Australian Media’s Anti-India propaganda

Australian Media’s Anti-India propaganda

The left-liberal media in Australia, like their counterparts worldwide, appear to be deliberately publishing opinion pieces that are decidedly anti-India, anti-Modi, and anti-Hindu. It is not new but just at a time when Australia, Japan, India, and the United States are coming together, attempts are being made to deliberately sow anti-India narrative.
I rebut two such recent articles here:

Brian Toohey

Toohey wrote an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald on 07 June 2020 titled ‘’Drop the pretence when it comes to India’’. Anyone who has in-depth knowledge about India, its polity and religion would quickly realize that the opinion piece lacks serious research.
Toohey questions the shared values between India and Australia and asserts that “reality’’ is different. In support, he cites the Freedom House 2020 report. The organization compiles the report by polling its own list of in-house and external “experts’’. It puts a question mark on the credibility of the report. Atkinson and McLaughlin also consider the measurement flawed. Freedom House is a not-for-profit organization. Forbes notes “non-profit staff and board members have political opinions just like their for-profit peers’’.
Toohey contends that Australia trusts India less than Morrison does. This is understandable. Morrison would be privy to voluminous information not available to ordinary Australians. Australians may form opinions based on media reports which are often manipulated. The media are held in low esteem by Australians as Roy Morgan’s research found. Vandervicken noted “the U.S. press, like the U.S. government, is a corrupt and troubled institution’’.
Toohey then cites Lowe Institute poll which was clouded by coronavirus pandemic — the Institute admits. Toohey highlights that Prime Minister Modi scores lower at 42% compared to his own previous score. Yet Modi’s score is much higher than Trump (30%) and Xi (22%). It would be wrong to compare these large and complex economies with smaller countries like New Zealand which are a lot easier to administer.
Toohey is concerned about Indian intelligence agencies lobbying in Canada. But lobbying is a legitimate practice and part of the democratic process as the Australian Parliament report notes. All countries engage in lobbying to protect their interest. Has Toohey read the celebrated book Lobbying America?
Toohey asserts that Modi permits “oppression and coercion’’ in Kashmir. Did Toohey study the vexed Kashmir issue in-depth or has he fallen prey to Pakistan’s propaganda? Article 370, a temporary provision, was clandestinely introduced in the Indian constitution by Nehru. It gave “special status’’ to the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J &K). Toohey notes that six million Muslims of Kashmir have been put under house arrest implying religious discrimination but hides that 65% of the population of Jammu, which is also under the same law, is Hindu. He hides from the readers that the entire J & K was considered a disturbed area due to terrorist activity and was put under special legislation for security reasons since the early 1990s when the Congress Party ruled. As the security situation did not improve subsequent governments continued the special law.
Toohey claims that “contentious Hindu migration grows’’ in Kashmir is laughable and unsubstantiated. Even if it is why should that be an issue? As Indian citizens, Indians belonging to any religion have free access to any part of India. Does Toohey consider that only Rohingya Muslims who illegally migrated could be settled in J&K? It is obvious that Toohey is echoing Pakistan’s propaganda. He does not tell us his sources of information and is silent that up to 300,000 Kashmiri Hindus (pandits) were forced to flee in 1990 by Islamic extremist. He notes “Modi uses military force within India in the clear belief that might is right’’ and demonstrates his complete ignorance of the vexed Kashmir issue as well as India in general. Over the years, J &K has witnessed over 71,000 incidences of violence and 42,000 killings including that of security personnel.
Toohey makes a blatantly false statement that “Modi has declared Hinduism to be the “superior” religion and is preparing to expel millions of Muslims from other parts of India’’. Toohey again hides the source from readers. His statement “previous governments supported religious tolerance to help hold the country together’’ demonstrates that he is batting for the opposition Congress Party. The law to expel illegal immigrants in the North-Eastern States was brought by Congress’s government in 1985 which it failed to implement. Consequently, the Supreme Court ordered the Modi government to start the process under Court supervision.
Toohey cites another dubious non-profit organization Human Rights Watch whose main source of income is special grants. Obviously, it would produce reports as required by the granter. Toohey laments “extremely high levels of dire poverty despite promises to improve the rights of India’s poorest inhabitants’’ but fails to tell the readers that under Modi, the largest financial inclusion program and largest healthcare in the world was launched along with housing for the poor- rapidly reducing poverty. Nearly 271 million people were lifted out of poverty (largely in the Modi era), as the United Nations found. But Brian, it appears was not interested in fact-finding. He appears to have been commissioned to push anti-Modi narrative. Similarly, Toohey’s unsubstantiated claim of “Modi’s extreme brutality’’ is an absolute hogwash.
Brian is a senior journalist and should one not expect factual and responsible journalism from him? Unfortunately, Brian has failed his readers miserably.

