A dangerous and vicious campaign to vilify India

India is civilisationally secular and democratic. Democracy and plurality go hand in hand in the country and provide the Indian society the vibrancy that one sees within it.

Published: 17th October 2022 01:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th October 2022 01:13 AM   |  A+A-

(Express illustrations | Soumyadip Sinha)

Several groups which are inimical to India’s interests have come together to put out a huge advertisement in a leading American newspaper which is full of innuendoes and falsehoods about India with a clear aim of creating social divisions and promoting unrest. 

The advertisement, which is supposedly “An Open Letter to the American People” and which is sponsored by American Muslim Institution, Association of Indian Muslims of America and some other such organisations, makes a vicious attack on India and says that Muslims, Christians and Sikhs face discrimination, frequent demolition of homes, businesses, mosques, churches and religious schools in the country. It adds that the Narendra Modi government is “attempting to illegally seize land and property set aside by Muslims for charitable purposes” and has severely restricted the “non-Hindu religious institutions to receive foreign contributions, which support care and education for underserved Indians”.

Further, this advertisement, published in the New York Times, makes the preposterous claim that “the Indian judiciary and police are filled with BJP/RSS loyalists and are doing little to nothing to stop atrocities against religious minorities.” This smacks of gross irresponsibility on the part of the newspaper which has published it. If it was an Indian newspaper, the editor and the publisher would most certainly be cooling their heels in Tihar Jail. 

Obviously, the sponsors are unaware or pretend to be unaware of the various judgments of the Supreme Court and several high courts upholding the fundamental rights of citizens, as they have always done. The entire advertisement is loaded with mischief and comes through as a deliberate attempt to run down the world’s most diverse society and the largest and most vibrant democracy.

The purpose of the advertisement appears to be to spread the lie that India is governed by a single political party—the Bharatiya Janata Party—that pursues policies inimical to religious minorities. This fallacy must be exposed because it attempts to hide the federal character of the Indian Constitution and the plural nature of not just the population but governance as well. The number of political parties represented in the Lok Sabha in the 1950s was 12. It has now risen to over 40 because of the extension of social and cultural diversity to the sphere of electoral politics. The truth that is often hidden by those who carry an anti-India agenda is the fact that India has 28 states and 2 union territories which have state assemblies and chief ministers. Of them, only 12 are ruled by the BJP. The remaining 18 are governed by a kaleidoscope of parties which range from communists, Christian parties, Muslim parties and a wide range of regional parties, most of whom have nothing in common with the BJP.

The other innuendo in the advertisement is that political power is wholly in the hands of the Hindu majority and that the Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and other religious minorities are subjugated. This is a blatant lie because there are four Christian, two Buddhist and one Sikh chief minister in the country. Secondly and more importantly, the maintenance of law and order is the responsibility of the state under the Constitution. The Modi government has nothing to do with it.

The BJP, one presumes, will respond to the accusations made against it, but here is the factual position. The charge against the BJP—that it is opposed to religious minorities—must be tested on certain facts that are hidden by the anti-India propagandists. For example, of the seven non-Hindu chief ministers in India, five belong to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. Also, the BJP ran a coalition government with a Muslim party in Jammu & Kashmir when it was a state and with a Sikh party in Punjab till some years ago. Incidentally, the BJP is in power on its own or as a coalition in two of the largest Buddhist states—Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim—which are headed by Buddhist chief ministers. The charge that this party discriminates against Dalits and Adivasis must also fail because of the massive electoral support that it enjoys among these communities, apart from the fact that it has been in power in two states which have the largest population of scheduled tribes. And, if all this is not enough, the candidates chosen by the BJP for the office of president since it came to power at the federal level—Ramnath Kovind and Droupadi Murmu—belong to the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities. 

The strong bond between this party and these communities could never have been possible if the party had not focused on their amelioration in its political, social and economic agenda. 
In any case, while the advertisement pretends to target this political party, it cannot hide the larger agenda behind its publication—to run down India and India’s unparalleled constitutional and democratic traditions. Two years ago, Freedom House, based on half-truths and untruths, claimed there is no religious freedom in India. 

Interestingly, the sponsors of this advertisement appeal to Americans to contact members of the American Congress and the Biden administration and urge them to make the Indian government accountable for its actions. It certainly does not make sense to place such a burden on the US administration when it is caught up in mending what looks like an irretrievable breakdown of relations between the whites and the blacks in that country. 

India is civilisationally secular and democratic. Democracy and plurality go hand in hand in the country and provide the Indian society the vibrancy that one sees within it.

Therefore, those who are spreading this poison are harming themselves. It is indeed shameful that Indian citizens who are enjoying these freedoms are promoting this vicious anti-India propaganda in the West. No true democrat who values the freedom he enjoys in India will ever resort to it. The time has come to warn the members of the minority communities who are spreading this poison that they may willy-nilly be jeopardising the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Hindu majority, which dearly cherishes India’s plurality and all the constitutional rights that ensure diversity. Therefore, in the larger interests of all the 1.4 billion citizens, one must hope and pray that the mischief of a few does not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

(suryamedia@gmail.com)

A Surya Prakash
Former Chairman of Prasar Bharati and scholar of democracy studies



Comments(4)

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

  • Mohan

    Some religions fundamentalists have spent large sums of money for this advt . These fools might have sent money to Pak which is begging for funds. In India religious minority people enjoy more freedom than the majority people. Especially in Tamil Nadu it is ruled by a party which spews venom against Hindus and use public platforms and social media to defame Hindus and Hinduism. Let the Editor of Newyork Times to come to India to assess the real situation before getting money for advertising a matter which is bereft of truth and is filled up with Anti India Venom
    10 days ago reply
  • Ganesh shenoy

    That advertisement just tells the truth about the current regime in India. The author himself unravels the attitude of the Hindutva regime when he writes "if the newspaper had been an Indian one both the editor and publisher would have been cooling their heels in the Tihar jail." And he says that unabashedly
    3 months ago reply
  • R S Chakravarti

    I haven't seen the advertisement but suspect that it is anti-one political party
    3 months ago reply
  • g.chandrasekar

    Mr Modi government also discriminates against south in infra development. Bulk of the infra projects of the federation government went to Gujarat and bjp ruled north Indian states. southern part which do not vote for bjp are completely discriminated in allocation of funds. to cite an instance the AIMS a public hospital project in Madurai in south Tamil Nadu sanctioned in 2008 has not taken off. Only a compound wall has been constructed in the last 14 years. while a dozen AIMS hospitals have been commissioned all over north India.
    3 months ago reply
flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp