Lutyens’ Delhi is the heart of Delhi, which houses all the ruling edifices of India-be its ministers, MPs or bureaucrats. Lutyens-media is referred to as the section of left-leaning, elitist liberal ‘intellectuals’, journalists, and media houses, who thrived during the earlier regimes by enjoying all its perks because of their proximity to the centre, which used to be in the Lutyens.
They are a set of media personnel who enjoyed and still enjoy a cosy relationship with politicians, bureaucrats, corporate houses and other power centres. Although the term “Lutyens” is related to Delhi, Lutyens-media is a term used for the journalists who claim to be the ‘mainstream media’ and are English-speaking with their English-speaking outlets, leftist-leaning, anti-majority and so on. The other names they are known for are ‘Khan Market Gang’, “limousine liberals” and “champagne socialists”.
During the ’80s, these people comprised a core of bureaucrats and politicians inclined to take their political careers within New Delhi. They were surrounded by journalists, industrialist-lobbyist, power-brokers who inhabited the same social circles, academicians and artistes and intellectuals working on projects funded by left-leaning academic foundations. They formed a coterie of power-influencer where everybody knew everybody else, but outsiders found it hard to penetrate. Over time, they became a privileged class in themselves.
Lutyens media was well nurtured and cultivated by the earlier regimes and rationalizes the actions and ideologies of the earlier government in lieu of the perks they get. Like the ‘Darbari-historians’ (court-historians) of the Mughal-era, they worked to justify and propagate the idea of the ruling elite to ‘set the agenda’. They worked as a group of journalists who knew each other and were in constant communication and helped form opinions and narratives within the circles of the administration and among politicians. Owing to their association with the power-centres during the Nehruvian-Congress regime, the Leftist media usurped all the channels of flow of information and created an intellectual hegemony where any counter idea was disdained as reactionary, communal or non-scientific.
Many things have changed since the present regime of Modi-government came to power in 2014. The traditional routes of privileged access to the PMO and other corridors of power have fast dried up, which is the main reason for their outcry. With Modi ending the jamborees for journalists during the prime minister’s trips abroad, the last enabling environment for engagement and hobnobbing dried up.
Lutyens-gang is a self-proclaimed group of ‘intellectuals’ and ‘intelligentsia’ who claim to know the nation's pulse and have the vision of the ‘truth’ and ‘post-truth’ for the nation. They promote each other based on ‘You scratch my back, I scratch yours’. These people were able to control the narrative and shape the words of the media for a long time.
During the earlier regimes, they dominated the narratives and ‘set the nation’s issues’ and agenda. In short, they were ‘agenda-setters’ for the nation on behalf of the ruling elite. Over time, because of their proximity to the power-corridors, they emerged as a powerful and privileged lobby and power-centre within themselves. Many times, they acted as middlemen or brokers to fix and share power. In return, they were gifted with privileges like expensive gifts, awards, posh-bungalows, foreign trips, advertisements and so on.
Their intellectual roots can be traced from the famous Marxist thinker Gramsci, who says that nations use the influence of ideas, thoughts, and information to elicit the consent of the citizens. Nation creates ‘hegemony’ through ideas. You can partake in the share of the sovereign power through the process of setting the ‘narratives’ and ‘agendas’.
In the Indian context, there are three identifiable yet overlapping streams of the Lutyens-Media within their overall leftist umbrella. Their paradigm is not mutually exclusive. The first group of the Lutyens is a set of ‘elitist-journalist-intellectuals’ who have been groomed and indoctrinated in the western-ethos and culture. They are English-speaking journalists, mostly the product of elite schools like the Doon, Welham and elite colleges and universities like St. Stephen, JNU, Jamila Millia and many foreign universities like Columbia University, Queen Mary University of London, to name a few. Courtesy of their intellectual upbringing, they are the dash followers of the western world and will evaluate everything on the western parameters, be it democratic institutions, court-rulings or parliamentary values.
They hail everything that is western. Anything good in India is western-inspired. Their litmus test of any nation's act is how far any action is inconsistent with the Western ideology and thought-process. Approval from or acceptance of the western-world is their dominant paradigm. Whether any action is good or bad is viewed based on how the Western media has reacted. Also, this creed overemphasizes the unbridled right of freedom of expression, individualism and rights of individuals. They claim to believe in democracy but will bash the Indian model of democracy if it does not suit their agenda.
