Monday, April 21, 2014

Modi and the media


The international media are predictably on an anti-Modi crusade. They blame him for killing more than 700 Muslims in 2002 (not for the death of over 200 Hindus in the same riots, nor for the death of 58 Hindus in the Muslim attack triggering the riots), shortly after his accession to power in Gujarat. They hardly report the fact that he won all his judicial trials and was twice cleared by a Supreme Court investigation. And if they do, they try to overrule these telling facts, by citing anti-Modi “sources” and “Indian observers”. So, they accuse Modi of complicity in mass murder, even in “genocide”.


Modi’s alleged guilt

Only high-quality media would try for some perspective, most just lead their readers by the nose towards focusing on this event in isolation. Thus, Congress secularists killed three thousand Sikhs in 1984, and their leader Rajiv Gandhi failed to take the event seriously, let alone taking some responsibility for it. No media outrage followed, neither then nor twelve years later. In 1971, the Pakistani persecution of the East Bengali Hindus killed at the most conservative estimate hundreds of thousands, yet those Hindus did not become a matter of concern the way Indian Muslims are today. (On the contrary: when Taslima Nasrin’s book Lajja focused on the East Bengali Hindus’ renewed massacre of December 1992, most commentators falsely claimed that she was persecuted for her feminism and kept her siding with the Hindus out of view.) Most media faithfully keep up the pretence that the Gujarat riots are at the centre of South-Asian history. 

The international media are mostly ignorant of what exactly goes on in distant and exotic India, or they just parrot their Indian contacts, not wanting to know just how partisan these are. But even someone ignorant of Indian situations should be struck by some anomalous data.

For instance, Modi has been in power for more than twelve years after the massacre. If he had intended to murder Muslims (and “genocide” implies intention, it is not a policy accidentally causing deaths, such as Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward), it is strange that he didn’t use any occasion during those twelve years to kill even more Muslims. After all, he had the means to kill a few million of them. Instead, even the Muslim massacre of dozens of Hindus in the Akshardham temple in the Gujarati city of Gandhinagar didn’t provoke a retaliation, let alone a government-induced massacre. Many riots and bomb attacks have taken place in other parts of the country, killing a few Muslims and hundreds of Hindus, but Gujarat remained peaceful all through. The media have not remarked just how anomalous this fact is, they have not even reported it.


Predictions of doom

They also warn that the BJP’s probable victory constitutes a “threat to India’s secular fabric”. First of all, they assume that India is a secular state, which it is not. Every secular state on earth by definition observes equality before the law for every citizen regardless of religion. India, by contrast, has different family law systems (marriage, inheritance) depending on one’s religion, e.g. Muslim men can immediately impose a divorce while all others have to pass judicial procedure (thus also causing discrimination by gender for Muslim men vs. Muslim women). Moreover, it has arrogated the right to reform Hindu law, while it passively abides by the other law systems, e.g. it has abolished Hindu polygamy but continues to allow Muslim polygamy. So, it discriminates between religions. It extends those discriminations legally and constitutionally to the fields of education (where minorities are privileged over the Hindus) and places of worship (where politicians plunder Hindu temple funds while respecting those of churches and mosques, sometimes even financing these out of Hindu temple funds). This is quite unsecular, and the only party announcing the abolition of these discriminations, the only party which wants to make India a secular state, is the BJP.

Secondly, the media forget that they have already made these predictions before, viz. when the BJP came to power in 1998. At that time, they prophesied that the BJP would be terrible for “India’s secularism”, that it would come down on minorities as well as on low-castes and on women, and that it would “throw a hundred million Muslims into the Indian Ocean”. They were all proven wrong on every single count by reality. If India was a secular state and the BJP was anti-secular, then it had for six years every chance to abolish the secular state and persecute all the groups mentioned. Did it? And why should media who were proven totally wrong in the past, be more accurate in their predictions for 2014?

