bullet train

MSM Fake News Monitor: Express on Bhagwat

This has also appeared on NewsBred).

(Facebook has set out 10 tools to check Fake News. A few give-aways are headlines, source, evidence and photos. Indian Express, no surprises here, continues to be the leader of Fake News in Mainstream Media –call it Lutyens’ Media).

Indian Express today had a four-deck headline on its front page: “Farmers, small business must not suffer, RSS chief tells govt” (Sub headline: Mixes praise for Modi with caution, seeks “new provisions” in Valley).

On the parameters set out by Facebook, this is clearly a Fake News. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat never said the “Farmers, small business” are suffering; and even if he thought so, he never addressed it to the government!

Indian Express chose “small business” as the essence of Bhagwat’s speech even though he had some quite explosive opinions on mischief-makers in today’s India: The RSS chief asked for some constitutional provisions of J & K to go; he wanted Rohingyas to be thrown out on security; and he exhorted those involved in cow-protection to keep up their good work and not be dissuaded by sinister coining of word “vigilantism” to make them appear criminal. Pointedly, Bhagwat asked: “Many activists who were peacefully involved in cow protection were attacked and killed. This issue is neither discussed nor being inquired into.” (His entire speech can be watched here).

Yet, Indian Express found merit in giving a Fake Headline to Bhagwat’s speech. They ignored the sumptuous praise which Bhagwat had reserved for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The evidence of their foul play is the headline in its web-edition: “RSS chief praises Modi”, some 20 hours earlier before it was fabricated for the print edition!

One can understand this anxiety of a mouthpiece of Left ideology to keep harping on India’s economy in view of the forthcoming Gujarat assembly elections. Such assault on India’s economy also finds expression in running down “Bullet Train,” more so in the wake of recent stampede tragedy in Mumbai.

Thus you have a story running down “Bullet Train” in Lutyens’ Media. Today, Express has given big displays to P. Chidambaram, Raj Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray, so much so that it almost makes up the entire Page 9. Never mind, such set of people not long ago were worrying that speed of our trains haven’t changed since 1971. This sort of ideology was against metro in cities. Remember the outrage on Mumbai-Pune expressway project? It is this expressway which has made Pune so alluring to corporate and IT sectors. Yojana Bhawan had once declared the Maruti Project as a pipedream. Such ideology couldn’t care less that land prices along the Bullet Train would shoot up and bring a great deal of investment, growth and jobs.

Bullet Train as such is not a Fake News in Indian Express but when politicians and media work in tandem, who are we to disbelieve our politicians and Lutyens’ Media are not part of the same ecosystem which is intent on spreading mischief, a softer version of Fake News?

Another such example of acting in concert is on Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, director of a centre in the Maulana Azad Urdu University in Hyderabad. The man has gone berserk in claiming his life is under threat for writing books such as : “Post-Hindu India, Buffalo Nationalism, Untouchable God” etc. Among his suggestions are to say prayers in English. For the last four months, this ecosystem of mischief and fake news are fuelling each other on Shepherd.  Yesterday it was Indian Express, today it’s Times of India which has splashed his interview in its edit page. No prizes for second guessing that ScrollWire etc have long set the agenda rolling.

Now all those who interview Shepherd, don’t ask him some simple questions: “Sir, why you have nothing ever to say about the discrimination and oppression within Muslim communities?” Or “Sir, why don’t you mention the Reservations which the state grants to your oppressed community of Dalit-Bahujan, depriving many meritorious of the upper castes?” Or, “Sir, any views on why the Leftists, whom you support, have zero representation of Dalit-Bahujans in their top hierarchy?”

Such agenda is visible everywhere. Today, in Indian Express we have a full page interview with a Magsaysay award winner outlining the system’s failure. The less said about Magsaysay awards the better for the CIA-Ford Foundation links in its background are unmistakable. Arvind Kejriwal, or Manish Sisodia, would certainly have something to say on it.

Then there are two pages on the plight of manual scavengers in Indian Express. There are many reasons to sympathize with their plight; but every reason to condemn the attempt to link it with Swachh Bharat mission and by inference show it in poor light. Even as the word is pouring in on Swachh Bharat’s success.

Why Rajdeep Sardesai blocked me on twitter

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

I found myself blocked on twitter by Rajdeep Sardesai today.

My tweets to him have never been abusive; rarely personal even though there is good enough reason to be so since we shared the same newsroom in the Times of India in the 90s. But I understand that the “Freedom of Expression” is not a two-way street. Stupid, we aren’t meant to practice what we preach.

Still, I was obliged, conscience-wise, to peek into his tweets of the last four days. No, I wasn’t looking for his sermons on illegal Rohingyas. Or if he is disparaging about Bullet Train. Or if he is in the pack of the wolves dancing around the embers of Demonetization. Or if their creativity is still on its feet in stitching “Sangh Parivar” with the murder of Gauri Lankesh.

