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Looking at the three lowest-ranking countries on the Press Freedom Index and the state of the press and journalists there. 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have published their ‘Press Freedom Index’ every year since 2002. This Index does not reflect on the ‘quality’ of journalism but rather evaluates the freedom of the press in each country through reports, questionnaires and analysis. India has consistently ranked in the lower half of the index and has slipped further down to occupy the 142nd rank. Below are the three lowest-ranking countries on the index, that essentially have the least freedom of free and are known for their suppression of independent journalism.

Ranking 178th is Eritrea perhaps the most secretive African state with one-party, a totalitarian rule that makes any opposition impossible. There is said to be no independent media in the country with all its news coming from the government’s ‘Ministry of Information’. In 1996, the government passed a law banning all private broadcast media and in 2001 actively pursued journalised to quash dissent against the President and shut down any independent media. With very few having access to the internet and strict censorship and monitoring, it is impossible for most to access any media outlets or for journalists to carry out their work with the international media monitoring organisation describing Eritrea as “a dictatorship in which the media have no rights”. There are, however, the likes of ‘J’ who anonymously runs a page called the Eritrean Press that has more than 250,000 followers and reports on happenings inside the secretive state. Not even the page’s eight volunteers know his real name as it would endanger his life.

Ranking 179th, Turkmenistan is known for its heavily regulated press that makes it impossible to report anything that deviates from government lines or is critical of the President. With a single state news agency and a few magazines in newspapers that are said to be expensive and their content highly censored. The media elevates the President to a God-like status and pushes the government’s praise. While it is technically possible to set up private broadcasting channels, it is expected that they promote a positive image only. Authorities are also known to periodically remove satellite dishes from houses, supposedly to make the cities more visually appealing and cutting off the public’s access to any unregulated broadcasts. Ruslan Myatiev, the founder and editor of ‘Alternative Turkmenistan News’, an outlet based in the Netherlands, says “we have cases where floods have taken over entire cities and nobody reports about it. We have accidents. We have murders. We have corrupt officials that are put in jail for corruption, and nobody reports about it”. And with severe punishment for journalists or whistleblowers that dare raise their voice, it is no surprise why.

Ranking 180th, the lowest possible rank, North Korea is perhaps the best modern-day example of a tightly regulated and tool that does nothing for the disseminating facts or information but serves as a propaganda outlet. This year, Reporters Without Borders ranked North Korea at the bottom of its yearly Press Freedom Index and this is no surprise considering all North Korean ‘journalists’ are members of the Workers’ Party and are thoroughly screened before even being allowed to work in the field. North Korea uses its media to push the usual propaganda, whether it is elevating the leaders and the country’s image to the highest possible, almost divine levels, or by carefully manipulating the news to distract from an issue or pacify the people. An example of the media playing into the leadership’s cult of personality is the media reporting Russian authorities as being “awestruck” by Kim Jong-il’s ability to “stop the rain and make the sun come out” during his visit to Russia in 2001. The media also regularly blasts news to draw attention away from issues such as when the media hid the death of Kim Jong-il for two days or failed to report on domestic issues and the widespread famines.


Feature Image Credits: News Laundry

Tashi Dorjay Sherpa

[email protected]


An alleged attack on a token journalist happens, and it finds potential to divert the enumerable actual attacks on other journalists which have never been highlighted with half the importance into silence.

Not that people already couldn’t care less about journalists getting killed or harrased, all the attention of such matters has been credited to one person who would appear in all major searches, if one inputs, ‘attack on journalists’ as keywords.

Given the state of the fourth pillar of democracy in our country, whose performance is reflected in it’s awesome rankings, there’s no denying the fact that journalism has faced a heavy blow. India ranks 142nd out of 180 countries on Freedom of Press Index as of 2020 and it keeps getting worse every successive year. The Committee to Protect Journalism (CPJ), reported that our nation ranks 14th among states where journalists are murdered and killers go free. A study titled, “Getting Away With Murder,” revealed that 21 journalists were killed between 2014-19, and not a single conviction has taken place since 2014 against the targeted attacks on journalists for thier investigative works. Looks like the convicts have a licence to kill, but who gives them this license?

