Dialogue  October - December 2005 , Volume 7  No. 2

Menace of ‘Secular’ Media

Dina Nath Mishra

To respect the sentiments of Hindus, Akbar the most important Mughal King imposed a blanket ban on cow-slaughter. The Mughal ruler Akbar was included in the continuum of onward march of Indian civilization in the Constitution of India, signed by all members of the Constituent Assembly. The only other Muslim name, which finds mention in the Constitution of India, is that of Tipu Sultan who valiantly fought Britishers (see ‘Supreme Court on Hindutva’ pp. 436 ff.). Those Mughal rulers, who did not respect these sentiments allowed cow-slaughter; some rulers even went to the extent of ordering cow-slaughter inside the temples to desecrate them. It is a wide- spread impression among the historians that the first war of Independence started in 1857, because Hindu soldiers suspected use of cow-tallow in the cartridges supplied to them. In fact, cow has always been a sentimental issue for Hindus since Rig-Vedic times. Mahatma Gandhi was an ardent believer of banning cow-slaughter in the Independent India. He mobilized the mass opinion on this issue through out the struggle for independence of India. But the framers of the Constitution did not ban it straight away; instead they put it under the Directive Principles of the Constitution. There have been repeated agitations in free India for banning cow-slaughter completely. There have been numerous communal riots on the incident of killing of a cow in the last three hundred years. Mischievous throwing of beef was cause enough to inciting religious riots. Recently, Narendra Modi lead Gujarat Government enacted law banning cow-slaughter in the State. This law was challenged in the court. Ultimately, Supreme Court of India upheld the Gujarat Legislation. Though cow killing is banned in most of the states of India, the wish of the people to ban it by Central Legislation is yet to be fulfilled. One can understand the sentiments of Hindus by the fact that even during acute famines people in Orrisa, Rajasthan and Gujarat prefered to die of starvation than killing and eating a cow or a bull to save their lives. In fact, the very idea of exercising this option does not arise in the minds of starving people; such is the high degree of reverence for the cow. A couple of decades back there were some news items stating that a particular brand of vegetable oil contained cow tallow. The company selling this vegetable oil had to withdraw the brand of vegetable oil from the market altogether. The cow is revered in India as Gau-Mata for millenniums but in the Independent India pseudo-secularists have unleashed torrents of mighty propaganda against this sacred belief of Hindus. One of the most important Media Houses belonging to a member of Birla clan, which claims to be the largest circulated newspaper of the capital has published a beef-eating propaganda article, describing the tastes of various beef-preparations. This propaganda article on promotion of beef-eating has been written by none else than its editor Vir Sanghvi in the ‘Brunch’ supplement dated November 20, 2005. Some in-sets in big bold letters are given below. People can judge for themselves, whether or not it amounts to inspirational propaganda in favour of beef-eating:  
    “What is it about beef? Evidence suggests that Vedic Aryans had no reservation about its consumption (though this evidence has caused another controversy). And while I respect Hindu sentiments, the whole point of Indian secularism is that we don’t impose our religious beliefs on the nation.
    “Muslims, Christains, Parsis and even many less orthodox Hindus are quite happy to eat beef. (Take my own case: I’m a Jain by birth so I shouldn’t even be eating onions or garlic.). Beef is easily available in at least two states that I frequently visit: West Bengal and Kerala. So, why do we get so hysterical about beef-eating in such cities as Delhi?  
    “…This has two immediate consequences. The first is that chefs use water-buffalo in dishes that require beef. While you can get a reasonable filet steak out of a buffalo, you can’t really substitute its meat for beef in most recipes. The second consequence is that a strange beef-obsessed netherworld has developed in the capital. No restaurant will use the word beef on its menu. Instead they will use such euphemisms as ‘tenderloin’ (a term more suited to a bordello, I would have thought). What you get when you order ‘tenderloin’ tends to depend on the price. If it’s cheap, its is buffalo. Slightly more expensive means beef brought in from Calcutta. Expensive means imported beef. And very expensive means US steak or even, Wagyu”  
    “A few other excerpts of the same article would make it abundantly clear as to whether it is insult to Hindu-value system and if it hurts the Hindu sensibilities:  
    “In Bombay, it’s no big deal to eat a good sirloin steak. But in Delhi, restaurateurs can’t put even a beef sausage on the menu.”  
    “Beef is easily available in West Bengal & Kerala. So, why do we get so hysterical about it in Delhi?”  
    “At Hakkasan in London, they quickly stir fry the Wagyu.”  
    Vir Sanghvi is front-ranking journalist, who favours Pseudo-Secular and Marxist historians, particularly the one who wrote about Vedic people eating cow meat. The newspapers and editors have propagated the biased views of Marxist historians alone ignoring completely facts of the history. The more authentic and much reputed historian Dr. Makkhan Lal has written about this controversy in his book “Educating to Confuse and Disrupt” as follows:  
