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

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

J&K Governor's rule: BJP's "failure" to go ahead with 44-plus strategy

By Syed Mujtaba Hussian*
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continues to witness cataclysm of events ever since the killing of editor-in-chief of “Rising Kashmir”, Shujaat Bukhari, followed by the BJP’s deliberated parting of ways with its coalition partner, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and imposition of Governor rule.

NTPC's "poor" track record on workers' safety, whether permanent or on contract

Counterview Desk
A recent report, “The Dark Side of NTPC: A Critical Look at the Social and Environmental Footprints of NTPC”, traces the performance of one of the four Navaratnas which also happens to be a Fortune 500 company, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), pointing out that, while it has played, for over four decades, “pivotal role” in India’s quest for development, this development was energy intensive and has caused “a plethora of negative impacts to people, environment and sustainability over the years.”

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.