Monday, January 15, 2007

Grabbing the Fourth Estate

I stared at the Press Freedom Index compiled by the Reporters Sans Frontieres for the year 2005 for sometime before I realised that India wasn't in the first 50. Well Ghana was at 34, India can't be that far behind can it? Then I went past countries like Israel(50), Kosovo(70), and the like. Then with eyes slowly popping, I traverse past Congo(73),UAE!!(77), Timor-Leste(huh?)(83) and finally find India at 105 along with Ukraine.
Oh the Shame the shame!!
Did I take relief from the fact that the US ranked 119 for its occupied territories? why the hell would I?

Here lies the full report for the Press Freedom Index 2005

Is the Indian Government really so repressive towards the Indian press? On first thought I'd say "Of course not, Who're they kidding". But I then realised, its not the general press freedom that RSF is talking about. It the press freedom that the Government deigns to allow when push comes to shove. Its the freedom of the Press that is acknowledged and respected by the Citizens of a country.
What's the kind of red tape, animosity and sheer state sponsored anger that reporters are faced when they try to report in Kashmir, the Naxal areas, terrorist infested North-east and such? Forget those, what happens to the reporter who tries to report on the election of dalits in supposedly progressive Tamilnadu? S/he is stonewalled, misled, threatened and at times harmed bodily not just by irate villagers but by partisan and corrupt officials. And we finally never get to know about these anyways do we?
A gander at POST-riot treatment of journalists in Gujarat
A more comprehensive look at attacks on reporters in India in 2002

And what about the lame attempts of the Indian government to restrict blogs and social network sites like Orkut? That's not just repressive thats downright embarassing.

Its not just the Government that doesn't respect the freedom of the press. Reporters are routinely beaten up by people at the wrong end of the microphone.

Its a shame that the Fourth estate is thus repressed. Not as overt as it is covert.
THIS is only half the story though.

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