    “Let us now come to the issue of cow eating in Ancient India. One of the ‘eminent historians’ has earned a great reputation and huge money by writing a fictitious book on this subject, full of incorrect and false references. From RigVeda and AtharvaVeda, we know that some domestic animals like buffalo, bull, ox and male calf were eaten but NOT COW, which was held sacred all through. The RigVeda refers to the cow as being Aghnya (not to be killed or injured) at least at 17 places. The Vedic texts prescribe death or banishment from the kingdom to those who kill or injure the cow. Rig Veda (10.87.16) clearly lays down that ‘the evil person who kills or eats the meat of horse or a cow deserves to be terminated.’ Further, RigVeda says don’t kill any being. Mimansa, Mahabharata and a large number of texts clarify that killing of animals are prohibited in yajna. Mahabharata (Shantiparva, 265.9) says: ‘It is only the evil-minded hypocrites who started saying that Vedic yajna involve intoxicants and meat eating; it is never in the Vedas.’  
    The AtharvaVeda clarifies the confusion of Vedic words and says that in the Vedic Samhita, the names of the materials used for actual fire ceremony in yajnas are sometimes named as the names of an animal. For example, ‘rice’ is named as ‘cow’ and ‘sesame’ is named as ‘calf’. It only means rice and sesame and those who know the Vedic grammar, Vedic morphology and Vedic yajna know this. In English language, there are expressions like ‘sweet meat’ and ‘meat of Hazel’. In reality, is there any meat which tastes sweet? Is there any meat in hazel nuts”? Symbolism cannot be converted into literalism. That’s the rule of grammar. 
    “The rule of the Vedas that cow is Aghnya has been constantly reiterated in Sanskrit literature. The Mahabharata says, ‘The one who himself doesn’t eat meat but even if he gives his consent to eat meat or kill animal, he becomes equally sinful as them (15.39). The meat-eaters who kill an animal in the name of yajna or say that it is the requirement of the yanja is a sinner and he will go to hell (15.43). The one who brings an animal to be killed, the one who buys the animal to be killed, the one who kills the animal, and the one who sells, buys, cooks and eats the meat are all sinners (15.45).’ This shows that the Vedic yajnas did not involve any animal sacrifice. 
    “A few words about the word goghna the interpretation of which has added confusion. It is mentioned by Pt. Taranatha in his Vachaspatyam. This Sanskrit dictionary of Taranath was commissioned by the East India Company in order to provide legitimacy to the writings of people like Max Mueller. In view of Taranath’s poor financial condition and a lure of the payment of Rs. 10,000 in those days of 1886, (today, almost about Rs 30 lakh or even more) he misinterpreted certain crucial words. Goghna was one of them. Taranath interpreted it as ‘the killer of a cow’ ignoring the meaning given by Panini, according to whom the word meant ‘the donee guest who receives a cow.’ By changing the meaning, Taranath imposed on Hindus that they ate cows, in order to provide legitimacy to those who were and are eating cows. There is no reason, whatsoever, to accept Taranath’s interpretation of goghna over and above Panini’s interpretation, unless someone proves that Taranath of late the 19
th century was closer in his understanding of Vedic Sanskrit and was a greater scholar than Panini whose date is, at least 7th century B.C. Taranath did the same injustice to the word Ashwamedha. It is wrong to think that the Aswamedha horse was meant for killing and eating at the end of a yanja and wrong to advocate the meaning given by Taranath who sold his soul for money and material comforts. 
    “It is important to differentiate between the meat of any other cattle and that of the cow, exactly the way not every woman is one’s mother and not every man is one’s father. We have different relationships with each other in society. A cow was clearly given a special status – that of Aghnya – in Hindu society, which means that it cannot be injured or killed. The AtharvaVeda lays down ‘death penalty to those who injure or kill cows.’  
    “Some ‘eminent historians’ may come up with a few post-Vedic, and that too isolated, references about the killing of a cow, but it needs to be remembered that exceptions have always been there [in very society and religion]. For example, in Tantricism eating the flesh of a dead human being and having sex with a woman, any woman, even with one’s own mother, is part of the sadhana. Can we really consider this aberration as a general practice? When we are talking about beef, we must learn to differentiate among the animals that were eaten and that were not eaten. The cow was never a part of social cuisine. 
    “Hurting Hindu sentiments has become fashionable pass time of pseudo-secular propagandists, specially after dazzling popularity of Ramayana, and Mahabharata serials which created curfew like desertions in the streets with all eyes glued to the T.V screen. When BJP came to power, they (pseudo-secularists and Marxists) were shocked and in their desperation they resorted to false propaganda of extreme nature through out six years of Vajpayee led NDA Govt, defaming Hindus, Hindu Organisations and govts supported by Hindus was on the top of their agenda. It has been clear all through that it is Hindus versus media, specially the English language media, which percolates to vernacular as well as International media. Here are some examples:

