Tracking the Media: Interpretations of Mass Media Discourses in India and Pakistan 9780415480628

792 72 967KB

English Pages [336] Year 2008

Report DMCA / Copyright


Table of contents :
Tracking the Media Interpretations of Mass Media Discourses in India and Pakistan
I. Terrorism and Conflict
1. Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’: Media Representations of the Kargil War
2. Some Comments on Media Representations of the Gujarat Riots and the Kargil War
3. ‘KARACHI CAPTURED’: Cricketing Wars on the Subcontinent
4. ‘Delhi’s 29/10’: Terror in the Capital
II. India and Indians in a Globalized World
5. Media Representations in India of the Indian Diaspora in the UK and US
6. ‘Hindi–Chini, Bhai–Bhai’: Indian Media Representations of China
III. India–Pakistan Media: Comparative Perspectives
7. ‘Dispelling the Spooks about Nukes’: Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations
8. ‘Big Time’: A Seat at the UNSC and Indo-US Relations in India and Pakistani Media
9. ‘Hatred must end’: Indo-Pak Media on Kashmir, Terrorism, and the Munabao–Khokrapar Issue
10. ‘Indian Interference in Balochistan’: Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs
11. ‘Musharraf among Worst Dictators’: Negative Reportage in Indo-Pak Media
Recommend Papers

Tracking the Media: Interpretations of Mass Media Discourses in India and Pakistan

  • 0 0 0
  • Like this paper and download? You can publish your own PDF file online for free in a few minutes! Sign Up
File loading please wait...
Citation preview

Tracking the Media Interpretations of Mass Media Discourses in India and Pakistan

Subarno Chattarji

Tracking the Media

ii Tracking the Media

Tracking the Media Interpretations of Mass Media Discourses in India and Pakistan

Subarno Chattarji


First published 2008 by Routledge 912–915 Tolstoy House, 15–17 Tolstoy Marg, New Delhi 110 001

Simultaneously published in the UK by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, OX14 4RN

Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business

© 2008 Subarno Chattarji

Typeset by Star Compugraphics Private Limited 5–CSC, First Floor, Near City Apartments Vasundhara Enclave Delhi 110 096

Printed and bound in India by Sanat Printers 312, EPIP, Kundli Sonipat 131 028, Haryana

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the publishers.

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN: 978-0-415-48062-8

For Neena


Tracking the Media

Contents Acknowledgements



xi I. Terrorism and Conflict

1. Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’: Media Representations of the Kargil War


2. Some Comments on Media Representations of the Gujarat Riots and the Kargil War


3. ‘KARACHI CAPTURED’: Cricketing Wars on the Subcontinent


4. ‘Delhi’s 29/10’: Terror in the Capital


II. India and Indians in a Globalized World 5. Media Representations in India of the Indian Diaspora in the UK and US


6. ‘Hindi–Chini, Bhai–Bhai’: Indian Media Representations of China 123 III. India–Pakistan Media: Comparative Perspectives 7. ‘Dispelling the Spooks about Nukes’: Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations


8. ‘Big Time’: A Seat at the UNSC and Indo-US Relations in India and Pakistani Media


9. ‘Hatred must end’: Indo-Pak Media on Kashmir, Terrorism, and the Munabao–Khokrapar Issue


10. ‘Indian Interference in Balochistan’: Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs


viii Tracking the Media

11. ‘Musharraf among Worst Dictators’: Negative Reportage in Indo-Pak Media






Acknowledgements I am grateful to Omita Goyal whose enthusiasm and encouragement enabled this volume to see the light of print. Pallavi Narayan survived my MA classes as well as this manuscript and I wish to thank her for her editorial skills, patience, and promptness. Earlier versions of some of these essays appeared on www.thehoot. org, the media watch website run single-handedly by Sevanti Ninan. Sevanti gave me the initial opportunities to write about media related issues and this book would not exist without her support and longterm commitment to media analysis and media ethics. Grateful thanks to Miyazaki International College (MIC), Miyazaki, Japan, whose generous research travel grants enabled me to complete research at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, while I was on sabbatical in Miyazaki. In particular I would like to thank Dr Otsubo, President of MIC, Bern Mulvey, Dean of Faculty, and Rumi Matsuda for tirelessly making travel arrangements. I would also like to thank the Librarian and Staff at MEI Library, in particular Nana Yamamoto, as well as the Librarian and Staff at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. I am also grateful to the University of Delhi for the sabbatical which gave me the time to research and write this book. To friends and fellow-academics who had chapters thrust upon them for comments and suggestions I remain in debt. Victims include Tapan Basu, Micheal Cooper, Scot Davies, Suman Gupta, Seiko Hara, Sanjoy Hazarika, and Brij Tankha. All errors and omissions remain, of course, solely my responsibility. Many thanks to all journalists and media practitioners who provide grist to the analytical–academic mill and whose work is the foundation of this book. My hope is that this volume will go a small way towards initiating dialogues between academics and practitioners to further the cause and purposes of ethical and insightful media. This book is for Neena without whose prayers, support, and commentary this endeavour would have little meaning.


Tracking the Media

Introduction World is crazier and more of it than we think, Incorrigibly plural.1

Louis MacNeice’s poem ‘Snow’, from which the above lines are taken, is not about mass media in his or any other age, but his sentiments seem appropriate for the present study of media in India and Pakistan. The more we consume the media the ‘crazier’ the worlds represented through that medium appear to be. Indeed at one level the media merely holds a mirror up to the craziness of the world we live in. At another level, however, the media may be said to mediate and add to that sense of the bizarre, of the casual and often inexplicable and unexplained juxtaposition of the hanging of Saddam Hussein, the gagging of orphan children in a Russian hospital, the murder and sexual molestation of children in a suburb of Delhi, and the on-screen racism and kitsch gentility in Shilpa Shetty’s shenanigans on Celebrity Big Brother, to give some random examples. As innumerable media analysts have pointed out, we live in a MacLuhanesque global village of instant communication, but the more information we have the more arbitrary and disparate that stream of knowledge seems to be. Paradoxically, knowledge economies such as many in the West and one which India aspires towards tend to diminish rather than enhance our analytical and conceptual frameworks of the political and economic structures that we live in. Part of the impetus underlying the essays that follow is to indicate the ways in which the media contributes to both a vast pool of information and a corresponding blunting, if not obfuscation, of analysis. The media is an intrinsic part of this knowledge economy and often blamed for any and all ills that plague a polity. Thus, for example, it is a commonplace in certain political spheres in the US to blame television coverage of the Vietnam War for the loss in that war. Such an argument gives more credit to the media where less was due.2 By its very imbrication in and with structures of power and knowledge, however, the media can occasionally be complicit in the creation of communal, national, or local identities and hegemonies. Sevanti Ninan writes of Dainik Jagran’s use of the Ayodhya issue to establish its supremacy as a newspaper in Uttar Pradesh’,

xii Tracking the Media

which paralleled ‘the Bharatiya Janata Party’s sustained use of the Ramjanmabhoomi campaign in Ayodhya to establish itself politically in UP’.3 Similarly, during the Kargil War, sections of the mass media in India played a vital ‘force multiplier’ role in creating and consolidating the idea of a nation under threat and then united in glorious sacrifice and ultimately triumph. Of course, within this dominant discourse there were alternative voices because the media remains ‘incorrigibly plural’ and often highlights the value of this plurality, within itself as a corporate entity and as part of democratic functioning. In fact, media plurality is often projected as one sign of free and open democracies. Unfortunately, however, mass media is often neither free nor open and the ways in which media practitioners and their reportage is often compromised has been analyzed in some depth and detail.4 As Edward Said writes: ‘Yet despite the variety and the differences, and however much we proclaim the contrary, what the media produce is neither spontaneous nor completely “free”: “news” does not just happen, pictures and ideas do not merely spring from reality into our eyes and minds, truth is not directly available, we do not have unrestrained variety at our disposal. For like all modes of communication, television, radio, and newspapers observe certain rules and conventions to get things across intelligibly, and it is these, often more than the reality being conveyed, that shape the material delivered by the media.’5 Louis MacNeice’s poem alerts us most felicitously to the cusp between the plural and the homogenous, the craziness and the repeated attempts at clarity that media domains function within, and these paradoxes are crucial to the essays in this volume as they attempt to analyze ‘the material delivered by the media’. Mass media in India in all its forms has burgeoned particularly since the first phase of economic liberalization in the 1990s. Perhaps the most remarkable growth has been in television both for news and entertainment and there have been some detailed studies of this phenomenon and its implications.6 While some of the essays in this volume are concerned with the ways in which television represented arenas of conflict such as the Kargil War and the Gujarat riots, the primary focus is on the print media. The demise of the latter, to paraphrase Mark Twain’s observation on reading his own obituary in the papers, has been frequently and unjustly exaggerated. New media such as the internet and its attendant wonders or notions of citizen journalism empowering the owner of the mobile

Introduction xiii

phone camera have entered the Indian media landscape but not, I believe, in the same ways as in more developed media countries. There are some fairly apparent empirical reasons for India not quite being poised on the edge of an information revolution. One is the paucity of telephone and computer (hence internet) access and ownership where India has very low penetration. Following from the first new media technologies are largely the provenance of elites in urban conglomerations. Undoubtedly, mobile phone access has been de-eliticized as The Times of India declared in a headline, ‘Dial M for Mattar’, but the figures still belie any notion of a pan-Indian spread of news and knowledge cultures created by easy familiarity with mobile and internet telephony. Within this context the print media continues to thrive and expand. As B. R. P. Bhaskar points out: ‘From about 330 daily news papers with a total circulation of 2.5 million copies in the early 1950s to 5,638 newspapers with an estimated circulation of 59.1 million copies in 2001, the Indian press has registered phenomenal growth in the past half-century.’7 The 2006 findings of the National Readership Survey (NRS) bolster Bhaskar’s argument. In the one-year period under survey, NRS found that the ‘reach of the press medium (dailies and magazines combined) has increased from 216 million to 222 million’.8 In comparison, internet users grew ‘from 7.2 million users who logged in every week last year’ to 9.4 million in 2006. ‘As proportions, these represent 0.9 per cent and 1.2 per cent of India’s 12 year plus population.’ Urban India registered a slightly faster growth in internet reach ‘from 2.3% to 3.4%’.9 NRS felt that ‘Mobile phones must now be given their due place as media. The reach of this medium — as measured by the proportion of the population accessing value-added-features (VAS) at least once a week — has grown from 1.1 per cent last year to 2.7 per cent, translating to nearly 22 million individuals.’10 As suggested earlier, one way of placing new media possibilities within India in perspective is to look at figures in comparative contexts. The following table provides a glimpse of the number of users of fixed line telephones, mobile phones, and the internet in China, the US, and India: Telephones China US India

Number of users 350,433,000 268,000,000 49,75,000

Year 2005 2003 2005


Tracking the Media

Mobiles China US India

Number of users 437,480,000 219,400,000 69,193, 321

Internet hosts US India

Number of users 195,138,696 1,543,289

Year 2006 2005 2006

Source: CIA World Fact Book.11

The point of foregrounding these statistics is to reveal the primacy of the print media in the Indian context.12 As James Robinson reported, ‘The Indian newspaper market is one of the healthiest in the world, with hundreds of daily titles — and it’s growing. Total newspaper circulation rose by 8 per cent last year [2005], according to the World Association of Newspapers.’13 Robinson went on to detail how Independent News & Media, UK, paid 17.4 million Pounds ‘for a 26 per cent stake in JPL which publishes the Hindi newspaper Dainik Jagran, in 2004’.14 Sevanti Ninan’s Headlines from the Heartland is an in-depth analysis of the print media revolution in north India. She writes: ‘Two hundred million readers for dailies and magazines meant that the print media was now available to one out of five people in the country.’15 Within the print media I choose, especially in the first six chapters, to dwell primarily on English language media. There are some conceptual pitfalls with such an approach related particularly to the demographics of English in India, i.e. the fact that a small minority read, write, and speak the language. Additionally there are the burdens of colonial history and, more recently, the association of English with the networks of globalization and its attendant glories and ills, depending on one’s ideological perspective. None of these burdens are crippling and indeed we need to face the myriad transformations wrought by English in our collective imaginations and lives if we are to deal effectively and meaningfully with aspects of identity, nationhood, secularism, and the global that these essays are concerned with. I do not propose here to deal with issues related to the variety of Englishes circulating within India but they underlie some of the debates, biases, and prejudices circulated in English language media.16 Although the language press has far greater circulation and reach than the English one I wish to re-emphasize the imaginative and ideological importance of media in English within India and I argue this in the

Introduction xv

first six chapters within contexts of war, communal riots, sport, and the projection of India in the larger world. Although I do look at some Hindi and Urdu papers and one Sindhi newspaper, the main focus of the essays is on English language papers and news magazines. In Chapters 7 through 11 I offer comparative perspectives of regional language and English print media in Pakistan and India. English in India is associated with certain notions of class and hierarchy as well as with particular social desires and hopes. By focusing on English language publications, I highlight the ways in which these media contribute to and function within peculiarly middle class matrices of modernity, consumption, conflict, and conservatism in present day India. Of course, modernity or consumption are not the preserve of the middle class nor do they impact solely on that class, but the middle class is the driving force for modes of consumption and conservatism that dominate English language media and certain social landscapes within which these media circulate. I dwell on these connections in detail in chapters dealing with the India–China comparison as well as in representations of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and People of Indian Origin (PIOs). The attitude towards the English language and its usage is itself indicative of certain contraries within India, ranging from the notion of the deracinated English speaker to that of one who is cosmopolitan and represents a confident nation at home in the world. I argue in some of the essays — most notably the one on Kargil — that English language print media is as, if not more, conservative than the so-called regional papers; that at the same time that English provides access to global markets and communications, it furthers more narrowly nationalistic agendas and outlooks. While there has been substantial work on television and its influence on the subcontinent, there is less attention and analysis directed at the print media. English language print media deserves to be scrutinized not only because of its growing market reach but because of its significance and impact, especially in terms of creating influential climates of opinion. Having stressed the value of English as the medium of crucial overt and subliminal messages of identity and nationhood, it seems essential to nuance that argument within such a polyglot nation and media. For reasons related to Indian responses to colonialism, the proliferation of English as elite political, academic and media discourse, and the more recent ‘chutneyfication’ of the language, there has been and continues to be a tremendous drive to acquire English as a mode of


Tracking the Media

personal, economic, and social acceptance and advancement.17 While there has been a sea change in the linguistic and social composition of our political elites — from the enunciations of Eton and Harrow to the rhythms of Patna — there is still a vast and growing pool of English literate personages who aspire to create their own version of the language and its concomitant values within India. To cite an obvious example, the vast pool of functionally literate call centre workers tune into a vision of India as a global player through their daily interactions with their clients in the West. Briefly, there is still a perceptual hierarchy that privileges English over native tongues. Even within the Hindi media sphere, there is an awareness of the importance of English and its association with ‘upward mobility’. As Sevanti Ninan observes: ‘Perhaps the most striking comment on upward mobility was the fact that both his [Atul Maheshwari’s Amar Ujala] newspaper and the Navbharat Times in Delhi carried regular weekly columns on how Hindi speakers could improve their English.’18 This hierarchization is increasingly untenable given the media power of Hindi and other regional newspapers, but it is nevertheless evident in the columns that Sevanti Ninan mentions and in some of the commentary on the language press. M. H. Lakdawala writes: ‘While content may be common between the media in different languages as, say, in reporting a major event, each language has its own psyche and its own area of perceptual demarcation.’19 Indeed, languages do have their ‘own psyche’; they reach out to different constituencies, and create varying solidarities and oppositions. One obvious example of the difference was in dominant English press coverage of the Gujarat riots and that of the Gujarati daily Sandesh, which fabricated stories to consolidate Hindu anger and identity.20 The ‘perceptual demarcation’, however, is not always so clear. During the Kargil War, for instance, media virtually across the board was supportive of India’s involvement in the war and contributed significantly to the consolidation of nationhood and its concomitant, the need for ‘dismembering Pakistan’, as a major English language news magazine put it.21 During the Gujarat riots, Sandesh was a notable exception in regional media which generally excoriated the then Prime Minister and his party for the carnage. Similarly Urdu media, as Lakdawala notes, is not always communal or insular. ‘The media have played a great role in bringing down communal violence in Hyderabad in the last 10 to 15 years. The basic

Introduction xvii

reason for communalism among youths was lack of education and employment opportunities. The Urdu media had taken up the task of providing educational opportunities to the Muslim youth, besides ensuring them employment by publishing information about job opportunities in the Gulf.’22 The contrast with Sandesh could not be greater and highlights the dangers of attempting to formulate absolute differences between the English and the non-English language media in India. Krishna Kumar, in a review article on Robin Jeffrey’s study of the vernacular press, India’s Newspaper Revolution, noticed precisely the overlap between regional and English language media that is often overlooked, when he wrote: ‘Neat offset printing barely hides the lack of thought, and often the lack of concern, in some of the largest circulation dailies for the grim implications of, for example, the nexus between politicians and criminals, communal propaganda of Sangh institutions and the nuclearisation of India and Pakistan. No one is saying that there are no exceptions or that the English press has covered itself in glory.’23 However, Kumar seemed to believe that the local content emphasis of expanding Indian-language dailies has led to ‘the fragmentation of the public sphere’, as if the Indian-language press was somehow more responsible for the lack of analytical news and the disintegration of public spaces.24 Kumar’s characterization of regional media is not exceptional. As Jeffrey observes, ‘For [Arvind] Rajagopal, Hindi language publications provide a much more potent site for Hindu majoritarian ideas than they do for arguments about secularism, science and rationalism.’25 Rajagopal shows how the English press misread the Ramjanmabhoomi movement representing it as ‘closed, implacable, and impervious to reason, and challenging the existing bounds of legality by embracing religious fanaticism rather than the principles of constitutional democracy’.26 ‘Yet,’ Rajagopal goes on to write, ‘the Ram temple movement was plainly not a monolithic entity; it enclosed a range of positions, from those critical of British colonial inheritance or desirous of more indigenous cultural influence, to the pious and devout, to those who conceived of collective revenge against Muslims as a politically liberating development. The Hindi press was able to articulate these distinctions and allow a more heterogeneous image of the movement’s cultural references to emerge.’27 Rajagopal’s argument is more nuanced in its recognition of the ‘variegated narratives in the Hindi press, which expressed a certain level of

xviii Tracking the Media

political self-consciousness’.28 The divide between the English and Hindi press in terms of attitudes towards the secular, the religious, and the communal is not, however, as clear as Rajagopal seems to suggest. This is evident from the coverage of the Kargil War and the Gujarat riots where the English language press was both chauvinistic and bigoted in one instance and secular and rational in its coverage of the latter event. Likewise, some regional papers displayed high degrees of parochialism while others condemned the holocaust in Gujarat.29 Rajagopal’s contention ‘that the cultural isolation between the English and the Hindi print media worked to the political advantage of the Hindu Right’ is accurate in terms of the ways in which the Hindi print media such as Dainik Jagran represented Ayodhya, but it seems to set up a hierarchy of values and principles privileging the English media as rational, scientific, and secular, and this is open to interrogation.30 Arvind Rajagopal’s argument brings me to another underlying concern of these essays, one that is related to the representation of India as a secular and plural nation and I dwell on the different prisms through which plurality and secularism are reflected. For example, during the Kargil War, mainstream English language media represented India as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country as opposed to the enemy who was fanatically and monochromatically Islamic. The same media, to its credit, pulled no punches when communal horror was unleashed in Gujarat but, as I argue later, media made no connections between the two events. There is a link between Krishna Kumar’s notion of ‘the fragmentation of the public sphere’ attributed in part to the regional media and Rajagopal’s idea that ‘Hindi language publications provide a much more potent site for Hindu majoritarian ideas’. This connection relates to the conception of the nation itself and the public spheres within that are continually contested and reshaped and the role of the media in those processes of contestation and reformulation. There is a distinguished debate on the secular versus non-secular nature of India and I touch on aspects of these in several chapters. I dwell on the complexities of media representations of the secular versus communal debate and have emphasized the absolutist stances of both sides in the debate. While the absolutism of the religious right is well-known, that of the secular set is less emphasized. Secular intellectuals’ response to Hindu communalism seems to replicate Edward Said’s idea of intellectual communities that are based on

Introduction xix

exclusion rather than inclusion and debate: ‘If a community is based principally on keeping people out and on defending a tiny fiefdom (in perfect complicity with the defenders of other fiefdoms) on the basis of a pure subject’s inviolable integrity, then it is a religious community.’31 In other words, the secular left seems to repeat precisely the paradigms of exclusivity and intolerance that we find in the religious right. Underlying arguments for secularism — as Ashis Nandy has pointed out with suitable frequency and succinctness — is an idea that public spaces must be completely desacralized. In the process of this attempted desacralization of the public sphere votaries of secularism have ignored the binding forces of faith and interfaith dialogue and community, as well as the fact that the genuinely sacred creates its own notions of public space. I will not rehearse arguments expressed with far greater clarity by Nandy but I find his interventions in this debate necessary and important and his benign influence is evident in my opinions on the interface between media and the secular–sacred divide. One thread running through my essays is the ways in which conflict is represented in India and Pakistan and one major site of this is the religious and the sacred. The loci of conflict may change — from the heights of Kargil to Best Bakery to a cricket stadium in Karachi — but even seemingly nonreligious matters such as cricket are often viewed through the prism of religious affiliation which is then elided with national identity. One example of this during the 2004 tour of Pakistan was the ways in which Irfan Pathan and Mohammad Kaif were often represented in the Indian media as ambassadors of their faiths. I dwell on the dubiety of such representations but also highlight their ubiquity along with the influence and reach of the media in creating stereotypes and manageable ‘others’. The resurgence of the secular–sacred dichotomy is related in part to the functioning or lack thereof of the state. As Ashis Nandy observes: ‘It has become increasingly clear that, as far as public morality goes, the culture of the Indian state has very little moral authority left; nor have ideologies that tend to conceptualise the state as the pivot of social and cultural change. The hope that a secular Indian state will provide a set of values to guide a devout Hindu, Muslim, or Sikh in day-to-day public behaviour lies splintered.’32 The Shah Bano case, the 1984 Delhi riots, the destruction of the Babri Masjid, the Bombay riots in 1992–93, and the 2002 Gujarat riots are a recent list indicative of this gradual erosion of state legitimacy in


Tracking the Media

India, especially as moral arbiter among diverse faiths and ethnicities. In such a scenario, the dismissal of faith by the secular brigade and the simultaneous demonization of Muslims by the Hindu right have squeezed and limited space for debate on the secular–sacred divide. While media generally follows the lines of dominant civic discourse, it is important to also see how it manages to present more nuanced arguments and notions of public spheres. Media representations of conflict create and circulate ‘knowledge’ and stereotypes of Muslims, the perennial ‘other’ and source of anxiety, fear, prejudice, and occasionally strategic pride within India. These matrices within which the ‘other’ is created and represented have been further bolstered in a general global climate of intolerance and bigotry since 11 September 2001. The ‘force of “us” is, typically,’ as Richard Rorty points out in a different context, ‘contrastive in the sense that it contrasts with a “they” which is also made up of human beings — the wrong sort of human beings’.33 The ‘us’ versus ‘them’ paradigm is continually sustained in media in India and Pakistan and is most evident in Chapters 7 to 11, which deal with the ways in which the two countries represent each other primarily to their domestic audiences. Whether it is the Kargil War, Kashmir, or terror attacks in Delhi there is the immediate assumption of Muslim perfidy that is supported by India’s Islamic neighbour. One constant mode of contrast is between a democratic and plural India on the one hand and a non-democratic theocracy on the other. It is a dichotomy that the Moroccan feminist critic Fatimi Mernissi writes about in her article, ‘Arab Women’s Rights and the Muslim State in the Twenty-First Century: Reflections on Islam as Religion and State’: ‘Few words in contemporary political and ideological lexicons have been misused and abused as “Islam” by both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The term, meaning peace and submission, now invokes images of violence, totalitarianism, and irrationality. Speculations on the chances for peace in the Middle East usually centre on an embarrassingly racist question: are Islam and Democracy compatible? The question is racist not only because it reduces a set of complex, multifaceted, and global contradictions between Muslim and Western states to an opposition between medieval religion and a modern political system, but also because when a Westerner asks such a question, he automatically assigns rationality to democracy and irrationality to Islam.’34 Although the resonances of hatred have peculiar contours within the subcontinent, Mernissi’s observation

Introduction xxi

is apposite for some Indian media representations of Pakistan and Islam and perhaps explains the ease with which mainstream media accepts the rhetoric and assumptions underlying the US war on terror. Animating the secular–sacred distinction in media discourse is an underlying set of assumptions related to the role of the media in India, although these assumptions are not limited to the secular–sacred debate. These assumptions centre round the idea that the media has a moral role to play in society, and that while some newspapers or television channels live up to that role others do not. Bindu Bhaskar refers to the ‘moral capital’ of the media and the need to nurture that. She quotes Prabhat Patnaik on this issue: ‘“The very fact, however, that the media do take humane and democratic positions on a range of burning questions is a sign of hope. Indeed, with the ‘political class’ increasingly being viewed with a degree of suspicion and unease, the media are being assigned in popular perception the role of moral interlocutors on behalf of society. People’s moral positions may have become less certain, but this does not mean that they do not appreciate the role of the media in spheres where they do uphold morality.”’35 Patnaik touches upon the moral delegitimization of the state that Ashis Nandy referred to and sees moral media as an antidote to the slippage in ideals and ideas. In fact, the media becomes in a Habermasian sense an agent that creates alternative public spheres given that dominant ones have been spoiled and corrupted by politicians and their ilk.36 The importance of the media driven public sphere is also stressed by Pamela Philipose who states: ‘Not only do the media engender awareness at the broadest level, they help create an information society, a public sphere, in which the exchange of ideas and debate can take place. The unique power of the media, in fact, lies in their ownership of the right to select, highlight and interpret various developments as they occur.’37 While the power of the media to create conditions for more morally responsible public spaces is undeniable — and was reflected admirably in coverage of the Gujarat riots — the aspects of selectivity and interpretation are double edged as they do not function within value or ideologically neutral domains. It is in the interplay between moral obligations and the more mundane pressures of the market or editorial bosses that the realities of media stories are played out on a daily basis. Thus, to create an absolute dichotomy between a media that is responsible and one that is given over to trivialization or corruption is to overstate

xxii Tracking the Media

the issues at stake. Once again, the coverage of the Kargil War and the Gujarat riots reveal the contradictions within media that may be mendacious in one instance and responsible in another. The unverified story of Indian soldiers being mutilated by Pakistani troops is just one example of how patriotic fervour can dim judgement and the basic tenets of journalism. That media choices are often crucial in the telling and re-telling of national stories is pointed out by Anjali Kamat when she writes of ‘the “imagined community” of the Indian nation and what their shared historical concerns are supposed to be. Who decides if a particular event or series of events have “nationalist” currency, whether in a reactionary or a progressive sense?’38 There is another aspect of the moral/trivial characterization that I mention in passing and this is related to the huge amount of media time devoted to the trivial and the ephemeral such as the lives and loves of celebrities. Celebrity obsession is a worldwide phenomenon but, as Robert Brown notes, while it ‘can be regarded as objectionable in the world’s most affluent states, it is surely obscene in a country where so many people still wonder where their next meal will come from’.39 However, Brown goes on to minimize the divide: ‘Coverage of celebrities and consumer passions doesn’t have to be crude and debasing. Delivered with subtlety and sophistication, it can broaden the scope of a broadsheet, brightening it up rather than dumbing it down.’40 Indian media still seems to be in the phase of revelling in the joys of consumption, but Brown’s observation points to a future which may see a lesser contradiction between the moral and the trivial. The perceived, actual, and hoped for roles of the media within the cusps of the secular/sacred and moral/trivial are central to the attempts I make in the essays that follow to chart certain trajectories, continuities, and disjunctions primarily in print media. The essays range over a wide spectrum of themes related to news stories from 1999 to 2006: attitudes to Muslim minorities in Indian media; approaches to Pakistan as adversary; the combination and manifestation of these attitudes in various locations of conflict such as war, riots, and cricket matches; how these representations relate to India’s self-image; the projection of India on the global stage as represented in media reportage in India of NRIs and PIOs, the obsessive comparisons with China, the Indo-US nuclear deal, and the failed bid for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council; representations in Pakistan of India and of Pakistan in India

Introduction xxiii

particularly through the prisms of Kashmir and Balochistan, of the burdens of history, memory, expectation, hope, prejudice, and hatred; and the seminal role of some selected media in packaging and selling information and ideas related to the themes stated. Media studies in India and elsewhere has burgeoned and become a significant aspect of media/cultural studies programmes within academe. Pioneering analyses by William Crawley and Melissa Butcher of media trends in India concentrate largely on television entertainment and their impact on cultural values, generational changes, ideas of modernity, tradition, and the secular. Their emphasis is primarily on the satellite television revolution that swept India in the last decade of the twentieth century. Melissa Butcher’s Transnational Television, Cultural Identity and Change: When STAR Came to India is an excellent example of ethnographic work combined with close content and narrative analysis of television in India. My essays implicitly acknowledge the importance of the STAR revolution (they would be inaccurate and incomplete if they did otherwise) but, with a few exceptions, concentrate on the circulation of the written word. The printed word still carries with it a certain authority and that authority often translates into conceptions of reality. It is in these moments of translation — from the logos to the topos of political and cultural realities — that the incredible power of the media seems to reside.41 The essays are written from the perspective of the need to analyze media discourses and the ways in which the circulation of these discourses create a Gramscian ‘common sense’ view of the world. Melani McAlister makes a similar point when she notes that the production of a discourse that ‘comes to be understood as authoritative, as common sense occurs not through conspiracy or conscious collaboration of individuals but through the internal logics of cultural practices, intersecting with the entirely interested activity of social agents.’ Thus ‘certain meanings can become naturalized by repetition’, and ‘different sets of texts, with their own interests and affiliations, come to overlap, to reinforce and revise one another towards an end that is neither entirely planned nor entirely coincidental’.42 This is what Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky call the propaganda model and it is an important conceptual framework for our understanding of media networks and their influence.43 Melani McAlister maintains a nice balance between the ‘planned’ and the ‘coincidental’ and that is largely true


Tracking the Media

except in cases such as the preparation and execution of the riots as well as their Gujarati language representations in 2002. There was little left to chance and coincidence there and non-Gujarati media was the primary mode through which the naturalization of ideas which demonized the Muslim was interrogated. There can be little doubt that realities created and mediated by mass media in India and Pakistan are extremely influential. Media has shaped and altered perceptions of the ‘other’ on both sides, it has been activist and conservative, intrusive and abrasive in ways that are often overlooked or not fully analysed and appreciated. Given the rise and rise of intolerance and religious extremism in India and the mass media’s often ambiguous representations of and relationship with those matrices of hate, this collection of essays seems a necessary and urgent reflection on the interface between the two. The reflections in these essays are related to an aspect of media studies that is not often dwelt upon — the interface between media and academia. My location within the academe — although outside the institutional or pedagogical frameworks of formalized media studies — makes it imperative for me to mention the disciplinary aspect of the endeavour represented in this collection. In an article on the media watch website, B. P. Sanjay referred to a piece by Hasan Suroor in The Hindu which dealt with this subject. Suroor referred to a speech by the Guardian’s Timothy Garton Ash who spoke of the polarization between the two professions, where ‘journalistic writing for academia is superficial writing’ and ‘academic writing […] boring for media’.44 Suroor, and in his turn Sanjay, related Ash’s comments to the Indian scenario, pointing to the fact that academic credibility added ‘gravitas’ to a journalist and that academics were increasingly being roped in by media to provide precisely that tone, if not the substance of knowledgeable analysis. Sanjay asserted that ‘the arrival of an academic–journalist’ was necessitated by increasing ‘need for backgrounding and analysis’.45 The dichotomy between media and academia, despite increased interaction, is perhaps as intense as ever in that academics are seen primarily as content providers to television channels or newspapers. Furthermore, as Sanjay points out in another context, major news channels in India opt ‘for a small clique of the JNU–Delhi–Jamia academic brigade on all issues spanning every region of the country’ although there are specialists elsewhere.46 This is a phenomenon observable in western media as well, where ideologically suitable

