Who controls the Indian media? – Gautam Sen

Indian Newspapers

Gautam SenThe alleged oppression of minorities is the political bridgehead that modern evangelical organisations have entrenched in the public consciousness, relentlessly distorting its reality and using it ruthlessly to fuel discontent within India. – Dr Gautam Sen

India happens to be one of the very few major countries in the world whose dominant media is controlled directly or indirectly by foreigners. The usurpation of control has actually been by Americans, much of it through surrogates of evangelical organisations that are in fact quasi-government agencies [i.e. World Vision]. Paradoxically, Leftist Indian political parties supposedly hostile to a US presence in India have been subdued with alacrity by these quasi-state religious agencies, which have been operating effectively in other parts of the world as well. In Latin America, where liberation theology offered succour to the poor, the very same neo-fascist, American evangelical organisations, working in conjunction with the US State Department and intelligence services, ousted them. In India, most English-language media outlets, are, in effect, vying with each other to accelerate the fragmentation of India in consonance with Anglo-American goals.

Viceroys to India in the decade before independence, Linlithgow, Wavell and Mountbatten are destined to prove prescient about its innate fractiousness. The alleged oppression of minorities is the political bridgehead that modern evangelical organisations have entrenched in the public consciousness, relentlessly distorting its reality and using it ruthlessly to fuel discontent within India. By deliberately misrepresenting the Godhra communal riots as genocide, though both communities suffered, the media has gleefully incited Islamic terrorist attacks against Hindus and harsh international condemnation of India. As a corollary, the rise of the BJP inspired them to equate mundane nationalist aspirations with the oxymoron of Hindu extremism. Yet, there is resounding silence on the role of the minority community in providing succour to Islamic terrorism through vote bank politics and concealment from attention. India-Forum: Strategic Security of India, 11 November 2010

» Dr Gautam Sen formerly taught at the London School of Economics.

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WHO CONTROLLED THE INDIAN MEDIA IN 2006

(This popular Internet list has been completely discredited!)

NDTV
Allegedly funded by Gospels of Charity in Spain. Supports Communism.  Recently it has developed a soft corner towards Pakistan because the Pakistan president has allowed only this channel to be aired in Pakistan.  Indian CEO Prannoy Roy is co-brother of Prakash Karat, General-Secretary of the Communist Party of India.

CNN-IBN
Allegedly funded solely by the Southern Baptist Church in the USA. It has branches in all countries of the world with headquarters in the US. The Church annually allocates 800 million dollars for promotion of this channel. Its Indian head is Rajdeep Sardesai and his wife Sagarika Ghosh.

TIMES OF INDIA, MID-DAY,  NAV-BHARTH TIMES, STARDUST,  FEMINA,  VIJAYA TIMES, VIJAYA KARNATAKA, TIMES NOW
Allegedly Times Group is owned by Bennet & Coleman. Eighty per cent of funding is done by the World Christian Council. The balance  of twenty per cent is equally shared by an Englishman and an Italian. The Italian Roberto Mindo is a close relative of Sonia Gandhi.

STAR TV
Allegedly it is run by the Australian Rupert Murdoch who is supported by St. Peters Pontifical Church in Melbourne, Australia.

HINDUSTAN TIMES
Allegedly owned by the Birla Group, but hands have changed since Shobana Bhartiya took over. Presently it is working in collaboration with Times Group.

THE HINDU
Allegedly an  English daily started over 125 years by a Sri Vaishnava Hindu family.  It has been recently taken over by the Joshua Society in Berne, Switzerland. Edited by Communist Sinophile N. Ram. He also edits the newspaper’s fortnightly Marxist magazine FRONTLINE. THE HINDU is known in Chennai (Madras) variously as “The Sapper” (because it supported the British during the struggle for Indian independence) and “The Old Widow of Mount Road” (because of its lugubrious, cliche-ridden style of writing and incomprehensible editorials). More recently it has acquired the sobriquet “The Chindu” (because it is “China’s National Newspaper In India”).

INDIAN EXPRESS & THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS
Allegedly it is divided into two groups. THE INDIAN EXPRESS in North India and THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS in South India. Founded by the Hindu freedom fighter Ramnath Goenka. Controlled by Acts Ministries who has a major stake in the INDIAN EXPRESS. THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS is still with its North Indian counterpart.

EENADU & ETV:
Allegedly to date this Hyderabad newspaper is still controlled by an Indian named Ramoji Rao. It is under concerted attack by the Christian Church, the Andhra Pradesh Christian chief minister Y.S. Rajashekhara Reddy and the Congress Party.

ANDHRA JYOTHI
Allegedly the Muslim Party of Hyderabad known as MIM along with a Congress minister has purchased this Telugu daily very recently.

THE STATESMAN
Allegedly it is controlled by Communist Party of India.

KAIRAL TV
Allegedly it is controlled by Communist Party of India (Marxist).

MATHRABHOOMI
Allegedly leaders of the Muslim League and  some Communist Party members have major investments in the newspaper.

ASIAN AGE & DECCAN CHRONICLE
Allegedly these popular newspapers  are owned by a Saudi Arabian company. Its chief editor was M.J. Akbar until early 2008. New chief editor unknown. These newspapers are aggressively pro-Christian (Roman Catholic), anti-Hindu newspapers. The Deccan Chronicle was the first South Indian newspaper to carry H1 banner headlines declaring ‘Hindu Terror’.

