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Rana Ayyub, Barkha Dutt and the funeral pyre of journalism: How western media has attacked Modi Sarkar in 7 years of its rule

As their credibility was taking a hit, the international media outlets pulled out another arrow from the quiver to target the Modi government. They identified chronic Modi haters in the Indian journalistic fraternity and provided them with their platform to peddle propaganda against the Indian government.

26 May 2021 marks the seventh anniversary of the Modi government in power. This day, exactly seven years ago, Narendra Modi won a landslide victory in the 2014 General Assembly elections, and was sworn in as the 15th prime minister of the world’s largest democracy, in a spectacular ceremony held in Delhi.

Modi’s election to the Centre was particularly momentous, given that it was for the first time in 3 decades that a single party won the majority seats to form the government at the Centre. BJP racked up a stunning 282 seats on its own. This was the highest number of seats won by any party on its own since the 1984 Lok Sabha elections, when the Congress, led by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi won a decisive victory.

Technically, it was the fourth time that the BJP had managed to win power at the Centre (3 times before Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in power), but by far the most potent one. Armed with a thumping majority and PM Modi’s nationalist credentials, the government set about to banish the state of sluggishness that had become a hallmark of the UPA-II years.

By contrast, PM Modi’s administration infused a new energy in governance, policy-making and its implementation. India saw a decisive leadership at its helm that did not flinch from taking tough but necessary measures to redirect the country’s trajectory towards growth and development.

Key initiatives such as Swachh Bharat Mission, Demonetisation, Make in India, FDI, Startup India & Mudra Yojna, Digital India, Ayushmaan Bharat, Expansion of electricity and road and many others demonstrated the government’s willingness and resolve to usher the country in the era of development.

Even on the nationalist front, the Modi government displayed that the government was no longer tolerate the terror attacks that had their roots in neighbouring countries. While the UPA-II exhibited shocking pusillanimity in refraining from attacking Pakistan after the dastardly Mumbai 26/11 attacks, PM Modi authorised an audacious surgical strikes against the terror launchpads responsible for sending terrorists that carried out Uri terror attack.

Before striking on India’s western borders, the Indian Armed Forces carried out a similar surgical strikes to eliminate the terrorists hiding in the thick forests of Myanmar. Years later, in 2019, the Modi government sanctioned an unprecedented airstrike in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan, to annihilate a terror camp operated by Jaish-e-Muhammad in response to the Pulwama terror attack.

Additionally, the Modi administration was unapologetic about its Hindutva moorings. It took great pride in its cultural identity and historical traditions, something that the previous UPA regimes and the Congress party had always scorned and despised. The Modi government also stopped the minority appeasement and called out the threat posed by the menace of Islamic radicalism.

The departure of Congress from the centre and the old prejudices fuels Western media’s propaganda blitz against the Modi government

The Modi government’s bold governance moves, radical defence measures, and growing assertiveness about its socio-cultural identity ran counter to the beliefs held by the Congress party, and by extension their allies in the western media. For the first time in a decade, there was a government at the centre that kept the country’s interest above its political self-preservation. The fact that Modi won with a clear majority only served to embolden his government’s resolve to pursue national interests.

Modi showed little regard for the worn-out policies followed by the Congress governments for decades since India’s independence. Neither did he seek validation for the decisions he took from the all but powerful western media, which had grown accustomed to the subservience of the Congress party. Instead, he stripped the media organisations, both Indian and the Western, of the privilege they had come to enjoy under the Congress government.

The relationship between the western media and PM Modi has long been vitiated by old prejudices. Since the days he was the chief minister of Gujarat in 2002, when the horrifying train burning incident took place, resulting in the widespread Hindu-Muslim riots in its wake, the western media, and the Congress stooges working in those organisations, have meticulously painted a grim picture of Narendra Modi.

He was constantly criticised in the western media for his alleged role in inciting the riots, even though the Supreme Court of India had given him a clean chit. Later, when he assumed the Prime Minister Office in May 2014, the Western media criticism of India and PM Modi only grew sharper.

Ever since Modi came to power in 2014, a concerted attempt was made by the western media outlets to weaken his government and make a case for Congress’ return to power, for PM Modi had made it amply clear that he would not be meek, docile and gullible as the previous UPA regimes. A vicious campaign was run against him to stop his government from pursuing their policies.

The western media constantly subjected him to relentless attacks, in a bid to cast him as a pariah in their respective countries and to sully his reputation back in India. The attacks against PM Modi would then be cited by Congress and other opposition parties to highlight how the Modi government was being criticised globally.