Introduction xxv

academics are invited time and again and inconvenient ones are left out in the cold. The interface in many instances is based on the convenience of power and definite ideologically determined flows of knowledge, information, and analysis. As Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky observe, ‘the supply of experts may be skewed in the direction desired by the government and the “market”’. They cite Henry Kissinger who noted that ‘in this “age of the expert”, the “constituency” of the expert is “those who have a vested interest in commonly held opinions; elaborating and defining its consensus at a high level has, after all, made him an expert”’.47 Pierre Bourdieu is more scathing in his characterization of academics and ‘experts’ who appear regularly in the media: ‘[…] if television rewards a certain number of fast-thinkers who offer cultural “fast food” — predigested and pre-thought culture — it is not only because those who speak regularly on television are virtually on call (that, too, is tied to the sense of urgency in television news production). The list of commentators varies little (for Russia call Mr or Mrs X, for Germany its Mr Y). These “authorities” spare journalists the trouble of looking for people who really have something to say […]’.48 The media–academia relationship need not, however, be solely one of mutual contempt or convenient manipulation of one by the other, and media analysis the world over contributes to possibilities of new paradigms of analysis and dialogue. In its desire to speak to journalists and media practitioners as much as students and academics, this volume hopes to initiate meaningful dialogue between academia and media that may fruitfully alter practices and opinions on both sides of the divide. This sounds both programmatic and utopic in an impractically academic way, but it indicates an animating vision behind the essays that is neither utopian nor impractical. Media analysis has contributed significantly to our understanding not only of the workings of news conglomerates and the proliferation of information but also to our comprehension of structures of power and the close relationship between the two. However, because that analysis has been confined to the classroom or to fellow believers it has remained cloistered and seems to have little traffic with actual media practices.49 One instance arising from personal experience is the monitoring of media in India and Pakistan carried out by The Hoot. It was and is an entirely necessary exercise and led to some valuable insights regarding media on both sides, but it seems to be confined to the readers of the website. A vigorous


Tracking the Media

and sustained interaction between the critics and the practitioners might mean that media analysis would not remain merely a mode of academic advancement or seminars and conferences, and that while analysts may learn from those who practice the trade, the latter may in turn be enriched by critical insights. As Lila Rajiva points out in her study of the American media and its coverage of Abu Ghraib: ‘Against the power of capital and technological might, new forms of power will have to be wielded — the protean power of organization and information offered by the Internet, which alone can consolidate world public opinion. It will need the rise of a new global journalism, of media voices outside empire, of critics who know their own histories and will not submit to having them rewritten by the legators of empire.’50 Media, whether old or new, is located almost exclusively in the here and now and it is in the communication of immediacy that media grabs our attention. ‘In a continuous news cycle, the Press never rests to sum up and reassess, but is forever pushing forward, grasping at the latest twists and turns in the episodic succession.’51 An analysis of such media products is, by its very nature, a more reflective venture allowing for the kind of backward glance that the constantly forward looking media cannot afford. This is not to say that the media is never analytical but to indicate a predominant bias which seems to limit analysis. To let media representations pass without comment as if they were natural phenomenon that we cannot counter would be to abrogate intellectual and social responsibility, particularly since mass media is so influential in the creation of stereotypes and national imaginaries. As Edward Said observes: ‘Thus to understand even “the news” is in a certain sense to understand what we are and how a certain sector of the society in which we live works.’52 This collection of essays represents an attempt to create an empirical and analytical archive of particular events in India and Pakistan. Ranging from the 1999 Kargil War to the killing of Nawab Bugti of Balochistan in August 2006, the essays attempt to map attitudes towards nationalism, Islam, India–Pakistan relations, terrorism, and cricket reflected through media prisms in India and Pakistan. The archival impulse is particularly evident in Chapters 7 to 11 which deal with comparative analysis of media in the two countries. The detailed surveys over concentrated periods of time capture media moments for remembrance and reflection. The ebb and flow as well as insistent recurrence of certain ideas

Introduction xxvii

such as Kashmir or ‘Akhand Bharat’ are indicative of much more than the ephemeral reportage of today being forgotten tomorrow. As Sandhya Shukla observes: ‘Though productions of “the news” impart a sense of urgency and currency, that what is happening now is what is being transmitted in what [Benedict] Anderson calls “homogenous, empty time,” they look backward and forward, in historical understandings of any developments, with agendas for the future.’53 The essays that follow show linkages between events as well as the silences, biases, and omissions in media coverage. This is primarily because the desire is not only to create an informational archive — which is available in the swathe of media material covered — but to gesture towards analytical archives that may enable us as readers and viewers to comprehend the news, the circulation of discourses and power that animate polities in the subcontinent, and to distance ourselves from the seemingly ‘homogenous, empty time’ within which media representations circulate. While the articles are academic in their approach, they seek to transcend the confines of academia and enable debates between journalists and analysts to contribute to an understanding of ‘what we are and how a certain sector of the society in which we live works’. Arguably the pieces represent my interpretative insights and biases but they also chart, through survey and analysis, trends and continuities in selected print media in Indian and Pakistan. I look at diverse materials and offer criticisms that are inevitably informed by certain ideological proclivities but not limited to or confined by any ideological program or desire. Anjali Kamat’s question ‘Who decides if a particular event or series of events have “nationalist” currency, whether in a reactionary or a progressive sense?’ is as relevant for the media as it is for historians or media analysts. The essays represent interventions in media frames that shape our perceptions, memories, and histories, and they participate in crucial contemporary debates as they are played out in the media. Earlier versions of some of these essays appeared first on The Hoot website — — dedicated to a discriminating perception of media on the subcontinent. As part of a new media framework The Hoot plays an important role in disseminating information and analysis related to the old media. Undoubtedly, new media such as The Hoot has been crucial for the dispersal of news and opinions that mainstream media cannot or will not publish or broadcast. The transference of some of my essays from the internet

xxviii Tracking the Media

to book format is itself indicative of the varying strengths of different media. An ‘old’ media form such as a book allows new media radicalism to transcend the impermanence of web based articles. As a collection of essays in book form, I am able to highlight patterns and connections that are not apparent to a browser who may read a scattered essay or two on the internet. I mention this process of translation to indicate the ways in which analytical material also negotiates the differing terrain of various media. Some media analysis may be tied to the immediacy of the article(s) or television programmes which it examines critically. The form and format in which some of these essays are re-presented allows for a move away from immediacy to greater reflexivity and indeed more analytical rigour. This process of translation is another factor that contributes to the strengthening of the ideas of a media and analytical archive that is not limited to the immediate present.54 I approach the themes I outlined earlier not only from a perspective of media studies but also from my expertise in literary and cultural studies. I pay careful attention to the various discourses disseminated by the media as a means of comprehending structures of persuasion and power. I am particularly interested in and concerned about the ways in which media contributes to the normativization of categories such as ‘Muslim’ or ‘Pakistan’, and how that feeds and creates notions of ‘reality’ regarding these and other categories. The repetition of certain terms such as ‘Muslim’ or ‘Akhand Bharat’ in particular media and political contexts expresses certain group interests and, as Murray Edelman writes, ‘Once a term becomes a vehicle for expressing a group interest it goes without saying that it is in no sense descriptive but only evocative.’55 The evocations are powerful for particular groups because they are seemingly rooted in descriptive reality, and certain terms serve as a kind of shorthand for historical, social, and cultural memories. The analyses of media reports that follow are partly motivated by the need for accurate and humane remembrance, the need to move away from stereotypes and silence.56 Although the topics may seem disparate, the essays, in conjunction with one another, highlight the links between them and the ways in which media representations of war and cricket, for example, are part of larger debates related to notions of nationalism, communalism, and the ideas of the secular. Barring Chapters 5 and 6, the other chapters have an overt or subtextual relation or reference to some form of conflict. In fact, even

Introduction xxix

Chapter 6 takes into account the history, memory, and legacy of the 1962 India–China war in the midst of competitive obsession and new found bonhomie. This emphasis on conflict reporting is related partly to my own bias and interest in wars and conflicts and how they are represented, but primarily concerned with the ways in which various forms of conflict form the warp and weft of everyday existence in India and Pakistan. Traditional set-piece wars between nations are seen as the domain of politicians and beyond the ken of common folk. However, a war such as Kargil (as other wars earlier and later in different contexts) revealed the ways in which citizens are caught up in the war machines and desires of their nations and simultaneously contribute to those desires. The manipulation of patriotism by the government ably aided by mass media is one of the less glorious aspects of the Kargil conflict. As Sevanti Ninan writes, ‘You no longer need state media to promote the idea of nationhood; private sector media does it more effectively. When a Kargil conflict occurred, all the media fell in line and turned patriotic without being asked.’57 Kargil was constructed in terms of a site that needed to be defended against an external enemy. Conflict takes on a different meaning when one’s neighbours turn against one and marauding communities fall upon the ‘other’ now defined in terms of religion. As Ashis Nandy, referring to a pattern of neighbourly hatred — Hutus and Tutsis, Bosnian Muslims and Serbs, Punjabi Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus in the 1940s, Sinhalas and Tamils — puts it, ‘when proximity sours, it releases strange demons’.58 The manifestation of everyday and barbaric violence was preceded and followed in Gujarat by the violence of exclusion and hate speech. Such exclusionary trends take various forms and post-riots scenarios, such as the one in Gujarat, are one of them. It is the ways in which the languages of patriotism, the national self, and the enemy within and without begin to permeate everyday existence that extends the boundaries and temporal locations of conflict. Thus, ‘KARACHI CAPTURED’ to describe a victory in a one-day international is a loaded headline, resonant not only of inter-country conflict but of wars within the nation. It is these quotidian wars within as represented in the media that are central to this book for we ignore them, as K. Shankar Bajpai points out in his piece on Balochistan, at our peril. Conflict and strife are, in some ways, the lifeblood of instantaneous media for they provide stories of excitement, drama, bravery, cowardice, and help to bolster master narratives of the resilient nation or the weak state


Tracking the Media

or the enemy within. In these terms, the period since 1999 provides a rich set of texts for the media to report, sensationalize, analyze, and move on from one crisis to the next. The media is often blamed as the purveyor of violence to which — as a collective — it may respond that it only reports on what is happening. Quite obviously, the media cannot be held solely responsible for the toxic levels of conflict and conflict-mongering in the subcontinent, but it does play a vital role in representing and defining paradigms of conflict. It is only in some rare cases — such as Shikha Trivedi’s dispatches of the Gujarat riot aftermath for New Delhi Television (NDTV) — that the media attempts to give us a glimpse of what the ubiquitous violence means for people living in conflict zones. The media need not, however, be merely a force multiplier for or a seemingly helpless spectator to conflict in our midst. As Sanjana Hattotuwa argues with reference to conflict in Sri Lanka, it is possible for the media to write of peace and reconciliation. Such a possibility, Hattotuwa points out, encounters problems such as ‘the continuing violence that such societies face, the continued death of media personnel and the problems of creating larger debates on reconciliation and peace’.59 According to Hattotuwa, the media also needs to transcend its instinct to present negative or sensational stories of conflict and concentrate on reconciliation which ‘is a process which ebbs and flows over a long period of time. Peace is not a single event’.60 Reporting reconciliation and peace is such a challenge for dominant media mindsets because of traditional concentration on single, dramatic events. Peace is seldom dramatic and hence features so infrequently in the media lexicon. What Hattotuwa writes about Sri Lanka may not be exactly transferable to Indian contexts but there is a conceptual framework that is valuable for our understanding of media and conflict in India and why there is little by way of creating contexts of peace and reconciliation. Admittedly the media is not the sole agent or provocateur of violence but often in its singular coverage of arenas of violence it shuts out other possibilities. More dangerously, newspapers such as Sandesh actively promote hate and lies that further the cycles of suspicion and conflict. While the essays in this volume repeatedly dissect media representations of conflict, there is the underlying hope that alternative patterns of peace and reconciliation will emerge and that media practitioners and analysts may sit together to chart the contours of that emergence.61

Introduction xxxi

Notes 1. MacNeice (1966) 1979: 30. 2. Some examples of this analysis include Herman and Chomsky 1994; DeBenedetti 1990; Emerson 1976; Long 1986. 3. Ninan 2007: 224. Arvind Rajagopal makes a similar point: ‘Hindutva became economically profitable during this period [October–December 1990]: the more communal the news stories, the more the circulation and the more the ad revenue.’ (Rajagopal 2001: 178). 4. See, for example Herman and Chomsky 1994; Pilger 1998; or Edwards and Cromwell 2006. 5. Said 1997: 48–49. 6. Page and Crawley 2001; Butcher 2003 are two examples. 7. B. R. P. Bhaskar 2005: 19. 8. National Readership Survey 2006. 9. Ibid. 10. Ibid. 11. CIA World Fact Book, in.html#Comm. 12. The rude health of print media was highlighted in a Times article (The Times of India 2007: 27). The article highlighted the fact that ‘newspapers represent a $180 billion industry [worldwide], with more advertising revenues than radio, cinema, magazines and internet combined’. 13. Robinson 2006. 14. Ibid. 15. Ninan 2007: 15. 16. For a discussion of the role of English in India since the eighteenth century, see the Introduction to Chakravarty and Chattarji 2004. 17. See Rushdie 1997. 18. Ninan 2007: 87. 19. Lakdawala 2005: 203. 20. For detailed documentation, see Siddharth Varadarajan, ‘The Truth Hurts: Gujarat and the role of the media’, in idem (ed.) 2002: 271–304. 21. See India Today 1999b: 26. That media support for Kargil was not uniform is evident from analytical pieces by Praveen Swami, among others. See Chapter 1. 22. Lakdawala 2005: 205. 23. Kumar 2002. 24. Sevanti Ninan argues exactly the opposite, showing how public spheres in the Hindi heartland have been transformed and consolidated by commercially driven Hindi newspapers. She points to the pitfalls of excessive localization but concludes that ‘the effect was not entirely one of degenerating the public sphere’. Ninan 2007: 292. 25. Jeffrey 2005: 264. 26. Rajagopal 2001: 170.

xxxii Tracking the Media 27. Ibid. 28. Ibid.: 171. 29. Sandesh was a good example of parochialism, while Prabhat Khabar was critical of the riots and their aftermath. See, for instance, ‘Angry Muslims fire on and attack Ramshobha Yatra: What happened in Machchipeeth that caused the city to burn?’ (Sandesh 16 March 2002). 30. Ninan 2007: 224. 31. Said 2001: 139–40. 32. Nandy 2001: 76. 33. Rorty 1989: 190. 34. Mernissi 1995: 33. 35. Bhaskar 2005: 237. 36. See Habermas 1991, especially Part VI, 20 ‘From the Journalism of Private Men of Letters to the Public Consumer Services of the Mass Media: The Public Sphere as a Platform for Advertising’, pp. 181–95. Also Habermas 1993. For a critique of Habermas’s notions of deliberative democracy, see Gupta 2006: Chapter 5. 37. Philipose 2005: 103. 38. Kamat 2005: 340. 39. Brown 2005: 244. 40. Ibid.: 253. 41. The power of print media in regional languages has been analyzed by Robin Jeffrey and Sevanti Ninan. 42. McAlister 2001: 8. 43. See Herman and Chomsky 1994: 1–35. 44. See Sanjay 2006. 45. Ibid. 46. Ibid. 47. Herman and Chomsky 1994: 23. Kissinger displayed a degree of selfreflection in this comment as he is an intrinsic part of this ‘expert’ media network. 48. Bourdieu 1998: 29–30. 49. There are some notable exceptions to this media–academia divide, where practitioners such as Martin Bell of the BBC have analyzed their hands-on experience of reporting from situations of crisis or conflict such as Bosnia or Kosovo. See Tester 2001: Chapter 1. 50. Rajiva 2005: 183. 51. Kanchan L. 2001: 46. 52. Said 1997: 78. 53. Shukla 2003: 176. 54. It is interesting how ideas of ‘old’ and ‘new’ media have been transformed particularly vis-à-vis the book. As Benedict Anderson writes, ‘In a rather special sense, the book was the first modern-style mass-produced industrial commodity.’ Despite changes in technological focus and perhaps reading habits, I would argue that the book still retains some of its primacy as an archive of analysis and reflection. Anderson 1991: 34.

Introduction xxxiii 55. Edelman 1985: 125. 56. ‘Furthermore, not naming can be as lethal to rational action as misnaming’ (Edelman 1985: 126). 57. Ninan 2006–2007: 252. 58. Nandy 2001: 207. 59. Hattotuwa 2005. 60. Ibid. 61. An India–Pakistan Media Retreat organized by Himal and Panos South Asia in Nagarkot, Nepal in May 2002 brought together media practitioners from both sides and the exchanges were insightful. How much of the discussions carried over to actual journalistic practice is open to debate, but the idea of cross-border interaction is unexceptionable. The Retreat, however, did not have any inputs from media analysts. See ‘Roundtable: A Session in the Hills: The India–Pakistan Media Retreat’.

I Terrorism and Conflict


Tracking the Media

1 Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’: Media Representations of the Kargil War A classic framework of interpreting media representations is the propaganda model developed by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky in their book, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. They point out that one dichotomy sustained through the Cold War was that between the free and democratic West and the despotic and totalitarian communist bloc. A sign of this freedom was the mass media, the fact that editors and television anchors offered occasional critiques of their governments and its policies. Walter Cronkite’s criticism of US involvement in Vietnam after the Tet Offensive in 1968 would constitute one such moment of free and critical media.1 The model of democratic freedom represented by the free media asserted that dissent was permitted in the West, unlike the plight of dissidents in the former Soviet Union such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov. There are nuances within this monolithic position that I do not examine here but I mention this because the manichean logic of us versus them helped to sustain both sides during the Cold War. This manichaeism is evident in the reportage on the Kargil War and I return to that later in this chapter. The paradigm of a free and objective media is the subject of Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky’s critique in Manufacturing Consent. Subsequent media analysts such as David Edwards and David Cromwell and John Pilger, among others, have sustained this analytical framework of media bias, the propaganda model, and the ways in which news is filtered and packaged for consumption. The idea of ‘objectivity’, however, is crucial not only to many media professionals but also to the ways in which the media is perceived and consumed. Howard Tumber and Marina Prentoulis argue: ‘As the major signifier associated with the occupation of journalism, “objectivity” is associated and often confused with ideas of “truth”, “impartiality”, “balance” and “neutrality.”’ However, ‘the necessity of selection and the hierarchical organization of a story, suggests more of a subjective rather than objective outcome’.2 The myth of


Tracking the Media

‘objectivity’ is difficult to dislodge partly because it is a ‘strategic ritual enabling the defence of the practice [of journalism] as a profession’.3 More recently journalists such as Martin Bell and George Alagiah, among others, have joined the debate, arguing as Bell does for a ‘journalism of attachment, a journalism that knows as well as cares’.4 ‘His [Bell’s] point,’ as Keith Tester writes, ‘is that certain facts require and demand a certain ethical response. He is not saying that the immediate response should wholly dominate objective reporting’.5 However, while Martin Bell advocates ‘a certain ethical response’ to events, he does not seem to question the structures of mass media as well as its replication of ‘facts’ and ‘truths’ that make ‘objectivity’ such a contested idea in media discourse. ‘The mass media serve’, in the words of Herman and Chomsky, ‘as a system for communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society.’6 In other words, the media is a hegemonic entity that creates and reinforces opinions and values considered desirable or valuable in particular political or cultural frameworks.7 Herman and Chomsky analyse the ways in which news is filtered before it is presented. These filters include, according to Herman and Chomsky, the ownership and profit orientation of TV channels, the reliance of media on information provided by the government, by business, and by ‘experts’ who are often funded by state authorities, and ‘anticommunism’ as a national religion during the Cold War.8 ‘These elements interact with and reinforce one another.’9 The filters operate so effectively that well-intentioned media people actually believe they are providing objective and fair coverage. As David Edwards and David Cromwell point out, the modes of control are neither overt nor crudely propagandist: ‘Control is maintained not by violence, but by deception, self-deception, and by a mass willingness to subordinate our own thoughts and feelings to notions of “professionalism” and “objectivity.”’10 The model is not, of course, an inflexible watertight one, and dissenting views are occasionally aired or printed. ‘Occasionally’ is the operative word here because dissenting opinions are often marginalized in the mass media. Lila Rajiva writes that ‘The apparent “value-neutrality,” the pretense of non-political objectivity, is simply a mask for a deeply political and completely amoral genuflection before power. This is exhibited in a

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’


general credulity toward official sources and a pervasive distrust of non-government sources.’11 Rajiva does seem to overlook instances of morally courageous accurate reportage, but her point about ‘general credulity toward official sources’ was borne out by the media response to the mutilation of Indian soldiers, as we shall see. Furthermore, during Kargil, for instance, there was a considerable degree of uniformity in the ways in which the enemy was represented as well as the creation and the reiteration of a national purpose that united the country in that time of peril. Such representations are not unique to the Kargil War, as is evident from a reading of Daniel Pick’s study of modern war in Europe. Pick writes: ‘Technology changes; civilisation progresses, it seems; but primitive human aggression, the desire to inflict pitiless violence upon an enemy endures obstinately intact.’12 For the subcontinent Kargil was the first television war, fought not only on the heights of Tololing or Dras but across the nation, in and through daily media coverage and commentary which helped to recreate ideas of the enemy and of victory through war. ‘For two and a half months’ as Geeta Seshu points out in an article in the Economic and Political Weekly, ‘wargames occupied television viewers and readers of newspapers and magazines.’13 I propose to focus initially on the 5 July 1999 issue of India Today to probe certain specificities of these preoccupations. To base conclusions on one issue of one news magazine would provide concentrated but perhaps limited insights. However, a perusal of the eight cover issues dedicated by India Today to the Kargil War and cross-references from some newspapers and news magazines reveals a sufficient degree of consensual reporting and ideological cohesion. The India Today issue under consideration serves as a useful point of entry and highlights the modes of consolidation that so galvanized the country in 1999. While focusing on India Today, this chapter also refers to other English language news magazines such as Frontline and Outlook, the influence of STAR TV news coverage, an essay by its reporter Barkha Dutt, comments from the Kargil Review Committee Report, as well as contemporary analytical essays by Geeta Seshu, Rita Manchanda, Kalim Bahadur, Sanjaya Baru, and J. N. Dixit. The contexts of the nuclearization of the subcontinent as well as the rise of Hindu fundamentalism and the analytical frameworks arising thereof inform the discussion. The purpose of my analysis is to highlight one influential magazine’s reportage of Kargil but to do so within larger


Tracking the Media

contexts of representations and writings about the war. The micro view is valuable in itself but it is through awareness of a wider network of representations — and India Today’s locus within that network — that we get a clearer picture of the nation at war as seen through a media prism, as well as the ways in which those pictures were ‘renewed, recreated, defended, and modified’.14 I refer to earlier media debates about war representations — particularly the Vietnam War — and these serve to highlight continuities and disjunctions, frames of reference consciously evoked or unconsciously recalled. India Today’s coverage of Kargil serves as a set of representative texts from which diverse contexts arise, converge and coalesce. India Today’s 5 July cover story ‘Will the war spread?’ began with an epigraph from Clausewitz: ‘War is fought with the will of the government, competence of the armed forces and support of the nation.’15 This selective citation of Clausewitz’s dictum provides a clue to the biases and desires embedded in the article. Clausewitz was, as Donald Pick observes, acutely aware of the ambiguities inherent in war. Thus even while trying to arrive at absolute empirical formulas for war, ‘Clausewitz startlingly reveals that in the conception of war there are never two simple opposing terms, no room for a dogmatic division or binary logic’.16 ‘War can never be converted into geometry. […] It is precisely because war is in the realm of the human and the moral that it cannot be an abstract mathematics.’17 The India Today story chose to ignore the ambiguities inherent in Clausewitz’s theorizations of war and concentrate instead on the three pillars enumerated as if they were immutable principles. The article had four subheadings: ‘Will international pressure work?’, ‘Why the border build up?’, ‘Are the armies prepared?’, and ‘Are political compulsions a push?’ The questions led to answers that categorized these hopes in terms of authoritative reporting. The first section projected the internationalization of the conflict as positive fallout of the war. ‘Diplomatically, the policy of restraint has paid off with even the leaders of the powerful G-8 warning Pakistan, without naming it, to pull back the intruders and restore the sanctity of the LOC.’18 There was an expression of quiet pride in G-8 and separate US support for the Indian position with reference to President Clinton’s ‘personal’ involvement in pressurising Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The global dimension of the war was emphasized as a coming-of-age of Indian diplomacy. That this global attention was based partly on the anxiety arising

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’


out of a conflict between ‘unreliable’ nuclear armed states was not mentioned in the report, neither was there a sense of vulnerability created precisely by the nuclear dimension on both sides.19 The subtext of this section was fairly obvious but immensely important in its projection of post-Pokhran India as a global player. This subtextual reference may be placed alongside that of a Panchajanya editorial ‘Enough is enough, now teach them a lesson’, which exhorted Prime Minister Vajpayee to rise and fulfil the role destiny has chalked out for him, rhetorically asking ‘after all, why have we made the bomb?’20 The political right spoke of ‘finishing off Pakistan’ with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) proclaiming in a meeting in Hardwar that ‘1999 was the year to wipe Pakistan off the globe’.21 This is the kind of sentiment that J. A. Hobson identified as jingoistic and conceived of it as an ‘introverted patriotism whereby the love of one’s own nation is transformed into the hatred of another nation, and the fierce craving to destroy the individual members of that other nation’.22 The VHP statement wanted not only individual members but the entire nation obliterated. India Today was not party to such jingoism, but its reportage subliminally highlighted a contradiction between the responsible diplomacy that India wished to project on the world stage and a shrill hegemonic discourse within the country. This section quoted Brajesh Mishra, national security adviser during the Kargil War, to reiterate the idea that India’s restraint could not be taken for granted: ‘We do not have unlimited patience and time.’23 The idea that India was a reluctant and patient combatant as opposed to the adventurism of Pakistan was stressed in various ways throughout this issue. The idea of the slow or reluctant aggressor is an analytical paradigm that was employed to comprehend the Kargil War as well as India’s relationship with Pakistan. Kalim Bahadur, professor of South Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, observed: ‘The Indian policy towards Pakistan has been marked by a kind of indulgence which has often cost India dear. Indian leadership had hoped that once democratic processes are enforced in Pakistan the economic and political aspirations of the people of the country would play a role in moderating that country’s approach to India.’24 Indian ‘indulgence’ combined with lack of ‘democratic processes’ within Pakistan provide an explanatory framework for Pakistani intransigence. The section was also oblivious of certain ironies such as India’s position against the internationalization of the Kashmir issue, which


Tracking the Media

was a trigger for the Kargil War.25 The blanketing out of Kashmir during the coverage of Kargil was across the media and, as Rita Manchanda observes, ‘reinforced the negative impression of the people of the state, that Indians see Kashmir as just a territorial dispute’.26 Manchanda points to the fact that the foreign media remained in the Kashmir valley during the Kargil War and reported on the alienation of the people of Kashmir and the excesses by the security forces. For example, The Independent, UK, reported on the torching of villages in Bandipur, Khargam, and Nathpora by the Indian forces. The Indian media ignored it. A well-known Indian TV producer provided a justification for this blackout: ‘I wouldn’t touch the story at this time because the viewers wouldn’t like to see the army portrayed in a negative light. A post-mortem would be alright.’27 It is significant that the desires of an imagined audience were used as an excuse for evading some serious issues and contexts. For all practical purposes, the producer’s comments represent a form of self-censorship that had deleterious effects on war reportage. Kashmir as a disputed territory and locus of conflict is a site for often impassioned reports and editorials in India and Pakistan, and I look at some of these in detail in Chapter 9. The diplomatic offensive launched by India was intended to pressure the G-8 ‘to take some tough economic measures against Pakistan’ because Pakistan was heavily dependent on the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and other international aid agencies. Whatever the economic state of Pakistan, the article implied that Pakistan was a basket case economy and contrasted that penurious state to the relative prosperity and economic stability in India.28 This type of economic nationalism was and continues to be at odds with inequities within India, at the same time that it ignores the costs of the war. According to one estimate, $2.5 billion was spent in direct expenses on the Kargil War.29 However, considerations of cost were often obscured by a sense of patriotism and invincibility fostered by possession of the nuclear bomb. One reasoned example of the former was provided by Sanjaya Baru who stated: ‘Any government in India is duty-bound to respond to this act of aggression and illegality and economic costs and consequences of military action cannot be factored into the immediate response.’30 In fact, one argument in favour of the conflict (once it had been ‘thrust’ upon India) was that if the economic costs were steep for India they would be unbearable for Pakistan, and Pakistan’s economic destitution would be instrumental

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’


in helping to wipe it off the globe (an outcome desired by the VHP). The link between Pokhran and Kargil was seen as a positive one by some in India. Neither politicians, policy makers, nor the media argued, as Amartya Sen did in his essay ‘India and the bomb’, that the ‘Strengthening of Pakistan’s stability and enhancement of its well-being has prudential importance for India, in addition to its obvious ethical significance.’31 On the contrary, India Today went on to combine a sense of economic superiority with the characterization of Pakistan as a terrorist safe haven. The magazine argued that ‘It is also in the interest of the US to rein in Pakistan. There are concerns that the country is increasingly becoming the hub of Islamic fundamentalism and supporting the Osama bin Laden type of terrorism that the US wants to crush.’32 Pakistan’s desperate economic situation coalesced with the country’s perceived role as a ‘hub of Islamic fundamentalism’ to create the idea that Pakistan is a ‘rogue’ or ‘failed’ state. In subsequent post-Kargil cover stories, India Today analyzed extensively the nature of this ‘rogue’ state without quite examining the political and economic dynamics of the Pakistani nation state. The situation altered significantly after 11 September 2001 and, although the demonization of Pakistan continued, the support that General Musharraf garnered from the US as a ‘frontline ally’ in its war against terror was a cause of considerable analysis (if not anguish) in the Indian political and media establishment.33 Media representations of the national ‘self’ in India seem to follow a cyclical pattern akin to boom and bust cycles in economic systems. Thus moments of perceived triumph such as the Kargil War and its aftermath are reported in confident, almost strident terms. Subsequent moments — such as Musharraf’s positioning as a frontline ally in the war on terror — lead to anxiety. These anxious moments are followed by yet another cycle of triumph such as the Indo-US nuclear deal. While there are fissures and contrary voices within these cycles the pattern is often replicated not only in India but in Pakistan, as I highlight and discuss in Chapters 7 through 11. During the Kargil War, the tenor of Indian media coverage centred on the idea of Pakistan as the quintessential enemy. The Times of India editorialised ‘A Talibanised and militarised Pakistan […] acts as a rogue state because of the autonomy it feels it enjoys because of nuclear capability […]’ and further that Pakistan is ‘dominated by mullahs and generals steeped in drug trafficking, money laundering


Tracking the Media

and international terrorism […].’34 Another editorial in The Times of India mocked ‘a group of eminent Indians and Pakistanis for counselling restraint’: ‘This inability and unwillingness to take the trouble to assess objectively Pakistan’s possible moves is sought to be obfuscated by the chanting of pious platitudes about peaceful coexistence, reduction in defence expenditure and advocacy of people-to-people contacts. Recently, a group of eminent Indians and Pakistanis issued a joint statement counselling restraint on both countries and calling for a cease-fire. It is like advocating restraint equally to the rapist and rape victim.’35 ‘Nuclear capability’, which is a source of national pride and strength in India, becomes the pivot of irresponsible actions by a ‘rogue state’ when applied to Pakistan because it is not a democracy and is ‘dominated by mullahs and generals’. The Times of India’s sense of ‘objectivity’ and moral superiority — and this editorial was not an exception in the media landscape of the time — ignored not only the horror of a nuclearized subcontinent, but also right wing rhetoric that preceded and followed Pokhran and subsequently the Kargil conflict. Swapan Dasgupta in ‘It’s Pakistan, Stupid: What India can learn from the Kargil War’ was equally confident in his condemnation of Pakistan as well as those who advocate peace between the two countries: ‘India believed Pakistan could be trusted [after the then Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore]. It was a wrong assumption. Pakistan cannot be trusted. More important, it mustn’t be trusted. […] It is naïve to believe that the collective will of all the good souls in both countries can change the atmospherics.’36 Dasgupta did not analyze the inadequate preparations for and perhaps naïve expectations arising from the Lahore bus ride, preferring to lay the blame on Pakistani perfidy. Undeniably Dasgupta was entitled to express his opinion but, as Edward Said points out in the context of western media coverage of Islam, ‘it is when opinion is metamorphosed into reality that journalism suddenly becomes self-fulfilling prophecy’.37 In Dasgupta’s formulation Pakistan is and will remain inherently untrustworthy, and he contributed to the shaping of a media and policy reality that is seemingly immutable. Not only do such statements contribute to the essentializing and normativizing of the conflict between the two states, but the ones in The Times of India also contain a curious and unconsciously ironic reversal of national definition. In war discourse landscapes and geographies are often feminized so that one writes or speaks of the rape of Vietnam or

