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Columnists sans sense of restraint

In an excess of excitement, Vir Sanghvi, former editor of Hindustan Times, called Narendra Modi a “mass murderer”. According to data tabled in Parliament the 2002 toll in Gujarat was 790 dead Muslims, 254 dead Hindus and 223 people missing. Writing in The Times of India (January 6, 2008) one of its columnists, Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar made this interesting statement. He wrote: “Many critics call (Narendra) Modi a fascist who carried out pogroms. They do not apply the same label to the Congress. Yet the 1984 data are more suggestive of a pogrom than the 2002 data. The Hindu casualties in 2002 were a quarter of the total, suggesting two-way violence. But no Hindus died in Delhi... In 1984 there was no police firing at all on Hindu mobs, so it looks much more like a pogrom. On virtually every parameter you can measure, 1984 was worse than 2002...” (emphasis added).

And how many Sikhs were murdered in Delhi alone in November 1984? Writes The Hindu (April 13, 2009): “A sloppy and non-serious process of investigation and prosecution meant that the perpetrators of the genocidal violence against thousands of innocent Sikhs... have gone scot-free. The killing spree by Congress activists and supporters, allegedly orchestrated and led by some party leaders, left 2,733 people dead in Delhi alone. But after two Commissions of Inquiry and eight committees set up to probe various aspects of the horrific violence and prolonged trials, only 13 people have been convicted…”

Several of the committees indicted Congress leader HKL Bhagat and Messrs Tytler and Sajjan Kumar. In Gujarat, 254 Hindus were killed in police firings. In Delhi not a single Hindu was killed. In Delhi just one leader—sure, she was Prime Minister—was killed. In Godhra 58 innocent women and children were first choked by heavy smoke and then roasted alive. Fancy the suffering they went through. This is never discussed. The women and children were just ‘killed’. The viciousness of the English media is sickening. Messrs Tytler and Sajjan Kumar are still around and the former has now been denied a Congress ticket. Big show!

The hate-Hindu, hate-BJP tendency among our English media overlords has to be seen to be believed. For saying any Muslim who raises his arm against Hindus should have his arm cut off, Varun Gandhi has been jailed—and now forgotten. Lalu Prasad said that he would like to run a road-roller over Varun—and he goes scot-free. Lalu specialises in hate-speeches. That is taken as a joke. A Congress leader in Karnataka makes a ‘hate speech’ on March 31 excelling even what Varun Gandhi said, but only a case has been registered against him, while Varun went to jail. This is justice.

The Hindu in its April 13 editorial castigated the CBI saying that the CBI’s “clumsy efforts to help the ruling party (Congress) to “wriggle out of messy situations have further eroded the agency’s credibility”. Rightly said. Indeed, two years ago, on June 7, 2007, The Hindu castigated “the compulsions of politics” indulged in by the Congress in the Taj Corridor Scam case in which Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati was involved. She should then have been immediately prosecuted. Wrote The Hindu: “That the UP Governor (TM Rajeshwar) could have refused sanction for a prosecution that arose from the monitoring by the highest court in the land (The Supreme Court) is inexplicable. It has raised suspicions that the decision was part of a political deal struck in the context of the presidential elections...”

Undoubtedly the Congress is a sick party. Varun Gandhi’s speech was made in a place called Pilibhit. It is a tiny town in Uttar Pradesh. If Varun has not made his speech there, like many other such speeches it would have remained unheard of. But is there anything special about Pilibhit? Yes, there is, and The Indian Express (April 5) devoted two whole pages to it. It would seem that Pilibhit has for decades, if not longer, been known for “making music”. As The Express noted, by one estimate roughly 95 per cent of India’s flutes are made in Pilibhit. It seems that the bamboo for the flute would come to Pilibhit all the way from Silchar on the banks of the Barak river near the Bangladesh border in southern Assam by a meter-gauge line. Once the bamboo arrived, flute-makers, invariably Muslims, working in small family businesses, would carefully sort out the bamboo bales, identifying each piece as first, second and third grade. Only the right kind of bamboo, with the right length and diameter, would produce the right tune.

The coverage of The Indian Express of Pilibhit is an excellent example of journalism. The business of manufacturing flutes is apparently dying slowly for a variety of reasons. These have been discussed. The paper’s editorial staff needs to be congratulated for a good job well done. There is another matter concerning the media that needs attention. Newspapers like The Hindu, The Times of India, The Indian Express have many regional editions which is commendable. But too often they are very poor replicas of the main editions and miss out a great deal of news and comment. The Bangalore edition of The Indian Express, for example, is not a patch on the Mumbai edition. Much the same can be said of the Bangalore edition of The Times of India. The Bombay city edition of the Express, for example, runs an excellent op ed page devoting it to articles appearing in the likes of The Economist of London, which are highly educative.

Considering that hardly any major newspaper these days employs foreign correspondents, as once they did, especially in the sixties, seventies and even earlier in the fifties, the reader is deprived of a lot of background material to events not just in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States, but also in Africa, the Middle East, Russia, Central Asia, Australia and even China. It is a pity. The argument for withdrawing foreign correspondents is that television channels are first to break news and cannot be beaten at the game. That may be true, but TV channels don’t provide background information or even an Indian point of view to what is happening. Of course, maintaining a correspondent in Washington or Beijing is getting to be extremely costly. One supposes that the alternative is to subscribe to foreign newspapers, not necessarily a wise step but then there aren’t any meaningful options. Time was when The Times of India used to subscribe to The New York Times. No longer. The net result is that the Indian reader is poorly informed.

Source: organiser.org


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