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Lok Sabha Debates
Discussion Regarding Government Decision To Allow Foreign Direct ... on 17 July, 2002

15.21 hrs. Title: Discussion regarding government decision to allow foreign direct investment in Print Media in India.

BEGUM NOOR BANO (RAMPUR): Madam, at the outset, I wish to thank you for converting the Calling Attention Motion on this important subject regarding the situation arising out of the decision of the Government to allow foreign direct investment in Print Media in India into a discussion under Rule 193 as it would enable more Members to participate in the discussion.

I have gone through the copy of the Statement of the Minister. I, now, propose to seek certain clarifications from the Statement of the Minister.

सूचना और प्रसारण मंत्री (श्रीमती सुषमा स्वराज) : सभापति महोदया, मैंने कोई स्टेटमैंट दी ही नहीं है। कॉलिंग अटैंशन होता तो मैं स्टेटमैंट देती। मैंने कोई स्टेटमैंट नहीं दी है।…( व्यवधान)

BEGUM NOOR BANO : I have got a copy circulated by you.

श्रीमती सुषमा स्वराज : अगर यह कॉलिंग अटैंशन होता तो मैं यहां स्टेटमैंट पढ़ती और उसके ऊपर सवाल होते। लेकिन मैंने कोई स्टेटमैंट नहीं पढ़ी।…( व्यवधान)नियम १९३ के अन्तर्गत चर्चा होने की बात ही नहीं थी।…( व्यवधान)

MADAM CHAIRMAN: Maybe that it was supposed to be a Calling Attention Motion and so, the Statement had been circulated.

श्रीमती सुषमा स्वराज : जब नियम १९३ के अन्तर्गत चर्चा हो रही है तो ठीक है, नियम का पालन होना चाहिए।…( व्यवधान)

सभापति महोदया : ठीक है, उनके पास पड़ी है तो वे बोलेंगी।

…( व्यवधान)श्रीमती सुषमा स्वराज : मैडम, ऐसे कैसे होगा। कॉलिंग अटैंशन था, कॉलिंग अटैंशन पर जो स्टेटमैंट मैं यहां पढ़ती, उस पर सवाल होते। मैंने कोई स्टेटमैंट पढ़ी ही नहीं है तो ये रैफर क्या कर रही हैं।…( व्यवधान)

MADAM CHAIRMAN: All right. Do not refer to the Statement. It has been converted to discussion under Rule 193.

श्रीमती सुषमा स्वराज : नियम १९३ के तहत चर्चा चलाइए।

SHRI SHIVRAJ V. PATIL (LATUR): To facilitate the discussion, I would like to say that the Statement has been circulated to the Members. That is one thing. If the hon. Minister has any objection to the Member referring to the Statement, the Minister may take it that those are the questions put by the Member without referring to her Statement.

श्रीमती सुषमा स्वराज : बिल्कुल, ये मेरी स्टेटमैंट को रैफर न करते हुए उसमें से कुछ निकलता है तो कहें।…( व्यवधान)मैंने स्टेटमैंट पढ़ी ही नहीं है।

सभापति महोदया : वह स्टेटमैंट सर्कुलेट करके हाउस में दे दी थी।

श्रीमती सुषमा स्वराज : क्योंकि कॉलिंग अटैंशन था, कॉलिंग अटैंशन में मुझे बोलने दिया जाता। लेकिन मैंने वह स्टेटमैंट नहीं पढ़ी है।…( व्यवधान)

MADAM CHAIRMAN: So, please do not refer to the Statement.

BEGUM NOOR BANO : My Party is actually very disturbed and wary of the Government allowing FDI in Print Media. I think we all know that Print Media had helped in the Freedom Movement and had actively associated itself in achieving the freedom of India.

15.24 hrs (Shri Devendra Prasad Yadav in the Chair) Print Media is considered to be national institutions to safeguard the democratic process. The Congress Government, in 1955, took a Cabinet decision not to allow foreign participation in Print Media. We cannot understand the need of FDI in Print Media now. If the investment had been attractive for commercial financial institutions, they would have grabbed the opportunity to invest. Obviously, the reason we think is that foreign institutions want to have indirect control on thought process which is not in the national interest. And that, Madam, is extremely dangerous.

Anyone who can read or write a little or is educated enough is always really interested in reading whatever is printed. Eventually, the thought-process, over a period of time, is affected. So, this particular thinking of the Government now in power, which wants the foreign investment in print media, I think, is very dangerous for the future that is to come, for the children and especially for the educated people. We are very much interested in educating the future generation. If any one can change the thought-process of the children and can change the future, what will happen?

You know very well that the electronic media or the internet is only for a section of the people but the print media goes to every level of the society. It goes to every common man. If anything is printed, if anybody wants to read it, he can read it. So, if everything is in the interest of the foreigners, if foreigners are involved, if foreign investment is involved, it will be sold to them and I think it is a very dangerous thing. Any one who can read it can read. I suppose this is something that should be taken note of very seriously.