DOORDARSHAN
Allegedly India’s national TV network broadcasting in all corners of the country. Since Sonia Gandhi’s Congress Party has come to power, all DOORDARSHAN stations carry Christian missionary programmes dubbed into the regional languages. – Intellibriefs,  23 December 2006 


Must read article Hinduphobic media in bed with politicians by K.A. Krishna Rao


Analysis: Mainstream media reportage of temple attacks – IndiaFacts Staff

TV News India

IndiaFacts“Highlighting a very tiny number of incidents of church attacks and giving it frequent and repeated coverage while downplaying the real fact of repeated attacks against temples—almost one temple attack per day—certainly lends itself to the conclusion that the media is indeed creating, shaping, and pushing a false narrative.”- IndiaFacts Staff

Of late there has been a spate of news reports, articles, panel discussions and editorials on attacks on churches in India. Most of these reports have been consistent in blaming Hindu groups for these attacks. Equally, in an age of social media and free access to information, doubts have been raised both about the attacks and the veracity of these reports.

On the other side, there is almost no coverage, analysis, editorials, and TV shows on attacks on the places of worship of non-Abrahamic religions including Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Could it be the case that there were no attacks at all on these places of worship?

INDIAFACTS commissioned a study-cum-analysis of mainstream English media’s coverage of attacks on Hindu places of worship. The findings are quite revealing.

To begin with, secularism is an article of faith for the Indian English mainstream media. With that in mind, and with coverage of temple attacks as the context, our analysis also examined three broad aspects:

  • Does the Indian English mainstream media really practice the secularism it preaches?
  • Is our mainstream English media being fair in its coverage?
  • Is our mainstream English media making an attempt to narrow the focus to a particular set of incidents with the intention of creating a false narrative?

Methodology

The INDIAFACTS team sourced news reports, articles, opeds, and TV shows mainly from the Internet, and print for good measure. These news sources were spread across the most popular and widely read newspapers, online news channels, and TV media.

Data was collected based on coverage related to attacks, thefts, vandalism, hate crimes, corruption, misgovernance, and land grab with respect to temples (where temples are generically defined as stated earlier: places of worship of non-Abrahamic faiths). Data was collected for a period of six months: between 01 October 2014 and 31 March 2015, which is a decent sample size to be considered as representative to arrive at reasonably accurate conclusions.

Preliminary observations

Two preliminary, high-level observations stand out in our analysis:

There were 145 incidents of attacks on temples during the stated period—that is, approximately, at least one temple was attacked every day (more precisely, 0.8 per day).

A vast majority of them were Hindu temples, and a few were Jain, Buddhist and Sikh as well. For the sake of brevity and ease of presentation, they’re generically grouped as Hindu temples and could be de-grouped as needed, on a case by case basis.

Detailed analysis

This geo-data map shows the spread of attacks on Hindu temples across India. A darker gradient of red represents states with the highest number of temple attacks. As is evident from the map, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh top the list, followed by Kerala, Telangana and Karnataka.

Figure 1: Tamil Nadu & Uttar Pradesh have the most attacks on temples, followed by Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana.

Figure 1: Tamil Nadu & Uttar Pradesh have the most attacks on temples, followed by Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana.

Weekly attacks

The following chart shows the number of attacks on Hindu temples every week for the six month duration of our study. In our study, we have considered Sunday as the starting day of the week and Saturday as the ending day.

The height of the bar represents the total number of temple attacks for that week. Attacks on Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist temples are differently colour-coded.

Note: October being the starting point of our study, the first week has only four days—1 October thru 4 October 2015.

Figure 2: Weekly attacks on temples.

Figure 2: Weekly attacks on temples.

Subsequent weeks follow the Sunday-Saturday scheme. 11 January 2015—31 January 2015 appears to be the most peaceful period with only one attack per week.

Media coverage of temple attacks

The following graph shows the number of articles published by news media for the temple attacks shown for the six-month period. Although some of the reports were actually published a few days later, falling into the subsequent week, they were counted for the week on which the incident actually occurred. This would simplify the counting.

 Figure 3: News reports covering temple attacks.

Figure 3: News reports covering temple attacks.

Number of media reports on temple attacks increase or decrease corresponding to the attack incidents, indicating a correlation with Figure 2.

The 145 incidents of attack on temples were covered by 293 news articles from various publishers and media outlets—that is, there were an average of 2.02 news articles published per incident.

State-wise analysis

The following graph shows the state-wise grouping of temple attacks, based on the actual location of the attacks.

Figure 4: State-wise temple attacks.

Figure 4: State-wise temple attacks.

Red indicates incidents that could have been prevented by ensuring good governance and law and order mechanisms,and blue indicates attacks due to breakdown of law and order/lack of security. Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh top the list followed closely by Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Telangana. In other words, South India has witnessed the worst attacks on temples.

The next graph shows the number of news reports published related to these attacks in their respective states.

Figure 5: Media reports on state-wise attacks on temples.

Figure 5: Media reports on state-wise attacks on temples.

Red indicates reports on temple attacks incidents that could have been prevented by good governance and blue indicates reports on incidents that needed effective law and order mechanisms.

Comparing attacks on temples and churches

The following graph shows a comparison between attacks on temples and attacks on churches for the period under consideration.

Figure 6: Comparison between temple attacks and church attacks.

Figure 6: Comparison between temple attacks and church attacks.

Exactly four incidents of attacks on churches took place across India in the period under consideration.The overall picture that emerges is clear: there’s a huge gap in the attacks against temples compared to Christian places of worship. In other words, temples are targeted more frequently whereas churches remain largely unmolested.

State-wise grouping of attacks on temples and churches

The following graph shows the state-wise grouping of the attacks on temples including the four attacks on Christian places of worship.

Figure 7: Attacks on Christian places of worship added to the state wise chart shown in Figure 4.

Figure 7: Attacks on Christian places of worship added to the state wise chart shown in Figure 4.

Media coverage comparison

Upon including the reports published in the media about attacks on Christian places of worship into the graphs of respective states, we obtain the following graph.

Figure 8: Media reportage on temple and church attacks.

Figure 8: Media reportage on temple and church attacks.

Upon including the attacks on Christian places of worship into the week-wise chart of media reportage on temple attacks, we arrive at the following graph.

Figure 9: Week-wise media reportage on temple and church attacks.

