On many occasion, the Western media has disappointed me with their lopsided, misleading and even scandalous reporting of the Indian affairs. I often wonder as to what are the compelling reasons or considerations for the major American daily newspaper like “The Washington Post” to remain critical portraying India’s negative image most of the time. While the governments of the most powerful countries and financial institutions in the world acknowledge India’s all round development and growth forecasting it as the emerging next superpower, leading global print and electronic media houses constantly tend to portray its negative and dismal image.
To illustrate such instances in the recent past, The Washington Post was among few significant media houses that questioned the air strike and success of the Indian Air Force on the Jaish-e-Muhammad terrorist camp at Balakot in Pakistan in February 2019. One could find many editorials and news items criticizing programmes and policies of the government on the reported slowdown of the Indian economy in the recent past and consequent reduction in GDP. Then the paper has been most critical of the Indian Parliament removing the special status of the Indian state Jammu & Kashmir through abrogation of the Article 370 of Constitution. While certain precautionary measures and restrictions including preventive detention of few leaders of the Kashmir Valley were done to avoid anticipted trouble and consequent loss of life and property and the same have been relaxed in phases through continuous review in most case, the Paper still continues its outrageous and misleading reporting by calling Indian government action as “harsh and repressive measures” and citing indiscriminate detentions, beatings and torture by security forces, including of very young children. According to this Paper, the administration has made India less democratic and stable, by taking authoritarian steps.
Recently, I happened to see yet another reporting of The Washington Post glorifying the death of the much sought after dreaded ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose death at the hands of American forces was described by the American President in one of the televised address as that of a coward and Dog’s death. In its obituary, the Post tried to glorify the dreaded terrorist by referring al-Bagdadi in the headline as an austere religious scholar. Quiet amusingly, the original headline in the report appeared to describe al-Baghdadi as ‘terrorist-in-chief’ but apparently the editors were not comfortable with it, so they changed it to “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48”.
Quite obviously, Americans are not as divided as Indians because in latter case several Indian politicians, mediapersons and intellectuals have issues with the concepts like nationalism and patriotism and they themselves feed misleading and objectionable stuff to the foreign media based on perverted ideology and perceptions. Hence as expected, the Paper headline on the terrorist leader caused a huge uproar on the social media, following which Washington Post was forced to change its headline again. The first headline was good enough that described al-Bagdadi as the ‘terrorist-in-chief’. After media furor, the headline was amended by calling the terrorist an “extremist leader”.
The way Washington Post amended the original headline, it is quite apparent the media group was not comfortable with the title. Depicting a dreaded terrorist leader as an ‘austere religious scholar’ suggests that his austerity and religiosity was the real issue of concern for the media organization. Here the question is why should any media organization be shy and hesitant in calling the terrorist as a ‘terrorist’? Why should a media group deny and deviate from the national objective? After all the United States is the leader of nations fighting terrorism world over and the country itself has suffered at the hands of terrorism for decades now. The obvious answer to these questions also expose the role of leftist ideology world over including such media in US and India.
What the media organizations like The Washington Post and New York Times do in United States, English medium print and electronic media groups have almost similar role in India. In a way, the al-Bagdadi episode exposes the sickness and travesty that has gripped the Left leaning globalist western and Indian media in the modern age. Their dislike for the normalcy and natural order of things are so deep rooted that they appear very keen to travel the extra mile even for the crimes of dreaded Islamic terrorists globally. Thus The Washington Post’s headline on Baghdadi’s death is yet another (so called) progressive step in their leading the march of liberalism.
It is not surprising that the media organizations like Washington Post consciously engage Indian writer and journalists like Rana Ayyub and Barkha Dutt who are well known faces, constant dissenters and critics of the present Indian establishment so much so that they are often found sympathizing with the separatists and radical groups that believe in violence for their objective. I recall Burkha Dutt’s comments on the outrage and frustration of Pakistan following India’s withdrawal of the discriminatory provision in regard to special status of Jammu & Kashmir. She opined that only viable option for Pakistan to counter Indian government’s move on Kashmir was “another Pulwama like attack” and, considering her past track record of tirade against Indian Prime Minister and his government, it’s difficult to decipher if she was cautioning India to guard against or prompting Pakistan for such an attack.
So what are the compelling reasons or considerations for this dislike for normalcy and natural order globally referred to in the earlier paragraphs! Possibly it is both left-leaning ideology and commercial considerations. Left has altogether different ideas about the concepts of nationalism, democracy and territorial integrity, and so on. If the things are normal and orderly, this perhaps does not create much interest among the masses. On the other hand, controversy and negativity invariably sells in terms of publicity, attention and commercial gains. In the modern times, the media has emerged as the most powerful fourth state or organ of democracy, the traditional three being executive, legislature and judiciary. So long vested interests and objectives would prevail over the national interests, the media organizations like The Washington Post will continue with their unruly and anarchist ways.