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The New Worry of Depleting Journalistic Ethics: Suhasini Haidar lies in her The Hindu oped about India’s diplomatic ties

A juvenile, lie-ridden and shoddy explainer from none other than the National Editor and Diplomatic Affairs Editor of The Hindu is a shocker and only proves that India's "new worry", as Suhasini puts it is not of "depleting diplomatic capital" but the depleting ethics and intelligence of Indian journalists.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

Suhasini Haidar, the National Editor and Diplomatic Affairs Editor of The Hindu published an article today headlined “The new worry of depleting diplomatic capital” indicating that “It would be a gross misreading by India to dismiss global reactions to its domestic events as interference in its affairs”. Essentially, the op-ed by Suhasini Haidar argued that with respect to Kashmir, Citizenship Amendment Act etc, India should take note of adverse reactions from the USA and other countries as it indicates the growing disenchantment with India.

However, in The Hindu’s bid to malign the Modi government and questions its diplomatic and foreign policy prowess while undermining its national interest decision domestically, Suhasini Haidar ends up peddling several blatant lies.

Lie 1: Number of Democrats present at Howdy Modi

Suhasini Haidar writes (emphasis ours):

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“The impact of these policies has been most keenly felt in ties with the U.S., where bipartisan support for India has been the norm for at least two decades. The whittling away of Democrat support was evident early on during the “Howdy Modi” event in September 2019, where only three out of the two dozen lawmakers at the event were from the Democratic Party; the party, especially under Mr Obama, had been very supportive of the Modi government”.

Suhasini Haidar says that the failing diplomatic ties of India are evident from the fact that only 2 out of the dozen lawmakers present at the Howdy Modi event at Houston, Texas were from the Democratic Party.

However, the assertion itself is far from the truth. There were not two, but 7 lawmakers present at the Howdy Modi event who were from the Democratic Party.

The list of lawmakers who attended the Howdy Modi event was tweeted by journalist Tanvi Madan.

From the list, there are 6 lawmakers who are from the Democratic Party. The lawmakers are:

1. Rep. Steny Hoyer ( D- Maryland) Majority leader in the house of Representatives
2. Rep Caroline Maloney (D- New York)
3. Rep Sheila Lee Jackson (D- Texas)
4. Rep Danny Davis (D- Illinois)
5. Rep Raja Krishnamurthy (D- Illinois)
6. Rep Tom Suozzy ( D- New York)

The details can also be read in this article.

An Seventh Democratic Party representative, Al Green pulled out from attending the Howdy Modi event not because of his imaginary opposition to Prime Minister Modi but because of his domestic political reasons. That fact is evidenced by the statement published on his official website.

A statement issued by Al Green

Al Green made clear that him not attending the Howdy Modi event was because of his opposition to President Donald Trump and had nothing to do with India, its domestic policies or Prime Minister Modi.

It is thus interesting that Suhasini Haider would not only lie blatantly but also insinuate, based on her lie that the diplomatic relations between India and the USA have deteriorated based on her lie.

Read: After Republican President Trump attends Howdy Modi, major Democrat donor George Soros meets Imran Khan

What is also interesting is that Suhanisi Haidar doesn’t seem to realise that diplomatic relations between two countries often does not solely depend on the party in power but the benefits that the countries can mutually draw from each other.

Lie 2: Adverse statements issued by bipartisan committees and Pramila Jayapal as a marker that diplomatic ties have worsened

Suhasini Haidar makes it sound like the statements and resolutions against the decision of India in Kashmir to abrogate Article 370 and to pass CAA have some sort of official sanction from the government of the USA.

As regards the comments by the House of Representatives, a resolution is not put up to President for signature. It only conveys the sense of the house if voted to by a majority of the members of the house of representatives. Resolution of Rep. Jayapal is only in the house of representatives and at the moment has only 2 Republican cosponsors. One is Steve Watkins whose election to the House is being probed and the other is the Chair of the Pakistan Caucus in the House, official sources have confirmed.

Read: From ridiculous conspiracy theories to incredulous lies: 12 lies spread by The New Yorker in its anti-Modi propaganda piece

Resolutions are never put up to the President of the United States. They remain in the record/proceedings of the house or senate from where it originated.

Official sources have confirmed to OpIndia that at the moment, only the House Foreign Affairs Committee has put out statements or tweets. The Tom Lantos Commission is not a committee of the House of Representatives. It is also wrong to say that the State Department has issued statements of concern. Anyone who witnessed the 2+2 press conference and headed Secretary Pompeo would verify that. This was further substantiated in the briefing by the Assistant Secretary.

Lie 3: Lie by omission – The Congress era

The Congress regime from 2004 to 2014 had seen some similar statements against their policies as well. The cacophony right now is arguably louder because the steps taken by the Modi government in the national interest are also far bigger, however, such statements are not new.

With India’s economy slumping, when then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was set to meet then-President Obama, Bill Antholis, managing director of The Brookings Institution and a former economic adviser in the Clinton administration had said, “What you essentially have is a politically weak, compromised, lame-duck prime minister”.

In 2010, USA had accused India of stealing jobs of Americans and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had tried to assuage those fears.

In 2012, A letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from organisations such as the CBI, the US National Foreign Trade Council and Japan Foreign Trade Council says tax proposals call into question the rule of law, due process, and fair treatment in India”.