Figure 9: Week-wise media reportage on temple and church attacks.

Conclusions

  • On an average,the English mainstream media reported about 46.25 news articles per incident of attack on Christian places of worship whereas it reported a mere 2.02 news articles per incident of attack on Hindu places of worship
  • Further, the 46.25 reports per incident related to attacks on a Christian place of worship had approximately 80 oblique references to the BJP, Narendra Modi, parliament debate, elections, ghar wapsi. However such oblique references were rarely found in reports related to attacks on temples.
  • According to the concept of secularism as commonly defined and understood, the Indian English mainstream media should ensure that its reportage remains religion-neutral. Unfortunately, as our analysis shows, the 46:2 ratio of its reportage on attacks on places of worship of Christians to those of Hindus doesn’t pass this religion-neutral test by any standards. Therefore, there is very little evidence to show that the mainstream English media is reporting news based on the spirit of secularism it claims it adheres to.
  • The same ratio also shows that our mainstream English media is being significantly selective and therefore unfair in its coverage.
  • Highlighting a very tiny number of incidents of church attacks and giving it frequent and repeated coverage while downplaying the real fact of repeated attacks against temples (almost one temple attack per day), certainly lends itself to the conclusion that the media is indeed creating, shaping, and pushing a false narrative.

Based on such hard data, it is not entirely inaccurate to conclude that the Indian mainstream English media is behaving like the mouthpiece of select religious institutions. – IndiaFacts, 11 May 2015

Indian Media

Time to hold India’s media legally accountable – Brannon Parker

Brannon Parker“The Indian media has been clearly and repeatedly implicated as a cause of violence and mayhem. It is widely recognized for its ruthless and biased approach towards news reporting. The Indian media has also been implicitly involved in stirring up tension and fear amongst the people in a manner nearly identical to the UN Media Case. India would do well to challenge its media to create rather than destroy fundamental human values. The Indian media should be held to account for the consequences of its actions.” – Brannon Parker

Orissa in the Crossfire: Kandhamal BurningThis is an excerpt from one of my books titled, Orissa in the Crossfire: Kandhamal Burning. This is the same book that the Indian Parliamentarian and Congress Party leader Digvijaya Singh demanded be banned for allegedly being a cause of community strife. However that be, the fact that there is a direct correlation between violent mayhem and the media’s actions has been established repeatedly. I therefore call for India’s media to be held accountable for its many crimes against society. This can be done by using the Indian court system based upon the precedent of setting convictions conducted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal’s Rwandan Media Trial.

The trial was known as the Rwandan Media Case. These precedent-setting convictions have established the standard regarding those that abuse the power of the media and disturb and disrupt civil society. India’s mainstream media has long been at the forefront of sowing seeds of mayhem and chaos across the nation. Rather than my writings, it is the Indian media which is blatantly setting Indian society against itself. Thus such publications and journalists must be held accountable and convicted for their crimes.

The fact is anyone who reads Orissa in the Crossfire will see that I did not pit one group against another nor did I condemn any religion or ethnic group. But I did expose many crimes, criminals, mass corruption and the many conspiracies, groups and personalities that are actively engaged in a brutal campaign against India. Recently, V. K. SinghIndia’s Minister of External Affairs V. K. Singh characterized the mainstream media as Presstitutes, who ignored his major international humanitarian rescue mission in Yemen. Yet this same Press attempted to accuse him of damaging the morale of the Indian Army.

The basis of this bizarre claim? The Minister had attended a Pakistan Day celebration at the Pakistani Embassy. Despite this being an annual event that the Indian Government has often attended, the media created an artificial scandal aimed at damaging the morale of India’s armed forces. This is pure sedition. It is high time the Indian judicial system tackled this destabilizing force that is traumatizing the country. Perhaps the precedent-setting UN Rwandan Media Case has applicability within the Indian court system as well. The following excerpts are from the chapter entitled “A Medium for Chaos.”  

Obfuscation: “To totally obscure with non-germane information in a verbose manner, with the intent to provide a non-answer, and provide total befuddlement.” This perfectly illustrates the modus operandi of the Indian media.

India’s mediaMedia is in a league of its own. It presents itself as beholden to none. It claims itself to be the voice of reason, the conscience of the system and guardian of the public weal. Though this ideal is at the basis of a responsible media, India’s media is infamously and obviously far removed from such a role. The pattern and record speaks for itself. A graphic example would be the anti-Bihari riots in Assam. A false story detailing a Bihari’s rape of an Assamese girl led to a public response leading to much violence, injury, destruction and death. Despite the media’s role in initiating the mayhem, the obvious disconnect between the law, social welfare concerns, the people and the media, no action nor resolution was taken. The powers that be, behind the media, continued as before untouched by the law and uncaring towards the plight of a victimized people.

Media BiasThe media is clearly being used as a weapon against the RSS and affiliated Hindu organizations.  Rather than being the fourth estate of civil society, India’s media is more like a bludgeon. It decides what is relevant to its pre-scripted scenarios and cherry picks information to fit into its preordained scripts. This propaganda is then disseminated and imposed upon the public and the designed perceptions popularized as fact. India’s media has long abandoned its responsibility as a medium for information, events and facts. In a manipulative process, the Indian media trivializes the profound and sensationalizes the profane.

On a recent research visit to Govardhan in Uttar Pradesh on the last day of the Hindu holy month of Kartik, a full moon was in the sky. Thousands upon thousands  of pilgrims were circumambulating the sacred Govardhan hill. In an endless march  beginning from the predawn hours until late evening, thousands of Hindu pilgrims  circled the sacred mount. In a massive display of the living and ancient Indian culture,  people of all ages, including entire families walked bedecked in colorful clothes. The  excitement was tangible. Such a massive event inspired no mention in the media.  For the media, it was a non-event. Coming from the same media that highlights  every minor gathering of Leftist politicians and religious minority groups, such bias by the media is intentional. By constantly disenfranchising the Hindus, distorting their words and denigrating their efforts, the media is the primary cause of social chaos and political mayhem. The same media that projects itself as a voice of  concern provides the rationale for oppression.