Finally, since the much-discussed riots, Narendra Modi has concentrated on fighting corruption and on building Gujarat’s infrastructure and economy. While the so-called secularists were trying to refocus on communal conflicts, he was working on purely secular matters, and scoring impressive successes in these. Now, to confirm the impression that Modi is secular while his enemies are fond of communal issues, the anti-Modi media explain why the public should ignore his secular achievements and get worked up about a communal matter that happened twelve years ago.


Blaming the West

While it is easy to demonstrate that the international media give a very partisan version of India’s 2014 election campaign, a correct explanation of this phenomenon is much harder to come by. From the Hindu side, I keep reading that “the West” is imposing an anti-Modi view on the poor hapless secularists in India. Hindus who despair of the hostile coverage routinely allege that the West has it in for the Hindus, and that this negative reporting on Modi is part of a vast Western conspiracy. In reality, the West doesn’t normally care for who wins in India. Thus, the unexpected progress and indirect accession to power of the Communist parties in 2004 did not cause a ripple in the media.

Western countries have no direct stake in Indian politics. Not even the Americans, who have invaded several countries and toppled several governments in the last two decades, well after the end of the Cold War, plan to invade India, it simply is too big for that; let alone small and fading powers like Britain. Hindus who like to feel important, imagine that there exists and anti-India policy, but such a policy exists only in India’s Islamic neighbours, not in the West. In fact, the secularist bloc encourages Hindu activists to blame the West, this way they don’t direct their attention to the Muslim factor nor to the secularists themselves.

An anti-Hindu motive is in evidence among the Christian Churches, but they control only a small part of the relevant media. More important is the Western Leftist and anti-racist animus, which is strategically anti-majority and ideologically anti-Hindu, because Hinduism is construed as the last stronghold of racism. One element they focus on, is the Hindu majority’s “oppression” of the Muslims, a privileged community whom they defend in the West and therefore also defend in India. Another is the alleged oppression of the lower by the higher castes as allegedly decreed by Hinduism. While some Hindus imagine that the Aryan Invasion Theory is long dead, in fact it is very alive among India-watchers: they think that Hinduism, which they falsely equate with Brahmanism, is the religion of race-conscious white Aryan invaders who imposed a kind of Apartheid (called varna, “colour”, interpreted as “skin colour” and meaning caste) on the dark natives. Anti-racism has conquered the West and is turning it against “intrinsically racist” Hinduism. So, this is a Western agenda which turns Western intellectuals against Hinduism.

Yet, normally this would be relegated to the past, and the anti-caste work of Modi’s Hindu movement would be acknowledged. Even if these missionary, anti-“Islamophobic” and “anti-racist” objections to Hinduism were deemed vitally important, they would still not overrule the acceptance of whichever democratic choice the Indian voters make. Except that there is a third and even more powerful factor: the influence of the Nehruvian secularists on their Western contacts (press correspondents, academic India-watchers) and hence on Western public opinion. A dog is wagging its tail here, but it is not an imperialist West dictating anti-Hinduism to its Indian sepoys. It is the West that is the tail, the dupe, the follower carrying out received orders; and it is a certain class of Indians that is the dog, manipulating the Westerners.


Practical conclusion

Because the Hindu nationalist movement has always and willfully neglected the intellectual and public relations side of its struggle, the communications channels are massively in the hands of their enemies. The bottleneck in the information flow pertaining to all things Indian is controlled by them. It is they who egg the Western pressmen and India-watchers on to fight Modi to the death.

Any sympathizer of Hinduism or of a genuinely secular state in India should endeavour to correct the news about this election campaign, firing e-mails stating the real facts at the erring media. But the outspoken bias of the international media has been built up over the long term by the Nehruvian secularists, and it will take more strategic savvy and a more systematic effort to dislodge the present power equation.       

(Hindu Human Rights, 21 April 2014)


Shankar Sharan said...

Excellent! though a tad late. But let us hope some 'Hindutva' activists will care for the last paragraph, relevant for a long time to come, not merely for the election season. Others, free souls caring for truth as well as for Hindus, should naturally learn all the valuable lessons put in this brief but very significant piece.
Our thanks to Dr Elst!

ysv_rao said...

