Till a few years ago, it was quite a fun to “spot the difference” between two almost identical images. The challenge was irresistible with the taunt that the two images differed on at least 10 counts. You scratched your head, forgot the world, and strained your eyes and crowned yourself genius once the task was accomplished.
Reading Indian Express these days is an exercise of a similar order. You have to match the headlines, the text and the photo and then pour over inverted commas and quotes to understand where the mischief has been planted. It’s not an easy order for most such Fake News are spread over two pages and are 1000-plus words, relying on time-tested tactics that readers would give up after headline or a few first paragraphs. It costs me hours but I have worked out a way to get through this maze. My strike rate is 99 out of 100 which is good enough and satiates my “spot-the-difference” urge.
First, of course are the stories on Front Page. Indian Express these days have reserved it to Modi-Centre-BJP bashing. (Now Yogi Adityanath is inching up the charts). Even on Front Page, the bigger decks accorded to a headline, the more reasons to suspect a mischief hiding in the text-matter. Most importantly, I make it a point to read the final two paras. It’s almost guaranteed that the saner, and the essential truth of the story, is in these two paras. After you read it, you go through the story backwards and spot the Fake News It’s a science folks! You got to give the devil his due. (Oh, I am sorry. Leftists don’t believe in Gods or Devils).
There are a few other Fake News spotters in Indian Express. If there is any Front Page news on Dalits, you got to really flush your lens and go through it. Most likely, such stories appear in profusion before an Assembly elections. Many a times these stories are discredited—as you would find in this link of my aggregated stories in NewsBred. Either Indian Express doesn’t carry an apology—like the fake moustache story on Dalits in Gujarat recently—or the Fake-News-buster true account is buried in inside pages.
You could also be sure that the anniversaries of all unfortunate victims of Muslim community, Akhlaq and Pehlu etc, would deserve a Front-Page mega spread, most likely as anchor story. (Never mind, Hindu victims never get such a privilege, some would say not even our soldier martyrs). Now, you must watch out for June 23, 2018 when it would be a year to Junaid Khan’s unfortunate killing in Ballabhgarh. I am second-guessing, you would have an Indian Express anchor on Junaid Khan, come June 23 next year.
I am not even coming to JNU’s Kanhaiyas and Umar Khalids of our world. I am also not mentioning how the coverage of grieving parents and relatives of minority victims—mind you never a Hindu victim–sitting at Jantar Mantar or taking out a demonstration on Capital streets has half-a-page reserved for it. How BHU girls agitation is a news and not that of AMU protesting girl students. For these are subjective matters and is the prerogative of a newspaper. To push the agenda, our mainstream English media-the Lutyens’ Media—let’s its editorial spread of two pages to do the dirty job.
Our attention is Fake News and so we must return to the subject. The second lead of Indian Express today is: “Slowdown concern, need to push growth jobs: PM’s advisors”
Quite a few things in this headline and the positioning of the story got my antennas up. I could smell Fake News in the use of “concern” and “PM’s advisors” in the headline. Would PM’s advisors really go public with their “concern” on the state of the economy? And the use of “PM’s advisors” and not the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) was a giveaway on who is meant to be a fall guy. All the economic ills of the country, by inference, must be put at the door of the Prime Minister. His own advisors are expressing concern at their own authoritarian ruler, that’s the inference.
The fake use of “concern” was easy to spot. The Express quoted part-time member Ashima Goyal that EAC would “work as a sounding board of ideas.” But Express cleverly preceded this quote with an inserted view of their own of “concern.” Read this particular para and make up your own mind:
There is a lot of concern about the economy today and the Council will “work as a sounding board of ideas”, EAC member Ashima Goyal said.
(The Express cleverly held back the full designation of Ashima Goyal. She is a part-time and not full-time EAC member).
That being so, I poured over the rest of the lengthy story. Then I read the same story in Times of India and Hindustan Times. I was intrigued that the Times of India prominently put in a front-page lead box the view of another EAC part-time member Rathin Roy that “IMF’s growth projections are 80% wrong…World Bank’s growth projections are 65% wrong. The government’s estimates are right more than 90% of the time.” However, the front page 1000-plus wordathon of Indian Express has no mention of it at all!
