The Economist is quite widely revered as a media platform primarily from the conceived experience of delivering research-based hardliner facts in their content. Perhaps, it is due to this notion that when it published an article titled “Narendra Modi stokes divisions in the world’s biggest democracy”, one cannot help but be shocked by the presence of such rudimentary content on such a pedestal.
The 1037-word article has failed to occupy the space of credibility that being published on The Economist could have rendered. Here are my reasons for the discomfort aroused by this piece. Let us dissect but first, allow me to twice remove myself from the anticipated prejudice that I am a so-called bhakt by claiming that I am no way affiliated to the present government nor do I endorse every policy it houses. I am a non-partisan Indian and ethical journalist! Let us begin.
It starts with the update, “Last month India changed the law to make it easier for adherents of all the subcontinent’s religions, except Islam, to acquire citizenship.”
It also states that “the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants to compile a register of all India’s 1.3 Bn citizens, as a means to hunt down illegal immigrants. Those sound-like technicalities…” and this is where the problem area is. By reducing the process to sounding like technicalities and in the following lines, claiming that over 200 Mn Muslims of the country do not have the papers to prove they are Indian, The Economist has ventured into adventurism.
Neither India nor any international bodies have any statistics on how many Muslims lack papers to prove citizenship in India. If there are, it is on the mere assumption by media and opposition parties which have produced manufactured cooked-up data.
|According to the 2018 population estimate, the total Muslim population in India is 201 Mn. This is roughly 11% of the total Indian population. This is also the second most Muslim populated country in the world.|
Here are my questions:
By claiming that 200 Mn Indian Muslims risk being made stateless, is The Economist claiming all the Indian Muslims are “illegal migrants’ or ‘refugees’? As per the census 2011, Muslims in India accounted for 32.6% Work Participation rate in Government, Public Sector Banks and Public Sector Undertakings. No government jobs can be taken up in India when a person does not have documents to prove citizenship.
The Economist has relied on mere assumptions rather than statistics available.
From this horrendous of an error, it goes to speculate with its audience that “You might think that the BJP’s scheme was a miscalculation”. For a platform that dwells on its projected well-researched content to propagate speculations and use terms like “incitement”, one can safely say the anonymous writer’s work begins to border along the line of humour.
From constantly targeting the conservative governments across the globe – be it Donald Trump in the USA or Narendra Modi in India – The Economist has compromised on its quality of well-researched reportage. By conveniently reducing the status of the Indian government as it would do to the Trump administration, The Economist is only setting a malicious example for the media. Both the leaderships are a world apart and of course, quite literally so.
The article also further ascribes the entire success of the BJP to its much controversial incident of Babri Masjid demolition in 1992. What the content doesn’t deliver in its attempt of being a crisp reading source is that the BJP’s success is a confluence of many factors which started right before 1980 when late Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the foreign minister and he along with his peers founded the laying bricks of the BJP to resonate with the Hindu populist propaganda of a Hindu Rashtra at the same time retaining Vajpayee’s secular and liberal leadership.
In smearing the character of our current Prime Minister, it also mentions the Gujarat riot in 2002 but laments the “massacre of Muslims in the state” and pushes the Hindu victims who lost their lives in the shadow of selective content branding. As a reminder, the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court of India has already given a clean chit to Narendra Modi.
The article also takes the opportunity to call Modi’s policies as an “electoral nectar” and describes how it is venomous for India. Reading between the line, this is training your eyes at the CAA without pointing your fingers at it.
How, dear writer? How does restricting and screening the refugee population in India affect the inherent population of the country and undermine its secular thread? What is the basis of your speculation that claims, “Mr Modi’s latest initiatives” are “likely to lead to bloodshed”?
There is a Herculean issue that the international media like The Economist and others can’t comprehend yet they foray into breeding misunderstandings and confusions. They rant, “The sad truth is that Mr Modi and the BJP are likely to benefit politically by creating divisions over religion and national identity”.
Here is the anti-climax of this make-belief climax. Let us assume that the government has enough analysts and advisors to understand that taking such bold actions will, with all eventuality, turn Muslim voters against it. It will also divide the Hindu voters as is visible. The other minorities will also give in to this confusion. So, with all the risks involved, how is the divide benefiting the Modi divisive propaganda. And to reason with the article on how this works for the government, it says that “a sizeable minority of Indian voters are sympathetic to his constant insinuation that Muslims are dangerous fifth-columnists, always scheming to do Hindus down and sell out their country to Pakistan”.
Every sound country has its anti-immigration laws. It gives cognisance to its citizens via an identification card. Almost all the South Asian countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal – has it. Why is The Economist privy to the idea of India attempting to shape its immigration laws? Solely because it thinks, “It could drag on for years, inflaming passions over and over again…”
To the writer of this rather dastardly crafted piece, as an Indian citizen, let me assure you (and you can also dig more into it), the government has not “explicitly vowed,” not to “take a single downtrodden Muslim” from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan as you surmise. Such an assumption is rather more an imperil to “the inspiring idea of India as the world’s largest democracy”. Muslims still can acquire Indian citizenship following ‘the present legal process of acquiring Indian citizenship by any foreigner of any category through naturalisation (Section 6 of the Citizenship Act) or through registration (Section 5 of the Act)’.
You may call abrogation of Article 370 as “collective punishment of Kashmir“, but it is the only furtherance of India’s stand on Jammu & Kashmir being an integral part of India. For the first time in the history of this country, Jammu & Kashmir was removed from the list of disputed territory by the UN in 2010. The abrogation will now make J&K inclusive of a wide-ranging social and development schemes. Except for China and Pakistan, the European Union, the USA and Russia have also backed the abrogation directly or indirectly.
But it seems from being a researched rhetorical piece; the writer descends to emulate patriotism in Indian readers …more specifically the Hindus because according to him defending the country against Modi’s policies is “Something worth defending”. Touché!
To the naïve writer of The Economist, India is not divisive; it is diverse. But for this piece and as to why it was written, I will only give a one-liner here as a conclusion – you pay a plumber better not because he knows how to hit on the pipe, you do it because he knows where to hit.