In March, just after the imposition of the stringent nation-wide lockdown, there was a massive uproar in the media circles after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the news organizations to act as a link between the government and the people in handling the Covid-19 crisis. Understandably, most journalists took offence at Modi’s direction.
Cut to the present. The Indian media is yet to take a serious note of the Chinese Embassy’s letter on October 7 asking journalists to honor the One China policy just ahead of Taiwan’s National Day on Saturday.
“All countries that have diplomatic relations with China should firmly honor their commitment to the One-China policy, which is also the long-standing official position of the Indian government,” the letter said, adding that the Indian media should stick to government’s position of the One-China principle.
What is even more unfathomable is that the letter was shot in response to advertisements carried out in a few Indian newspapers. The advertisement, issued by the Taiwan government, showed a photograph of President Tsai Ing-wen in which it also called India its natural partner.
We, in the media, have been taught to think, speak and write freely. Notwithstanding regular reports suggesting that journalists have lost the power to think and report without bias, by and large the media, thankfully, has refrained so far from taking orders from any authority, including the government, whether local, state and Central.
But now many eyebrows have been raised at the silence of the media Brahmins, especially after the tersely worded letter by the Chinese embassy in New Delhi.
On the other hand, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, at a news briefing, said that the media in India is free and reports on issues as it sees fit.
While many news organizations have covered the entire episode, few have opposed the move even as Taiwan accused China of trying to impose censorship in the Indian media.
“This is strange and surprising, considering that the media in India is very sensitive about being told what to do and what not to do, irrespective of political leanings. But, in this case, another country tells you what to do. This is unacceptable,” an observer who wished to remain anonymous told IndiaNarrative.com.
What is stranger and more surprising is the fact that the self-appointed guardians of journalistic morality and champions of press freedom are silent about the outrageous ‘advisory’ by the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi. Whatever happened to the eloquence of the Editors Guild of India? The eloquence, which shimmers when the guilty party is of the saffron hue, seems to have vanished.
This is not to say that the shenanigans of the sanskaris should not be slammed; they should be. And so should be the chicanery of the Chinese.