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Dear mainstream media, do you really think Modi is behind all India’s problems?

Ashish Shukla
Ashish Shukla

is a senior journalist and geopolitical analyst based in India, author of ‘How United States Shot Humanity.’ He runs the NewsBred website. Follow him on Twitter @ashish40411

is a senior journalist and geopolitical analyst based in India, author of ‘How United States Shot Humanity.’ He runs the NewsBred website. Follow him on Twitter @ashish40411

Dear mainstream media, do you really think Modi is behind all India’s problems?
It’s a tedious time to read Indian or Western mainstream media as it unleashes venom against PM Narendra Modi and pours scorn on ordinary people, to be gobbled up by elites. Or perhaps there’s never been a better time to read it.

The negative headlines keep coming: “India’s politics of hate” (Washington Post), “Millions of Indians could be in detention camps” (Bloomberg), “New Delhi turns into battleground” (New York Times). Then there’s Newsweek, warning of the ruling party’s agenda to “marginalize Muslims.” 

Without further inspection, these diatribes are guaranteed to produce anger and fear. But it could also be an occasion to brush up your primer on Western Media – and to understand why they frame stories as they do.

Of course, these stories above refer to the awful violence which erupted on New Delhi’s streets over a controversial citizenship law and claimed 20 lives, even as the President of the United States Donald Trump was beaming from ear to ear over the massive welcome he received from both the masses and the Indian establishment this week.

Also on rt.com At least 20 killed in Delhi violence as authorities deploy DRONES to monitor ongoing unrest (VIDEOS, PHOTOS)

Let’s assume Hindus and Muslims were on opposing sides in these violent clashes (despite the fact that Indian intelligence is still trying to determine if it was engineered by inimical forces). Let’s also not deny that law and order, crime against women, caste, linguistic identities, inequality etc. is very real in India. 

Yet, let’s not also frame these events solely in the context of the rise of Modi, which lately seems to have let the genie of Hindu-hating Western media out of the bottle.

Modi as the fall guy?

The truth is that no Indian leader – be it Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Atal Behari Vajpayee or Modi today – has managed to escape the scalding venom poured on them by Western media. Nehru was lampooned for his Non-Aligned Movement; Indira for standing up to violence in neighboring East Pakistan; Vajpayee for making India a nuclear power – and Modi, it seems, for everything he does. It doesn’t seem to matter that these leaders, at various times, were overwhelmingly voted into power by India’s massive population.

In essence, we are still witnessing the colonial and imperial hangover of the “North” against the “Savage South” who must get tutorials on “tolerance,” “peace” and “multiculturalism.” This colonial hangover is the binding thread of policy, business, academia and media in the West and is woven with the cloth of liberty, religious freedom and human rights; of American exceptionalism and the supposed superiority of the Anglo-Saxon world. 

While an outsider like Donald Trump might be loathed by the establishment at first, the moment he makes the ‘right’ imperial policy moves against countries like Iran or Venezuela, he is suddenly a darling. 

Also on rt.com ‘Factually inaccurate & misleading’: India blasts US watchdog for ‘politicizing’ Delhi clashes over citizenship law

Yet, try pointing out the racial violence on American streets, the bogus wars it wages in the Middle East and elsewhere; or the travel bans it imposes on Muslims from around the world. Try asking Western media why they stridently oppose countries that choose an independent foreign policy course, like Russia, China, Syria or Iran – and yet pat dictators like Suharto and Pinochet, who reserved the bayonets for their citizens, on the back. Ask them why proven legends of humanity like Chile’s Salvador Allende, Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda or Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah don’t have any place in their hearts.

Why local elites mirror colonial masters

The Indian case is typical of any country which has freed itself from the colonial yoke. The freed countries are left with elites who are a mirror image of the masters. They display the same language and mannerisms and hold a similar worldview. In due course, the two collaborate and work to validate each other. 

Then, when the masses go against them, they are branded “savages” and “bigots.” Popular mandates for leaders like Iran’s Rouhani, Syria’s Assad, Russia’s Putin, China’s Xi or Modi himself, don’t matter. It becomes unacceptable for the “masses” to prevent the “classes” from keeping the countries unstable by exploiting their wealth and resources.

It shouldn’t be too difficult for an educated Indian to comprehend that media is a business. Media is not out there for ordinary folks. It’s out for profit. This profit only comes from subscribers. Home subscribers in the UK or US are forever seeking out binary narratives of “good” and “bad” guys – and the media dutifully creates and ticks these boxes.

Also on rt.com Back on track: India could see economic growth recover in 2020

In the Indian context, those who can afford the subscription price of Western media outlets like the Washington Post, the New York Times or the Guardian are a prime catch. Ordinary folks, who can neither understand English nor pay to buy Western rags, don’t matter. Yet, when these faceless masses, who don’t sit in TV studios, rise up and demand some change, there is mayhem.

India has its problems. It always has and it always will. It could not be any other way in a country of multiple religious and linguistic identities. Yet, it has also grown to be one of the world’s biggest economic success stories. It’s digital and space milestones are huge. Its democratic traditions are unbroken. Its people today have access to health, education, houses, electricity and gas. Its roads, trains, airports and infrastructure are on a major revision course. 

So, let Western media and their local mirror image see India’s problems in a narrow and biased context – but in reality, India is far more than just one Narendra Modi.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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