Anti Hindu Mindset of Media

The present phase of the image war on the Sangh Parivar, including the BJP, is by far the most intense. In the last six years, we have seen anti-Hindutva media bombardments on half a dozen non-issues which lasted for quite some months, maybe even over a year. No previous Government had ever experienced such a degree of hostility from the media and the Opposition. Even at the peak of the anti-Congress climate it was not so. The so-called secular parties and pen pushers could not digest the arrival of the BJP at the seat of power. ‘How can they be allowed to rule?’, was the mindset.  
    The leftists had been the most perturbed people by this arrival. Incidentally, they are also the most vicious propagandists. These self-appointed guides and philosophers of the opposition parties and the media kept polity on an election mode for the last four years. Every six months, there is an anti-BJP campaign. Image matters a lot. Image building, good or bad, is an extremely complex phenomenon. Image represents an intellectual and emotional complex at an instant of time, though the final perception may not be more than three or four words long.  
    The Sangh Parivar is a conglomerate of organisations, which are disciplined, well organised and patriotic. The BJP too has evolved as ‘a party with a difference’. Its opponents have been out to demolish these characteristic features and let me admit, they have been successful in making a dent to these features of the party and that of the Sangh Parivar as well. Unfortunately, we too have contributed to their success. A few examples of their malicious propaganda are as follows:

