India's position in the World Press Freedom Index is declining and this is the time when journalists should be on the constant lookout for anything that could jeopardise secularism and unity of the people, Kerala Assembly Speaker M B Rajesh said on Saturday. He said in today's world, media is facing direct attacks across the globe and it means democracy is in danger.
Delivering a speech at the launch of a website of Global Malayalee Press Club (GMPC) here, the Speaker said journalists must not become propagandists of those who divide society. Leader of Opposition in Assembly V D Satheesan warned those who misuse the media. In a sensitive period like this, the challenge before the media is to handle issues that affect unity of society, he said.
"The other day, there was news of journalists being brutally attacked in Afghanistan came. It is easy for us to talk about Afghanistan but it will be difficult for us to say about India, where an editor Gauri Lankesh was shot. Many local journalists have been killed. India's position in the World Press Freedom Index is declining. That means democracy is in danger," Rajesh said. As per the World Press Freedom Index, 2021, of Paris-based Reporters without Borders, India is in the 142nd position among 180 countries. India’s rank was 133 in 2016 which came down to 142 in 2020.
"This is the time when journalists should be on the constant lookout for anything that could jeopardise secularism and unity of the people," he said.
Apart from Rajesh and Satheesan, Ernakulam Member of Parliament Hibi Eden and others participated in the launch of the website of GMPC, an international network of Malayalee journalists and media community.
"We will be very popular tonight but social media can make us unpopular within hours. There are people who misuse social media. Similarly, there are people who misuse the media. In a sensitive period like this, the challenge before the media is to handle issues which affect the unity of society," Satheesan said.
Rajesh said society, these days, is witnessing people holding responsible positions making irrational and irresponsible statements. "Not to become the propagandists of those, who say things detrimental to the communal unity and harmony of a society like Kerala, is an important qualification of a journalist," Rajesh said.
George Kallivayalil, president of GMPC, addressing the gathering, gave an insight into the formation of such an initiative.