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’


southern USA during the American Civil War, for instance.38 The feminization of landscape is a common trope and indicative of victimhood. In the Kargil context India projected itself as the victim of Pakistani intrusion, a reluctant belligerent in a war that was thrust upon the nation. The rape analogy cited by the Times feminized the nation in a way that was at odds with nationalistic rhetoric and desire. The VHP proclamation cited earlier cannot credibly be construed in terms of victimhood.39 While pointing to the fundamentalist elements within Pakistani society and polity, media coverage in India during the period of Kargil remained silent about its own fundamentalist entities with their notions of a resurgent, masculinist Hindu India. The demonization of the ‘other’ was at the cost of the kind of critical analysis offered by Ashis Nandy, who compared the frenzy in South Asia with a global culture and tolerance of incredible violence: ‘The South Asian euphoria over the nuclear tests, however short-lived and however limited in geographical spread, can also be read as an example of the same story of brutalisation and necrophilia. It reveals not only deep feelings of inferiority, masculinity striving and parity-seeking, but also a certain nihilism and vague, almost free-floating genocidal rage.’40 The cohabitation of ‘genocidal rage’ and ‘nihilism’ created a dangerous situation where the violence was directed not only at the enemy ‘outside’, but also inwards – in the dangers inherent in possible nuclear conflict and in the ways in which Muslims were constructed as the enemy within. The latter was more pronounced during the Gujarat riots, preying as it did on internal insecurities and creating a warlike situation within the state. The victimhood trope employed by The Times of India and the idea of betrayal presented by Swapan Dasgupta seemed to ignore the fact that Indian intelligence agencies and armed forces were caught unawares by the build up and intrusion along the Line of Control (LoC). This failure of intelligence became a subject of political and parliamentary debate, but it disappeared after a while from mainstream media. To their credit sections of mainstream media — notably Outlook and Frontline — did resurrect the issue of intelligence failure and its consequences once the war was over. Nitin A. Gokhale and Ajith Pillai in ‘The War that should Never Have Been’ commented: ‘Behind the much-feted victory in Kargil lurks a colossal blunder. A bungle which involves the top hierarchy of the government as well as the army.’41 Gokhale and Pillai went on to draw connections between the failure of intelligence and


Tracking the Media

the policies of the government of the time by citing a Ministry of Defence [MoD] official: ‘According to him [the MoD official], the fact that all the repeated warnings were taken lightly stands to logic because of one reason: the inherent dichotomy in the BJP’s policy of busying itself in hawkish postures, then veering to a hasty peace agenda on which the prime minister put his reputation at stake.’42 The then Prime Minister’s desire for a grand gesture of peace — the Lahore bus ride — might have led to the marginalization of intelligence regarding Pakistani intrusion, a point that was not mentioned in the subsequent outpouring of patriotic fervour. Praveen Swami was not buoyed by the sense of victory either and offered a detailed analysis of the intelligence failure and subsequent cover-up by the Indian Army. Citing Army documents Swami wrote: ‘The documents establish that the Brigadier [Surinder Singh] did indeed warn of the possibility of escalated violence in Kargil and a push across the Line of Control (LoC) [in August 1998]. The documents also show that his superiors, including former Chief of the Army Staff V. P. Malik, refused to act on these warnings, and even blocked 121 brigade initiatives to defend Kargil more intensively.’43 India Today’s cover for 14 June 1999, ‘KARGIL: INTELLIGENCE FAILURE: TERRIBLE PRICE’, carried a comment by the Editorin-Chief: ‘However, the focus is the colossal failure of the country’s intelligence community in gauging the threat from across the LoC.’44 While the cover story did focus on aspects of the intelligence failure, there were no follow-ups, and within the same issue India Today reverted to the theme of patriotism and unity. Samar Harlankar, for example wrote about the war dead: ‘Families struggle with their grief but they also tell a spellbound nation where honour is paramount, of their pride in their sons, fathers and husbands dying on the frontiers.’45 The fact that families all over India could have been spared their grief if only there had been better intelligence coordination was a point skimmed over in Harlankar’s paean to honour. Thus even while mentioning the fact of intelligence gaffes and worse, India Today helped to maintain the overall framework of a nation fighting an invidious enemy and united in grief and glory. A similar consensus was maintained by India Today in its 5 July cover story with regard to the economics of war to which it did make one passing reference: ‘A war is also an extremely costly affair and can seriously set back the nation’s economic development by several years.’ This truism was followed immediately by ‘Nor can a country

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’


succeed in war without adequate domestic political consensus and preparing the world for the consequences as India did in 1971.’46 The first sentence opened up vital questions of cost, economic consequence, and the fact that two relatively underdeveloped nations were fighting a futile war.47 These issues, however, were not analyzed here or elsewhere in the eight-week coverage that India Today offered. Manoj Joshi and Raj Chengappa did refer, in the 21 June issue of India Today, to the costs of war observing that ‘at Rs 15 crore [a day]’ ‘a prolonged battle is something the country can ill-afford’.48 The implication seemed to be that a short, swift battle would be alright even if it cost Rs 15 crore a day. Moreover, they contextualized the costs within a comparative framework: ‘While India has close to $30 billion in foreign exchange reserves, Pakistan faces bankruptcy. […] Pakistan is desperately looking to the IMF to bail it out. […] External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh says, “For us the battle will be a cut in the finger. But Pakistan will bleed itself dry if it doesn’t see reason.”’49 While taking into account the costs of war, India Today wished to move on to the more attractive aspects of national consolidation. The reference to ‘domestic political consensus’ was an echo of Clausewitz’s dictum about the necessity of the ‘support of the nation’ and a simultaneous appeal to the political class to stop ‘politicizing’ Kargil as if the war were an apolitical event.50 The double speak of politicians of almost every political hue was conveniently forgotten.51 The reference to 1971, while harking back to a glorious triumph that had united the country, ignored the striking differences between the two political and historical moments, from the position of the US to the nuclearization of the subcontinent. It is this edging out and mis- or non-representation of historical facts and contexts that characterized much of India Today’s reportage and created the ‘reality’ of Kargil for its readers. To be fair, India Today was not the only media outlet that obscured facts or was less than rigorous in its analysis. The point is not to pillory India Today but to see its coverage as symptomatic of a wider malaise that affected the media during Kargil.52 However, India Today, with its multilingual editions and wide circulation, carries a certain authority and media presence. The circulation of India Today during and soon after the war was 4,032,000 in English, 3,050,000 in Hindi and 1,050,000 for the combined Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam issues. This was more than the combined circulation of other news magazines such as Outlook, Frontline, and Week. Outlook and


Tracking the Media

Frontline in particular did feature more critically analytical articles, as did The Hindu, but their relatively small readership meant that dissenting views were circulated amongst a minority.53 Thus, when India Today’s reporters misrepresented or evaded analysis, there was every possibility that these elisions would not be noticed by the reader. Elisions and evasions were further consolidated if they were repeated in other media publications such as The Times of India or Outlook, as indeed they were. More importantly, the continual non-representation of certain issues, such as the reactions of Kashmiris and events there, served to erase them from the reader’s consciousness. This gradual and subtle process of evasions contributed towards a type of censorship that helped in the creation of larger political and media consensus regarding the war. To recall and paraphrase Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky’s arguments about the propaganda model: consensus is created not by a deliberate media conspiracy but by the circulation of one set of ‘commonsense’ ideas as opposed to another set of ‘inconvenient’ ones.54 India Today and its reporters were not part of some larger right wing plot. They simply held onto and reiterated a set of ideas acceptable within a dominant discourse, thereby helping to focus on and create points of consensus.55 They were part of what Pierre Bourdieu calls the journalistic field. He writes that such a field may be understood as ‘a structured social space, a field of forces, a force field. It contains people who dominate and others who are dominated. Constant, permanent relationships of inequality operate inside this space, which at the same time becomes a space in which the various actors struggle for the transformation or preservation of the field’.56 One such area of ‘preservation’ or consensus was the idea that the Indian armed forces have been consistently under funded. India Today quoted retired Vice Admiral K. K. Nayyar, a member of the 1990 Arun Singh committee on defence expenditure: ‘The Kargil crisis is directly attributable to the starvation of funds for the armed forces during the ‘90s.’57 The section ‘Are the armies prepared?’ cited specific examples of such deprivation. ‘From a peak of 3.6 per cent in 1987–88, the share of defence expenditure in India’s gross domestic product (GDP) had slipped to 2.33 per cent in 1998–99. Though this is a global trend, India spends a smaller proportion of GDP on defence than Pakistan and China do.’58 It then went on to lament the ‘real devil’, which is not so much defence expenditure allocation as the ways in which it is spent. This analysis was on much

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’


firmer ground and pointed to the bureaucratic and parliamentary delays that created a pre-Kargil situation of unpreparedness. From a post-Tehelka point of view, this section has an element of ironic prescience that is perhaps inadvertent, since what it did not mention is the system of patronage and kickbacks that characterize some defence deals in this country. Ramesh Vinayak, in an article titled ‘Price of austerity’, reiterated the details of underfunding: ‘At Kargil, the armed forces are learning some hard lessons. Of just how a decade of severe cost cutting and peace has affected its battle-readiness.’59 He too blamed the political class for its mishandling of defence procurement without any analytical insights into the details and politics of the process. There was a reference to ‘the infamous Bofors gun’ and the fact that it had performed well in the mountainous terrain. While the politician and bureaucrat were seen to be implicated in processes of defence procurement, armed forces personnel were projected as the aggrieved party. Their role in purchases and occasional moneymaking on defence deals was not mentioned. Thus on the one hand, while India was projected as the victim of Pakistani intransigence and intrusion, on the other hand the Indian armed forces were themselves victims of politics and bureaucracy. Within this scenario of competitive victimhood, some more plausible victims such as the people of Kashmir and ordinary soldiers were largely forgotten. Soldiers did figure in media representations but mostly as heroes. Victimhood created a sense of insecurity and the almost universal call for more defence spending during and after Kargil was reflected in increased budgetary allocation and valorization of the armed forces. This reality and atmosphere of militarization was coeval with the VHP call for obliterating Pakistan and media reports contributed towards this process of internal consolidation. In the final section of the cover story under consideration, there was a summation of possible political objectives that India could consider. The choices outlined were: z z z

Dismember Pakistan as in 1971. Settle the Kashmir dispute irrevocably in its favour. Teach Pakistan a hard lesson that will frighten it from any future military misadventure.60

The first two options are, I suppose, related in that the capture of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) would contribute to the


Tracking the Media

further dismemberment of Pakistan (unless the reporters had some other kinds of dismemberment in mind). The third option is delightfully vague and almost smacks of schoolboy adventurism, as if Pakistan were an errant child that needed to be taught ‘a hard lesson’. Apart from the dangerous naivety of these suggestions is the underlying creation and consolidation of a perennial enmity which then serves as a moral justification for military action. The Kashmir dispute, for instance, was seen exclusively in militaristic terms and India was absolved of responsibility. The de-historicizing of Kashmir is crucial for the maintenance of a homogenous discourse of enmity and victimhood. It is interesting that media representations of India as victim during Kargil were in tandem with the rhetoric of Hindus as historical victims — a line of thought often violently replicated by the Hindutva brigade and supported by the government of the day. The progression from Pokhran II to Kargil plotted a trajectory whereby victimized Hindus coalesced with their nation that was itself a victim, and that nation set out to obliterate the national as well as religious ‘other’. Underlying some majoritarian representations of the Kargil War was the akhandatha of Bharat that could yet be achieved. The Akhand Bharat fantasy resurfaced with Indian media concentration on the troubles in Balochistan and the killing of the Balochi leader Nawab Bugti in August 2006, to which I turn in Chapter 10. Throughout its coverage of the war India Today carried a separate feature titled ‘Kargil War Heroes’. This feature was a particularization of soldiers who died in the conflict and constituted what Rita Manchanda calls the ‘theatre of Shradhanjali’.61 The phrase is evocative of the ‘theatre of war’ metaphor which sought to contain the chaos and ugliness of war within a theatrical space, rendering war as something that could be choreographed and staged. Paul Fussell, in his study of the First World War, observes that ‘seeing warfare as theatre provides a psychic escape for the participant: with a sufficient sense of theatre, he can perform his duties without implicating his real self’.62 The psychic distancing from the terrors of war was made possible not only for the individual participant but to the nation through the idea of ‘Shradhanjali’. While the ‘theatre of war’ metaphor seeks to displace violence from the realm of the quotidian, the ‘theatre of Shradhanjali’ appropriated dead soldiers’ bodies for heroic circulation within the national imaginary. The dead in war, as Daniel Pick observes, are central to a consolidation

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’


of nationalism and this was evident in some media representations of dead soldiers in Kargil.63 In an introduction to the ‘Kargil War Heroes’ feature, Samar Harlankar and Harinder Baweja wrote of communities bonded together by grief: ‘Some 106 of them came home to tears and memories of those who waited. Yes, families and communities bear a heart-rending pain but beyond that, honour and pride in their dead is creating a oneness of purpose in a divided, cynical nation.’64 This was perhaps the most explicit comment which acknowledged the ways in which the media and the state appropriated the bodies of the dead soldiers for reconstructing a less divided and cynical nation. That war should be the preferred means of doing so is profoundly ironic. As Adrienne Rich wrote in the context of the Vietnam War and the appropriation of sons, mothers, and wives for the furtherance of an American national identity: ‘War comes at the end of the twentieth century as absolute failure of imagination, scientific and political. That a war can be represented as helping people to “feel good” about themselves, their country, is a measure of that failure.’65 Far from perceiving war as ‘failure’ there was a retrospective nostalgia about the way in which Kargil had bound the nation together, as in this summation of the meaning of the war by M. K. Akbar: ‘When the snows fall later this year on Tiger Hill and Tololing, they will cover the blood of Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Punjabis, Gorkhas, Biharis, Nagas, Oriyas, Bengalis, Tamils, Kannadigas, and Malayalees. Together, their sacrifice kept Kargil for India. They have inspired a generation that had begun wondering what India was about. They helped a nation rediscover its soul, its underlying oneness. They created the Kargil spirit.’66 The portraits in India Today created a verbal and iconic tapestry of heroism, valour, masculinity, and Indianness, weaving together the diverse segments of this ‘divided [and] cynical nation’. Television contributed more effectively to this process and ‘turned the spectacle of the public mourning over ceremonially draped coffins into the metaphor of the Kargil war and a militaristic nationalist resurgence. [...] Every state, waited to claim its Kargil martyr, whipping up a mass patriotic hysteria, reinforced daily through the endless footage on television. A wave of nationalist resurgence swelled around these martyrs as television trailed them to their homes in Kerala, Nagaland, Punjab, Rajasthan and Orissa, mapping out a heroic India and heroic Indians.’67 ‘Images’, as Melissa Butcher writes in another


Tracking the Media

context, ‘are used to set boundaries, to reinforce certainty, to reflect a self image, and to shore up a new understanding.’68 What Butcher writes about transnational television is applicable to the ways in which the Kargil War as projected on Indian television contributed to the symbolic creation of community, ‘the formation of new frames of identity’ embodied in the idea of ‘the Kargil spirit’.69 This cartography of heroism was ably bolstered by the print media as is evident from a perusal of the India Today series. The title headers indicated the specifically masculine glamorization of the war: ‘Doon Devil’, ‘Desert Warrior’, ‘Guts and Glory’, ‘Nangal’s Pride’. Beneath the title was a subheading ‘MISSION’, which encapsulated the heroic action that, led to the death of a particular soldier. The brief profile that followed was largely devoted to individuation and heroization. For instance, Sepoy Jaswinder Singh’s elder brother Sita Ram says in one profile, ‘He was tough and the army provided him the adventure he was looking for.’ In another profile, Captain Haneef Uddin’s mother, Hema Aziz, ‘displays the stoicism of grieving families nationwide: “As a soldier Haneef served his country with pride and dedication. There cannot be a greater statement on his valour than his death which came fighting the enemy”’.70 A third profile, ‘Wangchuk’s War’, mentions that Wangchuk, ‘the son of a paramilitary soldier’ ‘is a deeply religious Buddhist’ and that ‘before going to battle he and some of his men went to the Dalai Lama, who was visiting Leh, to seek his blessings [...] But that gentleman’s exterior hides the tough interior of an officer the army is proud to showcase’.71 These individual memorializations served to humanize ordinary soldiers, but they also embody some of the ideological desires of nationhood and its identitarian consolidation through war. While characterizing Pakistan as Islamic and fundamentalist, the portrait gallery emphasized the plurality and heterogeneity of the Indian nation. That heterogeneity might once have been the cause of cynicism and division, but in and through Kargil it was transformed into a binding factor. The secular pluralism celebrated in the India Today portrait gallery were, of course, at odds with the idea of a resurgent Hindu nation available and celebrated in Pokhran II and its aftermath. While reiterating the nationalistic fervour of certain Hindu zealots (albeit in more sophisticated terms), India Today attempted simultaneously to tap into the secular sentimentality of ‘unity in diversity’.

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’


India Today’s portraits were the dominant media picture of heroic soldiers sacrificing their all for the nation. Praveen Swami offered an alternative of soldiers disenchanted by the war and the indifference of the people on whose behalf they were fighting in an article titled ‘In the line of fire’. Swami wrote: ‘The soldiers, however, get paid nothing for war, and many of them appear to be bitter about the failure of Indians to acknowledge the sacrifices they are making. “I know no one invited me to wear this uniform,” one young officer said, “but it is strange going back home to people who have no idea of what is going on here.”’72 The Kargil officer’s disillusionment and sense of alienation was a phenomenon observed amongst soldiers during the First World War as well as in the Vietnam War. It relates to the liminality of the soldier and the disjunctions between civilian and military experiences. As Eric J. Leed points out in No Man’s Land: Combat and Identity in World War I: ‘He [the soldier or veteran] derives all of his features from the fact that he has crossed the boundaries of disjunctive social worlds, from peace to war, and back. He has been reshaped by his voyage along the margins of civilization, a voyage in which he has been presented with wonders, curiosities and monsters — things that can only be guessed at by those who remained at home.’73 In dominant media representations of the Kargil soldier, Leed’s notion of stark differences between military and civilian domains was seldom mentioned, as it was more politic to present heroic pictures of the soldier. Human bodies, as Elaine Scarry points out in her classic study, The Body in Pain, are the primary locus of war. ‘The main purpose and outcome of war is injuring’, yet the acts of injuring, as Scarry notes, disappear ‘through redescription’.74 Every war produces its own examples of redescription such as Japanese Kamikaze pilots being called ‘night blossoms’ in the Second World War, the destruction of civilian abodes and civilians designated as ‘collateral damage’ during the Vietnam War, or the death of soldiers referred to as the ‘supreme sacrifice’ in the daily press briefings during Kargil. The India Today features presented a heroized version of these bodies in the form of a martyr’s gallery, so that the bodies could be recuperated for furthering national glory. The injuries and deaths were not only made invisible, but relocated. The process of relocation, as Scarry argues, takes various forms: as a ‘by-product’ of war, as a road to another goal, as ‘cost’, and a continuation of something benign. In the instances


Tracking the Media

cited above, the profiles re-describe the dead soldiers in contexts of adventure, fulfilment, valour, and a gentlemanly religiosity. In the last instance, there was no sense of irony in Wangchuk’s band of brothers seeking the Dalai Lama’s blessings to wage war. The overarching framework emphasized the value of war deaths in terms of the furtherance of a national good. In passing many of these profiles indicated that many of the boys who died came from rural and poor families and they were the only breadwinners of the family. There was no analysis, however, of the socio-economic forces that lead these boys to join the armed forces in the first place.75 The implication seems to be that it was only patriotic frenzy that drove thousands to army and air force recruiting centres across India. Apart from Outlook magazine, which carried an article titled ‘Martyrs to Unemployment’, there was no serious examination of the failures of development and governance that led so many to recruiting offices in search of a job. In the Outlook article, Sona Wadhwa and Amarnath Tewary analyzed the import of 23 potential recruits who were killed in police firing at the Darbhanga Air Force Base: ‘Understandably, young deaths weigh less on a country’s conscience if they can be explained as unfortunate fallouts of patriotic fervour in times of national crisis. […] Certainly post-Kargil sentiments drew large crowds, so keen that they became uncontrollable. But having conceded this, surely candour — and these young deaths — would demand a closer scrutiny of that other menace to which the deaths can be attributed. The foe that isn’t stealthily perched on our strategic heights but running amok amongst us: Unemployment.’76 As Rita Manchanda points out, ‘The spectacle of war and martyrdom glamorised a macho psyche and militarised the national sentiment.’77 The repeated coverage of grieving but stoic families on television furthered this desire to attain heroic stature. The Darbhanga deaths were one example of economic realities underpinning the Indian armed forces and indeed sections of Indian society. In fact, the socio-economic background of many soldiers in Kargil may be compared to the disproportionate number of blacks and Puerto Ricans in combat during the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, the rich and the educated opted out of enlistment or fled the country. As Leslie Fiedler put it, Vietnam was ‘the first war of which it can be said unequivocally that it is being fought for us by our servants’.78 Fiedler’s hyperbole may seem excessive, but he does not exaggerate the class and racial divide that existed and operated during the

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’


Vietnam War. In media representations of ‘Shradhanjali’, class and caste were erased and that erasure furthered the process of nation building. The body is not only the primary site of war but is also implicated in the political. One instance of the politicization of the body is the way in which physical presence is often necessary for citizenship rights to be conferred. Within this context of the political body, the ceremonies of death in the realm of the media — often live media — contributed to a furtherance of political allegiances and identifications.79 That these bodies had been sacrificed in a conflict with an enemy who is perceived as both the perpetual ‘other’ and a reminder of the ‘self’ complicated the consolidation of national identities and formations. In this context, media reports about the ‘mutilation’ of six Indian soldiers is significant. The Pioneer carried a report titled ‘Barbarians: Pak army gouged Indian soldiers eyes, chopped off ears, genitals’ based on an UNI agency flash, quoting an army colonel spokesman.80 Many newspapers and news magazines mentioned the government and army’s version of the mutilation.81 As Geeta Seshu writes, ‘Reporters either did not care, or practised self-censorship in the national interest, to ask basic questions: the motivation of Pakistan to return mutilated bodies, whether all or only one body was mutilated (as later reports suggested) or the possibility of natural decomposition.’82 S. N. M. Abdi wrote of ‘some intense soulsearching by the Indian print and electronic media’ after the war, which revealed ‘that much of the national press meekly toed the government line and fanned war hysteria at the cost of objectivity and professional ethics’.83 A prime instance of this ‘war hysteria’ was the unsubstantiated story of mutilated Indian soldiers. Abdi cites Siddharth Varadarajan who wrote: ‘“Virtually every newspaper carried the gory details released by an Indian wire service without waiting for independent confirmation. Such confirmation never arrived… During the war itself, at least two newspapers received information that the allegation was highly exaggerated — probably only one of the bodies bore signs of mutilation. But the journalists who received the information chose to remain silent.”’84 This was not the only instance of self-censorship regarding the story, as Abdi reports: ‘Varadarajan has also revealed that a newspaper and a magazine received reports from its correspondents at the war-front that Indian soldiers had mutilated the dead bodies of Pakistani soldiers in retaliation. But after heated editorial debates, it was


Tracking the Media

decided to kill these stories — at least until the fighting was over.’85 War deaths are often gruesome violations of the human body, but they are seldom mentioned in reportage because such details tend to disrupt the heroic consolidation of both the individual and the national body. For example, television coverage of the coming home of dead soldiers did not describe the state of the bodies. In this case, the mutilations were made much of because they reiterated the ‘barbaric’ nature of Pakistani soldiers and by extension the Pakistani nation. Srinjoy Chowdhury, The Statesman correspondent on Kargil, cited an unnamed Major and a former Chief of Army Staff to confirm the stereotype of Pakistani barbarism. Chowdhury’s unnamed Major stated: ‘“The Pakistanis routinely assault prisoners of war — I have heard that about the officers and men captured in 1971.”’86 He then went on to provide a rationale for this routine behaviour: ‘“They [Pakistani soldiers] haven’t forgotten the 1971 war, the loss of Bangladesh and the humiliation of capture, of living in POW camps in India for months. All those majors and captains forced to surrender in 1971 are in positions of authority — major generals and lieutenant generals. […] Kargil is just another attempt at revenge.”’87 General Shankar Roychowdhury, a former Chief of Army Staff, declared: ‘ “These incidents are examples of the fundamentalist streak of the Pakistan Army.”’88 These statements, along with the press coverage, helped to bolster the essentialized, oppositional basis of the war and the trope of mutilation reiterated the idea of victimhood mentioned earlier. The violation of individual soldiers was constructed as the violation not only of India but of every Indian — Jaswant Singh stated in a press conference, ‘I am outraged, I feel personally violated’ — and led onto the need to avenge these atrocities.89 Within this context, it is significant that the fact of atrocities and torture committed by Indian armed forces in Kashmir or the north east is seldom reported in similar terms. The mutilation issue circulated in reader response discourse through a set of ‘Letter[s] to the Editor’ in The Times of India. In the first letter, ‘Tortured Mystery’, Farooq Ahmed expressed precisely this absence by saying that torture deaths have been common in Kashmir. Indian paramilitary forces and the army pick up Kashmiri boys and the majority of them are tortured to death’, their bodies being thrown into rivers or roads. He wonders why India has ‘two sets of rules; one for itself and one for others’. Robin Mitra wrote that he was shocked to read Ahmed’s letter and wondered if the treatment

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’


meted out to captive soldiers by the enemy could be compared to the treatment meted out by Indian troops to those working against the interest of the country. Another respondent, a retired Brigadier R. N. Madan wrote that Ahmed’s letter from Srinagar indicated how madrasas have injected a ‘fundamentalist virus’ in post-independence young Kashmiris comparing the interrogation of militants, terrorists, rapists and murderers of innocents in J&K with brave Indian soldiers sacrificing their lives for even the likes of Farooq Ahmed, his mother and sisters, who would not have been spared by Afghan and other mercenaries. Finally, there was a response to the responses by ‘Partho Datta and 5 others’ who wrote that the writers had chosen to target Ahmed, focusing not on the questions he raised but exclusively on his religious identity using the horrifying terminology of ethnic cleansing. They went on to say that whether ‘during cricket or war, Indian Muslims are under constant pressure to prove their nationalist credentials while the self-appointed guardians of national honour pass off their bigotry and anti-democratic beliefs as patriotism.’ The identification and creation off Muslims as outsiders and the idea that their patriotism was always suspect is a favourite of the Hindu right in India and Datta and his co-writers rightly pointed to the intermeshing of war and cricket nationalism (a point I discuss in Chapter 3). Gopal Guru pointed to the implications of Hindutva suspicion of Muslim loyalty by saying that it made Muslim nationalism contingent on their hatred of Pakistan and that in this sense, Muslim patriotism is always treated as being on probation – to be confirmed by the Hindutva leaders. He suggested that it made the nationalistic claims of the Hindutva leaders automatically valid and authentic, something that requires no public approval. The Kargil War furthered, as Guru observed, the ‘militarization of citizenship’, and it is this aggression that was evident in the letters castigating Mr Ahmed. The mutilation reports created a moral standard whereby the depravity of the enemy helped to throw into relief the values of Indian soldiers and thereby the Indian nation. This standard, the letters stated unambiguously, was not open to question. While the ‘theatre of Shradhanjali’ and the India Today hero’s gallery were creating the idea of a plural and tolerant society, the fissures within this template became apparent in the vitriolic, intolerant response to Farooq Ahmed’s fairly valid observations and question. The response is not surprising given the rise of Hindu fundamentalism and a concomitant drive towards homogenous intolerance of dissent.90


Tracking the Media

While media outrage at the alleged mutilation of Indian soldiers attempted to create a moral high ground for India, there were other types of reports which did not deal solely with violence and death. For example a separate report in the 5 July issue of India Today, ‘Taking Tololing’, presented war as an adventure removed from the contingencies of history, politics and death. These absences highlighted the boy’s adventure story quality of the Kargil War as well as emphasizing the immediacy and excitement of war. The latter qualities were best presented on television and Barkha Dutt of ‘I’m calling from a bunker’ fame established STAR NEWS and herself as national icons during Kargil.91 Just as Vietnam was America’s first television war, Kargil was India’s first and the language of war and victory, national identity and consensus noted in the print media was evident in television coverage, especially in its presentation of dead soldiers as martyrs and heroes. In an essay, ‘Kargil: a View from the Ground’, Barkha Dutt emphasized the eyewitness authenticity of her account and then coined broad generalizations and clichés to describe the war. Kargil ‘was, for a long time, one huge paradox, a meeting ground of enormous courage and overwhelming fear, of gravitas and vulnerability, of head and heart’.92 In Dutt’s analysis the war was virtually apolitical, and she repeated truisms of war uncannily similar to that of Michael Herr’s journalistic classic on Vietnam, Dispatches. Dutt writes, for instance, ‘Our hack-pack was welcomed with an almost bizarre level of warmth, not just because these men were scared that their stories and sacrifices would slip into anonymity, but more because they were just glad to have someone to talk to.’93 The war reporter as confidant and truth teller and seeker is a commonplace of war reportage, as is the idea that there is something beautiful about the war. Dutt sees herself as a ‘mere chronicler’, deeply involved in the action and the stories of the soldiers, yet unable or unwilling to fathom the political and ideological realities that have led her and the soldiers to the heights of Kargil. Dutt further distances the soldiers from responsibility by quoting a Commanding Officer who asserts, ‘I’m not doing this for my country, Ma’am, I’m doing this for my paltan.’ Similarly, a Nepali soldier from Dehradun is convinced that if they fail ‘anyone can turn around and say, you’re not fit to join the army’.94 That these military voices perceive themselves as separated from national realities and political masters is a crucial index of what Elaine Scarry defines as the ‘fictiveness’ surrounding

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’


representations of war. Elaine Scarry’s observation on the language of war is relevant here. ‘As fictiveness becomes a major attribute of language which precedes physical injury (the instrumental language of strategy and alliance that brings the wounding into being), so too it becomes a major attribute of language which follows the injury, the language reporting the history of the scenes that took place that day.’95 In writing the battle for Tiger Hill, Dutt reports on actions and reactions not from the point of view of an objective observer, but a war correspondent who sees herself as implicated in that action. However, since those actions have been earlier essentialized and placed within limited ideological spheres by Dutt herself, they contribute effectively to the mythification of soldier heroism, the beauty of war, that war is hell, and that the soldiers are only boys whose lives and deaths must be commemorated. There is a fairly widespread idea that the media was a valuable source of protest and dissidence during the Vietnam War. Rita Manchanda, comparing media responses to Vietnam and Kargil, writes ‘In Vietnam, the media’s disclosure of the horror and senselessness of the war, turned public opinion against the war.’96 The American media was subsequently blamed by the US Congress, some Vietnam War veterans and other responsible people in power of actually losing the war for the US.97 The logic of this argument is that images of horror turned people off and they didn’t want to see napalmed Vietnamese villages or dead American soldiers while eating their TV dinners. Hence they turned against the war and persuaded President Nixon to start the withdrawal of US troops. Even as astute a critic of war as Paul Fussell asserts that the media during the Vietnam conflict was a moral agent, as opposed to its role during the Second World War: in unbombed America especially, the meaning of the war seemed inaccessible. As experience, thus, the suffering was wasted. The same tricks of publicity and advertising might have succeeded in sweetening the actualities of Vietnam if television and a vigorous uncensored moral journalism hadn’t been brought to bear.98

That Paul Fussell’s assertion is open to debate is suggested by the analysis that Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky offer: ‘It is a highly significant fact that neither then [i.e. 1965 when US Marines landed in Danang in south Vietnam], nor before, was there any detectable questioning of the righteousness of the American cause


Tracking the Media

in Vietnam, or of the necessity to proceed to full scale intervention. By that time of course, only questions of tactics and costs remained open, and further discussion in the mainstream media was largely limited to these narrow issues.’99 Mainstream media seldom questioned the basic tenets of the war, i.e. the idea that the US was in Vietnam to protect and foster democracy. Facts inconvenient to these tenets were ignored or suppressed. Jack Lawrence, correspondent for the CBS in Vietnam, told me some years ago that there was a significant degree of self-censorship in the mass media, and that some scenes of war were actually enacted before the camera for consumption at home. Time-Life magazine did not publish Ron Ridenhour’s photographs of the My Lai massacre for more than a year after the event. Print media and TV created and echoed a language that dehumanized the enemy. The death of civilians was ‘collateral damage’, Free Fire Zones implied areas where any Vietnamese person could be killed irrespective of his/her political affiliation or status as civilian, and acronyms such as DMZ (demilitarized zone) contributed to the process of dehumanization. This critique of media representations during the Vietnam War is equally applicable to the Kargil conflict with obvious differences of locale, context, and historical circumstance. Writing about media coverage of sub-conventional warfare in India, Praveen Swami suggests that ‘the real challenges [when covering conflict] lie in the media’s unwillingness to search for the truth and their surrender to coercion: the iron veils that obscure conflict from readers’ eyes are largely of the media’s own making’.100 His comment is apposite for media coverage during Kargil. The official Kargil Review Committee Report stated emphatically that ‘The media is or can be a valuable force multiplier. Even in circumstances of proxy war, the battle for hearts and minds is of paramount importance. It is little use winning the battle of bullets only to lose the war because of popular alienation.’101 In Kargil the media served as ‘a valuable force multiplier’ stirring up war hysteria, succumbing unquestioningly to the demands of patriotic rhetoric and consolidating a sense of Indianness. As one Father Joe Andrew observed of the television coverage of the war, ‘“The pain and misery was never reflected in any of the channels, be they private or public…. Kargil revealed that we don’t have a free media…. All the channels were pro-war, progovernment, [indulging in] glorification of the war and demonisation of Pakistan.”’102 Similarly, Kunda Dixit of Panos South Asia said

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’


that ‘“the Indian media [during Kargil] — especially Zee News and Star — behaved much like the American networks and CNN during the Gulf War and Indian military used and manipulated satellite television much as the American military did in Kuwait”’.103 Any sort of ‘objective’ reporting and dispassionate analysis was virtually impossible given the close connections between the media and the government (particularly the latter’s control of information), and media and big business. STAR NEWS, owned by Rupert Murdoch, would scarcely risk business prospects and higher Television Rating Points (TRPs) for unearthing the so-called ‘truth’ or questioning conventional wisdom uttered during ‘Newshour’ panel discussions. There were occasional articles, such as the reports of Sankarshan Thakur in The Telegraph, Kolkata that exploded the myths of glorious battles being fought for noble ends. His report on the war’s aftermath is in sharp contrast to the breezy boy’s adventure story presented in India Today.104 There were also some critical articles that dealt with pre-Kargil intelligence failures as well as one piece on the downside of seeming patriotic hysteria.105 By and large, however, the filters that Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky mention operated effectively during the Kargil War. An analysis of these representations reveals anxieties of identity, nationhood and national consolidation. The manufactured patriotism and its underlying anxieties reflect an inverse relationship between a country that is corrupt and inefficient in many spheres yet at the same time seemingly more powerful. As Ashis Nandy observes in a different context, ‘The Indian state may have outwardly grown stronger, thanks to its growing coercive might and its technological and industrial support base. But it has become, over the years, less legitimate among the ruled as a reasonably just arbiter among different religious, ethnic and regional entities, as a protector of the weak and the poor, and as a reasonably — only reasonably — incorruptible pace-setter of desirable social changes.’106 Media coverage of the Kargil War created the sense of a country where the divergences of religion, ethnicity, region, and economic disparity were all subsumed within a united and valiant unit battling the perfidious ‘other’. The repressions and elisions are crucial indices of the insecurities of a relatively poor nation fighting a hi-tech war with sophisticated media coverage. The processes and impact of globalization was revealed most starkly in the STAR NEWS coverage with its slick sets and slicker presenters, often devoid of serious content and in-depth


Tracking the Media

analysis. The internationalization of infotainment was most evident in the attempts that STAR NEWS made to present a modern India fighting a medieval, Islamist mindset over the border. The Kargil Review Committee Report noted approvingly that ‘The media coverage, especially over television, bound the country as never before.’107 A local war in the global village led to the consolidation of almost tribal identities, pushing back any possibility of peace between the two neighbours by years if not decades.108 Notions of truth and analytical gestures were generally marginalized in the media, and this suited perfectly the desires of the political class. ‘Satyameva Jayate’, as the Review Committee Report intoned, ‘is an excellent motto. But the truth must be assisted to prevail.’109 The symbiosis of the media and centres of power were almost perfectly synchronized in this assistance of truth and the creation of a less cynical and divided nation.

