The media in India and China cannot be compared as the fourth estate in this country is independent, while its counterparts in the Communist nation generally toe the official line, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said here today. His comments came in response to a question from a student at an event about stories appearing in Chinese media in the wake of Dokalam stand-off. “In China, Xinhua, a news agency, People’s Daily, a newspaper, and their nationalist media which is the Global Times are basically controlled by the Communist Party. This media’s mainstream line is aligning with the policies and programmes of the People’s Republic of China government,” the Union minister of state for home affairs said.
“Whereas, the media in India is very independent of the government. Th media can criticise the government, the media can write anything. The positions being taken by the Chinese media and the Indian media cannot be compared because the situation and the circumstances are totally different,” he said.
Rijiju, however, declined to comment on the Dokalam stand-off and several other related queries. Asked why curbs cannot be put on social media as a means to check cyber crime against women as China has done, Rijiju said there is a “huge debate” going on in the country on the issue. He said he personally favoured putting in place some “reasonable restrictions” without hurting individual freedom. “Right now, there is a huge debate going on in India. Is national security is more important or privacy… You cannot have everything together,” he said.
China is an authoritarian country where individual liberty can be curbed in the name of state security, the minister said. “Here, if we do that, there will be huge a hungama,” he said.
Recalling that the UPA government had summoned a social networking site in 2012 when some “vulgar postings” appeared about Congress president Sonia Gandhi, he said the NDA government has not done what the previous government did, although “vulgar pictures” of the prime minister and other leaders have appeared. “Still, the point you raised, women are being trolled, followed or in some cases, I personally feel that we must have restrictions, but reasonable restrictions. Individual freedom must be given due respect, but at the same time we must have some kind of restrictions. That is possible only if the civil society lends its support.
“If the people say no and refuse to cooperate with the government…we cannot go against the wishes of the people,” Rijiju said.
In his address to the gathering earlier, he said the country faced challenges in Jammu and Kashmir, the northeast and in the coastal front and that the government is alive to the situation. “But things are becoming normal (in Jammu and Kashmir). Because our government is committed to tackling the challenge,” he said.