The study mentioned earlier reported that the list of perpetrators who attack journalists is inclusive of government agencies, security forces, political parties, local mafia, etc. A very basic inference from such a study is suggestive of the malign intention of the people in power who wish to dastardly silence the ones who dare to speak. Therefore to swift them into silence is the most viable and lucrative alternative.

Image Credits: Instagram/Ravish Kumar
Image Credits: Instagram/Ravish Kumar

Interestingly, silencing can be done in a legal way as well. Kashmiri photojournalist Masrat Zahra whose works have been published by Al Jazeera, Washington Post, The Caravan, etc was recently booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which is an anti terror law resembling the Rowlatt Act of 1919. The pictures clicked by the Zahra were deemed to glorify “anti-national” sentiments and dent the image of law enforcing bodies, (the same bodies who are accused of terrorising journalists). Another journalist Gowhar Geelani, who has been heavily vocal about assault on journalism and state of Kashmir was also booked under the same act and there’s an FIR filed against The Hindu’s Srinagar correspondent-Peerzada Ashiq as well. However, Kapil Gujjar and Komal Pandey who have actually managed to terrorise people are living freely. Dalals who masquerade as journalists and spread fake news, instigate communalism, and spread Islamophobia everyday have no trials against them. Looks like there’s a pattern which is adhered to while earmarking as to who gets to be labelled as “anti-national’ and faces contempt of court.

If physical harassment is not enough, defamation cases are filed, spyware attacks are aimed, and mental harassment is dispensed through threat calls and trolling. Journalists are paying a very heavy price for doing their jobs and a growing intolerance towards independent media has landed a lot in hospitals, prisons, courts, and obituaries. From Gauri Lankesh to Shujaat Bukhari to Navin Nishchal to Sandeep Sharma, and to all other journalists who have lost their lives while reporting, current media should remember them, and hang their heads in shame every time they buckle under and tandem to the Power- which is the sole reason for a peevish state of journalism today.

Feature Image Credits: NYC Street Art

Umaima Khanam

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Arnab Goswami and his wife were attacked in their vehicle by two bike-borne assailants while driving home from the Republic TV Studios.

In an unfortunate series of events, a familiar face of prime-time television, ‘journalist’ Arnab Goswami was attacked on his way home from the Republic TV Studio. In a video shared by Republic, Arnab claims that two bike-borne assailants tailed his vehicle and attempted to break the windows and threw bottles and ink. The attack is said to have taken place barely 500 metres from Arnab’s residence at around 12:15 A.M.

Arnab was quick to release a video claiming that the attack was coordinated or ordered by the top brass of the Indian National Congress, holding Sonia Gandhi personally accountable for the attack. More information has emerged with Republic stating in a report that “Sources revealed that the Congress workers who carried out the physical attack on Arnab Goswami’s car in the night had been given a lockdown pass to distribute food, amid COVID”. The two assailants were apprehended by Arnab’s security detail and handed over to the Police who took them into custody. However, this only seems to be the start of an epic saga.

Known for his dramatic and loud brand, or rather take on ‘journalism’, Arnab was quick to jump into the blame game and opinions were quickly divided on the matter with some condemning the attack and others crying foul and accusing him of staging it. It was claimed that the ‘Metadata’ of the video indicated that the video was shot hours before and that Ashoke Pandit, President of the Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association and Sambit of the Bharatiya Janata Party tweeted about the attack before the first tweet by Republic TV. Both of these claims were thwarted by the fact-checking network, Alt News with evidence.

The Indian National Congress has chosen to distance themselves from the attack with Party general secretary, K.C. Venugopal saying “We are very sure Congressmen have nothing to do with this. This is not our tradition, not our culture. We will not get physical against anybody even those who criticise the Congress,”. However, the two assailants have been identified as Prateek Mishra and Arun Borade, members of the Youth Congress in the Sion-Koliwada Assembly constituency.

