The article 19 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the freedom of expression and the press. Yet, the authorities keep a close eye on what the journalists write, say or film. Be it for medias in vernacular languages, hindi or english. During the state of emergency imposed by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ( from 25 june 1975 to 21 march 1977), she didn’t hesitate to muzzle the press from the start. Nowadays, the main press publications ( Times of India, Indian express, The Hindu and Hindustan Times) are controlled by wealthy business families who may be tempted to use their newspapers to influence the government policies. While the editors in chief are theorically independent, it is a well known fact that these newspapers reflect ( at least partly) the concerns of their owners. The press barons are not only looking for power or personal gains. They launch aggressive campaigns to report abuses and financial or political scandals.
The freedom of expression is a right…with limitations. No problem as long as the journalists write, film,… about the picture postcard, tourism, culture, economic success and anything about the successes of India. Such subjects are welcome by the authorities. But as soon as they try to have informations about sensitive topics like the Kashmir conflict, corruption, human rights and the setbacks of the so-called “largest democracy in the world”, the problems start. Many journalists who had the courage to disclose embarrassing informations have been threatened or dismissed because of pressions exerted on their editorial board. Libel suits are another mean to filter informations. As for the foreign journalists, some are persona non grata in India.