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Russia Today News: The Alternative Channel of Hinduphobia?

Russia Today News: The Alternative Channel of Hinduphobia?

 The anti-Hindu bias in western media outlets such as the BBC, CNN and Sky have been well-known. The situation was hardly likely to change for the better with Fox News and Al-Jazeera. Indeed it can be hard to differentiate between them. The BBC is regarded as establishment fodder, and with its ideological moorings to the Left firmly rooted in the same mindset which led to 1960s slum clearances to make way for the council tower blocks which became havens for crime, drugs and social isolation, it was hardly going to be sympathetic to Narendra Modi becoming prime minister in an electoral landslide.

Sky News with its short snippets of fast paced action between the lengthy commercials designed to make people get into more debt has its American parallel with CNN: the only difference being that the latter advertises services which have scant relevance to most of its viewers. Being based in Qatar, the state which has funded jihad in Syria and Iraq and enforces a system of slavery on dark-skinned immigrants known as Kafala, Al-Jazeera was a write off from the word go.

Fox degenerates into a dysfunctional family where everything is blamed on Obama. France 24 was set up to break the Anglo-Saxon hegemony over English-speaking world news, yet just parrots the rest on Hindu issues. In fact much of the time they all seem to parrot Al-Jazeera. For example not only was Narendra Modi a dangerous and controversial Hindu nationalist, fundamentalist and much else, but India was on the brink of becoming a fascist state if he ever won.

Well he did and Indian democracy, far from being scrapped has become more entrenched, as moves are made to tackle sexual violence, the crumbling infrastructure, cementing projects on modernisation and asking Switzerland to reveal where all that money siphoned off by the ‘secular’ kleptocrat darlings of the western news channels and their Qatari mentor has been stashed. Meanwhile watching events surrounding the unhealthy joke that became the Arab Spring and the sickening genocide unfolding right now in Iraq and Syria, it was hard to tell the channels apart in their exuberance for forces that would cause instability and carnage.

Anything ‘Left’?

This leaves us with the ‘alternative’ news. Indeed it was from the very womb of the aforementioned media channels that have spawned such anti-Hindu hate that this alternate source of news emerged. Afshin Rattansi is a journalist, author of “The Dream of the Decade – the London Novels” and an RT Contributor. However he began his journalism career in the 1980s in the Guardian as one of the newspaper’s youngest ever columnists. He went on to work for Britain’s Channel 4, BBC, Al Jazeera Arabic, CNN International and Bloomberg Television and many other media such as the trailblazing Bandung File on Channel 4 which covered issues outside the mainstream such as East Timor. He later moved to Tehran to anchor the news on the new satellite TV channel, Press TV.

He was given a Sony award for outstanding contribution to international journalism at a ceremony in London in 2002. Rattansi set up Alternate Reality Productions in London in 2010 making Double Standards, a comedy satire show for the channel. However  Press TV is a 24-hour English language news organization of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), the only legal TV and radio broadcaster inside Iran, and close to Iran’s conservative political faction. It has been a mouthpiece for the Iranian state which was later banned in Britain for taking its ‘alternative’ too far as Searchlight Magazine and the Anti-Defamation League exposed the channel’s anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial mainstream topics along with claiming that 9/11 and 7/7 terrorist attacks were inside jobs. It was too much for even Nick Cohen who has toyed with anti-Hindu conspiracy theories of his own. On 4 December 2011, he wrote in the Guardian:

“If whites ran Press TV, one would have no difficulty in saying it was a neo-Nazi network. It welcomes British Holocaust-deniers such as Nicholas Kollerstrom, fascist ideologues such as Peter Rushton, the leader of the White Nationalist party – an organisation that disproves the notion that the only thing further to the right of the BNP is the wall – along with, until recently, Ken Livingstone, Labour’s candidate for mayor of London, who showed no embarrassment about the company his Iranian paymasters kept.”