All the above issues are meant to convey their concern for India. How their heart beats for India’s proud history of welcoming refugees. How India’s economic slide kicks them in the guts. How their souls are scorched at the fanciful waste of Bullet Train. How they die a thousand deaths at the plight of “independent” journalists in today’s India.

Surely, such “conscience-keepers” of the nation would have shed a tear at the demise of Arjan Singh, Marshal of the Indian Air Force, in the Capital on Saturday. I wanted to check on Sardesai, if he has extricated himself from the morass of mud-slinging and spared a thought for the departed hero.

But I found myself blocked by Sardesai!!!

So I did the next best thing. I turned to Sagarika Ghose, his wife. Surely, the woman who has a new biography on Indira Gandhi to her name and thus, by inference, had time to research many wars of the 60s and 70s, would remember late Marshal Arjan Singh and his legendary deeds.

But there’s not a single tweet from Ms Ghose! (There of course is a retweet but that’s like registering a presence in a funeral). It’s so much like Congis–with whom her family has had a roaring stand–who rarely have had a great respect for our military heroes.

Remember the death of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw on June 27, 2008? The then present UPA dispensation in the Centre, were all missing from the funeral of India’s greatest military hero. Neither President Pratibha Patil, supreme commander of our armed forces nor Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; neither the then defence minister A.K. Antony nor the three Service chiefs attended Manekshaw’s funeral.

Manekshaw’s various run-ins with the Indira Gandhi could be the reason. I am not sure if Ms. Ghose has it mentioned in her book—those loyals who have read it must inform me. Or the book has the facts that the 1971 War hero’s status and dues were held up for decades. (It was only due to the initiative of former  President APJ Kalam that a cheque of Rs 1.3 crores was sent to the late Marshal on his deathbed.)

Next I logged on to Sitaram Yechury’s twitter account. He is another one who can’t see his beloved India going to pieces under the Modi regime. It’s another matter that those who protect India’s sovereignty are not quite sure of his time for them. He too wasn’t present, by all accounts, at Field Marshal Manekshaw’s funeral.

Yechury too hasn’t offered any condolence on Marshal Arjan Singh. All he has done is to question Modi government for its indifference to death of India’s “most senior serving military officer.” Indifference? Is the whining Communist leader indeed talking about Marshal Arjan Singh? Isn’t he aware that Arjan’s son Arvind Singh is overwhelmed at the present government’s response to his father’s death?

I next turned to two other Congress Seniors: Digvijaya Singh and Manish Tewari. The two have been much in news for their colourful vocabulary in public lately. Abusive like the drunk thugs you often find on the streets; with little association to decorative representative offices such as ones of former Chief Minister and Union Minister. Digvijaya predictably had no time for Marshal Arjan Singh’s death (does India-Occupied-Kashmir ring a bell?) And Manish Tewari? No prizes for guessing this one too.

You would expect these people to use Marshal Arjan Singh’s death as an opportunity to present their credentials as well-wishers of Indian army, and by inference India. They have often held the grouse that their patriotism has been questioned by Hindutava agents; that they are shown as anti-Indian armed forces. But doesn’t their lack of respect for Indian soldiers and heroes only confirm the impression?

Maybe they thought that Marshal Arjan Singh’s death has come at a wrong time. Only when they were going hammer and tongs against the Modi government, the death of war hero has allowed Modi to showcase his sincerity and respect for India armed forces.  Only, when they had Modi pinned to the wall—or so they thought.

What’s a career without credibility in public life? And what delusion, like a she-Hindi author who painted Modi-praisers as no better than asses in recent days? Better by asses than filth-loving pigs.

Oh yes, and if anyone could update me on Rajdeep Sardesai on Marshal Arjan Singh.

Has Japan won India for its master?

India and China have suffered a massive chasm to their ties in a matter of 72 hours which threatens the stability of Asia.

These 72 hours pertained to the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to India last week when the hosts were offered a bouquet of infrastructural, nuclear and military deals too mouth-watering to resist.

All these would’ve still been par for course but for that joint public announcement by the two Prime Ministers welcoming Japan’s participation in the India-US Malabar exercises on a permanent basis to meet the “maritime challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.”

It straightaway got China’s goat who warned both India and Japan to “not provoke confrontation and create tension in the region.”

China has long viewed Japan as a vassal of United States and its action being one of a puppet managed by its master. It sees a quadrilateral force of US-Japan-Australia-India now trying to ring and encircle it in the critical Pacific Ocean where it is engaged in disputes with Japan in East China Sea and with Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia among others in the South China Sea.

There is little doubt that US’ “pivot to Asia” is aimed to curtail the growing might of China, the world’s second largest economy and what better way to do than to unleash Japan, world’s third largest economy and India, world’s  ninth largest economy, at the throat of the Middle Kingdom? And one must not forget the recent Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) which serves the same purpose.

The readers at this stage would rightfully question why I offer the supposition that (a) Japan is a vassal state of United States; (b) India has finally hitched its wagon with the US-led cart ; and (c) India and China have grown irrevocably apart despite their cooperation in Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), BRICS,  and SCO (albeit from next year).

