Sunday, Jan 23, 2022
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India As Seen From Abroad: Why Government Is Angry With Foreign Media

The ministry has already sent rebuttals to leading foreign media organisations, including The Guardian, Wash­ington Post, Time, Al Jazeera, The Eco­nomist, Huffington Post, New York Times and the BBC.

India As Seen From Abroad: Why Government Is Angry With Foreign Media
India As Seen From Abroad: Why Government Is Angry With Foreign Media -

When US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders talked about “widespread anti-Muslim mob violence” in Delhi, it had much to do with the international media’s reportage. From 2014, when Narendra Modi took over as PM, to coverage of the recent Delhi riots, the foreign press has gone from cautious optimism to outright portrayal of his regime as one that is turning India into a Hindu nationalist state. The Economist played up “Intolerant India: How Modi is endangering the world’s largest democracy” on a recent cover before the Delhi riots, which most foreign media called a “pogrom”. In its February 26 editorial, The Guardian called it a “Hindu nationalist rampage”, adding that “Modi stoked this fire”. No wonder all this has not gone down well with the government. Author Aatish Taseer had already been stripped of his overseas citizenship of India—less than six months after his Time magazine cover story in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls called Modi “India’s Divider in Chief”. The Centre has decided to respond aggressively, but the information and broadcasting ministry is believed to be exercising caution since the fiasco of serving and then withdrawing notices to two Malayalam TV channels for their coverage of the riots.

“We are sending rejoinders backed by solid facts. It is factually incorrect to call it a pogrom as there were casualties and losses on both sides,” says an I&B ministry official. The ministry has already sent rebuttals to leading foreign media organisations, including The Guardian, Wash­ington Post, Time, Al Jazeera, The Eco­nomist, Huffington Post, New York Times and the BBC. Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati was among the first to register his protest. Tur­n­ing down a BBC invite to an event, he wrote to its head Tony Hall that the broadcas­ter’s coverage was “one-sided” and “damningly silent” on attacks on policemen and the “brutal targeted murder of an Intelligence Bureau official”.

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