Government offers Indian reporters free computers

GAUHATI, India (AP) — India’s governing Congress party is offering journalists free computers ahead of local elections in the remote northeast, raising concerns Tuesday about media ethics.

While some reporters rejected the Assam state government’s offer, nearly 600 signed up to receive the free laptops, said Debo Bora, the press adviser to the state’s chief minister. The offer is open to journalists with at least 10 years experience.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the offer was meant to recognize the contribution journalists make to society. Others, however, fear that accepting gifts from the government goes against journalistic ethics and could be seen accepting a bribe.

Nava Thakuriya, secretary of the Gauhati Press Club, criticized the plan, calling it “cheap politics.”

“We would have been happy if the chief minister had been responsive to the genuine needs of journalists, like providing health insurance and creating a welfare fund for them,” Thakuriya said.

Prasanta Rajguru, the executive editor of the Amar Asom newspaper, also had his doubts about the plan.

“The timing of the offer is questionable, coming just a few weeks before the polls,” he said.

The main opposition Asom Gana Parishad party declined to comment.