writes our editor, Sunita Narain.
I write to you today to discuss Down To Earth’s 28th anniversary — our dream dare that we can use our pen, our research and information, to make a difference in our world. Down To Earth is not a magazine to make money — then or now. It was, and is, not a produce of commerce; or a product of the market. It was and will remain our means to bring you information about the world around us, about everyday life and of life itself, so that we have the knowledge, which gives us power to make change. Our mission is not hidden in reams of corporate gloss. It is open. It is our dare.
The question, I want to discuss with you is my understanding of our relevance in today’s India; in today’s world. It is a cynic’s world today, where we are seeing as never before the race to the bottom. Countries are showing us their worst sides; leaders are turning into venomous creatures out to polarise people. Real issues are getting lost in the dust and fifth of this virulent discourse, where everybody — all of us — seem "free" only to the extent that we can spill out our vile guts in the now not-so-open social media. There is no societal decorum that puts lines around what can be said in public and what not.
So have we failed? Should we continue hoping against hope that we can make a difference to public opinion? Can we really keep the focus on the real issues that matter?
I believe we must. I also believe that whatever we are seeing in our world today, it is our duty, our job — if you want to call it that — to keep pushing the envelope so that this whimper of real news becomes a scream.
I say this particularly as India is in the middle of the Lok Sabha elections. In this 28th anniversary year of Down To Earth, we will get a new government, or we will get the old government as new. Whatever the future, the fact is that we must be there to report on issues that concern our today and tomorrow.
In this election, we have seen that the real issues that matter to people — climate change that is driving weird weather to destroy crops; insurance companies that do not provide relief to farmers to cope with this distress; produce that is not getting value to pay for labour of farmers; pollution that is destroying livelihoods and health; and worse, the drought that is crippling large parts of the country — are all out of the frame.
Nothing real seems to get our attention anymore. These are not eyeball issues. Social media misses these trends. Politicians today want us to believe that they can afford to forget local issues — issues that matter to their constituents — and still win elections. Elections then are about poisoned words and polarised politics.
But I believe — and I hope you will as well — that these issues that I have enumerated will not go away. They cannot be swallowed up or spit out. They are real. They matter. It is our job to bring this news out and to keep working till this news that has been shuttered to the margins, becomes the main. It must. Because it matters to you and to me. It matters to our future.
No government likes to be shown a mirror to its failures; no government wants to hear the inconvenient news that its spin doctors want us to believe. But it will remain our job to hold that mirror. And we will do this with all our ability to tell it from the ground; tell it as it happens; tell it truthfully. We do not need courage to do this. We need to make sure that we do not slip and lose your trust. Our mission is to make a difference; our shield is our independence. We will not let you down. I promise. We promise.
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