Is anyone listening to the anti-Modi propagandists anymore?

By | 2017-12-11T20:17:17+00:00 5th December, 2017|

Wasn’t the last Indian General Election all about Hindutva, the end of secularism and how India was on the verge of becoming a religious dictatorship?

But what let down journalism then and now on this topic is the complete lack of understanding as to why the BJP is so overwhelmingly dedicated in executing its mandate and how it is actually doing it.

A number of media houses predicted doom and gloom in 2014 if in the event the BJP would be victorious. Looking back at those reports now, I almost cringe or burst out with laughter as to the high level of inaccurate predictions and scaremongering. The attacks were largely against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), its aspirations and how they would control the BJP in realising them. There was and still is more interest in the RSS than Modi himself and that intrigue as to what lies behind Modi always fascinates journalists.

But what let down journalism then and now on this topic is the complete lack of understanding as to why the BJP is so overwhelmingly dedicated in executing its mandate and how it is actually doing it. That mandate in a nutshell in my opinion, was and is simply being to empower citizens of India. Character building is nation building, a concept that previous governments failed to understand and appreciate as they had no method nor inclination in educating, training and developing modern statesman like figureheads who deserve respect as they work in the nation’s interest wholeheartedly where actions speak louder than words. Without that realisation and a true understanding of a method behind character development, journalists simply alleged doomsday was around the corner because of previous communal occurrences in 2002 and before. Those events being repeated time and time again, picked up globally including the British press in an attempt to frighten and warn of an alleged sinister plot against Indian secularism and democracy. Even Phoebe Greenwood of the Guardian video blogged a piece in 2014 entitled “Who is Narendra Modi?” by concluding, “from the little that we do know, we probably should care.”[1]

Pre-election, the media was strife with speculation that the West ought to be worried about the growth of power of Hindu nationalism. Sunny Hundal wrote for the Independent in February 2014 [2] and quoted Chetan Bhatt of the LSE talking of Modi, “He remains committed to the supremacist ideology of Hindutva which says that India should be an exclusive Hindu nation state in which minorities are treated as second-class citizens or worse.” The author concluded the write up in the following manner: “it is paradoxical that some Hindu groups are pushing an ancient religion towards a mirror image of the same hardline Muslim groups that they say they are against… Tragically, for those of us who believe in liberal, secular values and pluralism, these events may herald an even more terrifying future.” Really, do I need to say more about the fact that the published piece seems to be implying that some Hindu groups’ ideology is tantamount to ISIS or Al Qaeda? I mean, that is what hardline Muslim groups are, right?

As another example, one website, Star.com’s columnist, Haroon Saddiqui wrote an article on the alleged devastating effect Modi would have on India as a ruler, it being entitled, “Why Indians should fear a BJP election win: Siddiqui”[3]. Even today, Zoe Sands published “The Rise of Hindu Nationalism” [4] in The Dartmouth, an American College newspaper. What’s worse in this online article is the manner in which the reader is invited to make an adverse inference from the concluding remark, “If Modi manages his campaign as shrewdly as he did in 2014, we can expect a Hindu nationalist agenda to grip India with an even greater force” talking of the next general election in 2019. I read that as being critical and negative. I mean, where has so-called “Hindu nationalism” slowed down India’s development and what has the damage been so far where you can directly attribute it to “Hindu nationalism? What does Hindu nationalism really mean or what meaning is being given to it?