Creek Chief Selocta (or Shelocta) was a Muscogee Creek chief who appealed to President Andrew Jackson to reduce the demands for Creek lands at the signing of the Treaty of Fort Jackson.In America this same method was applied against the great American Indian leaders of the 1800s who struggled to defend their culture, people and lands. In every case, without fail, it was the media which provided the sensational and gruesome tales of  massacres of “innocent white women and children at the hands of the Red Savages”. The media-induced frenzy and uproar that followed led to organized lynch mobs and  groups of US soldiers bent on murder. American Indian tribes were ruthlessly  massacred, ethnically cleansed and imprisoned by the thousands. As the brutal aggression continued, the media provided the rationale within a context of law and order. By completely ignoring the injustices, the brutal acts of violence, rapes,  murders and loss of land and water rights that instigated the trouble, the media  distorted the historical underpinnings involved. With a focus on the effect and denial of the cause, the media becomes a powerful tool and weapon against a targeted group. Guns alone do not create genocide.

This conclusion was reached by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal. In reference to the media’s complicity in the violence, the Tribunal declared, ‘Without a  firearm, machete or any physical weapon you, (Nahimana founder of Rwanda’s RTLM,  Radio TV des Milles Collines) caused the death of thousands of innocent civilians.’ The  Ferdinand Nahimanamedia case as it was known, was conducted by the UNICTR or the United Nations  International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and presided over by Judge Navanetham Pillay. The historic ruling clearly delineated the responsibilities and consequential role of the media. “The power of the media to create and destroy fundamental human values comes with great responsibility. Those who control such media are accountable for its  consequences (CCCLXXXIV).”

RTLM Radio RwandaThis important, precedent-setting landmark case has been virtually forgotten and  suppressed. For some in India, the media is the weapon of choice. The implications of the Rwanda Media Case are far-reaching and significant. Such a legal mechanism based upon this landmark Rwanda Media Case would no doubt be of great benefit to the Indian authorities, law professionals and overall socio-political climate. Freedom of  the Press does not refer to the freedom to oppress. In the landmark case, the UN  convicted three Rwandan media personalities for “genocide, incitement to genocide,  conspiracy and crimes against humanity-extermination and persecution.” The verdict is  clear and the precedent set.

The Indian media has been clearly and repeatedly implicated as a cause of violence and mayhem. It is widely recognized for its ruthless and biased approach towards news reporting. The Indian media has also been implicitly involved in stirring up tension and fear amongst the people in a manner nearly identical to the UN Media Case. India would do well to challenge its media to create rather than destroy fundamental human values. The Indian media should be held to account for the consequences of its actions. – IndiaFacts, 22 April 2015

Freedom of the Press

See also

  1. Who controls the Indian media? – Gautam Sen
  2. Bring media under RTI Act – Beyond Headlines
  3. The Deccan Chronicle Deceits – Ishwar Sharan
  4. The charade of the church attacks – Abhijit Majumder
  5. How to deal with mainstream media bias – Ashok Chowgule
  6. Chhattisgarh carnage and the anti-national media – M. N. Buch
  7. Media Bias: Recalling the Kanchi Shankaracharya case – S. Gurumurthy
  8. The Roti Fiasco: How the media communalised a non-issue – Ashok Chowgule
  9. Why the brown sahibs in the English-language media hate Narendra Modi – Arindam Chaudhuri

The Emperor’s new clothes (with an Indian twist) – Ashok Chowgule

The Emperor's New Clothes

Ashok Chowgule“Like the swindlers who pretended to weave a fabric for the Emperor, the sentinels pretended to weave a fabric for the nation. And, like the swindler weavers, they said if anyone cannot see what they are weaving, the person is either incompetent or a fool. Or the greatest abuse that they could hurl – you are a supporter of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.” – Ashok Chowgule

Emperor's New ClothesOne of the parables of Hans Christian Anderson relates to the story of an emperor who was so fond of new clothes, that he spent much of the state resources on expanding his wardrobe.  And he spent a lot of time in this hobby of his, rather than statecraft.

One day a couple of swindlers came to the Emperor’s capital city, and let it be known that they can weave a fabric so light that it is visible only to those who are fit for the office that they hold or one who is not unusually stupid.  Obviously the Emperor desired to have this magnificent fabric, since it will also enable him to weed out incompetent and stupid people from amongst those serving the state.

The swindlers asked for some of the finest thread as well as a lot of money.  They set themselves up in a spacious studio with a large loom, and pretended to make the cloth.  The Emperor sent his best ministers to give him a progress report.  They heard a lot of the noise of the loom operating, but no sign of any cloth.  But since they were told that the cloth was visible only to the competent and the clever, they reported that the work was progressing rather well.  And every time the observers came, they asked for more money.

The swindlers explained to the observers the pattern, the colours, etc., which the observers faithfully reported to the Emperor.  Finally, the day came when the swindlers announced that the fabric was complete and now the fit out had to be done.  They went to measure the Emperor, and a few days later came holding what they said were the new clothes.  And everyone gasped at the beauty and the style, and loudly proclaimed their admiration.

The Emperor saw nothing.  But how could he say so and announce that he is incompetent and stupid?  So he went along with the charade spelt out by the swindlers, who asked him to go out on a parade and show his subjects his new clothes.  The Emperor agreed, and as he set out to make the preparation, the two swindlers quietly slipped out of the town taking all the fine threads and money with them.

When the Emperor set out from his palace, the people in the town lined up the path since they wanted to see the magnificent fabric that they heard about.  They too could not see anything, because there was nothing to see.  But no one wished to be seen as either incompetent or stupid, and they all exclaimed the imagined beauty of the Emperor’s new clothes.

