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Australian media and its Biases, Contradictions and Colonial Propaganda on India

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Australian media and its Biases, Contradictions and Colonial Propaganda on India
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There are nearly 700,000 people of Indian origin in Australia. The Indians are one of the largest sources of skilled migrants and international students to Australia. Though “Indian Australians” are not as prolific as “Indian American” Diaspora, are the most educated and one of the highest taxes paying group in Australia. The Australian government recognizes India as a critical economic and geopolitical partner in the Asia Pacific region and “Indian Diaspora” as an asset to enhance the bilateral relationship. 

The educated aspirants belonging to middle-class India migrating to Western countries, including Australia, self-wired with a positive mindset about the host country, due to the fascination of living in a developed country. Further, the lack of visible governance in their motherland leads them with a lazy conclusion that the host country and countrymen they are going to embrace are better than their own. This mindset alone makes them more assimilative and ready to comply in a foreign land. Though this unique mindset got its benefit, it is also true that other diaspora groups like Greek, Italian, Chinese and Vietnamese are also very successful while maintaining their Hyphenated identities in Australia.

As a first-generation migrant to Australia if one scan through dailies, web portals and watch news channels there, the coverage of India is probably even insignificant when compared to Indonesia, China and Malaysia. However, it should not take much time to realize, Australian media, a part of the enormous bandwidth of Western Media, produces agenda-driven stereotyping pieces of literature on India in general and Hinduism in particular.  As a recent arrival to a country and feeling euphoric about, exposure to a new culture, one will be confronted with Hindu phobic and negative portrayal of India in Australian media.

Now why India is on the radar with Australian media and academia for adverse reporting? First of all, the very question that India is on the radar of Australian media itself is ridiculous as we do not send terrorists there nor we are a hard, global powerhouse in terms of military, economy and innovation yet. Some of the Indians in Australia raise feel-good slogans like India, and Australia is on the same bogie of Commonwealth, speaks English and play cricket and so on does not cross beyond talkfest in Diwali Mela. The feel-good slogans are not in sync with realities like the infamous 2009 Violence against Indian students and policy matters like IELST English tests mandatory for Indians either in migration or Education, Indian qualifications not recognized for work-ready purpose etc.

History of the depiction of Indians in Australian media

The available records about the identity of Indians in Australian local media are evolved over 150 years, along with the lens of British colonial Indologists. The racialized Australian media described Indians based on the job they do and how they have been treated in British India by the colonial administrators. The media recreated and recirculated the identities of Indians in the pre-colonial and post-colonial period.

PeriodPopular names for Indians in mediaPerception in Media  
From the 1840SHindus or CooliesPhysically weak, submissive and therefore effeminate. Unreliable and sexually dangerous to English women.
From the 1890sCameleers and HawkersMost of the Indian migrants, including Muslims and Sikhs, have this trade. They are considered sexual threats to isolated white pastoral women.
Mid 19th centuryLascarA Persian word for Seafarer or Deckhand of lower quality  
20th CenturySouth Asians or IndiansPoor Migrants from third world India. Social categorization and stereotypical categorization still exist like dodgy Indian taxi drivers etc. On the contrary, they are also considered as Passive and quiet and hence soft targets during 2009 violence against Indian students.

Hinduism in Australian Media

Teens are tolerant but uneducated about religion; study finds “– March 08, 2020, Adam Carey and Anna Prytz, Sydney Morning Herald

 The above study finds that around 50% of the high school students taught nothing about different religions, and 52% of them do not identify with a religion. However, what is interesting is that 25% of them do not have a positive view of Hinduism.

Following is one of the publications from the high school written by the students, approved by the local school board to demonstrate their knowledge on India on their annual school magazine.

An article about India in a Public High School, Western Australia (2015). (Name of the school and students masked)

Now one may wonder where all this knowledge comes from when there is no curriculum on religion nor nonwestern culture in the school.

