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Secular Righteousness

Secular Righteousness

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Published by vhpsampark.org
VHP Vishwa Hindu Parishad India
VHP Vishwa Hindu Parishad India

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Published by: vhpsampark.org on Jan 24, 2010
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10/23/2011

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Secular Righteousness
 
 An Analysis of the Editors Guild Fact Finding Report into the Gujarat violence
 
Introduction
 
On February 27, 2002, the
Sabarmati Express 
, a train which connects Ahmedabad inGujarat, with Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, was attacked by a mob of more than 2000Muslims at Godhra in Gujarat. The target was the
Ram Sevaks 
who were returning from Ayodhya after taking part in a ceremony at the Shri Rama Janmabhoomi. Fifty-eight of the
Ram Sevaks 
were incinerated in the incident. Most of them were womenand children.In the aftermath, there was a major communal riot in parts of Gujarat, leading to thedeath of nearly 1000 persons, and many injured. The Muslim casualties were nearly three-quarters of the total.
 
 The Editors Guild sent a team on ‘a fact finding mission’ into the riots in Gujarat, post-Godhra, and the role of media in particular. The team consisted of BG Verghese (acolumnist), Dileep Padgaonkar (Executive Managing Editor,
The Times of India 
 ) and Aakar Patel (Editor,
 Mid-Day 
, Mumbai).
 
In setting out in its task to report on the ‘Ordeal by Fire in the Killing Fields of Gujarat’, the Editors Guild Team follow the standard Marxist methodology. AsNikolay Valentinov (in
‘Encounters with Lenin’ 
 ) recounts Lenin telling him, ‘Plekhanov (aMarxist theoretician) once said to me about a critic of Marxism, ‘First let us stick theconvict’s badge on him, and then after that we will examine his case.? And I think that we must ‘stick the convict’s badge’ on anyone and everyone who tries to undermineMarxism, even if we do not go on to examine his case. That’s how every soundrevolutionary should react.’
 
 The Editors Guild Team put the label of a convict on the Gujarati language media, andthen went about the task of evaluating their reporting. Therefore, in analysing thereport prepared by the Editors Guild Team, we should first discuss the ideology of theEnglish media in India to enable us to put forward our analysis of the report. This isimperative since all the three members are from the English media.
 
 To do this, we have to look at the way this media has treated issues relating to India ingeneral and Hindutva in particular, even prior to the events in Gujarat. It is ourcontention that the English media seems to take a special delight in perverting issues, which not only trivialises, but also enables them to avoid dealing with the essence of the issues. In the process, it ensures that sane debates do not take place, and thesociety does not reach an enduring solution to the problem except in a muddled way.
 
 
In any case, even if we are to assume that the Editors Guild Report is valid in itsdamnation of the Gujarati language media, it was necessary for the Editors Guild Teamto clearly establish that the English media in India is unbiased, instead of merely making an assumption that it is so. The Team did not even make an attempt to do so.
 
 The
Hindu Vivek Kendra
has made an analysis of the Editors Guild Report and ispresenting the same here.
 
 The English media in India
 
 The English media in India is a product of the Macaulay system of education, whichseeks to produce ‘a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, inopinion, words and intellect.’ As the great philosopher, Anand Coomarswamy, rightly said in 1924 that, ‘it is hard to realise how completely the continuity of Indian life hasbeen severed. A single generation of English education suffices to break the threads of tradition and to create a non-descript and superficial being deprived of all roots - a sortof intellectual pariah who does not belong to the East or the West, the past or future’.Of all Indian problems the educational is the most difficult and the most tragic.? ( 
The Dance of Shiva 
, 1924.)
 
 The other feature of the English media is that it is dominated by those who go underthe guise of left-liberal. For this class of people, there is nothing in our civilisation thatthe people of India can legitimately be proud of. In fact, this class will make a specialeffort of denigrating the past, and it has done its best to ensure that the children of thiscountry are neither taught the essential features of our culture nor made to respectthem. At the same time, it will go out of the way to project that the wisdom relevantfor today lies outside the parameters of our civilisation.
 
