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Antipathy – a case of Indiaphobia

Author: Ashok Chowgule
Publication: Hindu Vivek Kendra
Date: March 16, 2020
URL:    http://www.hvk.org/2020/0320/50.html

In reporting about India’s preparedness to respond to the spread of the corona virus which originated in Wuhan, China, and is now spreading to other parts of the world, the expatriate journalists in India have exposed their Indiaphobic view about our country.  However, this is not of recent origin, though Narendra Modi’s two times election to the post of the prime minister seems to have tipped them over the cliff.  Also, they cannot put all this phobic material together without having active assistance from the locals they employ, and locals (also known as the Khan Market Gang) to inform them about the supposed background material.

Kanchan Gupta (@KanchanGupta) tweeted at 11:30 PM on Fri, Mar 13, 2020:
Western media finds #Covid19 new means of hitting on PM @narendramodi
This is how 'independent' is the @Independent and how unbiased its reporter in Delhi @adamwithnall
Bigotry, racism and Hindu-hate are overflowing from this foul, fetid piece. https://t.co/OLpPALbLtV

One of the features of the foreign correspondents based in India is that they have antipathy towards the country.  And their coverage is entirely from this angle.  It has nothing to do with the rise of Narendra Modi in national politics.  It was always there – with Modiji’s rise the antipathy has only become even deeper.  Particularly with the success of most of Modiji’s policies – policies that they determined would fail, or never thought of by themselves.  And the manner in which Modiji has improved the position of India in international politics has made it worse for them.  No longer there is an India that is apologetic about its civilization and culture.

The position India has reached is not by bribing any country, as China does.  Or by threatening any country, as the West used to do, and sometimes tries to do even today.  It is by putting in place policies that are beneficial not just for India but for the world.  Even the small increase in the economic well-being of the people of India, as compared with the 1980s, the world is today looking at India in a positive light.  I am personally convinced that no other national leader, whether he is from the BJP or any other party, would have been able to schieve the success that Modiji has.  But this is matter of discussion at another place.

For my work relating to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, I have had interaction with some of these foreign journalist – all of them who write for American or British press.  I would have liked to interact with those who write for the press in other countries – providence has not provided me with the opportunity.

One such interaction, through mail, was with Peter Popham, who was based in India representing The Independent, when the Vajpayee government was in power.  Atalji went to a function of ISKCON at their temple in Delhi.  Popham maliciously remarked that it was strange since the only thing that Shri Krishna was famous for was to satisfy the sexual appetite of the Gopis.  You can read the article at:


The late M V Kamath, a senior and respected journalists of his time, wrote a strong article on the writings of Popham and others.  I posted this article to Popham with an intention of indicating to him that outside Lutyens Delhi his writings evoke reactions different from what he may be experiencing in his social circles in Delhi.  He wrote back grandly saying that if we wanted to sue him, we are welcome.  Or at least he thought it was a grand statement.  Because I wrote back with contempt, saying that he is too small a person for us to waste our time in suing him.

The swagger with which these foreign journalists conduct themselves is best explained by Stanley Pignal when he landed in Mumbai to write for The Economist of UK.  His first tweet was:

Stanley Pignal (@spignal) tweeted at 1:57 PM on Tue, Jan 05, 2016:

Having landed two hours ago, I’m upgrading myself from “India novice” to “India watcher”. Tomorrow “expert”, next week “veteran” #journalism


He had pinned it in his time line for at least twenty months.  I do not know if anyone pointed out to him the shameful arrogance of the tweet.  Anyone that is his journalist colleagues in the publication, or by other foreign journalists, or by Indian journalist who would be part of his reality while in India.  Some did point him on his twitter timeline– but clearly he just did not care.

I have had encounters with Sir Mark Tully (ex of BBC), Edward Luce (still with Financial Times but not in India), Adam Roberts (still with The Economist but not in India), etc.  Also with the long-term resident, William Darlymple, who projects himself as India experts ONLY because he resides in India.  (There is also John Elliot, whose writings I have followed.)  It was never pleasant, and always frustrating.  For example, in November 2001, Tully had written an article with the title “Musharraf mauls Vajpayee in diplomatic duel” which is available at:


I know the headline is not of the author, but of the publication.  But the latter would not make up something from the blue – it would give an idea of what the author wants to convey.  Tully seems to have great admiration for the Pakistani dictator, but wants to enjoy the hospitality of India’s culture and people.  I do not think that more than eighteen months after he wrote the article he has pondered where Musharraf is today, and what position of glory Vajpayee achieved before he passed away in August 2018.

The expatriates do not function on their own.  Not knowing a language other than English, the expatriate has to rely on indigenous informers who are also the members of the Khan Market Gang.  There is then a group thinking, and each person in the group feeds on another, in a sort of incestuous relationship.  (Tully is an exception, but I wonder if he has ever sat down with a scholar whose work is primarily in Hindi to understand what the people at large think of.)

Then there is the agenda of the publications themselves.  For example, The Economist prior to the 2014 elections had strongly supported Rahul Gandhi as the prime minister of India, and strongly opposed Modiji.  So, even if their eyes show things to be opposite of what the Khan Market Gang is saying, the expatriate would toe the party line, just to be in position in which he/she is.  Often it could be a case of not having unpleasantness at the dining table where there are not just other expatriates but also members of the Khan Market Gang.  And a real fear that if the party line is not towed, there would be social ostracization.