There is also this critical subtext of Japan and China being irrevocable enemies which deserves an explanation but let me first throw light on the Malabar exercise issue.

Japan is not new in the US-India Malabar naval drill exercise routine which began in 1992. It took part in 2007, 2009 and 2014 but only as an invitee. Singapore and Australia too have taken part in this exercise, held in the Bay of Bengal, in the past.  But now Japan would have a permanent presence, making it a trilateral US-Japan-India naval exercise.

Clearly, it’s Japan’s presence in the exercise which has touched a raw nerve in China. Thus I move to the first synthesis to the question which you might have in your mind:

Why China and Japan are so irrevocably hostile to each other

During the Second World War, while US threw its lot in Europe to counter the Axis threat of Germany and Italy, it was China’s heroism which kept Japan pinned down in Asia before US mopped it up with the finality of the atomic strikes in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

US and China would thus have been a natural ally and Japan a reviled enemy but for that twist to the tale—communism. As Mao wrested control from Chiang Kai-shek in China, the spectre of communism was in full bloom along with its presence in Soviet Union. The strategic location of Japan between the two Communist powers, made it absolutely priceless for United States.

For the next five decades, United States did everything it could to boost Japan as an economic power par excellence on the world stage. It tolerated Japan’s structural economic protectionist preferences and allowed it a free way market in the United States even at the cost of hurting its own domestic industry.

Cunningly, United States allowed Japan to get on with its own domestic, political and economic missions. It allowed the Japanese elites to maintain an economic system that’s radically opposite to America’s view of the world economic order. As long as Japan kept its foreign policy under United States’ thumb, the latter was willing to overlook a few nuisances.

Japan those become almost invisible to the world on the diplomatic stage. It’s political relations with rest of Asia are under-developed. It lacks multilateral associations such as EU, NATO, NAFTA, ASEAN that other regions enjoy.

A few of its unique characteristics are worth a mention to readers. For one, Japan was never colonized. Two, it remains a “one-country” language. Three, Japanese religion was never exported as Christianity and Islam were. It has far fewer Western education outlets than even China or South Korea. Foreign enterprises have restricted presence. There is very little Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country.

The US predominance in Japan’s affairs was sharply brought to focus in 2010. This was the year when US nudged an “unfavourable” Japanese government out of the office. This was the cabinet of Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) which had come to power a year before in September 2009. Till then, Japan had been a “one-party democracy” of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in power for 50 years.

The DPJ had a strong reformist agenda. It wanted a control over a rampant bureaucracy which encouraged a pivot towards US.  Importantly, it wanted a new China policy. There were massive “people to people” contacts planned; prime minister Yukio Hatoyama wanted to join ASEAN+3 community, consisting of Korea, China and Japan.

This got Washington furious. It refused at least three requests the Japanese prime minister made of meeting the new president Barack Obama. The new man in White House shunned Japanese head in international gatherings. The Japanese press, who followed the American editors blindly, began screaming that prime minister Hatoyama was damaging US-Japan ties. Media and bureaucracy succeeded in their vicious campaign and Hatoyama to step down.  What clinched the matter was the false impression given to Hatoyama that US would reconsider having a new marine base in Okinawa.

Hatoyama’s successor Kan Naota was wiser by the event. He distanced himself from the foreign policy reformists’ agenda. His successor Yoshihiko Noda called for an unnecessary elections which brought the LDP back to power.

So where a friendly relations with China had begun to bloom, suddenly it was now put in reverse gears. Shintaro Ishihara, towards the end of his 13-year governorship of Tokyo, proposed that the uninhabited Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea be bought over. This was a long disputed territory but largely dormant due to improving Japan-China relations. Now it became a smoking hot issue. Growing relationships took a nosedive.  Beijing saw a hand of US behind these machinations.

It’s important at this stage to remember the great divide between Japan and China in the 20th century. An imperialistic Japan had seized Manchuria in 1931 and invaded rest of China from 1937.

The present Japense Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took a historic step last year by ending a ban that had kept the military from fighting abroad after World War II. It contradicted Article 9 of the country’s constitution which had renounced war forever and declared that Japan would never maintain land, air and sea forces.

Since he took office in 2012, Abe has hiked up the military budget, visited the notorious Yasukuni shrine, a symbol of Japanese militarism and denied the role of the Japanese military in forcing hundreds and thousands of women—called “comfort women”—into sexual slavery for its troops.

Abe greatly admires his grandfather Nobusuke Kishi who was Japan’s minister of munitions during World War II. Kishi raised Abe in lieu of his real father, sowing in his grandson the seeds of making Japan a military power again.

US, worried at China’s rise, was happy to stoke Abe’s militaristic disposition. It’s pleasing to Washington that Japan still supports the illegal Iraq War or that it awarded Japan’s highest medal to then US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently.

So now we have a background to US’ control of Japan and the latter’s historic hostility to China. In the second and concluding part of this article, we would look at why India has hedged its bet with US-Japan lot and put itself on path of military confrontation with China.