(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
United States wants India to cut down its oil imports from Iran which stands as its third biggest supplier after Iraq and Saudi Arabia. President Donald Trump has followed his pre-election promise with withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan for Action (JCPOA) which had enabled China, Russia, France, Germany UK, European Union and the US itself to dilute the economic sanctions against Tehran. Now the sanctions are back in place with the deadline of November 6, 2018 and the world is in turmoil, no less India.
The Trump administration has chosen a new way to browbeat the countries which don’t fall in line. Last August, it introduced CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) to scare those away from trade relations with “hostile” countries such as Russia, North Korea and Iran. International banks and companies which defy the sanctions would bear the brunt. Less oil imports from Iran would hike up the prices and import bills, not just of India but of many around the world. It would hit both inflation and Indian rupee. Since US dominates the re-insurance and payment gateways, bypassing them is difficult.
India’s dilemma is apparent. Before 2005, it paid $12-14 billion annually to oil bills by Iran. But signing the 2005 Indo-US Nuclear Civil Deal, gave New Delhi’s leash in US hands. India voted against Iran in the IAEA General Conference in September the very year; dithered on the Iran-Pakistan-India Pipeline and sounded the death knell of Turkmenistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. By 2014, India had reduced the Iranian oil imports to $4 billion annually.
The US treasury methodically shut down the banking options for India who then began paying Turkey by cash which then converted it to gold bars and sent it across to Tehran. India was in no position to pay oil bills in US dollars. India did try the balancing act: while Reserve Bank of India (RBI) ceased dealing with Tehran-based Asian Clearing Union in 2010, it came to an understanding with Iran to pay half of its bill in Indian rupees in 2012.
But once the JCPOA came into being, India-Iran trade relations grew back to 2012 days. India also decided to pay out $6.5 billion it owed to Iran, held up due to sanctions. Modi government renewed the stalled Chahbahar port project. Its’ ministers made a beeline to Tehran with promises of oil and infrastructural projects. Iran obliged on its part by granting Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) the gas fields of Farzad B for exploration. The air of optimism only grew better when Iranian president Hassan Rouhani visited New Delhi this February with his oil minister Bijan Zanganeh. India pledged it would double its oil imports from Iran in 2018-2019. Iran, on its part, promised to cut down the freight by $1 per barrel. India pledged to increase import by 500,000 barrels a day.
But now comes the fresh US imposition. Even though foreign minister Sushma Swaraj has reiterated India would only abide by the mandates sanctioned by the United Nations (UN), it’s easier said than done. India and US have a booming trade of $140 billion which could take a grave hit, as well as around $31 billion of bilateral trade surplus advantage India has. Chahbahar port project, which could save millions in trade and increase Afghanistan’s tilt towards India, stands to lose steam. Besides, it just would give a bigger fillip to China to snug closer to Iran, shutting the doors on India.
India would be encouraged by the stand of UK, France, Germany who have expressed “regret and concern over Trump’s disruptive action. The Modi government meanwhile has started to flex its own muscles: in reaction to US postponing the 2+2 dialogue, India has declined US’ offer to host Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. India also seems steadfast in increasing its military deals with Russia which faces similar offensive sanctions from United States.
The one fall-out of all this, including trade barriers ratcheted up by both US and India, is Modi government swinging back appreciably into the China-Russia zone. India has this strategic advantage where countries are looking to wow India rather than the other way around. However, India-US relations for the moment are several notches down than they have ever been since Trump came to power.
(Facebook today came out with a full-page advertisement in Indian Express (September 26, 2017) with 10 tools for a reader to check if a news is fake. It asks readers to check headlines, evidence, photos, source to spot a Fake News. It’s a good reference point to monitor our English national dailies—Lutyens’ Media– who abound in Fake News. It’s a start today and we would gradually warm up to daily planting of Fake News by mainstream media.)
Indian Express today had 7 stories on Banaras Hindu University (BHU) violence, running from its Front Page to multiple pages inside its Delhi edition. It fails the Facebook Fake News Challenge on multiple counts.
EVIDENCE: A front page piece attributes several issues which girl hostellers face in BHU. There is not a SINGLE source attributed!!! Further there is no attempt to investigate—in this or in any other BHU story in Indian Express today if there is truth in (a) Outside BHU elements creating ruckus; (b) attempt to destroy the University property; (c) police targeting only these “troublemakers” (d) BHU Vice-Chancellor alleging protests politically motivated.