The FIR which was filed at the NM Joshi Marg police station states that Mishra and Borade blocked Goswami’s vehicle, banged on the windowpane, and threw ink at it. The two have been booked under Sections 341 (Punishment for wrongful restraint) and 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code. In a report, Republic has claimed that the FIR was ‘watered down’ and did not mention the political link of the assailants. Both the Editors Guild of India and Press Council of India released statements condemning the attack and asking for action to be taken. In its statement, the Press Council of India stated: “Every citizen in the country, including a journalist, has the right to express their opinion”. Arnab also faced pushback as petitions were filed in Bombay and Karnataka High Courts, seeking a ban on Republic TV and FIRs registered against him in several States. The Supreme Court, however, granted Arnab three weeks’ protection from any ‘coercive action’ against him by police in a hate case. The Supreme Court is only convening to hear “extremely urgent” cases and many expressed vexation at Arnab’s ‘VIP treatment’.

Perhaps the one agreeable point is that an attack on a journalist is an attack on free-speech and needs to be treated with utmost importance. The following line from the statement by the Press Council of India puts its best – “Violence is not the answer even against bad journalism”. Put against the backdrop of journalists and activists being booked under the sedition law and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and shelved pleas, Arnab may not have it as bad, as he plays ringmaster to the circus that is his ‘Banana Republic’ that is backed by controversy and hate.

 Feature Image Credits: The Free Press Journal

Tashi Dorjay Sherpa

[email protected]

Read to learn about the rise of the so-called “B and D” media and its impact on shaping the common person’s views.

It is a common tendency to accept news at face value, and why not? These are ‘reputable’ publishing and media houses with iconic anchors and editors who answer the questions that ‘the nation wants to know’. Why then, has the rude label of ‘B and D’ been slapped onto these diligent harbingers of truth who work so hard to expose ‘anti-nationals’ from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and University of Delhi (DU) every night at 9? The term ‘B and D Media’ is an Indian twist to the term American term ‘Yellow Journalism’ coined in the mid-1980s to describe the sensational journalism in the circulation war between Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal. Yellow Journalism is often characterised by bold headlines, eye-catching graphics, controversial and sensational pieces with little or no research or fact-checking.

While all this seems awfully familiar, a large part of the Indian Journalism suffers from the additional nuisance of being politically aligned to a particular organisation or party and serving as a platform to amplify their message. While there still exist voices of reason who serve the mission of serving the unbiased truth, the large part of Indian has been consumed by this ‘B and D’ tendency.

While the headlines and stories that these outlets run are often laughable and ridiculous at best, there still exists a large number of individuals who assume that the media is an infallible and consume this information without as much a quick ‘Google Search’.

This brings us to a juncture where criticism is seen as ‘anti-national’ and challenging the very country itself. Here is where the main problem presents arises. When people being to equate a political party to India itself and it questioning the political party is seen to be synonymous to questioning the country, the very core principles of our Constitution begins to break down. We have begun to take a plunge into an ‘Orwellian State’ where democracy is non-existent and the very idea of opposition is seen as ridiculous and every single action of the state is seen to be faultless with opposing political views seen as a threat to the country and cast away. Making matters only worse is the peddling of fake news through India’s favourite and most accurate media platform, ‘WhatsApp’ where forwards are often seen to carry hateful, communal, discriminatory, dangerous or simply inaccurate information. While I love my country and take pride in singing the National Anthem, I find it difficult to accept that UNESCO voted our National Anthem as the best in the world or that the new Rs. 2000 notes contain micro-GPS chips.