Presentation of Hindus/Hinduism in Australian media is consistent with other Western media. Exactly 100 years back, the minuscule Hindu arrivals in Australia were called as Hindu Extremists for holding the image of Gandhi. There are articles written about cremation rites of local Hindus with an allusion of Sati.

In the last 20 years with the reemergence of Hindu consciousness in India harsh vocabularies to malign Hindus, Hindu symbols and Hindu personalities trending high in the media and academia. There are Australian names and the Indian names involved in writing about India by using a Western lens with a tone and manners of colonial masters. The Indian English writers who study Western social sciences are more than willing to collaborate with Westerners to create contrary theories about India.

The Australian media propagate that modern India is plagued with religious violence. Some of the examples of headlines on Hinduism in Australian media gives an insight into their “Drishti” and what they want to pursue.

The narrow representation of Hinduism is evident with no diversity of views, and colonial psyche is still embedded with the media reporters. There are thousands of Anti-Hindu headlines on a simple google search. Some of the samples are: –

1. Hindu festivals choke Indian waterways with flowers and idol debris.  Michael Safi, The Guardian 03/10/17

2. Firecrackers from Diwali celebrations shroud Delhi in toxic smog, Michael Safi The Guardian 08/11/2018

(Presumably, these articles are published under Global development scheme supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)

3.The sector scourge of family violence and murder in Australian Hindu and Sikh communities. 08/12/17, ABC By Debra Jopson:-The article blames ancient Indian texts responsible for the state of women in India.

4. Unfettered fireworks cast a pall over Delhi: November 8, 2018, by Neha Dasgupta, Sydney Morning Herald.

5. India hopes green fireworks, light show dim Diwali production. October 26, 2019, The Age.

6.India’s sacred cow a symbol of rising nationalism. April 10, 2019, by Emily Selimaly, Sydney Morning Herald

7.Hardline and Hindu: Nationalists on the Rise in India “Hindu nationalists are gaining power in India – and silencing opponents along the way. Should the West be worried?

By Sunny Hundal March 6, 2014, The Age

8.”Hindu nationalists rewrite history as they assist dominance over India” – Sydney Morning Herald By Rupam Jain and Tom Lasseter 09/03/2018

9.India’s Muslims in constant fear as vigilante murders increases. ABC, 30/07/2017

The “Islamophilic” is Australian media’s newfound avatar towards Indian Muslims, and it is intriguing. Why they have a special affection towards Indian minorities? Its very interesting to note that Indian minorities like Muslims and Christians are the direct results of colonization by violent Islam and Brutal Christian British, respectively. Whereas minorities in Australia are suppressed natives (Aboriginals) and nonwhite migrants whom themselves undergo lots of humiliation even today after the abolition of “White Only Policy”. The Australian media never made subaltern studies of minorities of their backyard. However, minorities are subjected to hard stick approach of assimilation and integration into Western Universalism or Australian way. The Western Sydney University conducted a study of Racism for SBS network in 2017, and its findings are not unexpected. The highest rates of discrimination against any religious group in Australia is Hindus, even worse than discrimination against Muslims. Indian migrants are also one of the worse affected racism due to place of birth according to the same study. The subaltern studies are not conducted on such disadvantaged groups in Australia by the media nor academia.

Some of the Australian media jargons against Hindus are in congruence with other Western media in the UK and USA. The same jargons are screamed in Left-wing and Islamists in India and liberally used in studios of electronic media like NDTV etc. The Muslims are victims because of Hindus, Hindus are blamed even when there is a crime committed against Christians by Muslims.

