By Rakesh Krishnan Simha
Why are liberals, leftists and most mainstream journalists arrayed against progressive Indians? Why are these groups so out of sync with the mood of the people? How could they rush to declare demonetisation a failure, even as a billion ordinary citizens braved long queues and solidly backed the government? Why do they crank up the volume of protest when a Christian church is burgled and vandalised by criminals, but there is deafening silence when Muslim mobs destroy an entire Hindu town in Bengal? When Muslims are attacked for allegedly consuming beef, the cacophony of these groups doesn’t end for weeks, but when six Hindu women are gunned down by Kashmiri terrorists during the Amarnath pilgrimage why do they dismiss it in a tweet ? Why are they always on the side of forces inimical to India, such as fundamentalist Muslims, evangelistic Christians or communists who are in the pay of the Chinese? Why are they sympathetic to Pakistan, whose raison d être is at worst the destruction of India or at best its Islamisation?
You don’t need to be on the inside track of politics or have exhaustive knowledge of the working of the news media to connect the dots. Just follow the money – it’s as simple as that. They say Mumbai is India’s financial capital, where money is the great mover, but in reality money is more important in the national capital. Here the working of the machinery is greased by cold cash, off-the-book perks, long-term sinecures and free junkets. Here, there is an incestuous relationship between disparate groups such as bureaucrats, journalists, fixers, so-called intellectuals and politicians who reside in an elite space known as Lutyens’ Delhi.
A Short History of Lutyens’ Delhi
In 1931 when the British moved India’s capital from Kolkata to New Delhi, the city’s central administrative area, with its wide avenues, extensive parks and imposing colonial homes was reserved for the empire’s bureaucrats. This area came to be known as Lutyens’ Delhi after its designer Edwin Lutyens. Many of these administrators were little men – colonialists who descended on India with utter contempt for the people they were going to rule over, not serve. Their only qualification was white skin. In keeping with the general calibre of Englishmen and Scots of those days, they were men of questionable intellect and average to poor skills. However, they were paid obscene amounts of money. Each of these bureaucrats had at least a dozen Indian servants, some had up to 30.
When the British hastily retreated in 1947, their rapacious administrators were replaced by a class of Indians derisively described as Macaulayites – Indians only in name but who were otherwise disconnected from Indian culture and thought. These Indians had inherited all the biases that the British rulers harboured towards Indians. They were the product of Thomas Macaulay’s English Education Act 1835 whose sole purpose was to create a class of people who would assist the British in administering India.
In almost every country when oppressive rulers or colonisers were overthrown by freedom fighters or revolutionaries, the entire country went through the wringer. The old ways were discarded and new governance followed. This was true of the US in 1776 after the war of independence, in Russia after the 1917 revolution, in China after the 1949 revolution and in Vietnam in 1975 after the Viet Cong defeated the Americans.
In contrast, nothing changed in India after the hasty British retreat. It was a smooth transition from colonial looters to Congress carpetbaggers. The bureaucracy, which facilitated British loot, now joined the political class in looting nominally free Indians. When the Congress introduced socialism style permits for operating industries, the middlemen moved in. These fixers were soon joined by journalists who realised that their easy access to the political leadership and the bureaucracy could be monetised.
The nexus between the above groups is so profitable (as I will elaborate further in gory detail) that it is now a virtual cartel. Just like the Sicilian mafia tried to eliminate honest judges and policemen who came after it, the Lutyens mafia will target anyone who tries to stop its freeloading. That is why it is targeting the current political leadership, in particular Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who threatens to end the deeply entrenched loot culture of Lutyens’ Delhi.
The award wapsi (returns) drama, beef festivals, the constant drone about intolerance and the manufacturing of fake news to make the current BJP government look like a failure are all a synchronised act by deeply entrenched Lutyens’ Delhi groups who have been effectively checkmated by Modi and now are desperate to make a comeback. Their 70 year long ride on the gravy train has ended and they want it to continue. They will even seek the support of the foreign media, intelligence agencies, NGOs and religious outfits to keep India down.
In the following story you will see how Lutyens’ Delhi operates and why it needs to be checked and neutralised and the nexus completely broken if India is to rise. For, their interests are diametrically opposite to India’s. Only by keeping India weak, struggling (if not poor) and in a state of chaos can they continue to leech off the ineffectual nation state.
