As most of us would have studied during school days, the preamble of the Indian constitution says that India is a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic. The terms socialist and secular were added to the preamble during the emergency days by the Indira Gandhi led Congress. While in reality, India is none of the above, ours is a democratic country on paper. There are four pillars of our democracy viz Executive, Legislature, Judiciary and lastly the Press. So, the Press is an important element to maintain the checks and balances of our democracy.
The duty of a responsible press is to report events happening across the country accurately, ethically, without bias and without any agenda or vested interests of its own and to ask tough and unrelenting questions to the netas ruling the country. Over the years, these principles have been reduced to just theories and we see that most of the independent media houses have their own hidden agendas that have resulted in mischievous, malicious, twisted, unethical and propaganda based reporting.
The pioneer in this has been New Delhi Television (NDTV).
There are many examples to back this statement. During the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, NDTV reported the incidents in such a manner that the terrorists were hugely benefited and vital information was shared with them. The Nira Radia tapes during the infamous 2G scam point to the fact that Barkha Dutt, who was associated with NDTV at that time, had a clout in the erstwhile UPA government and played a role in the spectrum allocation.
During the unrest in JNU, Barkha Dutt again tried her best in promoting the rogue PHd student Kanhaiya Kumar by interviewing him after his release from jail. When notorious Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani was killed by the India Army and during the unrest that followed, Barkha Dutt again tried her best to promote the terror elements in Kashmir by first portraying Burhan as a poor headmaster’s son and then by portraying stone pelters as innocent protestors, who had been blinded by pellet guns used by the army.
Nidhi Razdan, another of NDTV’s star journalists, who hosts the show Left, Right and Centre, in an interview with British MP Barry Gardiner, tried her best to portray the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi of being an extremely controversial figure in India till she was badly snubbed by Gardiner himself.
During the recent demonetization, NDTV tried its best to portray the hardships faced by citizens of the country and how people are disgruntled with PM Modi, while in reality, most people were willing to undergo the short term hardships for the larger benefits (vindicated by most poll results after demonetization). Media personalities belonging to other channels are not far behind. Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose, Saba Naqvi and a host of others have often taken a pro-left, pro-Congress, anti-right, anti-BJP and anti-Hindu stand on numerous occasions.
The above facts are to do with ethics of media houses in general and NDTV in particular. Let us also come to the various illegalities and irregularities committed by NDTV. From moving money to various shell companies, Radhika and Prannoy Roy siphoning off 146 crore rupees into their personal accounts, money laundering, harassing upright Income Tax Official SK Srivastava for uncovering the irregularities, hurdles created for minority shareholders Sanjay Dutt and Sanjay Jain, causing a loss of 48 crores to ICICI Bank by entering into a sketchy loan repayment arrangement, NDTV has done it all.
The CBI raid was carried out on the houses of Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy to investigate the loss created to ICICI Bank. The CBI has acted primarily on the complaint of the private individual Sanjay Dutt. Prannoy Roy and the NDTV crew, on very predictable lines, have termed the CBI raid anti-democratic and against free speech. Before making these allegations, Dr Roy must well remember that this story was broken out by Sunday Guardian three years back and thereafter, Dutt seriously started pursuing these allegations. This is not something that has cropped up instantly after the spat between Nidhi Razdan and BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.
After the CBI raids, in the Press Club of India meet, the left liberals and other journalists have used their favorite words and adjectives like vendetta politics, authoritarian government, dictatorship, undeclared emergency and so on to describe the raids. Just because NDTV is a famous media house does not mean they are above the law and nobody can question them when they deal in illegal activities. The CBI has every right to raid their premises to unearth the various financial irregularities that have been committed and this is in no way related to their freedom of speech.
During the meeting, speakers like Prannoy Roy, Rajdeep Sardesai, Fali Nariman, the left’s new favorite Arun Shourie, Shekhar Gupta and Aroon Purie continuously were spewing venom on the current establishment and that itself is proof enough that their precious freedom of speech is still intact. As before, NDTV and some of the other media houses continue to repeatedly peddle lies and propaganda and try to incite Muslims and Dalits against the government while protecting terrorists and Naxalites.
Even recently, when Congress workers in Kerala mercilessly slaughtered a cow in protest against a beef ban that wasn’t there, NDTV tried to cover them up by saying it was an ox that was slaughtered.
So the biggest question here is, just where is the danger to Freedom of Expression and free speech? The speakers in the Press Club of India meet are mixing up two things: freedom of expression and financial irregularities.
In other words, the vendetta and attack on free speech is just an armor used to cover up the various sins and frauds committed over the years. In this process, NDTV is being helped by personalities from other media houses, who share their hatred for PM Modi and the right, and also from opportunistic ex ministers like Arun Shourie, who was not given a ministerial berth by the Modi government. Now that Shourie’s comments are being quoted by the leftists, one wonders if they would concur with his views that he has expressed in his famous book Eminent Historians.
Lastly, a message to Dr Prannoy Roy: You cannot fool all the people all the time and when you use histrionics to convey to the people that you have not touched one rupee black money all your life, all your dealings are perfect legal and your sole objective is to bring the truth before the people, there aren’t going to be too many people to buy this. If you are clean as you claim, let the CBI do their job and you come out clean. People have seen through you and your white lies and your taking the moral high ground is not going to have many takers.