India has the most uncontrollable press, said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Sunday in response to a question about the low ranking of India on the press index.
During the interactive session on the Foreign Policy of the Modi Government, Jaishankar said, “I was amazed at our number. I thought we had the most uncontrollable press, and somebody is getting something fundamentally wrong.
Comparing India’s rank with Afghanistan, EAM said, “Afghanistan was freer than us. Can you imagine? Look, these are all I mean, I see the democracy index, freedom index, religious freedom index, and press freedom index.”
Terming the press index “mind games,” Mr Jaishankar said that these are the ways of playing the mind games which are like lowering the rank of the country whom you don’t like while others do not.
This statement came days after Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released their press index and ranked India at 161. While Afghanistan stood at 152. China drops to the second-lowest spot on the 2023 World Freedom Press Index, standing at 179th rank.
Last year, India stood at 150th rank. This time, India falls 11 ranks.
During the session, Mr Jaishankar took a jibe at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and said that he was taking classes in China from the Chinese ambassador.
He said, “I would have offered to take classes on China from Rahul Gandhi but I discovered he was taking classes on China from the Chinese ambassador,” responding to the Congress leader’s criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s handling of relations with China.
Mr Jaishankar referred to Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with the Chinese ambassador to India during the Doklam crisis. He attacked the government, suggesting that new territory had been lost to China’s salami slicing.
“I know everything in politics is political. I accept that. But I think on certain issues, we have a collective responsibility to at least behave in a way that we do not weaken our (India’s) collective position abroad to do what we have seen in the last three years in China,” Jaishankar said, adding, “often very misleading narratives are put in.”
Jaishankar also hit out at misleading narratives and misrepresentations, adding, “We had, for example…a bridge which the Chinese were building on Pangong Tso. Now, the reality was that the particular area first Chinese came in 1959, and then they occupied it in 1962. But that’s not the way it was put across.”
“This happened in the case of some of the so-called model villages as well, that they were built on areas which we lost in 62 or before 62. Now, I don’t believe you will very rarely hear me say 1962, that shouldn’t have happened, or you are wrong, or you are responsible. What has happened has happened. It’s our collective, I would say failure or responsibility,” Mr Jaishankar said.
“I do not necessarily attribute political colouring to it. I would like to see is actually a serious China conversation. I’m prepared to accept that there are different viewpoints on that, but if you reduce it to kind of slanging match, what can I say after that?” he added.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)