Rana Ayyub’s journalistic ethics and anti-India/ anti-Modi innuendos in Washington Post

It will be best for Ayyub to start focusing her power of the pen to be counted as a journalist with objectivity, standards, ethical, balanced, and intellectually thought-provoking or simply quit

It will be best for Ayyub to start focusing her power of the pen to be counted as a journalist with objectivity, standards, ethical, balanced, and intellectually thought-provoking or simply quit
It will be best for Ayyub to start focusing her power of the pen to be counted as a journalist with objectivity, standards, ethical, balanced, and intellectually thought-provoking or simply quit

Rana Ayyub using journalism to peddle her anti-India/ anti-Modi narratives

I had not imagined that I will write about Rana Ayyub, the so-called journalist, with a checkered history. If you have not heard of her, you did not miss much because her lack of ethics brings disgrace to the profession of journalism. I must also say that the Washington Post (WP), the newspaper she currently writes for, is equally disgraceful to let a journalist use their space for nothing better but ranting and innuendos.

Who is Ayyub? She was let go by Tehelka because her work related to the “Gujarat Files” had mixed reviews. Who would know Ayyub better than those who hired her to go undercover for Gujarat Files? They subsequently fired her for the story being “incomplete” and not meeting, “the necessary editorial standards.” The book was later dismissed by the Supreme Court of India stating, “it is based upon surmises, conjectures, and suppositions and has no evidentiary value.” Ayyub herself noted the court’s comments as “puzzling” but not baseless.

I noticed Ayyub recently through her many opinions in WP in 2021[1]. I surmise that she has not been able to reconcile the rejection of her work by the Supreme Court and Tehelka. Now, Ayyub’s lifelong mission is only a NEGATIVE NARRATIVE about India’s democratically elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ayyub is in total denial that India has rightfully earned the rising spotlight in global leadership. She is unwilling to give credit where it is due but committed to spitting venom, not an objective opinion/ criticism about India and the leadership as a responsible journalist. I don’t know if her “hatred” for Modi is ordained by Allah and she is fulfilling that legacy.

It is more appalling that WP allows its hired global opinion writer, Ayyub, to rant with headlines such as, “India keeps going after journalists like me…,” (September 22)[2]. Note the phrase “like me” as if WP is all about Ayyub’s story of her being accused of misappropriation of charitable funds. Why she should fear if no wrong is done? The accused Ayyub has the right to be heard but the place for that is India’s judiciary system and not WP. As we say, “no smoke without fire,” there is likely some evidence about the lack of accountability leading to accusations that are under investigation. The judicial process in India or the U.S. is similar i.e., the accused provides evidence to establish no wrongdoing or face the consequences.

Ayyub’s most recent opinion centers around two accused, namely, Aryan Khan and Ashish Mishra[3]. Khan is the son of a known Bollywood actor from the Muslim community accused of drug dealing and under investigation. His request for bail remains pending with his father’s inability to “buy the bail.” The second individual is the son of a Hindu minister in Modi’s cabinet. He is accused of being part of a conspiracy for a number of deaths in Uttar Pradesh (UP) governed by an extremely competent and no-nonsense Chief Minister Yogi. This case is also under investigation with pending bail despite the family’s political influence. It should be noted that she had characterized Yogi a radical nationalist monk as India’s next divisive leader[4]. Yogi is an undisputed leader but contrary to her belief, he has been a uniting force and fair-minded unless the culprit’s history of playing havoc with the law and order and accused of wrongdoing.

Important to note that both Khan and Mishra are accused of a crime that is under active investigation and no bail yet despite the families being rich and famous in their own right. This means that the judicial process is working irrespective of money and/ or political influences. Why then Ayyub is raising the issue in an international forum; neither of the accused deserves mention in WP? Is there a deeper agenda of Ayyub’s story about the two sons? I can think of three probable reasons:

  1. Ayyub playing a Hindu-Muslim card to color the story of the accusations is still under investigation. What makes it more intriguing is that the Hindu son is from UP where she herself is accused. She wrote in her opinion[2], “a right-wing organization called the Hindu IT Cell filed a complaint against me with the police in Uttar Pradesh accusing me of misappropriating funds and tax evasion.” I underscore, “Hindu IT cell” as if the IT cells are now codified based on religious affiliations like Hindu, Muslim, and Christian, etc. What a crooked creation of a devil’s mind? I then ask, is she representing Muslim journalism for Christian WP to promote Hinduphobia?
  2.  Uttar Pradesh is due for Assembly elections in or around March 2022 and does Ayyub want to connect the Hindu son conspiring for the murder of Sikh farmers in the wake of ongoing farmer protests? She is quite capable of wanting to ignite Hindu versus Sikh fire notwithstanding that the Sikh farming community in that city has lived in harmony for decades. Ayyub appears determined to infuse Khalistan’s ideology in this unfortunate deadly event. A very small group of disgruntled Sikhs, mostly funded from abroad, have been seeking a state called Khalistan separated from India. I have no doubt that Yogi’s government will not let Ayyub’s evil mind’s creation succeed. India and UP must guard politics against volatility based on religious/ caste grounds-Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh mixed with the Brahmin versus Dalit issue.
  3. Ayyub wants to keep her own accusations of misappropriations in UP, front and center, because she may be fearing prosecution for her wrongdoing. She is quite capable of abusing her journalistic privilege to preemptively develop a narrative for WP that a Muslim woman Ayyub is found guilty by a radical Hindu Chief Minister Yogi.

