Open Letter to Sagarika Ghose PDF Print E-mail

KK Kak
This is with reference to your blogpost "Is the Media Anti-Hindu?” (ToI, 30/3/16 - http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/).

Yes, it is.

You come to the view that the English media reflects the religious view away from religious extremes. The question, though, is who decides what the extremes are? At present, the centre, as defined by the “liberal” English media, isheavily skewed to the left pro-Islamic viewpoint.

To get a better picture of this, compare the English media's economic views today to its pre-1991 ones. In 1991, when reforms started, a large section of the media followed the leftist line of reforms being disastrous for the Indian economy. Liberalisation and globalisation were viewed dubiously, while GATT and IMF were dirty words. Wild leftist theories about a second East India Company conquering India, the Indian manufacturing industry disintegrating because of foreign MNCs, McDonalds and Pepsi wiping out pao bhaji and lassi respectively, were given respectful media attention. The so-called centre was extremely far to the left. In contrast, today, the 'centre' of our economic thinking is a good deal to the right of where it was 25 years ago.

Similarly, our 'centre' on religious issues today is heavily tilted to the leftist-Islamic point of view. You say the Vikaspuri murder can't be compared to the Dadri murder because it was not communal -- and you are right. But the murder of Prashant Poojary was definitely communal. Why was media attention and sympathy so much less for Mr Poojary than it was for Mr Akhlaq?

Your argument that the murder of RSS workers in Kerala and the Malda violence in Bengal was covered by the local media there, and that the media is bigger than English language TV may be correct, but it misses the main point. The Gujarat riots were also covered by the local Gujarati press. The Dadri killing was covered by local UP newspapers. So why did the national media get involved? Because for the national media, "Hindu kills Muslim" is breaking news, while "Muslim kills Hindu" is a minor incident?

I congratulate you on your admission that “perhaps the media was guilty of jumping the gun on church attacks” -- the first time I have ever seen any representative of the English media or the liberal lobby admitting (albeit half-heartedly) that they got it wrong. But the media didn't just jump the gun -- they used the attacks to viciously go after the Government, which is what they always wanted to do in the first place. When statistics emerged that 240 temples had been attacked in the same period as the 5 churches, the English press covered it in a tiny paragraph or ignored it altogether. Loud “secular” demands that the Government “reassure” Christians were given about ten times as much newsprint as the information about 240 temples being attacked. Can you say that this was just jumping the gun and not open bias?

Or take the rape of the nun in Bengal. We had daily front-page headlines about how our so-called minorities were being targeted in Modi Raj, how Hindu thugs were running wild, links were drawn to the church attacks, and there were loud demands for Modi to speak up. Then it emerged that the rapist was a Muslim, and the media fell completely silent. No complaints about how Muslim thugs were running wild in Mamata Raj, no demands that the Bengal CM comment -- nothing. The English media only cared as long as they could blame the Hindus -- is this not bias?

You say the media has spoken out against fatwa politics and for Taslima Nasreen? Really? When Nasreen was assaulted by MIM thugs, there were a couple of news articles and that was it. When she was hounded out of India by Islamic fanatics, with the “secular” Bengal Government caving in to Islamic pressure, where was the media outrage? Where were the demands for the Bengal CM (or the then PM) to comment? When Salman Rushdie was hounded out of the Jaipur Lit Fest (in Congress-ruled Rajasthan), did the media kick up nearly the same level of fuss that they did for Ghulam Ali? No, they didn't. An occasional Nasreen interview does not offset the overall bias. Very recently, there has been news about a Deoband fatwa against “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and a Christian leader filing a case against Hrithik Roshan for joking about the Pope. I have yet to see a ToI front-page headline on either issue. Or an editorial condemning Muslim / Christian motormouths. Where was the condemnation when Islamic clerics told the Supreme Court that triple talaq was above the Constitution of India? Now, if a Hindu organization had done any of that, then indeed the media would have been all over it.

An Owaisi and a Sakshi Maharaj may be heard equally, but Sakshi gets condemned a good deal more loudly than Owaisi does. I have heard media condemnation of the RSS for forcing Muslims to say “Bharat Mata ki Jai” (which isn't even true, they were forcing no one) but I have yet to hear similar media condemnation of Owaisi for gratuitously turning Bharat Mata ki Jai into a communal issue. The same media which wanted to force Modi into a skullcap (and condemned him as communal when he declined) doesn't want to force Owaisi? And when ToI went about interviewing “Kashmiris in Delhi” in the wake of the JNU controversy, all Kashmiris interviewed just happened to be Muslims, starting with Shehla Rashid (and many of whom felt discriminated against!). Why not interview a few Kashmiri Hindus as well? And ask them if they feel discriminated against in Delhi -- or in Shehla Rashid's Islamized Srinagar?

Of course, this bias is not limited to the Indian liberal media. European Christian leaders turning away Syrian refugees are called anti-Muslim bigots. Gulf leaders of Kuwait, Qatar, etc., refusing to accept refugees are not called bigots. Donald Trump wants to place curbs on the entry of Muslims into America and he is called an Islamophobe. King Salman bans the entry of all Christian (and, for that matter, kaffir) religious texts into Saudi Arabia -- and celebrating Christmas in Riyadh will get you jailed -- but he is not called a Christianophobe.

Of course the liberal English media is biased -- but it is too biased to see it!