Notes 1. As anchor of the ‘CBS Evening News’, Walter Cronkite voiced his opinion that the Vietnam War would end in a stalemate, an opinion that was at odds with government perceptions. Cronkite’s criticism would later be regarded as a critical indice of public opinion of the Vietnam War. For an analysis of how free and critical media in the US covered the run-up to the Iraq War, especially the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) see Wolff 2004: 184–90. 2. Tumber and Prentoulis 2003: 215–16. 3. Ibid. citing Tuchman 1972: 216. 4. Bell 1996: 19. 5. Tester 2001: 26. 6. Herman and Chomsky 1994: 1. 7. ‘Hegemony’, as Raymond Williams observed, ‘is then not only the articulate upper level of “ideology”, nor are its forms of control only those ordinarily seen as “manipulation” or “indoctrination”. It is a whole body of practices and expectations, over the whole of living: our senses and assignments of energy, or shaping perceptions of ourselves and our world. […] A lived hegemony is always a process. It is not, except analytically, a system or a structure. It is a realized complex of experiences, relationships, and activities, with specific and changing pressures and limits. […] Moreover (and this is crucial, reminding us of the necessary thrust of the concept), it does not just passively exist as a form of dominance. It has continually to be renewed, recreated, defended, and modified.’ (Williams 1977: 110, 112). 8. See Herman and Chomsky 1994: 3–31 for a detailed analysis of news filters.

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’ 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.

20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

26. 27. 28.


Ibid.: 2. Edwards and Cromwell 2006: 187. Rajiva 2005: 161. Pick 1993: 2. Seshu 1999: 2917. Williams 1977: 112. Chengappa, Saran and Baweja 1999: 20. Pick 1993: 31. Ibid.: 36. Chengappa, Saran and Baweja 1999: 22. As J. N. Dixit observed: ‘Foreign policies of all countries are interested, focused within definite time frames and the most recent example is the change in the attitude of the G-8 and the US on the current conflict in Kargil. It is a qualitative change, but […] a short-term change. It is event specific and time specific. […] In my assessment, I do not think the world is bothered about the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. […] Their concern is very limited that this is an area where there are two sufficiently strong powers which can get involved in a conflict situation, which can affect the strategic environment not only of the subcontinent, but can affect the strategic environment in the Gulf, in Central Asia and so that will result in dislocation of their trade routes’ (Dixit 1999: 65). Cited in The Times of India 1999d: 1. Cited in Seshu 1999: 2917. J. A. Hobson, The Psychology of Jingoism, cited in Pick 1993: 112. India Today 1999c: 22. Bahadur 1999: 16. Aijaz Ahmad notes this paradox: ‘India may make all kinds of noises against “internationalization”, but when it writes to the G-8 heads of state, asking for support against Pakistan and suggesting international pressure, including perhaps economic pressure from such agencies as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it too is internationalising the issue in the way that corresponds to the world as we now have it, after Iraq and Yugoslavia, with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) either dictating to or simply ignoring the U.N’ (Ahmad 1999). Manchanda 2001: 90. Cited in Kang 1999: 18. For a comparative analysis and focus on Pakistan’s parlous economic state see Sanjaya Baru 1999: 34–40. Baru cites an analyst at the US National Defense University, Washington, D.C.: ‘As India becomes richer, it will be able to afford to fund its military more generously. The ratio between the Pakistan military budget and that of India could easily become one to three, rather than one to two. At that point, it would become less and less plausible to see Pakistan as in any way comparable in national power to India. In short, the gap between India and Pakistani economic prospects could lead to a shift in the balance of power in the region. On present trends, India is likely to


29. 30. 31.

32. 33.

34. 35. 36.




Tracking the Media become the clearly pre-eminent regional power. Indeed, as the difference in economic growth rates become clearer, the trends in India’s favor will affect perceptions; India will be seen as a power of the future, and that will in turn multiply its power in the present’ (Clawson 1997: 8). Bidwai and Vinaik 2000: xiii, xv. Baru 1999: 21. Amartya Sen 2005: 269. Sen points to the strategic and moral folly inherent in the 1998 nuclear tests. In mainstream media, Praveen Swami wrote a series of articles critical of the intelligence failures as well as policy shortcomings, stressing the connection between Pokhran and Kargil. See ‘War in Kargil’ and ‘The Bungle in Kargil’. In the latter article Swami wrote: ‘Pakistan military strategists clearly understood Pokhran offered them an opportunity to force a conventional military conflagration in Jammu and Kashmir and ensure international intervention on the issue. India’s security establishment, by contrast, largely refused even to engage with this possibility. […] To acknowledge that the Pokhran tests had been a strategic misjudgement would have been to admit the absurdities of the BJP’s core politics’ (Swami 1999c: 6). India Today 1999c: 24. See, for example, India Today’s cover story of 1 October 2001, ‘America’s General’, and Rory McCarthy’s article ‘At Your Service, Sir’ in the same issue. Also 14 January 2002a cover story in India Today: ‘GENERAL IN A JAM: Will he deliver?’ Hasan Zaidi wrote of Musharraf’s post-11 September predicament: ‘Musharraf continues to walk the tightrope. He has bought himself time by seemingly taking action against jehadi groups. […] For the General to go any further without risking a serious backlash, he would require breathing space that the threat of war is fast choking up’ (Zaidi 2002: 35). Cited in Manchanda 2001: 79. The Times of India 1999c. Dasgupta 1999: 47. For articles which castigated Pakistan and moralized about its affairs during the Kargil period, see Hussain and Baweja 1999: 69–70; Baruah 1999: 108; Shastri 1999: 46–47; Babar 1999: 50–51. Said 1997: 113. Edward W. Said also writes that ‘covering Islam is a one-sided activity that obscures what “we” do, and highlights instead what Muslims […] by their very flawed nature are’ (ibid.: xxii). For an analysis of this lexical framework see, for example, Jeffords 1989. Lila Rajiva makes a parallel observation in the context of Abu Ghraib: ‘The feminization of the invaded nation in this metaphor of rape is paralleled in the feminization of its men in the photos from Abu Ghraib, which are homoerotic images calculated to simultaneously evoke our homophobia and brand our enemies emasculated’ (Rajiva 2005: 145). Victimhood and vulnerability, as Christophe Jaffrelot has analyzed, are central to the ways in which the RSS and its cohorts have mobilized Hindu consciousness and constituencies. He cites Uma Bharati who declared:

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’

40. 41. 42. 43.

44. 45. 46. 47.

48. 49.


‘India is the only country where the majority community is still afraid of the minorities. This sense of insecurity sometimes breeds extreme reaction.”’ Jaffrelot writes that ‘The distinguishing feature of the 1980s undoubtedly lay in the way this feeling of vulnerability was discussed and communicated to other Hindus through the appearance of other “threats” such as Sikh separatism, the influx of Bangladeshi immigrants into Assam, the visit of Pope John Paul II and the government’s “pro-Muslim bias” in the “Shah Bano controversy” and the “Rushdie affair”’ (Jaffrelot 1996: 338, 343). See Chapter 10 — ‘The Hindu Sense of Vulnerability and the R.S.S.’s Political Offensive’. Nandy 2001: 213. Gokhale and Pillai 1999: 21. Ibid.: 26. Swami 2000: 24. There were some other notable exceptions to media amnesia on intelligence failures on the Kargil front. See, for example, Puri 1999. Rajinder Puri observes: ‘The infiltrators met with no resistance. There was nobody to resist them. The army had left the area unmanned. The report [from the intelligence unit of the BSF] accused the army of taking the intrusion in the Kargil sector too lightly.’ Aijaz Ahmad placed the Kargil intrusion within a wider historical context: ‘On our part, we have never faced up to a simple question: how is it that over half a century ‘infiltrators’ have come only from the other side of the LoC, to find more or less fertile ground here, but none have gone from here to the other side to sow the seeds of rebellion there as well? Is it that India does not have the intelligence services to match the Pakistani ones? Or, is there something more fundamentally wrong with relations between the Indian government and the Kashmiri people? A promise not kept, a resentment never assuaged?’ (Ahmad 1999). Purie 1999a: 1. Harlankar 1999: 32. India Today 1999c: 26. Sanjaya Baru analyzed the costs of Kargil and seemed to believe that war had not harmed India’s economy or its standing in the world: ‘Thus, according to a Business Confidence Survey conducted among the CEOs and CFOs of the world’s 100 biggest firms, India’s rating as an investment destination improved between December 1998 and June 1999. […] The positive sentiment of the world community, especially the G-8, can be multiplied to India’s advantage if the government pursues with renewed enthusiasm a more outward-oriented trade and investment policy. The sentiment in India’s favour contrasts sharply with the negative sentiment on Pakistan, […] and India must derive the full advantage of this positive environment by renewing her commitment to a policy of economic reform and liberalization.’ (Baru 1999: 32–33). Joshi and Chengappa 1999: 25. Ibid.


Tracking the Media

50. The exhortation to depoliticize the war was repeated in a The Times of India editorial which, having dwelt on the intelligence failures leading up to the war, concluded: ‘Having pointed out all these faults, it is also necessary to impress upon the opposition and others that this is not the time for finger pointing and politicking.’ (The Times of India 1999a: 10). 51. Mani Shankar Aiyar cited Vajpayee’s utterances during the 1962 war to contrast the stance taken by his government during Kargil. ‘ “In neglecting the nation’s security, we committed a crime against the country, leaving the country’s frontiers insecure was a great sin on our part. […] Let no one say this is not the time to raise such issues, because if we are to avoid repeating our mistakes, then we will have to learn the lessons of our past mistakes.” That, strangely, is exactly what the opposition is now telling Vajpayee, PM’ (Aiyar 1999). 52. See, for example, Mehra 1999: 52–62; Jahagirdar 1999: 36; and Jadeja 1999: 37. Archana Jahagirdar wrote: ‘A vibrancy of patriotism — one of the many “fallouts” of the Kargil conflict — is being felt by people across the length and breadth of the country.’ She also detailed corporate contributions to the Army Welfare Fund ranging from Rs 11 crore donated by the State Bank of India to Rs 1 crore pledged by Bajaj Auto, Mukund Steel, Kirloskar Oil and Sundaram Clayton, among others. 53. Articles by Aijaz Ahmad, Praful Bidwai and Praveen Swami in Frontline are examples of critical media analysis. See Bidwai 1999a, 1999b, 1999c. In the first piece, published in the Times of India, Bidwai summed up some of the contradictions raised by Pokhran and Kargil: ‘The bomb has comprehensively failed to raise India’s stature or enhance our security. […] Most Third World countries see India as contradictory: a nation that for 50 years rightly criticized the hypocrisy of the nuclear club, only to join it; a country that cannot adequately feed its people, but has hegemonic global ambitions’ (Bidwai 1999a: 12). Outlook, while more mixed in its responses to Kargil, had some critical pieces such as Sunil Narula and Ranjit Bhushan’s ‘Drawn into Battle’, which analyzed the implications of the intelligence failure prior to the Kargil War (1999). 54. For examples and analysis of modes of creating ‘common sense’ notions of worthy and unworthy victims, see Herman and Chomsky 1994: 37–86. 55. Edward Said writes that ‘the most accurate way of characterizing it [the way consensus works in media] is to say that it sets limits and maintains pressures’ (Said 1997: 53). 56. Bourdieu 1998: 40. 57. India Today 1999c: 25. 58. Ibid. Sanjaya Baru made a similar argument: ‘There is a popular belief among social scientists and security analysts, in India and abroad, that India spends far too much on defence. While a case can be made that a poor country ought to spend more on education and health than defence, the fact is that given the security environment within which India lives, its defence expenditure is in fact in line with global trends and below par as far as the region is

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’

59. 60. 61. 62. 63.

64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75.

76. 77. 78. 79.


concerned. India’s hostile neighbours, China and Pakistan, spend far more on defence and are out of line with global and regional trends. […] Not only is India one of the lowest spenders on defence, both in terms of share of GDP and per capita dollar income, but it has systematically reduced its defence spending in recent years’ (1999: 23, 26). Vinayak: 32. Chengappa, Saran and Baweja: 26. Manchanda 2001: 87. Fussell 1975: 192. See Daniel Pick 1993: 158. See also Murray Edelman on ‘referential’ and ‘condensation’ symbols and how the latter evoke emotions associated with a particular situation ‘because it symbolizes a threat or reassurance’. ‘Shradhanjali’ can be seen as a condensation symbol of collective reassurance (Edelman 1985: 6–7). India Today, 28 June 1999: 24. Rich 1995: 16. Akbar 1999: 307. Manchanda 2001: 87. Butcher 2003: 87. Ibid.: 193. Chengappa, Saran and Baweja: 35. India Today 1999c: 34. Swami 1999b: 12. Leed 1979: 194. Scarry 1985: 63. In his conclusion, Sanjaya Baru pointed to the importance of equitable economic development: ‘Equally, we must become a more productive and caring people to ensure that the benefits of development reach all. Unless human security is ensured at home, through the improvement of general well-being, human development and higher incomes of the people, national security cannot be assured merely through increased investment in defence and the security apparatus. Human security is at the heart of economic security. Economic security is the foundation of national security’ (1999: 42). Wadhwa and Tewary 1999: 53. Manchanda 2001: 88. Cited in Bates 1996: 95. Murray Edelman’s comment on the role of mass media in the dramatized consolidation of meaning and knowledge is appropriate in the context of the ‘mapping out [of] a heroic India and heroic Indians’. Edelman writes: ‘It is no accident of history or of culture that our newspapers and television present little news, that they over-dramatize what they report, and that most citizens have only a foggy knowledge of public affairs though often an intensely felt one. If political acts are to promote social adjustment and are to mean what our inner problems require that they mean, then these acts have to be dramatic in outline and empty of realistic detail’ (1985: 8–9).


Tracking the Media

80. ‘In one of the most brutal acts, the Pakistan Army tortured six Indian soldiers, including a young Lieutenant, gouged their eyeballs, burnt them with cigarette butts and chopped off noses, ears and their genitals’ (The Pioneer 1999a). 81. See The Times of India 1999b; The Indian Express 1999; Financial Express 1999; Joshi and Chengappa 1999. 82. Seshu 1999: 2919. 83. Abdi 1999. 84. Ibid. 85. Ibid. The Hindustan Times offered one justification for carrying the mutilation story, saying that it ‘remained in print because we felt that to contradict the army would be unpatriotic and demoralizing’ (Hindustan Times 1999). 86. Chowdhury 2000: 98. 87. Ibid. 88. Ibid.: 100. 89. Jaswant Singh’s sense of being personally violated echoes the ideas of feminization and rape associated with war, as well as the trope of victimization. Singh also emphasized the idea of a ‘civilizational’ divide represented by the so-called mutilation: ‘Such conduct is not simply a breach of established norms, or a violation of international agreements, it is a civilisational crime against all humanity; it is a reversion to barbaric medievalism’ (Singh 1999). 90. The expansion of the public sphere can be, as Craig Calhoun writes, a mixed blessing. ‘As the public was enlarged, however, public opinion itself came to seem a threat, particularly when it seemed to involve a compulsion towards conformity more than critical discourse. Thus it was that both Mill and Tocqueville worried, for example, about protecting minorities from persecution by majorities’ (Calhoun 1993: 20). These worries, albeit in different contexts, loomed large in the face of intolerant public opinion fostered during the Kargil War and its aftermath. 91. Barkha Dutt’s claim can be contrasted with the reality of media access. ‘Not a single reporter came close to witnessing the war. All media persons were allowed up to National Highway 1A and no further, kilometers away from the actual battlefield. […] But when TV reporters wearing borrowed olive greens and helmets gave their pieces to camera — “You have to be here to feel it” – from inside bunkers, gullible viewers thought they were witnessing the war in their drawing rooms. But the reality was different. There are several easily accessible bunkers along the 160-odd km stretch from the Mushkoh Valley to Batalik and beyond’ (Joshi 1999). 92. Dutt 2001: 64. 93. Ibid.: 66. Michael Herr writes of soldiers in Vietnam: ‘And always, they would ask you with an emotion whose intensity would shock you to please tell it, because they really did have the feeling that it wasn’t being told for them, that they were going through all of this and that somehow no one back in the World knew about it’ (Herr 1978: 206).

Kargil and the Consolidation of ‘Indianness’ 94. 95. 96. 97.

98. 99. 100. 101.

102. 103. 104.


106. 107. 108.



Ibid.: 66. Scarry 1985: 134. Manchanda 2001: 86. This paranoia was reflected during Gulf War I and II, particularly in the practice of strictly controlled ‘embedded’ journalists during the latter conflict. Fussell 1989: 268. Herman and Chomsky 1994: 172. Swami 2005: 208. Kargil Review Committee Report 2000: 214. Once again, there is an echo of Clausewitz in the necessity of people’s support for a winnable war. It is also interesting that the Kargil Review Committee used the phrase ‘winning hearts and minds’, a classic idea from counter insurgencies waged in Malaya and Vietnam. In Vietnam, the phrase metamorphosed into the acronym WHAM, an unintentionally violent one, yet reflective of actual violence. A. M. Sethna made a similar point about media support in an op-ed piece in the Times of India: ‘Modern conventional war from which we have been spared since 1971, is now fought as much on the TV tube as on the ground. […] The information war needs to be looked at, therefore, as an adjunct of the fight on the ground’ (Sethna 1999: 10). Cited in Page and Crawley 2001: 245. Ibid. ‘It [India] holds Kashmir’s physical contours but not its heart and soul. Its forces have now established supremacy over the frontlines, snatched back and fenced territory that had been invaded last summer, but the battle for the Kashmiri heartland itself remains lost’ (Thakur 2000). See notes 43 and 53 above. See also Goswami1999; Mitra 1999 and Bhambri 1999. The South Asia Citizens Web has a section offering alternative analyses and points of view on the Kargil War: http://www.sacw. net/kargil/index.html. Nandy 2001: 51. Kargil Review Committee Report 2000: 215. As Daniel Pick, citing Hegel, writes: ‘War is the crucial founding moment of the state and the invigorating, revitalizing force which recurs across its history. For Hegel, the clash of nations in war ideally binds each party, turning “unrest” away from an inner to an outer world: “Successful wars have checked domestic unrest and consolidated the power of the state at home” ’ (Pick 1993: 234–35). When the likes of Mr Farooq Ahmed question the status quo, they are swiftly silenced. Kargil Review Committee Report 2000: 218.

2 Some Comments on Media Representations of the Gujarat Riots and the Kargil War The horrific events of and following 27 February 2002 in Gujarat received blanket media coverage and have been written about and discussed in some detail. In addition there are reports by NGOs, citizens committees, as well as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Election Commission, and the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Mainstream English media (both television and print) almost unanimously condemned the communal bloodletting and dwelt on its consequences for the Indian polity. The language of that coverage was one of outrage and terms such as ‘pogrom’ and ‘genocide’ were used to characterize the nature of the atrocities committed. The taboo of not naming the religious communities to which the victims belonged was largely abandoned.1 In the context of the frequency of communal riots in Gujarat (some 106 major riots between 1987 and 1991)2 and in other parts of the country, the media attention might seem excessive. However, as countless analysts have pointed out, the 2002 riots were distinguished by the complicity of state authority (documented in citizens reports such as the one by Kamal Mitra Chenoy, S. P. Shukla, K. S. Subramanian, and Achin Vanaik) and by a more fundamental collapse of civil society evident not only in the brutality of the riots but in the deliberate disinterest of state authorities regarding rehabilitation and re-establishing of ‘communal harmony’.3 As Lord Bhikhu Parekh observed, ‘During the recent riots, communalism ran extremely deep and pervaded almost all areas of life. The Gujarati media were grossly biased and even provocative. The government gave up all pretence of neutrality and openly encouraged Hindu violence. It even offered differential compensation to Hindus and Muslims, and wants to try them under different laws, Muslims under POTA [Prevention of Terrorism Act] and Hindus under IPC [Indian Penal Code]. Communalism seems to have spread even to some hospitals in Ahmedabad. And the advocates of intercommunal harmony are not only thrown on the defensive but positively terrorised into silence.’4 The blight affecting civil society was also perceived in

Media Representations of Gujarat Riots and Kargil War 37

the seeming lack of remorse and compassion amongst middle class Gujaratis and was in sharp contrast to the spontaneous outpouring of concern and help for the Bhuj earthquake victims in 2001. Mahesh Daga, in an article in The Times of India titled ‘Psyche of the Aggressor: No Kalinga Effect in Gujarat’, contended that there was no sense of moral community and therefore no contrition on the part of Hindus vis-à-vis violence against Muslims.5 He pointed to studies of post-riot situations the world over, where it is seen that the aggressors blame the victims for provoking the violence by their prior behaviour. The philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah refers to this phenomenon in his analysis of people who reject universality, who are, in his words, ‘counter-cosmopolitans’. ‘Those we think of as willing to claim that not everyone matters — the Nazis, the racists, the chauvinists of one sort and another — don’t stop with saying, “Those people don’t matter.” They tell you why. Jews are destroying our nation. Black people are inferior. Tutsis are cockroaches. The Aztecs are enemies of the faith. It’s not that they don’t matter; it’s that they have earned our hatred or contempt. They deserve what we are doing to them.’6 Within the Indian communal context, Thomas Blom Hansen writes that ‘The structure and psychic economy of this “communal unconscious” […] as an ideological construction [is] similar to that of anti-Semitism and racism, and thus not strictly dependent on exposure to certain social experiences or certain specific social milieus.’7 Hansen points to ‘the ideological fantasies at the heart of Hindu nationalism. The myths of the lustful, wily, and over-enjoying Muslim with many wives and secret links to rich Arabs are widespread in India. It is this “abstract Muslim” rather than the actual physical Muslim cohabitants in a slum who is the object of intense communal hatred’.8 The hatred coupled with a ‘historical’ sense of being wronged serve to justify why Muslims not only do not matter but ‘have earned our [Hindu] hatred or contempt’. This (il)logic is evident, as Daga points out, in riots in Chicago (1919), Detroit (1943), the anti-Chinese violence in Malaysia (1963), the anti-Ibo riots in Nigeria (1966), the anti-Tamil riots in Sri Lanka (1983), or the anti-Muslim violence in Mumbai (1992). Even within this catalogue of infamy the Gujarat riots, according to Daga, represent an extreme example of the trend whereby there is no remorse or restitution for the victims. As Daga writes, ‘It is to the “credit” of the parivar’s unrelenting propaganda that sections of Gujarati society have ceased to regard Muslims as being worthy of


Tracking the Media

an equal human status. There is no doubt that this “dehumanisation” of the Muslim was a necessary precondition for the kind of savagery witnessed in Gujarat.’9 The process of dehumanization mentioned by Daga is an essential aspect of the oppositional framework of wars and it is unsurprising that similar rhetorical and political strategies were employed during the Kargil War. Indeed, this strategy of dehumanization is available in most wars and situations of conflict. As Daniel Pick writes: ‘In part, of course, propaganda is functional: it is easier and more urgent for the soldier to kill a dehumanised monstrous spectre than a human being. But it also has a wider psychological and cultural purchase, more complex functions of location, reassurance and denigration.’10 Pick’s analysis of soldiers in war is applicable to rioters in Gujarat who were able to mutilate and kill without compunction because of the ‘wider psychological and cultural purchase’ of anti-Muslim propaganda. Ghanshyam Shah writes of this consolidation of hatred of Muslims amongst the Hindus in Gujarat: ‘The anti-Muslim feelings which prevailed among the upper-caste Hindus — mainly the Rajputs, Brahmins and Vanias — were nurtured by the Jana Sangh and RSS in the 1960s. Local party functionaries fuelled these sentiments through speeches, circulation of rumours and attachment of charged symbols to localized conflict between the two communities, efforts which often resulted in violent clashes. According to official figures there were as many as 2,938 instances of communal violence between 1960–69 in Gujarat.’11 He writes of heightened anti-Pakistan sentiments during the 1965 war and how those sentiments ‘got transformed into hatred against local Muslims’.12 This history of hate was intensified during the anti-reservation agitations of 1981 and 1985. To cite Shah once more: ‘Non-party organizations like the Gujarat Biradari, which was dominated by Sarvodayists, not only articulated a need for developing Gujarat’s Asmita (culture, tradition and identity) but also exaggerated the role of Pakistani infiltrators across Gujarat’s boarder [sic] in the communal riots. This was interpreted and tacitly encouraged and legitimized by the media to mean that the infiltrators and the Muslims in Gujarat were hand-in-glove with each other. The Hindu fanatics stressed the Gujarati identity with a view to bring all Hindus under one umbrella and to treat Muslims implicitly, and at times even explicitly, as outsiders.’13 Shah’s exegesis is useful to highlight how the template for the 2002 riots had been in the making since the 1960s and how some of these ideations and stereotypes relating to Muslims and the

Media Representations of Gujarat Riots and Kargil War 39

threat they represented was repeated in the more recent riots. In the case of Gujarat, the Hindu–Muslim divide was further bolstered by a collective sense of retrospective vengeance.14 As Julio Rebeiro writes, ‘There was a widely prevalent perception in the minds of the Hindu upper and middle classes that the revenge that was taken in Ahmedabad was for the good of the city, the state and the country as it would serve as a good lesson to recalcitrant Muslims.’15 After the re-election of Narendra Modi in December 2002, Rebeiro’s prognosis acquired an even more ominous dimension, as the ‘other’ was electorally silenced and the triumphalism of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promised a repeat of the ‘Gujarat experiment’ in subsequent elections at state and national levels. For instance Ashok Singhal, a VHP leader said during the election campaign, ‘What happened in Gujarat will be repeated all over the country.’16 That such a replication failed in the 2004 national elections was partly indicative of the limited appeal of genocidal politics, but the possibility of future Gujarat-style riots was in no way diminished. At this point, I would like to digress to dwell briefly on the media debates fostered in the aftermath of the BJP’s comprehensive victory in Gujarat in December 2002, as well as some connections and continuities with pre-election riot coverage. The run-up to the election was characterized by the BJP’s desire to capitalize on post-riot Hindu consolidation, the demonization of the then Chief Election Commissioner, M. Lyngdoh, and the ‘mian Musharraf’ baiting of the Muslim community. India Today conceded that post-Godhra Gujarat was a ‘rotten spot in India. A place where religion could burn, kill, divide and misrule’.17 The editorial in the 30 December issue then went on to ridicule the ‘professional secularists and the conscience-keeping industry’ for demonizing the rampaging Hindu and concluded that the ‘celebration of the popular will’ ‘shows the right way’.18 While celebrating the triumph of collective democratic will in Gujarat, the India Today editorial was open-ended about how the election demonstrated ‘the right way’. One plausible interpretation would be that engineered riots followed by electoral victory for the ruling party was ‘the right way’ to express Hindu solidarity. India Today’s consecutive covers of the Modi phenomenon — as if he were an ahistorical force of nature rather than an adept manipulator and votary of hate — and its editorial joy at the outcome of the Gujarat elections was not surprising given its political bias and earlier coverage of the riots in that state.


