On 15 August, the free-speech advocacy group PEN America published India at 75, a series of short texts by authors expressing their feelings on a landmark anniversary of India’s independence. The authors, drawn from both the country and its diaspora, cutting across generations and holding diverse political views, were united in their concern for the state of Indian democracy. In his contribution to the volume, reproduced here with minor edits, the veteran journalist P Sainath reflects on the state of the Indian media.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lockdown speech of 24 March 2020 gave a nation of 1.4 billion people four hours to shut itself down. It would devastate hundreds of millions of livelihoods within days. Minutes after Modi’s speech, his government listed the essential services that would remain operational through the lockdown.
Refreshingly, they included “print and electronic media, telecommunications, internet services, broadcasting and cable services.”