Western media distorts India’s image with farcical coverage
Salvatore Babones (a well-known sociologist who has been in the Indian news media in recent months) was interviewed recently by Vibhuti Jha for Jaipur Dialogues.
The following is a summary of what he said on the subject of the West’s Hatred For Hinduism & India, during the interview:
I’m an atheist social scientist and yet I have a positive outlook towards almost all religions and their followers; I’m not taking the side of any religion, least of all Hinduism with which I have no personal connection; I’m only making impersonal observations about what I see – there’s an unfair, irrational and unsubstantiated prejudice against Hinduism, esp by the western academics and liberals, similar to the prejudices the same class had against the Jews and Israel in the past.
India is as secular and as democratic as any of the western countries, no more, no less. I see nothing wrong with even the assertion of some Hindus in India, just as the US, UK, and Australia are secular, and yet their Christian majority is clearly worn on their sleeves like the holidays in these countries are on the days and eve of Christian festivals.
The global hatred for Hinduism and India only emanates from academics from some of the top-notch universities and editors & elites who want to propagate anti-Hindu, anti-India narratives, not from the common people, who have no particularly negative views on Hinduism or India, maybe some intrigue; some of them are watching debates on such topics from the sidelines, and to that extent, are impressionable.
There’s a bizarre unholy alliance between highly illiberal Islamist fundamentalists (not all Muslims) propounding the philosophy of violence on the one hand, and many editors of media houses of the west and some Christian missionaries (which are generally the best examples of peace) on the other hand, in demonizing Hinduism and India. This defies logic.
If a Kashmiri Muslim fights for separation of Kashmir from India, I can understand, without going into the merits or demerits of the case, but when the editors of western media who have nothing to do with this issue speak up for the Kashmiri separatists, this is surely agenda driven.
As I understand, what was agreed in the Constituent Assembly when the Indian Constitution was drafted, was only a right to practice one’s own religion and to groom one’s children in the same traditions, not to proselytize others. What is happening on the ground includes religious conversion by inducements, promises, and fear.
Editors of popular media houses like the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc are willing to offer, without even minimum fact-checking, premium space like an op-ed to a Muslim activist like Rana Ayyub or to a writer with possible political agenda like Sadanand Dhume, who regularly write questionable articles that are anti-Hindu and anti-India, but not to a Hindu who tries to even occasionally write an objective pro-Hindu or pro-Indian article, anywhere in their columns, even with fact-checking. This is extremely troubling to a neutral social scientist like me.
And what is worse, these very articles without fact-checking become the knowledge base based on which these media write their editorials.
So, while Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath have been able to win the people’s trust and faith, academics and editors who are unable to influence the Indian voters, are trying to demonize democracy and win the trust and faith of the intelligentsia, to a significant extent successfully.
That said, I won’t say there is Hinduphobia in the world like Islamophobia, because an average white on the streets of Australia harbours hatred for Muslims, whether rational or irrational, which is clearly Islamophobia, whereas this is not the case with Hinduism; only the western (and some Indian) elite academics and media have that kind of hatred to Hinduism and India. The average white is envious of the accomplishments of Indians, if at all.
There are several factors contributing to this hatred, like:
- The complexity and diversity of Hinduism that make it difficult for outsiders to fully grasp its beliefs and practices, which leads to incorrect understanding.
- Many western scholars and intellectuals have traditionally viewed non-Abrahamic religions as primitive or backward, based on the peripheral understanding of these faiths, perpetuating stereotypes and contributing to the overall negative perception of Hinduism.
- The desire to advance certain political or religious agendas.
To combat all this, Hindus can actively try to promote their religion and culture, both in India and abroad. Education and dialogue can dispel some myths and misconceptions about Hinduism.
Additionally, Hindus can work towards building alliances with other marginalized groups and promote interfaith dialogue to foster greater understanding and acceptance of Hinduism.
Another way to promote a greater understanding of Hinduism is through greater representation in the media such as television, film, and other forms of popular culture.
There is a need for greater diversity in the representation of Hinduism in the media, both in terms of the stories and the people telling them.
Hope we are listening!
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.
 Why Does The West Hate India? | Salvatore Babones and Vibhuti Jha – Feb 10, 2023, YouTube
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