Having Priorities Right

By the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal

The Indian government seems to be in full war mode on journalists and celebrities both inside and outside the country over farmer’s protests. Barricading and barbed wire has been placed at the borders of the national capital and the internet has been cut off in the adjoining areas.

Rather than talking to farmers to resolve the issues over farm bills, the government is busy looking for conspiracies, running Twitter campaigns, jailing journalists, and filing sedition cases. These actions do not set a good precedent for the future. You can call out a journalist over the lapse in reporting, it’s a human error, everyone makes mistakes but booking sedition cases against him is a bit overreaction. In a democratic society, jailing writers and journalists is not a good sign for the future of democracy. Leaders and governments will come and go and they will be remembered for the actions and decisions they take during their term in power. Think about it this way, if a Right-wing government goes after journalists it perceives as left or liberal wing then, a left or liberal wing government in the future may go after the writers, intellectuals, and journalists it perceives having right-leaning tendencies. It has happened in the past and can happen in the future too. If an FIR can be filed on journalists for mistakes in reporting then why FIRs should not be filed on anchors of news channels that are known as ‘Godi Media’? They misrepresent facts many if not all the time. Let’s hold everyone accountable in that case.

Indian Foreign Ministry recently started a Twitter campaign as a response to tweets by some international celebrities and activists on social media in support of farmer’s protests. The ministry’s Twitter campaign roped in many Indian sports and film personalities tweeting their support for the government but all this social media mobilization over private citizens of other countries does not befit the foreign ministry of the world’s largest democracy. One may ask, do they not have anything better to do? Does copy-pasting or tweeting in support of a social media campaign makes someone a patriot? The international audience may have their opinions about us, if it does not matter then why bother to reply. Registering cases against them in India or running online campaigns against them will only tarnish our image. Whose insecurities or ego are we guarding with such campaigns?

The Government and its ministries should have their priorities straight. Their concern should be growth and governance, not settling scores with dissenting voices.

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