 With the coming of Hindutva to the centre-stage, this class of left-liberals has changedtheir stance, and is now saying that the Hinduism projected by Hindu organisationssuch as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) does not form the core of our history. They will, however, not say what does form the core. This negative projection leads toconfusion in the society since the people are told what is not but not what is. The alienation from our cultural symbols is best expressed by Dileep Padgaonkar whenhe wrote; ‘More than any other BJP leader, it is Murli Manohar Joshi who gets the goatof secular intellectuals. The very appears of the HRD minister - the dhoti, the
angavastram 
, the prominent mark of the forehead and the choti - irks them no end.’
The Sunday Times of India 
, April 15, 2001.) In the same way, Padgaonkar would consider DrCV Raman lacking in intellectual merit merely because of his attire.
 
 This approach of Padgaonkar is nothing new. In July 1993, when he interviewed Sir Vidiadhar Naipaul in the aftermath of the events of December 6, 1992, he said: ‘Thepeople who climbed on top of these domes and broke them were not bearded people wearing saffron robes and with ash on their foreheads. They were young people clad injeans and tee-shirts.’ ( 
The Times of India 
July 18, 1993)
 
 
 What Padgaonkar was saying that anyone wears jeans and tee-shirts should think in thesame way as he does. Thus Padgaonkar was stunned that the Kar Sevaks behaved in amanner he thinks as most inappropriate, even though they wore an attire approved by him.Here it would not be out of place to record how Sir Vidiadhar responded toPadgaonkar’s question: ‘One needs to understand the passion that took them on top of the domes. The jeans and the tee-shirts are superficial. The passion alone is real. Youcan’t dismiss it. You have to try to harness it.’
 
In its editorial
‘Political Aftershocks’ 
, commenting upon the earthquake relief work,
The Times of India 
said, ‘The RSS has been very active in relief and rehabilitation work’..?However, right in the next sentence it said, ‘There are, however, unconfirmed reportsfrom Gujarat that the ideological bias of the RSS towards certain communities andcastes is already evident even in the task of providing relief.’ (Feb 6, 2001)
 
 The spokesperson of RSS, through a letter printed on Feb 9 in the same newspapersought to know the necessary details of the ‘ideological bias’, so that they ‘can addressthese lapses’ to be able to take the corrective actions for the future. No response wasforthcoming.
 
In order to nail the lie spread by the editorial, the President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad(VHP) for Maharashtra sent a picture to Padgaonkar which showed a Muslim family taking shelter, along with other Hindu families, in a large tent at a camp organised by the VHP. The picture was taken from the website ( 
www.indiatimes.com 
 ) of a grouppublication of 
The Times of India 
. The reply from Padgoankar was quite amazing. In hisletter to the President of VHP dated March 5, 2001, he said that he could not takecognisance of this photo, because his responsibility was limited to
The Times of India 
.
 
Given the organisational resources available with
The Times of India 
in Gujarat, resources which were apparently fully used in preparing the Editors Guild Report, and gratefully acknowledged by the Editors Guild Team, one expected that Padgaonkar would haveconfirmed the unconfirmed reports on the basis of which he made the allegationsabout the ‘ideological bias’. It was astounding that even when the photo clearly disproved the unconfirmed reports, Padgaonkar refused to tender an apology for themalicious writings. Thus, when
Sandesh 
(the Gujarati language daily that receives theharshest censure from the Editors Guild Team for inciting violence) is following apolicy of not carrying corrections and clarifications, it is merely following in thedistinguished footsteps set out by Padgaonkar himself.
 
In the news item about the publication of the Editors Guild report, the
Rediff on Net 
,has reported Padgaonkar saying the following: ‘I think if secularism became a selling proposition (the Gujarati) newspapers would become secular.’ (May 3, 2002).
The Times of India 
is the most profitable publication in India, and is the largest circulating daily inthe whole word. Is Padgaonkar accusing his own publication of not being secular’
 
 What Padgaonkar does is not an exception but a rule amongst all his colleagues whosubscribe to the same ideology that he does. The intention of stating the above two

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