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"A warped Indian media?"




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I think there is need to restore some semblance of balance in the
discussion
that has taken place till now about the atrocious incident in Orissa. A
French journalist in India has attempted to do just that. Here is what
he
says in an artcle in the Hindustan Times.

Ram Narayanan

HINDUSTAN TIMES
February 1, 1999

A warped Indian media?
(Francois Gautier)

While there is no doubt that the ghastly murder of Graham Stewart
Staines,
the Australian missionary, and his two innocent sons, should be
universally
condemned and that the culprits should be severely punished, the massive

outcry it has evoked in the Indian Press raises several important
questions,
which can only be answered by a Westerner, as any Indian who would dare
utter the following statements would immediately be identified with the
Sangh parivar:

1) Is the life of a white man more important and dear to the Indian
media
than the lives of a hundred Indians? Or to put it differently: Is the
life
of a Christian more sacred than the lives of many Hindus? It would seem
so.
Because we all remember not so long ago, whether in Punjab or in
Kashmir,
how militants would stop buses and kill all the Hindus — men, women and
children. It even happened recently, when a few of the last courageous
Hindus to dare remain in Kashmir were savagely slaughtered in a village,
as
were the labourers in Himachal Pradesh. Yet, very few voices were raised
in
the Indian Press condemning it; at least there never was such an outrage
as
provoked by the murder of Staines. When Hindus are killed in pogroms in
Pakistan or Bangladesh, we never witness in the Indian media the like of
the
tear jerking, posthumous “interview” of Staines in Star News.

2) This massive outcry on the “atrocities against the minorities” raises

also doubts about the quality and integrity of Indian journalism. Take
for
instance the rape of the four nuns in Jhabua. Today the Indian Press
(and
the foreign correspondents— witness Tony Clifton’s piece in the last
issue
of Newsweek) are sitll reporting that it was a “religious” rape. Yet I
went
to Jhabua and met the four adorable nuns, who themselves admitted, along

with their bishop George Anatil, that it had nothing to do with
religion. It
was the doing of a gang of Bhil tribals, known to perpetrate this kind
of
hateful acts on their own women. Yet today, the Indian Press, the
Christian
hierarchy and the politicians continue to include the Jhabua rape in the

list of the atrocities against the Christians.

In Wyanad in northern Kerala, it was reported that a priest and four
women
were beaten up and a Bible was stolen by “fanatical” Hindus. An FIR was
lodged, the communists took out processions all over Kerala to protest
against the “atrocities” and the Press went gaga. Yet as an intrepid
reporter from the Calicut office of The Indian Express found out, nobody
was
beaten up and the Bible was safe. Too late: the damage was done and it
still
is being made use of by the enemies of India.

Finally, even if Dara Singh does belong to the Bajrang Dal, it is
doubtful
if the 100 others accused do. What is more probable is that like in
Wyanad,
it is a case of converted tribals versus non-converted tribals, of
pent-up
jealousies, of old village feuds and land disputes. It is also an
outcome of
what— it should be said — are the aggressive methods of the Pentecost
and
seventh Adventists missionaries, known for their muscular ways of
converting.

Why does the Indian Press always reflect a Westernised point of view?
Why
does India’s intellectual “elite”, the majority of which happens to be
Hindu, always come down so hard on their own culture, their own
religion,
their own brothers and sisters? Is it because of an eternal feeling of
inferiority, which itself is a legacy of British colonisation? Is it
because
they consider Hindus to be inferior beings — remember the words of
Claudius
Bucchanan, a chaplain attached to the East India Company: “...Neither
truth,
nor honesty, honour, gratitude, nor charity, is to be found in the
breast of
a Hindoo”! Is it because the Indian Press is still deeply influenced by
Marxist and communist thoughts like it is in Kerala, where the
communists
have shamelessly and dangerously exploited the Christians issue for
their
own selfish purpose?

Whatever it is, the harm is done. Because, even though it is not the
truth
which has been reported from Jhabua, from Wyanad or from the Keonjhar
district in Orissa, it has been passed off as the truth and it has been
believed to be so by the masses. And the result is that it has split
India a
little more along religious and castes lines.And finally, Christianity
has
always striven on martyrdom, on being persecuted. Before the murder of
Staines, the Christian story was slowly dying; the culprits of the
Jhabua
rape would have been condemned and the Wyanad fraud exposed. In one
stroke
the burning of Staines has insured that it does not die for a long time.
Was
the joy of martyrdom for the cause he fought for 34 years his last
thought
before dying?

(The author is the correspondent in South Asia for “Le Figaro”, France’s

largest circulation newspaper.)



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