The Modi government’s control of the media is well-known. We’re used to the manner they tame, halt, and occasionally imprison the anti-governmental people. They are identical to China, North Korea, and Pakistan in this situation.
So, it came to me as no surprise when Reporters Without Borders (RSF) named Prime Minister Narendra Modi as one of the 37 heads of the state having the least press freedom in their jurisdiction. But the reasons they gave were a little out of the blue.
As per RSF:
Modi’s “tight relationships with rich businesspeople who own huge media empires” have assisted in the dissemination of his nationalist-populist beliefs through repeated coverage of his “very divisive and insulting” remarks, according to RSF’s entry.
The right to know and be informed is considered a fundamental human right, and RSF is the world’s biggest non-profit dedicated to media freedom. India ranks 142nd out of 180 nations in their World Press Freedom Index for 2021.
Modi is included with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, Myanmar’s military chief Min Aung Hlaing, and North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un as “Predators of Press Freedom.”
According to RSF, they are among 33 other heads of state who “trample on press freedom by establishing a censorship apparatus, arbitrarily imprisoning journalists, or inciting violence against journalists when they do not have blood on their hands because they have directly or indirectly pushed for the murder of journalists.”
Modi and his Misuse of Power as per RSF:
Modi has been Prime Minister of India since 2014, and according to his entry, he has been “a predator since entering power.” RSF also names journalists who have been targeted by Modi’s venom, such as Gauri Lankesh, a journalist who was shot dead outside her house in 2017 for criticising Hindutva.
They also name Rana Ayyub and Barkha Dutt, who was threatened with gang rape and had their personal information leaked online to assist attacks.
“Journalists face the prospect of life imprisonment if they are charged with sedition, which is a very broad accusation. Modi also has an army of internet trolls known as “Yodha” who “fight horrific hate campaigns on social media against journalists they don’t like, campaigns that almost always include demands for the journalists to be killed,” according to RSF.
Although these points and reasons are real but unproven, we cannot deny that PM Modi has turned out to be among the most powerful leaders in the world.
Seeing India in the among Imran Khan (Pakistan), Kim Jong-un (North Korea), Min Aung Hlaing (Myanmar), Bashar Al- Assad (Syria), Alexander Lukashenko (Belarus), Xi Jinping (China), Vladimir Putin (Russia) and more is shocking as India’s freedom is not as bad as these countries. India is a secular country without tyranny.
The reason given by the RSF is Anti-government people are shot down, but that happens in every country. The funniest thing is saying Modi has Internet Yodhas who troll anti-government people but isn’t that universal.
RSF has said, Modi government branded anti-government journalists as Sickular (Sick & Secular) and Presstitutes for women (Press & Prostitutes).
They used Gauri Lankesh, a journalist who was murdered outside her house four years ago, as an example of a move taken by the Modi government, though this was never confirmed.
Rana Ayyub and Barkha Dutt were targeted online and called Presstitutes. But, I cannot understand how this led to the perception of the Indian PM Narendra Modi’s government being called the Predators of Press Freedom.
It is not improper to criticise the government. It is, in fact, a must in a democracy. It is unethical to spread misleading information and hatred. It is critical to prevent journalists from doing the latter!
We can’t deny that the Modi government changed IT Rules 2021 to force online platforms to follow them as well, to combat online abuse and platform exploitation.
Although, factors like threatening NDTV and Arun Shourie, along with the passing of the legislation that led to the farmers’ demonstrations, and till today, no reporter can freely report from Kashmir and more; cannot be ignored.
According to Kanchan Gupta, senior advisor at the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the report is baseless, fact-free, and represents an ill-informed viewpoint. The article portrays Prime Minister Modi as a tyrant and falsely accuses him of spreading divisive misinformation.
A non-governmental and non-profit organisation founded in France that strives to preserve the freedom of information. Previously, the RSF lists only included 17 leaders; however, as of 2021, the list has been expanded to include 34 leaders from 34 countries.