When I passed through Delhi briefly last month I was struck by how much energy the media devoted to one particular issue—outrage over the Australian government's decision to detain Mohammed Haneef after he was freed on bail. That sentiment may well be justified. There appeared to be no prima facie basis for Haneef's detention. And observers of John Howard's unpleasant brand of conservatism have reasonable grounds to suspect that Canberra might have treated a white suspect differently in similar circumstances.
But in the grander scheme of things, Haneef's extended detention hardly merited the sense of injured nationalism that suffused some of the journalism I observed. One English-channel programme devoted an entire half-hour segment to the injustice of Haneef's situation without once referencing the hundreds of Indians, including Indian Muslims, languishing in Indian jails, many on the flimsiest of pretexts, not all of them in Gujarat and Kashmir.