Resignations of senior journalists, Milind Khandekar and Punya Prasun Bajpai have created a buzz on the Internet in the past few days with all the eminent media personalities and the general public raising an important question on the freedom of media in the country. This is not the first time a journalist has faced such a situation. In the past few months, many have suspected that the government has been making efforts to transform the Indian media into propaganda machinery and to a large extent, it has been successful too.
Indian journalism has witnessed a deterioration in its quality because it has become a mouthpiece of those in power. Those who refuse to do that either have to face assaults or are told to quit from their position; but questioning the elite and those in power is a strict no.
We really need to ask why all this has been happening since the time the Modi government came into power.
Earlier this year, Shujaat Bukhari, the founding editor of Rising Kashmir was shot dead by unknown assailants at the Press Enclave in his hometown Srinagar allegedly for speaking against Pakistan in one of his articles.
Last year eminent journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead in the IT Hub Bangalore for being a critic of the Right Wing’s Hindu Nationalist politics.
In January 2018, Rachna Khaira of The Tribune faced a police complaint for exposing a major privacy breach in a nationwide database of 1 billion Indians.
Not only these incidents but also the figures say that India is unsafe for journalists. As per a news report, India is at the 12th place in the list of nations where journalists are killed with complete impunity.
Last year, CBI had raided the house of NDTV’s Prannoy Roy’s residence and the NDTV offices allegedly due to non-disclosure of their shares pledged to ICICI Bank in return for a loan. The clear motive behind this was to create troubles in the channels functioning due to its fearless journalism against the government.
Even Abhisar Sharma of the ABP News has been sent on leave for the anti-government content of his show. This clearly poses a question on the functioning of the current government. What do our leaders want? Simply changing the democratic structure into an authoritarian one? I am sure the Achhe Din tagline definitely meant good times for the government and leaders and not for the citizens.
The present scenario has given rise to the need for mechanisms to protect journalists. But we cannot expect anything at the legislative level since our leaders are not leaving any stone unturned to curb the freedom of the press.
The government had recently proposed a law to counter fake news which had the provision of a journalist getting barred from working in case he/she was found to be propagating fake news, but the main loophole was the deciding committee did not have enough representation from the new media.
The solution is that the government needs to focus on how to work for public welfare so that nothing negative exists against them rather than trying to suppress the media because ultimately what speaks is the work they do.