This event took place sometime in the latter half of 2001 at a leading New Delhi-based newspaper. It was a slow night and nothing newsworthy had arrived from the state bureaus. I was the chief copy editor and along with other senior editors, I was scanning the wires for a lead story for the following day’s paper. The reality of the news business is that most nights there is nothing interesting happening nationwide, so the media has to spin, or spice up, the news.
But that particular night we didn’t have to resort to spin as the ceasefire broke down on the Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir and the guns opened up from both sides. However, trading projectiles across the LoC wasn’t news. What got our attention was CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour – the well-known India-hater – reporting live from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK). What shocked me and the rest of the journalists on duty was Amanpour’s completely one sided reporting – she was practically frothing at the mouth, alleging that Indian cannons were laying waste to peaceful villages in PoK. Although she was presenting the news as a massive human rights violation, all that the CNN crew could broadcast as evidence was footage of a couple of huts with their roofs blown away, the odd crater and a dead buffalo. Amanpour’s neutrality – and her standard of journalism – can be judged by the fact that she was flying in a Pakistan Army helicopter accompanied by Pakistan military officers.
And now we come to the devious part. After he watched the footage the resident editor (who takes the executive decision) said: “Splash it on the front page. Let’s expose CNN.” For journalists like me – used to seeing news stories get smothered because of various lobbies at work – this was great news. We decided to give the story a six-column display that would take up most of the top half of the front page. I’d never seen such an expose of the western media in a leading newspaper, so this was going to set one hell of an example, I thought.
I had even come up with a headline for the story: “CNN goes ballistic on India at LoC”. With barely an hour to go for the presses to start rolling, the Resident Editor came rushing into the news desk. “Pull the story, find something else,” he said. You can imagine my disappointment when I heard this. “Why can’t we run the story?” I asked.
The resident editor said: “We got a call from Blackwill. He has requested us to not publish the story.”
He was referring to American ambassador Robert Blackwill. It is not known whether the envoy himself had called up the resident editor or if he had directly called the owners of the paper.
Now the thing to note is how on earth did the Americans come to know that our newspaper was going to press with the CNN story? A good guess is they were monitoring the India media in real time via electronic methods. American whistleblower Edward Snowden who defected to Russia revealed in 2013 that India is the fifth most penetrated country by American intelligence agencies. NSA and CIA operatives may have tipped Blackwill off about the PR disaster that was about to hit the US in India.
However, a more plausible explanation is that they had an inside man. The one journalist that fit the bill is a senior editor who still works there. He was educated in the US and had even worked at American media outlets. He had become a sort of fixer for the owners by ensuring their family members were always granted American tourist or business visas. This was not a job he enjoyed much, but several times I had heard him speak over the phone, asking that so and so relative’s visas be expedited.
What aroused my suspicion was that he hung around till late even when his page had gone to press and his presence was not required. He could be seen slowly walking the long aisles, a mobile phone glued to his ear. He would frequently come to the production area, looking at the various screens as he walked past.
This editor also ensured that nothing too critical was written against the US. In 2011 when an American diplomat disgusted the entire country when she told a group of students in Chennai that after a long train journey her skin became “dark and dirty like the Tamils”, this editor defended the US diplomat in his blog, saying she did not really mean it. That was a good hint he was a flack for the Americans.
So here you have a journalist who was clearly operating against India’s interests by working for a foreign power. He fits the description of a presstitute, as described by former army chief and current junior external affairs minister V.K. Singh.
By nature, Indian liberals and leftists are anti-India and anti-Hindu. They conflate caste oppression with Hinduism and are therefore predisposed to hate Hindus. Also, because they are conditioned by Macaulayite education to believe their own country’s religion and culture are inferior to the West’s, they suffer from a deep inferiority complex. They, therefore, disown India.
But what explains their affinity for the Islamic madhouse that masquerades as a nation? Pakistan is an Islamic state where Marxism and atheism are considered blasphemous. Indian leftists and the so-called intellectuals will be dragged out and lynched on the streets of Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar. In India they misuse free speech by attacking Hindu gods and religion, and yet they get away with it. In Pakistan that would not be possible. Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan claim India is intolerant, yet they prosper and thrive in India. Frankly, if they move to Pakistan (and perhaps they should give it a try) and say Pakistan is intolerant, they wouldn’t last more than a few hours.
There is no real mystery to the Indian liberal’s Pakistan fixation. It’s again about money and junkets. The 2003-04 India-Pakistan cricket series provides an excellent example. No cricket series had been played between the two sides since 1999, and the Kargil War was fresh in people’s mind. The nation did not want any sporting contact with Pakistan, but those who had a vested interest in the resumption of cricket matches were parroting the usual line: “Cricket should not become a victim of politics.” Or “cricket unites peoples”.
