Press in India under siege

Press in India under siege

The remarks made by the prestigious Raman Magsaysay award winner of this year and famous Indian journalist Ravish Kumar that Indian media is in deep...

The remarks made by the prestigious Raman Magsaysay award winner of this year and famous Indian journalist Ravish Kumar that Indian media is in deep crisis where journalists are under constsnt threat of losing their jobs- sometimes their lives also- for being truthful in their reportage without succumbing to the pressures of ruling political class should be taken in all its seriousness to save the independence of fourth estate from the brutal onslaught of tyrant politicians. ( Govt intolerance of press freedom worrisome- THI, September 14).

It is disheartening to note that India, the largest democracy of the world, has shamefuully slipped to a rank of 140 in 2019 from a rank of 138 in 2018 in the World Press Freedom Index where small and poor countries like Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Thailand and Philippines are ahead of our our country.

The space available for free and fair press has been shrinking day by day with media owners becoming more and more pliable to ruling dispensation where fearless journalists committed to highest standards of journalism are running the risk of being removed from the job.

How can the fourth estate in India contribute to uphold the spirit of democracy when as many as six journalists were brutally murdered in this country in 2018 for their courage to stand up for the cause of oppressed and exploited? It is a fact that we are engendering lumpen mobs rather than patriotic citizens to completely pave the way for the extinction of the democratic structure of our country in the form of attacks and intimidations on free press and media.

It is a sad commentary with regard to journalists being made to cough up large amounts of money to defend themselves in the courts where they are facing the cases of not only defamation but also criminal charges filed by powerful and corrupt politicians.

This type of harassment scares away many courageous journalists from reporting the truthful content fearlessly. There is a dangerous tendency of press and media being compelled to spread one version and the only version of power wielding politicians.

This is not only the case with the Centre alone but also with the states also where the situation is no different and worse also in some states.

Unfortunately, the rights of press and people are often sought to be curbed mercilessly in India. It is on this ground, three highly competent and honest IAS officers , Kannan Gopinathan, Sasikant Senthil and Shah Faesal submitted their resignations in this year for lack of space for dissent and disagreement which is obviously leading to mockery of democracy.

It is disturbing to see freedom of press in dire straits. It is deplorable to witness judiciary to be dictated terms by politicians of ruling party where a BJP minister of UP , Mukut Behari Verna, has recently made an utterance " Supreme court is ours".

Even RBI is seen to be subjugated to the government with a pliable RBI Governor who allowed government to take away the hard-earned revenue of RBI to cover up its economic mismanagement.

Hence the need of the hour is to explore all avenues to safeguard the freedom of press, independence of media, autonomy of institutions and a strong opposition to enable democracy to take firm roots in India.

All people need to think above their religion, region and language to build a new India where liberty, dignity and freedom of expression are inseparable parts of human life.

The timely and invaluable warning of your Editorial that Governments have no right to dictate and decide what people should read and view goes a long way in opening the eyes of dictatorial rulers so as to reform themselves to be tolerant and respectful to freedom of press.

Narne Raveendra Babu, Hyderabad

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