This brings us to the question, ‘Why should I care?’ Well, this much more than an opportunity to make memes. Our entire freedom may be at stake and it may soon be impossible to ask questions or hold the government accountable giving it unchecked power to rule the country to their liking while suppressing anyone who dares deviate in opinion. Even if you support the current regime and may feel safe right now, it is only a matter of time before they come for you and the things you take for granted. Soon they will come for you too and divide the population and cement their leadership by force while thinning the line between reality and fiction with the media under their control. It’s about time we stop encouraging this ‘B and D Media’ and call them out while empowering and promoting real journalism that is still in a fight to bring you the truth.

Feature Image Credits: Chhavi Bahmba for DU Beat.

Tashi Dorjay Sherpa

[email protected]


Have we given the government too much power over our thoughts and freedoms?

What is “Thoughtcrime”? Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the fictional city of Oceania and its language, “Newspeak”. To give you some context, 1984 a book by George Orwell tells the story of Oceania, a totalitarian, dystopian state controlled by the ruling party “Ingsoc” (English Socialism) and its mysterious leader figure “Big Brother”.

Orwell’s writing is known to be precise and to the point, usually avoiding the use of intricate language. He was critical of the use of euphemisms and pretentious language, which the fascist regimes of the time used to manipulate or obscure the truth. He believed that literature was meant to be clear and understandable by all.

In order to control the people and propagation of ideas, a new language with a heavily restricted and limited vocabulary, “Newspeak” was created. The Ingsoc intended to completely replace “Oldspeak” (Standard English) with Newspeak as the exclusive means of communication for all members of the party and society, except the “Proles” (Proletarians, or the working class) who were the condemned to a life of manual labour and poverty, and did not concern the Ingsoc. Newspeak, with its odd grammar and structure, fulfilled its purpose by curtailing the freedom of thought, expression, and personal identity while allowing the party to propagate its own ideology and worldview.

“Thoughtcrime” also known as “crimethink” refers to any politically unorthodox thoughts that do not align with the beliefs or ideology of the dominant party, Ingsoc. The group responsible for the detection and elimination of thoughtcrime is the “Thinkpol” (Thought Police) and the punishment for thoughtcrime is death. The Thinkpol employ the use of aggressive surveillance through “Telescreens” which are devices that function as a television, camera, and microphone that constantly monitor party members in public as well as in private. Simply put, privacy or freedom is non-existent, with newspeak not even having words to convey the idea of freedom.

Perhaps you may find similarities between the ruling party of Oceania and our own. The suppression of freedom of thought and expression or the manipulation of language to obscure reality. In the way politicians discuss a matter to great lengths, only to say later claim that they never discussed it at all and change the narrative completely. Or the “Telescreens” of our age, the internet, and social media which have come under heavy criticism for breaches of privacy.

Governments across the world are being accused of surveillance of its citizens and misuse of social media to influence elections and political campaigns. The resistance towards certain government actions, ordinary people taking to the street and students, more politically aware than ever, taking the lead. Maybe some of you have been accused of thoughtcrime by being called “anti-national” or a member of the “tukdre-tukdre gang”. The Thinkpol silence protests and detain people to suppress any thoughts that do not align or contradicts the ideology of the party in power. Perhaps you relate to politicians and leaders claiming that “everything is fine”, unbothered by the common person’s problems, much like the Ingsoc and Proles, or a single party passing rapid-fire legislation while steamrolling an ineffectual opposition.

I believe that we should all form our own opinions. A future without dissent is a dark one, where a single group has supreme power, and no one can raise as much as a question to this group. Oceania had perfected the art of manipulation with an authoritarian government that changed history books and reality itself to suit its agendas. By no means are we there yet, but happenings from around the country are concerning. Silencing of journalists and the buying of media channels who scream the supposed ‘truth’ at us, all while creating an evil image of those who dare question the government or protest. These strategies are working to some extent and their effects can be seen in hostile and polarised opinions held by some. Perhaps we’ve come closer to Orwell’s 1984 than we realise.

