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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Press Freedom in India?

In recent times, there have been claims and concerns raised regarding the state of press freedom in India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, a closer analysis reveals a more nuanced picture, where allegations are often unsubstantiated and exaggerated. The International Press Institute (IPI) has called on US President Joe Biden to address the issue of curtailed press freedom during Modi's state visit. They argue that Modi's government has increasingly weaponised the law against critical journalists

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In recent times, there have been claims and concerns raised regarding the state of press freedom in India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, a closer analysis reveals a more nuanced picture, where allegations are often unsubstantiated and exaggerated. The International Press Institute (IPI) has called on US President Joe Biden to address the issue of curtailed press freedom during Modi’s state visit. They argue that Modi’s government has increasingly weaponised the law against critical journalists. While the IPI’s concerns are legitimate, they fail to acknowledge that India’s democracy remains intact, as evidenced by the ability of opposition parties to openly criticize the Prime Minister and his governance. Contrary to the IPI’s assertions, the United States government does not align with their views. Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, believes that alleged challenges to press and other freedoms in India should not be a concern for the US. He emphasises that the US government expresses its views without seeking to lecture, recognising that every nation faces its own challenges. It is essential to separate fact from fiction when discussing press freedom in India. While there have been cases where journalists have been detained under Indian security laws, it is crucial to examine these situations thoroughly and evaluate them based on evidence. Assertions of a deteriorating press freedom situation should be substantiated to maintain credibility.

Comparisons to incidents in other countries, such as a news channel carrying a controversial headline about a political rival, demonstrate that press freedom is a nuanced concept. In such cases, responsible news organisations take internal actions, like firing the producer responsible, to address criticism. In India, there have been instances where journalists have criticised the Modi government without facing severe consequences. Siddique Kappan, for instance, vocally criticised the government after his release from jail. The argument that Modi’s administration has silenced critical voices by influencing celebrated television anchors like Anjana Om Kashyap and Arnab Goswami is unfounded. While these anchors may offer support to the Prime Minister, it does not indicate a suppression of press freedom. Journalists are individuals with their own opinions and can choose to express support or criticism based on their personal beliefs.

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It is worth noting that news organizations in India have the freedom to question and scrutinise the government. NDTV, for example, has not hesitated to critically examine Prime Minister Modi and his government. Thus, the claim that pressure or censorship has forced news organisations into alignment with the government is questionable. Ultimately, the issue of press freedom in India is multifaceted. It is not solely the responsibility of the government to uphold this freedom but also of journalists and media organisations to maintain their integrity. Instances where media barons have compromised their principles for personal gain undermine the ideal of press freedom. It is essential to recognize that press freedom cannot thrive without journalists who uphold their professional ethics and refuse to succumb to external pressures. While concerns have been raised regarding press freedom in India under Prime Minister Modi, it is crucial to separate fact from fiction. Allegations should be supported by evidence, and it is important to acknowledge the complexity of the issue. The state of press freedom in India relies not only on the actions of the government but also on the integrity of journalists and media organizations themselves.

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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