The Media and Hinduism  
by: Dr. Rajnikant Lahri (rklahri@hotmail.com)

Thomas Babington Maculae, in Feb. 1855, had said that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India. He wished that the Hindus forget their past and get familiar with the English by means of literature and as a result cease to regard them as foreigners, speak of their great men with the same enthusiasm as the English do. In due course they are sure to become more English than Hindu.

We cherished the idea that in independent India, we will be free to cultivate ancient values and tradition suited to modern times. The freedom dawned on August 15, 1947. Since then we have been witnessing that though the English are gone, English prevails and English traditions still rule. It got a strange fellow, the Marxists, as the aim of both was the same, to keep the country off its ancient values. We had even before seen on record such a friendship in the form of a pact between the opposing sides of a German Max Mueller and The English Maculae for the agreed cause of uprooting ancient Vedic values.

Today we have an English media impressed and influenced by the west. Then there is the Marxist media of foreign origin totally cut off from Indian values and roots. Unfortunately our independent India has not developed any such media in English that has roots in the soil and among the people. The English press has become notorious for its neglect of Indian traditions and cultural heritage.

I have the following points to raise in this connection in good spirit.

  1. The English media invents its own phrases to suit their requirements and one such prase is Hindu Nationalist Party. Do you know what image does it produce in the mind of a reader who is not well versed with Indian culture and tradition? This phrase is used to attack BJP, a national party ruling today. It has secular credentials and stands for a secular India. Never ever it has even hinted at the idea of a Hindu nation. The media is “pleased”to put a prefix Hindu National before it. It means that the party stands for a nation of Hindus, an absurd idea of infant fancy. In foreign eyes, it is meant to equate the party with the Islamic fundamentalists. They are liable to think that BJP stands for a Hindu nation, which is like Muslim nations where other religions are not tolerated. BJP is never so but the attempt to project it in this light is damaging. Will the media like to stop it or find an excuse to continue with the design? The label is mischievous and distorts the picture of a true Indian democracy. Is not the Hindu nation theory product of media image and its vested interest? Does it not distort the values of Hinduism, which is founded on the firm conviction of unity in diversity?

  2. Vajpaiyees BJP - This is another product of English media imagination. Every one knows that BJP is an all India party with a constitution and regular elections of its Presidents and others. It has never been a one-man show. The very English media once published that Vajpaiyee has been cornered in BJP. It now says that it is Vajpaiyees BJP Is it not hurling insult to a democratic setup of a party, which has an all India base?

    However there are parties with a one man show like Mulayam Singh yadava’ SP; Mayavati and Kashiram’ BSP; Ajit Singh’ RLD; Lallu Yadava’ RJD, Ram Bilas Pasvans , Lok Jana Shakti, and many more to address in that way but the media presents them in a very honorable way and never as one man party. The media has also spared Congress. It was never Narsingha Rao’ Congress though he ruled unchallenged for five full years. It has chosen only the BJP and that too in a very baseless and unrealistic way. Why so?

  3. Hindu fundamentalist party- the media prefers to use it for RSS and VHP. I am sure the media knows what being fundamental is. It has been accepted as extreme and is unwelcome. The experience justifies it. We have witnessed it in case of Islam fundamentalism and their description of Jihad. How many of them really believe that Jihad is inner struggle and journey rather than a bloody expansionist combat? They take it to be a holy war against infidels and justify killing of innocent children, women and unarmed civilians. The ‘ Jihad’ phrase has substantially contributed to tension and the press has to inspire the muslim-leadership to come out openly for its right definition and denounce those who use it in their vested interest in favor of terror. Is RSS so? Media forgets the difference between a nationalist and a bigot. RSS activities time and again have been useful to the nation and there was a time when even the communists worked with RSS in defense of democracy and civil rights. The RSS does not impart military training as the other fundamentalists do, nor the RSS indulges in unlawful acts as they do. The fundamentalism of Hinduism lies in the belief that man is essentially divine and there exist freedom of ways to follow in the life of live and let live. This is what a Hindu believes in. Does any other religion believe in this norm? The media calling the Hindu majority party as fundamentalist in the spirit of equating it with other fundamentalist religious parties is ill- founded and a deliberate misrepresentation of reality