Hinduism Vocabularies in Australian media

TerminologiesExamples or Meaning  
Hindu Fascist groupsRSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal etc.
Hindu FundamentalistSangh Parivar, including CM Yogi.
Hindu ExtremistsProud Hindus
Hindu SupremacistsHindu Organizations
Hindu RiotersAttackers against Innocent Muslim children, Muslim families
Hindu HooligansThey attack against Muslim children, Muslim families
Hindu VandalsDestroy Muslim properties
Hindu Chanting – Jai Shri RamWarcry against Minorities
Man, with Tilak on ForeheadA Hindu Nationalist to frighten Muslims
Hindu Mobs Fanatic Hindus supported by establishments
Hindu Paramilitary OrganizationsRSS, VHP etc
Hindu NazisThey are dangerous to Indian democracy
Hindu MilitantsThey have support from Right Wing parties
Right-Wing PartyBJP
Hindu nationalistAssertive Hindu
Strident Hindu NationalistModi
Hindu stateHindus want to create from Secular India – means it will be deadly for humankind.
Hindu festivalsProduce Pollution, Noise and anti-secular. Creates nervousness in minorities.
Right-wing TV anchorArnob Goswami
Muslim genocideCommitted by Hindus
Mob LynchingUsually, offenders are Hindus

Demonization of  Modi

While the political establishments and masses in democratic India appreciate Modi as a change agent and an incorruptible man, the media has their agendas to demonize him. In the pasWestest with the hyperactive Western media toppled many leaders in the guise of installation of democracy, the Australia and Australian media was an ally in that ploy. However, democracy cannot be used as a tool to topple Modi, as he is too strong, villainization of his personality is the only way to demonize him. They key vocabularies against Modi are anti-minority, Hindu bigot, dictator, fascist, Human rights violator and so on. Once President of Hindu Council of Australia in Pravasi Bhararatiya Sammelan stated fake news on India and Hindus is a massive problem in Australian media.

The Western media shouts to the roof for the lack of democracy in many countries. Nevertheless, it will run a campaign against if the leader of a democratic country is strong and belong to a nonwestern country, Modi exactly fit that category. Supporting strong leader of a nonwestern country means they have to give up Western hegemony, monopoly, narrative and Western supremacy. The West is very fearful of strong leadership of either democratic or non-democratic nations which are not Western or that are not an ally of West. Ironically West can strike a deal with brutal dictators as long as they remain their puppet.

The Australian media is not against Modi personally. They are against the influential leader of the nonwestern country who can serve his country’s interests first without bog downing to Western universalism.

Some of the examples of headlines describing Modi are:

1. As millions of Indians take a dip, Modi chases their votes.

Feb 11, 2019, by Jeffrey Gentleman and Hari Kumar – Sydney Morning Herald

-Means Modi is a religious Bigot.

2. Under Modi, India’s press is not so free anymore By Vindu Goel and Jeffrey Gettleman  Sydney Morning Herald April 04, 2020

-Means Modi is against Freedom of Press

3. For India’s prime minister, religious symbolism is a political strategy. Emily Schmall April 1, 2019, The Age – For building a grand promenade in Varanasi.

Means Modi is a bigot

State-funded Media

The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) are the Australian state-funded news channels with a huge influence on mass viewers in Australia. The SBS is positioned as a multicultural channel. It’s positioning as Multicultural and multilingual media one would assume it will promote the interests of minority groups like Indians.  However, on the contrary, on several occasions, Indians were forced to protest against SBS and run online activism for its anti-India and anti-Hindu coverage. The coverage against Hindus and India were worse under Michael Ebeid, a Muslim who happened to be the managing director of SBS between 2011 to 2018. The bias was clear as other minority groups like Muslims were shown in a very positive light on the same channel.

The ABC, another state-funded channel is not as vitriolic as BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) in matters related to India. Nevertheless, in principles, it toes the same line as other Western media outlets on issues related to India. Though the ABC is funded by taxpayers including Indian taxpayers, its neutrality is not examined by diaspora Indians. The ABC simply fail to distinguish between Hindu nationalists, Hinduism and Hindutva not by ignorance but by intent. Are the Australian media personal trained to think in terms of British colonial way of interpreting native religions and culture? Hindu nationalism helped India to oust 200 years of brutal colonization from British The British Icon Churchill himself had a severe dislike towards Hindus and called them as beastly religion with a beasty people. Even after leaving India 75 years back malignant attack against previously suppressed continues by suppressors differently.