Apart from this, it is also learnt that initially magazines and journals are to be published in English. That will help the English-speaking people only. The urban areas will have it. What are the initiatives being taken to benefit the maximum persons living in the rural areas who basically speak Hindi and other regional languages? Obviously, it will go to that level everywhere. How will you verify and know who are the people behind this investment? It could be any extremist. It may not happen now but it may happen after some time. The coming generation or any extremist group or any country can take over this. Money can come from anywhere. How would you be able to control that? I think it is a very disturbing thing to know this as things are going on in our country.

I find that these are very few and very valid points which I wanted to make. I am sure, the hon. Minister will look into it. Already, the hon. Minister has deleted certain programmes from the television. Madam, at one point of time, you had deleted certain programmes from the television because you did not think they were good for our children to see, for our future generations to be involved with it. So, how can you now allow something like this to take place which will affect the children right from the age of five or six? As the time is coming, at any point of time in their life, the children can be affected. I would just like to ask the hon. Minister this thing. How are they going to verify this? So, that is all I have to say about it.

With these words, I conclude.

श्री किरीट सोमैया (मुम्बई उत्तर पूर्व): माननीय सभापति जी, एक बहुत अच्छे महत्व के विषय को माननीय सदस्या ने प्रारम्भ किया है। आपने जो चिन्ता व्यक्त की है, मैं भी उस चिन्ता के प्रति सहमत हूं।

हमारे लोकतंत्र में वर्तमान पत्र, मीडिया का चौथी जागीर करके, फोर्थ एस्टेट करके अलग विषय माना हुआ है। मैं मानता हूं कि इस विषय के महत्व को ध्यान में रखकर भविष्य की पीढ़ी के ऊपर कुछ ऐसा परिणाम न हो, जिससे लोकतंत्र को कुछ खतरा हो, उसके प्रति चिन्ता व्यक्त करना स्वाभाविक है, स्वागतयोग्य कार्य है। लेकिन कभी-कभी मैं यह सोचता हूं कि कभी भी कोई एफ.डी.आई. का, फॉरेन इन्वेस्टमेंट का, मल्टीनेशनल की जब भी कभी चर्चा आती है, क्या तभी हमारी इस प्रकार की देशभक्ति या चिन्ता जागृत होती है, क्या हमारा लोकतंत्र इतना कमजोर है कि कोई एक कम्पनी, कोई एक पर्टिकुलर सैगमेंट या पर्टिकुलर सैक्टर, जिसमें कोई फॉरेन इन्वेस्टमेंट हम ओपन कर दें तो तुरन्त हमारे देश के लोकतंत्र के ऊपर, देश की एकता के ऊपर, देश के भविष्य के ऊपर और देश की संस्कृति के ऊपर एकदम खतरा हमें नजर आता है।

Sometimes I get confused. We must have clarity and clarity must be across the political parties. In 1991, we started going in a totally different direction. In the Indian economy, we can define the development of Indian industry in various stages. १९४७ के पहले महात्मा गांधी जी यह कहते थे कि स्वतंत्रता तो मिलेगी, लेकिन स्वतंत्रता मिलते ही आबादी के लिए क्या करेंगे इसलिए उन्होंने जमनादास बजाज को, जिन्हें मैं एक पीढ़ी मानता हूं, एक जेनरेशन मानता हूं, तब के उद्योगपतियों को कहा कि आप उद्योग लगाओ। उसमें कितना फायदा होगा, यह न सोचो, लेकिन हिन्दुस्तान में उद्योग लगने चाहिए। उसके बाद हमने वभिन्न दिशाओं में जाना शुरू किया। हम स्वतंत्र हुए, हमने जाइंट सेक्टर का प्रयोग शुरू किया। सरकार ने कहा इंडियन इंटरप्रिन्योर होंगे, उसके साथ सरकार के भी उपक्रम होंगे।

After Independence, we started with a mixed economy and joint sector. In 1969 they took a ‘U’ turn. उस समय की सरकार को, तत्कालीन लीडरशिप को ऐसा लगा। मैं इस विषय को राजनीतिक रंग नहीं देना चाहता। अगर ऐसा होता तो मैं कहता, in 1969, who was the Prime Minister? Which party was the Ruling Party at that time? In 1991, once again they took another ‘U’ turn. Who took that decision? Who was the Prime Minister then? Which party was the Ruling Party at that time? I do not want to convert this debate into a political one.

Sir, in 1969, we started with a monopolistic nature of development. There was monopoly in the Government sector and there was monopoly in the private sector. उस समय हमें कितने स्कूटर मिलते थे, केवल एक ही था हमारा बजाज और वह भी लेने के लिए हमें दस साल तक लाइन में खड़ा होना पड़ता था। यहां रास्तों पर उस समय केवल एम्बैसडर और फिएट कारों के सिवाय दूसरी कोई गाड़ी नजर नहीं आती थी। टेलीफोन के डिब्बे को मारना पड़ता था, तो कभी दिन में एक-दो बार घंटी बजती थी। I do not want to enter into this debate now. We not only had monopolistic culture in the Government, but we had monopolistic culture in the private sector also. टेलीकम्यूनिकेशन में क्या स्थिति थी, एम.टी.एन.एल. और बी.एस.एन.एल. का ही लेना पड़ेगा और वे जब चाहें, चार्जेज बढ़ा देते थे।

The Government was encouraging the same thing in the private sector also. There was licence and there was monopoly.