  4. The misuse of the word secular—I think most of us do not know that the word secularism has never been defined and is being used by the media in its own way to serve its purpose. It is productive of more mischief than good and the English media finds it useful to engage it in its design. The word secular does not appear in the Preamble of the constitution it finds only a single casual mention as ‘ Economic, financial, political and otherwise secular activity’ in article 25(2c). 25 years later in 1975 ,during emergency, the lameduck Lok Sabha through 42nd.amendment, got the word secular prefixed to the description of India as a ‘sovereign Republic.’No definition was ever given to the word. It was in 1978, during Janata rule that secular was defined as ‘ equal respect for all religions’. The Congress was out not to accept any definition. It got the amendment rejected by the Raj Sabha. The word secular remains in the preamble as a political slogan, meaning nebulous and negotiable.

    When India was partitioned, it was divided on the basis of two-nation theory. The fight was between Nationalism and Communalism. Hindu majority India chose Nationalism and its nationalism was based on pluralism and belief in unity in diversity. Indira Gandhi in the interest of her political survival gave it a new turn with the connivance of communists. She turned Nationalism versus Communalism into Secularism versus Communalism. Now there is no idea of nationalism. Every one is for the party and govt. Vote bank idea is important. Society can be divided into castes and subcastes, caste groups can be formed and high posts can be filled by caste and vote considerations. They are called secular. Slogans and half-truths and incitements with a view to garnering votes can be done in garb of secularism. The media highlights these as secularists and patriots. They would rather see the country burn to ashes than see any problem settled in favor of Hindus as it loses their votes. Hindu baiting is a game that does not matter as they gain by it. The English media fails to highlight the exploitation of religious sentiments of the minorities by some sectarian majority Hindu parties who have in it rank communal minded elements. The media fails to distinguish between parties purely based on caste appeals and exploitation of minorities by creating fear complex in them. It rather willingly labels these parties as secular and patriotic. What a game?

  5. The latest example of bias is the editorial of India Post dated March 29,02. The heading is,’ Ban Groups Preaching Religious Intoleration’. I read it several times to figure out which groups the editor means. To my great dismay there was only the VHP as if no other group in the eyes of the editor existed in India to be banned. It seems that he deliberately intended to pick up the VHP for attack. The reasons forwarded were baseless and presumptive. He charged that the VHP intends to take out Ashti Yatra of Godhara carnage victims. The said yatra was neither proposed nor ever carried out. The second point raised was the attack on Orissa Assembly by the Parishad’ activists. For this the VHP had already expressed regrets and no action against it was ever taken. The third was in form of a likely personal attack on the International VHP President Sri Ashoka Singhal. It charged that he flouted the law and challenged the authorities on Oct. 17,01 in Ayodhya. The editor has to know that no action was taken against him on the said charge by the govt. as it was considered within rules of conduct. The whole exercise of the editorial shows the spirit of bias. It forgets that Singhal at age 75, is a life long bachelor engineer devoted to the Hindu cause and has contributed immensely towards Hindu unity and self-assertion. I am told that the editorial is imported from India for consumption in USA where VHP of USA has done a great commendable job in the sphere of Hindu awareness and assertion.

The English media is known for its attack on VHP in connection with the attack on Christian missionaries. The VHP is opposed to any forceful conversion, which the missionaries deny. The media fails to see that as an effect of proselytisation, the converted tribal are forgetting their original culture, belief and tradition. Inspired and tutored by the evangelists, they are even trying to influence the non- convert brothers. Media has always preferred to quote Gandhi on important issues but forgets to quote him on conversion as he was vehemently opposed to proselytisation in India by Christians. . As a consequence ,the clashes based on misunderstanding and distrust.

Some other facts that should be noted:

  1. There was a killing of a Christian girl and a boy in Mandasur village in tribal area Kandhamal.dist. The situation would have worsened but the police nabbed the culprits quickly. In the meantime the Hindu parties were being blamed but ultimately it was revealed that the killer belonged to Christian community and to the same village.

  2. Phoolvati was murdered in Feb. 1999 in Orissa. As usual the bishop blamed the RSS and the VHP. The chief minister Patnaik had to be replaced by a Christian CM Girdhar Gomongo of the Congress. Later on May 15, a Christian youth Ranjan Pradhan was sentenced to death for the murder. In the meantime the English media had sufficiently damaged the reputation of India in the world by accusing RSS and VHP for the same.