I keep hearing about this "Breaking India" project by sinister forces by various pro Hindutva bloggers such as the unbalanced Ajit Vadakayil as well as more reasonable individuals such as Sandeep(sandeepweb)

But it is not well articulated who exactly the players in all this.
The usual suspects such as Illuminati, Zionists, Neoconservatives, neo colonialists,Christians etc etc are occasionally thrown around with little evidence to back up the claims.

It seems to me that some sections of Hindutvadis are acquiring an anti Western conspiratorial mindset especially since Gulf war 2003.
There has been a weird osmosis between Hindutvadis, neo Nazis and Islamists in their harangues against the decadence of Western cultural and economic hegemony. To this end many Hindutvadis see the Islamic terrorism as cats paw of neoconservatives and Israelis. And both of these are supposedly in cahoots with evangelicals

These damn fool Hindutvadis have imbibed the prejudices of those who
1) Wish to misappropriate Hindu culture so as to revivify their noxious agenda- neo Nazis.
2)doing the dirty work of the Islamists with all the kooky talk of Western conspiracies
3)By indulging the crassest reactionaries by blaming rape victims, winking at Sati, protesting Valentines day and pub culture

Its like we are creating Dayanand Saraswatis and Raja Ram Mohan Roys all over again.
The first time as tragedy ,this time as farce

It is not that big a step from this to a repeat of "Hindus wielding the sword of Islam" and being willingly used as cannon fodder on both sides for wars between competing Western powers as was the case during WWII.

We are supposed to believe that Israel/Rothschilds/Freemasons/Zionists are the greatest threat to India

A more conspiracy minded persons would think if its these Hindutvadis are the Islamist and Western stooges !

Hindus have learnt nothing because they are deluded fools

Gururaj B N said...

It doesn't seem entirely correct to assume that the western press swallows hook, slinker and rod, whatever the Nehruvian secularists feed from India. Even people like Mark Tully, who spent almost major part of his life in India did not see India and Hindus sympathetically. Indian press does not even know the definition of 'genocide' or'pogrom' and throw these words at Modi and BJP. There has been nothing in India, which is comparable to the Armenian Genocide of Turkey in 1915-17, or Hitler's genocide of Jews, slavs, Gypsies etc, or of Stalin, who holds the record of killing the greatest number of people. Post Godhra killings are clearly the work of mob, though might have been aided with such tools as voters' list.

American said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
American said...


Your write: "While it is easy to demonstrate that the international media give a very partisan version of India’s 2014 election campaign, [...] the West normally doesn't care for who wins in India."

1. You are right in the specific, and wrong in the universal. In the universal sense, the West never cared about the East, nor the East ever cared about the West. The West didn't care about British Raj-imposed discrimination and slavery in India, it didn't care about millions who starved to death during diseases and famines between 1850 to 1947, it didn't care about the 7+ million Indians who gave their lives during the two World War fighting on the English side - and later were told to go back home because Indians do not belong in Europe. The West doesn't care. Nor does the East. Period. Vast majority of human beings don't care about things happening 5000 miles away, or even 1000 miles away. Who cares about Africa? or Latin America? or Central Asia? So, in the universal sense, nobody cares.

2. The statement "the West is bashing Hindus or Modi or India" means, in one sense, "those in the West who bother to comment, do not bother to check facts and reality on the ground, they just continue in their stereotypes, bash Hindus, or ... ."

3. If we study history critically, peal off the opinions from underlying facts and data, from sources such as those to be found in the recorded speeches of the British parliament and elsewhere, one conclusion is difficult to miss. That conclusion is that the British were able to rule India with a highly bureaucratic babu raj, structured along a divide and rule policy. Just below the British administration were the privileged Babus - who were mostly Muslims and some privileged dynasties of Hindus. Of course, this structure has its history too, to be found in the Mughal Empire. The way to divide and rule Indians was to split them along the lines of religion (Hindu, Sikh, Jain, etc) and an imposition of theoretical caste as a necessary qualification for practical British Empire administrative jobs. Army regiments were created along these lines. Indian Civil Services were structured along this line. Many others. As mass media technology emerged in 19th and 20th century, the news and stories were written to help preserve this divide and rule bureaucratic structure by design or ad-revenue selection. After 1947, this structure continued.