‘Until they become conscious, they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled, they cannot become conscious’ – 1984

Featured Image Credits: Paste Magazine

Tashi Dorjay Sherpa

[email protected]


As the old saying goes, ‘A pen is mightier than a sword’, in today’s time, writing and expressing oneself clearly is an important skill one must have a good grasp of. Thus, here are some tricks and techniques for better writing skills.

Keeping these small but significant pointers in mind will help one present their writing in a clear and concise manner, with effective communication taking place.

  1. KISS

(Keep it Short and Simple)

This golden rule works wonders when it comes to writing. Short sentences grab the reader’s attention. They don’t bore them and allow the message to be understood easily. It also gives an illusion of a short write-up thereby not making the readers bored to death while they read a piece.

  1. 5W1H

What, Where, Who, When, Why and How

Keep these questions in mind and your writing will become one with the maximum information without beating around the bush. Answer and address all the questions precisely to have a piece that conveys all information without unnecessary details.

  1. Use of Simple Vocabulary

While writing a piece it is important to understand that your work is understood by all. Hence, use plain and simple language while you construct your sentences. Not only will it make the piece easy to read, but also provide a good speed to the readers while they go through your work.

  1. Less is More

Convey more meaning in less words. Make the right use of synonyms, antonyms and idioms. Choosing words and phrases wisely will not add value to your writing but also make it an interesting read.

  1. Read Out Loud

Reading out a piece before submission is always a helpful and a handy trick. It helps one see if the sentences are framed correctly and make sense.

  1. Ask for Reviews!

Make someone whom you trust- a senior, a friend or a mentor go through your piece. An honest review from peers and people who surround you serves as a great feedback channel for improving upon ones’ work and writing skills.

  1. Read!

Read. Read. Read.

Be it newspapers, magazines or even fiction books. Reading from a variety of genres exposes a person to various techniques of writing and helps in picking up and identifying which techniques are helpful when it comes to incorporating them in one’s writing skills.

  1. Write!

All of these above-mentioned practices become futile if one does not put them into action. Writing skills are like a muscle; the more you practice, the stronger your grip gets in it! So, explore various kinds of writings. Be it a long form essay, journalling or even story-writing.

The more you write, the better you become with the skill.

These are some of the techniques which when taken into practice ardently, will surely make your work emerge as one which everyone appreciates for its readability, flow and presentation of thoughts.

So what are you waiting for? Write your heart out! Get up, get going!


Feature Image Credits: Scopio

Amrashree Mishra

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Looking at student journalism in Delhi on the occasion of National Press Day, an account of student journalism through the eyes of students. 

 Journalism was and still remains to this day one of the most dangerous, exciting, albeit under-appreciated professions. The case remains more so, In India. media freedom group, Reporters Without Borders released a report in 2018, which put India fifth on the list of the maximum number of journalists killed in 2018, the death count being six. In the current atmosphere, many students at Delhi University (DU) and universities across India look at journalism as a career option. For many students, this career starts from the undergraduate level through college magazines and organizations such as DU Beat where valuable experience on how a media organization functions can fit into a students timetable.

For many students, working in student media and student journalist has been an enriching experience. As Chhavi Bahmba, a first-year student at Sri Venkateswara College and a correspondent for DU Beat says, “Student journalism has been one of the most liberating things, and the highlight of my college life. It has given me access and a platform to write. Also, people around me also get a voice as I can put their thoughts forward. It’s been a stepping stone to my career.”

There is also the fact that deadlines and missing them are one of the deadliest sins in media, and working as a student journalist inculcates that. Aditi Gutgutia, a first-year student at Lady Shri Ram College says, “It compels me to write as a habit and makes me fight the urge to procrastinate.”

According to Faizan Salik, A student from Jamia Millia Believes that exposure is one of the most important aspects of a student journalist as he goes on to say “ it is a veritable bridge that can expose you to multiple dimensions of life which is untouched otherwise and hence promises some good amount of fermentation in the long run.” He also goes on to talk about how it working for that can be a challenge but that is something that he and several others have had to overcome. He says, “Being a part of something like this in a university like Jamia was a challenge that we at The Jamia Review, a student-run journal of Jamia Millia Islamia has taken a step further and hopes to incorporate everything that it requires to achieve our goals.”