On 20 January 2012, Press TV’s licence to broadcast in the UK was revoked by Ofcom. Undeterred, Rattansi moved to RT in order to present Going Underground, looking at the stories in Britain which he felt were ignored. These have included how the most deprived in society have been suffering due to benefit cuts, the existence of modern day slavery, phone hacking, Julian Assange, the military debacle in Iraq, the scapegoating of immigrants and the power of corporate behemoths. In line with RT’s motto of “Question More”:

“Three times a week Afshin Rattansi and his team go underground to discover the stories that aren’t being covered by the mainstream UK media. From GCHQ to Occupy protests, and everything else in between, Going Underground is here to bring a fresh perspective to our audiences around Britain.”

Forcing Hindus Underground

But when it comes to Hindus and India, Rattansi might as well be back at his old masters’ beck and call at the Guardian or Al-Jazeera. On 24 May he hosted his show where:

“Divisive figure Narendra Modi’s just been elected Indian PM – India expert Daya Thussu explains the implications.”

Watch at 18 : 32

Thussu is Professor of International Communication and Co-Director of the India Media Centre, the world’s first academic centre dedicated to the study of media in India and its globalizing tendencies. He earned his PhD in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, that hub of anti-Hindu thinking by India’s Stalinist professors. Rattansi begins his programme with:

“Every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday we are bringing you the stories that really matter in the United Kingdom, for those of you wishing to question more.”

He continues:

“Not content with supporting the neo-Nazis in Ukraine, will Britain now be supporting the newly elected prime minister of India who is himself accused of encouraging mass killings of Muslims?”

Rattansi can barely control himself. He describes Modi:

“A man once denied entry to the US and UK, has been elected prime minister of India. Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist BJP, was chief minister of Gujarat when close to 2000 Muslims were massacred in a 2002 pogrom. He was accused by many of initiating the genocide. But his election has created a rapprochement with the very western countries which once banned him from their shores. And with Anglo-Russian relations deteriorating, could Britain be turning to the controversial leader for support.”

Thussu explains the change in attitude came because of India, and not Modi. His host suggests that it might be because David Cameron is influenced by so many Indians on Britain’s rich list. Rather ironic considering Rattansi’s own Linkedin profile states:

“Before working for the BBC’s Business and Economics Units, he analysed geopolitical financial and environmental risk for Lloyd’s of London after world markets crashed. Portfolio allocation was of the order of £1 bn.”

Is RT itself ant-Hindu?

As Thussu explains that Modi’s Hindu nationalism is overlooked because of his business savviness and support for the liberal free market, one does have to ask if on leaving Press TV, Rattansi did perhaps take his ‘double standards’ with him. They then both discuss how the Muslim diaspora in Britain will feel about Cameron “cosying up” to Modi. Rattansi cannot resists saying that Modi has been called a “Nazi”, enhanced by Thussu explaining that “he comes from a very strong right-wing Hindu tradition” explaining even if he was not directly involved in the killing of Muslims in 2002, it was his moral responsibility as chief minister of Gujarat.

However the show’s guest demonstrates more mental stability as the ex-Press TV Hinduphobic demagogue throws in a wildcard conspiracy theory about Cameron “cosying up to Modi” causing Islamic extremism and radicalism in Britain. Not be outsmarted in his Protocols of the Elders of Hinduism, Rattansi suggests  that perhaps India and Britain have a neat axis of interests when it comes to supporting Israel and opposing Russia and China. Thussu however elucidates that India has had an autonomous foreign policy and actually supported Russia on Ukraine, which seems to take Rattansi by surprise. The latter thinks it might change under Modi. In doing so he not only demonstrates his own ignorance and utter stupidity, but goes against his own Kremlin sponsors. In July 2014 at the BRICS conference in Rio, President Vladimir Putin opened the event with Prime Minister Modi:

“We have already exchanged ideas concerning our bilateral relations. It is pleasant to note that Russia and India reached a consensus on this issue. This concerns our cooperation in the politics, in the world arena, economy, military-technical cooperation.”

He also congratulated Modi on his success in the elections. In response, Modi was reported in the Indian Express as saying:

“Even a child in India if asked to say who is India’s best friend will reply it is Russia because Russia has been with India in times of crisis.”