(continued below)

American said...

(from above)

4. For example, The Times of India started in 1838 from Bombay, changed British owners several times through 1946. It was always pro-British, mocked and bashed Indians in general and Hindus in particular - randomly read the archives. Muslims and certain dynasty officials ran the paper for the British. They hired and trained and created a culture in TOI. During Nehru and Indira regime, The Times of India newspaper became government-owned socialism mouth piece. Other old newspapers in India have different starting dates and details, but the details are the same. This pro-left, pro-Muslim (now discussed with code words secularism and communalism), pro-stereotypes theme has a long history, with a foundation in the West (Britain's Royal Family and its elected London government to be specific).

5. The momentum you see in India today is irreversible. As knowledge spreads, internet expands, people connect - change and reform and self-examination is inevitable. Hindus will discover how similar they are, how hollow and wrong are the stereotypes they are made to suffer, how dehumanized they have become over the last 150 years for no fault of their own. They are likely to, sooner or later, question the 800 years of humiliation they have suffered - first as dhimmis in Islamic Sultanates, then as slave-like subjects in British colonial empire, and more recently with the bashing in Western media and West-tuned intellectuals in a corrupt bureaucracy of Socialism.

6. This does not mean average people in the West hate Indians, or average people in India hate the West. Neither really care about the other. What they do care about is the future, their daily traumas, a time to cherish their true culture. There is more love and curiosity between people of our world, instead of negativity - a love and curiosity that longs to be discovered, consumated.

ysv_rao said...

Somewhat OT but speaking of my arch nemesis Ajit Vadakayil , the crank blogger has been arrested for defaming actor Aamir Khan

About damn time but unfortunately given bail...

Maybe this will put an end to his rantings once and for all

Unknown said...

Just wait for a while. International media will queue up for the first interview with Modi...just a matter of time. But Modi will have to be careful with these Congress media plants. Indian journalists are quick to start singing...but, yes, it will be hard time for BJP to sustain early months in New Delhi. I won't be surprised if riots are engineered to malign the new government.

All this will depend on the number of seats BJP gets and the number of deposits congress men loose.

To my mind, the West does care about what happens in India...they look at us as a great market. They are afraid that BJP may not play ball with them as congress did for 60 years.

ysv_rao said...

Mr Mathur,

On the cultural front both Congress and BJP were sentimental Third Worldists which resulted in very crude thinking and juvenile posturing on the world stage.

However it was Hindutva friendly PV Narasimha Rao(he started his political career as an anti Nizam guerilla fighting his Islamist militias) who opened the Indian economy and relaxed tensions between U.S and Israel.

The BJP simply followed suit.
I remember reading all manner of hysterical rants from the New York Times around 1996 when the BJP formed its notoriously short lived 13 day government that Hindus under BJP stewardship were going to perpetrate a 1000 Bosnias on Indian Muslims.

When indeed they did come to power, all the Western leftist fire breathers were shocked as to how benign they were

Only three incidents garnered negative PR for India and Hindus during BJPs reign

1. Pokhran. Apparently according to the Western media a country with a lot of hungry people has no business defending itself until each and every one is fed and provided a toilet as what goes in has to come out.
2. Graham Staines. Suddenly Western secularized watered down cafeteria evangelicals and Catholics were overnight transformed into Dominican friars if their self righteous indignation was anything to go by when this rogue missionary who voluntarily and knowingly ventured into hostile tribal areas with his young sons were lynched by an angry mob who didnt care for his tactics.
3. Godhra.I like how the Guardian reported the incident
"the train caught fire"...the passive voice is always a nice touch but it fools no one

So you are right that the craven, characterless press will line up to interview him no doubt asking boilerplate pleas disguised as questions about Hindu fascism and Muslim victims. But all that can be ignored and if they persist on the highlighted and misrepresenting events then just ban them from entering India.