I will now enter into a space of speculation.  Staying in India would be a huge pecuniary benefit for these expatriates, both the short-term ones like the journalists, and the long-term ones.  As a journalist, their salaries would be higher than what they would get at home.  At the same time, the cost of living would be lower than many other places in the world, and the comfort of living would be higher than places like Kenya or the Arabian or the South American ones.  Plus the aura of being a ‘veteran journalists’ opens avenue for book publications, and even being called to give ‘expert’ opinion for at least a few years post the end of the tenure in India.  All these can add to the income they otherwise would be getting.

For the long-term expatriates the pecuniary motivation is even more important.

So, having stated all this what do I think should be done.  First what should NOT be done.  The government of India, particularly the present one, should not act against an individual, irrespective of the provocation.  At the international level, the manufactured repercussion would be large, as against the succumbing to the bullying of China.  Even the political establishments in the home country of the affected journalist would pitch in to further demonise the government.  All of them know that India is not a bully, and that the issue based on which displeasure has big merit

So the task is that of the people whose voices may not be heard enough, but which cannot be ignored.  For example, in this case, Kanchan Gupta has rightly stepped in the fray and made his views known.  Some others are also doing it.  This should be done, openly with naming the person(s) concerned, in each and every instance where the any publication, foreign or domestic, tells lies.  And this should be done in strongest possible terms, and operate at the edge of the journalist equivalent of the Queensbury Rules.

A heavy dose of sarcasm, used with the right idiom, often works.  A day before the results for the 2014 elections were to be announced, Adam Roberts talked to me for some 30 minutes.  At one place he asked why does the VHP use the term Hindu Nationalism.  I said: “Just to please The Economist we are not going to change the term.”  It took him a couple of seconds to understand the sarcasm, and that I am able to see through his bull-shitting.

The people who are part of the spatial reality of these expatriates and the Khan Market Gang should not be apologetic of what and how things are said on the social media.  This media is necessarily an anarchic medium, where the journalist equivalent of Queensbury Rules will always be flouted.  However such behaviour is in a minority.  Most of the tweets from even the anonymous persons are quite polite, even if there is as strong disagreement.  And in any case, the point that should be made is that one has to see the content and not who has said it and in what language.

Moreover, these left-liberals are even worse, throughout the rank.  It is not just the fringe, those who tweet anonymously, it is the mainstream.  Look at what Popham wrote to me.  And the anonymous amongst them use many times worse language than the right wing anonymous.  Furthermore, their content is quite imbecile.

Attack is the best form of defense.  And any form of monkey-balancing or virtue signaling allows the left-liberals to divert the attention and play victim.  They will use the small fringe in the right wing, and insist that the mainstream in the right wing condemn the language and the idiom, even though the message is correct.  And they will use labels as a weapon in their armory – a tactics that Sita Ram Goel had written about some thirty years ago.

The Independent article that is mentioned in Kanchan Gupta’s tweet above was promoted by a colleague in the publication by the name Borzou Daragahi who claims to be the International Correspondent for the publication, covering Middle East, Europe, and North Africa and says is based at Agrabah.  This seems to be a fictitious place on the Jordan River.  This gentleman tweeted:

Borzou Daragahi 🖊🗒 (@borzou) tweeted at 0:14 PM on Sat, Mar 14, 2020:
Retweeting this story — which I neither wrote nor headlined — because it seems to have touched a nerve with fascist bullies such as @ShefVaidya. Thanks for the attention, and the 200 or so new followers. Keep it up! https://t.co/ewe9xEBGVm

Given his stated field of expertise, one has to wonder why Daragahi was so interested in promoting the Indophobic article in his publication.  The twitter timeline of the author of the article, Adam Whitnall, who is actually based in India, has no such promotion.  And not only does he seem to know Shefali Vaidya, an authentic source to know about what is happening in the current affairs of India, but also calls her a fascist bully, a term that the Khan Market Gang uses before they respond to what Shefaliji has said.

All those who have antipathy to India and its ancient civilizational values have declared a war to push their agenda.  We have to take them head-on.  Being nice has been taken as a sign of weakness, and it makes them even more bold to be nasty.  There is no choice for those who are working for a resurgent Hinduism to accept the terms of engagement set by the enemy, and respond accordingly.

Postscript:  The above note would give an impression that it is my contention that ALL the expatriate journalists and ALL the expatriates who are living in India on a long term basis and writing about India have antipathy against India and Hinduism.  I would be clearly wrong to give this impression.  Although I have not encountered expatriate jouranlists who have empathy for India and Hinduism (but that does not mean that they are not there), there are long-term expatriates whom I have met that do have empathy.  They are Calude Arpi, Franciois Gautier, Michel Danino, and Maria Wirth that I have met or interacted through email.  But these people, most unfortunately, are not the go-to persons for people who want to be informed about India and Hinduism in a general sort of way.  You do not see any of the foreign publications quote them – and if they do they are branded as supporters of the VHP, etc.  The people I have named in the main body of the article are those that one hears about through mainstream publications.  At the same time, a specific Indiaphobia article is being actively disputed on the social media, not just people of Indian origin but also by others who are just not able to relate to what they read.

- (Ashok Chowgule is the Working President (External) of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.)

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