How the Economist uses lies and half truths to push their anti-Modi agenda

It is no secret that media outlets like the BBC  and the Economist have an anti India, anti-BJP or anti-Modi slant to their editorials and coverage. A recent article published by the Economist lays threadbare their modus oprendi to malign Modi. Use half truths and debunked lies while ignoring any shred of objectivity to spin their agenda.

The article titled, India’s prime minister focuses too much on appearances, starts with the assumption that:

Mr Modi’s recent setbacks, however, stem in large part from his preoccupation with presentation over substance.

The rest of the article does not speak about this topic and the assertion is not backed up with anything objective or even remotely provable. Let us go further down the rabbit hole that is this Economist article, where we are supposed to discover ‘setbacks’:

Start with the economy. Growth has slowed, from 9.1% year-on-year in the first quarter of last year to 5.7% in the second quarter of this year. That is in part because of his policy of “demonetisation”, in which 86% of the banknotes in circulation were abruptly voided.

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This ignores the fact that growth had started to slow down before demonetisation was introduced. It also ignores the fact that early indicators suggest that the Indian economy has possibly turned a corner and the economy is bouncing back.

Further, the article says:

Mr Modi presented it as a crushing blow to gangsters and tax-dodgers, but in fact it caused great hardship and disruption, without any clear benefit.

This is a very amateurish attempt that fails to provide any context and simply assumes demonetisation to be a failure. It does not talk about how demonetisation has ‘nudged’ India and Indians from a cash attached society to on that is switching to digital payments with gusto.

Tax-dodgers are not off the hook as ‘Project Insight‘ is there, and The Economist presents no data or argument to believe that crimes based on illicit or black money is not down. In fact, data shows that demonetisation indeed broke the bone of some crime syndicates, especially human trafficking.

Ranting on without substance, the article further claims:

Mr Modi triumphantly declared the GST a “good and simple tax”. But he did not listen to his own advisers’ suggestions on how to make it so.

This one truly boggles the mind – does the venerable Economist not know that Mr Modi does not dictate policy like is an authoritarian ruler? GST in particular is a triumph of co-operative federalism and is driven by a council that determines the rate structure. That aside, there is not a shred of evidence to suggest that Mr Modi was recommended only 3 rates, and he single-handedly ‘imposed’ the current structure.

The article then harps about ‘rising intolerance’ and attack on ‘press freedom’:

It does not help that the government bridles at criticism and harries its critics. Media firms are anxious not to offend it; journalists who take it on often lose their jobs. The press has been asking awkward questions about the finances of a firm owned by the son of Amit Shah, the BJP’s number two; they were greeted with rebukes from ministers and a lawsuit.

I can’t think of names of any journalists who lost their jobs, on the other hand, most anti-Modi journalists are doing very well in their professional lives and are running well-funded and well-oiled media outlets.

The “awkward questions” that The Economist refers to were so fundamentally flawed and didn’t know the difference between revenue and profits. Besides, filing a law suit is perfectly within India’s democratic norms.

Having failed at establishing any facts, The Economist then goes into the real of pushing propaganda:

Even comedians who imitate Mr Modi have mysteriously disappeared from the airwaves.

Outright calumny that takes on darker tones. No The Economist, the comedian did not disappear from the airwaves, on the contrary, in an interview he openly says that neither Mr Modi nor the BJP had anything to do with him not being allowed to perform his mimicry act. It was a decision taken by the private TV channel.

Perhaps the ‘best’ part of The Economist article is this:

The new government in Uttar Pradesh, for example, has painted buildings and buses saffron—a shade associated with Hinduism—and picked fights with Muslims, leaving the Taj Mahal (built by a Muslim emperor) off a list of the state’s main attractions.

How did content like this even get past the ostensibly high standards editorial boards in this venerable magazine? What does this even mean? This is really shoddy journalism. Thank god that they did not mention banning illegal slaughterhouses as picking fights with Muslims, which the desi media had done. Maybe The Economist is late to the party.

Now that the article is into anti-BJP mode, this is what appears next:

The party’s overriding focus is extending its own authority. Earlier this year the defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, resigned to become chief minister of the tiny state of Goa. The BJP had lost ground there in recent state elections, and the allies it needed to form a government insisted they would join it only if Mr Parrikar, a former chief minister, returned. The finance minister, for whom making the GST work was apparently not a full-time job, took on the role of defence minister as well for the next six months—a period of tension with both China and Pakistan.

It is a democracy, and in a democracy, no one is indispensable. Besides, the tensions with China was managed effectively and the Doklam issue cooled down, so why this needless angst?

In summation, the article is high on subjectivity and opinion being pushed as objective journalism, this write-up even fails to make a link between the clickbaitey headline and the body and content of the article and leaves it to the reader to make these connections. One would definitely expect more from an organisation with the stature and reputation of The Economist.


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