Sunday January 20, 2019
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Senior journalists, authors slam scribes for ‘selife with Modi’

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New Delhi: The primary job of journalists as the Fourth Estate of a democracy is to ask tough questions to powers-that-be and in order to do so it is essential that they maintain some distance from the latter (duh).

The logic is simple: if we made friends with those we are supposed to question, we would not be able to perform our foremost duty of holding them accountable. Or so we are taught in journalism schools.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi organized a Diwali Milan function for mediapersons on Saturday at the BJP Headquarters wherein the journalists could be seen jostling and vying with each other to take selfies with the former. The pictures quickly went viral on social media, especially on Twitter, where people began raising questions on the lowering standards and ethics of Indian media.

Senior journalist Nihal Singh while speaking with NewsGram took a dim view of the bonhomie and mob mentality displayed by Modi and the journalists at the BJP Headquarters.

“I think it’s funny and at the same time shameful too. If students indulge in such things, it’s understandable. But not for journalists who are supposed to perform the important task of holding the elected representatives accountable to the people of India,” Singh said.

The fact that there was no question and answer session showed that Modi wanted a controlled environment and one-way communication. This is how he is, the senior journalist added.

“I have read books written about Modi and the best was one written by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay that is ‘Narendra Modi: The Man, The Times’. At a certain stage when the author came close to know the real Modi, the latter cut him off completely.”

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay seems to concur with Singh. NewsGram spoke to the Modi biographer to understand his perspective on the issue.

“There are two kinds of journalists in India: those who take selfies and those who don’t. The lure and fascination for power and inclination to flaunt one’s political connections is stronger in the former. Modi is only obliging such journalists; he is more than happy with a one-way dialogue process. Yet I feel Modi’s romance with the media seems to be almost over if we compare this event with last year’s ‘Diwali Milan’. The enthusiasm was lacking,” Mukhopadhyay said.

Prabhakar Kumar, head of the CMS Media Lab, told NewsGram that such instances make it tough for the journalists to do their real job i.e. asking questions.

“They ought to maintain some distance. Journalists these days wish to flaunt their closeness to ministers and thus their value and worth. Nira Radia case is an apt example in this regard. In a way, we could say that media is not a mirror of the society anymore and this is not good for democracy.

“For instance, in London BBC reporters asked him tough questions like on the ‘growing intolerance’ in the country. Can Indian journalists question him in this regard? It is a pity that he is open to questions in a foreign land, not in India. This is how Modi operates. Even during 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he strategically gave interviews to selected journalists and media houses. He’s the one who chooses and journalists are only obliging him.”

Many senior journalists NewsGram spoke to were of the opinion that ‘Diwali Milan’ reflected poorly on the Indian media.

Shemin Joy, Principal Correspondent with Deccan Herald, said that taking pictures with dignitaries and ministers was fine, but the manner in which it was done spoke volumes about the journalists present there.

“It’s like they were crazy about taking selfies with Modi. The mob mentality of the journalists is the issue. They forget that it’s always their prestige that is at stake, for it reflects poorly on them. Even with Manmohan Singh, my answer would have been the same. In a way, Modi is showing a mirror to media and telling the journalists that ‘this (selfie) is what you deserve and you should be satisfied with it. No need to ask questions.’

“This is happening because of the lowering standards of Indian media. That elegance which used be there once seems to be missing now. It’s no surprise that ‘Presstitude’, an objectionable term, is now associated with the Indian media. Verily, we’re ourselves responsible for our plight.”

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Now India is One of The Most Open Countries for FDI: Narendra Modi

Modi had conceptualised the summit as Gujarat Chief Minister in 2003 to position the state as an ideal investment destination after the 2002 riots.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that his government had made doing business in India easier, cheaper, faster and smarter with his term accounting for almost 45 per cent of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that the country received in the last 18 years.

Speaking at the inaugural function of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2019 here, he said India was now one of the most open countries for FDI with over 90 per cent approvals put on the automatic route.

“In the last four years, we have received FDI worth $263 billion. This is 45 per cent of the FDI received in last 18 years,” Modi told the gathering.

He said India was among the top 10 FDI destinations.

FDI
PM Speaks on FDI www.news.civilserviceindia.com

Modi, who is on a three-day visit to his home state to throw open his pet biennial Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, said the India of today was a land of “immense opportunities” being the only place that offered democracy, demography and demand.

“Fifty cities in India are ready to build metro rail systems. We have to build 50 million houses. The requirement of road, rail and waterways is enormous. We want world class technologies to achieve our goal in a faster and cleaner way. India is thus, a land of immense opportunities.” he said.

The Prime Minister said the challenge for India, as in most emerging economies, was to grow horizontally as well as vertically to ensure that the benefits of development spread to regions and communities that have lagged behind while also meeting enhanced expectations in terms of quality of life, quality of services and quality of infrastructure.

“We are well aware that our achievements, here in India, will directly impact one sixth of humanity.”

Modi said his government had removed the barriers which were preventing India from achieving its full potential and now it was ready for business like never before.

The government has made doing business easier. cheaper, faster and smarter, he said.

“In the last four years, we have jumped 65 places in the global ranking of World Bank’s Doing Business Report. From 142 in 2014 to 77 now, but we are still not satisfied. I have asked my team to work harder so that India is in the top 50 next year.

“We have also made doing business cheaper. The historic implementation of Goods and Services Tax and other measures of simplification and consolidation of taxes have reduced transaction costs and made processes efficient.

“We have also made doing business faster through digital processes, online transactions and single point inter-faces,” he said.

According to LocalCircles, each person who voted in the survey is registered with the portal with their detailed information and in many cases they shared their residential address.
Doing business in India now easier, cheaper, faster, smarter: Modi

He said his government had made doing business smarter by insisting on IT based transactions and digital payments including direct transfer of government benefits.

Modi added that he understood that being a young nation, India needs to create job opportunities and better infrastructure, which are both linked with investments.

“Therefore, in recent years, there has been unprecedented focus on manufacturing and infrastructure,” he said.

Listing the achievements of his government, he said for the first time, India had become a net exporter of electricity, had installed transmission lines at an unprecedented pace and had doubled the speed of road construction with rural road connectivity now at 90 per cent.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi to Unveil National Film Museum in Mumbai

“At 7.3 per cent, the average GDP growth, over the entire term of our government, has been the highest of any Indian government since 1991. At the same time,the rate of inflation at 4.6 per cent is the lowest for any Indian government since 1991, when India began its process of liberalisation,” he said.

Modi had conceptualised the summit as Gujarat Chief Minister in 2003 to position the state as an ideal investment destination after the 2002 riots. (IANS)