India no longer buys the baseless theories of rising intolerance and lack of press freedom from dubious journalists. But these Lutyen’s leeches and self-serving media strategists have now begun to push their agenda-driven journalism on global platforms. The Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting have taken a strong note of it.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in a strongly worded communication, has sought explanation from United Kingdom (UK) and Canada as to why they allowed their soil to host an event on ‘unfounded’ remarks on Indian press freedom. The letter refers to events that occurred on 10th and 11th July during the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London, organised by the United Kingdom and Canada jointly. Over 100 countries were represented at the conference, with 60 ministers and 1,500 delegates from all regions. “It is unacceptable and unfortunate that their governments have provided a platform where totally unfounded remarks were allowed to be made” India’s Ministry of External Affairs told the High Commissions of UK and Canada.
At this conference, the Caravan magazine’s executive editor Vinod K. Jose had made a presentation ‘Religion and Media, the Untold Story’ on the incidents of erosion of press freedom in India in the wake of rising religious intolerance. In his presentation he referred to incidents of lynching as evidence of religious intolerance against India’s minorities, at the global conference. The claims made by him in the presentation were strongly rebutted by Prasar Bharati chairman A. Surya Prakash, who was part of Indian delegation at the conference along with Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta and political analyst Kanchan Gupta, nominated and sent by the information and broadcasting ministry to represent the government of India.
After the conference also, the anti-India media lobby tried to garner support to defame the country globally. Jose wrote a letter to British and Canadian government to be ‘vigilant’ on the issue of press freedom in India. “I hope you and your office will take up these grave matters at all appropriate forums, and will let your vigilance be known to the government of India,” said Vinod K Jose in a letter addressed to Jeremy Hunt, former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, Chrystia Freeland, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada and the organisers and delegates of the Global Conference for Media Freedom 2019. In the letter, also published in The Caravan, Jose wrote that after the event, a United Nations official had asked him if he needed asylum, but he refused.
Prasar Bharati chairman, A Surya Prakash, post the workshop, submitted a report to the Minister of Information & Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar, pointing out that he took strong exception to the choice of speakers made by the organisers as the allegations made in the presentation were “a direct assault on India’s democracy, credibility and the working of the Constitution”.
“Those who raise a question mark about press freedom in India must be really tone deaf… In fact, (of) the present political leaders of the country from across parties, there are a large number who have fought for restoration of democracy and press freedom in the mid-1970s in this country. For them, democracy is very clear. You must see the plurality of news media in India,” he said in the report. Prakash questioned whether by allowing such a presentation, the organisers were trying to question the “massive mandate” by the people of India for the Narendra Modi government.
“I am pained by the decision of the organisers to have given a platform for such a blatantly anti-India presentation. I don’t think anyone is furthering the cause of democracy by running down the most vibrant democracy in the world,” Prakash said.
Subsequently, the matter was taken up with the Ministry of External Affairs. According to sources, the external affairs ministry has told UK and Canada that “..it is unacceptable and unfortunate that their governments have provided a platform where totally unfounded remarks were allowed to be made.” In a letter to the union minister of information and broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar, Union minister of external affairs S Jaishankar said the issue of allowing “unwarranted remarks” by one of the speakers was taken up with the high commission of both the countries.
With sources of foreign funding drying up, depleting support from the opportunistic left intellectuals and academia, and pro-Pakistan lobbyists looking for a safe haven, anti-India media strategists are now looking for foreign grounds to defame the country for their own self-serving interests. Both External Affairs and I&B Ministries need to ensure that these efforts to malign the country are strongly and timely dealt with.