Author: Himanshu Sharma, MSc International Economic and Social Justice, GCU

India is the largest democracy in the world. The constitution consists of six fundamental rights which are granted to every citizen of the country. Freedom of press is one of the fundamental rights governed under the Right to Freedom of speech and expression (Article 19 (1) (a)). In India, Press and Media is considered as the fourth pillar of democracy after Legislation, Executive and Judiciary. This may be because the media has a large role of giving a voice to the voiceless and guiding the attention of policy makers towards public atrocities and illegal activities. It is important to note that due to the advancement of technology, the power and reach of the media have increased exponentially. According to survey conducted in 2022, TV news channels reach 24% of all audiences in India (Statista, 2022). This number is enough to influence the audience and create a one sided narrative. What is the narrative? It is to establish in people’s mind that the Muslim community, which represents 14% of the total population in India, is a danger to wider society and is growing speedily. This is presented as a threat which can overpower the Hindu community in India, which is around 80% of the total population. However, many commentators have dismissed this illogical possibility, stating that even in 1000 years this cannot be possible (Deccan Herald, 2022). Nonetheless, mainstream news channels in India continue to project Muslims as a danger and as jihadists, COVID-19 spreaders and worse.

These forms of polarisation are not a new development in India and has become even more rampant after 2014 when the Hindu Nationalist party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), recorded a huge victory in general elections. It again got majority in 2019 general elections making the party’s position stronger. The political ideology of the BJP is totally different from the ‘secular’ state which is enshrined in the constitution of India. Their ideological ambition is to make India a Hindu state as, at the time of independence in 1947, the partition between India and Pakistan was penned on the grounds of religion. Now, to establish this ideology and empower people with it, a medium is required. And what is the best medium other than the mainstream media, which is accessible to rich and poor, in the world of technology? BJP well understood this and started executing their propaganda through TV news channels. It is important to remember that the Nationalist Socialist party in Germany used media (newspaper, radio and cinema) to spread their propaganda against Jews in the 1930s (History learning Site, 2015).

In TV debates and reporting in India, it is all about bashing opposition party and affirming the views of ruling party members, making insensitive remarks against Muslims and holding Hindu-Muslim debates to polarise the minds of viewers. These mainstream TV news are full of toxicity and divide with one agenda which is to make India as Hindu state. Interestingly, Prime Minister Modi does not shy away from taking a secular stand in public but also never reprimands his ministers and party members who openly terrorize Muslims in public speeches (The Wire, 2022). Newslaundry, a media analysis site, has analysed Indian TV news debates from March to June, 2022 and found out that seven mainstream news channel held majority of its debates on Hindu-Muslims and communal debates (Newslaundry, 2022). One news channel called ‘Sudarshan News’ went to the extent of claiming that Muslims have started Job Jihad (capturing jobs in the market). According to Newslaundry, Muslims are eying civil services jobs to influence their religion) and practising Love Jihad (marrying Hindu girls and converting them to Islam). In 2020, the program ‘UPSC Jihad’ was banned by the Supreme Court of India labelling it toxic and insidious (The Scroll, 2020).

Media channels are often reprimanded by the Supreme Court of India. For example, former Chief Justice of India, N V Ramana, stated that electronic media and zero accountability and was pushing democracy backwards (The Hindu, 2022). Recently the division bench of the Supreme Court of India heard a public petition against hate speech. The Supreme Court criticised the media, stating that electronic media creates divisions in society and that such news channels should be taken off air. The apex court further added that Indian news channels often dictate dangerous narratives from the people who fund them and when the news anchor is biased, he/she occupies a position which can influence the general public (Live Law, 2023). During the onset of Covid-19, Tablighi Jamaat (Muslim group) were portrayed as Covid spreaders by the media in New Delhi. The group was ridiculed by the media and these distorted facts were widely shared among the general public. Bombay High Court, in a recent judgment, slammed the media for its propaganda of Anti-Muslim and found that Muslims were made ‘scapegoats’ (Live Law, 2020). Supreme Court of India concurred with the judgment in 2021 and criticised the communal reporting made by the media.

The last nail in the coffin for independent journalism in India happened when the news channel NDTV, which is labelled as neutral or non-biased media, was purchased by Gautam Adani. Adani is an Indian Business tycoon who has alleged friendly relations with Prime Minister Modi and has financially benefitted from the government (Reuters, 2022). After the takeover, shareholders and news anchors resigned from the channel with fears of the channel becoming increasingly hostile and polarising. The term ‘Godi media’ has been used to describe media bias in India. This term was coined by Ravish Kumar, former news anchor of NDTV channel, who is known for grass roots journalism and being critical of the government. The term resembles the name of Prime Minister Modi and ‘Godi’ in English means lap.

It is important to understand that independent journalism is not about giving personal opinion or sharing polarising propaganda but to report actual facts and provide a wake-up call to the government about current issues in society. However, technology and power in India have made news journalism merely a vehicle for the dangerous narratives of the ruling party. As the media situation keeps deteriorating, one can only imagine when the ‘Acche Din’ comes for journalism (means good days which is often used by Prime Minister Modi to address the public saying good days have come).



Deccan Herald. (2022). Can Muslims surpass Hindus in population numbers? [Online]. Available at Accessed on 1st April 2023.

History Learning Site. (2015). Newspapers in Nazi Germany. [Online]. Available at Accessed on 2nd April 2023.

Live Law. (2023). Hate-Speech | ‘Offending Anchors Must Be Taken Off Air; Media Should Not Create Division’: Supreme Court. [Online]. Available at Accessed on 3rd April 2023.

Live Law. (2020). Bombay HC Says Tablighi Jamaat Foreigners Were Made ‘Scapegoats’; Quashes FIRs Against Them; Criticizes Media Propaganda. [Online]. Available at,violating%20their%20Tourist%20Visa%20conditionsAccessed on 3rd April 2023.

Newslaundry. (2022). TV Newsance 176: The data on job debates Studio Veers don’t want you to see. [Online]. Available at Accessed on 3rd April 2023.

Reuters. (2022). Billionaire Adani to control nearly 65% of NDTV as founders sell stake. [Online]. Available at on 3rd April 2023.

Statista. (2022). Distribution of television viewership across India in January 2022, by genre. [Online]. Available at,sports%20ranked%20third%20that%20year. Accessed on 1st April 2023.

The Wire. (2022). 10 Times When BJP Leaders (Not Fringe) Made Anti-Muslim Hate Speeches. [Online]. Available at Accessed on 2nd April 2023.

The Scroll. (2020). SC stays broadcast of ‘UPSC Jihad’ show, says Sudarshan News anchor doing ‘disservice to nation’. [Online]. Available at Accessed on 3rd April 2023.

The Hindu. (2022). Media is running kangaroo courts: CJI Ramana. [Online]. Available at Accessed on 3rd April 2023.


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