CNN's June 22, 2023 Biden makes trade-offs and Modi steps out of his comfort zone during elaborate state visit at White House includes the following:

But Modi, for one of the only times since he assumed power, also responded to a question about his crackdowns on dissent and treatment of religious minorities.

“There’s absolutely no space for discrimination,” Modi said through a translator. ‘When you talk of democracy, if there are no human values and there is no humanity, there are no human rights, then it’s not a democracy.”

It was a remarkable moment for a leader who does not hold news conferences, takes no questions from the press and hasn’t sat for an international interview. Press freedom groups say he’s overseen a crackdown on reporting.

The format of the news conference was only agreed upon after lengthy, delicate negotiations between the two sides. Indian officials initially balked at the White House’s insistence at holding one, two US officials familiar with the matter said.

And in the transcript of the CNN June 22 2023 video Taiwan's military is preparing in case China attacks. See how after about 01:56 CNN Whitehouse Correspondent Jeremy Diamond says:

I'm told that these two leaders will indeed hold a joint news conference tomorrow at the White House, but that was no small feat. In fact, it was the result of intense and lengthy negotiations between the U.S. and Indian officials. I'm told that Indian officials initially balked at the idea of having a joint news conference for the two leaders.

The Indian prime minister. Keep in mind, he has never held a news conference where he's taking questions from reporters. So ultimately, the U.S. was initially pushing for a to and to two American reporters, two Indian reporters getting to ask the two leaders questions Instead, it will be a one and one. But U.S. officials here certainly seeing that as a victory to get the Indian prime minister to take questions, a sign of democratic values.

While these CNN reports focus on what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi doesn't do, I'd like to ask about what he does do.

Question: To what extent (if any) does Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi answer reporters' questions, or at least appear to?

If answers can also address the nature of these questions - are they likely friendly or even scripted questions vs challenging questions that would be part of real reporting, and whether these are international or domestic reporters' questions, that would also be helpful.

The purpose there would be to understand the extent to which attempts are made (or not made) to create at least the appearance of answering questions for domestic viewers (i.e. Modi's voting public). For example, typing "Vladimir Putin answers reporters' questions" returns hits from the Kremlin assuring us that he does, and I'm sure these are available in Russian as well.

Putin makes a real effort to at least create the appearance of answering questions (both domestically and internationally). Does Modi?


1 Answer 1


It is not necessary for the prime minister to answer every question of yours,” declared BJP president Amit Shah who sat next to Modi at the event. - Narendra Modi appeared at his first press briefing ... But he did not answer any questions.

Narendra Modi is India's first and only Prime Minister (so far) who has never held a press conference to answer live questions from journalists. (He did attend one press conference in India but sat silently there, while his Home Minister answered all the questions). One of the conditions of his foreign visits is that the host country should not organise a press conference involving him. He is known to only give "scripted" interviews where all questions that will be asked to him is discussed before hand with his PR team.

Mr. Modi and his party are known to cultivate an army of online users to bully, harass and intimidate their critics, including editors and journalists with strong ethics that do not kowtow to Mr. Modi or his party. The most recent evidence of this is the bullying and harassing of the Wall Street Journal journalist who asked Mr. Modi an "uncomfortable" question in the recently held press conference in the US - the White House had to publicly condemn the harassment of the journalist:

Q. I want to follow up on a different subject briefly. At the question-and-answer event with the President and Prime Minister Modi, our colleague, Sabrina Siddiqui of the Wall Street Journal, asked a question of the Prime Minister. And since that time, she has been subjected to some intense online harassment from people inside India. Some of them are politicians; they have associations with the pro-Modi government. And in part they’ve been targeting her because of her Muslim faith and questioning her own heritage.

Because this was supposed to be about democracy and — in some form — wanted to find out what is the White House reaction to the fact that a journalist posing a question to a democratic leader is getting that kind of pushback.

MR. KIRBY: We’re aware of the reports of that harassment. It’s unacceptable. And we absolutely condemn any harassment of journalists anywhere under any circumstances. That’s just — that’s completely unacceptable. And it’s antithetical to the very principles of democracy that — that — you’re right — were on display last week during the state visit.

(The Wall Street Journal also issued a public statement in support of their journalist in their report - White House Condemns Harassment of WSJ Reporter for Questioning Modi About Rights).

Since Mr. Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India, India has slipped in World Press Freedom Index, and now ranks at 161 out of 180 countries.

Modi has also discontinued the practice of the prime minister having a press advisor who used to be a point person for the media. Before Modi, all prime ministers, including Atal Behari Vajpayee, had a senior journalist or an official as press advisor. Now the media has no clue as to whom to call in the PMO.

A trusted Modi aide has been deployed even in the Central Hall of Parliament where journalists earlier had access to members of parliament and ministers. This Gujarat official stands at the entrance and makes a list of BJP ministers and MPs who speak to journalists.

Clearly those so openly watched and listed now avoid journalists for dear life ... Foreign correspondents also complain of being made to feel like “pariahs” if they write a story the Modi government believes is unflattering.


  1. Mute Modi: Why Is the PM Terrified of Holding Even a Single Press Conference?

  2. Narendra Modi to take two questions in rare press conference with Joe Biden - He has not addressed a single press conference in India after he became prime minister in 2014.

  3. Mark the day: Modi fielded live questions from the press. The Indian prime minister and his staff have tightly controlled his message and media availability.

  4. Indian PM lampooned for 'manufactured' interview.

  5. Fact check: Was PM Modi's Interview Scripted

  6. What happened after Modi took off his mic during Karan Thapar’s famous Godhra interview?

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