Authoritative Populism and the Media: Perception Control and Narrative Building in India

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Abstract

The article analyses the interrelationship between authoritarian populism and the media in India. It explores the core question of political authoritarianism under the rule of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and whether it has exercised control on media. The article explores two main questions: First, what are the dynamics of media control in India, if any? Second, whether media control has played any role in the polarisation of the Indian society. The article employs the theoretical framework of authoritarian populism, using content analysis, to explore whether media has any role to play in the recent upsurge of right-wing Hindu nationalism. The article’s empirical evidence suggest media’s complacent and partisan role, favouring populist political agenda in India. The article highlights that the bulk of Indian media works under the state control, with major newsgroups towing the ruling BJP’s line on exclusivists right-wing ideology. Furthermore, the groups which do not comply have faced governmental repression and clampdown for independent reporting and objective journalism. The article’s original contribution rests in the analyses of authoritarian populism and right-wing nationalist control of the media and the health of democracy in India.

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