This is apropos the feature Freedom
of Press in India” (August). In a nation that contains multi-ethnic character with a vast diversity of cultures, the world’ largest democracy India with a population of 1.20 billion, it is not unassuming to yet have the largest and most complex multi-media networks comprising the print, the visual and social media. Among these several media networks which promote communication needs among the masses, the newspapers play a very crucial and defining role as the world’s most unmatched vanguards. The role of the press in India has undergone several twists and turns during the colonial and post-colonial period and also during and after the Emergency.
The Indian newspaper industry is the largest of its kind and has surpassed a record with several of language newspapers both regional and national have been showing up competitive trends with regard to their presentation, coverage and reporting rather in a novel and variety of ways that are proving to be distinctive and appreciable in all respects.
The role of press is too big to enumerate, as there are at present several thousands of editions of regional and national newspapers published and circulated across the country with an incredibly huge readership. The press and its liberties are of late being governed by the ministry of information and broadcasting, as the previously existing Press Council of India had become defunct after Emergency in 1977.
Although, the freedom of press is a guaranteed proposition as enshrined in the Constitution, it remains a far cry due to the imposition of certain restrictions meant to safeguard the decency enjoyed by the powers that be at the political and bureaucratic levels. Although the freedom and role of press are considered as the fourth pillar or estate of democracy and act as the watchdog to observe and control the other three wings, it cannot really exhort anyone nor take it to task due to non-delimitation of powers vested with press as the fourth estate to support the democracy as such.
The press as a watchdog of democracy should expose the factual information in the interests of the public by not maligning the latter with false or distorted news that might prove a bone of contention for the political parties and their leaders and also the governments in power. In fact, the role of press is a defining feature to figure out the good and the bad governance and hence such a practice is often not a deciding factor to sustain or suspend and even throwing out governments as the press is more closely attached to the public. The press can draw huge public attention due to its credibility as a vehicle of communication and it has influence to create vox populi especially during the time of elections when the chances of tilting the votes bears a relation to reportage and information expressly unleashed by the press.
The role of free press in disseminating information to the public should always be genuine and precise by avoiding false or misinformation on specific issues that are likely to come under public scrutiny. This would result in a trustworthy and justified role of press in so far as the readers are enlightened to react only through such reported information which is otherwise not accessible to them.
— Bh. Indu Sekhar