A 'predator' with an 'insidious strategy': Narendra Modi figures on RSF's list of 'press freedom predators'

'His leading weapon is to flood the mainstream media with speeches and information tending to legitimise his national-populist ideology.'

ByNL Team
A 'predator' with an 'insidious strategy': Narendra Modi figures on RSF's list of 'press freedom predators'
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A predator with an "insidious strategy".

This is how global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, described prime minister Narendra Modi’s control of media in the country. The report accused him of being a predator since he took office and that he first practiced his news and information control methods as the chief minister of Gujarat.

The comments on Modi are part of a list of 37 "press freedom predators". The list includes Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan, North Korea head Kim Jong-un, Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro, Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohamed bin Salman, and other heads of state or government who "trample on press freedom by creating a censorship apparatus, jailing journalists arbitrarily or inciting violence against them, when they don’t have blood on their hands because they have directly or indirectly pushed for journalists to be murdered."

Describing Modi's methodology, the report claimed that he floods mainstream media "with speeches and information tending to legitimise his national-populist ideology" and pushes forward the discourse of “media against journalism”.

The report continued: “On the one hand, by visibly ingratiating himself with the owners of leading media outlets, their journalists know they risk dismissal if they criticise the government. On the other, prominent coverage of his extremely divisive and derogatory speeches, which often constitute disinformation, enables the media to achieve record audience levels.”

Furthermore, Reporters Without Borders' report talked about the tools that Modi employs to enforce his control which include judicial provisions, such as the vague charge of sedition, and an army of online trolls that “wage appalling hate campaigns on social media against the journalists they don’t like.”

India is currently ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

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