A democracy can survive and
emerge stronger only if it learns to get along with differing ideologies in a
symbiotic relationship where ideologies, too, understand the importance of coexistence, be it rightist, leftist or centrist or so on. That brings accountability
in a system driven by people while a continued
streak of an ideology and its dominance, on the other hand, is detrimental for
a democratic set-up.
And that is why everyone must
come forward to denounce the dastardly act of gruesome killing of Gauri
Lankesh, a senior journalist who epitomized what journalism was conceived as
and what it means - a pillar of democracy and thus our societies.
Journalism is meant to give
voice to the millions of silent majority in a country like India; journalism is
expected to be an effective check in the wheels of development in a democratic
society like ours; and journalism is designed to be a tool to spread not just
information but also ideas in a developing economic like ours where the majority
is still quality illiterate and under developed.
So, a journalist can be a
news gatherer, an information disseminator, an activist or a crusader. It all
depends on interplay of circumstances and yes, personal choices. And the
ideological environment that he or she dwells in plays a central role in this
shaping up of role (and opinion).
Gauri Lankesh, who never
accepted government advertisements for her eponymous periodical to maintain her
independence, was a fearless journalist who would speak her mind, right or
wrong we may go on debating. But she was busy doing the kind of journalism that
journalism expected her to do....something that we can say cause based journalism...irrespective
of her personal inclinations.
If she was killed for that,
we should see this as an ominous sign for the health of our democracy, the
signs that have been here for long - with killing of journalists, rationalists,
activists and whistleblowers like Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, MM
Kalburgi Satyendra Dubey and S Manjunath and so on. The list is long.
According to the Committee to
Protect Journalists (CPJ), 27 journalists have been killed in India in the line
of duty in last 25 years. Half of them were working on corruption stories. And
no one has been convicted in any of these killings.
The annual report by the
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is even more disturbing. It
presents more comprehensive data according to which between 1990 to 2016, 101
journalists and mediapersons were killed in India. Globally, 122 journalists were
killed in 2016 including five in India. In 2017 so far, 25 journalists have
been killed including Gauri Lankesh in India.
And the conviction rate has
been nil or abysmally low, organizations like the Press Council of India and
the Press Freedom have said in their detailed reports. The Press Council of
India, in fact, has demanded that the government should enact a new law to ensure
safety of journalists.
Yes, we have a robustly
functional democracy that is surviving well for the past seven decades but it
has its own inherent flaws that have put shackles in its stride to become a
stronger, mature and model democracy like America, most of the European
countries and other western nations are.
They could travel to achieve
so much because they learnt to develop an ecosystem where different ideologies coexisted
and thrived, something where we have been failing. And Gauri Lankesh's murder,
like every other such case, reminds us again that we are still suspended in
Being a rightist or a leftist
or centrist is not an issue. Every ideology has its good and bad elements and
followers. The question is of balance and interplay of ideologies in a
democratic set-up that ensures accountability in every level of administration
The countries that progressed
to become model democratic states saw healthy development of economy and
society because ideologies respected each other when it came to change of
guard. Something that in turn ensured accountability and thus their growth and
development, minimizing democratic flaws and autocratic features like corruption,
nepotism, one-party rule, opaque systems, administrative apathy and so on.