Advantage Modi-1/2015 05 Jan 2015
This Day & That Day
Wanted: a Freedom of Expression Day
Give us the occasion; we Indians will give you the Day. We’ve adopted Father’s Day and Mother’s Day from the West, we have Children’s day (Chacha Nehru’s in-perpetuity birthday gift), we have Teacher’s Day (former President S Radhakrishnan’s birthday), Sardar Patel’s birthday will be marked as Unity Day, and we have just inaugurated Good Governance Day.
Now that babus have commemorated Atal’s birthday by clocking in to office on Christmas, how about a day that commemorates a fast dying freedom, namely Free Expression Day? Most newspapers only get three holydays in a year: Republic Day, Holi and Diwali. News gathering happens 24x7, 365 days of the year. But just as the PM had chosen to remind government servants that Christmas isn’t a time for carols but to keep the files moving, maybe we in the news media also need a day to recall the values of the Fourth Estate. So how about a ‘Freedom of Expression ‘Day?
Yes, the Constitution guarantees free speech, but is that enough? After all, these days free speech is as endangered as the spotted leopard. Big Brother is perpetually watching. If you’re not a ‘loyalist’, you’re a ‘traitor’. If you voice any criticism, you are struck off important lists. If you protest at the possible horror of a Godse Day you may be dubbed an ‘anti-national’. If you ‘offed sentiments’, moral policing thugs are liable to ransack your home. Books are being banned, films are sought to be boycotted and top leaders take pride in their contempt of journalists. Fear is the key. Sonia Gandhi, Mayawati and jayalalithaa won’t speak, Rahul is incommunicado, Mamata stagaes walkouts and the PM prefers to tweet rather than take questions. Source-based newsgathering is getting tougher: old fashioned document-driven investigative stories are under threat from political bosses. Editors are content managers and field reporting is considered expensive. Today’s media groans under three pressures: corporatization, sensationsalisation and politicization.
The ever-present threat of withdrawal of ads from government or big business ensures muzzled journalists. A sound bite driven society has little time for a lengthy report: these are hit-and-run times for hacks. That’s why citizens and journalists need a special day to remind ourseves of the joys of freee speech and thought. If good politics is good marketing and if the idea of ‘good governance’ can be ‘sold’ through a ‘Sushasan Divas’, how about the ideals of India’s free press being advertised through a Freedom of Expression Day?
As narrated by Sagarika Ghose,TOI 24 Dec 2014
Note- Golf sets are selling cheap (in Delhi) Golf club memberships are easily available. Even holiday packages are on the asking-’Babu’s are at work even on holidays.