The bias in the western media when reporting India – Minhaz Merchant


Minhaz MerchantThere is a toxic mix of racism and envy in the foreign media when reporting India. – Minhaz Merchant

There has been an unprecedented torrent of international criticism of the Narendra Modi government over the Delhi riots.

Britain’s Left-leaning The Guardian was incensed: “The immediate causes of events are the fallout from Narendra Modi’s unjust Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the dangerous rhetoric employed by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Delhi’s city elections this month, and the mob incitement by BJP leaders like Kapil Mishra, to violently remove a group of Muslims who were blocking a road in the capital’s north-west to protest against the legislation.”

Conflicting voices

The Wall Street Journal’s three correspondents—all of Indian origin—reported: “(Intelligence Bureau officer) Ankit Sharma was returning home when a group of rioters started throwing stones and charged into the street near where his house is located, his brother said.” WSJ then reportedly quoted Sharma’s brother Ankur Sharma: “They came armed with stones, rods, knives and even swords; they shouted ‘Jai Shri Ram’…”

In an interview with India’s national broadcaster Prasar Bharati, Ankur Sharma has reportedly disputed the WSJ report: “I never gave such a statement to The Wall Street Journal. This is a ploy to defame my brother and my family. The Wall Street Journal is lying.”

Let’s break down the facts. Most international journalists clearly haven’t either read the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) or haven’t understood it. The fault though lies at least partially with the Indian government. It phrased the CAA with a dog-whistle paragraph that mentions six religions eligible for fast-track citizenship, leaving Islam out. The reason for Islam’s exclusion has been laboriously explained by the government—principally that a law aimed at stateless non-Muslim refugees from three Muslim-majority countries already living in India (pre-December 31, 2014) obviously can’t cover Muslims, Ahmadiyyas and Shias notwithstanding.

The CAA has nothing to do with existing Indian citizens, Muslim or non-Muslim. It has to do with non-Muslim refugees from abroad. The government’s intent though was always clear: To single out foreign Muslims from three neighbouring Islamic countries. And thereby send two domestic messages: One, to Indian Muslims; two, to Indian Hindus, the BJP’s voter base.

Matters now become more complicated. While the CAA is theoretically blameless, the sting in its tail is meant to right a perceived historical wrong. For 500 years, Hindus have quietly (and often not so quietly) watched as first Mughal invaders and then British colonists subjugated them. They were punitively taxed, suffered constant public humiliation, and had great violence inflicted upon them under both the Mughal and British Empires.

Historic wrongs

When freedom came, the Congress, in an attempt to unite a country wracked by communal riots during Partition, bent over backwards to appease Muslims who chose to stay behind in India. They were allowed to keep Sharia, their personal law, even as Hindu personal law was codified. The 80 per cent Hindu majority was too divided by caste, language and region to argue effectively that India was the only country in the world where the majority community was discriminated against in jobs and education while minorities were favoured.

Moderate Hindus are slow to anger. But after 200 years of Mughal depredations, when thousands of temples were destroyed, another 200 years of British colonialism when India’s economy was severely damaged, and finally after over 50 years of Congress governments that titled towards Muslim-first secularism, even moderate Hindus had had enough.

That is the pathology of Narendra Modi’s landslide victories in 2014 and 2019. Moderate Hindus, who in the past had voted for the Congress, saw in Modi a Hindu leader who would deliver to them the justice and respect that was their due in their own country and which had been denied them not only by both Muslim and Christian invaders but by their own post-Independence governing elite.

Moderate Hindu view

In a sense, therefore, the rise of Modi is a quiet uprising of the moderate Hindu. The frontlines may contain the extremist Hindu fringe. But the silent majority backing them is moderate Hindu. That is why the BJP and its NDA allies won 45 per cent vote share in the 2019 Lok Sabha election—higher than even Jawaharlal Nehru’s 44.99 per cent vote share in 1952.

Can the foreign media, used to binaries and at sea with complex pathologies, be expected to understand all of this? That is why foreign newspapers and certain broadcasters can reveal naiveté and ignorance. Of course, these are not the only factors at work.

There is a toxic mix of racism and envy as well. How dare India aspire to a great power status? In 2020, India’s GDP ($3.202 trillion), despite the economic slowdown, overtook Britain’s GDP ($2.744 trillion). And by purchasing power parity (PPP), Indian GDP at $12.363 trillion is already four times Britain’s PPP GDP ($3.131 trillion).

Foreign media rarely analyse why an overwhelming majority of India’s 200 million Muslims don’t want to settle in a Muslim-majority country. In India, they receive preferential educational quotas, personal Sharia laws (but not Muslim criminal laws which can get your hand chopped off for theft) and some would say the right to block arterial roads for months. – Daily-O, 6 March 2020

› Minhaz Merchant is the biographer of Rajiv Gandhi and Aditya Birla. He is a media group chairman and editor, and author of The New Clash of Civilizations.

Indian Media: Journalism for sale to the highest bidder!

Muslim Persecution of Hindus In India: The story you won’t see in the western mainstream media—or, for that matter, the Indian mainstream media.




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