On his election victory Modi took to twitter to express his support from other world leaders. Voice of Russia reported it like this:

“While Canadian Prime Minister Stephan Harper has had two mentions and Russian President Putin received warm words on Monday, Modi has conspicuously made no reference at all to the leaders of the world’s superpower.”

Indeed RT News has generally been favourable to Modi, as well as India as a whole. On 14 April 2014, RT journalist Rajeev Sharma wrote “India’s opposition BJP gives strong message to Pakistan and US” and that India would seek new allies as well as a be a sanctuary for Hindus persecuted in Pakistan and Bangladesh – a subject Rattansi scrupulously avoided, just as he avoided mention of the women and children killed in the Sabarmati Express along with other victims of what became the Godhra massacre. On 14 May another Indian journalist, Jhinuk Chowdhry wrote that in the event of a BJP victory, India would seek closer ties with Russia to meet its demands for energy.

On 29 September 2014, RT described Modi’s New York visit thus:

‘Modi’s India center of multipolar world – this threatens US hegemony’

The Counter-Culture Face of Hinduphobia

RT is a Moscow-based international television channel owned by ANO TV-NovostIt presents round-the-clock news bulletins, documentaries, talk shows and debates, as well as sports news and cultural programs on Russia aimed at the overseas news market, and broadcasts in English, Spanish and Arabic. Accused by its detractors of disseminating Kremlin propaganda against the West, the network states that RT offers a Russian perspective on global events. On 13 June 2013, Putin himself visited the media studios:

“When we designed this project back in 2005 we intended introducing another strong player on the world’s scene, a player that wouldn’t just provide an unbiased coverage of the events in Russia but also try, let me stress, I mean – try to break the Anglo-Saxon monopoly on the global information streams. And it seems to me that you’re succeeding in this job.”

Yet judging by Rattansi’s behaviour it is doing the precise opposite. Unfortunately he is not alone in this. Project Censored is a media research, education, and advocacy initiative housed at Sonoma State University since 1976. Among its journalistic activities is the publication of news stories omitted or censored by other media sources. It is managed by the Media Freedom Foundation, on whose board we find RT host Abbie Martin, an American an artist and activist, and helped found the citizen journalism website, Media Roots. At one point she described 9/11 as an inside job.

Martin began hosting her own show, Breaking the Set, on RT America in September 2012 from Washington, D.C. mixing media criticism with investigative journalism and describes itself as a programme which “cuts through the false Left/Right paradigm set by the establishment & reports the hard facts”. Vibrant and outspoken, the show begins with western media figures such as Sean Hannity  of Fox News mentioning petty news stories, with Martin covering her ears in frustration at this omnipotent media monster.

The original opening credits depicted her applying a sledgehammer to a television tuned to CNN, hence breaking the television ‘set’. And speak her mind she does. Martin drew widespread media attention when she closed her show on 3 March 2014 with a minute-long statement condemning the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, allowing RT to issue a statement saying:

“Contrary to the popular opinion, RT doesn’t beat its journalists into submission, and they are free to express their own opinions, not just in private but on the air.”

However on the issue of India, Martin might as well be part of the false Left/Right dichotomy and be in cahoots with Fox News. On 2 October 2014 she interviewed Marxist author and historian Vijay Prashad. Along with his FOIL compatriot Biju Mathew, he is also an outspoken critic of ‘Hindutva’. The latter is co founder and chair of the executive council of Lamakaan, a left-liberal educational space in Hyderabad, India.

In “Letter to a Young American Hindu” from 23 May 2007, Prashad writes how he gets his morality from outside Hinduism, before launching into the standard fare of western anti-Hindu discourse.

“The leadership of this Right considered Gandhi a “traitor” to the “Hindu people,” and it was their cadre that murdered him in 1948. The RSS, the spearhead of the new “Hindu nationalism,” eschewed the mass Freedom Struggle that emerged in the 1920s, sharpened in the 1930s and eventually defeated the British Raj in the 1940s. In 1928, the RSS inaugurated its Officer Training Camp to train its own storm-troopers, not to do battle with the powerful British and its institutions, but with the relatively powerless Muslim masses.”