The problem has been the mixing and banding out of terms and phrases such as the ones mentioned above regarding Indian political scaremongering. Journalism on Indian politics, especially on articles depicting Modi, BJP and the RSS as ideological supremacists has been irresponsible to say the least. Now, I could go on and on and quote further examples, but it is more important that this article now concentrates on calling out for straight forward, unspeculative and factual journalism for the future. Let’s start calling a spade a spade, as opposed to trying to fit a square into a circle. With this in mind, can journalists now pin their colours to the mast and start off by defining phrases such as Hindutva and Hindu nationalism and actually state what it is they fear, instead of making blanket remarks inviting the West or indeed India to be fearful of some notion that a so-called wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing is about to inhumanly or otherwise repress minorities at the flick of a switch. It needs to be backed up properly and not just by general public incidents that occurred some 15 years ago and prior, but actual incidents occurring now that are severely detrimental to communities in the name of divisive politics, aka alleged Hindutva. In fact, it would also be better for the credibility of such journalism to speak about the atrocities against Hindus. How about that for a change?

However, that’s never going to happen because anything pro India or pro Hindu is simply not news worthy. By the way, we need to make it clear that being pro-Hindu doesn’t mean minorities suffer. There are pro-Hindus all around the globe and indeed in India that contribute massively and add value in assimilating with its host community socially, economically and culturally. And that is why the West or any other developed nation really do not care about what journalists think about Modi and his vision of India. They are all in admiration and for the first time in modern history, India stands shoulder to shoulder and speaks eye to eye to the rest of the world. Indians are proud and so too are non-resident Indians of India. Global leaders really don’t care about any anti-India, anti RSS, anti-BJP or anti-Modi reporting that goes on. Because if they did, they would have had to have seen and acted upon some proper evidence of extremism backing up the allegations of “run for your lives because the BJP are in power”. They wouldn’t have committed so easily to the massive trade and investment deals and would have called for embargoes or sanctions on an international footing. I’m afraid that has not happened as no evidence exists justifying such action and the only fear created by yourselves (and I’m talking about the irresponsible journalists out there), is the fear that a BJP led government has damaged your credibility. Well to that I say…. Jai Hind! (oops, did I say something intolerant?).

You see, the problem has been that Hindutva (whatever that means) has been portrayed as a dirty word. However, let’s say for arguments sake that the BJP are proactively implementing this concept right now, what’s the damage been? None, in my opinion and that’s because the media’s scaremongering with the use of these ill-defined words and phrases has not amounted to anything detrimental. On the contrary, what Modi has done is to alleviate this misconceived perception by getting his team to act in a way deserving of nothing but respect. For the first time in history, the BJP has created leaders who global leaders are competing to spend a few moments with in order to explore ideas and initiatives for mutual benefit.

For the avoidance of doubt, let’s spell it out. Hindutva does not equal fascist behaviour. In fact, it has been a tried and tested word at the Supreme Court of India itself in 1995 where it has been shown to be a concept underpinning the Indian Constitution itself as one would argue as such as Mr Ram Jethmalani. What it does mean though, is that India’s become proud and relevant in modern times regardless of caste, creed or religion ever since Modi’s arrival on the national scene because of his educated, trained and developed character and internationally, well, let’s not even go there, the man and his party are simply loved…. Full stop!

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/may/15/narendra-modi-india-election-video

[2] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/hindu-nationalists-are-gaining-power-in-india-and-silencing-enemies-along-the-way-9155591.html

[3] https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/05/14/why_indians_should_fear_a_bjp_election_win_siddiqui.html

[4] http://www.thedartmouth.com/article/2017/03/sands-the-rise-of-hindu-nationalism

From around the web

Wasn’t the last Indian General Election all about Hindutva, the end of secularism and how India was on the verge of becoming a religious dictatorship?

But what let down journalism then and now on this topic is the complete lack of understanding as to why the BJP is so overwhelmingly dedicated in executing its mandate and how it is actually doing it.

A number of media houses predicted doom and gloom in 2014 if in the event the BJP would be victorious. Looking back at those reports now, I almost cringe or burst out with laughter as to the high level of inaccurate predictions and scaremongering. The attacks were largely against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), its aspirations and how they would control the BJP in realising them. There was and still is more interest in the RSS than Modi himself and that intrigue as to what lies behind Modi always fascinates journalists.

