Shekhar Gupta

Why you must question mainstream media

If we were to be asked whether (a) mass media doesn’t speak for common citizens; (c) is not neutral; (c) is corrupt; (d) is caste divisive; (e) is politically controlled; (f) it’s independence is a myth; most of us would say yes.

If we were to be asked if journalists such as Rajdeep Sardesai, Shekhar Gupta, Sagarika Ghose, Barkha Dutt etc are “stars” (a) because of their prose; (b) intellect; (c) knowledge or; (d) impartiality, most of us would say no.

Yet, we follow media and the “star” hacks like the lemmings which jump off the cliff. We don’t question (a) why our daily public issues are not important to English media; (b) why a clinicially/morally/intellectually “dead” Congress is being kept alive by bigger and still bigger coverage on front pages; (c) Why Communists with just 11 MPs have a bigger discourse on edit pages; (d) why a Hindu life or an issue concerning Hindu majority never makes it to front pages; (e) why animal rights issue of Jallikattu doesn’t extend to Bakrid; (f) Why an apparent “feminist” Swara Bhaskar would keep mum on Triple Talaq; (g) who foreign refugees Rohingyas are important and refugees-in-own-land Kashmiri Pandits are not; (h) why political killings in Bengal and Kerala are never front-page news; (i) why the Kashmir narrative is always against Indian state and its army despite the unspeakable loss of lives of its brave men and women.

We don’t seem to question why anti-BJP voices such as a Ramachandra Guha or Pavan Varma or Christophe Jaffrelot have edit pages reserved for them while right-wing intellectual giants such as Rajiv Malhotra and Dr. Koenraad Elst are always ignored. Why third-rate journalists such as Saba Naqvi and Kumar Ketkar are presences in our living rooms while a Madhu Kishwar or Makrand Paranjape are rarely sought.

We don’t seem to question why the mass media is like the way it is. (a) What could be its motive in being so overtly hostile to Hindu opinion and its causes; (b) is their funding legitimate or an enterprise of left-liberal mafia; (c) Or the “support” in form of funds and grants is a modus operandi of say, a CIA or a Ford Foundation.

We don’t seem to question what could be the unyielding goal of Left-Liberals and imperialist forces in trying to break-up India? Why there is such a ruthless agenda to ensure nothing good is mentioned of Hindu culture and heritage? Why there is a missionary zeal to ensure that Hindus only remember their past with a sense of guilt and inferiority complex?

Social media is bringing about a balance to this false narrative of mainstream media. OpIndia.com and Swarajya Mag have been phenomenal is presenting a counter viewpoint. My endeavour in NewsBred has an avowed aim of exposing media lies. Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have held mirror to mainstream media and its monstrous profile.

But more vigour—and certainly more vigilance—is required from all of India’s citizens. We need more counter-narratives than just a handful. We need mass dissemination of this antidote to mainstream media. Only when most grow wise to presstitutes, would they be aware of dangers imbedded within our socio-polity fabric. And our children could expect a better, safer future.

So never drop guard; never be lazy on what’s good for you, your children and your country. Question the prevalent narrative and you would be closer to truth.

And you would’ve passed on a better India to your next generation.

Aadhaar case: Why Express blanked police statement?

India Express, the pallbearer, err…flagbearer of Indian Mainstream Media, for two days running on its front page (there would be more Front Pages in coming days, be assured) has gravely stated (in its editorial) how the authorities are browbeating the journalists of this country.

The matter relates to a Tribune story in which one of its reporter could gain access to as many Aadhaar numbers as desired by buying a login and password for only Rs 500 only. Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Aadhaar’s regulatory body, in retaliation has gone to police, and lo and behold, all hell has broken loose. Indian Express, along with press bodies and Amnesty International, not to forget the Congress and other opposition skunks, are beating their breasts in mourning.

A few questions to these pall-bearers are in order. Let’s begin with Indian Express. My beloved newspaper, why have you chosen to blank (sic) the statement of Delhi Police of Sunday which could have answered most of your insinuations misleading your innocent readers?

The Police in its official statement has stated that UIDAI had filed a “open-ended” complaint with the former’s cyber cell which the Police later converted into an FIR. Why then defame a regulatory body with a “crime” they never committed? Why hide the facts?

Two, while you cry hoarse and run your throat dry, why not report that the FIR says “unknown” under the column “accused”? Why hide the facts?

When UIDAI hasn’t named Tribune or its reporter as “accused” how could it be an attack on the freedom of the press? Could reporting a sequence of events be construed as an attack on free press?

(We must chip in and be on our feet to applaud the Police. When fake MSMs are misleading the public and avoid/neglect official reactions, the regulatory authorities increasingly are resorting to Social Media, press conferences, advertisements and official statements to convey their side of the story. Way to go, folks).

Three, Indian Express actually should admonish fellow Tribune and its reporter for wasting Rs 500 when the allowed access is only to help personnel/officials address the grievances of citizens. Without security measures—highly encrypted ones—such as biometrics and iris, the newspaper report is not a “data breach” and can only be described as “misreporting” which the UIDAI has dryly noted.

Now let’s come to other jokers. Google practically has no trace of Editors’ Guild of India hard as I tried. No website. All I could do was to find it has just 2 tweets (yes, TWO!) since its’ joining in 2016. Such media-shy body is the custodian of free media in this country. The most my search could yield was a 2014 report which showed Barkha Dutt, Shekhar Gupta, Seema Chisti, Kumar Ketkar among others as its working committee members. And oh yes, Mrinal Pande as its specially invited member.

