Skip to main content

Economic and Political Weekly and Article 19: How freedom of speech and expression was violated by EPW trustees

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta
By Kamal Mitra Chenoy*
Some one year after the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) editor C.Rammanohar Reddy was forced out as editor of EPW by the trustees, which we hoped would be unprecedented and a lesson for the EPW trustees, a much greater assault on Article 19 on the Freedom of Speech and Expression has been violated by the EPW trustees including several from whom this appalling behaviour was not expected.
Firstly, an article criticising crony capitalism by the highest politicians and industrialists in the land should always be exposed. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta has earlier exposed the scam on the KG Basin, which was very well received, an example to all those seeking to expose the theft of national wealth and the gross misuse of power. It was widely appreciated.
Now Paranjoy as editor of EPW is forced out by the trustees on grounds that he (1) has subjected the trustees to court action. But what has been threatened by the Adanis is legal not court action. (2) Paranjoy hired a lawyer to protect not only himself but the ideals to which EPW has been long committed.
The trustees sharply criticised him for taking legal advice without their permission. Paranjoy has conceded that he should have cleared this with the trustees but such action was part of due diligence and the protection of EPW.
The trustees variously suggested (a) that the editor should not have a byline. (b) There should be a co-editor. (c) The trustees were unable to distinguish between legal and court action.
If reputed journals are cowed down by legal action how will they function as votaries of freedom of speech and expression? And how will any committed editor function?
There is a pattern here following from the C. Rammanohar Reddy episode. First, the trustees want to sharply diminish the powers of the editor. So the editor should be supplemented by a co-editor. Later, to end up with the formula go-editor. This is simply an attack on Article 19 and will further ensure more attacks on the freedom of the press.
Simply put, this is abdication of responsibility by the trustees, a sharp deviation from the secular and progressive principles for which the EPW is internationally renowned.
In a word, the trustees have failed the very large community of EPW readers and supporters, causing not only the journal but Article19 to be even more vulnerable in the current atmosphere of authoritarian attacks on the media.
As a friend of a number of trustees, I among others feel deeply saddened and gravely worried about the institution of EPW. Even at this late stage, the trustees must reconsider and put freedom of speech and expression in the forefront, irrespective of whatever motivated threats are being cited.
---
*Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Source: https://www.facebook.com/kamal.chenoy?ref=ts&fref=ts&__nodl

Comments

TRENDING

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.