This type of revisionism is no doubt worthy of the type of Holocaust denial that is found on Press TV. First of all Nathuram Godse was an ex member of Congress as well as RSS, and at the time of the assassination had joined a completely different group. In India’s communal violence, innocent people from all communities have been victims. But to claim one section of society was defenceless flies in the face of historical truth. Would Prashad claim that the rapes committed by the Moplhas in 1922 were the actions of a defenceless community? What of the rise of the Wahhabi movement in early nineteenth century India? The demagogue continues:

“The influence of Italian fascism and German Nazism pervaded the RSS, becoming clarified in the 1939 book by M. S. Golwalkar, “Germany has shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.” For Golwalkar, the role of the “Jew” within India was to be played by the “Muslim” (it should be said that his 1939 book was reprinted in 1944 and in 1947, after the Holocaust was known to all, and yet there was no revision of this section).”

There is absolutely no evidence of any of this. If Vijay wants to find admirers of Hitler, he need look no further than his fellow Marxists who applauded Stalin’s two year pact with Hitler which raped Poland. And if Gowalkar wanted to find Jews to scapegoat, he would have found plenty in the Bene Israel community of Maharashtra without needing to invent a substitute. In fact it was Muhammad Ali Jinnah of the Muslim League who was inspired by Hitler by urging his community to gain Pakistan by behaving like Sudeten Germans who dismembered Czechoslovakia.

Martin mocks the media for “fawning” over Modi and his “rock star status” while ignoring his “neo-liberal economic policies and appalling human rights record”. Prashad joins her in seeing a capitalist conspiracy by large companies in financing this whole event in New York. But then as an unrepentant Marxist he would. As a writer for the Guardian he is compelled to do so. After all it is this poisonous British rag which breathes life into the worst colonialist racist stereotypes. The Hindu viewpoint in the Guardian is about as welcome as celebrating jazz music in Dr Goebbels’ Nazi mouthpiece ‘Der Angriff’. Hence Prashad can laud Wendy Doniger’s Hinduphobic propaganda as academic and a tribute to Hinduism.

No surprise there. Doniger never allowed any questioning of her dogmatic beliefs, which explains their appeal to a Hindu-hating Marxist like Prashad.

Breaking the Set or Negationist Entrenchment?

This was not the first time RT’s pretty yet menacing face of Hinduphobia took a swipe at Modi. At that very BRIC summit where Putin lauded Modi, Martin interviewed that same intellectually bankrupt Marxist.

Here Martin refers to the “neoliberal BJP party in India” and with that familiar twinkle in her eye alerts Commissar Prashad to spew yet more anti-Hindu filth and scoffs at attempts to modernise India by that country’s hugely popular prime minister. The Hinduphobic duo then lambast India for not standing with Hamas in its jihad. Prashad in particular laments how India has become closer to Israel and states that “In fact today, India is the largest importer of Israeli arms” and “imports half of the arms Israel exports….the right-wing party currently in power is very close to the Israelis.” He then claims that as in Europe the majority of Indians are on the side of the Hamas terrorist government currently oppressing the Palestinians and are dissatisfied with the current Indian government being “in thrall with the Israeli narrative” and prohibiting debate in parliament on Gaza.

On 2 October 2014 Abby Martin claimed to honour Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday by interviewing his grandson Arun Gandhi. The Hinduphobic host claimed that the Mahatma’s philosophy was one of the few examples of successful revolution through lack of violence and it has been so hard to mimic. Arun claimed his grandfather’s success was to understand the British rulers were their friends and it was necessary to change their hearts, which happened.

Actually it did not. British rule ended because it was impractical to retain that jewel in the crown after the Indian Navy mutinied and having seen former loyal soldiers join the Indian National Army brought back the unpleasant spectre of 1857. It also negates the role played by revolutionaries such as Veer Savarkar, Bhagat Singh, Kartar Singh Sarabha, Rajguru, Sukhdev and Madanlal Dhingra. It negates the intellectual contribution made by Lala Lajpat Rai, Swami Sharddhananda, and Har Dayal. In this armed freedom struggle, women played a prominent role, notably Pritilata Waddedar and Kalpana Dutta revolutionary nationalists from Bengal.