Until one little boy said, “But the Emperor has no clothes!”  And the whole imaginary edifice collapsed.

So where is the Indian twist to this tale?  Read the following article by Dileep Padgaonkar:

Dileep PadgaonkarDear Sentinels of the Republic,

We goofed. Every assumption we made during the election campaign has been savaged. Each one was premised on the values we cherish — freedom, justice and fraternity. Yet all that we did to promote them was to create fear in the minds of voters: fear of Hindu nationalists gaining control of levers of the state. It prompted us to clutch at the slenderest straw in the wind. That compounded our discomfiture.

We assumed, for example, that while Congress was fated to pay dearly for its follies, its tally of seats would allow it to be at least a bit player in the formation of the next government. That didn’t happen. We also reckoned that BJP-led NDA would fail to reach the halfway mark. This would compel it to rope in ‘secular’ non-Congress, non-Left regional parties to take a shot at governance. The latter, we took for granted, would extract their pound of flesh: deny Narendra Modi any role in the new dispensation.

Towards this goal we added our two-penny bit. We missed no chance to harp on Modi’s RSS background. Time and again we raked up the 2002 violence in Gujarat. We pooh-poohed the ‘clean chit’ the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team and a lower court in Ahmedabad had given Modi. We picked gaping holes in his much-vaunted development model. And when this was not enough to corner BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, we latched on to Snoopgate. On all these counts, we came a cropper.

Congress suffered its worst rout in history. So did the Left parties. Caste-based formations that wore secularism on their sleeves were flattened too. On the other hand, BJP got what it wanted: a 272+ outcome. No non-Congress party had secured a majority on its own since the first general elections in 1952. Add to this the seats gained by BJP’s pre-poll allies. That placed NDA in an invincible position.

So why did we lose the plot? The plain answer is that we misread the nation’s mood. We didn’t gauge the depth and sweep of the rage against UPA. The dread possibility of ‘communal’ forces coming to power, we believed, would override all other concerns of the electorate, including the lacklustre leadership of the UPA government and of Rahul Gandhi, Congress’s undeclared mascot. We drew a blank.

An equally miserable failure of ours was to underestimate the spell Modi cast on the electorate. Armed with a high-tech media blitz, he led an intensive, spirited campaign built around his personality. He tapped into voters’ dismay and frustration over the ineptitude and shenanigans of the Manmohan Singh dispensation. He pinned responsibility on the Gandhi family’s dynastic rule. He also tapped into voters’ yearning for a leader endowed with the will and aptitude to bring prosperity to the people, ensure clean and effective governance, provide security and instil national pride in citizens.

We made light of all this. The so-called Modi wave, we argued, was the handiwork of media that had been bought over by India Inc. Poll results showed how hopelessly we were off the mark: education, jobs, sound civic services and good governance mattered more to voters than narratives of victimhood replete with populist promises.

We still try to comfort ourselves with the thought that almost seven out of 10 voters didn’t cast their lot with BJP. Comfort can’t get colder than this. What we need is to acknowledge the flaws in our idea of secularism. Correctly or otherwise, it has been perceived as a hostile attitude to even the most uplifting traditions of India’s myriad religious and spiritual traditions. And, by that token, it has been equated with an indulgent attitude to Muslim extremism. A course correction is in order.

We also need to renounce our animus against economic reforms and modernisation of our armed forces. At the same time, we must not lower our vigil to ensure that casteist, communal, sexist, hyper-nationalist and regional chauvinist forces of all shades do not threaten the fundamental rights of citizens. These rights are the foundation on which rests the edifice of our Republic. And we remain its steadfast sentinels.

The article appeared in The Times of India on May 30, 2014, with the title ‘A missive to distraught liberals’.

Like the swindlers who pretended to weave a fabric for the Emperor, the sentinels pretended to weave a fabric for the nation.  And, like the swindler weavers, they said if anyone cannot see what they are weaving, the person is either incompetent or a fool.  Or the greatest abuse that they could hurl – you are a supporter of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

And like the Emperor’s ministers, many people in India and abroad internalised the imagery the sentinels created.  The swindlers in India, under the guise of being sentinels, spelt out their fabric in terms of imaginary ideas of secularism and pluralism.  They said that they had these wonderful plans which would eliminate poverty, and make the people, especially the religious minorities, secure in the nation.  And they grandly called it The Idea of India.

A large number of people in India knew that the sentinels were projecting an invisible idea, and one which was holding the nation back.  But the sentinels were carefully guarding the means of the flow of information – the media, the book publications, etc.

Until along came the Internet.

The people found out that they could communicate with each other, bypassing the censorship of the sentinels.  And in the process they reached out to some in the circle guarded by the sentinels, who did not have the courage to speak out.  They were terrorised into believing what the sentinels told them.  The few who did, before the internet came, were thrown out of the circle into an intellectual wilderness, to serve as an example to others who wished to ask questions.

The little boys have spoken.  Let us hope that the sentinels realise that their swindle has been seen through, since the fabric they were weaving was actually non-existent. – Hindu Viveka Kendra, 20 June 2014

» Ashok Chowgule is the Working President (External) of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad 

Is Edward Snowden a Chinese agent? – Maura Moynihan

Maura Moynihan“The bigger story then is the scope of Chinese espionage in the US. Veteran China analyst Gordon Chang observes: ‘It seems clear that Snowden, if he did not actually work for the Chinese, at least did their bidding. The Chinese did their best to make sure that American officials did not get the opportunity to interrogate Snowden. The last thing they wanted was for the US to have the opportunity to learn the extent of China’s penetration of the NSA and the FBI in Hawaii.'” – Maura Moynihan

Edward Snowden: Patriot or traitor?The Edward Snowden affair continues to reverberate since June 9, 2012, when the 30-year-old high school dropout exposed US cyber surveillance in an interview with The Guardian from Hong Kong.