Tracking the Media

Martha Nussbaum’s observations on Narendra Modi’s justifications for the riots provide an insight into India Today’s commentary on Modi. Nussbaum writes: ‘Modi’s statements not only justified the violence as a response to an alleged long history of “criminal tendencies,” but they also portrayed it as inevitable and unstoppable, almost more like a natural cataclysm than a set of blameworthy human acts.’19 The thesis of the riots as a spontaneous expression of righteous anger was expressed in part by Uday Mahurkar in his piece ‘Sins of Modi’, where he implied and stated that the mobs were too large and unruly to be controlled by an undermanned police force. Mahurkar offered a bland analysis that did not dwell on documented instances of the police refusing to help Muslims. To reinforce the idea of riots as ‘a natural cataclysm’, Mahurkar quoted the then Police Commissioner of Ahmedabad, P. C. Pande, who said: ‘“In my 32-year career I have never seen something like this. It was an upsurge, unstoppable and unprecedented. A stage came when it became physically impossible for the police to tackle mobs running into thousands.”’20 An editorial in the 15 April 2002 issue titled ‘Modi Apart’ repeated Pande’s thesis: ‘A riot, in its initial eruption, is so spontaneous that it takes a while for reason to catch up with passion, violent and elemental.’21 Despite the planned nature of the riots and the clarity about its perpetrators, Mahurkar maintained a kind of equivalence, blaming the ‘secular lobby’ for highlighting the violence perpetrated by the un-secular, indeed irreligious, right: ‘As the secular lobby plays up the anti-Muslim violence more and more while underplaying the Godhra tragedy which was actually the cause of the violence, Modi and the BJP reap more and more benefits at the ground level from the consolidation of the Hindu vote.’22 This sentence encapsulated some of the flawed justifications of the riots from the ‘action–reaction’ theory to the myth of Godhra being underplayed.23 India Today’s commentaries on the Gujarat riots oscillated between declarative condemnation and the not quite accurate representation of facts. For example the Editor-in-Chief wrote on 18 March 2002: ‘Civilised societies do not allow anger to descend into barbarism. […] His [Narendra Modi’s] insensitive utterances have epitomised Gujarat’s disgraceful response to an attack on its own citizens. […] Evidence against the administration appears mixed.’24 In an earlier issue there was a shift from a selective remembrance of Partition to familiar canards about ISI involvement. ‘In Godhra on 27 February it looked

Media Representations of Gujarat Riots and Kargil War 41

like Partition again. […] The whodunit is more difficult to answer. Jehadi elements in India are suspects, and so, as always, is Pakistan’s ISI.’25 Indeed, the burning train had a powerful resonance of the horror of Partition but Mahurkar did not contextualize the resonance, seeming to imply that only Muslims burnt trains during Partition. When the spectres of ‘Jehadi elements’ and ISI involvement were disproved, there was no subsequent analysis of ‘Jehadi elements’ within Hindu right wing groups who had orchestrated the riots. ‘Evidence against the administration’ was far from ‘mixed’ but it was not adequately highlighted in later issues of India Today. In fact, throughout its coverage there seemed to be a schizophrenic divide between the cover photographs and the articles within. For instance, the issue with Modi in traditional Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) attire on the cover held out the possibility of a critical look at his politics and mode of governance, if one may define the overseeing of riots as a mode of governance. In contrast to this expectation, the article actually bolstered the righteousness and iconic stature of an RSS man now fulfilling his avowed mission. I argued in Chapter 1 that India Today, with its huge circulation (more than that of Outlook, The Week, and Frontline put together) and its multi-lingual editions, is reflective of dominant middle-class views. I believe the same argument obtains for the Gujarat situation and in that sense the news magazine was consistent in its covert and overt demonization of Muslims, whether across the border or within India. Within the covers of India Today, the complex interplay between ‘reassurance and denigration’ that was an integral part of the antiMuslim propaganda on the streets of Gujarat or the heights of Kargil was played out in more subtle forms.26 The post-election debate in The Times of India took on a different argument and tone. Siddharth Varadarajan in ‘Beyond the ballot: the issue in Gujarat is justice’ wrote, ‘As on election eve, the biggest question confronting India today is not the sterile debate over “Hindutva” and “secularism” but the future of the rule of law.’27 The ‘sterile debate’ reverberates through political discourse and was evident both in the threats of Praveen Togadia live on STAR NEWSHOUR and in the Prime Minister’s Goa musings, equating Hindutva with ‘Bharatiyata’.28 The reactions to the musings, ranging from the VHP to the Shiv Sena, were indicative of the vehemence and vindictiveness with which these outfits hoped to repeat the Gujarat agenda in future elections. Varadarajan, however, raises two


Tracking the Media

important points: the question of law and justice and the positing of the secular versus non-secular in absolute dichotomous terms. I will turn to these later in the chapter. To return to the justified lament over the collapse of civil society in Gujarat, it is significant that corporate neglect was only intermittently highlighted by the media. Kingshuk Nag’s articles in The Times of India analyzed the economic basis of the riots (the specific targeting of shops and factories owned by the Bohra community, for instance) and the losses sustained by the state exchequer, but Nag did not examine the ways in which rioting has become a means of livelihood for some sections of society in Gujarat.29 ‘Rioting everywhere,’ as Ashis Nandy observes, ‘is pre-eminently an urban disease.’ Even within this scenario Gujarat is special because it ‘has seen thirty-three years of continuous rioting interrupted with periods of tense, uncomfortable peace. During these years, a sizeable section of Gujarat’s urban underclass has begun to see communalism and rioting as a means of livelihood, quick profit, choice entertainment, and as a way of life.’30 Along with the participation of the ‘urban underclass’, Gujarat has another unique demographic feature. To cite Nandy again: ‘The icing on the cake is that the urban middle class in Gujarat is now the most communalised in the country; it has become an active abetter and motivator of communal violence. Sections of it participate in the loot enthusiastically, […] those that do not often participate in the violence vicariously.’31 These matrices of social complicity were seldom mentioned in mainstream media and the silences reinforced the desperate corners into which the Muslims were pushed during and after the riots. Although complicity of business organizations such as the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce meeting and lauding Modi were reported, they were seldom examined in any depth. The Kargil War led to industry making commercial capital out of war and furthering nationalist fervour.32 In Gujarat, industrial conglomerates such as Reliance were marked by their silence and post-riot indifference. Thus, not only the state government but also corporate Gujarat abandoned the riot survivors, further enhancing the ghettoization and resentment of the Muslim community. The media was relatively silent about this phenomenon as well. Another aspect which seems to have escaped media scrutiny is the money order framework of the Gujarati economy, in particular the role of the Gujarati diaspora in fostering a particular brand of

Media Representations of Gujarat Riots and Kargil War 43

ethnic and national identity. Much has been made of the prosperous and numerous Gujarati diaspora (and rightly so, for their achievements are legion), but there were few references to the ways in which this diaspora has contributed to the growth of Hindu righ wing movements in the state through a steady inflow of funds and ideological support. The dangers of what Lord Bhiku Parekh calls ‘long-distance patriotism’ was reported in The Times of India on 10 January 2003, but it did not feature in this or other mainstream media reports and analysis. Lord Parekh referred specifically to the ways in which the Israeli lobby in the US influences policies to the detriment of Palestine and, paradoxically, its own interests and offered a comparison with the Gujarati diasporic influence in its home state. Remote access patriotism is not peculiar to the Gujarat situation: it was available in offshore support for Kashmiri militancy in the UK or for Sikh separatism in Canada and the UK. What is unique in the Gujarat scenario is the support for a larger notion of a Hindu Rashtra, the demonization of Muslims, and the attempt to dismember constitutional and oppositional frameworks that stand in the way of the Hindutva juggernaut. ‘Long distance patriotism’ has particular resonance in the context of the Bharatiya Pravasi Divas initiated by the BJP which, to some extent, legitimizes the financial support offered to Gujarat among other states. That the RSS, VHP, BJP and other members of the Sangh Parivar have strong international, diasporic affiliates is a matter of concern and enquiry primarily because of the ways in which some NRI funds have been deployed for fostering deeper communal divides.33 That the media was effective in creating a climate of conscience with regard to the carnage in Gujarat is perhaps best indicated by the outrage with which members of the government and Sangh Parivar reacted. While the then Prime Minister and Home Minister called for more ‘restrained’ reporting (a euphemism for less critical and graphic reportage), the Vishwa Hindu Samachar, edited by K. K. Shastri, head of the Gujarat VHP, lashed out at ‘convent educated journalists who don’t know the geography of Ahmedabad’. The object of ire here was primarily the English language press, but it is significant that regional vernacular media was equally stringent in its commentary and coverage of the riots. ‘Aisee sarkar kyon rahe?’ asked an editorial in Prabhat Khabar, a major Hindi daily from Patna. The daily was severely critical of Modi and did not spare Vajpayee. ‘Pradhanmantri ka Jhoot’ was the headline of one editorial. ‘The PM has shed tears,


Tracking the Media

but hasn’t taken action against anyone. It appears these are crocodile tears,’ the paper commented.34 Prajavani, the largest circulated newspaper in Karnataka, editorialized that ‘The PM’s soothing words appear hollow due to his dualistic stand. It is clear from their actions that the Sangh Parivar does not even give a thought to what he is saying. A centre which cannot control or does not want to control the Gujarat government is incapable of administering the country.’35 Kannada Prabha editorial adviser T. J. S. George was somewhat prescient in his sarcasm: ‘The day might not be far when Modi returns to power with a thumping majority, Ramachandra Paramhans becomes the President and Uddav Thackeray the PM. It might become the fashion of the next generation to ostracise the minorities on social and economic front, like what is happening in Gujarat and what happened in Nazi Germany.’36 The exception to this critical media attention was found in the Gujarati language press, where publications such as Sandesh led the charge in fabricating gruesome tales of violation of Hindu women and the need for revenge. On 1 March Sandesh reported that the dead bodies of two girls abducted during the attack on the Sabarmati Express had been found near a pond in Kalol. ‘As part of a cruel inhuman act that would make even a devil weep, the breasts of both the dead bodies had been cut. Seeing the dead bodies one knows that the girls had been raped again and again, perhaps many times. There is speculation that during this act itself the girls might have died.’37 The police could not substantiate the story. As Kamal Mitra Chenoy, S. P. Shukla, K. S. Subramanian and Achin Vanaik pointed out in their report to the nation, such unsubstantiated stories helped to fuel the communal frenzy. It was within this critical context that the government’s attempt to control and/or influence the media during that period becomes significant. The year long harassment of Tehelka (the internet portal that revealed corruption in defence deals through a sting operation), the arrests of Anirudh Bahal and Iftikar Gilani were symptomatic of coercive desires and tendencies manifested earlier in incidents in Gujarat. At the same time, however, little was done by the government to hold Sandesh accountable for its often sensationalist stories of Muslim atrocities and the need to avenge them. In its inimitable way Sandesh contributed to and was illustrative of the ‘complex functions of location, reassurance and denigration’ for the majority community in Gujarat.38 Events following the riots, including the dissolution of the Gujarat Assembly, the call for early elections, and the disparaging of a

Media Representations of Gujarat Riots and Kargil War 45

constitutional authority such as the Chief Election Commissioner, reinforced the argument that the BJP government seemed to care little for the niceties of constitutional propriety. Within this milieu, the media was construed in oppositional terms, resisting the onslaught of political inclinations and ideologies inimical to the larger interests of an India that prided itself on its democratic and pluralistic institutions and traditions. This resistance, however, was often reactive rather than a continuous and prolonged ideological opposition to the hate speech and actions propagated by the BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal and other Sangh departments. Reportage by its very nature focuses on the immediate, the event that is ‘newsworthy’ due to its political, ideological, or dramatic nature. It is in the concentration beyond the immediate, the analysis of news and events in newspapers and news magazines as well as television that one might expect more considered and in-depth coverage. As Sandhya Shukla points out: ‘Though productions of “the news” impart a sense of urgency and currency, that what is happening now is what is being transmitted in what [Benedict] Anderson calls “homogenous, empty time,” they look backward and forward, in historical understandings of any developments, with agendas for the future.’39 Often post-facto analyses add depth and rigour to media commentary, creating an analytical archive in addition to the informational one. The pieces by Mahesh Daga and Julio Rebeiro cited earlier could be considered as contributions to this analytical pool. However, some of the analysis of the Gujarat riots was often facile and inadequate because while editorials on Gujarat were scathing almost across the ideological spectrum, they focused exclusively on Gujarat as if it were an isolated event or an aberration in recent Indian political history. There were references to the 1969 riots but seldom any to more recent developments such as the rise of competitive fundamentalisms, of the interface between globalization and its effects on the one hand and the consolidation of religious identities and insecurities on the other.40 In short, crucial links between events and socio-political structures or ideological paradigms were not always made. For instance, The Times of India was analytical and critical particularly in its editorial coverage of events in Gujarat. An editorial on 16 April 2002 declared: ‘The rule of law must be viewed independently of elections. Indeed, brute majoritarianism can pave the way to fascism.’41 Another editorial on 25 April 2002 described the events as a ‘pogrom’, and an article by Vidya Subramaniam analyzed cogently the fact that


Tracking the Media

the BJP’s ‘ideological highs’ coincide with ‘sectarian targeting’.42 The Times’ editorial coverage of the Kargil War was in sharp contrast to its take on Gujarat. On the Kargil context, The Times editorialized that ‘A Talibanised and militarised Pakistan […] acts as a rogue state because of the autonomy it feels it enjoys because of nuclear capability […]’ and further that Pakistan is ‘dominated by mullahs and generals steeped in drug trafficking, money laundering and international terrorism […].’ Another editorial in The Times mocked a group of eminent Indians and Pakistanis counselling restraint: ‘It is like advocating restraint equally to the rapist and rape victim.’43 What is significant about the latter set of comments is that they essentialized and demonized the enemy as if all of Pakistan consisted of mad mullahs advocating war (shades of the then Prime Minister’s jehadi speech at the Goa conclave of the BJP). The STAR NEWS coverage of the Gujarat riots was courageous, insightful and politically nuanced. A series of stories by Shikha Trivedi went behind the news, as it were, in their portrayal of the trauma and alienation of Muslim communities and individuals who returned to their villages on sufferance. Trivedi also dwelt on the ways in which tribal communities had been co-opted into the Hindutva fold. Indeed, as Bhikhu Parekh observed, the 2002 Gujarat riots were unique for the ways in which new groups were co-opted into or participated in the violence: ‘violence in Gujarat involved groups that had hitherto kept out of it. These included the adivasis, subjected in recent years to the systematic process of Hinduisation and “protected in their own interest” against Christian and more recently Islamic missionaries, as a VHP leader put it. The new groups also included professionals, especially doctors, lawyers and teachers who, while avoiding active participation, donated money, offered moral support and encouragement, and provided free services to Hindu victims of violence. They drove in their cars to burning buildings and watched the horrid spectacle with a measure of relief and even pride’.44 In contrast to its coverage of Gujarat, STAR NEWS projected Kargil as a just and necessary war against intransigent intruders. It also contributed substantially to the spectacle and glamorization of war, especially through the ‘theatre of Shradhanjali’. The STAR NEWS coverage, with its slick sets and slicker presenters, was occasionally devoid of serious content and in-depth analysis. It is also significant that hawkish analysts such as K. Subramanyam and

Media Representations of Gujarat Riots and Kargil War 47

Mani Dixit were frequently invited to NEWSHOUR discussions to contribute to a largely pro-war point of view. As part of a global media conglomerate, the internationalization of infotainment was most evident in the attempts that STAR NEWS made to present a modern India fighting a medieval, Islamist mindset over the border. The point here is not that The Times of India or STAR NEWS were inconsistent in their opposition to war, violence, or riots but that they made no analytical connections between the two events. A long history of communal violence, the hate speech spewed against Muslims, a growing anxiety with and fraying of the secular fabric of Indian polity and institutions are all predicated on the hatred of the ‘other’, whether within the country or outside. ‘Part of the function of war, as of Fascism,’ Daniel Pick writes, ‘in psychoanalytic terms, is to abolish an internally ambivalent relationship, to locate all the hated components elsewhere and destroy them — the Jews, the enemy nation. It is necessary to fight wars it is argued, in order to find and only secondarily to destroy the enemy.’45 Pick is writing of Fascism and Nazism in Europe and the ways in which the Jews were converted into the hated ‘other’. In many ways, this process was repeated in different contexts in India and the demonizing of the Muslim ‘other’ allowed for patriotic consolidation during the Kargil War. Similarly, the identification of the perpetrators of Godhra as Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agents generated the ‘action–reaction’ rhetoric and revenge model that fuelled the communal violence.46 During Kargil the jingoism related to India, the motherland threatened by a devious and evil enemy, and large sections of the media, were pro-government. In Gujarat, there was a mythic construction of ‘wronged’ Hindu majorities wreaking vengeance to reverse centuries of Muslim barbarism and atrocity, and the media was shocked at the level of violence and at government complicity. The Kargil War was consciously projected by the media as a secular, nationalist crusade, whereas Gujarat was representative of religious barbarism. The media failed to see that both events are connected to the functioning of secularism in India. As Ashis Nandy argues: ‘To accept the ideology of secularism is to accept the ideologies of progress and modernity as the new justifications of domination, and the use of violence to sustain these ideologies as the new opiates of the masses.’47 The Kargil War was reported precisely in terms of a modern, secular state fighting a medieval, non-secular one over the border and therefore garnered


Tracking the Media

immense support. The Gujarat riots were seen as a resurgence of religious atavism which required the reinforcement of secularism. Nandy has analyzed the problems with Indian secularism in detail and his prognosis on Gujarat is worth mentioning here: ‘The Gujarat carnage of 2002 should make us openly admit what we all secretly know but cannot publicly acknowledge — that our theory and practice of containing religious and ethnic strife, mainly powered by the ideology of secularism, has not helped us much.’48 This is partly because of the ways in which ‘competitive mass politics’ ‘have turned communal violence into another form of organised politics’.49 There is another aspect of the divergence of state and religion that was not mentioned by the media, but is crucial to our understanding of the failure of the secular state in India. To cite Nandy again, ‘large parts of Indian society still do not use the language of the Indian state and have no access to the idiom of secular politics. They also cannot imagine separating their religious and political lives, and do not feel morally obliged to do so. They are serious believers, and yet they do resist communal violence on the basis of their religious sensitivities, everyday morality, and plain commonsense.’50 The Kargil War and the Gujarat riots are arguably different but they conflate a recently dominant rhetoric of long-suffering, ‘tolerant’ Hinduism striking back, whether in war or in riot. To attribute one as the absolute contradiction of the other is to overlook the continuities between the two events. These connections were absent in dominant media reports, editorials, and commentaries. There were other post-riot events which were reported largely as disparate elements rather than analyzed as forming a larger, more significant rhetorical tapestry which bolsters the idea of the evil ‘other’ (whether within or without) and simultaneous need for national vigilance, security, and increasing militarization. It can be argued that the Kargil War was not quite as jingoistic as earlier Indo-Pak conflicts and that the consolidation of national identity was neither uniform, widespread nor sustained for too long after the war was over.51 While this line of reasoning is interesting in itself, the more important consequence of that confrontation was the spiralling rhetoric and reality of military posturing and actions, and the sense of a nation under constant siege. Nations create certain collective memories of wars and these serve to codify aspects of national character and self-images. For example, the Second World War is remembered as the ‘Good War’ in the US, the war in which

Media Representations of Gujarat Riots and Kargil War 49

the US saved the world from the evils of Nazism and Fascism.52 In Japan, there was a reconstruction of Japan’s role in the Second World War as a victim of war (following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) rather than as aggressor or perpetrator of atrocities. As John Dower writes, ‘the preoccupation with their own misery that led most Japanese to ignore the suffering they had inflicted on others helps illuminate the ways in which victim consciousness colors the identities that all groups and peoples construct for themselves’.53 Similarly, in political and dominant media mythography, the Kargil War was seen as the betrayal of Prime Minister Vajpayee’s gesture of peace in Lahore, the proof (if any was needed) of the perfidious Muslim. The attack on the Parliament, Akshardham, the Ansal Plaza shootout in New Delhi, the constant criticism of the Mufti’s ‘healing touch’ policy in Jammu and Kashmir, the alacrity with which the accused in the Parliament attack were sentenced to death are just some instances that helped consolidate the idea of national spaces and identities under constant threat. The constant rhetoric of the soft state, from Kargil to the Kandahar hijacking, from peace moves in Jammu and Kashmir to Akshardham, underlined the paradox of the imagined community fashioned over the past few years. In reality it could be argued that the ‘softness’ of the state is more evident in far-reaching and pervasive reactions and concessions to global economic and power situations, such as the easy entry of genetically modified cotton or certain bilateral treaties with the US, like the one allowing US military personnel exemptions from prosecution for human rights violations. The vulnerability and lack of agency sometimes displayed in asymmetrical external relations seemed to turn inwards and manifest itself in domestic asymmetries — in ‘tough’ attitudes towards the vulnerable and disenfranchised within the country. This brings me back to Siddharth Varadarajan’s point about the centrality of law and justice in post-election Gujarat and indeed India. The lack of justice for victims of riots was in sharp contrast to the swift sentencing of those accused in the Parliament attack. Manoj Joshi writes that ‘mass murder of the type that occurred in Delhi in 1984 or in Gujarat earlier this year remains unpunished, but does not disturb a large cross-section of the population. In 1984, the Congress was returned to power by the electorate, as was the BJP in Gujarat this year. In no other established democracy would a government’s failure to protect its own citizens be rewarded


Tracking the Media

this way.’54 Joshi’s point focused on the failure of democracy and its institutions of justice and equality before the law. In this context it is interesting that a news magazine such as India Today, which perceived Narendra Modi’s election victory as an expression of democratic will, did not likewise highlight connections between riots and their contribution to the undermining of the same democratic ethos. In a post-11 September scenario, the denigration and worse of Muslims worldwide has gained currency and legitimacy. Thus, while 1984 and 2002 were analogous in their targeting of a particular community and the subsequent failure of justice, the latter was far more deliberate and dangerous in its economic, social, and electoral exclusion of the ‘other’. It is difficult to envision the re-integration of the Muslims in Gujarati community structures in ways that the Sikhs have rehabilitated themselves.55 This is not to condone in any way the overwhelming complicity of the Congress in the 1984 riots but to further highlight the electoral, economic, and social marginalization of the Muslims in Gujarat. An aspect of this marginalization was highlighted by an RSS Resolution passed in their all-India General Council Meeting which declared the post-Godhra violence to be ‘natural and spontaneous’. The Resolution also said: ‘Let the Muslims understand their real safety lies in the goodwill of the majority.’56 Such a ‘majority decision’ imperils democratic functioning and the vibrant public sphere that is essential to the creation of democratic spaces. As Jurgen Habermas writes: ‘A majority decision must be arrived at in such a fashion, and only in such a fashion, that its content can be claimed to be the rationally motivated but fallible result of a discussion concerning the judicious resolution of a problem, a discussion that has come temporarily to a close because coming to a decision could no longer be postponed.’57 The RSS Resolution, in its finality and assertion of majority rights, displayed no such pretence of debate, rationality, or fallibility. While Muslims were the object of the Resolution, it embodied the type of majoritarian intolerance that marred democratic discourse during the 1984 riots as well. The connection between the two riots is crucial but remained facile in media commentary that preferred not to dwell on the repetition of carefully targeted riots, followed by the commissions of enquiry and finally the exoneration of the culprits. These patterns of democratic failure contribute little to the rhetoric of secularism, plurality, and economic progress and therefore they are not analyzed in depth in mainstream media.

Media Representations of Gujarat Riots and Kargil War 51

With particular reference to Gujarat, my contention above leads to two further observations about the media’s coverage of the riots and their aftermath. One is the predictability of the media response. This was best illustrated in the hope generated by the Prime Minister’s ‘rajdharma’ speech when he first visited Gujarat and a subsequent sense of anger and betrayal at his ‘jehadi’ speech at the BJP conclave in Goa.58 In this instance, the favourite media construction of the ‘moderate’ Prime Minister caught in the midst of ‘hardline’ party members and the mask (mukhota) of the same persona was further highlighted. This was an idea available after the Kargil War when, for example, Ajit Bhattacharjea wrote: ‘The PM projects a sensitive, moderate personality, free from communal and sectarian prejudices, though not always able to counter such feelings in his party.’59 Based on this construction, influential sections of the media (India Today, for example) generated and perpetuated a naïve expectation that the BJP was somehow more liberal, tolerant, pluralistic than the rest of the Sangh Parivar and not so different after all from other political conglomerations in this country. At the centre of this tolerant BJP was the then Prime Minister of India.60 The media focus on Prime Minister Vajpayee’s character, as it were, can be explained partially with reference to theories of leadership, especially in terms of the response of democratic publics to their leaders. ‘The reaction of large publics to leaders is rarely a simple, rational judgement that the leader can get his followers what they want and therefore should be followed. Governmental leaders have tremendous potential capacity for evoking strong emotional response in large populations. When an individual is recognized as a legitimate official of the state, he becomes a symbol of some or all aspects of the state: its capacity for benefiting and hurting, for threatening and reassuring. His acts, for this reason, are public in character.’61 Murray Edelman’s observations are apposite for the ways in which mainstream English language media attempted to rationalize and represent the symbolic and real failure of Vajpayee as leader in the post-Gujarat context. While India Today, for example, was able to justify Narendra Modi’s re-election in terms of the dynamics of popularity and the will of the majority, it was less adroit in covering the dubieties and hypocrisies inherent in the then Prime Minister’s utterances and actions. The ‘party with a difference’ may not have been so different in its dispensation of the spoils of power (a contemporary petrol pump scam involving the then Petroleum Minister Ram Naik testified to the sameness),


Tracking the Media

but it is quite unique in its pursuit of a political agenda based largely on religious identities and majoritarian paranoia. Arguably, the genesis of the polarization in Gujarat begins in the 1960s with the Ahmedabad riots in 1969 as a major conflagration, the collapse of the textile industry, the ghettoization and easy criminalization of Muslim youth, but its culmination was played out in 2002.62 My second observation relates to the reluctance of the media either to analyze minority communalism and its ideology, politics, mechanics, and psychology or to look at the problems with the secular model in India. In this respect, the secular media is instinctively reactive and tends to minimize the role of violence perpetrated by the ‘other’, i.e. Muslims. At face value this argument seems to be at one with the votaries of the BJP, who claimed that Godhra outraged no one. However, it seems to me that the best strategy to cast off the taint of ‘pseudo-secularism’ (whatever that might be) would be to offer analyses of both majority and minority communalism.63 Outlook in its 1 April 2002, issue looked precisely at the intertwining of both communalisms in an article titled ‘A Dangerous Symbiosis’, but this was a rare example. Ranjit Bhushan raised an important question in the Outlook article: ‘has this kid-glove treatment of minority communalism resulted in giving secularism a bad name’?64 Ashutosh Varshney states that ‘The framework within which Indian journalists and academics function — right since Nehru’s days — does often lead to this intellectual failure. Nehru used to say that majority communalism is India’s biggest enemy, not minority communalism. While that may still be true, Nehru failed to see that at some point the two could be seriously interlinked — one could instigate the other and vice versa. Nehru’s arguments came apart in the ’80s but his intellectual legacy continues. Both forms of communalism — minority and majority — must be condemned.’65 While Varshney seems to understate the threat represented by majority communalism, he does highlight a lacuna in media analysis. As of now, the two sides are caught in a rigid, binary trap: the hate speech of the BJP and its subsidiaries is met by the liberal outrage of the secular media, politician or NGO. When the former occupied state power and used extra-state modes of coercion, the opposition was trapped as it were and seemed to speak in a vacuum. Both parties in this political conflict were engaged in a monolingual exercise except that the extremists were on the rampage and in the ascendant. By and large, the secular media and intelligentsia seem to be preaching to the converted and need to regain the political and

Media Representations of Gujarat Riots and Kargil War 53

intellectual middle ground. The Gujarat election results indicated the increasing marginalization of secular ideals and domains.66 Competitive demonizations and outrage are not the solution. Perhaps there is a need to create space for more tolerant secular and religious discourses to counter the hate speech and violence of religious extremism. Rajendra Kumar Vyas, Vice-President of the Ahmedabad division of the VHP, declared soon after the riots: ‘Mark my words, these riots will lead to peace.’ It is this peace of the grave, of trauma, alienation, and grief that needs to be resisted and the media can play a vital role. The ‘sterile debate over “Hindutva” and “secularism”’ that Siddharth Varadarajan writes about is sterile precisely because of its positing of absolute dichotomies whereby the sacred is banished from the realm of the secular state. As Ashis Nandy writes: ‘You can virtually get away with anything in the name of secularism, and even the most flamboyant religious or ethnic nationalists now claim to be genuine champions of the ideology, while calling others pseudo-secularists. On the other hand, nonstate actors and movements fighting for secularism are being drawn into a sterile debate on who is genuinely, objectively or practically a secularist, and who is not.’67 The recovery of bilingualism and dialogue is possible through more connected and rigorous analysis, a reconfiguration of discourse dominating the debates (similar perhaps to the ‘rubble literature’ movement in post-Nazi Germany), and the ability to face head on the contradictions and fissures in our secular polity.68 That the contours of the secular versus sacred debate need to change, that the secular model has failed in India, and that there are alternative models within the country has been argued acutely and passionately by Nandy. As Nandy writes: ‘It is time to recognise that, instead of trying to build religious tolerance on the good faith or conscience of a small group of de-ethnic, middle-class politicians, bureaucrats and intellectuals, a more serious venture would be to explore the philosophy, symbols and theology of tolerance nascent in the faith of citizens.’69 Is this expecting too much of the media? Perhaps it is, but then it is also one of the few institutions of free speech combined with mass reach available in India. The first stage of the media revolution in India has been the setting up of large conglomerates moved as much by business interests as by ideology. The commercial aspects cannot be ignored, but a second stage in this revolution is possible if some agents of the media move toward more dispassionate analyses rather than the trumpeting of secularism, truth, or other shibboleths.70


Tracking the Media

Notes 1. Rajdeep Sardesai wrote of this convention: ‘It is apparently a long-established tradition that communities will not be named in riot situations. Instead, we are told, that “group clashes” or terms like “minority” and “majority” community should be used to describe the violence. No one is quite sure who initiated this practice, but once again it does seem a bit like obfuscation, and an attempt to inject a false blandness to the harsh and grim reality of a communal riot.’ Similarly, Siddharth Varadarajan observed: ‘While journalists will debate the issues raised by Gujarat for years to come, there appears to be a consensus on the fact that the media should identify the religion of the victim if the victim has been attacked for his or her religious identity. Muslims in Gujarat were attacked for being Muslims; this information was central to the news event and helped to alert the wider citizenry to the true nature of what was happening’ (Varadarajan 2002: 277, 275). 2. Chenoy, Shukla, Subramanian and Vanaik 2002: 4. 3. State complicity was also evident in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi. 4. Parekh 2002. 5. It is interesting that Mahesh Daga referred to Kalinga, the site of violence and contrition for Asoka, who is seen as an early votary for secular pluralism in India (Daga 2002). Ashis Nandy points to how modern Indians have hijacked symbols of religious tolerance from the past. He writes: ‘For example, when modern Indians project the ideology of secularism into the past and assert that Ashoka was “secular”, they ignore that Ashoka was not exactly a secular ruler; he was [or became after the Kalinga War] a practicing Buddhist even in his public life. He based his tolerance on Buddhism, not secularism’ (Nandy 2001: 80). 6. Appiah 2006: 151–52. Kwame Anthony Appiah writes a bit later: ‘Still, if people really do think some people don’t matter at all, there is only one thing to do: try to change their minds, and, if you fail, make sure that they can’t put their ideas into action.’ (ibid.: 153) The Gujarat riots represent a failure of persuasion, of governance, and of morality in the sense of ‘norms that are universally binding’. (ibid.: 151) As Bernard Williams wrote, morality ‘is not an invention of philosophers. It is the outlook or, incoherently, part of the outlook of almost all of us’ (Williams 1985: 174). 7. Hansen 2004: 209. 8. Ibid.: 211. Thomas Blom Hansen points to corresponding Muslim stereotypes of Hindus which ‘often revolves around a similar contempt for, and fascination with, the more overt display of eroticism in religious art, in dress, and in contemporary Hindi movies. This excessive eroticism is sometimes used to account for what is seen as the treacherous and morally degenerate status of Hindus. Every act of violence, the recurrent evidence of pro-Hindu sympathies and complicity with Hindu communal forces within the police force, and the dominance of the political realm by Hindus seem only to

Media Representations of Gujarat Riots and Kargil War 55

9. 10. 11. 12.

13. 14.

15. 16. 17.

18. 19. 20.

