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Window Seat: Press Freedom in India

1/08/2021 at 8:06 AM

It is an acknowledged fact that freedom of the press is important for a democracy to function. Unfortunately India does not score well in this front, remaining at the bottom half of the countries in any such list. The 2021 Reporters sans Borders Press Freedom Index puts India at 142nd position in a list of 180 countries- below Myanmar and just two places above Pakistan.

The first ever annual report prepared on the press freedom in India titled India Press Freedom Report 2020, released recently by the Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG) also gives a sorry picture. It details how journalists face physical attack, mental harassment. Law enforcement agencies harass them. So do non-state players.

As per the report, “During 2020 at least 228 journalists (including two cases against media houses) were targeted during 2020. These included 12 female journalists who had faced physical violence, online harassment/threats and cases including under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) of 1967.”

“Out of the total 228 journalists, 114 journalists were attacked by the non-State actors such as mob, unidentified miscreants, members/ supporters of political parties, etc. or online social media users while 112 journalists and two media houses were targeted by the State agencies. A number of journalists faced multiple targeting such as registration of First Information Reports (FIRs), show cause notices for appearance, detention and questioning without registration of any formal case before the police, custodial torture, etc.”

Among the States, maximum number of journalists/media organisations were targeted in Uttar Pradesh (37); followed by Maharashtra (22); Jammu and Kashmir (18).

Among the North Eastern States, the maximum number of journalists were targeted in Tripura with 11 (including one newspaper), followed by Assam (7) and Arunachal Pradesh (2).

In 2020, a total of 13 journalists were killed, 37 journalists were arrested or detained, 64 journalists/media institutions had FIRs registered against them, 13 journalists and one newspaper were issued show-cause notices/ summons by different authorities and 101 journalists were subjected to physical assault/online threats or their houses and family members being attacked.

Journalists are messengers. They show us the face of the society including its dark underbelly. When they are under attack, it means there are serious problems.

India at the Olympic Games

As I am writing this column, on the ninth day of the Tokyo Olympics-  China is at the top of the medal tally with 18 gold medals followed by Japan (16 gold) and USA (14 gold). India is at 49th position with lone silver medal.

It has become too familiar a scene now. We’ll send off our Olympics team with much fanfare accompanied by media hype. We’ll send increasingly large contingent every passing Olympics. This year we sent the largest ever contingent of 200 plus, more than half of which comprised of officials, coaches and others. Not many of us expected out athletes to bring home more than a dozen medals. But just one medal when China has already bagged 38! That’s real painful.

I remember the dialogue from the Amir Khan starrer film 3 Idiots. If you fail, it hurts. But what hurts more is when you learn that your friend has stood first.

Financial Fraudsters

As we are increasingly engaging with digital banking and other financial transactions without many of us knowing its architecture and the risk factors, financial fraudsters are having a field day. Fraudsters are using innovative methods to defraud the hard-earned money of common and gullible people, especially new entrants who are not entirely familiar with the techno-financial eco system. Every other day there are reports of some persons duped or conned. Not only illiterate people, even highly educated people are also swindled. 

The Office of RBI Ombudsman (Mumbai II) has come up with a well-researched booklet on modus operandi of financial fraudsters to make people aware. It also provides inputs about precautions to adopt while carrying out financial transactions.

It is a very useful booklet. Should you need a soft copy of the booklet, write me a mail.

Tail piece: Do

In Japan:

If one can do,

You can do.

If no one can do,

You must do.

In India:

If one can do,

Let him do.

If no one can do,

God will do

In Bengal and Odisha:

( I do not have firsthand knowledge of other places)

If one can do, 

Don’t let him do.

If no one can do,

What can I do?

(Courtesy: Social Media)

About the Author:

The columnist a journalist turned media academician lives at Dhenkanal, a central Odisha town. He also writes fiction and translates poetry. An anthology of Hindi and Urdu poems that he translated into Odia has just been published.

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