Read any foreign newspaper or watch any foreign news channel report on India. Back in the day, no report on India used to be complete without a compulsory mention of snake charmers and lepers. About Hindus, the impression was arguably worse. Very often the only thing that people abroad had heard about Hindus was the caste system and the poor treatment of so-called ‘untouchables’.
Of course, as a free democratic society, we should be open to all nations of the world discussing our social problems. But what used to happen is that India was deliberately reduced to a single caricature and this was often the *only* thing people had been taught about India. This is the equivalent of reducing America’s history purely to that of slavery or that of reducing Germany’s history only to Nazism.
This was unfair. But this unfairness persisted because it suited everyone involved. Everyone who had money, I mean. The British who were raw (and surprisingly still are raw) about losing their colony loved to show India as a savage place where they had brought civilization. The Nehru-Gandhi dynasts and the small circle of socialist nobles around them loved this too. They were hailed all over the world as the worthy heirs of the Empire, bravely continuing the civilizing mission of the British and smiling through the pain of shouldering the white man’s burden. For Christian missionaries like ‘Mother’ Teresa and also for a host of other NGOs, India’s bad public image helped raise funds big time.
This image has changed. By which I mean the details of this image. These days the new thing is to call India a land of lynchings. Talk of “Hindu vigilantes” is all over the world.
In the aftermath of the massacre in New Zealand, one of the most popular internet memes claiming global Muslim victimhood said that “Hindus are killing Muslims in Kashmir”.
How did such lies about India become so pervasive? Kashmir is a land where an entire population of Hindus was chased out of their homes and sent into exile. How did it get to the point that popular discourse moved so far away from the truth?
It starts with Indian liberal journalists who have been left out of their corrupt and luxurious lives in Lutyens’ Delhi ever since Modi came to power. They were able to call in favours from friends in the West to organize a global defamation campaign against India. Some of them actually went abroad on “fellowships” at big universities and think tanks, offered by their US-based academic contacts in liberal gibberish. Some secured a perch with a Western newspaper … waiting out Modi’s term in power, hoping to resume their lobbying activities after 2019.
All this resulted in a resounding chorus of global Hinduphobia that we now see. And the American East Coast liberal elite, as well as the British elite, were only too happy to let the impression gain ground.
This power that the left has is phenomenal and has to be taken seriously. Yes, India may be the place where Hindus took refuge after getting kicked out of the Islamic State of Pakistan. Yes, there may be reports everyday of Pakistani Hindu girl children being kidnapped and forcibly married off to Muslim men. But when you go overseas, be prepared to answer why Hindus treat Muslims in India so badly. In fact, even within India, liberals now openly demand a morally superior status for Muslims. Apparently, this is because Muslims gracefully “chose” to stay in India while we Hindus had no choice. This is how liberals actually see the discourse in India!
Liberals want us to be grateful to Indian Muslims for “choosing” to stay in India (in return for extra special privileges) and not choosing to move to the exclusive Muslim homeland created by tearing India up and kicking us Hindus out. Liberals see us Hindus as human garbage, because we didn’t have the privilege of choosing countries based on a comparative study of Constitutions. We simply took refuge wherever we were allowed to breathe. So, we have no rights. We are the ones who are supposed to be grateful. Welcome to modern liberalism.
So far I have gone on and on about global liberal discourse and how it is unfair to us Hindus. The question at the top of this post is: What has Modi done about it?
There is a perception and a popular one among the RW, that “nothing” has been done to nurture RW ecosystem in the last five years. I freely admit that at times (not just one or two times, but many many times) I have expressed much the same emotions.
I understand where these emotions are coming from because I often express them myself. It comes from the feeling of helplessness that we get watching the international liberal complex malign India to extreme levels. Hindus killed Muslims in Kashmir? How much more fake could the historical narrative get?
What’s next? Will the global liberal embrace holocaust denial theories? Actually, they probably will. In America and Britain, anti-Semitism is growing exponentially among young liberals. Nazi style cartoons caricaturing Jews as conspirators with hooked noses secretly ruling the world are now making a big comeback. Jeremy Corbyn, the head of Britain’s Labour Party, likely the next PM of Britain, endorsed such caricatures himself. In the US, young liberal icons like Ilhan Omar openly talk of Israel “hypnotizing the world” and Jews having “dual loyalties”. Every single horrifying anti-Semitic trope from Nazi Germany is now a hit with global liberals. The “Women’s March” against Trump was led by one Rasmea Odeh, an actual convicted terrorist who bombed a supermarket and killed two Israeli boys in the 1970s. No liberal saw anything wrong with that.
I keep getting carried away. Probably because there is so much emotion.
But if we think about the whole situation carefully, it’s not that Modi has done nothing. Let me give you concrete examples: English language TV news used to be a big hate magnet for RW Hindus. There can be no doubt that this has been solved. Because of the unique position that English occupies in India, English language news, despite its tiny viewership, plays a huge role in driving the narrative.
In the Hindi language arena, there has always been India TV which has been relatively sympathetic to the right. There’s Zee News, which is unabashedly right. And now there is Republic Bharat.
Of course, you could say that TV media is the tip of the iceberg. Where is the right-wing reach among newspapers? Deeper still, where is the reach in the intelligentsia, in textbooks that are taught to kids?
Of course there have been many missed opportunities, but you can’t deny the real progress that has been made.
The fact remains that you simply cannot compare the power of 58 years of ‘secular’ rule to 11 years of BJP rule. The first 48 of those 58 years were near uninterrupted. The right meanwhile has had two brushes with power: 6 years of Vajpayee and 5 years of Modi, with 10 years of Sonia between them. Once the UPA came to power, it was a simple matter for them to wipe out the few seedlings planted between 1998 and 2004.
The problem with the Indian right is that it has always been in ‘survival mode’, always thinking about the next election. This is not surprising, because survival had been their topmost concern for 5-6 decades. Sometimes literally.
It’s like the brain of a deer on the Serengeti. Always running from predators, too preoccupied with surviving the next half hour to plan ahead.
With sustained power comes the confidence to do big things. The Right Wing and its supporters need patience.