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US journalist Fareed Zakaria, whose father was a Congress minister, rants against Modi and India, cites debunked reports to lecture on ‘democracy’

He advocated for (the US govt) to ally with India's businesses, press, NGOs, and cultural groups, indirectly hinting that the US government should invest in regime change tactics instead of seeking healthy bilateral relations with India.

On June 25 (local time), CNN released an episode of India-born US journalist Fareed Zakaria titled ‘The Decay of Democracy in India‘. In the almost 6:30 minutes video, Zakaria talked extensively about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official State Visit to the US and urged the US government to interfere in India’s internal affairs directly. Quoting Barkha Dutt initially, Zakaria claimed India would never become America’s ally no matter how warmly the US embraces it; thus, the US “should not succumb to irrational exuberance about the two countries’ relations”.

According to him, the reason was India’s focus on its own national interest insinuating that the ideal ally of the US should prioritize US interests above its own interests. Zakaria gave the example of India’s refusal to condemn Russia’s military action against Ukraine and presented it as if it was wrong of India to think about its own people and not accepting the West’s commands.

Siding with the West is unnecessary for India, and the government has made it clear multiple times.

Minister of External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar has said in reply to media queries and during interviews that India has to look for the interest of its 130 crore population. Stating siding with the West is not necessary for India, Dr. Jaishankar then pointed out that before pressuring India not to buy Russia’s cheap crude oil, Western countries should look at their own purchases from Russia that were much higher.

He advocated for (the US govt) to ally with India’s businesses, press, NGOs, and cultural groups, indirectly hinting that the US government should invest in regime change tactics instead of seeking healthy bilateral relations with India.

Irrational claims on India’s foreign policy

Zakaria then claimed that India has given “little emphasis on foreign policy” and devoted its energies to managing the complexity of its own society that is based on “thousands of castes and communities, dozens of major languages and huge regional diversity”. While India is concentrating on its people first, it is astonishing to see a journalist with “international expertise” miss how India has worked extensively on its foreign policy.

For the first time in 75 years, the world is looking at India as a leader. India has shown its power as a possible supply chain hub, foreign investment hub, and world leader. When the West neglected the developing nations during a pandemic, it was India that came forward to help them with vaccines and more. Because of India’s reformed foreign policy, even Western countries are looking at India’s leadership to solve international issues like the Russia-Ukraine war.

Zakaria then gave a lecture to India on developing foreign policy based on Western ideas of “democracy” even if “it won’t be feasible in every case to apply them”. Basically, Zakaria wants India to follow the rules set by the Western countries without mincing a word, even if it goes against the interest of its people. An emerging world power like India that believes in ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’, how feasible or right will it be not to think about its own interests just to satisfy a handful of Western countries? It is not, and it will never be.

India needs to stick to its stand strongly without bending the rules to please anyone. If we had done this in the past few years, we might have ended up buying all the vaccines from the West and paying almost double the price of the oil that we are now paying.

Zakaria quoted dubious reports against India

Zakaria then quoted “think tanks” like V Dem, claiming, “India no longer ranks as a democracy at all”. He claimed that the Indian Government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not treating the minorities properly. He said the press, the judiciary and other independent agencies of the democratic system are saying so, and “many of these critiques are accurate”. Running the same propaganda repeatedly does not work, and the likes of Zakaria have to understand it.

Since PM Modi came to power, there has been a standard propaganda being run by the opposition parties, NGOs, and so-called civil society that minorities, especially Muslims, are not safe in India. Think tanks and organizations like V Dam, Reporters Without Borders, and Genocide Watch have made irrational claims. Based on their claims, other anti-India organizations have spread misleading reports and half-baked information in media and social media.

For example, OpIndia recently rubbished the ‘Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom Ranking of India, which stood at 161 out of 180 countries. We found that the ranking was based on old misleading reports, dubious data on ad spending by the Indian government and more. Our detailed report can be checked here.

Furthermore, OpIndia has debunked claims of V Dem, a George Soros-funded think tank, that can be checked here. Organizations like Genocide Watch have used disinformation on CAA and NRC to claim India is against Muslim citizens, which is false and planned propaganda against India. CAA was never meant for Indian Muslims, and the government of India has not even released a draft of the national NRC.

Zakaria then moved ahead and admitted that the “elite liberals” in India are disconnected from the roots. Quoting former US ambassador to India, John Kenneth Goldbreath, he said the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, once told him that he was the “last Englishman” to rule India. He rightly said that the “founders” created the country based on the values drawn from the British and the West. This is what Prime Minister Narendra Modi aims to end.

Recently, the Government of India has started an initiative to break the shackles of slavery that India still has around it from the British rulers. Installing Subhash Chandra Bose’s statue and renaming Raj Marg to Kartavya Path is just the beginning. India is revisiting History and bringing unsung heroes to the mainstream. This is what is hurting people like Zakaria and the liberal “jamaat” of India.

Zakaria said, “I sometimes wonder whether all these countries are revealing that the values of an open society, pluralism, tolerance, secularism, were an import from the era of the West’s dominance in the world and that the erosion with these ideas is gradually revealing a more authentic, less tolerant nationalism.”

Zakaria urged US government to meddle in India’s internal affairs

He then urged the Biden administration not to “lecture” PM Modi on human rights as it would backfire. Of course, it will backfire. America and the West have no right to lecture anyone, especially India, on human rights. He said, “That would backfire not only with him but also with most Indians who would resent Western bullies.”

However, Zakaria believes it will be “Far better to ally with India’s society itself, expanding ties with its businesses, press, NGOs, cultural groups and others.” This is where the problem starts. The elites, liberals and even the opposition in India think that it is okay to ask foreign nations to meddle with India’s internal affairs. They find it okay to use businesses, the press, NGOs, cultural groups and more to spread their agenda in India.

Take the example of George Soros. He has pledged a billion dollars to remove PM Modi from power. He is funding NGOs, media, and cultural groups directly or indirectly in India. Individuals and organizations like him are why the Indian government is sensitive towards foreign funds coming into India via FCRA and other means. When the government tightens the rules or takes action on organizations and media houses for trying to influence Indians as part of international propaganda, they intensify the attack. Misinformation and disinformation are the biggest tools to establish anti-government sentiments, and this is what these individuals and organizations are doing.

Interestingly, opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi are riding the same boat. During his US visit, Gandhi recently called for the direct intervention of foreign powers in India’s affairs. For what? Just to get back into power. The vested interests of the opposition leaders give way to a sinister plan against India which they are obviously ignoring to address.

India is progressing to become a 5 trillion economy. While the West is pacing towards inevitable recession, India has managed to keep it at bay. Free ration, housing, electricity, and LPG, along with better roads, infrastructure, free healthcare, tap water, toilets, and cheap medicines, are only a handful of offerings from the current government to the people of India.

Zakaria’s father was a Congressman

While Zakaria spoke the language of left liberals, it has to be noted that his father, Rafiq Zakaria, was a Congressman and an Islamic religious cleric. He had served as a cabinet minister in the Maharashtra government and later served as deputy to Indira Gandhi, then-leader of the Congress Party in the Lok Sabha.

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B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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