Of course Commissar  Martin cannot resist bringing in Modi, visibly incensed that India’s democratically elected popular leader has invoked the name of Mahatma Gandhi. Of course the grandson then states the usual fare that Mahatma’s vision was a of a secular India while the BJP want to make it a Hindu state in line with the demographics, and make all others second class citizens or push them out of India altogether.

In fact Arun claims it is so bad for Muslims in India that they are being forced to leave for Pakistan. The Mahatma’s grandson repeats the usual canard about Modi being responsible for thousands of deaths in Gujarat, and that news was suppressed of communal riots in Baroda while he was visiting New York. Arun then comes out with:

“Although you know he got off when the Supreme Court cleared his name he still does have that moral responsibility, because he was the head of that state at the time and if he could not control his police and his officials and stop this kind of rampage that took place there, then he is not an effective leader.”

What then of the ‘moral responsibility’ of Gandhi? What did he achieve in South Africa? Smuts reneged on his promises and it was not until 1961 under Hendrik Verwoerd that Indians were recognised as citizens of that state. But in India the failing were much greater. Who had moral responsibility for praising the Moplahs as freedom fighters when in 1922 these jihadis fell upon their Hindu neighbours; raping, slaughtering and forcibly converting them by the thousand. Instead Gandhi praised them as freedom fighters. Arun’s grandfather praised Abdul Rashid, the jihadi fanatic who murdered Swami Shraddhananda, as his “brother” and pleaded that his life be spared.

Yet he condemned Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev for advocating armed revolution against foreign occupation as they were sent to the gallows. Above all who had moral responsibility for the million Hindus and Sikhs massacred at the time of partition, and millions more raped, abducted, forcibly converted, and kidnapped as the Mahatma told them to  bow their heads before the butcher’s knife? Does the Hinduphobic Abby Martin not have the moral responsibility to mention this as part of her job as host and to break the set, by mentioning this as well? Unless of course in runs contrary to the anti-Hindu propaganda she constantly pumps out.

The Hinduphobic host then shows her complete ignorance and stupidity when she ends this show and refers to her honoured guest as the “grandson of Mohamed Gandhi”. Is this not the crux of the issue? That like that arch-imperialist Churchill who openly showed his contempt for Indian culture, Martin is just another one of those veneer liberal types who underneath all the politically correct niceties harbour deep disdain for anything outside the Eurocentric and monotheistic paradigm?

Bohemian Avant-Garde Artistic Hinduphobia

In May 2103 the New Statesman reported that about 2.5 million people in Britain watch RT.

RT has provided some important breaking news compared to the other Anglophone channels. When the Arab Spring was being praised, RT looked at the demands for freedom in Bahrain which were almost completely ignored by western media. Long before the threat of ISIS, RT warned that rebels in Syria were very far from the freedom fighters they were being portrayed as: and with hindsight have been proven correct. While BBC and CNN saw the struggle in Ukraine as democratic, RT highlighted the sinister role played by the neo-Nazi movement known as Right Sector.

It must be remembered that in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four Oceania is in perpetual war with either East Asia or Eurasia. The Ministry of Truth constantly rewrites history to make it appear that the current state of affairs is the way it has always been, and documents with contradictory information are destroyed in the memory hole. Is this not how geopolitics with regard to western allies has worked? For example Saddam Hussein, Nicolae Ceausescu and Osama bin Laden were all friends of America and Britain before suddenly being demonised.

For that reason Abby Martin says RT is needed because it provides another narrative. She says that no other broadcast media channel allows her the liberty to speak candidly about corporate power.

But when it comes to Hindus, she is simply part of the same anti-Hindu discourse so entrenched in the western broadcast media. This is part of the omnipresent Hinduphobic narrative. To Fox, CBN, BBC, CNN, Sky and France 24, the BJP is a ‘Hindu nationalist’ and even ‘fascist’ party. Abby’s close friends Arun Gandhi and Vijay Prashad would agree wholeheartedly. But just as Lee Atwater designed the ‘southern’ strategy of the Republican Party by using euphemisms that did not attack blacks directly, Martin now calls the BJP a ‘neoliberal’ party in cahoots with big business and capitalists. The fact that the BJP has been protectionist and it was actually Vijay Prashad’s great Left hope in the form of Congress which began rolling back the state in the economy, is totally lost on Martin.

