Malice in Modiland

China threat is a pretext to target those who question an increasingly tyrannical government

The sealed office of the news website NewsClick, in Delhi's Westend Marg, on 4 October 2023. The office had been sealed the previous day, after a series of raids by the special cell of the Delhi Police, targeting NewsClick and several journalists and people associated with the organisation. Shahid Tantray for The Caravan
04 October, 2023

Journalism in the country today is a small, embattled community of the underpaid and the overworked, who are under constant stress, not only because of deadlines but because the very act of doing journalism has been labelled subversive. The risk of being a journalist has reached the point where the concocted labels of “urban naxal” or “anti-national” may well be true, because that is how the law enforcement agencies of the country see them.  

It is a small community because the term journalist cannot be stretched to include all who work in the English and Hindi media today—mainstream channels and the vast majority of newspapers and magazines. Those who amplify the propaganda of the government, are spokespersons for its lies, and act as torchbearers for the persecution of those who still dare speak the truth, do not count as journalists. They are quislings of the profession.

The distinction between those who tell the truth and those who cavort for the government has been erased in the public mind. The external environment in which journalists work is toxic. The government has used labels, and the law, to go after those who refuse to side with them and used their prime time anchors to arouse public sentiment against the profession of journalism. Watching the screaming bigotry of television channels, the public has come to ascribe the worst qualities of those they watch to those who do journalism.

In this environment, the pursuit of a large number of journalists under the pretext of going after NewsClick is a new low. Let us not mince words; anyone actually taking money from Neville Roy Singham in the name of journalism would be guilty of a grave ethical error. A man funding a denial of China’s atrocities in Xinjiang, or hyping the role of the Chinese Communist Party, is not looking to spread independent journalism anywhere.