Rejoinder to NYTimes Editorial on Modi

Dear NYTimes Editors,

This is with reference to an NYTimes editorial titled “Narendra Modi’s Rise in India“.

I am a rare visitor of NYTimes website, and contrary to my belief about the objectivity of NYTimes this editorial is far from being objective or accurate. MY rejoinder to the same is below.

The article begins with a highly prejudiced statement on 2002 riots:

 “In 2002, rioters in the western Indian state of Gujarat savagely killed nearly 1,000 people, most of whom were part of the Muslim minority

 1. This wittingly not mentioning the cause-effect: they are post-Godhra riots, which started because a barbaric mob burned down a train – does reaction warrant being called ‘savagery’ or the antecedent action too?

2. More than a fourth of people killed were Hindus, does this justify saying ‘most’ were minority, given that the actual proportion of population of the so-called minority is hardly 10% in Gujarat?

3. What is your understanding of the word minority? There is no single community in India except Muslim community, which sizes more than 10% of the population – there are several religions in India like Sakta, Vaishnava, Bauddha, Jaina, Sikh, Parsi and so on. Most denominations are much smaller than Muslim community and many of them really endangered because of monotheistic cults. On what basis are they minority? India’s courts never held them to be so, it is the vitiated political atmosphere.

So your editorial can be neatly classified as anti-Modi propaganda which is far from truth. Truth is as follows:

1. The Muslim community in India is often led to rioting and violence by its own leaders’ provocation and is only victim of retaliation of its OWN initiated violence. Survey the riots in India and you will find this overwhelmingly true. I expect honesty from NYTimes.

2. Modi government did much more to contain riots than ANY other government in India – given limitations like army at that time being deployed in the border.

Given this bad start, one can expect this entire editorial to be prejudiced, and that is what it turns out to be:

His rise to power is deeply troubling to many Indians, especially the country’s 138 million Muslims and its many other minorities

 well what about ‘minorities’ that number in hundreds or thousands in India? What exactly do you know about India, its various denominations and how they are endangered because of US sponsored monotheistic extremism and Pakistan sponsored monotheistic terrorism? Do you think you owe some honesty to your readers instead of pushing outright lies by calling a community that numbers 140 million as a minority? The fake sense of victimhood that people like you put into Muslim mind is a big problem in India, and is coming big way as an obstacle in forging good relation between peoples. So this you must understand, is irresponsible journalism.

 “They worry he would exacerbate sectarian tensions that have subsided somewhat in the last decade

Well the fact is, Gujarat had been one of the most turbulent states before Modi came to power and it has been one of the most peaceful states in India after he came to power. Do you think reality also matters or just some apprehension bad journalists put into the minds of people?

But Mr. Modi’s strident Hindu nationalism has fueled public outrage.When Reuters asked him earlier this year if he regretted the killings in 2002, he said, if “someone else is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even then if a puppy comes under the wheel, will it be painful or not? Of course it is.” That incendiary response created a political uproar and demands for an apology. 

Another patent falsehood – there was no public outrage at all, there was only a fake outrage engaged in by anti-Modi media and politicians. People received his Reuters interview very well, which you must know by surveying public mood in India. Modi’s ‘puppy’ comment too, was well understood by Indian masses, although the opposition tried to make an issue out of it.  There was no issue in India, and I am not sure what your source of this misinformation is. Much less do I appreciate calling his statement an ‘incendiary’ response, when it was actually known by Indians as compassionate. To understand this, you need to give up your biblical mindset and understand Indian idiom and worldview which holds all forms of life as divine.

Mr. Modi has shown no ability to work with opposition parties or tolerate dissent.

This is a half-lie. Modi’s ability is not wanting, whether it is in working with opposition or handling dissent with proper show of maturity and control over the situation. His ability is what frightens his opposition for obvious reasons. A strong BJP is the answer to the anarchic coalition politics in India, and the small time regional leaders who had been reaping the benefits of a weak central government feel threatened with the rise of Modi. A patriotic Indian would see the situation this way, since his stakes are in getting an able and committed government.

There is an attempt to further mislead the readers:

“His economic record in Gujarat is not entirely admirable, either. Muslims in Gujarat, for instance, were much more likely to be poor than Muslims in India as a whole in 2009 and 2010, according to a government report, though new data has shown a big improvement in the last two years.

what is this ‘though new data shows big improvement’, with respect to what background? How did the ratio improve between before and after Modi came to power? Does that put him on the bright spot? Why is that not accepted? Is that not really ‘admirable’ and directly contradictory to what you say?

To evaluate Modi, the only fair way is to compare the ratios before he came to power and after he came to power. Whether it is poverty levels or riots or anything else. You are not doing that. Of course, there are many facts you would ignore that easily counter your opinions –

1. The Haj applications in Gujarat received are disproportionately higher than for instance in Bihar, and that shows how many Muslims actually prosper in Gujarat more than other states.

2. Gujarat government demolished more temples than mosques in the last decade, as part of its road building/widening – no dissent was seen from either communities. Does this tell you something about the ground reality in Gujarat? Gujarati Muslims are happier than average Indian Muslims, and this is the ground reality no matter how you try playing with numbers. And that is not in spite of, but because of an able administrator like Modi.

To conclude, dear editors of NYTimes, opinions are fine as long as they attempt to align with reality.

-Skanda

 

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