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Is Journalism In India Under Threat From The Modi Government?

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Is the Modi Government posing a threat to Journalism in India? Why is the press and the Journalists in India threatened by the Modi Government? Are the Indian journalist buckling under the pressure from the Modi Government? Why has a report in Washington Post heavily criticized the Indian government under the nationalist leader – Narendra Modi?

In times when the West is all up in arms speaking out against the current government and the President, the situation in India seems to be quite sad. The journalists and press in the Indian subcontinent are facing a tough stand with the threat against freedom of the press. Indian journalism is thus shrinking under the pressures of political threats and accusations.

One story confirming the same are the charges pressed against a crime reporter, Rachna Khaira, who wrote a story exposing a privacy breach in a pan-India database of over a billion citizens. A police complaint was filed against Khaira and her newspaper for forgery and other offences that carries a total punishable sentence of over 30 years in jail. The editors of India came out in support of Khaira by marching the streets, while Edward Snowden too took to Twitter demanding an award for her and not an investigation.

Also Read: World Economic Forum 2018 Initiates Enhanced Cybersecurity with New Global Centre

With Modi Government Threatening Journalism, India Slips 3 Spots On WPFI

Indian journalists and editors have since long been complaining about the threats to free press and journalism. However now, they say the threats have seen a major rise making it difficult for them to do their jobs. The editors claim that the Modi Government has resorted to bullying when it comes to forcefully taking down vital stories.

A Washington Post article, referring to Indian PM Narendra Modi as ‘popular but thin-skinned’ has claimed that the PM has cut off mainstream media. The article further points to the three-spot drop in India’s position on the World Press Freedom Index to 136 in the year 2017. The group Reporters Without Borders that released the WPFI said the reason for India’s slip was the rising threat of the ‘Hindu nationalists’ who take it as their duty to remove the ‘anti-nationalist’ thought in India. Indian IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has however denied all such charges against the Modi government by adding that it can be clearly seen how many news organisations are critical of his government.

Also Read: India-Israel Sign MoU For Cooperation In Space Exploration

An official from HRW said the pressures against the freedom of the press can now be seen on a global basis with US President Donald Trump accusing media houses of ‘fake news’ and the building pressures on media in Russia and Turkey. Nicholas Dawes, the official from HRW said the government in India has done little for the media position in the country against digital attacks and physical violence. Analysts further point out to the arrests, threats and blocking of access to the journalist in India in the name of sedition.

Journalism In India Resorts To Self-Censoring Out Of Fear Of Modi Government

International observers point out that the situation of media in India has taken a drastic turn under the leadership of current PM Narendra Modi. Washington Post notes that several media houses have resorted to self-censoring out of fear of offending the ruling party and losing out on advertisements. A veteran BBC correspondent said Modi does not take criticism well and does not engage with the media either. A freelancer by the name of Neha Dixit was accused of two years of a criminal offence for promoting disharmony for the simple act of penning a report on alleged child trafficking by the affiliates of RSS. Neha and her husband were given regular online threats with their residential address published with a demand of beating up the couple.

What does this say about the Modi Government? Will journalism in India continue to shrink or will it rise above the constant pressures and threats?

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Hagia Sophia: Turkey turns iconic Istanbul museum of Hagia Sophia into mosque

The court ruled that Hagia Sophia was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, also known as Mehmet the Conqueror, and was presented to the community as a mosque. According to the ruling, Hagia Sophia was defined as a “mosque,” a status that cannot be legally changed.

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The iconic Istanbul museum of Hagia Sophia will be turned into a mosque. Hours after a landmark court ruling Friday (July 10), the Turkish government confirmed that Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia will be reopened for worship after an 85-year hiatus.

India Bets Big On Nikki Haley To Emerge As Vice Presidential Candidate Under Trump

The nearly 1,500-year-old architectural gem will be transferred to the state Religious Affairs Directorate under a presidential decree, according to a Friday announcement in the Official Gazette.

Earlier Friday, ruling on a petition filed by an Istanbul NGO, Turkey’s Council of State overturned a 1934 Cabinet decree that had turned Hagia Sophia into a museum.

The court ruled that Hagia Sophia was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, also known as Mehmet the Conqueror, and was presented to the community as a mosque. According to the ruling, Hagia Sophia was defined as a “mosque,” a status that cannot be legally changed.

After centuries of use as a church under the Byzantine Empire, in 1453 Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque by Mehmet II following his conquest of Istanbul. In 1935, Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum. Posting his decree on social media today, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed best wishes for the change, which he has long advocated.

While details of the change are not yet known, Turkish officials have pointed out that many famed houses of worship, such as Paris’ Notre Dame and Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, are also open to visitors.

“Opening up Hagia Sophia to worship won’t keep local or foreign tourists from visiting the site,” Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan’s spokesman, told Anadolu Agency in an interview this week. Turkey is home to people of many faiths who can freely exercise their religions, he added.

World Reacts To Decision On Hagia Sophia

The Russian Orthodox Church expressed shock at Turkey’s decision to withdraw the museum status of Hagia Sophia, blaming it of disregarding voices of millions of Christians. “The concern of millions of Christians has not been heard,” Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida stated.

“Today’s court ruling shows that all calls for the need for extreme delicacy in this matter were ignored,” Legoida said.

