War of narratives: Jaishankar takes on the US media for its “biased” coverages

By Sanjay Kumar

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has cautioned the American media for its “biased” coverage of India and setting a negative narrative on the country.

Interacting with the Indian American community on September 25, Mr Jaishankar said that the US media reflects biases in reporting on India. “My point is there are biases, there are efforts really, to determine”, said Mr Jaishankar.  “Look the more India goes its way and the people who believe that they were the custodians and the shapers of India lose ground in India the more actually, some of these debaters gonna come outside,” Mr Jaishankar said while responding to a question on the increase in anti-Indian forces in this country.

Ever since the Modi administration has assumed office in Delhi, the US media has been critical of the BJP-led government.

Alluding to The Washington Post for its ‘biased’ coverage of India, Mr Jaishankar said: “You know, there are some newspapers you know, exactly, what they are going to write including one in this town”, said the Indian foreign minister. Among the major contributors for Jeff Bezos owned Washington Post are Rana Ayyub and Barkha Dutt, two Indians who are fiercest critics of the Modi administration.

In June this year Ayyub won the 2022 International John Aubuchon Award Honoree, American National Press Club’s highest honor for Press Freedom.

“This is something which we need to be aware of. It is important to contest. It isn’t because most Americans will not know what sort of the nuances and the complexities of back home, so, it’s important not to sit back, not to let other people define me. That is something which I feel as a community is very important for us”, Mr Jaishankar said. The minister said that “such groups will try and win outside or try and shape India from outside”. He said through the media coverage “opinions and perceptions are shaped”.

He justified the long internet shutdown in Kashmir after the imposition of lockdown following the abrogation of the limited constitutional autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019.For over 6 months mobile and internet services remained shut in the Kashmir valley. India says it was meant to save “human lives”. “There is a big song and dance about the Internet being cut. Now, if you’ve reached the stage where you say an Internet cut is more dangerous than the loss of human lives, then what can I say?” said Mr Jaishankar.

“If you look at A (Article) 370-issue. What was a temporary provision of the Constitution was finally put to rest”, said the minister. “This was supposed to be an act of majority. This was supposed to be majoritarian. Tell me what was happening in Kashmir was not majoritarian?, I think the way facts are slanted, things are laid out. What is right, what is wrong is confused. This is actually politics at work”.

Last week, The New York Times questioned the declining democratic credentials of India.

“It is India’s credentials as the world’s largest democracy that Mr. Modi rides on the global stage. But at home, diplomats, analysts and activists say, Mr. Modi’s government is undertaking a project to remake India’s democracy unlike any in its 75 years of independence — stifling dissent, sidelining civilian institutions and making minorities second-class citizens”, wrote New York Times. The largest circulated US daily alleged that the Modi administration is working to turn India’s secular democracy into a majoritarian state.




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