Press freedom a concern for the elite only?
A new head for the Broadcasting machinery appointed!
A new maturity and a new liberal approach to press freedom make India a stronger democracy!
In India the press fears the authority. Even the so-called mainstream press behaves in a cowardly manner. Long subjugation under foreign rule had made Indian people unwary of any assertion of freedom!
We are a god-fearing country and in effect a government fearing people, right?
Of course we have some positive news. Just now, the RedInk Awards were presented to 15 categories of journalists. Fine. There is some flicker of press freedom and assertion. But there are causes for dismay. One notable media organisation was raided, of all agencies, by the CBI! This is bad.
Recently a well-respected media organisation was raided by the CBI. Why the CBI of all agencies? Press freedom is always mentioned as the fourth pillar of democracy. Now, in most democracies, specially the British and the US ones we see media in all its diversity and also in its real assertive forms.
How many countries have jailed journalists? This is one indication. In some major countries like Russia and China journalists are routinely jailed and why in Russia major killings had taken place.
We can equate press freedom with the state of the Opposition parties. In Russia, we see the Opposition leaders is subjected to many undesirable treatments like arrest and parading in the streets etc. This is obviously too much.
Why, even in India, in a state like TN we have had so many record defamation cases! So, we see a general dullness, meekness and evasive reporting, why plain distortion of news, even fake news! Journalists are poorly paid, poor social status and perennial insecurity. So too the media owners’ own vision, if at all. It is just a business, more tabloids, less any other goal!
In India we have a long way to go! Now, the CBI raid has in fact left a bad taste.
Now, there is much to ponder over when it comes to press freedom. News is now taken very differently. News is often more fake news, they say. We don’t know.
BRICS nations have now set up a Brics media fund of I million dollars. We are not sure what this fund would achieve.
Now, press freedom is not to be fair and accurate only. Press freedom means free from fear of the authority, the ruling party and the government, right?
But then major newspapers are now big business, right? They have to sell, earn profits and so dependent upon the ruling establishment for various facilities. Now, under the present dispensation we see much fear, observers say. People in Delhi seem to say this. Recently, the senior most journalists like Kuldeep Nayar and others assembled in Delhi Press Club and criticised the government for the CBI raid on NDTV.
May be such inconveniences are to be managed.
That is the price one has to pay for one’s sense of freedom and moral responsibility. Indian press history we have to study.
Also, in the present world order we see the AlZazeera, the Qatar-based TV channel had led to problems among the Gulf countries for being a bit freer in its expression of opinion on matters of high state policy!
You see even in the best of times, in the best of democracies people are uncomfortable with an authoritarian government.
We can have so many solutions. One, hold many press conferences. Prime Ministers are all not the same. Manmohan Singh and now Narendra Modi, as Prime Ministers didn’t hold Press Conferences. Why?
You have to think!
Pandit Nehru was very different. He loved questions and arguments in the open space. May be such background must help Indians of this generation.
Please allow arguments. India is not known for its open arguments in the modern sense. Prof.Amartya Sen says a different sort of argumentative Indian! Today’s Indians are very fearful of the governments!
Anyway, we have to live with all the imperfections of our democracy!
So, the public perception whether we are a tolerant country is a view that people at large has to take.
Individual freedoms is the high mark of a democracy. Also, individuals must learn to love and rate high their sense of freedom.
Whether Indians love to be free citizens or obliging citizens is a matter for debate!