(a)   First, it was Dang whereat a small incident of burning a hut-cum-Church in retaliation to the desecration of a Hanuman statue was picked up. Though, there were skirmishes, but not a single person had died. It became a global controversy wherein ministers of Germany, Canada, US and Australia showed their concern.
(b)   Then came the Jhabua nun-rape controversy based on totally false linkages with Hindutva. The propaganda implicated the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in this heinous crime. This rape case became an international media event. The Church organised hundreds of protest marches throughout the country and abroad. It acquired high voltage because a Sangh Parivar organisation was said to be involved. Ultimately the truth emerged. The inquiry ordered by the Madhya Pradesh government revealed that Sangh Parivar had nothing to do in the matter. Twenty four alleged rapists were arrested, all of them belonged to the Bhil tribe, 12 of them were Christians. The court convicted them. This crime had no communal angle at all. When the list of rapists along with their caste and religion was provided to media persons by Press Information Bureau, no newspaper of the national Media published the report despite the fact that they had written so much about the Parivar’s involvement in the case. Even now some newspapers write and blame the Sangh Parivar. The mainline media in India and outside as also the Church have never allowed the truth to come out, let alone regretting for a totally false and fabricated campaign.
(c)   The burning of an Australian missionary, Graham Staines along with his two children, created a furore the world over. The Wadhwa Inquiry Commission castigated the media for linking Hindu organizations with the incident. We received a whipping by the media and media trials were conducted for more than a year. However the Wadhwa Commission found that Dara Singh was neither a member of the Bajrang Dal nor was he in any way connected with the RSS. The Commission was very critical about the partisan role played by the media and practically indicted it for its bias against the Sangh Parivar. But the impact of the media against the RSS regarding this case has left a durable impression in the mind of the whole world, for it was prominently reported in the world media A number of similar stories of attacks on Christians, and its linkages invented by media, did the rounds.
(d)   The Wadhwa Commission appointed to inquire into the Staines murder and other cases, established that the rape, “Was a made up story”. Investigations further proved that Sister Mary’s FIR stating that she had been raped, was false. Justice Wadhwa had noted that it was highlighted all over the world as an attack on Christians. But it was a deliberate fabrication by the Church itself, with clear communal intent.
(e)   Then came screaming headlines in the national media “Jhabua repeated in Jhajjar.” The fact was that the villagers protested against two nuns for meddling in some local committee election. But it was depicted by Church spokespersons as something similar to that of the nuns’ rape on the Jhabua pattern. Mr. Balbir K. Punj, who was then editor of the Observer, sent a reporter and a photographer to verify the Jhajjar case and the mischief was nipped in the bud or else it could have been a major subject for another onslaught on the Sangh Parivar.
(f)   By that time, it had become fashionable to paint any incident communal wherein Christians were involved and whip Sangh Parivar organistaions. For example, take the report of foreign news agencies which said an American Doctor was attacked in Allahabad and he had to take refuge in a Baptist Church. It was found to be totally fabricated. The Doctor himself denied the incident.
(g)   It was reported with the six column screaming headlines in a big English daily that “The Christian nun was raped in a moving car in Baripada in Orissa.” The rest of the Press also repeated it with usual Jhabua nun rape story replay and dubbed it as the handiwork of Hindu fundamentalists.
(h)   A young girl and a boy were murdered in Candhamal, one of the remotest areas in Orissa. The Indian and the foreign media cited it as a continuation of attacks against Christians by Hindu fundamentalists. After an elaborate survey of the media the Wadhwa Commission noted that “the incident was taken as an attack on the Christians” and said “ultimately investigations revealed the crime was committed by a relative of the victims, who was also a Christian.”
(i)   Some tribals attacked the Police station at Udaigiri’ and lynched two prisoners and later burned some houses. The media immediately projected it as a clash between Christians and Hindus. The Wadhwa Commission found that it was a caste clash and had nothing to do with religions at all. In contrast, Justice Wadhwa found that when in a village “23 houses of Hindus were burnt down by criminals belonging to Christian community. The incident went largely unreported and totally ignored by the national and international media.” Imagine the reporting, which would have followed if the 23 houses that were burnt belonged to Christians and the attackers were Hindus! What Justice Wadhwa indicated by this contrast was that while “attacks on Christians” were “made up”, the actual attacks against Hindus went unreported, unnoticed and ignored.
(j)   The media had reported that in a village of Orissa, Ranalai, Hindus, who were a minority, had sparked off a clash with Christians. The Wadhwa Commission found that actually the Christians had manhandled a police inspector, who later filed an FIR against them.
There are over a dozen or more similar incidents, which were either total fabrications or a deliberate twist of communal colour was given to the incident. But let us realise the implication of this massive propaganda, the world over. Firstly, the image of India suffered. In international opinion India has been painted in a Pakistani colour, where Christians have been marginalized and their women raped. The Christians are falsely being accused of blasphemy. They are regularly beaten to death. Their land is being grabbed by Muslims. There are 30 lakh Christians living in Pakistan in a nightmare. The Sunday Times Magazine (reprinted in Readers’ Digest, May 2000 as “Pakistan’s War Against Christians”) reporters Cathy Scott - Clark and Adrian Levy had written about systematic religious cleansing of a tiny minority.
    Indian media’s fabricated reporting of incidents tarnishes the national image of India in the world and brackets our situation with that of Pakistan. The Pakistani press either ignores or nominally covers the real incidents of ‘War Against Christians’ whereas our English media fabricates, exaggerates and projects this type of incidents and gives credibility to them. May be in India secularists get a little political propaganda advantage by falsification of these incidents. .Indian media ignores national interest to say the least. It goes to the extent of being not only unpatriotic, but anti national. An important section of the media behaves as if they belong to the post nationalist era. On a societal plane they do not mind publishing anti people and anti society write ups. It is due to their exaggerated portrayal of Veerappan and similar anti heroes, at all levels, that society has to suffer. Practically the media never introspects or takes corrective measures. Even if in some quarters realization dawns, it is too late. I quote from Arvind Lavakare’s article titled ‘The English Media’s Hostility Towards Hindus’,  
