Indian democracy has come to such a pass under Narendra Modi that Jawhar Sircar, a former bureaucrat who ran Prasar Bharati Corporation, now delivers homilies on how the emasculation of the media was achieved.
In an article titled “A creeping emergency” in The Telegraph, he writes that neither the former declaration of Emergency nor legislation like the Defamation Bill is any longer required to achieve the desired results.
“The boss of a trusted national media is amazed at the ‘debate over freedom of expression’ and declared it is the “schizophrenia” of the unseated elite within the national capital city. Unfortunately, he scored a self-goal when he declared that it is ‘fed by social media and some media outlets’.
“It is tragic to see how unsuspecting millions are fed with unending streams of anti-minority hate-news and venomous post-truth lies on WhatsApp each day and the alacrity with which internet ‘troll’ devils have forcefully evicted liberals from Twitter with intolerable abuses.
“Swati Chaturvedi laid bare the nexus between the ruling party’s social-media wing and troll brigades that ‘manufacture followers’ in lakhs.
“From a recent shuddering experience on Twitter, one deciphers even traces of linkages with professional intelligence agencies, as items that are not in the public domain are also fed to trolls. Never before has India seen such steamrollering of free opinion through layers of systematic terror.
“The next strategy tamed the same free press that tore down the earlier regime through every event, from Anna Hazare to Nirbhaya. So dramatic has been the domestication of Indian journalism that we can count the fearless few on our fingers.
“Three tactics must have worked: the adroit management of barons, the silent takeover of media houses by friendly capitalists and, of course, crude storm-troopers who symbolize the totally-intolerant right-wing from the dreadful 1930s.
“Sadly, the so-called ‘reasonable rightist’ journalists have also become miserly with facts, after they were loaded with favours. There is now no need for the faltering constitutionalism of Rajiv Gandhi, who had sought to control mails and ‘defamation’ through laws that were then drowned under protests. One can get better results at present without even touching the law-book.”
Read the full article: A creeping Emergency