But what let down journalism then and now on this topic is the complete lack of understanding as to why the BJP is so overwhelmingly dedicated in executing its mandate and how it is actually doing it. That mandate in a nutshell in my opinion, was and is simply being to empower citizens of India. Character building is nation building, a concept that previous governments failed to understand and appreciate as they had no method nor inclination in educating, training and developing modern statesman like figureheads who deserve respect as they work in the nation’s interest wholeheartedly where actions speak louder than words. Without that realisation and a true understanding of a method behind character development, journalists simply alleged doomsday was around the corner because of previous communal occurrences in 2002 and before. Those events being repeated time and time again, picked up globally including the British press in an attempt to frighten and warn of an alleged sinister plot against Indian secularism and democracy. Even Phoebe Greenwood of the Guardian video blogged a piece in 2014 entitled “Who is Narendra Modi?” by concluding, “from the little that we do know, we probably should care.”[1]

Pre-election, the media was strife with speculation that the West ought to be worried about the growth of power of Hindu nationalism. Sunny Hundal wrote for the Independent in February 2014 [2] and quoted Chetan Bhatt of the LSE talking of Modi, “He remains committed to the supremacist ideology of Hindutva which says that India should be an exclusive Hindu nation state in which minorities are treated as second-class citizens or worse." The author concluded the write up in the following manner: “it is paradoxical that some Hindu groups are pushing an ancient religion towards a mirror image of the same hardline Muslim groups that they say they are against… Tragically, for those of us who believe in liberal, secular values and pluralism, these events may herald an even more terrifying future.” Really, do I need to say more about the fact that the published piece seems to be implying that some Hindu groups’ ideology is tantamount to ISIS or Al Qaeda? I mean, that is what hardline Muslim groups are, right?

As another example, one website, Star.com’s columnist, Haroon Saddiqui wrote an article on the alleged devastating effect Modi would have on India as a ruler, it being entitled, “Why Indians should fear a BJP election win: Siddiqui”[3]. Even today, Zoe Sands published “The Rise of Hindu Nationalism” [4] in The Dartmouth, an American College newspaper. What’s worse in this online article is the manner in which the reader is invited to make an adverse inference from the concluding remark, “If Modi manages his campaign as shrewdly as he did in 2014, we can expect a Hindu nationalist agenda to grip India with an even greater force” talking of the next general election in 2019. I read that as being critical and negative. I mean, where has so-called “Hindu nationalism” slowed down India’s development and what has the damage been so far where you can directly attribute it to “Hindu nationalism? What does Hindu nationalism really mean or what meaning is being given to it?

The problem has been the mixing and banding out of terms and phrases such as the ones mentioned above regarding Indian political scaremongering. Journalism on Indian politics, especially on articles depicting Modi, BJP and the RSS as ideological supremacists has been irresponsible to say the least. Now, I could go on and on and quote further examples, but it is more important that this article now concentrates on calling out for straight forward, unspeculative and factual journalism for the future. Let’s start calling a spade a spade, as opposed to trying to fit a square into a circle. With this in mind, can journalists now pin their colours to the mast and start off by defining phrases such as Hindutva and Hindu nationalism and actually state what it is they fear, instead of making blanket remarks inviting the West or indeed India to be fearful of some notion that a so-called wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing is about to inhumanly or otherwise repress minorities at the flick of a switch. It needs to be backed up properly and not just by general public incidents that occurred some 15 years ago and prior, but actual incidents occurring now that are severely detrimental to communities in the name of divisive politics, aka alleged Hindutva. In fact, it would also be better for the credibility of such journalism to speak about the atrocities against Hindus. How about that for a change?