From Pakistan sponsored Terrorism to Kashmir ethnic cleansing, Delhi Violence to Corona Virus management, from article 370 removal to atrocity against Hindus within India or elsewhere Australian media always had bonhomie with Breaking India forces.

Independent Media

www.crikey.com.au

The above is one of the widely read independent media in Australia. The following article contains all the examples of rhetoric against India.

” Under Foreign Affairs and Trade Morrison turns a blind eye to religious persecution in India “by Michael Sainsbury – May 31, 2019

The sub-headline says “- Millions of minorities are persecuted in India. The economic diplomacy with India should be overturned because of human rights violation”.

India’s Hindus are oppressors, and minorities are oppressed; India’s minorities are subaltern subjects in this publication.

Another article asks for Australian intervention: –

“Australia should speak out on India’s democratic crisis” – 03/03/2020

NOExcerpts from the articleImplications
1India’s right-wing and growing intolerance towards social and religious harmony should elicit a response from Australia  Demand Australian (Western) intervention  
2Anti-CAA demonstrations have displayed a spirit of collective resistance not witnessed since freedom struggle in the 1940sStruggle against oppressors (Hindus)  
3Australia hasn’t responded to communal violence that was sparked after a hate speech from ruling party leader.  Why is Australia not intervening?  
4CAA violates the spirit of India’s constitution based on religion.India is anti-minority  
5CAA is anti-poor.  India violates Human rights violation.  
6The Indian government is majoritarian right-wing Hindu government.  Indian democracy is in danger.  

Lowry Institute

The Lowry institute claims to be independent, nonpartisan international policy think tank located in Sydney. As per its website, it provides high-quality research and distinctive perspectives on international trends. Interestingly this institute was founded in 2003 by Mr. Frank Lowly whom himself frustrated that Australia was not portrayed well in leading international newspapers apart from coverage like shark attacks, bushfire and tennis players. Ironically that is precisely the scholars of this institute currently doing against India. Incidentally, Dhruva Jaishankar, son of External Affairs Minister Sri Jay Shankar is a nonresident fellow at Lowry Institute.

The so-called reputed Lowry Institute, supposedly to play a role in bridging foreign relations also succumbed to misinformation campaign. The below article finds a place in their platform by Indian names whom themselves see the way Australian academicians wants to see Indians. If one is  Hindu phobic, create some Anti-India jargons Australian media will host in their platforms and probably one finds a lucrative writing career.

“India’s reckless rush to ruin” by Edmon Roy 02/03/2020

This article, instead of encouraging foreign relation with India, even goes further painting Hindus as Violent and problematic for India.

Hindu yelling Jai Sri ram (Hail God RAM)- Once a chant to a Deity, now a war cry Modi is stirring to push through its divisive policies to ensure a Hindu state.

BJPs Kapil Mishra is responsible for Riots in Delhi 2020 according to the article’s verdict.

***                              ***                                     ***                                         ***

Lee Rhiannon is a former Greens Senator runs a small independent media portal called ‘Newmatilda’, it demands Australia to challenge India’s defiance over Kashmir. She is a supporter of Pakistan and accuses India of human rights abuse in Kashmir. The same media outlet calls India as the rape capital of the world and hysterical about growing fascism in India.

Recent Examples of Australian Anti India and Pro Islamic coverage on CORONA VIRUS

While most of the Western countries failed to demonstrate their robust health system in controlling Coronavirus, it’s a heartbreaking moment for jealous Western media including Australian media, in the absence of drastic tragedies in India, they sought to paint India in a negative light again.

1. Why is India targeting writers during the coronavirus pandemic?

 The Guardian by Priyamvada Gopal and Sahil Tripathi. 16/04/2020

-claims Yogi as fundamentalist Hindu cleric

2.Coronavirus conspiracy theories Muslims in India

 by Hannah Ellis-Peterson and Shaikh Azizur Rahman. The Guardian 13/04/2020

-Muslims are victims due to state-sponsored campaign against Muslims.