For example, if a party wins the highest seats, they will claim that it is not a full mandate since that party has not got over 50% of the vote-share of the population. If their argument is not accepted because, by this logic, not even a single party has ever got the majority in India, they will claim that majority parliamentary democracy does not mean majoritarianism. Their westernized grooming has made them question anything which is Indian, be it its historical past or present achievements. They have exhibited a clear disdain for Hindi-Patrikarita- be it Hindi-News channels or newspapers.
The other strand of the Lutyens is the leftist-communist ideology laden media. They claim to champion the rights of the poor, subaltern, tribal and the marginalized. For them, if any development is ever taking place, it is at the cost of exploiting the poor. For them, the government in power is a capitalist government that only looks after the interest of the industrial-corporate. Every action taken by the government is viewed through the lens of pessimism, where the glass was always half empty rather than half full.
They claim to have the monopoly of the ‘Truth’, and when their narrative is not accepted or validated on the popular mandates of democracy, they come with the theories of post-truth, false narratives and illusory issues. One of the major traits of this strand is that they will try to make one stray incident as a generalized working of the government. Surprisingly, they reach a conclusion or theories on the strength of even a single fact or incident. True to their ideal mentor, Marx, religion and culture are nothing but the ideological justification of the ruling class. So, they have a pre-conceived bias against Indian culture, belief-system and values.
The third strand is the group who are Lutyens-anarchist. They will oppose everything and propose nothing. For them, everything ‘Indian’ is disdainful, be it the past or the present. They have a special hate for Indian culture, particularly Hinduism. As per them, the Government of Modi is represented by Hindu-Brahminical ideology.
For their creed, it is mandatory to hate Hinduism, its ‘regressive rituals’ and down-market festivals. If you can distort, dis-inform or tweak a fact, it is still better. For example, for them, vegetarianism is communal while vegan is ‘cool’. One of the extreme strands out of this anarchist-strand is vulture-journalism, whereby their own confessions; feed on moments like the Parliament attack, which was a ‘great day’ for them and their profession. For them, the slogan of secession is nothing more than a slogan and freedom of speech! They will recluse to the procedure, the rule of law and natural justice when they feel they cannot stand on the substance of merit of the case.
The main patterns of the Lutyens media as emerged-out in India are:
● Instead of being professional journalists, they are biased journalists and their professional news organizations conceal and distort information that does not fit their politically correct agenda. They claim themselves to be the mainstream media. Since they claim to know the truth, they disdain anything, which is an alternative discourse.
● They misquote statements; publish incorrect headlines and erroneous news on their English-speaking outlets. Many of these elitist-journos have been involved in sexual harassment cases, plagiarism and financial scandals. They have been involved in malicious editing and stories based on fake data and rhetoric. They have developed as a powerful lobby who were hand in glove with the power-centres. The role played by one of the ‘eminent’ journalists of their band in Radia-tape in setting the ministries is an open secret.
● On many occasions, they ‘create; news and also fake news. They set the agenda and narratives. Many times they are biased, partisan and deceitful. Mostly their prime-time is primed on insignificant and collateral issues rather than the real issues facing the nation. Over highlighting any small incident to blame and brand a whole community is one of their tactics.
● They have exhibited an anti-majority bias by over-promoting and appeasing the minority views/sections.
● In the garb of opposing the government, they oppose the nation-state. Their intellectual support to secessionists and even a terrorist attack in the name of the rights and struggles shows their intellectual hypocrisy. Their intellectual support to secessionists in Kashmir in the North East is its live example.
● One of the newest trends is ‘war of propaganda’ against the government and, in particular, against the Hindu religion. They twist, distort and fake the facts to suit their ideology. They spread misinformation, disinformation, and fake information through the extensive use of social media. The new method is using WhatsApp, ‘trolling’, creating hash-tags and making the fake ideas viral through web channels.
The Indian nation has been a victim of their false narratives; it is time to offer a counter-narrative and agenda.