There are, of course, negative aspects too, some of which are synonymous with journalism as a profession. Jaishree Kumar, a third-year student at Ramjas says. “I learnt that journalists are treated badly and worshipped. It is also rewarding and exhausting at the same time.”

There are the obvious downsides of handling so much workload along with regular classes, and another problem put up by Jaishree was how working for student newspapers not associated with the College administration also doesn’t help attendance as even though her teachers are supportive of her work, they cannot give her ECA attendance.

In conclusion, in the current politically charged climate, student media has given aspiring journalists a place to hone their skills. The experience that we get is valuable and the experiences and contacts that we build cannot be found anywhere else.

Feature Image Credits: Scopio



Prabhanu Kumar Das

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Journalism is a complex phenomenon and Indian media is in a shaky space. 

A lot of journalism today is quite horrible. It is shrill, it is intolerant, it is partisan. The media, in India at least, is not talking about issues that mean something. Not only is the epicentre of the coverage the political elite (here also, coverage is not distributed uniformly across the political spectrum) but the reporter is also going missing. Just a glance over the prime-time debates of different news channels shows how a lot of the focus is on the celebrity anchor. Information is disseminated not through reportage but through ‘debates’ that are seldom more than bickering. 

Print media and the growing digital space still seem to be better placed, but even here we have shortcomings. There is a wide range of issues of growing contemporary relevance that does not get adequate attention. Not a lot of the media is talking about questions of privacy, big data, or climate change. The Guardian recently decided to cover climate change stories by using terms such as “crisis”, “emergency” and “catastrophe” instead of “climate change”. These stories, however, do not get adequate space in many parts of the Indian media. 

We do not cover international stories adequately either. There is just one news channel, WION, that keeps international news as its prime focus. Even when newspapers do publish stories in their ‘world’ or ‘international’ sections, those are usually excerpts of stories from other international media – New York Times and the like – or taken from wire services like Reuters or AP. There is not a lot of original reporting that the Indian media is doing. When we do, it mostly relates to Pakistan, and even that is not of excellent quality. The repercussions of this are not simply that the Indian populace has lesser access to original world affairs coverage done by Indian media – indeed, it restricts access to global news for many, period – but also that it leaves a void of Indian perspective in global affairs. The world’s biggest democracy and one of the largest economies of the world, housing the enormous diversity that it does, needs to have its authentic voice in the world. And the media has a key role in creating that voice. 

Rural affairs and agriculture, which still directly or indirectly relate to a majority of Indians, are covered in passing glances. Although, the situation seems slightly better here. However, perhaps the way these beats are covered is inadequate. In his landmark book, Everybody Loves a Good Drought, P. Sainath details how the media approaches rural affairs – the displacement of tribal populations because of the construction of a dam, high levels of malnutrition among rural children, alcoholism – by viewing them as events, rather than examining the longstanding processes behind them. 

Education-related news does not makeit to mainstream media, as often as it should. For an electorate to be mature, it needs to be aware of what is being taught in its schools and colleges. The recent Syllabus Controversy of the University of Delhi should have ideally been a matter of national discussion, for the questions it posed about academic autonomy and the like.

Of course, not everything is bad; bad journalism is simply a lot noisier and more visible. But even fundamentally, journalism and the media are in a fix.

What about objectivity? Do journalists need to hide all their personal biases and provide information, or is there virtue in consciously taking the side of the ‘voiceless’? Should media houses have a professed ideology – even if they cover stories objectively – or should they be largely neutral, with editorial positions varying as per specific issues? 

Even after all this, what about the business side of things? For all the perceived glamour of the 9 p.m. star anchors, media is not as lucrative as it seems. Newspapers and channels don’t often even make profits, while large staff layoffs are not very rare either. Newspapers are having to grapple with questions of subscriptions and paywalls, a transition from print to digital, and new models of revenue generation – with varying degrees of success. In the face of all this, Indian media needs to step up its game.