Read: Ministry of External Affairs gives a scathing rebuttal to the USCIRF over its unwarranted threats on Citizenship Amendment Bill

Human Rights Watch in 2008 had raised serious concerns over India’s FCRA rules. It had said, “Both the existing Act and the proposed Bill are in clear breach of international human rights law and other international standards. Instead of being in the company of other democracies, the FCRA and FCRB leave the world’s largest democracy in the company of a number of autocratic states well known for their restrictive policies towards nongovernmental organizations and for their poor respect for freedom of association”.

In fact, in 2008, The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has urged President George Bush to raise concerns about religious freedom in India with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“The US government can and should urge the Indian central government to make more vigorous and effective efforts to stem violence against religious minority communities,” Commission Chair Felice D. Gaer had said in a letter to Bush.

Read: No right to question India when its own closet is brimming with skeletons: Here is why USCIRF should back off on CAA

The letter had urged Bush to ask Manmohan Singh “to ensure the immediate security of Indian citizens – security that is undermined by recurrent attacks on religious minorities and communities”. “If India is to exercise global leadership as the largest and perhaps most pluralistic democracy in the world, Prime Minister Singh should demonstrate his government’s commitment to upholding the basic human rights obligations to which it has agreed, including the protection of religious minorities,” Gaer had said.

Suggesting that the “Indian government’s response to the egregious violence in Orissa remains inadequate”, USCIRF said in its view, “the severity and extent of these attacks warrant a national-level investigation and response”.

While this is only the tip of the ice-berg, the point is that such statements have always emanated from the West as often, the West is incapable of understanding the unique dynamics and needs of India. However, the FCRA rules, for example, were passed as what is necessary for National Security must be done regardless of motivated Western cacophony. Similar is the case with the Modi government and steps such as Article 370 and CAA, however, propagandists like Suhasini Haidar have failed to take this aspect into consideration while deriding India and the Modi government.

Lie 4: India impervious to Ms Hasina’s repeated requests for help in the Rohingya refugee issue

Suhasini Haidar in her report writes (emphasis ours):

Some in Sheikh Hasina’s government has pointed out that the Modi government’s desire to naturalise only one group of immigrants from Bangladesh but castigate the others as “illegal immigrants” and “termites” cannot but be seen in a communal light. If India’s motivation was compassion for the religiously persecuted, they ask, then why was the Modi government so impervious to Ms Hasina’s repeated requests for help in the Rohingya refugee issue?

This is an outright lie and least expected from a journalist of Haidar’s standing. India has extended timely help to Bangladesh and even Myanmar as far as the Rohingya crisis is concerned.

Read: Here’s why Amit Shah was right when he said Rohingyas will never be accepted in India and UNHRC cannot object

In fact, India extending help to Bangladesh as far as the Rohingya crisis is concerned was reported by The Hindu as well.

2018 story by The Hindu

Interestingly, in a story reported by Suhasini Haidar herself, it was detailed how India is helping the Rohingya crisis.

The Hindu story by Suhasini Haidar

Speaking to OpIndia, officials in response to the article by Suhasini Haidar said, “India was not impervious to the humanitarian situation – Indian assistance was timely and adequate”.

Read: Rohingyas are a threat to national and regional security, says Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina

Interestingly, it must be noted that Suhasini has long believed that extremist Rohingyas must be accepted by India as refugees and India has clarified that we will not be doing that. Not only do Rohingya’s pose a real security threat, but they enter through Islamic Bangladesh and not Myanmar thereby not making them persecuted minorities.

Lie 5: USCIRF wanting to impose “sanctions” on Amit Shah can lead to trouble for India

Suhasini Haidar says, “First, not all statements and resolutions are empty rhetoric, and could lead to worrisome measures against India. The U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has already recommended sanctions be considered for Home Minister Amit Shah and other officials. While this may be considered an extreme step, even laughable, it must be remembered that it was the USCIRF that first recommended a visa ban against Mr Modi, as Gujarat Chief Minister, in 2005. To date, he remains the only individual worldwide sanctioned thus under the U.S.’s International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. In the U.S. Congress too, lawmakers can effectively block defence sales to India, or pursue sanctions on the S-400 missile system purchase from Russia, for example, regardless of support in the Trump administration for India”.

This is just classic fear-mongering by Suhasini Haidar to mislead unsuspecting readers into believing that India is being somehow cornered.

Read: US report blaming Hindutva for ‘rising intolerance’ is disingenuous, biased and motivated

Firstly, USCIRF is not recognised by India and the Commission has not been to India for over a decade. Therefore, the statements by USCIRF are just that – empty rhetoric.

Secondly, as mentioned earlier, Suhasini craftily hides the fact that USCIRF, a biased organisation, to begin with, has been making such statements since the time of Congress.

The Hindu itself has reported that USCIRF had put India on a ‘Watchlist‘ for religious intolerance and violence against minorities in 2009 under the Congress regime.

Hindu story from 2009

In fact, it was around the same time that Shah Rukh Khan was detained while travelling to Chicago and the incident had sparked widespread outrage after he was released following Diplomatic intervention.

Conclusion

Essentially, The Hindu op-ed by Suhasini Haidar is a masterclass in fear-mongering. The op-ed doesn’t aim to explain to readers real diplomatic terms or even foreign policy, but instil fear in the reader with regards to diplomatic relations to simply extort the Indian government into bowing to “liberal” and “secular” demands. A juvenile, lie-ridden and shoddy explainer from none other than the National Editor and Diplomatic Affairs Editor of The Hindu is a shocker and only proves that India’s “new worry”, as Suhasini puts it is not of “depleting diplomatic capital” but the depleting ethics and intelligence of Indian journalists.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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