It is such selective and distorted coverage which has made Indian Express lose all its respect in the eyes of the discerning readers. It is morally wrong, agenda-driven, and worse a case of cheating against its paying-consumers. When the readers are seeking true coverage and information, they are getting blighted and manipulated coverage. Indian Express must be having its own compulsion, their hands could be forced but the newspaper would do well to heed this opinion of one of its readers: “I haven’t seen any story which favours a Hindu viewpoint in Indian Express for ages, at least on front page).” The worst thing a newspaper could do to its reputation is to appear biased and agenda-driven.
Facebook has set out 10 tools to check Fake News. A few give-aways are headlines, source, evidence and photos. Indian Express on Thursday’s edition has been found out in peddling a Fake News).
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.
Times of India in its editorial today has cried bucketful on the “harmful” influence of social media on the “news-professionals” like them, and other mainstream media. It offers a sanguine advice to Facebook to wake up to the “fake and misleading news that are downright fabrications.” The edit writer has no doubt that the US polls have been influenced by false information posted as “news” on social media.
For too long news professionals—of which I was a part for three-decades and more—have believed that they know best. For large part of my career I was an international cricket writer and believed only insider knows what’s happening. There was an air about me which suitably got punctured when CricInfo came on to the scene. There was initial mocking, disdain which turned into grudging acceptance to downright admiration for their language, insight and imagination in due course. Men like Rahul Bhattacharrya, Dileep Premchandran and Sidharth Monga earned deep respect with their work.
Sport was one such instance. There were separate fields like politics, social commentary, historical references which began receiving fresh winds of change. Many of us “professional news” gatherers began picking up the minds on social media. Our copies were better for it; our insight only got richer. Most of my fellow print journalists reading this piece would admit, if they are honest, that a lot of their “reporting” happens on the phone only. This claim to being “professionals” is so stupid. At least 99 per cent of we “professional journalists” wouldn’t have read 10 books in our lifetimes.
The Times of India edit increasingly begin pontificating. It says that social media may lead to “medievalisation” of the global community. “It would give spurt to tribal instincts—in the form of racism, xenophobia or communalism—that is exploding around the world.”
Really, how stupid you can get. Newspapers at best offer a bridge of communication between public and public institutions. It ought to put both viewpoints in perspective. But the mainstream media of today completely eschews this role. In its worldview, the unheard must not be heard; the unspoken must not be allowed to speak. The “have-nots” of this world have no reason to question the “haves” to which the modern media is a part. These ivory towers of the world are increasingly being smashed as BrExit and US polls reveal how removed they are from reality. The credit for it squarely goes to “social media” where people are connecting, sharing information and forming their own opinion. You look at our newspapers and you would know who is promoting “racism” and “communalism.”
So troubled are mainstream media with their shaken foundations that they refuse to examine the evidence that is out there in open in social media. For example there is this piece which completely exposes Arvind Kejriwal in a sting operation called K-files. But you wouldn’t find our mainstream media taking it up. Or that most of our mainstream journalists are offered “cushioned” posts by the Delhi government. Again, you wouldn’t hear a murmur. There are pointed referrals to how mainstream media is giving disconnected headlines with the text. NewsBred has relentlessly exposed this “misinformation” and “spreading of lies” but you would never find a Times of India putting the lens back on its tribe.
The NewsBred links below would offer dozens of such deliberate “misreporting” and “twisting” of facts. If this is what Times of India has in mind by way of “professionalism” the readers are better off without it. The mainstream media is increasingly becoming not worth of our time and certainly not of our money. This closed shop has crumbled but the rats can’t feel the boiling water in the tub.
The so-called “news professionals” are just sound-byte carriers. They go to the source which is likely to offer them the point of view they wish to publish or telecast. Unlike in social media where the news and information is more rigorously debated and evidence is provided with. Every opinion is open to challenge on social media. Unlike the closed shop that mainstream media has become. Mainstream Media is in deep shit and they know it.
Times of India ends its piece by urging Facebook, Twitter and Google to put a limit on social media. This is the same newspaper which cried hoarse when former Union Minister Kapil Sibal tried to put a restriction on facebook and twitter. The “freedom of expression” doesn’t concern them now.