Interestingly, THE PROTESTORS THEMSELVES SAY THE OUTSIDE ELEMENTS HAVE CAUSED THE TROUBLE!!! Why Express has made no attempt to investigate it? Or other news reports? (see image)?
SOURCE: Seema Chisti writes thus on Edit Page in today’s Express: “BHU has pushed for no Wi-Fi (How can the new VC risk Wi-Fis, as girls would watch porn). Meat-eating must be curbed and early bedtimes enforced. The VC, who defended RSS ideas, was keen to stamp out any trouble in BHU.”
The Facebook Fake News Challenge asks readers to be sceptical of the source you don’t trust. Seema Chisti falls in this bracket. She never mentions she is Seema Chisti Yechury, wife of Communist powerhead, Sitaram Yechury. Readers can’t be faulted if she is perceived as part of Communist propaganda machine.
One, there is Wi-Fi in girls’ hostel (so they can watch porn, Ms Chisti). Two, meat-eating is not curbed (Extra Rs 30 ensure it); Three, early bedtimes are not enforced–Girl students can take permission from BHU authorities and stay out as long as they want.
Let’s not even stoop to reply her charge on the BHU VC having RSS leaning (And why readers must not presume you are a Communist loudspeaker, Ms Chisti?)
HEADLINES: The Front Page headline of “Why women BHU students are separate and unequal” is classically ambiguous. You can interpret it both ways—that WHY SHOULD girls have separate rules or WHY SHOULD NOT there be separate rules.. But for the standard tactics of misleading headlines, I would give a more concrete example.
On Page 11 of Indian Express, one of its exclusive story has this headline: “Rohingya illegal, purse-strings open for Lankan Tamil refugees”. Now this headline clearly aims to influence the readers that the Modi government is discriminatory; it has one policy for Rohingya Muslims and another for Non-Muslims. What it shamelessly hides is that Rohingyas are ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS and not REFUGEES! So the two instances can’t be compared. Unless the newspaper sees no difference between apples and oranges.
As an aside, click on this link to see how from politicians (Ashok Gehlot, Sanjay Sharma), to journalists (Mrinal Pande, Swati Chaturvedi) to lawyers (Prashant Bhushan) have blatantly peddled lies on the BHU affair and make up your own mind on these Fake News Promoters.
(Post Script: Mainstream Media Fake News Monitor isn’t exclusive to this writer. Any discerning reader who spots Fake News in our mainstream media can use the platform and share it with others—but don’t forget to tag the headline MSM Fake News Monitor. Only then we would know the extent to which Lutyens Media lies).
Ashutosh, a spokesperson of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has appeared in the op-ed page of Indian Express today (April 27, 2017) which is one place to meet/read most of those who are plotting overtime to break India along communal lines and put the blame on RSS and Modi-government.
We, at the NewsBred, make it a point to confront such a narrative. Much of RSS’ and Hindutva’s idealogues mistake has been to concentrate on social reforms and leave the field of academic and media manipulation to Nehruvian-Left combine. It has had a disastrous effect. The Left-Liberals have worked overtime to divide the people on sectarian and communal lines. India First thus could never get off the ground.
Ashutosh, a JNU alumni, largely targets two of RSS’ main idealogues—M.S. Golwalkar and VD Savarkar. He quotes from their works to show they were anti-Muslims and anti-Christians and their concept of Hindu Rashtra didn’t have any scope for minorities. He says this philosophy is being brought to fruition under the present dispensation. Says Ashutosh: “This is a desire for civilizational conquest.”
Ashutosh quotes from Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts: “There are three enemies of India–Muslims, Christians and Communists.” He further accuses Golwalkar as a fascist who was inspired by Hitler.
Dear Ashutosh, are you aware of these words of Golwalkar: “The Muslims must realize that we are all one people and it is the same blood that courses in all our veins.”
Or, “Let Muslims be more devout Muslims. We will help them to be more devout.” (He wrote in Spotlight (P 48).
Or, “Let the Muslims evolve their own laws.” (as a caution against the Uniform Civil Code).
Before we come to the Hitler part, let’s dwell on the Muslim/ minority bit a little longer. It’s a fact that Golwalkar was embittered by partition and the two-nation theory. He also feared the religious identity of Muslims could keep them emotionally in sync with Pakistan and work to India’s disadvantage.