In a sense, there was a symbiotic relationship between the Congress party and the western media outlets. This anti-Modi crusade in the western media was led by journalists and academicians who were Congress sympathisers and harboured pathological hatred towards PM Modi. They desperately yearned for a Congress government at the centre, which was more amenable to their propaganda than the Modi government.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Rahul Gandhi routinely begs for help from the west to dislodge the Modi government. His video conferences with the so-called intellectuals from the west is also another exercise to discredit the Modi government. However, it is a different thing that those conferences only end up exposing Rahul Gandhi and the so-called intellectuals.

Modi government subjected to unwarranted attacks by the International Media

The policy decisions taken by the Modi government is vigorously slammed in the western media outlets. Even measures taken to establish deterrence against terrorists witness scathing criticism. While the United States could bomb the hell out of the Middle East to pursue their pet project of ‘establishing democracy’ in the region, India is castigated for simply protecting its sovereignty and stopping terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

Countless articles were written terming the Surgical strikes carried out by India’s Armed Forces as figment of Indian government’s imagination. While they asked the Indian government to furnish the proof for the attacks, never did once the articles included evidence that could have proved that the surgical strikes never happened. When the Indian government did release the evidence, the journalists cried themselves hoarse claiming that the Modi government was using retaliatory attacks against terrorists to burnish its nationalistic credentials.

Propaganda peddled by Indian left-leaning liberals was instantly lapped up by the western liberal bastions such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian and several other news publications, which offered space to Modi criticism without critically evaluating the legitimacy of it. The liberals in India gave up the awards and recognition they had received in the past to oppose the “rising intolerance” under the Modi government. The western media followed the suit and accused the Centre of spawning intolerance across the country.

The reports cited dubious a ‘hate tracker’ that selectively included only hate crimes when the victim was a non-Hindu and the perpetrator a Hindu. In fact, the ‘hate tracker’ was so misleading that it excluded religiously motivated crimes committed against Hindus by non-Hindus but included even those cases that had no religious undertones but where the victim was a non-Hindu and the assailant was a Hindu.

These articles were published to tarnish the image of PM Modi, to paint him as a leader who allowed the Hindu nationalists across the country have free rein to act as per their whims and fancies. But the attempts fell flat as people saw through their treachery and the ‘hate tracker’ was finally pulled down.

As their credibility was taking a hit, the international media outlets pulled out another arrow from the quiver to target the Modi government. They identified chronic Modi haters in the Indian journalistic fraternity and provided them with their platform to peddle propaganda against the Indian government. The objective, perhaps, was to restore credibility by getting Indians residing in India to pillory the Indian government.

However, the western media outlets roped in disgraced Indian journalists for this endeavour. Perhaps, the west has always sought damsel in distress in the Oriental world to articulate fiction about the brown world’ sufferings. It was Arundhati Roy before, now it is Rana Ayyub, Barkha Dutt, and many others.

Washington Post elevates discredited journalist Rana Ayyub for its propaganda war against PM Modi

Journalist Rana Ayyub was long consigned to the fringes of India’s journalistic firmament for her dubious reporting practices. Ms Ayyub shot to fame for her ‘investigative journalism’ following the 2002 Gujarat riots. She tried to pass off a fictional story as an investigative story to implicate PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in the riots case, but it was summarily rejected by her then-employer, Tehelka Magazine.

Discouraged by this, she published a book called ‘Gujarat Files’, which earned the distinction of being trashed by the Supreme Court as a book based upon surmises, conjectures, and suppositions with no evidentiary value.

But her dubious journalistic credentials did not stop the west from glorifying her. The New Yorker writer Dexter Filkins profiled her for an article dissing the Indian government’s move to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. The Washington Post co-opted her in their campaign against the Modi government by enlisting her as a Global Opinions Writer. And instantly, Ayyub was elevated as the toast of the western world on all topics concerning India.

She continued assailing PM Modi and the central government in her columns that were replete with conjectures and suppositions rather than cold hard facts. She was even accused of plagiarism but that did not prevent a host of news channels and media organisations around the world to treat her as an authoritative source on all matters in India.

Washington Post co-opts Barkha Dutt for its anti-Modi coverage

The Washington Post also employed another disgraced journalist Barkha Dutt to continue with its anti-Modi propaganda. Dutt is known for her questionable coverage of the Kargil war and the Mumbai 26/11 attacks, and her involvement in the Radia tape scam when audio conversations of her brokering ministerial berths in the UPA-II regime with famous lobbyist Nira Radia were released in the public domain.

Dutt was eventually pushed to obscurity because of her highly condemnable journalistic practices. But despite her shallow journalistic credentials, Dutt was co-opted as a contributing writer by the Washington Post.

And since then, Dutt has not missed a single opportunity to mount a propaganda blitz against the Modi government. Not only did she write censorious articles against PM Modi and his government in the Washington Post, but she also criticised the government on other western media platforms. Recently, Dutt tried to milk her father’s death by indulging in tragedy porn and attacking the Modi government.