How does our ‘friend’ Abby feel about there being no news channel to discuss Hindu issues on a par with other subjects? Here she lambasts the war crimes of Henry Kissinger. But guess which one is missing? Yes that genocide of Hindus in Bangladesh in 1971 when his regime armed Pakistan in its racial holy war and jihad against Bengalis.

But apparently Abby Martin does not consider that even worthy of mention. So even when it comes to crimes against humanity, Hindus are edged out by victims by such stalwart guardians of freedom as Abby Martin. She speaks about unshackling the mind from the existing paradigm in order to recognise reality, and yet she does exactly the opposite when it comes to Hindus. Her Hinduphobia is a direct result of her mind being shackled and enslaved to the anti-Hindu hate which is part of Leftist  discourse.

She further elucidates on how the media is together when it came to issues like bombing Iraq. But is Martin not doing exactly the same thing when it comes to accepted anti-Hindu discourse? She asks what did Iraq ever do to America? Well what did Hindus do to warrant venom and hate from broadcast media as diverse as RT’s Breaking the Set and Pat Robertson’s 700 Club on his Christian Broadcasting Network?

She laments how the media blocks certain stories. Is that not what she has done by having Arun Gandhi and Vijay Prashad on? Where are the Hindu perspectives? She speaks of having a discussion and getting beyond labels. Yet this is what she does with India and only invites the ‘correct’ commentators to entrench Hinduphobia. Martin decries soundbites yet uses them herself against Hindus. She speaks of the deprived and poor taking on the powers that be, yet castigates Modi as a neoliberal and being pro-corporate when he hails from one of India’s  ‘backward’ castes as a boy he had to work on a tea stall so that his family could make ends meet.

She says she hopes she made a change, when her Hinduphobia only depends existing anti-Hindu prejudice. She speaks of grass roots journalism. Well what about asking Hindus who have been shut out by the corporate media? The advice she gives is to ignore them as they are “dinosaurs”. In a twist to all this, that will be Abby Martin’s karma and fate, to be ignored. It must be remembered that in America it was the ‘progressives’ in the Democratic Party who were the most vociferous racists. Standing up for the ‘ordinary man’ against the corporate giants and industrial barons was synonymous with white supremacy.

Figures such as Ben ‘Pitchfork’ Tillman, James K Vardaman, Theodore Bilbo, and even President Woodrow Wilson who believed blacks should be kept in their inferior place and denied a voice: or face the lynch mob. Are her views so different from David Duke? These western liberals spout ideas of ‘progress’ and ‘liberty’ which only reincarnate the colonialist and racist ideas. The Hindu is still the savage in need of the White Man’s uplift.

In this one must not forget the artistic contribution to hate, the counter-culture which produced Hitler from Vienna’s bohemian movement, Barrès from the Left Bank of Paris, and Charles Manson from the hippies. These noxious ideas which Martin allows broadcast from her show are not just offensive and prejudiced but are in discord with the reality. As India joins the modern world and Hinduism show not just its resilience but its relevance, Abby Martin and her Hinduphobic ilk will be increasingly irrelevant, part of the old guard of the mythical tranquil America so beloved of J Edgar Hoover, David Duke, and more recently the Tea Party Movement. If anyone is ‘breaking the set’ it is American figures such as Tulsi Gabbard. But since she presented Prime Minister Modi with the Bhagavad Gita, she has about as much chances as being guest on Abby Martin’s show as she has of being allowed on Pat Robertson’s Bible-thumping CBN network. Hinduphobia has indeed made strange bed fellows.

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About The Author

Ranbir Singh : Writer and lecturer, HHR chairman : BA (Honours) History, MA History from School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London : , Have lectured previously at De Montfort University, London School of Economics, Contributor to various political and human rights discussion outfits.

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