While evaluating this sentiment of Golwalkar, as well as on Hitler, we must remember that men are product of their times. India was hurting under the yoke of British and an enemy’s enemy is one’s friend is perfectly logical. Hitler thus could have been seen as useful to fight British; as imperialist Japan was seen to be useful by Subhas Chandra Bose. It’s also pertinent to remember that Jewish people were the role model of Golwalkar. Its not a profile of a man who was anti-Semitic or proponent of Hitler’s fascism.
Ashutosh further claims that Veer Savarkar’s idea of India was not “common love” but “common blood.” Well, this is what Savarkar wrote in Essentials of Hindutva, and I quote:
“Afer all, there is throughout this world so far as man is concerned but a single race—the human race kept alive by one common blood, the human blood.”
This doesn’t look like words from a man who wanted Hindu supremacy. Indeed, when confined in Ratnagiri, Savarkar invited all untouchable families in his house and dined with them. The Pan-Hindu canteen and Patit Pavan Mandir are standing symbols of his efforts.
It’s been the ploy of mischief-makers to take a sentence or two out of context and paint an individual, organization or a movement in a poor light. Let’s make a few points in this regard:
One, RSS doesn’t follow a book. Indeed, Hinduism doesn’t follow ANY book. Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts isn’t a recommended reading in RSS. Indeed, take a head count and you won’t find 10 persons in RSS who would’ve read the book
Two, RSS has no qualms in denouncing or apologizing their own actions. It was Golwalkar himself who repudiated and withdrew his book “We the Nationhood Defined” in 1948. RSS also officially disowned the book in 2006.
Three, not all BJP men are from the RSS. For example, the present chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath is not from RSS. (So Ashutosh stop suggesting that RSS, VHP, BJP are all the same).
Because of this brain-wash, Muslims in India consider RSS to be an existential threat. It’s time they consider the points below and repudiate this propaganda of India-breakers who are anybody’s friends but theirs.
- RSS doesn’t look to restrict Muslims from doing Namaaz;
- It doesn’t call for Burqa ban;
- It doesn’t ask to butcher Muslims or have them kicked out of India;
- Indeed; it asks government to promote Madrasas;
- It’s not against Muslims getting subsidy for Haj; or mosques not getting aids
- It doesn’t say that why “pakhandi” babas have alone been jailed and not certain Maulanas who are less than pious;
- Why government has control over Hindu temples and not over Masjids or Mosques;
- RSS has backed bans of animal sacrifice in a few Hindu temples, such as Dakhineswar Kali Temple in Kolkata. They haven’t made any such appeal against Bakri-Eid.
Attend any Hindu festival in RSS shakhas and you would see all caste participate equally. There is complete harmony among followers of all religions. Many of them are untouchables and yet they distribute “prasads.”
The harder men like Ashutosh try to create a communal divide, the stronger should be our resistance to it. India First should always supersede our religious identity.
Be ready to see from tomorrow our newspapers painted red with India’s “freedom” brigade outraged at the denial of visa to Dolkun Isa.
The first stone will be cast in the Indian Parliament–having just begun its session–where the issues of drought and natural disasters, jobs and economy will be cast aside as our elected representatives will fall over each other at the terrible “intolerance” of Modi government on Isa affair.
A few predictions: Barack Obama or Melinda Gates would express concern; British parliamentarians would plan to send a delegation on human rights to India; and European Union would worry over what has come over Gandhi’s land. You already know who would “condemn,” “criticize” and “allege” against Modi in screaming headlines on front pages tomorrow on.
No one would bother to check a few basic points: (a) Isa has an Interpol alert against him; (b) his visa application had flouted the norms and (c) India could have been seen as supporting terrorism.
There’s no reason to bait China who has never pricked India with conferences of Maoists, Naxalites and northeast rebels in its cities.
And what’s such a big deal about blocking “Azhar” being termed a terrorist at the UN forum? UN has blacklisted many terrorist organizations but neither their funding nor recruitment has been affected.
More than symbolic gestures, it’s important to understand the geopolitical reality. China desperately needs Pakistan and its Gawadar port for secure supply of its energy resources from the Middle East. It has a legitimate ground on the Dalai Lama issue, if not the NorthEast border disputes. It hasn’t hosted our “rebels” or “Hurriyat” leaders.