21. 22.

reinforce and add new layers to the stereotyped knowledge of the Hindus as weak and unworthy people only protected by the powers of the state’ (ibid.: 212). Daga 2002: 10. Pick 1993: 140. Shah 2004: 245. Ibid. ‘Some religious leaders and Jana Sanghis formed the ‘Hindu Dharma Raksha Samiti’ (Committee to Defend Hindu Religion) in Ahmedabad in 1968. The Committee played a very important role in mobilizing antiMuslim feelings in the city before the 1969 communal riots. […] The Jana Sangh and RSS workers were actively involved in the [1969] riots either by provoking the people, taking initiative in leading mobs, or simply by providing money or material to the rioters.’ (Ibid.: 246). Ibid.: 246–47. ‘The Sangh Parivar asserted that Ram was the life of the Bharatiya sanskriti, i.e. culture, and Babar was an invader.’ (ibid.: 247). ‘One Gujarati leaflet widely distributed during the [1969] riots exhorted Hindu youth to “leave defensive policy and attack now. Arise to avenge insult to our temples and ladies, and rush to Muslim areas with weapons and finish them off”’ (Ansari 2002: 10). Rebeiro 2002: 10. Cited in Luce 2006: 173. India Today 2002d: 4. An earlier article by Swapan Dasgupta was also concerned about how Ayodhya damaged the image of India: ‘The images of the Ayodhya movement reinforced the worst stereotypes of eastern fanaticism and fuelled fears of a Hindu Taliban.’ And Aroon Purie wrote in the same issue: ‘The images of burnt bodies in Godhra and trident carrying sadhus in Ayodhya are the last things India needs to see today. They reduce us to a cliché of a country trapped in religious medievalism’ (Purie 2002a: 24, 1). The focus in these articles was more on perceptions rather than the actualities of the violence being perpetrated against India’s citizens. Ibid.: 4. Nussbaum 2003. See also Dhavan. Mahurkar 2002b: 34. See Gera 2002 for details of police complicity in the riots. Shalini Gera catalogues media reports of innumerable instances where the police could have but chose not to intervene and thereby enabled the killing of Muslims. India Today does not feature in Gera’s catalogue. India Today 2002a: 4. Mahurkar 2002b: 39. Uday Mahurkar seemed to equate objectivity and equivalence. Kalpana Sharma highlighted a problem in such equations: ‘It is important not to confuse the two separate issues — equivalence and objectivity. For instance in the case of the Gujarat coverage, people kept talking about the equivalence between Godhra and the carnage in the state. That is not the issue. Equivalence of coverage is not objectivity.’ See ‘Roundtable: A session in the hills: The India–Pakistan media retreat’.


Tracking the Media

23. Praveen Togadia ‘described the violent incidents in Gujarat as a direct repercussion of the “hate psychosis unleashed by the madrassa culture” in a fairly large section of the Muslim population’. Cited in The Times of India 2002b: 9. 24. Purie 2002b: 1. 25. Mahurkar 2002a: 31, 32. 26. One partial exception to the dominant coverage within India Today was Tavleen Singh’s column on the riots, ‘Pogrom Politics’, where she wrote: ‘We like to think of ourselves as a civilized country. We like to sneer at Pakistan for being unable to match our high standards of civilization and yet beneath the veneer of our “democracy and tolerance” lies a dark, barbarous side that politicians find easy to bring to the surface’ (Singh 2002a: 28). 27. Varadarajan 2002. 28. Praveen Togadia declared: ‘What is happening in Gujarat is not communal riots but people’s answer to Islamic Jihad.’ (The Asian Age, 2 April 2002, cited in Chenoy et al.: 14. The Times of India reported ‘VHP leader Pravin Togadia, the latest mascot of aggressive Hindutva, while differing with the “soft” stand taken by Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee in his Goa musings, accused the latter of “encouraging jihadi terrorists”’ (Bhagwat 2003). 29. Kingshuk Nag did, however, stress how communal strife had been prevented in Surat by a coalition of business interests and the police. See Nag 2002. 30. Nandy 2002a: 1. 31. Ibid. 32. The association of consumerism with patriotism during the Kargil conflict was evident in many advertisements of which a BARON AIWA advertisement was emblematic. It was a two-page spread in red and black. One page had a black-and-white photo of soldiers running in combat with bayonets primed. The photo caption: ‘THEY DIDN’T GO DOWN FIGHTING FOR THEIR LIVES IN KARGIL, BUT FOR OURS’. Page two facing the photo had a roster of dead soldiers beginning with Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja. At the end of the roster was the line: ‘Baron humbly contributes Rs 100 on every Aiwa hi-fi music system and CTV sold towards the families of our departed patriots.’ Next to the BARON AIWA logos was an inverted rifle with a helmet. See India Today 1999a. The Indian Army attempted to buy into this patriotic ferment in an advertisement for its Short Service Commission (SSC). The title was ‘Today, an Army Man. Tomorrow a Corporate Mogul’. The photo of a soldier was captioned ‘BE AN ARMY MAN. BE A WINNER FOR LIFE’. This was followed by some of the benefits of a SSC: ‘Indulge in adventure and sports. Enjoy life that is fulfilling and fighting fit.’ The idea of war as adventure (noted in some reportage on Kargil in Chapter 1) was repeated here. See India Today, September 2002. 33. See ‘The Foreign Exchange of Hate: IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva’, sacw.pdf, for insights into the nexus of diasporic hate funding. 34. Cited in The Times of India 2002a.

Media Representations of Gujarat Riots and Kargil War 57 35. Ibid. 36. Ibid. 37. See Sandesh 2002: 16. See also ‘The Truth Hurts’, in Varadarajan 2002: 280–87. Siddharth Varadarajan also examines the way in which internet message boards contributed to the circulation of hatred, an aspect not often noted or analyzed. He cites samples of fan mail at www.narendramodi. org such as this one: ‘Dear modi ji, you are like a god to us. thank you for saving Hindus. But you are not doing enough. we will not be satisfied until you send your sena out to Muslim countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan to rape Muslim women kill and burn Muslims. thank you rakesh kumar trivedi [email protected]’ (Varadarjan 2002: 296). I have looked at message board exchanges of hatred and bigotry in the context of Balochistan in Chapter 10 and they display similar pathologies. 38. ‘A crucial effect of mediated communication in a context of mediated social relations is to favor irresponsible communication’ (Garnham 1993: 368). Sandesh reportage on Gujarat represented an extreme version of ‘irresponsible communication’. 39. Shukla 2003: 176. 40. Such analysis was available in magazines such as Seminar, which devoted an entire issue to the problems arising from the communal violence in Gujarat. See Parekh 2002. 41. The Times of India 2002c: 10. 42. The Times of India 2002e. 43. The Times of India 1999c. 44 Parekh 2002. 45. Pick 1993: 221–22. 46. For example, an RSS Baudhik Pracharak interviewed by Kamal Mitra Chenoy in Ahmedabad on 26 March 2002 stated that ‘The ultimate solution to the problems with the Muslims […] was the annihilation of Pakistan’ (Chenoy et al. 2002: 24). 47. Nandy 2001: 86. 48. Nandy 2002b. 49. Nandy 2001: 115. 50. Ibid.: 118. The problem of absolutist language and attitude adopted by the secularists and their intolerance for religion and faith creates a political and ideological divide that does not help either side in the debate or conflict. In fact, the intolerance of secularists for religious faith mirrors religious extremism and exacerbates the problem. Interestingly, this issue is reflected in more overtly secular societies such as Britain where, as Stuart Jeffries writes, ‘it’s the religious on one side, and the secular on the other. Britain is dividing into intolerant camps who revel in expressing contempt for each other’s most dearly held beliefs’ (Jeffries 2007). Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion is an example of secular distaste for religion. 51. An army spokesman testified to the contrary, stating that ‘the outpouring of public sympathy for the troops, engaged in a bloody battle in sub-zero


52. 53. 54.


56. 57. 58.

59. 60.

61. 62. 63.

Tracking the Media temperatures against Moslem guerillas, was unparalleled in nearly 30 years, […] “I have only seen this kind of response during the 1965 war with Pakistan,” Colonel Shruti Kant told AFP. “When we fought again in 1971, this level of public support for the troops was not there.”’ ‘India opens its purse to help Kashmir fighters’ (The Rising Nepal 1999). See Terkel 1985. Howard Nemerov’s poem ‘The War in the Air’ (Nemerov 1985) is an ironic take on this national ideation of the ‘Good War’. Dower 1999: 29. This reconstitution of national memory is also available in the increasing legitimization of memorials such as the Yasukuni Shrine. Joshi 2002. Amitav Ghosh made a similar point about the lack of justice in his essay on the 1984 riots: ‘One gap remains: to this day, no instigator of the riots has been charged’ (Ghosh 2002: 59). That Sikhs are a numerically and economically significant community in Delhi helped in their subsequent visible integration, but it has in no way mitigated the survivors’ memories and their quest for justice. Hindustan Times, 18 March 2002, cited in Chenoy et al.: 14. Habermas 1993: 450. At the BJP convention in Goa, apart from ascribing to the action–reaction theory related to Godhra and its aftermath, A. B. Vajpayee said, ‘“There are two faces of Islam, one pious and peaceful, and the other, fundamentalist and militant. Wherever there are Muslims, they are unwilling to live in peace”’ (Cited in Shankar Aiyar 2002: 33). The photograph of Vajpayee was captioned ‘SPLIT PERSONALITY: Vajpayee’s BJP identity overshadowed his national status’. Vajpayee’s denigration of Muslims was uncannily similar to Samuel Huntington’s who wrote: ‘Wherever one looks along the perimeter of Islam, Muslims have problems living peaceably with their neighbors.’ (Huntington 1996: 256). Bhattacharjea 1999: 36. India Today editorialized with attempted levity: ‘It was a calamitous revelation. Last weekend in Goa, the mask fell off the face of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and crashed on the beach. The nation was shocked. For so long the deception.’ (Singh 2002b: 4). The Times of India editorial on 15 April was titled ‘Unmasked truth’ and referred to Vajpayee’s ‘liberal mukhota [mask]’, (The Times of India 2002b: 10). Finally Tavleen Singh wrote: ‘Vajpayee has always been a moderate — by BJP standards a bleeding-heart liberal — and has been loved for this by Indians of all caste and creed. […] So had Vajpayee the courage to resign and make it clear to his party that he was not with them when they insisted Modi was a hero and not a repellant villain, he would have returned from Goa as India’s leader. Instead, he has come back as a pathetic foot soldier, a camp follower who marches even under banners he does not believe in’ (Singh 2002b: 42). Edelman 1985: 73. See Shah 2004. As Ashis Nandy notes, serious interrogations of the secular polity adopted by India are confined to the periphery because ‘the space Hindu nationalism

Media Representations of Gujarat Riots and Kargil War 59




67. 68. 69. 70.

occupies in the mainstream culture of politics today is as an ideological movement that only challenges the misuse of secularism. In fact, Hindu nationalism has taken a lot of care to locate itself as the disowned “genuine” self of secular nationalism and Indian modernism’ (Nandy 2001: 98). Bhushan 2002: 20–22.The role of Muslim community leaders in furthering the ghettoization of Muslims as well as their fundamentalisms are not often analyzed in mainstream English language media. Ibid.: 21. Unfortunately, the analysis of minority communalism sometimes veers towards minority bashing thereby reinstating prejudices, as in this editorial in India Today: ‘The Muslim political leadership wants its constituency to remain isolated from the mainstream. This constituency is sustained by a regulation diet of victimhood. The politically conscious majority thinks the Hindu alone has to be apologetic about being a Hindu’ (India Today 2002a: 4). That the Muslim constituency is not a homogenous one, that Muslims have been treated shabbily, and that ‘a regulation diet of victimhood’ is also fed by the Hindu right to its constituency, are some points missing from the formulation. Shefali Jha, examining debates on secularism in the Constituent Assembly, asked: ‘Can the Constituent Assembly debates throw any light on whether this conception [of a secular state as an equal respecter of religions] requires not only that religion be defined broadly by the state, but also that minorities must be granted political safeguards? Is this the only way that the state can prevent itself from becoming a Hindu state or will this added provision worsen the situation for Indian democracy?’ (Jha 2002: 3180). Perhaps Ashis Nandy’s critique of secularism could help in identifying the positions that religions can occupy in the Indian polity. Nandy 2001: 8. See Salman Rushdie’s ‘Outside the Whale’ for a discussion of the value of reconfiguring language to deal with hate speech (Rushdie 1991: 97–98). Nandy 2001: 81. New and alternative media outlets offering incisive analysis on the Gujarat carnage and its aftermath are available, for example, in Communalism Combat. (; Coalition Against Communalism (; The Campaign to Stop Funding Against Hate (http://www.stopfundinghate. org/); Communalism Watch (; Gujarat Carnage: Online Volunteers ( htm); Awaaz South Asia (; The South Asia Citizens Web ( html); The People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Baroda and Shanti Abhiyan ( htm).

3 ‘KARACHI CAPTURED’: Cricketing Wars on the Subcontinent The historic tour of Pakistan in 2004 by the Indian cricket team received saturation press coverage even before the actual journey by the team across the border and the commencement of the matches. The Times of India (among others) assiduously reported the visit of the three member Indian delegation in Pakistan to ascertain security measures for the safety of the Indian team.1 The delegation’s satisfaction with arrangements in Pakistan was combined with last minute anxieties about whether the tour would go ahead, and the final clearance came from the Indian Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). That the tour had obvious political implications was indicated in the way the scheduling of One Day Internationals (ODIs) was changed so that they would not clash with the impending national elections. Chandrababu Naidu, staunch National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ally, was the first to raise the bogey that if the One Day Internationals (ODIs) were to coincide with national elections and if India lost, it would make a dent in the electoral fortunes of the then ruling NDA and take the sheen off India that was then supposedly Shining. The symbiosis of political calculations and cricket was indicative of the symbolic value of the sport in the psychic wellbeing of India. This is partly due to the fact that the state has lost some of its political and moral authority. As Ashis Nandy points out: ‘The legitimacy of the political order now partly depends on the performance of sectors outside the political system, but related to the state. Thus the state has to often find legitimacy through the spectacular feats of scientists, technocrats, sportsmen; through the successful organisation of international cultural and art events; even through the performance of individual expatriates.’2 I discuss the state and media appropriation of expatriate successes in Chapter 5, but Nandy’s analysis highlighting the bankruptcy of the state and the role of sport in a process of legitimization is apt here. That the NDA lost the elections despite its manipulation of cricket schedules and the India Shining media campaign was a riposte to its spin masters. These attempted manipulations bear analysis for

Cricketing Wars 61

they were not limited to the NDA, and neither was this the first time that such connections between cricket and political events were made. Post the Karachi One Day match, it was significant that both the BJP and the Congress sought to make political capital out of India’s victory, the latter claiming in one mass SMS sent in its name that India had won because of the presence of Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi. That the men in blue had been co-opted into the India Shining campaign was evident during their tour of Australia prior to the Pakistan one, but with elections at hand, their fortunes were even more closely related to that of India and its political classes. This was not the first time cricket diplomacy has been brought into play (one may recall General Zia-ul Haq’s surprise visit to watch Pakistan play in India), but the 2004 tour highlighted in unique ways the fraught relationship between goodwill and peace on the one hand and anxieties about infiltration, nuclear issues, and terrorism on the other. Preceding and coinciding with the tour were the revelations and pardon of Abdul Qadir Khan (the hero of Pakistan’s nuclear programme and master proliferator), the continued killing of militants and civilians in Kashmir, the renewed hunt for Osama bin Laden, General Musharraf’s reiteration of the centrality of Kashmir to all negotiations (and his simultaneous invitation to tea for the Indian team), and the visit of Colin Powell to the subcontinent. In an obvious sense the Indian cricketers were innocent of these events and yet in crucial ways they swirled around the spectacle of the game, imbuing it with meanings that encompass a wider field of reference. From Moscow television to BBC World, the first ODI and India’s tour was hailed as a breakthrough in bilateral ties because the game was seen as a symbolic representation of collective desires, anxieties, and fears. As Mike Marqusee puts it in his study of Muhammad Ali, ‘Precisely because they are universal and transparent, innocent of significance or consequence, sports became charged with meanings; because they meant nothing in themselves, they could come to mean anything.’3 The interface between the game and its political contexts was indicated by Nina Martyris’s piece ‘Mumbai’s sister city in holiday mode’: ‘On the way to the stadium from the airport you pass the Pakistan air force block which has a permanent slogan on its wall which reads: “Prepare any strength you can to muster against them.” The them is not named, but it is a pronoun heavy with menace, in stark contrast to the current joyous sentiment of


Tracking the Media

the street.’4 The permanence of the unnamed but reasonably identifiable ‘them’ contrasts with ‘the current’ bonhomie, implying that the latter is or may be only a passing phase. There was a sense in the Indian media coverage that the welcome extended by the Pakistani hosts was an elaborate gesture whose substance could not be quantified or judged with any degree of certainty (and General Musharraf’s concurrent statement on Kashmir contributed little to that desire for clarity). What was undeniable right from the beginning of the tour, however, were the efforts to maintain security and order on and off the field. The Karachi ODI exemplified professional management combined with graciousness and courtesy. All the fears about the volatility of Karachi were belied during the match and Sourav Ganguly, along with the media, expressed their admiration for the quality of goodwill and sportsmanship on display. While concerns about security and crowd behaviour were justified in the context of the bomb blasts outside the hotel of the touring New Zealanders, there was an irony in Indian concerns and a lack of self-reflection in media reports. The references to the Shiv Sena threats against the last Pakistan team that toured India and their digging up of a cricket pitch to make the point were absent. If at all they figured it was through Pakistani voices reminding Indians of a somewhat unsavoury past. The riotous crowd behaviour at Eden Gardens during the 1996 India–Sri Lanka World Cup match was not mentioned in Indian media coverage that expressed anxieties about crowd behaviour in Karachi. These silences created an impression that only venues in Pakistan are volatile, ignoring the passionate insanity that cricket creates in the entire subcontinent. Nina Martyris went on to write about the conflict–security cusp within which the tour operated: ‘So far there has been no “war of words”, except for sections of the press using unfortunate terminology like “Pakistan A butchers India” to describe the friendly Lahore match. But when the Indian team rolls into town from the airport, their arrival is reminiscent of the allies rolling into Berlin, with guards in the cavalcade pointing their guns watchfully at the passing streets which have been emptied of humans.’5 The conflating of war with sport is a common phenomenon. During the European Cup semi-finals between England and Germany in 1996, one English tabloid had the headlines: ‘Two World Wars and One World Cup’, which is a popular song sung by English fans to commemorate England’s 1966 World Cup victory.6 As Mark Marqusee points out,

Cricketing Wars 63

‘Sport became both preparation and substitute for war, a theatre of competition not merely between individuals and teams, but between nations and peoples.’7 The conflation of war and cricket was literally played out during the 1999 India–Pakistan World Cup match, where ‘the contest between bat and ball coincided with the battle back home with tanks and howitzers.’8 It was, as Ramachandra Guha wondered, a unique occasion: ‘Had two teams ever played a cricket match while their armies fought a battle on an 18,000 foot hilltop a million miles away?’9 Perhaps not, and while Guha was alive to the jingoism underlying the connection as well as the pressure which burdened India’s Muslim captain, sections of Indian media celebrated India’s victory in militarist terms. The London edition of the Asian Age had a front page lead story: ‘Reborn India Kill Pak.’10 India Today’s Editor-in-Chief, Aroon Purie, wrote: ‘While on the matter of fortunes, it never ceases to amaze me how easily sport can become a metaphor for war. Last week even as India’s World Cup hopes lay in tatters, at the green oval of Old Trafford, Manchester, an always interesting India–Pakistan tie had an imprint of the rugged, bleak mountains of Kashmir. When India won the match, the entire country’s spirits seemed to soar.’11 Purie did not offer an analysis, a la Marqusee or Guha, of how and why ‘sport can become a metaphor for war’, but he did imply that the victory over Pakistan was compensation for India’s subsequent loss in the World Cup as well as the continuing hardships of battle in Kargil. Of the primal importance of victory against Pakistan, Guha writes: ‘Within India, a loss to Pakistan at cricket is sometimes harder to bear than a loss on the battlefield. It is, as I have suggested, this fear of losing that prompted the boycott movement of Bal Thackeray in the winter of 1998–99.’12 Guha’s thesis was borne out by an article written by the cricketer Ajay Jadeja following his visit to a Base Hospital in Srinagar’s Badami Bagh Cantonment. Jadeja wrote that the injured soldiers ‘greeted us warmly, congratulated us on our win against Pakistan and repeated only one thing over and over again. “Pakistan se nahin harna. We’ll defeat the enemy here, but don’t lose a single match against Pakistan.” ’13 Following the soldiers’ exhortation which made the fundamental location and locution of Pakistan as ‘enemy’ pretty clear, Jadeja wrote: ‘We can’t have our jawans losing their lives on the one hand and on the other, have our cricket teams happily playing against each other as if nothing were wrong. We can’t trivialise the sacrifices of our jawans and prove their


Tracking the Media

efforts futile by forgetting the reality in Kargil.’14 It is interesting to note the symbiosis between the soldier and the cricketer where the former feels his deeds are validated if India beats Pakistan at cricket, while the latter asserts that to play – and perchance to lose – would be a trivialization of the jawans’ efforts. In the same issue of India Today where Aroon Purie was amazed at ‘how easily sport can become a metaphor for war’, Swapan Dasgupta was more forthright in his articulation of irreconcilable discord between India and Pakistan: ‘It is naïve to believe that the collective will of all the good souls in both countries can change the atmospherics. The wave of primordial passions released last Tuesday when the two cricket teams battled it out in Manchester demonstrates that it will require more than a generational shift before Indians and Pakistanis shake hands without suspicion and rancour.’15 That such ‘primordial passions’ are not normative and that they can be questioned if not altered by changes in perspective, language, and political will was not something Dasgupta (or Aroon Purie, or Ajay Jadeja or The Asian Age lead writer) were willing to countenance because that would upset the easy conflation of cricket with war and Pakistan with the idea of the quintessential enemy. This brief excursion into the intermeshing of cricket and the Kargil War is indicative not only of the larger conflations of sport and war, but also of subcontinental specificities. The shadow of that earlier media reportage informs the 2004 coverage as well and highlights certain disconcerting continuities, even though the actual overlapping of cricket and war was fortunately absent. While Nina Martyris cited a Pakistani report for its use of military metaphors, her paper had the banner headline ‘KARACHI CAPTURED’ (the latter in red) the day after India won in Karachi. That this headline featured in The Times of India despite the goodwill hype is indicative of the unease that influential sections in India (reflected in Pakistan as well) had over toning down their nationalistic rhetoric. ‘CAPTURED’ is a curious word in the context of a cricket match and ties up with Martyris’s unfortunate analogy of the Indian team’s entry into Karachi with the Allies entering Berlin. Did she wish to imply that the Indian team was a conquering force akin to the Allies? The historical context was apparent in the Allied victory over Nazism and that could be extended to political and media rhetoric about Pakistan as a ‘failed’ or ‘rogue’ state, so common during the Kargil conflict and after. Or could it be related subliminally to hawkish political and defence

Cricketing Wars 65

establishment desires in India for a take over of ‘Mumbai’s sister city’? Whatever the implications, the theatre of war metaphor was pervasive and disturbing. The uneasy negotiation with peace and goodwill was apparent in a Pepsi advertisement featuring Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, and Zaheer Khan that was released to coincide with the Pakistan tour. When Ganguly asks his teammates in the commercial what they have for him they reply that have aloo parathas, goodwill, and peace for their hosts. The feel good factor evaporates when Ganguly says that they’ll have to share their Pepsis, at which Yuvraj expresses outrage. Ganguly is satisfied at the dissension and derides their gifts as ‘dramebazi’ before they head off to stirring music through a tunnel (more common in football than in cricket) into the stadium. The message was clear: goodwill is all very fine but, as Kapil Dev put it, winning is of the essence. The cricketers are the avatars of a nation’s sublimated violence that would be enacted on the playing fields of Pakistan. This is what Mike Marqusee calls ‘cricket nationalism — the assertion of national identity through cricket’ and it is an inextricable part of India-Pakistan matches.16 The history of Indo-Pak cricket — the ghost of Javed Miandad’s last ball six in Sharjah being laid to rest by Ashish Nehra in Karachi — is inevitably intertwined with the history of conflict and bitterness between the two nations; this was reflected in political and media rhetoric as well as in advertisements such as the Pepsi one. There was another shadow over the series, that of match fixing, and Rashid Latif’s constant harping on match fixing foregrounded the corruption in cricket arising from the massive sums of money involved in the sport. Latif’s suspicions were quashed by the AntiCorruption Unit of the International Cricket Council (ICC), and notwithstanding the fear of a ‘fixed’ tour, the One Day and Test series between India and Pakistan in 2004 produced some superb cricket, played in an atmosphere of competitive passion and sportsmanship. That India won a test series in Pakistan for the first time along with the one dayers made the victory both remarkable and worth savouring. The realms of newspaper columns dedicated to the series were indicative of its importance and also the extent to which the media contributes to the mass following that cricket has in the subcontinent.


Tracking the Media

It is interesting that during the Indo-Pak series two other cricketing battles were on: Sri Lanka vs Australia and the West Indies vs England. The former ended in a 3–0 whitewash in favour of Australia and the renewal of controversy over Muttiah Murlitharan’s bowling action. The latter saw the West Indies being humiliated by England, losing the series 0–3, Brian Lara’s majestic and unbeaten 400 notwithstanding. The Sri Lanka–Australia series was barely reported. Hindustan Times reprinted a moving and analytical piece by Darcus Howe (‘Howzat for humiliation?’) from The Guardian, on the decline of Caribbean stature in cricket. Lara’s quadruple century was justifiably hailed in print and visual modes. The bulk of reportage was, however, concentrated on the cultural, political, and cricketing aspects of the India–Pakistan tussle. Dispatches on the cricket itself were fairly ordinary and banal, as cricket writing has yet not attained the stature of the Tony Coziers of the world in India. Nirmal Shekar, sports editor for The Hindu, observes that although ‘there are patches of excellence here and there and aboveaverage stuff does appear now and again’ ‘in terms of consistency […] sports writing in India has some way to go before it can match what can be read in the broadsheets in England’.17 This was especially true of the cricket dispatches from Pakistan. The reports on the Tests concentrated solely on the positives omitting, for instance India’s miserable fielding on the day it won the final Test. That Pakistani batsmen failed to capitalize on at least seven dropped catches and that India generally played better over the series does not make the omission less glaring. Perhaps the emphasis would have been different if India had lost the rubber. While the cricket coverage was ordinary, there was a lot of media attention focused on the importance and repercussions of the tour. Broadly, the spin-off articles can be divided into two categories: the ‘brotherhood/goodwill’ ones (the cultural aspect) and the political mileage sought to be derived by the BJP. In the first category, M. K. Razdan’s ‘Lahore becomes a melting pot where identities merge’ was typical of the rhetoric of brotherhood generated by the series. Razdan began by describing the Indian ‘invasion’ of Lahore: ‘Never since India was partitioned 57 years ago have so many Indians been on the Pakistani soil at the same time. And that has created a kind of identity crisis in this bustling Pakistani city as it plays host to some 10,000 cricket-crazy fans from across the border […]’18 The Indian presence was projected as a benign one that was

Cricketing Wars 67

greeted joyfully in Pakistan. This presence in turn, it was implied, led to a melding together of identities that are otherwise carefully constructed and bitterly contested on both sides of the border. In the unique food market, Anarkali Razdan wrote that ‘it is indeed difficult to figure out who is an Indian and who is a Pakistani’.19 Food and cricket were conjoined to create a new subcontinental ‘melting pot’. The phrase was of course taken from the US experiment in multiculturalism and has connotations of immigrant identities coalescing with dominant cultures to create a potpourri that are not entirely appropriate here. Nevertheless Razdan soldiered on, for the aim was to illustrate that two nations who may be enemies in the political arena are indeed brothers in sport. ‘Two thousand six hundred (2,600) policeman and commandos were deployed at the Gadaffi Stadium for Sunday’s game, but in the stands the Indians and Pakistanis, men and women, sat together, cheered together and jointly carried the flags of the two countries stitched together.’20 This fantastic bonhomie was reinforced by a photograph of the Lahore crowd with the caption: ‘LOOKS HOMOGENOUS: Such has been the mingling between the Indian and Pakistani cricket fans, the word rivalry is almost banal in Lahore.’21 Two cheers for homogeneity where rivalry was banished to the realm of banality. Razdan, in keeping with dominant US discourses on multiculturalism, equated the melting pot with homogenous spaces where politics, history, and identity are sufficiently blurred or erased to create a dewy eyed notion of oneness.22 The rest of the article gave examples of Pakistani generosity, graciousness and courtesy and these stories were repeated elsewhere in the media. There was a genuine sense of wonderment at and appreciation of the hospitality of ordinary Pakistanis. However, by harping upon oneness and indivisibility, articles in the Indian media such as the one by Razdan, perhaps unconsciously, tended to obliterate significant differences between the two nations, thereby contributing to the rhetorical obliteration of Pakistan’s status as a distinct nation. At a subliminal level this could be related to the fantasy of Akhand Bharat, an idea that recurs in the contexts of Kashmir and Balochistan which I examine in later chapters. Whether in war or in sport, media representations of Pakistan in the English language as well as regional languages in India tend to move between two polarities: one of conflict sometimes represented by the idea of the stubborn ‘other’ that must be wiped off the globe, and the other of a surprisingly hospitable ‘other’ that may be embraced and


Tracking the Media

simultaneously rendered invisible through ‘invasions’ in the realm of sport and goodwill. While this chapter is concerned primarily with the latter, it is necessary to keep in mind that the polarities are inextricably linked. I analyze the conflictual aspects of this polarity in different political spheres in Chapters 7 through 11. Vinod Nair’s ‘Host Pak wins goodwill series 5–0’ quoted one Satish Naik from Delhi: ‘“When India won and we stood up to sing the National Anthem, Pakistanis joined us…it was overwhelming! When the match ended we exchanged email ids.”’ Nair concluded: ‘Goodwill without borders. It happens only in Pakistan. Not surprisingly, Naik says, “I don’t feel like coming back.” Hopefully, the same sentiment will be echoed by Pakistani visitors to India.’23 One need not doubt the veracity of these anecdotes and indeed they speak volumes of a culture often reviled in India. Nair’s hope that Pakistani cricket fans would be received as warmly in India was a fond one given past receptions accorded to players from across the border and it is an anxiety that underpins the idea of ‘goodwill without borders’. When the Pakistan team toured India the following year, there was no crowd trouble and neither was there the kind of bonhomie described by Nair and others. Pakistan duly ‘avenged’ their defeat at home and a politically correct goodwill was maintained.24 Nair’s article of the 2004 tour has, however, a subtext of condescension: India won the One Day series, let Pakistan win the consolation prize of being good hosts. One wonders what the reaction would have been if India had lost; would India be hailed as good losers by the same media? Avirook Sen attempted to look behind and beyond the goodwill hype celebrated in dominant media reports. He attempted to provide a Pakistani perspective or at least cited Pakistani reactions after the loss to India. ‘In a country that has had the will of a few men imposed upon it for most of its history, the imposition of “goodwill” is a novelty.’25 According to Sen, Pakistan’s history of military dictatorships punctuated by fragile periods of democracy adds credence to the idea that ‘goodwill’ too can be imposed. It is probable that there was an element of orchestration in the Hindi–Paki bhai–bhai scenario but to attribute it primarily to coercion seems excessive, just as a spontaneous outpouring of pure generosity celebrated in sections of the media is overly simplistic. The truth probably lay somewhere in between, but Sen’s thesis was to present the resentment that Pakistanis felt and to argue that the repression

Cricketing Wars 69

was directly linked to the lack of democracy. In attempting to delve into national pathologies, his analysis reiterated a familiar and comforting picture of a repressed society where even camaraderie can be manufactured. ‘“If this was Calcutta,” said an official involved with the teams, speaking only as a fan, “they’d be burning the stands.” The thought had crossed the fans in Lahore, but all you saw were smiles, congratulations, jhappian, shappian. That’s the role the average Pakistan cricket fan has been cast in this series. And truth be told, he hates it. “In a country without democracy, all you’ll see is hypocrisy,” says another fan.’26 The nationality of the official who speaks of Calcutta was unmarked but it is unlikely that he would be Indian. The polarity here is between free expression of atavistic passion and repression, between unseemly crowd behaviour in Calcutta (or at other centres in India) and forced sportsmanship in Lahore. In Sen’s argument, while the latter is politically correct it is also associated with hypocrisy. The problem with this formulation is that it is socially deterministic, implying that fabulous cricket cannot be appreciated by ‘enemy’ audiences because, as Ramachandra Guha observes, ‘cricket has become the prime vehicle for nationalist sentiment in the subcontinent’.27 Guha’s analysis is of course true, but even within this hijacking of cricket by politicians (of which more anon) there are probably spaces for cricket mania that are neither atavistic nor hypocritical. It is interesting that Sen acknowledges the frequently boorish and often unsportsmanlike behaviour of Indian cricket crowds, especially in recent years. However, he turns this to India’s advantage by positing an absolute dichotomy between Indian and Pakistani crowd behaviour which implies that Indian crowds are not hypocritical because they express their frustration at India’s losing openly, and that their type of free expression is a natural corollary of India’s vibrant democracy. In contrast, if Pakistani crowds applaud India’s victory that can only be because they live in a coercive society. Sen buys the theory ‘of a prescripted series. As if this was a film starring Musharraf and Vajpayee’s version of Lagaan with Bush as a consultant and the cricketers in supporting roles — despite the brilliant cricket on display’.28 The political contexts within which the series unfolded are undeniable and to that extent it was a showcase for Indo-Pak relations. The commercial aspects including the money raked in by a cash strapped Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was equally important. With no evidence of match or crowd fixing one could, however, congratulate the cricketers on both sides and


