This is an excerpt from Ravish Kumar’s speech on receiving the Ramon Magsaysay Award.
Did you see what he did there? He put Hong Kong and Kashmir in the same sentence. As if the two situations are somehow comparable.
It’s not just Ravish Kumar. Liberals are now routinely doing this. Taking advantage of the fact that both issues in both Hong Kong and Kashmir carry the same label of “special status.”
Now, Indian liberals have always benefited from running India down as a nation, as a people and as a civilization. While one Abrahamic religion looks to harvest our souls and another Abrahamic religion regards us an unfinished chapter in their conquests, the global market for making Hindus look bad is always hot and happening.
And when PM Modi won power in 2014, this liberal machinery, stung by irrelevance on the domestic front, went into the highest gear. But putting the democratically elected Govt of India with the scary Chinese dictatorship is a frightening new chapter in defaming India that liberals are trying to write here.
If you notice, their objectives and incentives are very similar to those of Pakistan. The Pakistanis know they cannot win one on one with India, which is why they strive to make Kashmir an international issue instead of a bilateral one. Indian liberals understand that their days of colonizing India are now over: they can’t win on the domestic front. They are trying to internationalize Kashmir as well; make Indian people ashamed of breathing, ashamed of voting and ashamed of trying to integrate their country.
Not to mention that they are trying to wipe out all memory that Hindus ever lived in Kashmir. Or that the lives of people in Jammu and Ladakh matter.
And so you get the typical liberal reportage on Kashmir. Everyone who is hit by a pellet gun just happens to be a studious school topper on their way to or from tuition classes. Every terrorist killed by the Army is the ‘son of a headmaster.’
Because these stories sell on the international stage. And now comparisons with China are being brought in to make India look even worse.
There are many layers to this hypocrisy though. Observe that your typical garden variety liberal will never engage in standalone criticism of China on any issue. So what if China is throwing millions of Muslim minorities into “re-education camps”? Liberals rarely mention that. Two reasons: first, liberals have a sense of nostalgia for Communist symbolism that the Chinese govt insists on still using. Second, liberalism makes money by assuaging people’s sense of guilt. The Chinese govt won’t let anybody guilt trip the Chinese people. And so liberals don’t set up shop there.
As if this needs mentioning, when you look under the hood of the term “special status,” it is immediate that Hong Kong and Kashmir are completely different situations.
The special status of Hong Kong refers to the right of citizens to express themselves freely. A fundamental human right that other Chinese citizens do not have. The Chinese government is now trying to force the people of Hong Kong to give up their freedoms.
In contrast, the special status of Kashmir refers to a form of apartheid that was practised towards other human beings. The special status of Kashmir was about keeping other Indian citizens out. The special status of Kashmir was about denying all rights to people of Jammu and Ladakh, by rigging the seat distribution in the state assembly. It was about denying property rights to women, reservation to tribal people and backward castes, putting homosexuals in jail. There are no words to describe the barbarism that was practised towards Valmiki people, who were not allowed to work as anything other than safai karamcharis. Shame!
Hong Kong is fighting for its own rights. Protesters in Kashmir want to take away the rights of other people. There is no comparison.
The protesters in Hong Kong are heroes. Like Martin Luther King facing the might of the state, demanding that all people should be equal. The protesters in Kashmir are more like the Ku Klux Klan. No comparison.
I am sure most liberals understand this concept easily. However, their interests are served by pretending that they don’t get it. That it’s all just special status.
Because, ultimately, their real target is always Hindus. When 44 of our jawans died in Pulwama, so many liberals made gaumutra jokes. Some made the mistake of openly cheering with “HowstheJaish”. They got caught. How many more were smiling in secret? When ISRO failed to achieve a soft landing for the Vikram rover, liberals mocked the Tirumala temple where scientists had prayed before the mission.
Are you seeing the common theme here? It is always Hindus who are on target.
Do you know what bothers our liberals? That despite everything, Hindu majority of India has remained a democracy. When it was created, the Muslim majority state of Pakistan was similar to us in every way except for one. But Pakistan became a failed state. Liberals always had a soft corner for Communists. But Communism collapsed in a heap and left millions of people dead.
Yet somehow, the Hindus of India have managed to keep their Republic together. Despite the many contradictions that liberals hoped would tear us apart. So many nations were decolonized and became independent after World War 2. Who is the most robust democracy of them all? India.
Liberals see this. India’s success is a rebuttal to all their prejudices against Hindus. That’s why they nip at our heels, calling up friends in Western publications to tell them that our democracy should be downgraded.
The need of the hour is to counter this. India’s global economic clout means that foreign governments won’t go against us on the face of it. But beneath the surface, liberals are fighting the narrative war for public opinion. And fighting very well. Let’s recognize this. We have the hard power on our side. But we are not doing well in the soft power game.
Off the top of my head, I can think of two basic things that we can do concretely. The first is to tap into the power of the Indian diaspora. On the people to people level, it is the diaspora which has the power, money and the reach to tell India’s story the way we Indians want it. For this, we need a synthesis between Indian diplomatic groups and NRI organizations to create lobbies that can influence everyone. Organizations that can show up to protest each time some human rights media loon wants to tell lies about Kashmir.
The other is to prop up a globally powerful media organization of the standard of BBC or CNN. Every major country in the world gets to tell its story their way. The French have France24 and the Germans have Deutsche Welle. Even Turkey has TRT world! And the tiny state of Qatar is able to influence the world through Al Jazeera. What is our answer?
The media battle is now as important as the diplomatic battle. It’s the new reality of our modern world. What are we doing to fight it?