There’s a lot to gain if India and China build bridges and align themselves on major issues to save Asia from imperialist designs which comes in the form of “free trade” these days. That China and India agree on the point of Isa is unacceptable to Western powers and its captive, servile media.
Want an evidence? Just google search on “Isa and denied Indian visa.” You would squirm with unease on lengthy stories in New York Times and big digital outposts such as The Wire. Most media “heavyweights” have not only written thousands of words on the matter but have also been able to dial Isa for his reactions.
Most media outlets, including Indian media, have been able to phone Isa and get his reaction. A great PR agency has clearly been working round the clock on behalf of Isa to international press. Who’s behind such well-oiled publicity machine is easy to guess.
That alone ought to tell you the jitters in the West at the slightest hint of India and China drawing closer to each other. The forums of BRICS and SCO is simply unpalatable to them. A great game is being played in Asia and at stake is the hegemony of the world’s superpower.
Silly me to have presumed that you already know about Dolkun Isa issue. Mr Isa, 48, is a leader of the World Uyghur Congress, a Munich-based group that wants independence for Xinjiang, a region of western China, home to a large population of Uyghurs, mostly Muslim ethnic minority. He now lives in Germany. Isa feld China in 1994.
And here’s the punch: In all this chest-thumping and anguish on Isa, no newspaper has bothered to inform us about the exact nature of conference in Dharamshala. Well, here it is: it’s being organized by a Washington-based (sigh) NGO, “Initiatives for China,” which is run by Yang Jianli, Harvard mathematician and a prominent Chinese pro-democracy leader.
Do you see the connection? If not yet then start writing down the names of all those who hit out against the Modi government and whom you read from tomorrow on in our newspapers. These would be the politicians, academicians and journalists who are paid in cash or kind to subvert the nation.
If you are an Indian Express reader you have just been told: you are the dumbest, stupidest, bumpkin, buffoon, idiot, thick-headed, retarded, imbecile reader on this earth.
It’s your choice to live with this tag, readers.
Or why would their lead story of today (February 28, 2016) “VIDEO IS OUT: Kanhaiya assaulted, breaks down, police duck for cover” has no relation at all with the real report, smug as they are with the pig that they believe you are, readers?
Now what this headline tells you: It is that there is video which shows Kanhaiya assaulted, breaks down, police duck for cover, isn’t it?
And what does the actual report tells you?: The report tells you that this video is a deposition of Kanhaiya before the Supreme Court panel.
Spotted the difference? (don’t tell me you are really what Express thinks you are).
The Headline tells you there is a video of “Kanhaiya assaulted.’
The report tells you the video is of “Kanhaiya’s disposition” and not of assault.
In other words, Express believes that you stupid readers wouldn’t go beyond their headline (they actually know their worth, folks). Even if it is the lead story!
Now the next question which crossed my mind was how did they get hold of the video? A smart piece of journalism? That made me look for the SC panelists. One was Kapil Sibal (a multiple minister in the previous Congress government); another lawyer Vrinda Grover who is a board member of GreenPeace whose license to collect foreign funds has been cancelled by the Modi government. Actually Sibal has also been in the programme board of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which has been hauled over to Supreme Court by a writ petition.
I might be suggesting a NGOs+Congress+Marxists+Media collusion here but so dumb are you readers that I am confident I could get away with it without you suspecting anything.
There are usual suspects littered in this edition of Indian Express: Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Admiral Ramdass, Sharad Pawar, Chidambaram, Nitish Kumar, our revered academic institutions voices (this time it’s missionary college St. Stephen’s principal), going after government on JNU issue. (Actually you must admire Mulayam, Jayalalitha, Mamata, Lalu, Shiv Sena to hold their tongues so far). Central minister Uma Bharti is actually lucky to get two paras in support of Modi, buried many pages deep inside the newspaper.
It’s a rogues’ gallery with Express passing the board-room bulletin as news for us asinine readers.
And don’t you believe anyone loves cricket in this country. On a Sunday edition, there is no front page mention of India beating Pakistan on a cricket field. Never mind this was India’s only seventh T20 match against arch rivals this millennium and that Virat Kohli played a knock which Sachin Tendulkar would’ve been proud to own up. (May be, showing Pakistan in a losing, poor light would’nt suit the agenda).
Fortunately, inside there is a full page interview of about-to-retire Delhi police commissioner, BS Bassi. He has replied on relevant issues but newspaper won’t put a word of it on the front page.