Tracking the Media

the Pakistani hosts for a moveable feast, rather than extrapolate lessons of hypocritical repression within Pakistan. Nina Martyris’ ‘Brothers across the Border’ celebrated the goodwill without going completely overboard. ‘There are very few countries in the world where an Indian is made to feel special. Strangely enough, Pakistan, the only one that has done battle with four times already, is one of them. In the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the expatriate pastures that the middle class Indian seeks out so assiduously, the welcome mat rolled out is only too often woven with the nettle of snobbery. […] Indians remain inescapably brown.’29 ‘Snobbery’ is a mild term for the racism that many immigrants face, but this awareness of racial difference is significant since it was seldom reflected in The Times of India articles celebrating the global Indian.30 In significant ways, Indians enter Pakistan as racially invisible but politically and economically ‘superior’ entities. As Martyris observes, ‘Indians are treated here [Peshawar] like the dollar-wielding American is treated in most countries — you are the ‘mehman from the padosi muluk’.31 Indian tourists in relatively poorer subcontinental countries are able to fulfil this fantasy of being treated like Americans and there is a sense of big brotherly pride and snobbery here. There is no self-referentiality, as Martyris did not dwell on the fact that Pakistani visitors are not made as welcome in India, especially when it comes to cricket. Exceptions such as the Madras crowd applauding the Pakistani team indicate possibilities but the larger cultural and political frame of reference seems to be in terms of denigration or demonization. Nina Martyris went on to outline the generosity reported by other Indian journalists: ‘Faces break into smiles, doors fly open, rickshaw drivers ask you home, cyber cafés wave away hours of use, tea is called for, Pepsi bottles are uncorked, invitations to lunch and dinner are proffered.’32 While she was touched by the generosity, she was also aware that these gestures could have implications other than the apparent ones: ‘Perhaps there is a naiveté to this goodwill, and undoubtedly if one scratches the surface and embarks on a debate on Kashmir, terrorism and Kargil, positions will harden and sparks will fly. The ghosts of Partition cannot be laid to rest so easily.’33 In retrieving some political contexts Martyris was on target, for she exposed the fallacy that sporting jamborees exist in ahistorical vacuums. However, the contexts she chose — Partition, Kashmir, terrorism, the Kargil War — all have particular resonances

Cricketing Wars 71

in India, especially within the political scene prevalent at the time of the cricket tour. All of them arouse righteous indignation and serve to consolidate national imaginaries that are partly based on the demonization of Pakistan. That the goodwill generated during the tour was compromised by India’s treatment of and attitude towards its Muslim minority — particularly in the cyclical history of communal riots — was not mentioned. Briefly, negative contextualizations — such as the coercive apparatus in a nondemocratic Pakistan — were mentioned in media reports, but there was a reciprocal silence regarding similar contexts within India. Having noted this, it is necessary to point out that perhaps for the first time Indian media used the cricket tour as a means of conveying a sense of Pakistani realities that were not framed solely within self righteous discourses of terrorism, a ‘rogue’ state, or the blatant jingoism of Kargil coverage. Of course, this lexical framework was never entirely banished. Sen’s harping on the lack of democracy in Pakistan was part of this mindset. Sen did not ponder whether the type of jingoism displayed by Indian cricket fans over the years was a tribute to democracy or simultaneously an indication of deeper insecurities and failures in civil society. To cite Mark Marqusee again: ‘Even as cricket’s base had become more democratic and inclusive, ethnic and communal divisions had grown more acute, and ethnic and communal politics more aggressive. These politics intervened repeatedly in cricket, and that was why India and Pakistan had been unable to meet on sub-continental soil for seven years.’34 Marqusee’s comment looks at the subcontinental scenario prior to the 1996 World Cup and has more acute resonances in the context of the cricket tour in 2004. Sen did not delve into these problematic contradictions. He also did not consider the fact that Pakistan might have resented the conditions India laid down before the series could proceed. These included an inspection of the security arrangements, holding the Test series after the ODIs to pander to Indian electoral anxieties and an exit clause in case of crowd or terror trouble. One wonders if the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) would provide similar guarantees to the PCB if the Shiv Sena, for instance were to repeat its antics when Pakistan tours India. Martyris’s article had two photographs, one of Miandad with his arm around a smiling Sachin Tendulkar and the other of Shahid Afridi holding Yuvraj Singh in a slightly forced hug. The caption read: ‘DESTROY THOSE ARMS OF WAR, EMBRACE


Tracking the Media

THESE ARMS OF FRIENDSHIP’. This was a worthy sentiment but presented in a problematic manner in the reports I have looked at and further muddied by the cynical use of the tour for political purposes, particularly by the BJP. This brings me to the second group of articles on the series which dealt with the political mileage that parties in India sought to gain. The Times of India, ‘BJP milks Lahore victory’ reported on a 30 second film made by the party. ‘The film is a collage of Wednesday’s [March 24, 2004] match, juxtaposed with Vajpayee’s image and a few inspirational words. “Hamari cricket team ko badhai. Hamare gyaraha bharatiyon ne match bhi jeeta, dil bhi.” This is followed by the punchline: “Gyaraha bharatiyon ne croro ka dil jeeta. Sau karor mil jayen to hamein kaun hara sakta hein.”’35 The 11 players were metonymically transformed into icons of the nation and the invocation to unity seemed to ignore the heterogeneity that constitutes India. The drive toward homogenization was evident in the body politic of the time and its insistence on a majoritarian cultural nationalism. At the same time, the fact that Mohammed Kaif, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan were members of the Indian squad added to the veneer and value of a composite culture co-existing, playing and winning in harmony. This co-existence of diversity, while ignoring the plight of many Muslims, was a mode of scoring points over a seemingly monolithic, Islamic, and ‘repressed’ Pakistan. Vajpayee’s punch line could be interpreted as a veiled threat conflating sport with war and the emphasis on nationality gave the lie to all the hype about brotherhood. The implication was that while goodwill is fine over the border, in India we are united as ‘sau karor’ bharatiyon. It is interesting that in the imagination, language, and actions of Narendra Modi and Praveen Togadia (among others), the traitors and the divisive element within India, the always suspect ‘other’ is the Muslim. Would Kaif, Pathan and Khan be pilloried in terms of their religion if India had lost? The maker of the film, Ajay Singh, denied such a possibility. He ‘contest[ed] the idea that BJP was trying to derive mileage out of the match. “If it wasn’t for Vajpayee, the series would not be possible. He took the initiative to normalise ties. Again, when reservations were being expressed, he intervened and got the tour through. He is not seeking votes for BJP but inspiring the country to strive for higher goals.”’36 That Ajay Singh’s statement was disingenuous at best is borne out by a second report in The Times, ‘Another BJP ad features cricket’.

Cricketing Wars 73

This advertisement was made by a BJP front to counter the Congress allegation that Vajpayee had been a police informer during the Quit India Movement. The image of Sourav Ganguly lifting the Samsung Cup with the tricolour fluttering was juxtaposed with a voiceover by Vajpayee: ‘ “Bharatiye Kaptan Bharat ka Jhanda videshon mein lehra sakta hein to apne desh mein jhanda lehrane ke liye videshi haat kyon?” (If the Indian captain can unfurl the Indian flag in foreign land [sic], why do we need a foreigner to unfurl it here in India?)’37 The BJP advertisements were part of a larger dimension of cultural change wherein politics, cricket and ethnic profiling were intermingled to create a sense of national pride. As Melissa Butcher argues in her analysis of the impact of transnational television in India, ‘It is not accidental, […] that the strategies of the market, the state, and the religio-cultural often use the same vocabulary (the flag, victory whether in sport or beauty pageants, military power, youthful energy, cultural superiority). These are familiar codes, passed down through history, or imbued with a history, but staged in different ways, and subsequently at times invested with new meanings.’38 The staging of the victory in Pakistan to create an insider versus outsider dichotomy was related directly to the 2004 election campaign and was the clearest case of the cricket win being hijacked by the then Prime Minister to fulfil political objectives. The BJP’s appropriation of India’s victory in the ODIs gave the lie to any notion of goodwill and friendship. While there may have been manipulation and imposition of brotherly bonhomie in Pakistan (Avirook Sen’s point), there wasn’t much of a pretence to goodwill amongst the political class in India. Ramachandra Guha writes in the article cited earlier: ‘Some might say that the use of sport by politicians is a worldwide trend. […] Still, in India the process has gone further and deeper. Politicians have used sport more energetically, and malevolently, than their counterparts elsewhere. The process has reached its nadir with the current [2004] general elections, whose rhetoric has been powerfully shaped by the India–Pakistan cricket matches.’39 This use of sport is particularly evident in cricket, where politicians of various hues head the state cricket boards. Guha goes on to write: ‘In both India and Pakistan, success at the sport helps redeem the failures of the economy and the sectarian conflicts of an increasingly uncivil society. It does the same for political corruption, which is why politicians try to piggy-back on a cricket win, hoping that the electorate will


Tracking the Media

overlook their own failures.’40 In the 2004 series, the BJP tried to use the victory as an additional feather in its India Shining cap. Guha is right about the sense of cohesion that a cricket victory creates and this was evident in the advertisements commissioned by the BJP. Post-Hansie Cronje, Mohammad Azharuddin and the entire match fixing shenanigan, cricket’s image had been besmirched and politicians only added to the sense of moral decadence. Despite this, however, cricket has a halo and the 2004 tour helped to resurrect the superhero status of Indian cricketers on whose illustrious backs the political establishment attempted to ride piggyback. The politics of the Indo-Pak cricket encounter has a more sinister and disturbing implication for the Indian polity. Anuradha M. Chenoy highlighted this in her article ‘Pakistan & Indian Muslims: My Religion is not My Nation’: ‘Prime Minister Vajpayee has projected friendship with Pakistan as a sop for Indian Muslims. Deputy Prime Minister Advani has stated that Hindu–Muslim relations in India will improve if relations with Pakistan improve and that Pakistan–India cricket matches could play a role in improving relations with Indian Muslims. These are dangerous and divisive formulations. In such a discourse citizens are divided purely on the basis of their religious identity represented as two different communities in constant opposition to each other. Further, one group is being shown as tied to another hostile state that influences its collective opinion. All three implications of such statements are typically disruptive and sectarian.’41 This divisive thread ran through the celebration of India’s victories and was made apparent by the focus on achievements of Muslim team members. To ride piggyback on Team India’s triumphs was one thing, but to hold an entire community hostage to its achievements in a neighbouring country was quite another. Norman Tebbit’s cricket loyalty test for immigrants in Britain was repeated here in a more virulent form, especially in post-Gujarat India. Identities are, as innumerable commentators have stressed, not immutable nor are they etched in marble and India has always prided itself on the plurality of its people and their myriad identities.42 As Amartya Sen points out, ‘these varying interpretations [of Indian identity] all share an inclusionary reading of Indian identity that tolerates, protects and indeed celebrates diversity within a pluralist India’.43 Furthermore, Sen argues: ‘In particular, we have to resist two unfounded but often implicitly invoked assumptions: (1) the presumption that we must have a single identity — or at least a

Cricketing Wars 75

principal and dominant — identity; and (2) the supposition that we “discover” our identity with no room for any choice.’44 In highlighting the religious, specifically Muslim, identity of team members, the BJP was guilty of thrusting religion as the sole identity of Mohammed Kaif and company and manipulating religious identity to foster an ‘exclusionary agenda’. With their Muslimness thus in the spotlight, every game that Kaif and his co-religionists in the team played was not only a test of their cricketing prowess but also of their loyalty to India. A letter by one D. B. Malgi, a retired police officer and club cricketer, highlighted the blight of communal consciousness affecting India–Pakistan matches. Malgi wrote that the ‘British had brought cricket to Indian to create communal disharmony between Hindus and Muslims.’ Now matches between two hostile neighbours posed a threat to the secular fabric of India. The Muslims in India, Malgi pointed out, were ‘castigated as anti-nationals’ for allegedly favouring Pakistan. This castigation was not restricted to cricket lovers but extended to ‘the entire community, which is doubly wrong considering that Muslims have made an equal contribution to the cause of our Independence’.45 The BJP and its votaries would not only deny Muslim contributions to India’s independence or prior histories but also insist on a permanent probation for the testing of their loyalty to India. ‘This view involves,’ as Amartya Sen wrote in the context of the Tebbit test, ‘a remarkable denial of consistent pluralities that may be easily involved in a person’s self-conception as well as social behaviour.’46 Mohammed Kaif, Zaheer Khan, and Irfan Pathan were not the first Muslim cricketers to be tied to their religious identity. Ramachandra Guha charts part of the historical contexts of this egregious practice in the milieu of Indian cricket, especially from the 1990s: ‘In or about 1990, with the trouble in Kashmir and Ayodhya, the politics of cricket entered a new phase. This last decade in South Asia has recalled the last decade of British India. Indo-Pak matches have been subject to the same overdetermined scrutiny as the Hindu–Muslim matches in Bombay between 1937 and 1946. On this game of bat and ball have been superimposed notions of communal and national loyalty, honour and pride. Destructive in any case, these sentiments were made more deadly by the accident of a Muslim being cricket captain of India. Back in the 1960s, no one would have cared to question the patriotism of the Muslim captain of India (the Nawab of Pataudi), but in the 1990s they were questioning it all the time.’47


Tracking the Media

Mohammad Azharuddin, then captain of the Indian cricket team, was naturally aware of this pressure and said in an interview: ‘“I don’t deny that people look upon me as a Muslim. But whenever I have gone out to bat, or to field, I have done so as an Indian and so it shouldn’t matter what religion I follow.”’48 The later generation of cricketers who toured Pakistan in 2004 would have concurred with Azhar’s statement as their participation and performances were as fraught with communal overtones as the former Indian captain’s. One Gujarati, however, seemed to provide a glimmer of hope and reconciliation, even if it was a naïve one. Amberish K. Diwanji in ‘Irfan Pathan brings Hindus, Muslims closer’ articulated this hope. ‘Vadodara is the city of the horrible Best Bakery case that has now been shifted out of Gujarat. It is a city where Hindu–Muslim riots are always a possibility. But for now, all the residents here are brimming with pride that it was one of their own who played a key role in ensuring a thumping victory over Pakistan in the oneday and Test series.’49 Diwanji pointed out how right wing parties tarnished the entire Muslim community as ‘traitors’ because a few celebrated Pakistan winning. Pathan seemed to have succeeded in temporarily silencing these fundamentalists on both sides and it is interesting that he lives in the Jumma Masjid, a site of religious contestation. Pathan himself was reluctant to discuss the fraught state of Hindu–Muslim relations in Gujarat and was probably overwhelmed by the representative nature of his role. After all, a Sachin Tendulkar or Sourav Ganguly are not seen in terms of religious affiliation. Thus, while Pathan may have been a beacon for inter-communal amity, it was too much to expect him or any other individual to heal the scars of Gujarat. The ‘WE’ in the triumphant headline in The Times of India ‘WE FOR VICTORY’ gestured to a dangerously fractured collective rather than a triumphant homogeneity, and political appropriations of India’s victory did not help to ameliorate those divisions.

Notes 1. This visit was an ironic reinforcement of the stereotype of the subcontinent as an unsafe place both to visit and to play in. English and Australian touring teams have periodically expressed such anxieties and Australia, for example, forfeited its league fixture in Colombo during the 1996 World Cup due to security fears. 2. Nandy 2001: 58.

Cricketing Wars 77 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24.

25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37.

Marqusee 2000: 13. Martyris 2004. Ibid. See BBC 2000. Marqusee 2000: 46. Guha 2002: 424. Ibid.: 420. 9 June 1999. On the day of the match there were headers such as ‘India, Pakistan to “fight” it out today,’ (The Indian Express, 8 June 1999). Purie 1999b: 1. The cover story for the week was ‘Kargil War: How Long Will it Last?’ Guha 2002: 431. Jadeja 1999: 37. Ajay Jadeja’s senior compatriot on this visit was the great all-rounder and former captain Kapil Dev, who subsequently endorsed the idea that India–Pakistan cricketing ties should be severed while the countries were at war. Ibid. Dasgupta 1999: 47. Marqusee 1996: 14. Shekar 2005: 132. Razdan: 14. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. For some American perspectives on multiculturalism, see Gardyn 2001; Schier 2002; Guerriere 2001. Nair 2004. The Pakistani Urdu daily Nawa-i-Waqt had headlines such as ‘India’s worst ever defeat’ and ‘Befitting reply to the defeat on home ground in 2004; Pakistani bowlers crushed India’ to commemorate Pakistan’s win over India in 2006. (Nawa-i-Waqt 2006i: 1, 7). Sen 2004: 1. Ibid. Guha 2004. Sen 2004: 1. Martyris 2004: 1. See Chapter 5 for further analysis of this racial invisibility in reports on successful Indian immigrants in the US and UK. Martyris 2004: 1. Ibid. Ibid. Marqusee 1996: 20. The Times of India 2004a: 1. Ibid. The Times of India 2004.

78 38. 39. 40. 41.


43. 44. 45.

46. 47. 48. 49.

Tracking the Media Butcher 2003: 277. Guha 2004: 21. Ibid. Chenoy 2004. Christophe Jaffrelot notes how ‘The “threatening Others” are stigmatized [by V. D. Savarkar] either because of their divided loyalties (“Mecca to [the Indian Muslims] is a sterner reality than Delhi or Agra”) or because of their low level of civilization as measured by their lack of nationalist virtues’ (Jaffrelot 1996: 26). See, for example, Amartya Sen’s British Academy Lecture ‘Other People’, where he observed: ‘The plurality of competing as well as non-competing identities is not only not contradictory, it can be part and parcel of the selfconceptions of migrants and their families. For example, the tendency of British citizens of West Indian or South Asian origin to cheer their “home” teams in test cricket has sometimes been seen as proof of disloyalty to Britain. This phenomenon has led to Lord Tebbit’s famous “cricket test” (to wit, you cannot be accepted as English unless you support England in test matches). This view involves a remarkable denial of consistent pluralities that may be easily involved in a person’s self-conception as well as social behaviour. Which cricket team to cheer is a completely different issue from the demands of British — or any other — citizenship, and different also from a socially cohesive life in England. In fact, in so far as Tebbit’s “cricket test” induces an exclusionary agenda, and imposes an unnecessary and irrelevant demand on immigrants, it makes social integration that much more difficult’ (Sen 2000) Sen 2005: 348. Ibid.: 350. Cited in Guha 2002: 411. The day after India defeated Pakistan at Lahore (24 March 2004), the newspaper Gurgaon Bhaskar ‘decided to check out how the Muslim majority region of Mewat in Gurgaon was responding to the […] win and reported that it was untrue that Pakistan’s defeat would plunge residents here into mourning. […] “Mewat wasiyon ka utsah dekhne layak tha” (The enthusiasm of Mewat residents was worth seeing)’ (Ninan 2007: 181. That Gurgaon Bhaskar thought it necessary to conduct such a survey and report it is testimony to the deep-seated suspicion of Muslim loyalties and the constant need to prove otherwise. See note 42 above. Guha 2002: 428–29. Bhogle 1996: 118. Diwanji 2004.

4 ‘Delhi’s 29/10’: Terror in the Capital The series of pre-Diwali bomb blasts in Delhi in October 2005 led to the predictable saturation media coverage. While television networks were first off the block, it was interesting to note the alacrity with which wire services such as AP (Associated Press) put out the news on internet portals. This was not a new phenomenon: it was evident during the Madrid and London bombings, but it does reveal the extent to which terror attacks or disasters are put on the global media map almost immediately. Kanchan L. writes of the symbiotic relationship between terrorism and the media: ‘Terrorism as a distinct activity is custom-made for the mass media. Arresting footage and “sound bytes” in the visual media and unsettling photographs and quotes in newspapers and magazines drive both the media’s and terrorist’s interests. Since major terrorist incidents are rich in dramatic, shocking and tragic human-interest, the news media tends to “over-cover” such events, though without any depth of treatment or approach.’1 New Delhi Television (NDTV) highlighted the global impact of terrorist attacks within hours of the outrage in its interviews with two tourists who were in the Paharganj area. Patricia and Bradley, from Spain and Britain respectively, spoke of their shock, terror and the scenes of panic they witnessed. Bradley also stressed that he had been in London in July and in Srinagar during the quake. His pedigree as a disaster survivor seemed to make him an important witness as well as providing a link to the London bombings. Understandably, such choices for interviews are fortuitous given the terrible circumstances but the fact that two lower-end, backpack tourists were chosen for studio time indicates an anxiety related to image and global consciousness: the fact that India is often perceived as an unsafe tourist destination, not so much in terms of extreme events such as terror strikes, but more so in everyday contexts of personal safety. A corollary to this unpleasant perception is an ideological and political desire — to which both the media and the political class are complicit — to overlook the realities of poverty and poor infrastructure that continue to haunt India (and the foreign media


Tracking the Media

covering the country) despite its IT prowess or its nuclear status.2 By foregrounding a global terror dimension, NDTV pointed not only to the ubiquity of terrorism but that India is part of a comity of victim nations battling Islamic fundamentalism.3 While the NDTV reporter on the ground mentioned the fact that residents and shopkeepers commingle in the everyday chaos of Paharganj, few of these residents/shop owners were interviewed in the initial hours, or even the next day. One item on the evening news on 30 October stressed the fact that foreign tourists continued to stay on in Delhi and India despite the blasts, backed by interviews of the said foreigners. This was fair enough since a major section of foreign tourists choose the Paharganj area for their budget holidays. Nevertheless, the lack of local inputs in the initial coverage in Paharganj seems surprising. One exceptional local voice mentioned the fact of the London bombings and the need to carry on despite the blasts. The emphasis seemed to be on global solidarity rather than on reporting voices of the affected in that area. Patricia and Bradley, along with limited local witnesses, highlighted another problem associated with the coverage of terror events: a lack of reliable witnesses and indeed of hard, factual information. In such situations, journalists can only describe and speculate based on incomplete streams of facts which are then relayed on live television. To cite Kanchan L. once more: ‘Journalistic emphasis on descriptions of what is visible can easily create distortions and confusion in the meaning that is constructed by audiences because much of what occurs in terrorist events is invisible to journalists.’4 The immediacy of television reportage can conceivably lead to slippages between the ‘visible’ and the ‘invisible’, but print media coverage also contributed to the creation of ‘distortions and confusion’ in its subsequent analytical forays.5 The coverage of Sarojini Nagar and Govindpuri, two other areas of New Delhi targeted by the terrorists, did not have the tourist angle presumably because lesser numbers figure in these areas. Nevertheless, Chief Minister Sheila Dixit also referred to global terror and that Delhi would bounce back. The reports from Sarojini Nagar and the chaos and anger at Safdarjung Hospital were both detailed and fair. They stressed the human costs of terrorism and its attendant grief rather than speculation on whether tourists would continue to visit Delhi. NDTV was on target in highlighting the unnecessary havoc created by VIP visits, as well as the agony of relatives who could not

Terror in the Capital 81

even identify the charred bodies of their loved ones. It seemed to be on stronger ground in its coverage of the local rather than in its attempts to connect the local to global frameworks of terror. Inevitably, such an event brings into play the Pakistan angle and NDTV was restrained in its coverage. It duly highlighted Pakistan’s condemnation of the acts of terror and stressed that the opening of five cross-over points on the Line of Control (LOC) would go ahead in spite of the attacks. This media restraint perhaps reflected political circumspection in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, and was in contrast to the reactions after the attack on Parliament in December 2001. However, this restraint could not and did not last for too long. A Sunday Times of India banner headline ‘Terror Darkens Diwali, Eid’ captured the horror of the previous evening. The article provided some possible contexts for the attacks which ‘were seen as an effort to send a macabre message on a day a city court was scheduled to sentence Lashkar operatives accused in the Red Fort shootout case. Reports that some people — including Pakistani nationals — were detained could not be confirmed’.6 That the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was suspected without much hard evidence in the public domain was indicative of the ways in which the usual suspects are inevitably named once such an atrocity happens. The Al Qaeda has been almost routinely blamed for all post-9/11 terror attacks and the fact that the LeT has connections with the Al Qaeda furthered the sense of retribution behind the bombings. The Red Fort judgments were duly handed down after the bombings and were seen to indicate the efficiency of policing and justice in the country. While every life is precious, the Red Fort shootings involved the deaths of two people (out of three) whose profession is connected to the possibility of violent death. The carnage on 29 October killed innocent civilians in no way associated with the state apparatus of violence and surveillance. The Sunday Times leader concluded: ‘In fact, the attack came amidst the growing feeling that Islamic terrorists were on the backfoot in Kashmir, spurring them to renewed acts of desperation. Saturday’s attack signals their determination to spread terror elsewhere in the country.’7 The devastating earthquake in Azad or Pakistan Occupied Kashmir on 8 October had apparently destroyed terrorist infrastructure and there was some hope that terror attacks would diminish. That terrorists were not ‘on the backfoot in Kashmir’,


Tracking the Media

however, had been indicated earlier, particularly in the assassination of the state’s Education Minister, Ghulam Nabi Lone. As Anand Soondas wrote about that killing: ‘People are especially shocked because they had let a comfortable thought seep into their system — that the destroyed militant camps in Muzaffarabad would automatically reduce bloodshed. They were encouraged in such a belief after some militant leaders across the LOC announced they would suspend terrorist activities keeping in mind the large-scale devastation cased (sic) by the quake.’8 Saleem Pandit commented on the same day (19 October): ‘It [the assassination] was an obvious attempt by terrorists, steadily losing ground in the face of peace initiatives by Pakistan and India, to show they’re still around. Already unhappy with the Srinagar–Muzzafarabad peace bus, they were uncomfortable with reports lapped up by India that their camps across the border had been damaged in the earthquake.’9 The acts of terror in Delhi were inevitably linked to Kashmir and the seemingly intractable nature of Islamic terrorism. As Edward Said wrote in another context, there are constant media reinforcements of the impression ‘that Islam equals jihad equals terrorism, and this in turn reinforces a feeling of cultural fear and hatred against Islam and Muslims’.10 The chain of inference and blame was replicated in the context of the Delhi blasts and are repeated each time there are terrorist actions within India. These acts were finally perceived to have connections with Pakistan and its support for terrorism, as later coverage and commentary made clear. There was thus a familiar analytical trajectory that repeated accusations of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, without dwelling on any possible internal reasons or causations for such acts. The Sunday Times devoted six pages to the bombings, with articles ranging from eyewitness accounts (‘Debris in air, glass rained on me’) to one about tourists (‘Tourists scurry for cover, head for exit’). It also provided a graphic ‘Global Terror Timeline’ which indicated major terror attacks around the world since 9/11. This timeline placed the Delhi bombings within the context of global terrorism and stressed a globalized brotherhood of terror victims. On the same page (page 6) another graphic, ‘Terror Trails’, provided a timeline of blasts in Delhi prior to 9/11. The latter was significant because it indicated a history of terror in Delhi and indeed other parts of India prior to 9/11. Neither of the graphics, however, mentioned the agents of terror and seemed to imply thereby a monolithic history

Terror in the Capital 83

of Islamic terrorism. This implication would be untrue particularly in the context of Delhi where during the 1980s, for example, Sikh militants seeking a separate Khalistan, engaged in a bombing and killing spree. It is through these seemingly minor oversights that the idea of Islam as a sole repository of terrorism was reiterated and confirmed. On Monday, 31 October, The Times was less cagey about naming names. The front page had articles with headers: ‘Evidence Against LeT Firms Up: Massive Hunt For Illegal Pak Immigrants’, ‘All trails lead to Pak, Cabinet told; peace process may be hit’, ‘India among worst victims of terror’, and ‘Families fight over charred bodies.’11 The last article was the only one that did not mention directly or otherwise a Pakistan angle. Avijit Ghosh and Pradeep Thakur cited the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), according to which ‘23,955 terrorists, 19,662 civilians and 7,320 security force personnel have been killed in such incidents between 1994 and June, 2005’.12 These figures are shocking by any standards but again, apart from the mandatory reference to the Al Qaeda and the International Terrorist Front, no other organizations were mentioned. For instance the Babbar Khalsa International attacks on cinema theatres in New Delhi on 22 May 2005 would also add to this toll, but they were omitted from the roll of Islamic infamy. Apart from seven pages of coverage, The Times carried a front page editorial: ‘Enough Is Enough’. This was significant in its advocacy of anger: ‘This is no occasion to be genteel and “civilized” in our response. It’s time we got angry. Not a blind anger that lashes out at everything in its path — for that would play into the hands of the very people who perpetrate such acts of terror, and be self-defeating. But an anger that builds resolve, that ensures we do not forget the fathers, mothers and children who went shopping for Diwali and Eid and whose pictures poured into newspaper offices a few hours later, except that they were disfigured and charred beyond recognition.’13 One cannot disagree with the final sentiment in terms of the need for collective remembrance, an act in which the state and the denizens of Delhi were strangely remiss. The anger that the editorial extols was, however, directed at the perennial ‘other’, Pakistan, and reiterated in the lament of India as a ‘soft state’.14 The editorial pointed to apparent terrorist havens in Pakistan and ‘call[ed] for a scale and intensity of response comparable to London’s’. ‘This paper has consistently waged a war for peace,


Tracking the Media

and we remain committed to that path. But it’s equally clear that peace cannot be a one-way road.’15 The implication was quite clear: while India has been soft and ‘civilized’, Pakistan has exploited our weakness to further its own terror laden policies. Therefore India needed to be firm and more militaristic, and less open to negotiation. These were old arguments advanced repeatedly, among others, by Bal Thackeray and Praveen Togadia. They represent precisely the ways in which fundamentalists on both sides derail possibilities of waging ‘war for peace’ (whatever that means and however that is executed). Waging ‘war for peace’ is an oxymoron often allied to the idea of ‘just war’, about which there is a body of theorization. In the India–Pakistan context it was an idea invoked during the 1971 Bangladesh war, and continues to allow India to adopt a largely untenable moral superiority, casting Pakistan as a failed state.16 Prior to 11 September Pakistan’s ‘moral and diplomatic’ support for the insurgency in Kashmir allowed India to blame Pakistan and overlook internal problems, histories and contexts that spurred various separatist movements. In a post-11 September scenario Pakistan was cast as a hypocritical state: a frontline ally against and simultaneously a fountainhead of terrorism. In the media angst about Pakistani double standards, there was little self-reflection except of the facile or jingoistic kind seen in The Times editorial. The editorial concluded: ‘Finally — and much as we may dislike the idea — we need to accept that in times such as these, even a democratic, civil society must accept that there can be limits to freedom. The US has made itself extremely unpopular with its new homeland security laws, but if that’s what it takes to save innocent lives, it’s a sacrifice worth making.’17 The US framework and the reference to laws that diminish freedoms (such as the Patriot Act) in laudatory terms indicate the extent to which global frameworks of coping with terror dominate sections of the Indian media landscape. Perhaps only the Indian equivalent of Guantanamo Bay or the ‘black sites’ set up by the CIA to intern terror suspects would lead to the satiation of the anger mentioned at the outset.18 By then, the strong response from a strong state would be locked in the inevitable logic of cycles of violence and counter-violence, but that is a possibility that The Times did not deal with here, although it would perhaps be willing to countenance such responses. The editorial also ignored the fact that the Indian state has its own draconian laws to deal with terrorism and its own unsavoury history

Terror in the Capital 85

of human rights violations.19 This elision was possible because the focus was on the consolidation of internal security — a substantive matter — rather than on seemingly less important issues such as human and civil rights.20 The editorial seems to indicate the shape of things in 2005 and to come because it brought into the mainstream ideas expressed by the so-called fundamental margins. This is not entirely surprising, given the consensus in mainstream English media during the Kargil War, for instance. At the same time, however, The Times felt the need to show its ‘secular’ balance and carried a mandatory article of Muslim condemnation: ‘Killers have no religion: Muslims.’21 One wonders why such headers are not used when Hindus or Sikhs are the perpetrators. Perhaps the latter do not need to prove their humanity or that tolerance is a tenet of their faith or indeed their national affiliation. While a large number of articles dealt with the human interest angle, it was surprising that none mentioned the lack of corporate or civic grieving. The idea of the ‘City Back on Its Feet’ was seen as a sign of resilience and the indomitable spirit of the Delhi resident. This was true but there was a sense in which the city got back to ‘normal’ too quickly. Since the global framework is so often invoked by the Indian media, it is appropriate to refer to the ways in which New York and London came together as corporate entities after their respective terror attacks. In both cities, the Mayors led the community in grief and commemoration. There were no similar expressions of a city-in-grief led by Delhi’s Mayor or Chief Minister. Collective grieving can be related in some ways to ideas of compassion. Natan Sznaider defines compassion as ‘an active moral demand to address others’ suffering. Directed towards those outside the scope of personal knowledge, it becomes public compassion, shaping moral obligations to strangers in the arenas of civil society and liberal democracy’.22 This ‘public compassion’ is often diminished because of ‘compassion fatigue’ which means ‘becoming so used to the spectacle of dreadful events, misery or suffering that we stop noticing them. […] Compassion fatigue means a certain fatalism’.23 The lack of civic society bonding in grief evidenced in Delhi reflected perhaps a form of ‘compassion fatigue’. The lack of corporate grief could also be attributed in part to the ways in which saturation media coverage inures the consumer to suffering. Such coverage dissipates individual horror and trauma


Tracking the Media

at the same time that it violates the privacy of that trauma by making it available for mass consumption. This is particularly true of television coverage which further distances the strangers who may also be victims, as in Delhi. As Zygmunt Bauman notes, ‘The strangers (the surfaces of strangers) whom the televiewer confronts are “telemediated”. There is, comfortingly, a glass screen to which their lives are confined.’24 ‘Television thus achieves what the city could not. Whereas the stranger in the city retains and remains a physical and material presence, according to Bauman the stranger in the telicity is flattened out so that her or his presence to the viewer is without any great substance.’25 In the telicity, to cite Bauman once more: ‘Strangers may now be gazed at openly, without fear much as lions in the zoo; all the chills and creeps of the roaring beast without the fangs ever coming anywhere near the skin. Strangers may be watched robbing, maiming, shooting and garroting each other (something one would expect strangers, being strangers, to do) in the endless replay of TV crime and police dramas.’26 To Bauman’s list one may add the ‘endless replay’ of acts of terrorism beamed over 24 hour news channels. The rest of the city becomes spectators to that grief rather than being bound by solidarity.27 As Henning Bech observes, ‘In the crowds of the city, human beings become surfaces to one another — for the simple reason that this is the only thing a person can notice in the urban space of lots of strangers. The others turn into surfaces for one’s gaze, and one self becomes a surface for theirs, which one cannot escape being aware of. Thus, the surface becomes the object of the form of evaluation which can be performed by gaze — i.e. an aesthetic evaluation, according to criteria such as beautiful or disgusting, boring or fascinating.’28 However, spectatorship does not or need not always or necessarily lead to indifference or distancing. Media analysts such as Keith Tester have pointed to the ways in which the coverage of the suffering of others can lead to an outpouring of compassion, reflected sometimes in appeals for money and materiel. ‘The reports and the representations tell a story about the universality of humanity, and about the moral relevance of all humans irrespective of the local wrapping which is put on the fact of life.’29 Tester is interested primarily in the ways in which humanitarian crises are reported and received in the West, but his arguments are valid for the distancing–solidarity cusp available in community responses to the Delhi blasts. Solidarity was expressed primarily through donations to help Kuldeep Singh,

Terror in the Capital 87

the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus conductor who saved many lives by timely disposal of the bomb in a bus in Govindpuri. 11 September, the Madrid bombings and the London Underground blasts received global saturation coverage, yet corporate grieving was not absent. In fact, collective grieving and its ritualization — through events such as the reading aloud of the names of the World Trade Center dead — are also part of global media spectacle. Such a media spectacle of national grieving was orchestrated by the ‘theatre of Shradhanjali’ on television during the Kargil War to create a malleable patriotism and unify the nation.30 Grieving provides a type of closure and ceremonies such as the one conducted at the World Trade Center facilitate ideas of community. Of course, such moments and monuments of healing and reconciliation often ignore historical complexities.31 In the case of Delhi, the lack of collective expressions of grief could perhaps be attributed not only to spectatorship but to an absence of a sense of communal identity or self. All three locations of the blasts were lower middle to middle class, leaving untouched the political, bureaucratic and business elites.32 The media elite was therefore more concerned about what responses the Indian state should make towards Pakistan and the perpetrators of these crimes, than on matters of collective citizenship as well as peace with our neighbour.