    “Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief of The Indian Express, displayed a rare ethical standard, combining as it did a fair degree of contrition with a healthy commitment to truthfulness qualities which are difficult to find these days in our troubled land.
    “Let’s see the facts as outlined by the gracious Gupta himself. His column stated that - “First of all in Jhabua, there has indeed been no evidence yet that anybody from the Sangh Parivar was involved in the rape of the nuns.”  
    “Then, despite all the commotion and outrage in the media and the world, not a single Christian has been killed in Gujarat yet Also, Gujarat has a history of Hindu resentment against the missionaries dating back to Mahatma Gandhi’s time.”  
    “Similarly, Orissa… a state run by the Congress, has a history of indigenous violence against the missionaries. Six persons were killed only last year and since the state has a large tribal population, conversions have been going on there… There is no evidence yet that Dara Singh” (the main suspect in the Staines incineration) “was actively involved with any Sangh Parivar organization…”
    “Based on an examination of the above, Gupta came to the conclusion that On facts, therefore, it would seem that we in the English-language media have something to answer for. Just a few paragraphs later, Gupta’s column recanted even more by stating that “Surely, we in the media have much to answer for.
    “Now it is precisely such irreverence for the vital difference between “something” and “much” that often exhibits itself in a lot of our newspaper copy and misleads millions of readers.” 
    “Just after Gujarat results India Today wrote editorially about media’s bias in its issue, “In this country, secularism in practice meant romancing the minority and demonising the majority.”  
    At times one feels that the media has been derailed enroute its objective destination. The dictum that “News is sacred”, it seems is no more valid. Everywhere in the media – be it newspapers, periodicals, TV channels to electronic superhighway – one can often hear comments galore on ‘newborn news’ whose facts are unconfirmed and details unknown. The speculative flight of the reporter’s imagination becomes the real news.  
     Earlier we have talked about this type of admission on the issue of pseudo-secular propaganda. Now look at the secular admission of guilt by one among the top ten secular propagandists Mr. Vinod Mehta, editor of ‘The Outlook’ weekly:  
    “In matters relating to the Constitution, Supreme Court, not a TV journalist, is the highest authority. The latter can make themselves heard and the former has no megaphone.”  
    ‘The Outlook’ editor Vinod Mehta is undoubtedly one of the tallest secular propagandists who are instrumental in widening the secular-communal divide in the polity. When opinion leaders turn propagandists and occupy the highest positions in media, they become a power centre unto themselves of the Fourth Estate, which in turn impacts fortunes of political parties. The debate on the secular-communal divide has been continuing for two decades.  
    Vinod Mehta has gone much beyond in his magazine’s ‘Diary’ column than India Today’s editorial conclusion of December 30, 2002, which states: “In this country, secularism in practice meant romancing the minority and demonising the majority.”  
    Mehta’s ‘Diary’ column in Outlook dated May 23, 2005, is the best confession of a ‘pseudo-secular’ journalist. “At what point does a ‘national treasure’ become a ‘national liability’? Pseudo-secularists like me have blindly defended and deified Lalu Yadav for his courageous, single-minded fight against communal forces. We pretended that the havoc he has caused in his home state was forgivable, if not understandable, given the caste antagonisms and social fabric of Bihar. His wit, buffoonery and rustic horseplay, we said, was a tribute to grassroots of Indian politics which had thrown up a genuine son of the soil. Torn, as he was between courts, Yadav consolidation and criminal MLAs/MPs, we overlooked his clear mendacity. When he made his simple-minded wife the chief minister, we said, ‘Poor man, who else can he trust?’ Meanwhile, Bihar fell off the map of India and its galloping anarchy did not merit discussion because, in a sense, Bihar was not part of India. Bihar was Bihar. I don’t absolve myself or Outlook from spreading the aforementioned logic. In the last 15 years, consequently, we have allowed Lalu a very easy ride.”  
    Through this great debate, the intelligentsia held the view on secularism similar to that of Supreme Court expressed in as many as jugement in 12 cases. But propagandists are busy demonising Hindus, Hinduism, cultural nationalism, Sanskrit and the Hindutva. Throughout the NDA regime, attempts were made to defame Hidndutva forces, whether it was in the Jhabua nun’s rape case, Graham Stains case or the Dang conversion case. The Gujarat riots came as a godsend opportunity for propagandists. However, despite all hostile propaganda, the BJP registered an emphatic victory in the Gujarat Assembly elections. There was soul-searching among journalists, as reflected in the India Today’s comments. But how did Vinod Mehta reach this conclusion?  
    Mehta says: “When Lalu was Chief Minister, his potential for mischief was limited. Bihar had reached the point of no return, so what could Lalu do to further aggravate its condition? We were insulated from his heavy hand. Sadly, he is now out of power in Bihar and a Cabinet Minister to boot. Thus, his imprint currently has national implications - and with Patna out of his grasp, he has time on his hands not to entertain us but to frighten us. There’s no rule he will not break, no institution he will not denigrate, no charge he will not fabricate to achieve his twin objectives: Win back the gaddi in Patna and mount onslaughts against the BJP. His behaviour at the railway crash site in Gujarat where the deceased were swiftly forgotten and all media attention diverted to publicise an exaggerated ‘death threat’, and last week’s shameful assault on one of India’s proudest constitutional bodies - the Election Commission - should make all of us who champion him think again. Of course, he has 24 MPs and could bring down the UPA, but he knows what will follow will ensure that he stays permanently in jail. Lalu has nowhere to go. It’s time we called his bluff.”  

If one discerns the piece, it seems that Mehta is repenting media’s support to Lalu and not so much the secular-communal divide created by media. In his concluding part, Mehta wants somebody to mend Lalu’s ways.

Dialogue (A quarterly journal of Astha Bharati)

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