Bassi puts it as it is: without any spin, full of logic and reason. All those reporters and editors who have been baying for his blood, beat a hasty retreat. All that posturing went out of the first window. So here’s what Bassi said on key issues (it’s an abridged version of his quotes):
On The Actual Sedition Case: It’s an open-and-shut case (wow). Under section 124A of the IPC it’s a grave offence. It’s been declared valid by the Constitution. (For police) It’s an extremely easy case.
The law says: “bringing in hatred or contempt or exciting disaffection towards state by words or signs or visible representations.”
I am going to crack this case because I know these are the guys who have done it.
Please read the Kedar Nath judgment of 1962.
Country has to deal with issues in Northeast, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and J and K. We have to have a law to deal with anti-national activities.
Debate happens within constitutional norms. But if it’s an anti-national activity, then it doesn’t remain a debate. Society survives because we respect our Constitution. If all of us start disrespecting our Constitution, the country will be destroyed.
Nobody is letting police do the job. Society as a whole should’ve cooperated with us.
On Kanhaiya, Journalists Beaten Inside Court:
Patiala House is a confined place. Use of teargas, lathi etc would have turned Patiala House into another Jallianwalla Bagh. It’s a prudent practice which police followed. My prudent policing practices also tell me I should have some space to chase away trouble- creators…If I have no such place, it will turn into nothing but Jallianwalla Bagh.
No footage is available of Kanhaiya being beaten. Journalists were still able to cover the event.
I would call it a technical riot because a real riot means arson and people’s heads being broken.
On Journalists Being Questioned:
It’s our job to ask involved persons and seek their reactions (as part of investigations). The thing has been made bigger than the actual event.
There, you have it.
The thing has been made bigger than the actual event. A case under trial has been considered bigger than over two dozen lives lost in the Jat stir. The Jat Stir case that has an aide of ex-Haryana Congress Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, in an audio, apparently egging on a Jat community leader to escalate the violence. But that apparently doesn’t deserve any space in our beloved newspaper.
Don’t you think the front page deserved this headline (or even in inside pages):
JNU: It’s an Open-and-Shut Case, says Bassi
So we now know the devil who has been quoting from the scriptures. Who thinks bark is bigger than the bite. Who doesn’t know that it’s truth which can set it free.
So Shakespeare wrote:
The devil can cite scripture for his purpose;
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek
A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
In today’s world of deception and lies, truth is a revolutionary act. It’s up to us readers to hold the flag of truth high. And don’t be the fools that our newspapers think we are.
(This piece can also be read in NewsBred)
Indian Express of February 25, 2016 is a collector’s item. It’s imaginative, creative and like all such things it takes great liberty in dispensing with facts.
It’s imaginative for it gives a screaming full-page bottom-spread headline: “Quoting wisdom from 40 BC, misquoting Kashmiri poet (see the image),” even though there was no misquote from the person in question, Mr Venkaiah Naidu, Union Urban Development Minister. (More on it later).
It’s creative for it picks an exhortation for nationalism from ex-serviceman into a misleading headline: “Latest Wisdom: Bring a tank on JNU campus to instil nationalism in students.” (More on it later).
It’s factually wrong for it it splashes a three-decker headline: “Prof. shares piece on Khalid, ABVP burns effigy, blocks class” even as there is no mention in the report how ABVP “blocked” any student or students from attending one or any class (More on it later).
There is also the lead headline: “Smriti shines the light of treason” which could make a professor of English opt for a new paper roll in his toilet. But when agenda is an issue, language is a minor indiscretion.
All these are front-page headlines. None of them is in single column. Indeed, if there is any story other than concerning JNU row on front page, it’s a single column four paragraphs on forthcoming budget. The newspaper didn’t have space for rail budget due next day; the water crisis which has left the Capital parched or even the jat agitation where casualty is 28 by now.
What chance then there is for you to read about the unfortunate plane crash in Nepal which killed all 23 passengers aboard? The newspaper in its wisdom apparently believes that a “babu” unable to sleep at night because of worrying “mahaul”: (“Minister watching, Minority panel official says: Can’t sleep at night, mahaul -climate- worrying”) is worthy of a four-column display. Or that a retired octogenarian Supreme Court judge’s opinion on “sedition” is worth a second lead story.
All this concerned the Page One or Front Page. Let’s now move on to other pages:
Page 2: All stories barring two again concern the issues surrounding the JNU affair.