Snowden has been stuck in Moscow for many weeks, and the media has dropped the thread of his links to China, since Snowden claimed that if he were a Chinese spy he’d “be petting phoenixes in Beijing.” However, there are many elements of this story that point to a Beijing connection.

Snowden chose Hong Kong as his first port of refuge, citing its “rule of law”, a puzzling contention since the former British colony has for 16 years been controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Towards the end of Snowden’s videotaped interview with The Guardian, he praised the Chinese government, and the following day he released detailed information about US operations in Asia to the South China Morning Post. Snowden’s revelations succeeded in shifting the debate about cyber espionage onto the US, allowing China to play the victim and putting the Obama administration on the defensive. No wonder that Chinese government websites hail Snowden as a hero.

Many other disturbing questions have been raised, such as the dangers of privatising intelligence, which allowed a character like Snowden to get a security clearance and cart off top-secret information to Hong Kong in the first place. One theory is that Snowden was used as a “drop box” for agents higher up in the National Security Agency who fed him information — Snowden only worked at the security firm Booz Allen Hamilton for three months. What’s missing from media coverage in the West is that whatever the NSA is doing, the Chinese Communist Party does it bigger and better. US citizens can talk openly about NSA surveillance; in China, journalists and human rights activists can get thrown into jail for typing the words “Dalai Lama” or “Tiananmen Square Massacre” on a computer.

Chinese Communist Party Leaders 2012The bigger story then is the scope of Chinese espionage in the US. Veteran China analyst Gordon Chang observes: “It seems clear that Snowden, if he did not actually work for the Chinese, at least did their bidding. The Chinese did their best to make sure that American officials did not get the opportunity to interrogate Snowden. The last thing they wanted was for the US to have the opportunity to learn the extent of China’s penetration of the NSA and the FBI in Hawaii.”

Chinese hackersThe Chinese Communist Party has aggressively recruited US informants for decades, and has planted agents at every level of the US government and institutions of finance, technology and higher education. A cursory Internet search of Chinese espionage in the US yields enough material for the next James Bond franchise. The Chinese government deploys the “Thousand Grains of Sand Policy”, collecting human and cyber intelligence in every conceivable manner by encouraging every Chinese citizen who travels abroad in any capacity, from tourists to students, to gather information for the Motherland. A former senate aide in Washington told me, “Basically that’s how China got all of its high-tech weapons and industrial programs. And now they’ve got cyber spies hacking into our banks and intelligence and we don’t know how this is going to end.”

So why does the US Department of State give preferential treatment to Communist China over democratic India? In 2011, approximately 700,000 US visa applications were processed by US consular officials in India. China gets a lot more than that. On January 19, 2012, US ambassador to China, Gary Locke, said, “President Obama signed an executive order to significantly increase legitimate travel and tourism to the US, with the goal of increasing visa-processing capacity in China by up to 40 per cent in 2012. In 2011, we processed more than 1 million visa applications in China, an increase of 34 per cent over the previous year, and already in the first few months of fiscal year 2012, we have processed 48 per cent more visas in China compared to the same period in 2011.”

Has the US state department decided to selectively ignore the questionnaire that every visitor to the US must fill out upon arrival, which includes the Cold War relic: “Have you ever been or are you now affiliated with the Communist Party?” Clearly, this has been waived for the innumerable Chinese communist officials who are granted wide access to everything American.

Shahrukh KhanShah Rukh Khan, India’s beloved movie star, has been detained and interrogated at US airports, not once but twice, most recently in 2010 when he flew to the US on a private plane with the Ambanis, on his way to Yale to receive the prestigious Chubb Fellowship. You don’t read about Indians stealing US military or industrial secrets. You don’t read about Indian cyber thieves penetrating US companies and universities. But China still gets more visas and more access.

The majority of top-level Chinese spies who have been prosecuted by the US’ department of justice entered the US on student or work visas, but Chinese communist officials are still granted all manner of access, with smiles. Chinese mainland money has bought both US real estate and opinion; Xinhua has a huge media tower in Times Square, and it recently opened a multi-million dollar complex in Washington, DC. Chinese money is visible in every think tank in Washington, which are packed with books and programs proclaiming that the 21st century belongs to China, not America.

We still don’t know who arranged for Edward Snowden to go to Hong Kong. But we do know that if your name is Khan, and you’re from India, you are treated with suspicion, even if you are the most famous person on the planet with a huge fan base in the US. One has to ask then, what is going on inside the state department? How can they not recognise Shah Rukh Khan? And how many Edward Snowdens are at work, alongside how many Chinese agents? – The Asian Age, 28 July 2013

» Maura Moynihan is an author and Tibet expert who has worked with Tibetan refugees in India for many years.

End the Snowden circus now – Richard Falk

Edward Snowden Wanted Poster

Prof. Richard Falk“It should be a ‘no brainer’ that Snowden’s alleged crimes were quintessentially ‘political’ in nature, making a grant of extradition unlawful and regressive. Not only this, but by far the most serious ‘crimes’ exposed were really focused upon the wrongdoing of the US Government and its private contractors, such as Snowden’s employer, Booz, Allen, & Hamilton. As the world knows, the controversial surveillance targets were not only the totality of Americans, but, as well, included foreign governments and their most confidential activities.” – Prof. Richard Falk

Edward Snowden: Patriot or traitor?I find the discourse surrounding the Snowden Affair bewildering. The latest reports suggest that the United States is using maximum political leverage, including coercive diplomacy, to discourage small Latin American countries from granting asylum to Edward Snowden. It is also complaining that Russia is giving Snowden ‘a propaganda platform’ and expressing its ‘disappointment’ with China/Hong Kong for its earlier refusal to expel Snowden back to the United States to face charges once his passport was cancelled.

