Over the last two months, the world has been plunged into a pandemic, a global economic crisis and quite possibly a deep recession. Entire nations are on lockdown, countries have closed their borders, thousands of people have died and there is mayhem in stock markets.
Chances are that by now you have heard of the coronavirus. Because nobody is talking of anything else. But what are the chances you have heard anyone mention recently that the coronavirus began from Wuhan city in Hubei province of China? Remember?
Indeed, scan the news reports. You would be hard pressed to find a mention of that. Everyone seems to have forgotten that this disaster happened because the Chinese government failed to spot the threat and contain its spread while there was still time. Instead, we are beginning to hear voices of admiration for the Chinese government and how well they have done in protecting their citizens.
Okay, so 3000 deaths and 80,000 infections later, apparently China has done an admirable job. That’s global media for you.
Instead, India has become the whipping boy for global media! Why? What did we do?
Oh, that’s right. We said that persecuted Hindus from certain Islamic states could seek refuge in India. For this innocuous act, India has faced a tsunami of criticism across the world. Labels like “Nazi”, “Hitler”, “Fascist” are being hurled at our country and its elected leaders. After the Delhi riots happened, “genocide” and “pogrom” were added to the list of words being hurled at us.
In a recent article in the Mint, Manu Joseph suggested some reasons why the story of a majority often fails to convince the world, as with Hindus of India who failed to make their case on the global stage. I would argue that the reality is far worse. It is not like global media always roots for whoever is perceived to be the minority, the underdog. Otherwise, we would see newspapers talking every day about the persecution of Hindus in Pakistan.
There are no general reasons here. It seems India and Hindus have been victims of a targeted vilification campaign, tailor made by the global liberal establishment.
Let me quickly run you through some anecdotal evidence. In his now viral Youtube segment, American comedian John Oliver called Modi a “symbol of hate.” Strong words! Oliver has not used such language for any other democratically elected leader in the world. In fact, he has not even used such language while speaking of the most authoritarian leaders in the world, such as Turkey’s Erdogan who denies the Armenian genocide. Not even while describing North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un.
You can’t argue that this is just a coincidence that the leader of the world’s largest democracy gets hit with language that is not used even for the dictator of North Korea nor the Supreme Leader of Iran nor the King of Saudi Arabia.
We were just talking about China, weren’t we? Well, according to Michael Bloomberg who just dropped out of the US Presidential race, China’s Xi Jinping is not even a dictator.
I wonder if Bloomberg News is connected to any news portals in India and how they have described PM Modi over the years.
Take the case of Senator Bernie Sanders, who is among the top two contenders for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Of late, Sanders has been brutal in his criticism of India, both after the abrogation of Article 370 and the Delhi riots. His Pakistani-American campaign chief Faiz Shakir claims here that Sanders would call out any perceived injustice to minorities anywhere, whether by a Prime Minister in India, Israel or Pakistan.
First of all, we did nothing wrong in Kashmir. Second, it’s none of their business. Third, I googled to see if Bernie Sanders had ever criticized Pakistan. Nothing. There’s nothing even on the (long) Wikipedia page on political positions of Bernie Sanders.
So what do we conclude? That Pakistan has been fair in its treatment of minorities?
Folks, these are not coincidences. India is being targeted.
And this should concern you as an Indian, even if you are someone with a Hindu name who hates Modi. Because you will be just as much a victim of this global hate campaign.
For example, see how the global left got together against Tulsi Gabbard because she dared to mention Hinduphobia. She was responding to a tweet describing the experience of a common person in the US, who was faced with hate speech from her Uber driver for being a Hindu.
Think about it. Even if you are a fiercely anti-Modi Indian liberal who uses words like “genocide” and “pogrom” to describe Delhi riots, surely you will agree that innocent Hindus should not face hate speech over it in the US. What if random Muslims were faced with such hate speech speech over 9/11 attacks, 26/11 attacks or Pulwama attack? Would you not be outraged?
But observe how calmly the global left wanted Hindus to swallow the hate speech faced by them.
This multi-pronged anti-Hindu hate campaign likely draws its strength from three different sources.
(1) The first is ideological. This is pure Hinduphobia. The two largest Abrahamic faiths are united in their dislike for the world’s biggest pagan religion. They are joined in this hate by the Communists, who have all the essential traits of another Abrahamic religion. They will stop at nothing to erase us.
Together, they systematically vilify everything with an association to Hindus, vague or otherwise, from Hanuman stickers to something as obviously secular as the saree. Notice how the Catholic Church neatly erased its collaboration with Mussolini’s Fascist Party. The Communists erased from memory their military alliance with Hitler in the joint invasion of Poland. The Hindus were left explaining the peaceful swastika, when Hitler never even used the term. He called it a “hooked cross”. But you can’t have folks remembering that people of the “cross” had something do with Nazism. Even if every Nazi soldier in WW2 wore a belt with the words “Gott mitt uns” (God with us).
(2) The second is pure jealousy. India is now the fifth largest economy in the world. And that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. India is now ahead of both France and the UK. In less than five years, it will surpass Germany. This is an unsettling thought for many more people than we can imagine. And they seek out emotional security in believing the worst about India.
Just today, Jim O’Neill, the former boss of Goldman Sachs, said thank god the virus did not start “somewhere like India.”
Excuse me? The virus began in China and then it was Europeans who messed up completely. But when it comes to finding a metaphor for messing up, Jim O’Neill seeks out India!
If someone with as much global outlook and vision can have such deep seated prejudices against India, think about the average BBC minion, trained in colonialism.
(3) The third is sponsored. India’s politics is now international, a natural corollary of India becoming the world’s fifth largest economy. This means sinister international forces are on the prowl, with billions of dollars at their disposal, trying to influence Indian politics.
Valuations in the Indian stock market may be cheap at this moment, but intellectuals always are. A billion dollars can buy a whole lot of “original thought.”
So where do we go from here? Well, there are three things I can say.
(1) First, India can tap into its readily available network of expats all around the world, present in every population center from Paris to Podunk, Pennsylvania. These are hard working, high achievers who have created only prosperity for themselves and their host countries. They are welcome everywhere. We Indians have to treat this constituency as a strategic asset and use it effectively to further our interests and narrative.
(2) Second, India has to start investing real dollars into cultivating an international lobby among so called intellectuals. While we may loathe the idea, we have to do the practical thing. Intellectuals exist for a reason. And like everyone else in the world, they do not work for free. If we don’t pay them, someone else will pay them to come up with “original” thoughts on why Hanuman stickers are a symbol of rising Nazi like ideology.
(3) Third, we have to make peace with the fact that some of these problems will go away on their own. The Chinese too went through a period of intense “hazing” by the international media before they were accepted as a superpower. We are probably going to go through a similar period. The world is not nice to new entrants at the power table.
Come to think of it, we have experienced this problem before. Twenty years ago, we Hindus could not even tell our stories to other Indians, let alone outside India. Remember the helplessness of those years when liberals dominated every word in popular media?
Things have definitely changed. We Hindus made it happen. We now have to take it to the next level and tell our story to the world.