  3. The much known Jhabua Kandof Dec 1998. Four nuns were raped and looted. As a regular exercise RSS and Bajrang dal was blamed and targeted. The news shook the Christian world. And the judgment? On April 2000, 10 people were awarded life –imprisonment, 6 for 2 year jail and one for one year prison Out of these 17, PL note, 15 were Christians. But the English media had done what it intended an incalculable damage to Hindu cause.
  4. Now about the Media -indifference to Hindu cause. Shyamal K Gupta, General Sec. of NE, Sudhakar Dutta Div. Organizer or Agartala , Dhirendra Natharhe, organizer of Assam and Subhankar Chakravarti Dist. Organizer Dharmanagar--- all these four social workers were proceeding to Banavasi Kalyan Ashram in Agartala on Aug. 6, 1999 when they were kidnapped by Christians of NE and later killed. There was no report in papers or any editoralin the English media, which remains ever alert to publish such incidents about minorities. Why so?

In a different context, J. Jailalita, the CM of Tamilnadu says,’ It is very strange and saddening to see that when such acts are perpetuated against the minorities, all political leaders rush to issue statements of condemnation, but when persons belonging to majority are subjected to similar perpetuation of heinous crime, not a single political leader so far has issued statement condemning this barbaric crime’ The psedo- secular leaders and the English media are birds of the same feather

The English media has failed to present the positive side of the Hindutva wave and its related contributions. It has overlooked the RSS and VHP effort for a dialogue with bishops on different issues facing them. It has also failed to discuss how and why in JK, the only Muslim majority state in India, the Hindu minority of Kashmir pundits was totally thrown out as refugees in their own land? Does it not lead us to conclude that when and where Muslims are in majority, they pay no regard for democratic norms or secularism? Why were no representative voices of Muslims heard against the atrocities in JK? About 10,000 Kashmiri pundits have been shot dead over the years, and 3.5 lakhs rendered homeless and uprooted. The English press publicity remained poor, indifferent and insensitive . Even in their reportings , they described it in a routine way. No one used words like genocide, ethnic cleansing, Talibanization , violation of human rights or holocaust , as they are in usual habit of using it against any Hindu reaction. Even when Mumbai was blasted with Pak support , the English press did not use the words slaughter, fundamentalists, fascism and anti-secular, human right violation , which could have been used legitimately, but it uses it to defame Hindu rising in self-assertion. This results in giving false information and keeping people in dark.

The English media does not care to find out why is there no leadership for a mutual dialogue on contentious issues like Ayodhya? The English media has failed to let us know the causes why the Hindu population in Pak declined from 14% in 1947 to 2% today, where as the Muslims in India, despite the media presentation of their insecurity, rose from 10% to 14% during the same period? The media has an obligation to detail the nation about the condition of Hindus in Muslim countries and especially in Bangla Desh where they are raped and tortured regularly. The print and the television have failed to picture the rape scenes and burning of the innocent people which it shows time and again in case of minorities in India. The media has a responsibility to let us know why the Muslims and the clergy distance itself from immoral acts of its fellowmen but never condemn or publicly denounce these barbarous acts. The Hindu Shankaracarya and Hon’ble Ravi Shankar have offered themselves for mutual talks and settlements of issues facing them but why is there no such offer from the Muslim side? Is not this the result of Hindu baiting and political appeasement of the minorities to the detriment of national interest? The media intensifies the sense of minoritism and there by keeps them at a distance from the main stream majority The English media has failed to criticize the growing trend of international interference in our internal affairs by countries which have a record of human right violations. The people have a right to know about the frequent foreign trips of these media men and admissions and fellowships to their wards and job for progeny.

The media is expected to adhere to proper norms and standards of reporting. It should not indulge in distorting, exaggerating or employing intemperate, inciting and unrestrained language or phrase deliberately meant to give wrong impressions. The media is a peacemaker.and not at all a political backer, a disease the English media badly suffers from. The media is expected to promote peace and harmony and not to present a picture of incitement or create such a trend, which disrupts peace directly or indirectly. If it indulges in this design, will it not be an anti- national act? It is said as you sow so shall you reap. A Hindu does not say that every action has a opposite and equal reaction, a phrase put into the mouth of Modi, the CM Gujarat, by the press, which he vehemently denies having uttered. The Hindu faith lies in the belief that every one has to reap the consequences of his action in this or in consecutive lives and the press is no exception. Let God kindle our path from darkness unto light. AUM