This anger is surely misdirected. Taking the overall situation into account, whatever anger is generated, should rather be directed at the United States for employing such arrogant language and crude methods in its hopefully vain effort to gain custody over Snowden. From almost every angle of relevant law, morality, and politics the case for protecting Snowden against the long arm of American criminal law is overwhelming. Anyone who commits nonviolent ‘political crimes’ should be entitled to be protected, and should certainly not be compelled to hole up in an airport transit lounge for weeks of anguishing suspense.

This contrary official US approach was concisely explained by an American embassy official in Moscow to a Human Rights Watch representative who then was apparently asked to repeat it to Snowden at his airport press conference held a few days ago: “US authorities do not consider him to be a human rights defender or a whistleblower [see Whistleblower protection in the US]. He broke the law and he has to be held accountable.”

It has become increasingly evident even to American public opinion that a twisted logic has gripped Washington, and has been tacitly accepted by many governments throughout the world who should know better. International law allows a government to refuse a request for extradition in the event that the accusation involves a political crime, although the definition is unsettled, and does not extend by state practice and expert opinion to violent and heinous behaviour involved in genocide, crimes against humanity, terrorism, and maybe hate speech.

It should be a ‘no brainer’ that Snowden’s alleged crimes were quintessentially ‘political’ in nature, making a grant of extradition unlawful and regressive. Not only this, but by far the most serious ‘crimes’ exposed were really focused upon the wrongdoing of the US Government and its private contractors, such as Snowden’s employer, Booz, Allen, & Hamilton. As the world knows, the controversial surveillance targets were not only the totality of Americans, but, as well, included foreign governments and their most confidential activities. Under these circumstances, it seems surprising that Washington did not decide to downplay rather than highlight Snowden’s supposed crimes.

Snowden in the media minefield!Media misdirection

To date, with the mainstream media dutifully tagging along, the American strategy has managed to keep public attention focused on Snowden rather than on what his disclosures revealed. It is one more negative example of ‘American exceptionalism.’ It is hard to imagine that the political leadership in Moscow or Beijing, or even London or Paris, would be lecturing Washington in a similar fashion if the shoe were on the other foot. Such a government would probably and sensibly shut up, and hope that the whole mess would quietly slip from view. Why the United States decides to act differently is worth a separate investigation.

We need to realise that extradition is a technique to foster maximum international collaboration in the enhanced enforcement of national criminal law. If extradition is unavailable, as here, or even if it had been available, it would be inapplicable, there exists no respectable legal basis for the American international pursuit of Snowden? The approach adopted by Washington is quite absurd if examined objectively. What the United States has been arguing is that since it is empowered to cancel Snowden’s passport (which itself may not be ‘legal’ since the right to travel is constitutionally protected unless there has been a prior formal judicial proceeding), he has no legal right to be resident in a foreign country, and hence the politically appropriate act by a foreign government is to expel him forthwith to his country of nationality. In effect, such an approach if generally adopted would make extradition completely superfluous, and in fact, because of its limitations, far less effective than the passport cancellation/expulsion ‘remedy’ that seems to have been invented just to catch Snowden under circumstances where more conventional techniques would not work.

Lawyers, of course, earn their living by finding ways to produce counter-arguments that sometimes override not only common sense, but public reason. In this vein, can it not be plausibly argued that the crimes charged against Snowden involve espionage laws and theft of government property, and as such, extradition could be granted because this behaviour does not deserve to be treated as a political crime? Some commentators have pointed to the volunteer Israeli spy, Jonathan Pollard, who has languished in American jails for years to strengthen their argument that the US is entitled to gain control over Snowden.

Even the slightest reflection would be convincing that such an analogy is monumentally unconvincing. Pollard was unlawfully giving highly classified information to a foreign government and apprehended in the territory where the crime was committed, which makes the political nature of the crime irrelevant. If Snowden remained in the United States his political motivations could be argued in a court, but would not exempt him from prosecution. His crimes might then be defended as extra-legal instances of civil disobedience. Snowden’s conduct might also be defended as legal by stressing his benign intentions and the ‘necessity’ to reveal the realities about the truly frightening scope and depth surveillance [PRISM] to avoid the greater harm to public interests. These were more or less the arguments that Daniel Ellsberg so persuasively relied upon in the Pentagon Papers case 40 years ago.

NSA HQ at Fort Meade, MarylandBait and switch

What has happened here, it seems, is a classic instance of bait-and-switch. Since extradition could not get the results Washington so desperately wanted, only diplomatic leverage could do the job. Here international law is less help to Snowden, although I would hope that international morality would come to his rescue. The debate now swirls around the appropriateness of a grant of asylum by some foreign government. Surely, a foreign government that acceded to American demands and handed Snowden over for prosecution would bear the responsibility of knowing that Snowden’s imprisonment would follow as certainly as night follows day. So far no government has been so craven as to adopt such a course of action, although none has really mounted a principled challenge to what the United States has done.

States possess wide discretion with respect to asylum, although it is conferred as a human right in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is supposed to be granted whenever there exists well-founded grounds for fearing persecution if the person in question is expelled to the country of nationality. The granting and withholding of asylum has always been surrounded by ideological considerations. During the Cold War the United States, although not formally granting asylum, never deported someone seek sanctuary from Castro’s Cuba or other Communist countries and rarely allowed sanctuary for claimants from anti-Communist countries even if fears about their well-being if returned were well established.

Because asylum, unlike extradition, is treated as discretionary at the national level, diplomatic pressure is more common. Asylum is situated at the interface of law and morality, creating much more room for political manoeuvre, and intense geopolitical pressures can be brought to bear as in this case. It is most unseemly to place small Latin American countries under the gun of United States’ threat of retaliatory diplomacy, especially when they seem to be acting empathetically toward someone who has acted so clearly on behalf of freedom and democracy with nothing to gain materially and much to lose. Surely, Russia is better situated than Venezuela to harbour Snowden without having to worry about adverse consequences. In such event, perhaps the White House would express its frustration by issuing an intemperate statement about Russia’s unfriendly move, but likely leave at that. Doing anything more would be incredibly foolish, but of course that is no assurance that it wouldn’t happen.