The debate whether India should tour Pakistan was being played out in the media. At the Delhi-based newspaper where I worked, there was a discussion on what line we should take. The associate editor – the journalist who decided what news went on which page and was also responsible for copy editing, headlines and photo selection – led the voices who said India must tour. I argued why we must not by presenting these arguments:
- Pakistan is an artificial country of incompatible ethnic groups that virulently hate each other. The only time these Punjabis, Pathans, Seraikis and Sindhis come together is when the Pakistan cricket team plays India. Cricket acts like the glue that periodically makes disintegrating Pakistan stick together. Indians therefore must not do anything that stops the disintegrating process. Therefore, we must not play cricket with Pakistan.
- Pakistani cricketers come to India and are hosted, wined and dined by celebrities. The Pakistanis begin to believe they are superstars, without whom cricket would not sell in India. A similar claim was made by Pakistani artists. According to Hindi movie playback singer Abhijeet, Pakistani artists used to brag that “without us your movies will not sell”. Pakistani artists have the same mentality of hardcore Islamists who have a sense of entitlement. They believe they can enjoy Indian hospitality, earn megabucks in India and then snub India because a Muslim is entitled to take anything from a Hindu.
- Indian starlets try and hook up with some of the cricketers in order to boost their careers. The delusional Pakistanis then go around claiming that Indian women like Pakistani men. This is highly insulting for any self-respecting Indian.
Of late, Pakistani cricketers have taken to “thank the almighty Allah” in post-match interviews. They also offer namaz on the cricket grounds, injecting an unhealthy dose of fundamentalism into sport.
Since my arguments were well presented and solid, the associate editor got up and walked away, saying, “No we must play cricket with them.”
Further meetings were held that day to decide the paper’s policy on whether we should pitch for resuming cricket or not. I was not invited to these meetings. By evening, the line taken was: India must play Pakistan.
Now here’s where it gets really interesting. The associate editor wrote the main front page story, arguing the case for playing Pakistan. A few weeks later when the Indian cricket team toured Pakistan, the newspaper sent a sports reporter to cover the matches. Joining him was the associate editor, who was feted like royalty by the Pakistanis. Over a period of more than a month, this journalist filed several pieces about how great the Pakistanis were.
The paper had daily fixed allowance for journalists travelling overseas. It was US$150 for South Asian countries. I heard from a very reliable source in the administration department that the total amount was so high that the accounts department did not clear the bill because they believed these expenses had been incurred on a frivolous tour. The matter went to the owners before the bill was cleared.
Pakistan, easy cash and Indian journalists were also the subjects of an FBI investigation. In 2011 when the FBI busted an ISI front in the United States, they discovered that the man running the racket, Ghulam Nabi Fai, had funnelled $4 million from the ISI to influence American opinion on Kashmir. The FBI recorded 4000 emails and phone calls from his Pakistani handlers. According to the FBI, of the statements Fai made, 80 per cent were provided by the ISI for him to repeat and disseminate verbatim. The other 20 per cent were Fai’s own ideas, but which were pre-approved by the ISI. In other words, he was a 100 per cent Pakistani spy.
And guess who were among his guest list: retired justice Rajinder Sachar (who headed a committee, which falsely claimed Indian Muslims faced discrimination in all aspects of life); Gautam Navlakha (editor of the communist rag Economic and Political Weekly); Dileep Padgaonkar (former editor of the Times of India); Harish Khare (the media adviser to the previous prime minister); Ved Bhasin (editor, Kashmir Times); Harinder Baweja (former India Today journalist) and Praful Bidwai (experienced columnist with communist leanings).
Think about it. When Indian liberals and media figures attend conclaves where the agenda is India’s exit from Kashmir, you think they are doing it for free?
Because they all feed from the same trough, members of the Lutyens’ club solidly support each other, cutting across ideological and party lines. This is best illustrated by how they closed ranks to try and protect Shashi Tharoor. The former diplomat and Congress politician may or may not be involved in his wife Sunanda Pushkar’s murder, but everyone agrees that the Delhi Police botched the investigation at the behest of someone powerful. It was classic O.J. Simpson style reprieve – there was plenty of circumstantial evidence to book Tharoor, but the police closed his file without pursuing any of the leads.
