IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Republic and its discontents

12th November, 2020 Editorial

Context: Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami faced arrest in an abetment to suicide case.

  • Arnab Goswami, may have been disrespectful and mean on his channel to people who may well be innocent, with utter disregard for the privacy and dignity of the people, police vigilante justice in retaliation to his vigilante journalism cannot be condoned.
  • The police may have a legitimate case. But media excess cannot be met with police excess.
  • A murder, even a heinous one, cannot be avenged by a state-sponsored killing.
  • A media house, howsoever irresponsible and provocative, headed by anchors has to be reined in by adhering to the rule of law.
  • A republic will not hold when those who are supposed to uphold the law themselves opt for retributive justice against private entities.

The irony

  • India is a broader, pluralistic, inclusive, assimilating sometimes amorphous, indeterminate, yet has a unique civilisational identity; that is diverse, yet unifying.
  • Arnab was arrested in a cruel twist of irony by a ruling party which has a history of muscular and fiery politics, which espoused religious identity politics, which was seen to be intolerant of other faiths and cultures and wary of outsiders.
  • This brand of politics and dividing the Indian republic.
  • The channel, argue that its anchor’s arrest was a threat to free speech and strikes at the very foundations of democracy by muzzling the freedom of the press.
  • The channel that never raised its voice in defence of many of their journalist colleagues when they were arrested, assaulted, some jailed on improbable charges of sedition, and a few even killed began taking refuge in amnesia.
  • It showed no remorse and is even now crying foul and accusing ruling party in Maharashtra, of terrorising the press and arresting a ‘nationalist’.
  • Several Political Parties are themselves behind various TV channels and align with one media house instead of the other, thus pose danger to the stability of the republic.

Freedom of Press

  • The freedom of the press is
  • The media’s conduct and functioning in a free, fair and fearless manner underpins a vibrant democracy.
  • Media houses cannot be loyal to the ruling party or to the party in the Opposition or to one community or ideology while wilfully ignoring facts.
  • Their fidelity has to be to an overarching fealty to truth and to the larger common weal.
  • Free, fair and responsible press is not only an asset for republic, but a strong fourth pillar of democracy.