Page 3: Just one neutral story manages to find space on again a JNU-dominated page.
Page 4: By far the most neutral page in that just about half the page is on JNU affair. Things possibly are looking up.
Page 5: Darkness again. The entire page is devoted to JNU
Page 6: Not a single JNU story. Possibly the agenda is exhausted after all.
Page 7: Not a chance. The Jat agitation is blamed on—you guessed it right—JNU. This story takes up more than half the page.
Page 8: Again a page where you find JNU, along with Rohith’s death, filling up all corners.
Page 9: It’s again JNU and students all over.
Page 10: The entire page is advertisements and it apparently has broken the spell.
You can’t be serious that there is no JNU representation in the hollowed edit-oped spread (Page 14-15).
In case, by now, you are wondering whether I am mistaking any JNU Express newspaper with our “Journalism of Courage,” I can only disappoint you. It is indeed your revered newspaper. I can assure you though that you would only find business, arts and sports in their designated pages. There is no Mahesh Bhatt vowing the make his next movie on JNU affair or Indian cricket refusing to play for they are upset with JNU affair. (Oh my god, I might just have given them an idea!).
There is a saying: If your head is in the sand, your butt is in the air.
But let’s return to the unfinished “more-on-it-later” theme which I have mentioned at the start of the column.
Quoting wisdom from 40 BC, misquoting Kashmiri poet: The story begin with scarcely concealed contempt for Smriti Irani for having invoked a quote from 40 BC (they call it BCE now, you silly, unless you feel all your readers are Christians) to justify something in 2016.
(Ms Irani: you said you didn’t want to quote any Hindu sage lest be mistaken for a communal leaning. But quote you might anyone, you would still be up for ridicule).
But our real thrust is “Misquoting Kashmiri poet.” For the life of me, I couldn’t see how Naidu has misquoted this poet. The news item itself says that Naidu mistook it for a criticism of Modi government.
So the newspaper doesn’t see any difference between “misquote” and “mistook.” Quote comes with quotation marks. Mistook is a matter of interpretation. To replace one with another is mischievous.
Ironically, the newspaper itself misquotes on just the story above this one. It quotes a disgruntled minority commission additional secretary for saying “situation in the country is not allowing him to sleep peacefully,” even though newspaper admits that the official “reportedly” said it. The reporter’s source must be more than impeccable for a description from a third party he has deemed fit to put in quotes.
Latest wisdom: Bring a tank on JNU campus to instill nationalism in students: The story says a delegation of ex-servicemen met the JNU vice-chancellor and suggested ways to have a memorial on martyred soldiers inside the campus. Among the ways to make it happen, “the university is considering a wall of fame, showcasing a military tank or artillery…”
The import of this statement is laudatory. Still the newspaper’s headline makes it sound as if live tanks would roll down inside the JNU campus (a la Tiananmen Square in China in 1989).
The newspaper also buries in the end a reaction to US envoy Richard Verma’s comment on the “freedom of speech”. “(We) Challenge Verma to allow celebration of Osama (bin Laden) in any university in the US,,.”
Prof shares piece on Khalid, ABVP burns effigy, blocks class: The piece begins with the sentence that ABVP disrupted classes at the Lucknow University.
The story doesn’t have any mention of which classes were disrupted. It just mentions that students protested outside the sociology department. So, how and which class was “blocked ?”
It’s such an in-your-face Indian Express edition that the readers must brace themselves for more of it in days, months and years to come. (God helps the rail budge tomorrow). If it is not Dadri killing or “intolerance debate” or Aamir Khan’s concern or JNU, it would be something else it would pick up to raise the hackles on communalism and intolerance under the Modi government.
We would be watching. We would urge the newspaper to be its own conscience and live up to its reputation of “journalism of courage.”
Today, on front page, Indian Express reported on Richard Verma’s visit to Bihar and the US envoy’s comment that “free speech is a key tenet” of India and United States.
Wrong Mr Envoy. Free speech is not a key tenet of United States. And no, we don’t have just Julian Assange and Edward Snowden in mind! The US State Department rules that “former employees are expected to refrain from engaging in activities of any kind, including writing manuscripts or giving speeches…”
Present US rules allow indefinite detention of Americans without due process which a federal judge mentioned has a “chilling effect” on free speech. The secret service can arrest anyone protesting near the President. And we haven’t come down to mass spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) yet which isn’t quite a recipe to encourage free speech.
