Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Is Journalism In India Under Threat From The Modi Government?

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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