Sunanda Pushkar and Shashi Tharoor
The law is very clear – any mysterious death of a woman within seven years of her marriage needs to be investigated by the anti-dowry cell. That wasn’t applied to Tharoor. But, for the Lutyens cabal, the possible murder of a woman is irrelevant. In their view, the law should be bent to favour one of them.
Leading the mob against Republic TV was columnist and long time BJP supporter Tavleen Singh. The veteran writer switched sides the moment Republic TV produced evidence that someone had indeed interfered in the police investigation. Writing in the Indian Express, she describes the channel’s investigation as “a media lynching”. She even lies that Republic TV journalists were not attacked, whereas the visuals show Tharoor’s goons aggressively pushing and shoving them.
Tavleen admits in her column that Tharoor is a “Lutyens’ darling”, meaning that he was one of their star members. A breach cannot be allowed. If a celebrity member is questioned and investigated, let alone booked or jailed like a criminal, it would be the beginning of the end for other law breakers as well. Powerful clubs do not operate like that; they nip such moves in the bud. Which is why Tavleen was quickly joined by Sadanand Dhume, a pro-Congress journalist and secular apologist (translation: opportunist), who tweeted Tavleen’s words to give her hatchet job more traction.
Another example is the March 2002 suicide of Natasha Singh, the estranged daughter-in-law of then external affairs minister Natwar Singh. Just two months later Natwar’s daughter Ritu Singh committed suicide. Both deaths were highly suspicious and were extensively covered by the Delhi media. Except by Hindustan Times – the city’s largest circulation daily.
HT did not cover the suicides even as a matter of record. The reason for blanking out the suicides was that the HT is a highly pro-Congress paper and Natwar Singh was a Gandhi-family loyalist. Once again the ranks closed to shield a member.
Supari (hit job) journalism
In May 2017 a leading Delhi based newspaper produced a report that said 60 percent of the toilets built under the Swachch Bharat scheme lacked water and were therefore non-functional. An insider at the paper told me that the report was published despite a senior editor asking the reporter to provide more information about his claims. The story had several serious flaws:
1) Why was 2015 data being used to write a story in 2017?
2) Some of the toilets may not yet have received water supply, but perhaps were about to.
3) What were the chief reasons for the lack of water supply?
4) The water supply may have been denied by vested interests to make the initiative fail.
However, without addressing any of the above issues, the team that was anchoring the story sent it for publication. This led to a huge confrontation – between the more balanced editors and a new anti-Modi team that is creating news tailored to fit their agenda. “They are spinning journalism,” the insider told me. “A narrative is sought to be built that Modi is not an effective Prime Minister.”
The insider, who is a senior editor at the paper, said secular, leftist, Christian, Muslim and plain opportunist journalists have formed networks and Whatsapp groups where the constant refrain is how to spin a particular news event to make Modi look bad. Once upon a time, members of this group jealously guarded their sources and tips, today they are cutting across media loyalties, constantly sharing bits of information with each other, in the hope that something that could connect Modi to a scam could crop up.
A typical example is the Sonepat train murder where the first take was that the stabbing was a result of a scuffle between two groups. As more details trickled in, the headlines and news reports were quickly changed to reflect the fact that the dead man was a Muslim and the other party was Hindu. Within hours the narrative was changed to show that the Muslim man was murdered because he was allegedly carrying beef.
This is a classic hatchet job, with low risks. As the news business is not an exact science, you can always allege something loudly, make your target (the Modi government) look guilty, and then retract silently if you are outed as a liar. Meanwhile, the international media (or more accurately, the India-hating media of the English speaking countries) picks up these scraps of misinformation and soon you have usual villains such as The Economist, Washington Post and New York Times proclaiming that India is descending into fascism. The Indian secular media, which contributed the original lie, now quotes the western media to buttress their claims that India is indeed intolerant. That India’s name is sullied and Indian men are now labelled rapists and killers are of no concern to the Indian media.
Says the media insider: “The seculars do not want secularism. They are least bothered about the welfare of Muslims. They just want to eat kebabs and drink whisky at Khan Market. They want their perks back so they can breathe easy and go back to their offices and file their unreadable stories, which have little to no readership anyway. Webstats don’t lie – many of these journalists are the living dead because nobody clicks on their stories.”
So doesn’t it bother these secular journalists at all that they have such abysmal readership. The insider explains: “Their only readers are the NGOs and foreign journalists. Even their families would not read their articles if they paid them. They are that bad – besides being fake. The public knows it and they are tired of us. Our credibility is near zero. But these secular journalists keep getting paid because they perform a useful hatchet job for their owners. Plus, the odd NGO will quote their story and thereby boost their ego. It is the classic tyranny of low expectations. Throw in a few free foreign trips per year and they are happy like a larry.”