There may be other reasons but such is the journalistic character of Ayyub for creating sensational opinions with twisted facts to fulfill her anti-Modi commitment. Frankly, the accused sons or the accused Ayyub are just anomalies in India’s context but Ayyub thrives on such frivolous paid opinions by WP to malign and discredit India. Sadly, the Western media can’t digest an advancing and rising India and Prime Minister Modi being counted as equal among the world leaders.

It is the WP editorial responsibility to set standards for what gets published in the best interest of their readers. As a global newspaper, WP should be interested in India, the world’s largest democracy, as a nation to be compared and contrasted in the global geopolitics and not the isolated cases of Ayyub. Every well-meaning Hindu should write to shame the owner and editorial board of WP. India is decidedly bigger than even Prime Minister Modi and therefore WP’s focus must remain on India and not people like accused Ayyub and two sons – only 3 of 1.3 billion Indians.

Let the readers know that Ayyub’s published opinions since May 4 include headlines such as, “…hate, intimidation, and injustice in Modi’s India[5],” “The Indian government continues to harass journalists…[6],” “… Modi and his ministers focus on covering up their incompetence[7],” “Grief is overwhelming India…[8]” Most of her opinions are full of rantings about Modi rather than a balanced criticism and/ or constructive suggestion. India as a country has its strengths, challenges, and threats but Ayyub is totally oblivious. Modi as a human being may not be perfect but neither is Ayyub or other human beings.

However, one fact cannot be denied that India never had a selfless leader like Modi with no “dynasty” to do favors for. He has always put the country above everything else with India’s development engine and global leadership advancing with unprecedented speed even during the slowdown during the pandemic.

Yes, during the pandemic India faced many challenges and sadly thousands of deaths became imminent. However, India with very poor health infrastructure inherited by Modi’s government had fewer deaths than the United States with the most advanced healthcare system. It was absolutely devastating for India but not because of the lack of efforts on a war footing. Let us ask Ayyub: Does India deserve credit for having its own vaccine and reaching a record number of administered vaccines to be about one billion considering India’s size, diversity, and population spread in small villages?

Ayyub was quick to suggest in her opinion, “ As Modi visits the U.S., it’s time to hold him accountable[2].” How about writing a post-Modi visit opinion? Did she not see the headlines or had blinders that India was part of the QUAD with the U.S., Japan, and Australia discussing the growing geopolitical tensions by expansionist China? I call Ayyub most unethical because she fails to express balanced and objective opinion even about matters of strategic and global importance. Does she not owe anything to India where she was born and possibly educated for almost “free” and to the United States where she is earning part of her paycheck as a hired opinion writer by WP? All I ask is her objectivity in writing about India.

In all probability, WP hired Ayyub to write about India. But was she not to follow the standards of objectivity and a balanced opinion in her writings? Is WP providing space and compensation for only negative narratives and innuendoes? WP knows well that all politics is local with the potential for global consequences particularly in this age of social media and internet. Should WP allow the journalists to create half-baked and sensational narratives and promote fake and/ or frivolous news? In my informed view, WP has the right and responsibility to ask journalists like Ayyub to restrain from writing which does not meet journalistic ethics and standards? WP should know that Ayyub’s rantings are inconsequential about Modi and India but makes readers like me infuriated.

Uncharacteristically, Ayyub has a craft of pulling herself, her family, and Muslim card in the opinions she writes. She portrays herself as a victim, expresses her personal vendetta, and maligns Modi and India as if the Prime Minister has nothing better to do except thinking of Ayyub’s opinion. It will be best for Ayyub to start focusing her power of the pen to be counted as a journalist with objectivity, standards, ethical, balanced, and intellectually thought provoking or simply quit. She should bear in mind that playing her gender and/ or religious card is not a good and effective journalism.

Note:
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

References:

[1] Rana Ayyub – Washington Post

[2] India keeps going after journalists like me. As Modi visits the U.S., it’s time to hold him accountable.Sep 22, 2021, Washington Post

[3] Two sons, two systems of justice, but one message for Indians: Fall in lineOct 13, 2021, Washington Post

[4] Will this radical nationalist monk be India’s next divisive leader?Feb 19, 2021, Washington Post

[5] A timeline of hate, intimidation and injustice in Modi’s IndiaAug 16, 2021, Washington Post

[6] The Indian government continues to harass journalists. I’m facing prison over a tweet.Jun 29, 2021, Washington Post

[7] As covid-19 devastates rural India, Modi and his ministers focus on covering up their incompetenceMay 24, 2021, Washington Post

[8] Grief is overwhelming India. My family was no exception.May 04, 2021, Washington Post

Born in village Kotah (Saharanpur), Vijendra Agarwal, left India in 1973 after Ph.D. (Physics) from IIT Roorkee but always remained connected with his roots. A researcher in Italy, Japan, and France, he came to US in 1978. He served as faculty and academic
administrator (Assistant Vice President, Associate Vice Chancellor, and Dean of the College of Science and Engineering) in several universities, and an Executive Fellow in the White House S&T Policy during Clinton administration. Following his voluntary retirement in 2014, he and his wife co-founded a US based NGO, Vidya Gyan, to serve rural India toward education, health, and empowerment of girls and overall development. An Indian at heart, his passion for writing has no boundaries. This includes policy, politics and people, and social/cultural activities promoting community engagement. Currently he is the Brand Ambassador for Times of India and frequently blogs on Linkedin on various topics.
Vijendra Agarwal

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