Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thick-skinned Modi loyalists are bullying journalists, lodging "serious criminal cases" in India: Washington Post

By Our Representative
The powerful US daily "Washington Post" (WP) has sharply criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling him "popular and thick-skinned", even as pointing towards how he has "effectively cut off the mainstream media, forgoing news conferences to communicate directly with his vast electorate through Twitter, where he has 40 million followers."
Annie Gowen's article, titled "In Modi’s India, journalists face bullying, criminal cases and worse", says, "Loyalists to the country’s powerful Hindu nationalist prime minister, Narendra Modi, have bullied editors into taking down critical stories, hushed government bureaucrats and shifted from the common practice of filing defamation cases to lodging more serious criminal complaints, which can mean jail time and take years in India’s overburdened court system."
Quoting India World Press Freedom Index, which ranks India136th in 2017, three points down in a year, WP says , one of the main reasons for the poor ranking is "growing self-censorship and the activity of Hindu nationalists trying to purge 'anti-nationalist' thought". The ranking, which is below Afghanistan and Burma, has been calculated by the watchdog group Reporters Without Borders.
"Times are tough for journalists in India, where many reporters and editors say it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do their jobs", says the daily, giving the example of Rachna Khaira, an "unknown crime reporter" in Chandigarh, who shot into prominence in the first week of January, when she wrote a story  that exposed a major privacy breach in a nationwide database of more than 1 billion Indians.
Annie Gowen
According to Gowen, "Officials were not amused by her sleuthing and filed a police complaint that accused Khaira, her newspaper and the alleged cybercriminals of forgery and other offenses punishable by a total of 30 years in jail." The action came in for sharp criticism from the country’s editors' guild, protest marches were held, she added.
Gowen goes on, of all persons, former CIA agent Edward Snowden, now a computer analyst whistleblower who provided the Guardian with top-secret NSA documents leading to revelations about US surveillance on phone and internet communications, "sent a tweet supporting the new whistleblower, saying she deserved 'an award, not an investigation'.”
While Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s minister for electronics and information technology, claimed that any suggestion that the government was hampering the press freedom was “completely wrong", Rajeev Chandrasekhar, whom Gowen calls "a member of Parliament allied with Modi’s coalition and a principal investor in Republic TV, a conservative news channel", insists it is "nonsense" to suggest that "suddenly things have gone south".
Contesting these claims, Gowen says, "But international observers say the situation has worsened under Modi, with media organizations self-censoring for fear of offending the government and losing valuable advertising." She underlines, "Even stories about the Reporters Without Borders ranking, which detailed 'online smear campaigns' of journalists by 'radical nationalists', were taken off the websites of two newspapers."
Gowen also quotes Nicholas Dawes, the deputy executive director for media at Human Rights Watch and former chief content officer for one of India’s leading newspapers, as saying, “The pressures appear to be more intense now than they have been in a generation... The government has also done little to reassure journalists in the face of both orchestrated digital attacks and physical violence.”
Recalling that India's "vibrant media" was first "profoundly shaken during the period known as the Emergency in the 1970s, when embattled Prime Minister Indira Gandhi locked up opposition leaders and censored newspapers to retain her power", Gowen insists, *Over the years, politicians of all stripes have arrested, threatened and blocked access to journalists, often falling back on India’s defamation or Colonial-era sedition laws in an attempt to limit free speech."
Noting that "many of the top news channels and newspapers are owned by families or conglomerates with business interests like mining and telecom that have long been reluctant to be critical of the government", Gowen further quotes Mark Tully, veteran BBC correspondent who was expelled during the Emergency but now lives in Delhi, as saying, “Modi doesn’t take that kindly to criticism, and he doesn’t engage with the media. The media has no real access to him at all.”

2 comments:

Robbie S said...

Thank you Ravish Kumar for being the Indian voice of protest against the Bullying of Media by Modi, calling it a 'Godi Media' which translates as 'Media in bed with Modi'.

djmariner Josh said...

another one bite the dust,,,,u gwen how much u ve been aid by khangress and leftist assholes,,,and suedoliberals,,,watch ur own country where drug , sex and no moral values r left,,,how many times ur cousin unaroriately touched u or ur boss ,,, and u felt enjoyment...