Is the Indian media anti-Hindu? It is a disturbing question. In the first place a clear distinction must be made between the print and electronic (radio and television) media. I have not monitored the latter and, in any event, it takes a long time to come to a judgment. Yes, during the post-Godhra riots, one of the channels was extremely hostile towards Narendra Modi and the Gujarat government but one does not know whether that was hostility towards a person, or the organisation of which he has been for long a part of.
As for the print media, we have the English language media as well as newspapers in over a score of Indian languages. It would be, in the circumstances, unfair to generalise on so important an issue. But as far as the English media is concerned the general impression is that it is very hostile, by and large, towards Hinduism as a political force. One can be hostile towards casteism or animal sacrifice or child marriage or the treatment of women among certain sections of Hindu society, which cannot be dubbed as anti-Hinduism, per se. Such an attitude can even be called reformist. What should worry many is the ?liberal? media'shostility or contempt towards the very concept of Hinduism that frequently becomes apparent not only in editorials but in the general treatment of news. There is a sense of shame in admitting that one is a born-Hindu.
Only a professional psychiatrist will be able to anaylse the anti-Hindu mind in certain sections of the English media mostly run by Hindus themselves. How does one explain minoritism as professed by the English media? Is it a reflection of one'sinner fears sustained over the centuries? Does it reflect a desire to be accommodative and a willingness to forgive and forget the past? Why are the evil deeds of Muslim rulers in the past patently minimised and the anger and enforced reaction of the majority community recklessly magnified? Would it be correct to dismiss those who run the English media as Macaulay'schildren, innocent of the very essence of Hinduism and apologetic of its accrued shortcomings? Does it reflect the end-result of what may be called Nehruist ?secularism? that tended to be indifferent to Hindu values while being sympathetic towards the Islamic heritage?
Brought up under British tutelage from his very childhood days, Nehru was impatient, if not indifferent, to put it mildly, towards Hinduism. There was a time when it was fashionable to be a Nehruite but what is to be deplored is that Nehruism has percolated down the years and settled in the minds of the media policy-makers like mud in an overflowing river. To a certain extent this can be attributed to ignorance about Hinduism and its values as adumbrated in the Upanishads.
The upper crust of Hindu society educated in a certain class of schools has always been notorious, for its scornful approach towards everything that Hinduism stands for. But even that does not quite explain the blatant anti-Hinduism such as is so noticeable in certain newspaper columns and articles. It is as if the Muslims can do nothing wrong and the Hindus can do nothing right. It is difficult to understand this mind-set. Often the anti-Hinduism comes through as so visceral that it bothers any sane mind.
One explanation is that the media is anxious to be seen as upholders of the well-being of the minorities, especially Muslims and to be seen as being over-anxious to a fault. Another explanation is that it does not wish to be seen as unforgiving?the attitude of an elder brother towards a volatile younger one, which again, is understandable. What is not understandable is the sheer viciousness on the part of the English media towards anything Hindu, not always explicit, but obvious.
There is the celebrated case of an article published in The Times of India (March 20, 2002) by one Harsh Mander titled Hindustan Hamara which rocketed him to fame as a conscience keeper. This dealt with the riots that followed the Godhra massacre in which 58 Hindu women and children in a rail coach were incinerated. The Press Council was highly critical of the article. It called for the condemnation both of Mander and the paper which published his article, The Times of India.
According to a report, the Press Council of India, a statutory body, ruled that, ?it was expected of the author as a responsible serving officer (in the Indian Administrative Service) as well of the respondent paper of repute like The Times of India to be more restraint and circumspect in pronouncing a denouncement of the whole system in a communally surcharged atmosphere?.
The Council again admonished The Times of India ?for its indifferent and irresponsible attitude?in a matter of grave importance? and felt ?that a greater responsibility devolved on the editor of the paper in exercising his discretion to select articles for publication in such a situation?.
According to a book NGOs, Activists and Foreign Funds ?not a single major paper or TV channel reported the Press Council'sexposure of Mander?. It added: ?Not surprisingly, in addition to The Times of India, publications like the Hindustan Times, The Telegraph, Asian Age, Mainstream, Deccan Chronicle and Rashtriya Sahara were found by the Press Council to carry reports ?tending to inflame communal passions?.? How did this happen? Because, one suspects, of the vindictive anti-Hindu stand taken by these papers.
Can Muslims never do anything wrong? Has every criminal act of Muslims to be condoned and Hindu reaction to it condemned? What is this mentality prevailing in a section of the English media? It will be argued that taking a pro-Muslim stance gives credibility to the English media's?secularism?. This at the cost of truth? There has so far been no objective assessment of the English media, including weeklies like Outlook, and The Week and it is time such a study is made, in the larger interests of the nation.
Anti-Hinduism certainly is prevalent in some sections of the English media. What has been missing so far is the why and wherefore of this mind-set, that is so destructive of all human values. Condemn it and the reaction is to call the questioner a communalist! One theory has it that being anti-Hindu is a password to international approbation. The desperation of some of our media intellectuals to be known as secularists is so great that they would rather damn their own forefathers and current Hindu contemporaries to win brownie points to the point that they would suffer any insult hurled at Hinduism gladly. How many Hindu critics in the English media, for instance, have said and unkind word about Husain'spaintings? Is anything and everything permissible under the Right to Freedom of Expression?
(The veteran columnist till recently was the Chairman of the Prasar Bharati Board.)