NSA Data Collection Centre in Utah: All your emails are scanned by this surveillance facility.All along the true challenge to the US Government, the American independent media, and to governments and people throughout the world is to consider whether such a massive regime of secret unregulated surveillance by the US government in the name of national security is legally and politically acceptable. Snowden’s individual fate, although properly a matter of utmost concern, is secondary to the substance of the issues of principle raised for all of us. In an unusual show of global public spiritedness and sensitivity, Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a highly relevant statement: “Snowden’s case has shown the need to protect persons disclosing information on matters that have implications for human rights, as well as the importance of ensuring the rights of privacy…. National systems must ensure that there are adequate avenues for individuals disclosing violations to express their concern without fear of reprisal.”

Despite the hue and cry associated with this rather indecent and extended effort to gain custody of Snowden, it is forgotten that his ‘criminal’ acts have already borne fruit:

  • Opening an overdue national debate in the United States as to the proper balance between surveillance and security;
  • Creating a global awareness of the extent to which the American surveillance regime has a global reach that threatens confidentiality of foreign governmental activity and the privacy of ordinary persons everywhere;
  • Encouraging relevant Congressional committees to consider placing limitations on invasions of privacy;
  • Tightening of the rules and policies relating to Department of Justice interference with journalists via acquisition of phone logs and emails.

We will miss the whole point of Snowden’s ‘crimes’ if we do not devote our attention to these fundamental political challenges directed at human security and democratic ways of life, and stop being distracted any longer by the circus of the chase! – Al Jazeera, 15 July 2013

» Richard Falk is Albert G Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Whistleblowing

Because Edward Snowden is identified by the US government as an absconding criminal, he cannot get the assistance of the US Office of Special Counsel.

Edward Snowden: The programmer who came in from the cold – Ajit Balakrishnan

Ajit Balakrishnan“Open, loosely governed, democracies such as India are particularly vulnerable [to spying] because even the most basic security features are missing in our government’s operations in the internet age. For instance, senior government officials such as secretaries of departments, ambassadors and Army generals are free to use and do use free email accounts from Gmail, Yahoo Mail and so on for their official correspondence. They do this for good reason — the government provided email system has too little storage space and lacks many basic features and sometimes does not work at all.” — Ajit Balakrishnan

Edward Snowden: Patriot or traitor?The story so far is right out of a John Le Carre novel.

On May 10 Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old American programmer, boards a plane to Hong Kong from Hawaii where he lives, telling his girlfriend and his employers that he would be gone for “a couple of weeks” to find a cure for epilepsy, a condition he had recently begun to suffer from. A month later, the British newspaper The Guardian publishes a lengthy interview with him, saying, among other things, that “The NSA (the National Security Administration of the United States) has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards”.

He identifies himself as an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, an outsourcing firm who had deployed him in the US National Security Administration in a role that allowed him unfettered access to the computers used by that top-secret organisation.

Russian dictator Puss-Putin may give Snowden asylum.Soon after his (video) interview with The Guardian, on June 10, Snowden checks out of his Hong Kong hotel and disappears from sight. On June 21 the United States government files espionage charges against Snowden and asks the Hong Kong authorities to detain him for extradition to the US. Two days later Snowden catches a flight on Aeroflot, the State-owned airline, to Moscow. When the American authorities protest, the Hong Kong government merely says that the documents submitted by the US did not “fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law” and that it did not have any legal basis to prevent him from leaving. On arrival at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, he is led to the transit zone. As of Wednesday morning he was there while the US authorities keep pressing their Russian counterparts, to no avail, to hand Snowden over to them.

Snowden’s revelations so far have stunned the world which waits now with bated breath wondering what more he will reveal. At the centre of this hullaballoo is the so-called PRISM project run by the United States government’s National Security Agency, which, according to a June 6 report in The Washington Post collects  data “directly from the servers of these US Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.” The modus operandi was that since the server computers for these services are in the United States the communication messages between two users in India, for example, on any of these services can be easily monitored by US intelligence organizations. In a 30-day period in March 2013, says The Guardian, quoting a document provided to them by Snowden, 6.3 billion intelligence messages were collected from India alone, making India next only to Iran, Jordan, Pakistan and Egypt in terms of the volume of messages intercepted and examined.

Manmohan Singh on TwitterOpen, loosely governed, democracies such as India are particularly vulnerable because even the most basic security features are missing in our government’s operations in the internet age. For instance, senior government officials such as secretaries of departments, ambassadors and Army generals are free to use and do use free email accounts from Gmail, Yahoo Mail and so on for their official correspondence. They do this for good reason — the government provided email system has too little storage space and lacks many basic features and sometimes does not work at all. Strategic government websites whose databases contain confidential information are easy to hack because they have not been “hardened” to keep out intruders. Critical telecom infrastructure like routers are all imported and bugs can be planted inside these devices by foreign intelligence agencies to monitor network traffic to and from defense and other strategic organisations. Many of our major mobile phone companies have outsourced their entire telecom network infrastructure to international firms in their effort to save capital expenditure.

When John Le Carre‘s novel, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, was published in 1963 it caused a flutter because it portrayed the intelligence operations of both the Western and the Warsaw Pact countries as expediently amoral but done in the name of national security and for the preservation of democracy and democratic values. What fate will befall Edward Snowden and whether history will remember him as a traitor to his country or as a champion for free speech and less intrusive government is hard to tell, but the issues he has brought into focus need deep thought. — Rediff.com, 26 June 2013

» Ajit Balakrishnan  is the founder and CEO of Rediff.com and the author of The Wave Rider. He can be contacted at ajitb@rediffmail.com.

Edward  Snowden Wanted PosterThe Guardian’s video interview with Edward Snowden HERE