Chicago: [This press release is, on behalf of INDIAN AMERICAN FORUM (IAF). IAF consists of secular-liberal Indian Americans. We undertake activities related to discrimination, social injustice, human rights violations, mainly through webinars regarding US and India. This group comprises of NRIs from various walks of life and human rights activists from across USA.]
As per World Press Freedom Index (WPFI), India ranks 142 out 180 countries behind the likes of Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Myanmar and South Sudan. Not good ranking for a country of “World Largest Democracy”. Freedom of press is the fourth pillar of the Democracy.
Indian Americans forum conducted a webinar on “Indian Media -Current status ,responsibilities and solutions moderated by Dr Mohammed Jameel with key speakers Poonam Agarwal Editior investigations Quint ,Seema Mustafa Editor Citizen .in ,Alka Lamba politician and activist from congress ,Zaheeruddin Ali khan Editor Siasat Daily ,Commodore Lokesh Batra a prominent RTI Activist.
During conference, the following points have been raised to exchange views, how this government is allowing Press Freedom and what obstacles are being created to curb Freedom of Press.
The keynote speakers unanimously agreed that, Indian (Godi )Media is publishing false narration and spreading communal hatred and sensationalism among people. Anyone who is critique of the government are receiving life threats and being trolled to create fear among journalists and civil society members. Poonam Agarwal, Editor-Investigations, The Quint speaking on this occasion expressed that investigative journalism has slowly died in the present day. Any journalist who writes a nuanced and fact based article in public interest comes on the radar of the government and is subsequently targeted in social media. She also urged people to come forward to support neutral and ethical portals and digital news channels. She also expressed concern at the large divide amongst the fraternity of journalists which is hurting the essence of news and true usage of freedom of press. She said, opposition and people should focus and discuss issues rather than people or politicians.
Seema Mustafa editor of citizen .in expressed her opinion that, the mainstream Print and Electronic media are not doing the duties of true journalism. They are instrumental in propagating false narration in the public. She feels that there is nexus between Government, Corporates and Media which won’t allow the real news to reach people. Not with standing this, some of the genuine journalists came out of the big publishing houses and started independent digital media like herself.
Alka Lamba as opposition leader, feels that the country is facing huge challenge where every democratic institution is literally dead with no freedom to deliver their duties. She laments that there is a need for people movements to consolidate all opposition parties who believe in Democratic, Secular fabric of the constitution. No matter how much efforts the Congress is putting to expose the government, such news is not reaching people because of Godi Media. She agrees that Congress party learned from past mistakes and didn’t repeat it . She acknowledges the responsibility of the Congress party being 135 years old party, much will rest on its shoulders to build a consensus among Democratic and Secular parties for viable opposition to politically defeat the present BJP led government and to save the country .
Zaheeruddin Ali khan Editor Siasat also spoke on this Ocasion and highlighted the difficulties of online and digital news platforms and stressed upon the need of ethics in journalism .
Commodore Lokesh Batra Prominent RTI activist compared the similarities of ethical journalist and RTI activists who face similar difficulties and problems when bringing to light the news and facts rather than sensationalism .
The participant from India and US asked questions to keynote speakers and participated with enthusiasm. Everyone unanimously agreed to support Democratic and Secular parties to keep away the anti secular forces .It also felt that independent journalism needs financial support from readers to sustain the expenses to run a new platform.
Dr Mohammed Jameel founder of Indian Americans Forum giving conclusion remarks lauded the efforts of brave journalist in india and appeal to the speakers to continue their good work and appeal to congress to clean up its home and get rid of sanghi elements and take the fight with united opposition and become viable alternative to BJP .The conference was Co moderated by Samar Ayyalat from and attended by core members Jim Holland ,Smita Swaroop ,Narsingh Mamindla ,Motika Anand ,Dr Rehan Khan ,Ramakrishna Jalla ,Phani Reddy ,Ans Ahmed and from India membersIrfanAzizWaseem ,shahnawaz ,Abdul Hameed ,Mohammed Raheem Advocate ,MS Farooq ,Nayeem journalist and from Middle East Sabir Hussain and Imtiaz and others.