Why is the media going after Modi?
There are two reasons. One, the current government has decided to treat journalists for what we are – journalists. No more, no less. A number of undeserved perks have been taken away. For instance, Modi has ended the practice of the Prime Minister taking the media along on a free junket on his overseas trips. Rajiv Gandhi may have popularised this practice, but Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh also massaged the egos of the political journalists by taking them along on official trips.
Senior editors based in Delhi were used to grandiosely by-lining their stories: “From the Prime Minister’s Aircraft”. Or even “Somewhere in the Skies Over Washington DC”. It didn’t matter that the copy itself was an anticlimax. Poorly worded, equally bad analysis and most likely recycled from a report written at a similar junket two years ago.
Being denied VIP treatment is something the Lutyens’ media cannot swallow. They may come from ordinary middle class homes, but as journalists, they are used to be being treated as guests at the reasonably high table, wining and dining in the company of celebrities, industrialists and politicians.
Modi has taken away this perk. This is the chief reason why this supari or vendetta journalism has replaced normal reporting.
On a side note, one of the little known facts about the media is the enormous number of junkets that journalists are used to. Most of these go to business journalists, but the others get a good number too. In 2001 when I joined a leading Delhi-based newspaper, within the space of three months, I was offered a two-day junket to Malaysia and a seven-day trip to Russia, all expenses paid plus US$250 a day allowance. This was followed by a five-day Konkan Railway sponsored stay in Goa. And I was not even kosher – meaning that I was not a leftist, secular, smelly, unkempt journalist. I did not try and curry favour with a business house or political party. And yet I got picked for these rewards. The point is that if you blend in with the presstitutes, the rewards are greater.
The second – but equally important – reason why the media is going after Modi is that many members of the media moonlight as fixers, and once again the Prime Minister has taken away that handy second income. Among the first things he did after moving into the Prime Minister’s Office was to ban his cabinet ministers from meeting people they should not. There was one instance where a certain minister, who was meeting an industrialist, got a call on his mobile from Modi, who demanded what he was discussing with the industrialist at a five-star hotel. The minister freaked and scooted back to his office. Therefore, with ministers – and bureaucrats – being under the Intelligence Bureau’s scanner, the media fixer’s hands are tied and his role greatly curtailed.
The Radia tapes scandal of 2010 showed the country how leading journalists such as Barkha Dutt (NDTV), Vir Sanghvi (Hindustan Times) and Shankar Ayyar (India Today) were acting as fixers for the rich and powerful. For instance, Dutt and Sanghvi canvassed for DMK party politician A. Raja to be appointed telecom minister. According to a government auditor, Raja caused a $40 billion scam because of his illegal spectrum sale.
Assuming an extremely conservative kickback of 1 per cent, can you imagine the payoff for the media fixer?
Lutyens’ Delhi is a snakepit. It is injecting poison into the country’s body politic. Its shrill denouncement of Modi is not just jarring, but also diverting attention from vital governance. Its actions send the government into defensive or firefighting mode. No government deserves to be treated in such manner.
A remedy is to go on the offensive. The Congress is feared by Lutyens’ Delhi because it is vindictive. Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was a vindictive person. So is her daughter-in-law, the Italian born Sonia Gandhi. Modi should emulate them and drill some fear into the hearts of his opponents. Each one of them must have a skeleton in their closet. They must have stashed ill-gotten wealth in a benami account. They must have spoken with some Pakistani terrorist. They could be cheating on their spouses. You don’t need the IB to go after them. A private detective agency will give you all the dirt.
Modi must use Machiavellian tactics to neutralise his enemies. He should stop being goody two shoes because the Award Wapsi gang and supari journalists are not impressed by his kindness. They are not going to reciprocate. Their agenda is to make him fail. Or at least make him look like a failure. If they throw dirt at him unchecked, the danger is some of it could stick. India cannot afford a return of the Gandhis in 2019 or even 2024. The country needs a long innings from Modi to make India strong and rich again. If the Lutyens nexus tries to stop him, he must stop them.
Mr Prime Minister, don’t say you weren’t warned.
Rakesh Krishnan Simha is a New Zealand-based journalist. He writes on foreign affairs and defence for Russia Beyond the Headlines, a project of the Moscow-based Rossiyskaya Gazeta group, Russia’s largest media group. He is on the advisory board of Europe-based Modern Diplomacy.
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