4. Coronavirus scammers try to sell the world’s largest statues by Tom Livingstone 9 news.com.au 08/04/2020

Some exotic news from India.

6. I just want to go home: the desperate millions hit by Modi’s brutal lockdown by Hannah Ellis Petersen in Delhi and Shaikh Azizur Rahman.

-Double standards, Australian themselves have regional travel ban imposed by the government.

7.Divided Delhi under lockdown: If Coronavirus does not kill me, hunger will Amrit Dhillon in New Delhi for Guardian; 30/03/2020

-India is poor. Why lockdown?

The above article with a sub-headline says India’s shutdown is catastrophic for Muslims driven from their homes by sectarian carnage and now without food or shelter.

The severe lack of honesty, unfairness and no due diligence is the key characteristics of the journalistic ethos of Australian media, mainly while reporting on nonwestern country, nonwestern culture and non-biblical faith. The chequebook journalism along with selective non-reporting of topical issues about India demonstrates the apparent lack of competencies among Australian journalists as well as lack of self-esteem among Indian sepoys who are very much willing to join hands with Breaking India forces. Some of the real issues and challenges faced by contemporary India never makes it to their newsroom. Some of the examples are:

Love Jehad by Muslim youth against Hindus
The Disobeying of Indian law by minorities during Coronavirus lockdown.
Dirty Civil war imposed by Christian missionaries targeting Hindus for conversion
Breaking India NGOs funded by Church and West
Terrorism by Islamists
The lynching of Hindu Sadhus
Church owning the largest property through British colonial masters
Gandhi family and its fraud on India
Special privileges offered to Indian minorities though constitution and schemes at the cost of Hindus.
Hindu temples under government control but not churches and Mosque in a secular India
The effects of colonial atrocities on India

Conclusion:

The Indian economic strategy to 2035 by Australian government policy framework states:

” Australia needs to shift its thinking about the diaspora away from the multicultural narrative, important as that is and towards seeing the Indian diaspora as a network which can open doors, help navigate Indian business culture, enhance the community’s understanding of contemporary India and contribute to Australian public diplomacy in India.”

The journalistic intentions of Australian news outlets are way behind complimenting Australian governments plan to have a better deal with India. The Australian journalists co-publish atrocity literature along with Indian Sepoys and many times Indian sepoys themselves write about their civilization as a white man want to see them. This phenomenon of inferiority complex is not seen among other cultural groups, and they do other way around in promoting their cultures when given an opportunity in media platform.

The Australian Indian community news magazines also failed to counter any narrative put forth by Australian media, nor they are willing to publish rebuttals which challenges the existing ecosystem. Their coverage is all about Melas, Individual Indians materialistic achievements in Australia and Bollywood events.

Every headline, every word and the filtering process in selecting news about India by Western journalists have serious meaning to it. The agenda of news publishers is always “Work in Progress” and the Australian media the is the root cause of Racism and creates phobia against multiculturalism in their backyard.

References:

1.Overview – An India Economic Strategy to 2035 https//: www.dfat.gov.au accessed on 27/04/2020

2.’Indian Ocean news”: Indian Challenges to Australian racialized Media by Heather Goodall. Transforming Cultures eJournal, Vol 4 No2 November 2009 http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/Journals/TfC

3.Hinduism in Australia and New Zealand by Purushottama Billimora. . 2014 Brills Encyclopedia of Hinduism.

4.” Fake news “against India in Australia is a matter of concern, says Hindu Council Chief.19/01/2020 United News of India http//www.uniindia.com

5.Lowy institute https//: lowyinstitute.org

 6.Challenging Racism Project 2015 National Survey Authors: Kathleen Blair Alana Kamp,Oishee Alam https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/1202226/Challenging_Racism_Report_3.pdf

7.’Breaking India” by Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelkandhan: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines. Infinity Foundation 2011.

Featured Image: The Economic Times

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.

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