T J S George: on Democracies and Press Freedom
TJS George is an outstanding regular columnist in the New Indan Express. Each of his writings is very thought-provoking. So make it a point to read him even if we fail to report most of them.
Naturally his colomns are commented upon by our readers. Already Pamplanil has commented on it in CCV. Now George gives his thoughts on it. You compare their views and give what is lacking in both of them. That way we learn from more than two persons’ views. james kottoor editor ccv.
Letter to Editor!
I refer to recent article by the eminent columnist, T.J.S George and a response from Varghese Pamplanil, whom I regard a research scholar first and then a columnist.
Is press freedom in India in danger? Perhaps because that I am ensconced in Kerala where the things that I get exposed to are the usual UDF and LDF circus and plenty of anti-Modi, anti-Hinduvta and anti-RSS (the Trio) reporting. In the backdrop of this scenenario in Kerala, I am bit intrigued how the Indians could have lost their press freedom.
In Kerala all the leading newspapers and TV channels vie with each other to prove who is more aggressive in their tone and tenor in the criticism of the Trio. Outside Kerala, I am aware that one of the oldest English newspapers in South India, The Hindu, is viciously anti-Trio. As for national channels, I know that both Republic TV and Times Now are pro-Trio but NDTV on its channel puts up objective criticism of the Trio. So does India Today too. One gentleman, Mr. Prashant Bhushan, is all over in the news these days. Anti-Trio channels gave him airtime to vent his anger. Earlier, this chap went to Oxford and made a speech highly critical of the freedom in India under Modi. He came back and went home. No Gestapo was waiting at the airport to arrest him and hold him incommunicado. Even now, he is a free man and doing what he does best – criticize anything and everything and place the final blame at the Trio’s doorstep.
Lots of people gets arrested for various reasons in India daily. Why some of the reporters got arrested? It has to be for a reason and not for just arresting for the sake of arrest. This country has not degenerated to that level. If Mr. George or my friend Pamplanil believes that some of these arrests were not at all warranted, they may give the story to Malayala Manorama or Mathrubhoomi, two top newspapers. Any small or big issue, they are game if they get a chance to spite the Trio.
The reporters have been peeved with Modi for ignoring them and instead choosing Doordarshan and radio to communicate to the Nation. In a way, the reporters were made irrelevant. Modiji made many foreign trips since assuming office in 2014 without the usual contingent of reporters with wine and food to keep them amused during flight. The community of press reporters has not forgiven Modiji for what he did and makes good use of every opportunity to get back at him.
I do not believe that holding press conference is a must. Modiji is re-writing erstwhile systems and so reporters have all the reason to consider him as an autocrat, forgetting that he works 24×7 and has not taken a holiday. If our democratic systems have crumpled it is hardly due to the Trio. It is because of lack of discipline on the part of parliamentarians. How many parliament sessions have proved to be fruitful? Hardly any, I am afraid. More often than not, the proceedings end up as nothing more than shouting matches and walkouts. Parliamentarians are still to learn how the decorum of the house is to be maintained. If we look at the US Congress, when someone speaks no one interrupts the speaker or shouts the speaker down. Congressmen sit down and a listen even if they do not like what they are hearing. This is the standard we Indians need emulating. It is not easy but we can do it.
If anything under Modi has gone wrong, it is the economy. I think that he is fixed on making every Indian with taxable income to file their returns and pay the taxes. As an objective it is both noble and notable one but if he had learnt any lesson from demonetization (DeMon), he should have considerably lowered personal taxation rates and widened the slabs. Small businessman and many self-employed persons, were the worst sufferers of DeMon. For them the tax evaded amount represented their profit. There is no way to continue to be in business for them by paying taxes. Even for the well-off, where opportunity exists for hiding real income, they use it which should explain why in a large country like India there are only 2000 tax payers who declared income over 1 Crore! A city like Mumbai alone will have several times more cases than this number. Our taxation policies in respect of personal tax are designed to make dishonest persons out of honest ones.