UNESCO said its World Heritage Committee would review Hagia Sophia’s status, saying it was “regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialogue nor notification beforehand”.

“UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialogue without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session,” the UN’ cultural body said in a statement.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides tweeted –  Cyprus “strongly condemns Turkey’s actions on Hagia Sophia in its effort to distract domestic opinion and calls on Turkey to respect its international obligations”.

Christodoulides said Turkey’s “escalating, flagrant violation of its international obligations is manifested in its decision to alter the designation of Hagia Sophia, a World Heritage Site that is a universal symbol of the Orthodox faith”.

Later, Greece called Turkey’s move an “open provocation to the civilised world”. “The nationalism displayed by Erdogan … takes his country back six centuries,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a statement.

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Indian Air Force Receives Complete Delivery Apache, Chinook Helicopters

Boeing India also tweeted: Thank you, @IAF_MCC, for your partnership. We’re happy to have completed the deliveries of the 22 #AH64-E Apache and 15 #Chinook helicopters to India.

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The Indian Air Force (IAF) has received the delivery of all AH-64E Apache and CH-47F(I) Chinook helicopters today. The final five of the 22 Apache attack helicopters were handed over to the IAF at Air Force Station, Hindon.

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Earlier, Boeing had handed over the last five of 15 CH-47F (I) Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to the Indian Air Force, read a statement. India is one of 17 nations to select the Apache and has opted for the most advanced version of the attack helicopter.

“Customer centricity, commitment to the modernization and mission-readiness of India’s defence forces are key values to our partnership with India,” said Surendra Ahuja, Managing Director, Boeing Defence India.

“With this delivery of military helicopters, we continue to nurture this partnership and are fully committed to working closely with India’s defence forces to deliver the right value and capabilities to meet their operational needs,” Ahuja added.

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COVID-19 Exposes India, Philippines To Higher Risk Of Cancer; Australia, Malaysia Safest – Index

According to an index prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Australia, Malaysia and South Korea are most prepared to meet the burden of more cancer cases. Meanwhile, India, the Philippines and Vietnam are ill-prepared to face such a challenge. 

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As people living in Asian countries get richer and lead to sedimentary and unhealthy lifestyles, cancer is predicted to increases. However, countries such as Australia, Malaysia and South-Korea are well prepared to battle cancer while countries such as India and the Philippines are ill-prepared.

According to an index prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Australia, Malaysia and South Korea are most prepared to meet the burden of more cancer cases. Meanwhile, India, the Philippines and Vietnam are ill-prepared to face such a challenge.

The EIU has warned of a mini-tsunami of cancer cases as the coronavirus subsides and patients feel safe to visit hospitals. Out of fear of catching the coronavirus, cancer patients have avoided getting treatments done at hospitals.

Even hospitals put cancer treatment on the back burner as a top priority was given to curing COVID-19 cases. In the Philippines, for instance, cancer patients who were no longer able to attend advanced medical facilities were simply discharged into the wider community without any continuity of care.

The index measured the preparedness of 10 Asia-Pacific countries using 45 indicators and created a scorecard for each country, with 100 being most prepared.

Australia led the ranking with a score of 92.4, followed by South Korea with 83.4, and Malaysia with 80.3. All three have rigorous vaccination programs, including for hepatitis B which is linked to liver cancer, and HPV which can cause cervical cancer.

These countries tend to be aggressive in gathering information about individual cases at a national level so policymakers can understand the scale of the problem and design effective responses.

The rankings indicate that the three countries mentioned above have managed to keep the mortality rate down. This indicates that they are either detecting cancers at an early stage and/or are able to treat their patients effectively. Cancers that are more advanced are difficult to cure.

Unhealthy Habits a Cause of Concern

Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, are all rapidly growing economies whose populations have developed bad habits such as smoking. For example, nearly 40% of Indonesians aged 15 and older smoke.

Similarly, obesity amongst children in Thailand and Indonesia, countries where medical services are harder to access, could become a problem in the near future.

The EIU suggests that governments could support low-income groups by subsidizing health care costs and that patients should not have to pay more than 20% of their medical bills. 62.4% of medical expenses are still paid by patients in India, 53% in the Philippines, 45.3% in Vietnam and 36.1% in China.

Presently, governments Government health care expenditure is also low in these countries, at just 3.4% of total expenditure in New Delhi, 7.1% in the Manila, 9.1% in Beijing and 9.5% in Hanoi.

In terms of service affordability, accessibility to cancer treatments such as radiotherapy and cancer research, Japan tops the list. Tokyo has prioritized tackling the disease ever since it became the leading cause of deaths from 1981.

However, Japan has a poor track record for data collection, an issue that also became clear during the coronavirus crisis and is slow in introducing vaccination programs. The EIU also noted “a concerning prevalence of modifiable risk factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption in Japan,” and urged the government to promote healthier lifestyles.

Despite having advance medical facilities and superior services, cancer patients in Japan have a higher mortality rate than patients in Australia and South Korea.

Cancers are caused by damage to genes and such genetic errors tend to increase with age, obesity and bad habits, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and a lack of exercise. Half of the cancer patients in the world currently live in Asia. By 2030, cancer cases are expected to rise by 35% in the region, even as its population is expected to grow just 9%.

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