Need a legal ‘Lakshman Rekha’ to control social media anarchy


There are plots by organizations with vested interests and foreign agencies to incite people with deceptive propaganda.

New Delhi: Social media has played an important role on the issue of freedom of expression. But in a vast country like India, still, part of the population is affected by superstition, less education and extreme poverty. There are plots by organizations with vested interests and foreign agencies to involve people in violent riots by inciting them with deceptive propaganda. This is the reason why the Indian government has started to take action by setting rules for social media. Distracted by this, the company that operates Twitter launched a legal battle. In recent months, there has been an increase in the number of photos and videos of a serious inflammatory nature on Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube. In India, whenever there is talk of any sort of control of this anarchy, some people and organizations raise the flag of civil expression rights. They ignore the fact that 48 countries around the world have taken action against social media companies in the past year. There have been arrests in 56 countries for misuse of social media. Social media has been banned in 21 countries for unrest. Britain and Australia have recently put in place strict rules to prevent content with grossly abusive photos, remove them within 24 hours, etc.
After newspapers, TV news channels and websites, there is now the new noose of rules and regulations on Twitter and Facebook as well. Every two weeks, the issue of abuse of freedom of expression or abuse of power is brought before the courts. Incidentally, a few months ago, Bloomsbury Publishers India published my English language book “Power, Press and Politics” and put it on the market and online for purchase. The result is that many journalists and media editors ask me for answers by linking immediate situations on TV channels or YouTube. I have obtained the right of expression from my inspiring publishers. I am always against open and irresponsible journalism. On this subject, many of my new and old friends express their displeasure on social networks. They believe that the cry for borders and “Lakshman Rekha” is intended to support power. Not only the journalists, but the acquaintances of the different sections also raise the question of whether at this moment the pressure of power is more on the media than in the emergency, or is everything for sale?
My first response in TV interviews or other forums is to buy and read my book. I have written an authentic account of power relationships or pressures over the past 50 years under the tenure of editors superior to me in relationships and challenges. There have been a few mentions in my journalism books in the past as well. For this reason, I also largely agree with the new rules and regulations for Twitter and social media. Several recent court decisions have reinforced the belief that attempts by a government in power to suppress rights enshrined in the Constitution have been strictly blocked. So trust in justice. With regard to the pressures, I will refer to the pressures experienced by publishers before or after the period of emergency and censorship. An interesting example was told to me by S. Nihal Singh, editor of the leading English newspapers in the country, The Indian Express and The Statesman. He was a reporter for The Statesman during Nehru’s reign. He wrote a report after talking to an astrologer that finance minister Krishnamachari trusts astrology a lot, and an astrologer from south India comes to Delhi and stays in a five-star hotel, and the minister tells him regularly visits and consults him. This report was to be published in the weekly column of the newspaper “Yesterday in Delhi”. This information reached the Minister through a senior colleague before being published. Then the Minister of Finance put a lot of pressure on the newspaper not to print this report because it would make Nehru very angry with him. In general, there was no pressure on the newspaper. But even this small report could not be published under pressure from the Minister of Finance. Yes, when Nihal Singh was editor, he did not accept pressure from power or management, and because of that, he had to quit his job two or three times.
Kuldip Nayarji told me about a case of pressure on power and management long before the emergency. JRD Tata was then on the board of directors of The Statesman. He called once and said that due to the publication of the news of Indira Gandhi and Morarji Desai feuds, there were many problems. Nayarji told him that he only writes the correct facts. Then, Tata spoke to the board special Palkiwala and asked about GM Irani. This news continued in the newspaper, and then Tata himself saw fit to withdraw by taking over his shares. This means that the Tatas and the Birlas also lived under pressure. So why should landlord and government pressures be considered news these days?
Publishers such as Kuldip and BG Varghese first worked with Shastriji and Indira Gandhi, but later criticized her the most. Therefore, why do journalists who 10 years ago considered the policies of Congress Raj and the work of the leaders to be correct and now consider Rahul’s Congress ruined and the policies and measures of the Modi government to be justified, should they be qualified as sell-outs and opportunists?
They have their freedom of expression. In my book, I have given authentic examples of many editors who quit their jobs or are fired under pressure from power or management. These include veteran editors like Hiranmay Karlekar, Ajit Bhattacharjee, Rajendra Mathur, Manohar Shyam Joshi and Vinod Mehta. Some editors have even had their booths sealed. For the past seven years, there has been no news of the dismissal of any Delhi editor. If management dismisses a journalist under duress or under any pressure, that is their right. Journalists, like soldiers or army generals, must be bold and take risks. In accordance with the rule of law, democracy and the Constitution, the right of expression must be protected.
Mahatma Gandhi wrote in his diary “Harijan” in 1946 that, like the West, the newspapers of the East are the people’s Bible, the Quran and the Bhagavad Gita. What is published in the newspaper, people accept it as divine truth. People accept everything printed as divine truth. As a result, the responsibility of editors and other journalists increases. Gandhiji also warned readers at the time that: “I never place too much faith in newspaper reports and would like to warn readers of newspapers that they should not be easily influenced by what is printed in them. ” From this point of view, the debate continues today on the credibility of the written or electronic media and on the role of journalists or social leaders. Therefore, society, Parliament, Supreme Court and domestic and foreign social media companies will have to decide on the new “Lakshman Rekha” of rules and regulations.
The author is the Editorial Director of ITV Network India News and Aaj Samaj.


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