Feature Image Credits: Financial Express

Prateek Pankaj

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After gaining prominence with his ground breaking reporting on shows like Prime Time, Hum Log, and Ravish Ki Report, NDTV Journalist and Senior Executive Editor, Ravish Kumar was conferred with the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award.

Being one of the five recipients of the 2019 Magsaysay Award, the Asian equivalent of the  Nobel Prize,  Kumar has been awarded the prize  for “harnessing journalism to give voice to the voiceless” and his “unfaltering commitment to a professional, ethical journalism of the highest standards”.

Other recipients of this year’s Magsaysay include Ko Swe Win of Myanmar, Angkhana Neelapaijit from Thailand, Raymundo Pujante Cayabyab from Philippines, and Kim Jong-Ki from South Korea.

Ravish Kumar, an alumnus of the prestigious University of Delhi is a History Honours graduate from Deshbandhu College. Initially, he was interested in Public Affairs and further pursued a postgraduate diploma in Hindi Journalism from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, but dropped out eventually.

In 1996, he became a part of the New Delhi Television Group (NDTV) and rose to the top with his dealing of the common problems on Prime Time and influential reporting of the same criticising the Government and the authority coupled with professional attitude with a fluid explanation of critical issues presenting facts and figures substantially.

Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s highest honour. It celebrates the memory and leadership example of the third Philippine president after whom the award is named, and is given every year to individuals or organisations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late and beloved leader.

“In electing Ravish Kumar to receive the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes his unfaltering commitment to a professional, ethical journalism of the highest standards; his moral courage in standing up for truth, integrity, and independence; and his principled belief that it is in giving full and respectful voice to the voiceless, in speaking truth bravely yet soberly to power, that journalism fulfills its noblest aims to advance democracy,” says the citation by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation.

Previously, he has also been awarded the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award twice in the years 2013 and 2017 respectively. He has also won the Red Ink Journalist of the Year Award in 2016.  Ravish Kumar is also a celebrated writer, who has authored books like The Free Voice India, Dekhte Rahiye , and Ishq mein Shehar Hona.

The Award will be presented in formal ceremony in Manila, Philippines on 31st August, the birth anniversary of the Philippines President whose ideals inspired the Award’s creation.

Feature Image Credits: Edugenius Blog

Faizan Salik

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Recent proposals for changes in the syllabi of various undergraduate courses have sparked opposition from the teaching staff, and the ABVP.

Controversy over academic matters arose in the  University of Delhi (DU), with some members of the Standing Committee and the Academic Council (AC), along with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) taking objections to some of the proposed changes in the syllabi of various undergraduate courses.

The controversy has taken the form of opposition from Academic Council members and protests by the ABVP, which some had alleged to have turned hostile.

The Background

A report in The Hindu stated that changes in the syllabus proposed by the English department of the University were opposed in a meeting of the Standing Committee to review the Undergraduate syllabus on 11th July. Among the proposals was the inclusion of study materials related to the role of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the 2002 Gujarat riots, and use of Hindu deities in the reading of Queer Literature.  

Similar was the case with the English Journalism syllabus. As reported by The New Indian Express on 15th July, objection was raised by some members of the Academic Council over the inclusion of chapters about Muzaffarnagar riots, and instances of lynchings.

On 17th July, The Indian Express reported about the syllabus changes of other courses and the objections that came along with them. These included syllabi of History, Political Science and Sociology, along with English. The report stated that the Academic Council “referred the syllabus of English and History back to the respective departments for reconsideration, thereby refusing to pass it as it is.” The report further read, “On the syllabi for Political Science and Sociology, some AC members said they too had been sent back for modification, while others claimed they were passed with ‘minor modifications’.”

Who objected and why?