Indian Express quotes Editors’ Guild extensively and the latter is shown using grave words such as “booked” and “penalized” and “persecuted” when its just an FIR (converted too) and doesn’t name anyone as “accused.” Given the gravitas of this jury if it still happens to be around, you would believe the basic understanding of IPC is not beyond them. Surely, I do trust my washerman to come out with flying colours if he was subjected to such a test.

Such distinguished people ought to ask Indian Express–and themselves—whether betraying paying readers with fake news, and mounting a campaign in its support, amount to “cheating or loot” under the Indian Penal Code.

You also have Indian Women’s Press Corps in protest. Before you express your surprise at what’s our women journos grouse is in this case, you must be told the Tribune reporter happens to be a woman. Next time issues of “triple talaq” and other such matters flicker in your mind, my advisory is don’t look for the reaction of this august body. You see, women with pen aren’t the same as women under burqa.

And oh yes, there is Amnesty International too (Sorry folks, there was no prize for guessing). An important tycoon of “human rights industry.” An organization which is openly accused of being a “servant of US Warmongering Foreign Policy”, a ‘soft-power” of post-War colonialism, is outraged at the UIDAI move to protect its shed.

Let me share a fact-sharing website, Mental Floss, to bring a few truths on Amnesty International to light. The organization was inspired by the arrest of two Portuguese students in 1960 which may never have happened! This very organization had accused Nelson Mandela of promoting violence and didn’t campaign for his release in 1963-64. It concedes it takes money from governments “in some cases.”

Tharoor, Hegde and Constitution

(This report has also appeared on NewsBred).

Union minister of state Anantkumar Hegde’s remarks that “BJP had come to power to change the Constitution” and that it would “do so in the near future” made Shashi Tharoor quote RSS ideologues and their supposed hostility to the Indian Constitution. Shekhar Gupta, on whose website the article appeared yesterday, tweeted that ‘the cat is out of the bag.” These two oily characters, both literally and figuratively, have long been damn annoying with their selective truths.

Tharoor threshes out quotes from the works of  former RSS supremo M.S. Golwalkar and Deen Dayal Upadhyay to show their disapproval of Indian Constitution. The insinuation is that our holy grail, the Indian Constitution, is not safe under the present dispensation of BJP and its fountainhead, RSS.

Only if Tharoor could explain to us that why in their decade-long years in government (1998-2004 and 2014 onwards), BJP has made no amendment—NO AMENDMENT WHATSOEVER—on the religious statutes of the Constitution? Surely, if this is their hidden agenda, they would’ve made a move to change the status-quo.

If Tharoor could explain to us why a political party with the so-called “Hindutva” agenda is seen as a pro-Capitalist party, swearing by “development” and being no activist, unfortunately, on the issues of cultural heritage?

If we could be explained why all the BJP election manifestos since 1980 have asserted the right of legal equality regardless of religion?

If Tharoor could throw light on why the introduction of Uniform Civil Code would be such a bad thing to do?

Or why amendment in Article 30 is not desirable which allows minorities to set up schools, have religion-centric curriculum and get government funds to boot while denying the same to Hindu majority?

Or for that matter Article 25 which allows “propagation” of one’s religion, knowing fully well that Hinduism doesn’t have a tradition of proselytization while Islam and Christianity do. As Dr. Koenraad Elst says: “It’s like giving wolves and sheep the equal liberty to eat each other.” [i]

Or why Article 370 must not be amended which doesn’t allow non-Kashmiri Indians from acquiring property and citizenship in J and K state? Why such a measure, conceived and executed with the understanding that it was only temporary, be allowed to continue to damage the fabric of one nation?

That why under Article 26 Hindus do not have the fundamental right to maintain institutions for religious or charitable purposes, as interpreted by the Supreme Court (Shri Adi Vishveshvara of the Kashi Vishvanath temple vs Uttar Pradesh case)? [ii] Why Christians and Muslims can manage their own place of worship but the Hindus’ religious institutions have been taken-over by the state governments?

What about the discrimination against Hindus while Minorities Finance Corporation are functional in almost all the states of India? Or the 1992 Minorities Commission Act in a nation which is avowedly secular? Or  the Hindu Code Bill while personal laws of a minority can’t be amended without their approval or initiative? Why religion-based personal laws which continue to flout the Article 44 of the Constitution which is for Uniform Civil Code?

(In passing, let me throw a Golwalkar quote to sober up Tharoor on his hysteria: “Let the Muslims evolve their own laws. I will be happy when they arrive at the conclusion that polygamy is not good for them, but I would not like to force my views on them,” said Golwalkar. [iii] So much for RSS and BJP’s “Hindutva” mission !).

Critics like Tharoor can only go back to Golwalkar and Deen Dayal Upadhyay who have been dead for nearly half a century. In the intervening period, the likes of Tharoor can’t get hold of any stick to beat BJP and RSS with. This in itself is a proof of BJP’s development “sabka saath, sabka vikaas” plank.

Tharoor won’t tell that Golwalkar was a spiritual leader—who almost became a Shankaracharya—and was completely anti-political. Golwalkar never warmed up to Hindu Mahasabha’s political goals. As for Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Tharoor would’ve done well to point out the merit of former’s “Integral Humanism” which is BJP’s core philosophy.

Wish Tharoor someday would write and Gupta would publish the former’s views on 42nd Amendment which inserted the word “secular” in the Constitution when all the opposition was in jail and it’s clearance in Parliament was no better than a joke on democracy.

[i]  Dr Koenraad Elst, Decolonizing the Hindu Mind, Page 230

[ii]  Dr Koenraad Elst, Decolonizing the Hindu Mind, Page 241

[iii]  Andersen and Damle: Brotherhood in Saffron, Page 83