Is the Indian media independent?
Modi supporters used to claim that the media was biased against him. It is true that prior to the 2014 elections, there were some critical voices in the mainstream media, alongside the Sangh Parivar's many friends. But since then the media landscape in India has changed dramatically. Direct control, co-option, threats, censorship and self-censorship mean that criticism of the BJP government in the mainstream media is very rare, and pro-government stories, including blatant lies and propaganda are routinely carried. Indeed, according to independent commentators the mainstream media is devolving into a propaganda apparatus of the Modi government. Highlighting the total lack of integrity, a Cobrapost sting found the biggest players in the Indian media were prepared to promote a BJP Hindutva agenda for a price, and were happy to accept black money for these services. Examples of the corrupted and docile state of the mainstream media abound on our news pages on the media and censorship.
Aside from the mainstream media, the BJP understood the importance of social media early on. Even before the 2014 election BJP trolls were generating high volumes of pro-Hindutva activity on social media. Their dominance of social media is much greater now. Droves of workers and "influencers" of the BJP IT cell are paid either by the party itself or via its PR machine to spread propaganda and lies (video 1 and video 2). The functioning of the BJP's troll army was described in some detail in the book I am a troll: inside the secret world of the BJP's digital army by journalist Swati Chaturvedi, who was subjected to harassment and death threats.
With the mainstream media in a poor state, and social media also dominated by the Hindu right, it has fallen to alternative news portals such as The Wire, Scroll, Newsclick, Caravan and Newslaundry to provide news and analysis which has become impossible in the mainstream. Such alternative sources often break the stories that the mainstream ignores and provide most of the critical analysis of government policies around human rights, the law, the economony, and so forth. Individuals such as you-tuber Dhruv Rathee provide a rare counterpoint to government propaganda in the social media space.
Media and censorship in our news pages.