Professor Rasal Singh, a member of the Academic Council, had raised objections regarding the syllabus changes. He alleged that in the story Maniben Alias Bibijaan – a background to the 2002 Gujarat riots – RSS and its affiliate organisations like Bajrang Dal were shown in a “very bad manner”, and were portrayed as “looters” and “murderers”.

He further said that in the syllabus proposed by the English department, “Gods Vishnu, Shiv, Kartikeya and Ganesh were depicted as part of the LGBT community. The sources and evidence for these were secondary sources like ‘Same Sex Love in India’ written by Leftists on the basis of foundational texts of Indian culture such as the Bhagavata Purana, Skanda Purana, and Shiva Purana.” He also alleged that “too much Literature was being incorporated in a paper like ‘Communication Skills’. Instead of core courses like ‘Indian Writing in English’, new papers such as ‘Literature and Caste’ and ‘Interrogating Queerness’ were started.”

Regarding the History department, he said that “[topics about] Rajput history, Amir Khusrau, Sher Shah Suri and Babasaheb Ambedkar were removed from the syllabus. In the ‘Democracy on Work’ course, only the history of Naxalism and the Left have been included.”

He also said that the topics related to the Vedic society, the joint family, village swaraj, and “basics of Indian cultural thought such as environmental discussions and nature worship” were removed from the Sociology syllabus. On the Political Science front, according to Mr Singh, Maoism had been included in the course on ‘Indian Social Movements’, while other social movements like the Ramakrishna Mission, Arya Samaj, Brahma Samaj, and Khudai Khidmatgar were removed.

Mr Singh also alleged that the English department had not complied with the format and instructions of the Choice-Based Credit System (CBCS) and instead of a 30 percent change in the syllabus, close to a 100 percent change had been done.

The syllabus showed “tremendous predominance of leftist ideology and a ceaseless opposition towards nationalist ideology, Indian culture and the RSS,” Mr Singh said.

The ABVP, the student-wing of the RSS, organised a protest on 15th July, against the “inclusion of false facts relating to Hinduism and nationalist organisations.” The ABVP also demanded for the “inclusion of elected office bearers of Delhi University Students’ Union in the Academic Council,” as per a press release made by the student organisation on 16th July.

While some alleged that the ABVP tried to “barge into” the Vice Chancellor’s office and demanded that the Heads of Department of English and History, and Academic Council member Saikat Ghosh be “handed over to them,” the student organisation maintained that the protest was “peaceful.”

“Following the protest of ABVP yesterday, Delhi University administration has withdrawn the proposed syllabus of Political Science, English, History and Sociology courses for revision and decided to retain 5 students as members in the Academic Council,” said Ashutosh Singh from the ABVP.

Note – Mr Ghosh could not respond to requests for comments by the time of publishing of this report. This report would be updated as and when he does.

Similar instances in the past

In October last year, the ABVP had objected to the appointment of historian Ramachandra Guha as the Shrenik Lalbhai Chair Professor of Humanities and the Director of the Gandhi Winter School at the Ahmedabad University’s School of Arts and Sciences. Pravin Desai, the ABVP Secretary for Ahmedabad city was quoted in The Indian Express as saying, “We said that we want intellectuals in our educational institutes and not anti-nationals, who can also be termed as ‘urban Naxals’. We had quoted anti-national content from his [Guha’s] books to the Registrar. We told him, the person you are calling is a ‘Communist’. If he is invited to Gujarat, there would be a JNU-kind ‘anti-national’ sentiment.”

Following this, Mr Guha announced that he would not be taking up this position due to “circumstances beyond my control.”


Some student organisations have condemned the ABVP’s protests. Organisations such as the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), All India Students’ Association (AISA), Collective, and others had called for a ‘joint protest’ on 17th July at the Arts Faculty, to “save our critical thinking universities and textbooks from communal forces.”

Amarjeet Kumar Singh from AISA said, “We demand that the syllabus should be decided by the Academic Council and not by the ABVP.”

Feature Image Credits: Various.

Prateek Pankaj

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