When will the people of India and especially the Indian media stop looking to the West for support or guidance? For long years it was almost mandatory for the Indian media to publish summaries of editorial opinion expressed by western papers as if they were depository of political wisdom.But in reality nobody cares a damn what these papers think or what their correspondents send by way of despatches, from abroad. Too often, as I myself discovered, those despatches were short in truth and long in pre-conceived opinion, some times, one suspected dictated by embassies abroad.
I was therefore not surprised when I learnt from Freedom First (December 2013) that the New York Times had published an abysmally poor report on Narendra Modi. The report was biased right down to the last full stop.
Fancy a reporter linking the elevation of Modi as its PM candidate by the BJP with the Muzzafarnagar riots of September 2013! In both instances the New York Times exhibited not only ignorance of facts but disguised racism at its worst. The trouble is that foreign correspondents in Delhi depend upon local ‘intellectuals’ and ‘local media’ for guidance. They don’t read other copy and if they do, they don’t show it.
Freedom First has done a great job in exposing New York Times through an article written by MR Venkatesh, a Chennai-based Chartered Accountant and an author of several books. To quote Venkatesh, he says: “After all, let us not forget that the Supreme Court of India has virtually absolved Modi of all charges against him insofar as being a willing party to the Pogrom – a fact lost on most including the author of this piece in NY Times. Given this paradigm, either the NY Times is biased against Modi, BJP, Hindus or India. Alternatively it is ignorant of facts or is it a command performance by the venerable NY Times. Whatever it be, NY Times has become a prisoner of vote-bank politics, perverted secularism and divisive democracy practiced by a section of the Indian polity and media.
What a fall for a media house that was considered a global benchmark till not to so long ago. As Venkatesh saw the situation, the Times article “is not only misleading but a concerted attempt at maligning Modi, the BJP and, of course, the whole of India as it seeks to implicitly link the ascendancy of Modi to these riots.” Additionally Venkatesh noted: “Needless to emphasis is the fact that to blame Modi for these riots retrospectively is bad journalism at best, biased reporting at worst….”
Remarking at this nonsense, Venkatesh says “without a spark of evidence for such a sweeping statement, in my considered view this is mere speculation bordering on gossip.”
Freedom First is not a biased journal. It will call anybody over the coals if the situation so demands. That Freedom First gives freedom to writers to think is noticeable. In an article, Firoze Hirjikaka thinks “Modi bellows to conquer”. Modi gets lambasted in no small measure but Hirjikaka is fair-minded as when he said: “I am not an avid fan of Narendrabhai, but I have to give him credit for packaging himself brilliantly. Almost everyone I meet seems to regard Modi as an instant panacea for the ills that plague the country…. I am not quite so optimistic …. Modi may have started life as a humble chai wallah, but he now exhibits behaviour that would put a seasoned autocrat to shame.” The December issue of the journal is well worth reading over and over again for some of its most thoughtful contents. Beautifully put.
I wish it would persuade some one to write a piece on our English media and the way a significant part of it is trying to raise circulation through publication of semi-nude pictures of females with a belligerence that is, to say the least, sickening. Why is the Press Council of India so silent on this score?