It would interest Indian Express to know that journalists who report on whistleblowers are being persecuted. Protestors are being tear-gassed and beaten. And if you are filming police officers in public, you had it.
Back to today’s front page story. Mr Envoy was duly asked on JNU incident and he said that “it should be left to the government and students to decide (on the free speech debate).”
Wrong again Mr. Envoy. The matter is out of government and students’ hands. It’s now with judiciary. Look at it this way, government has charged a few students with sedition. And you want the two to mutually decide across the table? It’s like Barrack Obama calling Islamic State Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to the White House “to decide” on terrorism. Do you see the absurdity?
By now the Indian Express decided to take the matter in its own hands. It added in next para that this is the first time a diplomat in India has spoken about the JNU affair.
Really? We all Indians must hang our heads in shame. After all, an employee of a different nation has censured our sovereign country.
Before the para is out, the dagger was plunged deeper. The newspaper added for good effect that Verma was concerned over the “chilling effect” of regulatory steps taken by the Modi (and not Indian) government against certain NGOs including the Ford Foundation.
Let me refresh your memory. Last year, the Centre put Ford Foundation on a Watch List and restricted its funding based on Gujarat government’s view of its “covert activities.” Ford Foundation provides enormous funding to a few of India’s elite educational institutions.
So now let me tell you about the Ford Foundation. The most influential liberal foundations of the 20th century are Carnegie Foundation, the Rockfeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation, collectively known as the Big Three. All three were set up by America’s leading capitalists in 1911, 1913 and 1936.
In his book “Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism,” author Robert F. Amove states that the philosophy of these Big Three is designed to sustain the hegemony of the existing market forces.
Worse, these liberal foundations are accused of working closely with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States. A US Congressional investigation in 1976 revealed that nearly 50% of the 700 grants in the field of international activities by the principal foundations was funded by the CIA (Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War: Frances Stonor Saunders, Grants Books, 1999, Pp: 134-135).
By the late 1950s, the Ford Foundation possessed over $3 billion in assets. The leadership of the Foundation were in total agreement with Washington’s post-WWII projection of world power. “At times, it seemed as if the Ford Foundation was simply an extension of government in the area of international cultural propaganda. The foundation had a record of close involvement in covert actions in Europe, working closely with Marshall Plan and CIA officials on specific projects ( ibid, p.139).”
(There is a lot which could be said about these collaborators of imperial, cultural agenda but it’s not our focus for the moment. In these pages, you would know for instance about Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who are facing a writ petition in India’s Supreme Court for “criminally negligent, trialling the vaccines on vulnerable, uneducated and under-informed” population of India or how Obama inflames passion in India, or what is the credibility of Moody’s.)
So let’s return to the Indian Express story,. Over the next two paras it quotes two Western European diplomats but since neither they nor their countries are revealed, we can’t be sure if it is true or fictional. (how sub-editors let it pass must be a mystery). Obviously these mysterious diplomats refused to be identified. But one of them did mention the impact it would be on “economic climate.”
If it’s not a veiled threat, I don’t know what it is. If the idea from these well-wishers is that the bogey of “intolerance” and “communalism” would stop foreign investment, they ought not to have worried. We all know how economically messy Europe and European Union (EU) is since 2008. We also know of India’s healthy economic forecast by independent international agencies.
The Indian Express story hasn’t ended (indeed, it’s of such monstrous length spilling over two pages that you wonder if these are mere envoys and unnamed diplomats or not Nostradamus reborn). It reports apology of quotes from Russian, Chinese and African diplomatic sources before returning to Verma again.
Verma is now quoted at length on the necessity of freedom at our college campuses which he termed the “laboratories of thought.” He then mentions the importance of “upholding minority rights” and rambles on before concluding that “speech is a central tenet we (US and India) hold dear.”
There are a lot of times in this lengthy reportage when a reporter ought to have interjected and having failed to do so either ought to have omitted these quotes or supplemented it with his or her own corrective interpretation and analogy. We are not informed on what purpose Verma went to Bihar such was the indecent haste to publish this report. We can only conclude it was “plug”—plain and simple. A cheating of newspaper’s paying customers.
What it took decades for these newspapers to build their reputations, they are intent on squandering in a matter of days. They need to take a closer and harder look at their own agenda. The resistance must come from within its premises and people. It’s better they laugh and scold each other in private than be open to ridicule and contempt in public.