Freedom and the big freeze

Source: The post is based on the article Freedom and the big freeze” published in Business Standard on 17th February 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Governance

Relevance: chilling effect and its impact

News: The article discusses the way the government is trying to curtail the freedom of media and NGOs.

What is the chilling effect and civic space?

The word has its roots in the McCarthyism that was developed in the United States throughout the 1960s. Similar to present India, people were labelled as traitors by elements in the state in U.S. at that time.

Chilling effect is defined as the curbing of free speech through government laws and actions that appear to target free expression.

In the real world, it is a situation where individual keep quiet even if one knows that there is something wrong with the government policy. It happens due to fear of cases, abuse and hatred, mob violence etc.

Civic space refers to the ability of organizations outside of government like NGOs to function freely.

These two words often come in the report due to the repeated raids/action taken by the government against some organisations.

What are highlights of different reports?

As per a report, Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation raids on the Lawyers’ Collective, Centre for Justice and Peace, and other groups have the intended chilling effect on the rest of civil society.

Another report said that the Indian government brings an environment of surveillance that results in a chilling effect on free speech and media freedoms.

Like these, there are various negative reports against government works that resulted into government action on the organization.

What are the impacts of chilling effects on India?

Chilling effects reduce the freedom of expression. It stops people from acting as dissenters. And when such freedom is curtailed by the government, it is a symbol of dictatorship.

Media houses in India are mostly owned by large corporations, they rely on the government for licenses and advertisement.  Hence, it becomes difficult for them to dissent or speak against the majoritarian government.

Moreover, coverage by the mainstream media in India is attacking the victim of the raid. Whereas, in other democracies, other media companies support medias under attack.

These kinds of attacks on victims by the media have reduced the solidarity in India. Thus, further reducing the space to speak freely.

Furthermore, audience is unconcerned and ignored the shrinking spaces and chilling effects.

Print Friendly and PDF