Dutt’s father was treated in one of the best hospitals in the country after he was down with COVID-19. He received all the facilities and key antiviral drug required to combat the infection. Yet, Barkha slammed the Indian government on international media channels for not being able to save his father’s life.

Dutt also resorted to theatrics during her coverage of the recent coronavirus outbreak in the country. From camping outside civil hospitals to crematoriums, Barkha shared her pictures where she sat on an upturned tin can and placed her laptop on upturned plastic dustbins to bring us a ground report. It was not lost on many that Barkha was trying to exaggerate the pandemic and paint a grim picture about India’s preparedness to deal with the contagion.

Business interests of Amazon at the centre of attacks against PM Modi by Jeff Bezos owned Washington Post?

It is worth noting that the Washington Post is owned by American business magnate Jeff Bezos, who is the founder and CEO of the multinational technology company Amazon. The business interests of Amazon in a thriving economy like India and which has a population of over 1.4 billion cannot be overstated.

Amazon faces stiff competition from the likes of Flipkart, Snapdeal and other online portals that have recently cropped up in India after the Centre’s push for digitisation. Therefore, it could not be considered beyond the realm of possibilities that Jeff Bezos was using his one business entity to shore up another business entity.

The use of Washington Post to relentlessly attack the Modi government might be an attempt by the American behemoth Amazon to force the Indian government to stack the deck in its favour. India has refrained from exhibiting any favour or disliking for foreign entities operating in the country. With the rising competition and the growth potential that India holds, the ceaseless attacks by the Washington Post against the Centre could be aimed at extracting a favourable deal to brighten Amazon’s business prospects in the country.

The duplicity of western media over India’s COVID crisis and its unhealthy fetish with burning funeral pyres

Never has been the duplicity of the western media more stark than in its coverage of India’s coronavirus outbreak. Even though India had successfully warded off the initial bout of the coronavirus outbreak, the west tried to portray that the government failed in controlling the infection. Towards the start of the pandemic in 2020, the western media faulted the Indian government for instituting one of the strictest lockdowns in the world.

It argued that the coronavirus-induced lockdown had brought unspeakable hardships to the people. Migrant labours streaming back to their villages, economic downturn, rising coronavirus cases were cited to assert that the Modi government had failed in handling the pandemic.

Now, when India was struck with the resurgent coronavirus outbreak, the western media pivoted and asked PM Modi to introduce strict lockdown. The western media outlets wasted no time in using the opportunity to rail against the Modi government. The COVID-19 pandemic disclosed the western media’s morbid obsession of linking India’s COVID-19 outbreak with funeral pyres.

Several media organisations, be it Washington Post or Reuters, posted pictures of funeral pyres from various places in India to highlight the severity of the pandemic. One of the Washington Post journalists even described a cremation ground’s vertical shot as “stunning”.

Where there are deaths, there are obviously going to be funeral pyres. When the pandemic took its devastating toll on the US, Italy, Brazil and other western countries, there were hardly any media organisations that symbolised the outbreak with the images of burial grounds. However, this indignity of linking the COVID-19 outbreak with funeral pyres is reserved only for Indians, and it smacks of the west’s envy of India, which was remarkably successful in staving off the initial COVID-19 outbreak when the developed and richer countries of the world were finding it incredibly difficult to control it.

The vilification of Kumbh Mela as ‘super-spreader’ event of COVID-19

The western media outlets studiously blamed the Kumbh Mela gathering for the resurgent coronavirus outbreak, even though the farmers’ protests continued unabated. They held the Kumbh Mela responsible for the spread of the contagion while giving a free pass to the ‘farmers’ protests that have been happening for months along Delhi’s borders.

Even though analysts and epidemiologists claimed that the new surge of the COVID-19 cases in India could be attributed to the UK strain, which they claimed could have spread because of the protests carried out by the so-called farmers, the International media outlets continued blaming the Kumbh Mela for the rapid spread of the virus. This, when preventive measures were put in place to stop the spread of the virus during the Kumbh Mela.

There has been a litany of articles in the western media outlets where the Kumbh Mela gathering is held responsible for the recent spurt in the coronavirus cases in the country. However, hardly a few articles attribute the rise in coronavirus cases to the ongoing ‘farmers’ protests in Delhi and the adjoining areas.

It has been seven years since PM Modi came to power at the centre, two years since he retained the power in the 2019 General elections. Over the years, the international media has shown its unhealthy alacrity to mount a smear campaign against the Modi government, which has only intensified as the years progressed. It is still three years for the 2024 General assembly elections, But if history is anything to go by, the Modi government should prepare itself to fend off shriller attacks from the International Media.

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Jinit Jain
Engineer. Writer. Learner.

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