(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
It’s a bad time to read Indian or Western media or perhaps there would never be a better time to read them.
Headlines such as “India’s politics of hate” (Washington Post); “Millions of Indians could be in detention camps” (Bloomberg); “New Delhi turns into battleground” (New York Times) or Newsweek talking about India’s ruling party’s agenda to “marginalize Muslims” are guaranteed to give you a bad conscience. However, it could also be an occasion to brush up your primer on Western Media and know why they do what they do.
I of course am referring to the unfortunate violence which erupted on New Delhi’s streets and claimed 20 lives even as the president of the United States Donald Trump was beaming from ear to ear on the massive welcome he received from masses and Indian establishment this week.
Let’s believe Hindus and Muslims could’ve been on the opposing sides of violence even though India’s intelligence is in the middle of determining if it was engineered by inimical forces. Let’s also not deny that law and order, crime against women, caste, linguistic identities, inequality etc is unreal in India. Let’s also not frame this debate on the narrow binary of rise of Narendra Modi which has let the genie of Hindu-hating Western Media out of the bottle.
Modi alone is not the fall guy
The truth is no Indian leader—be it Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Atal Behari Vajpayee or Modi—has escaped the scalding venom which Western Media has poured on them. Nehru was lampooned for his Non-Aligned Movement; Indira for standing up to violence in neighbouring East Pakistan; Vajpayee for Nuclear test and Modi of course for everything he does. It doesn’t matter that these leaders, at various times, were overwhelmingly voted into power by India’s massive population.
In essence it’s the colonial and imperial hangover of the “North” against the “Savage South” who must get tutorials on “tolerance”, “peace” and “multiculturalism.” This hangover is the binding thread of policy, business, academia and media in the West. Woven with the cloth of liberty, religious freedom and human rights. Of American Exceptionalism and the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon world. An outsider like Donald Trump might be loathed. But the moment he does “right” things against Iran or Venezuela, he is a darling.
Try pointing out the racial violence on American streets, the bogus wars it wages in Middle East or elsewhere; or the travel bans it has on Muslims from around the world. Try asking them why they oppose countries which choose an independent course, such as Russia, China, Syria or Iran—and yet pat those who were dictators like Suharto and Pinochet and reserved bayonets for their citizens. Why proven legends of humanity such as Salvador Allende, Kenneth Kaunda or Kwame Nkrumah don’t catch their ticking human hearts.
Why local elites mirror Colonial masters
The Indian case is typical of any country which has freed itself from the colonial yoke. The freed countries are left with elites who are a mirror image of the masters. Same language and mannerism. Their worldview is similar. In due course, the two collaborate. They work to validate each other. When masses go against such a view, they are “savages” and “bigots.” Then popular mandates,such as for Rouhani, Assad, Putin, Xi or Modi, don’t matter. For the “masses” are not allowing the “classes” to keep the countries unstable; to exploit its’ wealth and resources.
It shouldn’t be too difficult for an educated Indian to comprehend that media is business. Media is not out there for ordinary folks. It’s for profit. Such profit would only come from subscribers. Home subscribers in UK or US are forever looking for who is a “good” or “bad” guy. Such boxes are duly created. In India’s context, those who could afford the subscription of Western media outlets such as Washington Post, New York Times or the Guardian are prime catch. Ordinary folks, who neither could understand English nor pay to buy Western rags, don’t matter. When such faceless masses, who don’t come to TV studios, rise and Trump, Putin Modi or Brexit happens, there is mayhem.
India has its problems. It always had. It always would. It can’t be otherwise in a country of multiple religious and linguistic identities. Yet it has grown to be one of world’s biggest economic success stories. It’s digital and space milestones are massive. Its democratic traditions are unbroken. Its interiors today have access to health, education, houses, electricity and gas. Its’ roads, trains, airports and infrastructure are on a major revision course. India is more than just one Narendra Modi. Let Western Media and their local mirror image see India in the Modi- binary alone. You and I should know better.Western media has always peddled a narrative and people from Asia—and Africa—have suffered most from it. If you don’t wake up now, this “rape” of our minds would continue into our next generations.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Every anniversary of Emergency in India (June 25, 1975) and worn-out clichés on muzzling media, despotic Indira, state repression and the complicity of judiciary begin to do rounds. Now a senior journalist Arun Anand has done a piece in Indian Express edits which deserves everyone’s attention.
Two takeaways from Anand’s piece would bring a silent chuckle on the faces of millions who are relentlessly resisting and overthrowing the Tukde-Tukde gang inch-by-inch in the last half-a-dozen years. Those on the other side of the divide, the Congress-Left-Sickular “ecosystem”, would surely be squirming in discomfort.
Anand quotes from an article, “The Empress Reigns Supreme”, published in August 1976 in The Guardian: “…Pro-CPI (Communist Party of India) journals in India are being given some latitude by the censors because the party is in favour of even stronger measures to suppress the non-communist opposition.” Communist leader Sitaram Yechury, a savvy Twitterati who short of blaming BJP for everything but cataract in his eye, surely deserves a forward of this piece. A reaction from him though is a long shot.
The same article goes on to state that the Indira government was pressurizing King Birendra of Nepal to hand over some of the RSS members who were running the underground movement against the Emergency from Nepal. The article, quoting a source, said: “…Kathmandu will never hand over to the Indian government members of the RSS, banned by the Gandhi regime shortly after the promulgation of Emergency.” So please be easy on Rahul Gandhi, the RSSphobia is in his genes.
The article has some interesting anecdotes on the fate of foreign journalists present in India when the Emergency was declared. Anand informs us that the correspondent from The Washington Post was expelled from India within four days of the draconian imposition. The correspondents from The Times (London), Daily Telegraph, Newsweek and Far Eastern Economic Review didn’t budge and hence had to leave the Indian shores. They fell foul of the “Press Censorship Guidelines” issued by Information & Broadcasting ministry, headed by Vidya Charan Shukla. The BBC had to shut its office in 1975. Accreditations of many foreign journalists were cancelled. One, KR Sundar Rajan, was even detained under the draconian Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA).
Christopher Sweeney, a correspondent for The Guardian and The Economist, gave an account of his ordeal thus:
“…I came under obvious suspicion within days of my arrival in the country…after arranging meetings by telephone, odd characters would turn up to observe who I was seeing each morning, others would be waiting in red sarees in the entrance of the Delphi hotel. People I spoke to openly would be later stopped and questioned. At least twice my hotel room was broken into and searched…
“When I complained of the continued harassment by the Government agents and asked Mr Haksar (A.N.D Haskar was the chief government spokesperson) to explain why it had been necessary to organize breakings to my hotel rooms, he replied that unless I left the country as soon as possible, there ‘would be a further prospect of physical inconvenience’.”
Don’t you now sympathize with Lutyens Media who dug themselves deep under the soil to avoid the searchlight of The Emergency? I mean poor guys what could they have done but wag their tails? Don’t you have decency to shame them now, 40-odd years hence, for the sins of their predecessors? Isn’t there a mountain of material to shame them on their own sins?
Anand is matter-of-fact on the Emergency but unwittingly he has held forth a mirror, be it on Congress, Left or Indian media—the order of the “ecosystem” is more or less same to our day. The only difference is unlike today, the foreign press of those days was singing paeans in praise of RSS.
Sample a piece titled “Yes, there is n underground” published in The Economist:
“The shock troops of the (underground) movement largely come from Jana Sangh and its ideological affiliate, the RSS, which claim a combined membership of 10 million (of whom 80,000 including 6,000 full-time party workers are in prison).”
So, the Communists supported the Emergency and RSS resisted it tooth and nail. Delicious, isn’t it.