Mohamed Zeeshan

Another piece published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 9 July 2020 is authored by Mohamed Zeeshan. It is titled “Nurturing robust democracy a win-win for India and Australia’’. Though couched in a positive-sounding title, the article as expected is full of distortion. Basically, Zeeshan is more or less regurgitating Toohey.
Like Toohey, Zeeshan cites the Freedom House Report 2020 to build his narrative. The report has questionable credibility as indicated above. Zeeshan considers that nominating a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to the Parliament raises questions of independence of the judiciary. The reference is obviously to former Justice Ranjan Gogoi. He hides from the readers that Justice Gogoi was praised by the opposition parties when he along with three other judges held a press conference questioning some practices in the judiciary. In fact, in his very first speech, Justice Gogoi focused on the rot that has set in the judiciary. Appointment of judges post-retirement to high positions such as Governor, or to head a Commission are nothing new and have been taking place for years. Zeeshan conveniently forgets that Indira Gandhi superseded senior judges to appoint A. N. Ray as the Chief Justice to subjugate the judiciary. Modi has not done anything like that in his six-year tenure so far.
Furthermore, the Indian constitution does provide for 12 such seats in the Parliament for persons who can contribute significantly for the betterment of India. But Zeeshan who probably does not know the constitutional provision, paints a picture that democratic norms are under threat in Modi regime.
Zeeshan notes “then, as India went into lockdown, journalists were being arrested’’. Zeeshan writes about lockdown but does not mention it was COVID19 lockdown. What has COVID19 to do with journalist arrest? But by joining the two, he tries to convey the impression as though democracy is in lockdown in India. This is how the left-liberal play their cards by subtly distorting the narrative. He does not tell us who were the journalists arrested? Is he referring to Arnab Goswami? Well, the first thing is Arnab was not arrested but attacked by Congress Party goons and then called for questioning by Mumbai police – a state ruled by the Congress Party. It is the first time that a victim – a journalist – is interrogated by the police for more than 12 hours but Zeeshan is silent on this aspect. Is Zeeshan’s silence on such a crucial matter smacks of his closeness to the Congress Party and therefore explains why he could have been appointed as advisor to the Indian delegation to the United Nations as the description below his article notes?
Zeeshan’s article was circulated by Shashi Tharoor on twitter and he praises Ravish Kumar and Nidhi Razdan of NDTV as fearless journalists (!) – providing enough clues where Zeeshan is coming from.
Zeeshan also cites the Lowe Institute report which I have already debunked in earlier paragraphs and advises that India should be goaded by Australia to ensure human rights. It appears Zeeshan again took this line from Toohey’s Human Rights Watch reference.
I did send the rebuttal of Toohey’s article to the Sydney Morning Herald, the very next day of its publication but they have not responded so far. Generally, Australian media respond in 48 hours if they want to publish a piece.
I will review a few more articles later as they require further research. The purpose is to expose these journalists (or propagandist) and the media houses who push such blatantly false narratives about India and Narendra Modi.
Would it be wrong to conclude that such articles are a part of the larger sponsored propaganda by India’s enemy countries as well as some opposition parties?

Featured Image: Nikkei Asian Review

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Milind Sathye

Milind Sathye is an Australian academic.