However, that’s never going to happen because anything pro India or pro Hindu is simply not news worthy. By the way, we need to make it clear that being pro-Hindu doesn’t mean minorities suffer. There are pro-Hindus all around the globe and indeed in India that contribute massively and add value in assimilating with its host community socially, economically and culturally. And that is why the West or any other developed nation really do not care about what journalists think about Modi and his vision of India. They are all in admiration and for the first time in modern history, India stands shoulder to shoulder and speaks eye to eye to the rest of the world. Indians are proud and so too are non-resident Indians of India. Global leaders really don’t care about any anti-India, anti RSS, anti-BJP or anti-Modi reporting that goes on. Because if they did, they would have had to have seen and acted upon some proper evidence of extremism backing up the allegations of “run for your lives because the BJP are in power”. They wouldn’t have committed so easily to the massive trade and investment deals and would have called for embargoes or sanctions on an international footing. I’m afraid that has not happened as no evidence exists justifying such action and the only fear created by yourselves (and I’m talking about the irresponsible journalists out there), is the fear that a BJP led government has damaged your credibility. Well to that I say…. Jai Hind! (oops, did I say something intolerant?).

You see, the problem has been that Hindutva (whatever that means) has been portrayed as a dirty word. However, let’s say for arguments sake that the BJP are proactively implementing this concept right now, what’s the damage been? None, in my opinion and that’s because the media’s scaremongering with the use of these ill-defined words and phrases has not amounted to anything detrimental. On the contrary, what Modi has done is to alleviate this misconceived perception by getting his team to act in a way deserving of nothing but respect. For the first time in history, the BJP has created leaders who global leaders are competing to spend a few moments with in order to explore ideas and initiatives for mutual benefit.

For the avoidance of doubt, let’s spell it out. Hindutva does not equal fascist behaviour. In fact, it has been a tried and tested word at the Supreme Court of India itself in 1995 where it has been shown to be a concept underpinning the Indian Constitution itself as one would argue as such as Mr Ram Jethmalani. What it does mean though, is that India’s become proud and relevant in modern times regardless of caste, creed or religion ever since Modi’s arrival on the national scene because of his educated, trained and developed character and internationally, well, let’s not even go there, the man and his party are simply loved…. Full stop!

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2014/may/15/narendra-modi-india-election-video

[2] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/hindu-nationalists-are-gaining-power-in-india-and-silencing-enemies-along-the-way-9155591.html

[3] https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/05/14/why_indians_should_fear_a_bjp_election_win_siddiqui.html

[4] http://www.thedartmouth.com/article/2017/03/sands-the-rise-of-hindu-nationalism

From around the web

2 Comments

  1. Deepak 27th December 2017 at 9:14 am - Reply

    Nicely written Jayesh. I think one of the key issues (which Modi admitted himself after 2002) is that it is very important to learn to communicate with and handle the media or the influential public at large.

    Tony Blair took his cabinet to university for a week before he took up office to prepare for what was to come. He made a monumental mistake in his time in power but people still love him.

    In the last BJP government Bajpee unexpectedly lost his re-election as they clearly related hard work with people’s sentiment…and that’s a similar issue that Modi admitted he faced and is still facing.

    Hard work is great, but as in school, the straightest trees get knocked over first….the hardest workers get ridiculed and are not always seen as popular.

    Governance is a mix of marketing/communication, understanding people’s sentiments (and taking them with you) and all underlined by hard work. Unfortunately as we have seen, hard work alone is not easy for people to see. They will take all chances to cut you down, especially if their livelihoods (of which some are corrupt and illegal) are challenged.

    The BJP deserves to be challenged on topics such as black money…. But they should also be applauded for the positives such as the huge positive image change for India in the world.

    I’m a firm believer that if people are still misunderstanding you, then you have to change the way you deliver your message. Once BJP learns cool….(think of the great work Shashi Taroor has done with how colonialism worked in India) then it may have a major breakthrough.

    With 24 hours news channels desperate to find any issue to make ‘news’ to cover a few days …you help set the topics or you become the topic.

  2. Dhiraj 27th December 2017 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Well argued and presented article. Media and academia are still dominated by left liberal who have their own worldviews and paradyms. But they need to be challenged with facts and consistency. Hope you continue to write in this style.

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