Problem solved. Of course the good Dr Elst will protest that banning speech is not the way but the way I see it we are fighting these forces with both arms tied around our back.Let us not hesistate to use any weapon at our disposal. The West is weak and lacking confidence even though it is capable and resourceful.
THe Muslims are strong willed but their teeming illiterate, incompetent mass are unable to fight effectively in any way but through demography ,intimidation and propaganda

China and India are increasingly self confident people with considerable intellectual and cultural capital. China more so.

And China didnt get there by encouraging foreign nay sayers and ankle biters.

It is time for the resourceful though chaotic and frantic Indian masses to acquire some discipline and the current system is not the way to go.

Karthikrajan said...

It is true that both indian and international media are heavily biased against modhi. But a strong rebuttal to these jokers thro internet forums is offsetting these criticisms. Especially Madhu Purnima kishwar's book : Modhi Muslims Media - voices from narendra modhi's gujarat (available at has come in handy to blast these Modhi baiters. This book by the gujarathi muslim lady gives detailed account of events starting from Modhi's involvement in the rehabilitation work of bhuj earthquake victims, his appointment of CM of gujarat, godhra incident and subsequent riots etc. Earlier we had to rely only on SIT's clean chit to Modhi but we lacked an understanding of what went on in gujarat in the past 12 years that Modhi rose like a giant-silent killer of untruth due to complete one sided hate campaign launched by the media. Thanks to this lady who was earlier working for Teesta seethalvad but decided to break ranks with her after she got disenchanted with her partisan attitude and decided to conduct her own investigation into gujarat affairs.
But as mentioned by you, it really beats me why the hindhus have failed to launch a media group of their own to counter such false propaganda.

@ysv_rao: sorry to hear that your nemesis Ajit vadakayil is facing the brunt from the law after losing his head and taking on Aamir khan. The friendly bout between you, ajit and the other guy 'windwheel' sometime ago was quite entertaining !!

blaoism said...

@ysv_rao, you have hit the nail on the head. "Breaking India" is a book written by Rajiv Malhotra. He got many 'theses' about many things. One such thesis: good cops vs bad cops. First good cops enter the scene and try to mend fences; then bad cops enter.

This silly dynamic doesn't capture the dynamic: good cops and bad cops are not employed by the same organization; many good cops are inimical to bad cops; etc. What unites good cops and good cops? Because they share the same background theories.

Let me give you an example: Alvin Platinga is a Protestant theologian and an analytical philosopher. He is a Christian apologist and engages many discussions with 'atheistic' philosophers, and philosophers who don't go to Church or anything. These atheistic philosophers don't badmouth him the way Indian secularists badmouth any scholar who doesn't parrot their ideas.

In the Western context, good cops and bad cops, theologians (and missionaries) and non-theologians all share the same background knowledge: in other words, they accept the same framework, same questions, but what they differ in their answers. Yes, Rajiv has many ideas: for instance, why wealthy Indians end up sponsoring semi-good cops. Pretty simple: there is no alterantive scholarship to sponsor. Of course, these Indian wealthy people don't sponsor grooming an alternative paradigm; that's a diffrent story.

The deeper cause of this malaise has to do with the lack of alternative scholarship or paradigm in Indian studies.

Rajiv says he got an alternative paradigm. The success or failure of it depends on how many he can recruit and further develop alternatives to existing scholarship: just books alone doesn't help. We are all sympathetic to Rajiv's work: but it doesn't impact the mainstream, unless his project of producing "intellectual kshatriyas" succeed. Having sympathizers is one thing; transforming them into intellectuals is a task of different magnitude: how many of us sympathizers can give up livelihood to pursue this? How many donors are out there to support scholars: it is very easy to sponsor a scholar for a year, but sponsoring the same for 30 years is difficult. Here, one need institutional support, which is very difficult!!

Unknown said...

Dr. Elst , you are a class apart. I'm your fan!The serious need of the hour is to circulate your articles and rid people of their naivety . But I could vouch that modi imbibed all the sangh ideology that you had expounded in "bjp vis a vis Hindu resurgence" . Nevertheless he still remains most explicitly Hindu leader of the entire sangh (Even th RSS chief parrots 'equal respect of al religions' these days)

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