Notes 1. Kanchan L. 2001: 41–42. ‘Over-coverage’ was evident in the ways in which Indian media represented the hijacking of IC 814 in December 1999. 2. See, for example, Lancaster 2007. 3. Interestingly, the Indian nation as victim was a trope employed during the Kargil War, as noted in Chapter 1. In both instances, the perpetrators were seen as unreliable and dangerous Muslims. 4. Kanchan L. 2001: 52. 5. Conjecture and speculative reportage were available during the Kandahar hijacking crisis with headlines such as: ‘Strains begin to show, relatives split over government stand’, The Times of India, 29 December 1999; ‘Hijackers begin to crack up, heard squabbling over demands’, ‘If hijackers are quarrelling, it is good news for us, say psychologists’, The Times of India, 31 December 1999; ‘It’s a full-fledged ISI operation’, Hindustan Times, 31 December 1999. 6. The Sunday Times of India 2005: 1. 7. Ibid. 8. Soondas 2005: 1.


Tracking the Media

9. Pandit 2005: 1. 10. Said 1997: 78. Edward W. Said is writing of Steven Emerson’s documentary film Jihad in America. 11. The Times of India 2005c: 1. 12. Ghosh and Thakur 2005: 1. 13. The Times of India 2005c: 1. In the context of the Kargil War Panchajanya carried an editorial ‘Enough is enough, now teach them a lesson’, which exhorted the Prime Minister to take firm action against Pakistan. 14. The idea of Pakistan as immutable enemy was expressed overtly during the Kargil War and available in more implicit modes during India’s cricket tour of Pakistan in 2004. These ideations were repeated in the contexts of Kashmir and Balochistan. 15. The Times of India 2005c: 1. 16. ‘Waging war for peace’ is notionally related to an idea of ‘just war’. See Michael Walzer’s Just and Unjust Wars, especially Chapter 6, where Walzer argues that the Indian intervention in East Pakistan was one of justified, humanitarian rescue of a people under threat. The East Pakistan/Bangladesh paradigm recurs in reportage on the Balochistan issue, as I discuss in Chapter 10. 17. The Times of India 2005c: 1. 18. See Priest 2005: A 1; Grey 2007. 19. See Chapter 10 for documentation of human rights violations related to the fight against terrorism and insurgency. 20. Since the US was a context and template for policies and reactions to terrorism, it is interesting to note how these debates were and are played out within America. See, for example, a ‘four-part debate between Philip H. Gordon, a senior fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution and the author of Winning the Right War, and Reuel Marc Gerecht, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, about the war on terror’ (The New Republic 2007). 21. The Times of India 2005c. 22. Sznaider 1998: 117–39. 23. Tester 2001: 13. 24. Bauman, 1993: 177–78. 25. Tester 2001: 6. 26. Bauman 1993: 178. 27. The American philosopher Richard Rorty’s idea of solidarity as a willed act provides a valuable context for the ideas of compassion discussed. Rorty writes that solidarity ‘is to be achieved not by inquiry but by imagination, the imaginative ability to see strange people as fellow sufferers. Solidarity is not discovered by reflection but created. It is created by increasing our sensitivity to the particular details of the pain and humiliation of other, unfamiliar sorts of people’ (Rorty 1989: xvi). 28. Henning Bech’s ‘Living together in the (Post) Modern World’ paper presented at the session on ‘Changing Family Structures and New Forms of

Terror in the Capital 89

29. 30.



Living Together’ at the European Conference of Sociology, Vienna, 26–28 August 1992. Cited in Bauman 1993: 173. Tester 2001: 89. In the case of the ‘theatre of Shradhanjali’, there was a concentration on the heroism of those who died to secure the country from the marauding enemy and the dead soldiers became the focus of solidarity through grieving. However, because the war was ‘out there’ rather than within the city, the disruptions caused by the former and the deaths thereof could be more easily mediated as heroic exemplars of patriotism. In contrast, although the enemy was named and excoriated soon after the Delhi blasts the dead were perceived more as victims rather than heroes. See Haines 1989a: 141–56 and Haines 1989b: 208. Harry Haines analyzes the ways in which memory and grief are reconstituted and represented in the Vietnam Memorial at Washington, D.C. Demographic cleavages and corresponding class distinctions are fairly apparent in Delhi, especially given the disparities between slum settlements and more elite residences and gated colonies. ‘Evidently, the correlations between the indicators of urbanization (level and growth) and slum population are positive which confirms the fact that slum settlements have generally increased in highly urbanized states.’ Out of a total population of 9,817,439 in 2001 the slum population in Delhi was 2,025,890 (Sivaramakrishnan, Kundu and Singh 2005: 107).


Tracking the Media

II India and Indians in a Globalized World


Tracking the Media

5 Media Representations in India of the Indian Diaspora in the UK and US Introduction The so-called Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) and People of Indian Origin (PIO)1 have always exerted a powerful and ambivalent force in popular culture representations, particularly in Hindi films. ‘The term NRI,’ as Sandhya Shukla notes, ‘did a great deal of signifying work: it symbolized financial prosperity and the successful Indian community abroad.’2 Despite its attractive power some of that ambivalence remains, especially in discourses that stress ‘traditional Indian values’, and presents NRIs as having been ‘corrupted’ by the morally licentious West. As Melissa Butcher writes: ‘Institutions of the state, the market and the religio-cultural have dominated attempts to legitimise, contest and/or maintain a perception of Indian identity within a globalized but highly diverse state, very often doing so by creating an inferior western “other.”3 That the NRI exists and is often defined within the spheres of this ‘inferior western “other”’ is both a source of unease and paradoxically a simultaneous sense of pride and superiority. Shukla observes this ambiguity in her study of the Indian diaspora in England and the US and India’s relation with its diasporic ‘other’: ‘It is precisely the NRI’s citizenship in and of the world, and all the influences that inhere therein, that have made him both a powerful preoccupation of the Indian nationstate, and also a site of anxiety for those concerned with a purer relationship to homeland.’4 The complex relationship between the ‘home’ and its western ‘other’ was only rhetorically crafted as one between a ‘superior’ India and an ‘inferior’ West, because the term NRI embodied certain perceptions of inferiority within the national self or national sphere. As Arvind Rajagopal observes of the NRI appellation: ‘Simultaneously avowing origin and denying location “NRI” symbolizes the disjunct power of its referent. Their education and affluence, coupled with their claims of identity as Indians, rendered NRIs an apotheosis of the Indian middle class, exemplifying what “Indians” could achieve if they were not hampered


Tracking the Media

by an underdeveloped society and an inefficient government. Thus “Indianness” came into its own, finally, but its being elsewhere was crucial to this achievement.’5 With the liberalization of the Indian economy and the push and pull factors of globalization, the moral rhetoric has been somewhat overshadowed by assiduous wooing and reportage on the achievements and stature of NRIs and PIOs. India as a nation now basks in the reflected glory of people who emigrated from its lands most often to seek better economic opportunities and quality of life. To cite Shukla once more: ‘What kind of nation India was [or is] had a relationship to what kind of migrant subject, in another nation, an Indian could be.’6 Notionally, migrant subjects who have prospered abroad are now invited back to India and the welcome home message is perhaps best articulated in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (Overseas Indian Day) initiated by the former coalition government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP’s advocacy and celebration of NRI, PIO causes are representative of a resurgent nationalism coalescing with economic pragmatism; it is both a call for return to roots and for NRI investments in India. This chapter examines representations of diasporic Indians in the UK and US in the Indian print media, focusing on two mainstream English language publications, The Times of India and India Today, which encapsulate the aspirations of the fabled Indian middle class and its projection of a globalized existence. Benedict Anderson’s conception of the newspaper as a cultural product can be extended to include the news magazine India Today. Newspapers/magazines create imagined linkages between anonymous readers, and the act of reading could be perceived as a ‘mass ceremony’ creating this ‘community’ and furthering its sense of confident existence. As Anderson writes, ‘The significance of this mass ceremony — Hegel observed that newspapers serve modern man as a substitute for morning prayers — is paradoxical. It is performed in silent privacy, in the lair of the skull. Yet each communicant is well aware that the ceremony he performs is being replicated simultaneously by thousands (or millions) of others of whose existence he is confident, yet of whose identity he has not the slightest notion. […] What more vivid figure for the secular, historically clocked, imagined community can be envisioned?’7 Part of that confidence is based on the idea that Indian products and cultures are now gaining currency in the metropolitan centres, and that the nature of cultural globalization is different from that

Indian Diaspora in the UK and US 95

of economic globalization. This encapsulates the commonplace idea that while ‘economic globalization has undoubtedly travelled from the (stronger) West to the (weak) East, […] cultural globalization has not necessarily followed this line. Excellent cultural products do not necessarily grow on the materially rich soil, whereas they might well grow on the comparatively poor soil where there is usually a long and splendid cultural heritage and rich literary practice’.8 Wang Ning’s argument is unexceptionable and true in some cases. The cultural products being purveyed as ‘Indian’ in the West vary from Indian classical music to the cinema of Satyajit Ray, from Bollywood to henna tattoos. It is the latter category — Bollywood in particular — that is aggressively marketed and projected as ‘Indian’ by and for the diasporic communities. In the media reportage that I analyze, there is a filtering back, as it were, of Indian pride at the presence of Indian communities and products at cosmopolitan centres. The reportage creates a transnational bond between the diasporic ‘other’ and the Indian readers physically located in India. I examine various articles over a period of one year, beginning April 2003. For the sake of convenience I divide my analysis into six sections: food, film and entertainment, politics, the brain drain syndrome, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, and seamier aspects of the Indian immigrant community. These articles reveal contradictions between the surge towards a globalized economy in India on the one hand, and a land struggling with problems related to poverty, illiteracy and communal violence on the other. They tell us as much about contemporary India as they do about contemporary Indians in the UK and US.

Food In a Sunday Times of India feature, Suhel Seth extolled the virtues of Indian curry as a brand product that needed to be packaged and marketed. Seth reversed the much hyped Information Technology (IT) branding of India abroad. ‘India today has more than just software to its global acclaim. And food may well become India’s stirring USP only if we brand it right and do not let it go the way our Darjeeling Tea has gone, which many people in the West believe is from Sri Lanka or worse still, Kenya!’9 Seth’s makeover of India’s image abroad abounds in clichés — ‘India is about the soul’ — combined with pride that curry is ‘Britain’s favourite food.’ Indian curry and its potential brand equity are linked firmly to national


Tracking the Media

identity and pride. ‘Soul Curry will be that brand which will not just globalise India but also give it the sheen it so desperately needs. It will equally prevent the ubiquitous Bangladeshis and Pakistanis from usurping our craft. It will allow us to create an Indian label which will travel far more than some silly piece of banking software.’10 At one level this is a frivolous, tongue-in-cheek piece that deliberately downplays the value of the IT revolution.11 Yet even the frivolity reveals interesting desires for placing India on the global map and asserting superiority over its immediate neighbours. In its awareness of India’s desire for a global sheen (a desire visible in other spheres such as India’s nuclear policy, its posturing toward regional and global power status), it articulates the fact that there isn’t a single Indian brand that has global recognition and perhaps hints at India’s puny share of world trade. ‘Soul Curry’ is held out as the panacea for India’s low self-esteem and is supposed to further regional hegemony. There is no analysis of why the ‘ubiquitous Bangladeshis and Pakistanis’ are in the UK ladling out curry in the first place and how curry contributes to the politics of multiculturalism without in any way addressing the complex economic and racial positioning of Asian immigrants. Seth also denies subcontinental cross-overs in modes of cooking and food habits, as if Indian cooking were generic and uniformly distinguishable from Pakistani and Bangladeshi foods. In this, Seth contributes to a monochromatic picture of Indian food culture and ‘Soul Curry’ feeds into the racial stereotyping centred on the curry phenomenon in Britain. The empire after all will cook back through branded curries. Lakhubhai Pathak of Patak’s Pickles would certainly agree, although he would perhaps be more aware of some of the ambiguities that Seth sidesteps. Even though he never mentions it, Suhel Seth’s brand revolution is based on the fact that India continues to export primary products such as tea and spices to bolster its trade balance. In passing, it is interesting to note that the Indian government’s negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) are predicated on the primacy of its agricultural sector. While the Indian manufacturing sector has made significant progress, agriculture continues to sustain a major proportion of the Indian population.12 Rashmee Z. Ahmed, in an article ‘Europe tells Indian chilli: Never Say Dye’, dealt with the negative publicity attendant on adulteration in chilli powder exported to EU countries by Indian firms. The powder was tested to find that it contained ‘Sudan red-1, a chemical colourant normally used in

Indian Diaspora in the UK and US 97

shoe polish, colouring solvents, oils, waxes, and petrol’. ‘Experts said that the adverse publicity for Indian spices and spice products could affect the recent proud boast that India now accounted for just under half of a global export market worth $1,500 million.’13 The article was primarily concerned with the image of and fallout on India’s lucrative export market for a largely expatriate community. It did not mention a culture of adulteration within India that flourishes partly because of a lack of stringent quality controls. When such checks are attempted, as in the Centre for Science and Environment report on pesticides in Coke and Pepsi, they are swiftly stymied and marginalized by larger trans-corporate interests.14 Ahmed writes that the ‘Brussels decision has had an immediate impact on British companies supplying Indian spices to the UK’s huge Indian catering trade’.15 Seth’s ‘Soul Curry’ and its possibilities are based, in a moment of unconscious irony, on adulterated food products. Ahmed’s article was not a feelgood story and there were no followups. Her piece was a rare one, dealing with the downsides of a shining India basking in the glories of a globalized market. This is not to say that the Indian media never deals with negative stories — there are articles on seamier aspects of the Indian diaspora to which I refer later — but the dominant picture is one of achievement and self congratulation. Anil Padmanabhan’s ‘Cup De Grace’ returns to the world of ‘soul curry’, imagined by Seth in the form of tea bars in the US and UK. ‘During the shooting of Matrix Reloaded in Australia, actor Lawrence Fishburne wanted tea. T Salon, a tea room in Manhattan, flew down some cartons to the sets. Recently, T Salon played host to 850 “most powerful women” in the US. The main beverage was tea. In April Preeya Kalidas and Raza Jaffrey, stars of West End’s Bombay Dreams, walked in with their grunge, distressed designer jeans to the launch of Chai Bazaar, touted as London’s first tea bar, to sip tea in Indian khullars or the humble tea cups.’16 The cultural referents deliberately span Australia, the US and Britain and indicate an easy familiarity with global spheres linked together by tea and the idea of India as a world player — in the tea as well as in the culture trade. The connection(s) between the subcontinental and the global are crucial in the imaging and positioning of both India and the NRI. As Sandhya Shukla writes: ‘If India exists in various forms, and has multifarious origins, its diaspora can provide many points of access into global belonging, too, a global belonging


Tracking the Media

that a range of national subjects might desire, when, for example, contemporary American culture celebrates a film or a fashion that is especially marked by being “Indian.” In this sense, India via its diaspora is as much a part of a first-world sensibility as it is from the subcontinent.’17 The khullar is rejuvenated as ethnic chic in the metropolitan centres of the West and simultaneously in Mumbai and Kolkata. It is this easy transcendence of national boundaries, the idea of ‘global belonging’ that seems to be at the centre of celebrating the khullar’s ubiquity. The article was part of India Today’s ‘Business & Economy’ section, which is appropriate given India’s considerable share of the global tea market.18 The piece was bolstered by statistics — ‘56% of American adults take the beverage on a regular basis’ — and emphasizes the need for Indian entrepreneurs to push the product through ‘“sexy marketing”’.19 It is this latter emphasis that dominates the article rather than analytical insights into trade patterns in primary products and India’s continuing dependence on such trade or the retrofitting of tea into colonial paradigms of authentic chai bars. All that matters is recognition of the Indian connection in the West and niche marketing of an ‘oriental’ beverage. Globalization and its attendant virtues, as extolled by the article, ignore the problems within the Indian tea industry and the particularities of insurgency in the north east, for instance which had affected the industry’s output and efficiency.

Film and Entertainment Although Aishwarya Rai is not an immigrant Indian, it is appropriate to begin with her because articles on her set off the contours of debates ranging around the global Indian in the world of film and entertainment. Designated by Julia Roberts as the most beautiful woman, voted the most attractive woman of 2003 in a hellomagazine. com poll and featured on the Late Show with David Letterman on CBS television in the US in February 2005, Rai was the subject of an editorial in India Today, ‘Bond with the Best: England quivers with excitement at the thought of another Virgin Queen’. The editorial was in response to an article in the Daily Mail ‘about the former Miss World becoming the first virgin Bond girl’.20 Quivering with indignation, India Today stoutly defended one of India’s more recent exports, the beauty pageant industry that has rolled out numerous Miss Worlds and Universes over the past decade. ‘Living as it does in the protected environment of suburban homes with lace curtains

Indian Diaspora in the UK and US 99

that flutter in the afternoon sun, it does not believe the natives have evolved enough to have a sex life. It has also, quite clearly, not heard of cultural stereotyping. […] Weren’t they also the country where the Virgin Queen ruled for 45 years? Our royals have been known to be more robust.’21 In its attempt to defend Rai and critique cultural stereotyping, the editorial practiced some delicious reverse profiling of British and Indian royalty. There was an element of the surreal and the comic in which the editorial trumpeted a competitive sexual prowess amongst Indians and would not allow Rai to be slighted on account of her virginity. Why India Today thought it fit to editorially defend Rai is a mystery. There is a curious insecurity and assertiveness at work here and Rai is merely a site for the expression of native pride, reverse racism and insistence on global belonging.22 Just as ‘soul curry’ and chai in khullars are indices of Indian success and acceptance in the marketplace, so too Rai is a product that must be duly acknowledged in that most marketable of products, the Bond girl in a Bond film. Although Rai subsequently made it to the jury at Cannes, she never did become a Bond girl. In a film review section, Aishwarya Rai was restored to her rightful place as Lalitha in Gurinder Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice, a diasporic take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. ‘Speaking about her lead cast, Chadha says, “Ash will be the perfect Lizzy Bennett. She is headstrong and says what she thinks.”’23 The slurs of virginity and Indian timidity were laid to rest as the Bennetts become Bakshis, and Gurinder Chadha, an icon of British–Asian success, recognized Rai’s worth. In a feature on Gurinder Chadha and Mira Nair, the value of Indo-British and Indo-American filmmakers was extolled. Both Chadha and Nair were shooting in ‘London, the capital of multicultural cool’. Chadha calls her film a ‘truly global’ one, ‘It has an international perspective because Indians have it.’24 What is interesting is the way in which Chadha was appropriated by the Indian media and she played up to it by highlighting their ‘international perspective’. The article displayed a level of selfreflexivity when it referred to the possibility of an Oscar for both women. ‘Chadha knows of the hopes of several million Indians who have decided to embrace her — they are happy to forget that she was born in Kenya and would dearly love her to knock off the British in her hyphenated identity. She knows she has a winner on her hands’.25 The celebration of Chadha’s and Nair’s achievement within the matrix of ‘multicultural cool’ co-exists with the desire to


Tracking the Media

see ‘Indianness’ and Indian achievement in the works of expatriate filmmakers. In a very different context, much the same has happened to V. S. Naipaul, who is now embraced as a writer of Indian origin even though his Caribbean roots are vital to most of his works. While Chadha’s work is nuanced in her awareness of the fissures in multicultural Britain, media representations in India make her an icon of an unproblematic ‘multicultural cool’. Rather than focus on the contradictions in British–Asian society and its representations, the article focused on the interface between a Bollywood icon (Rai) and world cinema (in the figures of Chadha and Nair) and dwelt comfortingly on the currency that Bollywood occupies within the Asian community in Britain.26 The compliment was returned by Channel 4 television’s ‘Bollywood Star’, ‘the western world’s very first search for a Hindi film star from within the 22-million strong diaspora’.27 The six who qualified were sent to Mumbai to act in a Mahesh Bhatt film and embody ‘the hyphenated videshi [foreigner] trying to reclaim his popular heritage, i.e. Bollywood’.28 According to Richard McKerrow, Bollywood Star’s executive producer, the journey back to India would be one of ‘self discovery’. The return to roots saga was mediated through the agency of television and film and mass entertainment conferred a type of ‘authenticity’ on those who participated in this programme. Films and filmmaking were mentioned here solely in terms of markets, not so much in terms of the exploration of troubled relations between the immigrant and her ‘home’ country, or the immigrant within alienating cultures abroad. A culture of pastiche and kitsch was celebrated as the arrival and acceptance of Indian culture on a global scale. Although this particular article was somewhat tonguein-cheek, it participated in a wider need to generate success stories that validate the ‘home’ country through its valorization of the diasporic ‘other’. Anil Padmanabhan’s ‘Staging a Coup’ falls into a similar pattern. He profiled the new generation of Indian-Americans who were making a mark on Broadway and the American theatre scene in general. This was seen as particularly significant after 9/11 when America ‘has begun to explore cultures other than its own’.29 The shock of 9/11 can be ameliorated, it seems, through a reworking of the old clichés of the multicultural melting pot. While Indian– American playwrights are increasingly visible, they feel the need to negotiate ‘the desi route’ or ‘the mainstream way’. As Geeta

Indian Diaspora in the UK and US 101

Citygirl Chopra, founder South Asian League of Artists in America (SALAAM) puts it, ‘“We have to ensure that we do not ghettoise ourselves. We have to make the best of the opportunity and start writing universal themes.”’30 Chopra’s anxiety about ghettoization is particularly valid within cultural contexts that tend to freeze the exotic other as ‘authentic’ and thereby remove those representations from the complex matrix of art, politics and ideology. However, the emphasis on ‘universal themes’ is troubling because it remains vague and implies at some level that the universal is American, a movement from the particularities of ethnic origin and identity to the generic status of Americanness. In a post-11 September world, the definitions of the ‘western’ and its corresponding others, particularly Islam, seem to have hardened. This is evident not only in the currency and popularity of Samuel Huntington’s ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis, but also in the resurgence of an earlier paradigm that equated civilization and universalism with the West. V. S. Naipaul’s essay ‘Postscript: Our Universal Civilization’ is a good example of this conflation: ‘The universal civilization has been a long time in the making. It wasn’t always universal; it wasn’t always as attractive as it is today. The expansion of Europe gave it for at least three centuries a racial tint, which still causes pain. In Trinidad, I grew up in the last days of that kind of racialism. And that, perhaps, has given me a greater appreciation of the immense changes that have taken place since the end of the war, the extraordinary attempts of this civilization to accommodate the rest of the world, and all the currents of that world’s thought. […] It [the idea of the pursuit of happiness] is an immense human idea. It cannot be reduced to a fixed system. It cannot generate fanaticism.’31 Anil Padmanabhan skims over a very complex terrain and the article’s lack of analytical awareness contributes to an idea of the West as universal, and it is in this ‘universal’ framework that Indians are finding their niche. While the article highlighted the achievements of lesser known theatre persons such as Nilay Oza and Rohi Mirza, it remained fixated on Bombay Dreams and Mira Nair’s stage adaptation of Monsoon Wedding. As Madhur Jaffrey puts it, ‘The success of Nair’s Monsoon Wedding and Gurinder Chadha’s Bend it Like Beckham proved that mainstream America is increasingly engaged by IndianAmerican culture.’32 The justifiable pride in the achievements of diasporic Indians is combined here with an agenda of a bland, unproblematic multiculturalism, of art as a means of communication of


Tracking the Media

bridging gaps. ‘Not everyone can travel to India, so art becomes the medium for contact.’33 The art itself and its strategies of establishing contact, communication and a universal discourse are not analyzed in the article. For instance there is no indication of the ways in which Bombay Dreams reiterates cultural stereotypes and romanticizes India. What is prized here and elsewhere in the media discourse related to diasporic Indians is social visibility and commercial success; these are the touchstones for excellence and reflected pride and glory.34 Mike Marqusee writes of this valorization of success overseas: ‘In England the middle classes use to warn their offspring, “Success overseas counts for nothing.” In India, the formula is reversed. Success overseas is the ultimate vindication, proof that Indians can hold their own on the global stage. It is as if the middle classes were trying to compensate for the failure of Indian institutions by the obsessive celebration of individual success.’35 Although Marqusee is writing of Sunil Gavaskar’s international exploits and his iconic status back home, his observations are valid for the media celebration of Indian achievements abroad in contexts other than cricket.

Politics Print media representations of politics and the Indian community ranged from stories on appointments — Karan K. Bhatia’s elevation to the post of assistant secretary of Transportation for Aviation and International Affairs in the Bush administration — to ‘Clinton’s India Connection’.36 The latter profiled people who form a part of Bill Clinton’s charmed circle. Clinton’s high profile visit to India during his presidency and his continuing engagement with India (the deal on low cost AIDS drugs, for instance) lend him a Midas quality that transforms and elevates the people of Indian origin in the US who are associated with him. In the UK, Rashmee Z. Ahmed profiled Uma Fernandes ‘waiting to make history as the Conservative Party’s first woman MP of Indian origin and Hindu birth’. The article concentrated on the Hindu identity of the politician, asserting that ‘sections of Brent East are miffed with Tony Blair’s incumbent party because it refused to field a Hindu for parliament. In theory, the Hindu anger could make history’.37 In actuality, ‘Hindu anger’ did not translate into victory in the parliamentary by-election for Uma Fernandes and what is significant is the idea that it would or should have done so. The article created an affinity between ‘Hindu anger’ in India and that in Brent East, which is both historically

Indian Diaspora in the UK and US 103

untenable and politically unsustainable. The discourse of ‘Hindu anger’, so prevalent in political discourse in India over the past decade, was pasted on to Brent East without any reasoned analysis. Uma Fernandes featured in just this one article in the print media in India and dropped out of the news because she lost. Yet this piece points to more dangerous liaisons and desires whereby the Indian diaspora is appropriated by the media to create the sense of a pan Indian and global Hindu identity, a project ably furthered by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, the World Hindu Council) and the BJP.38 Someone who did stay in the news during his campaign for governor of Louisiana was Bobby Jindal. There was a flurry of articles, an editorial and a feature on the Indian-American’s strong bid for political office. A feature in the Sunday Times of India, ‘American Desis’, indicated that he had ‘dropped his first name Piyush at the age of four in favour of Bobby after a character on the popular TV show The Brady Bunch’.39 He converted to Catholicism and ‘while filing his papers for the governor’s election, Jindal left the column for race blank’. This apparent race blindness is what India Today defined as ‘cultural osmosis at its best’.40 Jindal’s effort at the effacement of his racial identity echoes an earlier attempt by Dalip Singh Saund, who was the first US Congressman of Indian origin.41 Sandhya Shukla writes of Saund’s acquisition of American identity in this context of seeming racial transformation: ‘It is possible that to become American for Saund is, on at least some level, also to become symbolically white, most especially given the polarized options that would have been presented to a brown-skinned, non-East Asian, middle-class, upwardly ascendant male at this time.’42 The problematic and seemingly effortless jettisoning of race was further complicated in Jindal’s case by the fact that he ‘forged ahead not on the basis of minority support but on a hard, right, white, conservative platform that includes opposing gun control and abortion’.43 In a state that last elected a black governor in the 1870s and once had David Duke of the Ku Klux Klan as gubernatorial front runner, Jindal’s embracing of the Republican agenda and his valorization in the Indian media has interesting implications. According to Anil Padmanabhan: ‘Many conservatives believe that Jindal’s political ascendancy could be a boost to Bush’s South Asia policy. Especially in improving relations with India, a country they see as a critical ally in the fight against Islamic fundamentalism’.44 While this analysis


Tracking the Media

ignored the contradictions in Jindal’s own statements and positioning as a mainstream American, it gets to the nub of the matter in its championing of a conservative grand alliance between the US and India against ‘Islamic fundamentalism’. The Catholic convert immigrant from Delhi was metonymically transformed into the right wing soldier who would fight the forces of ‘Islamic fundamentalism’. This would partly explain the Indian media’s fascination with the Jindal campaign, for it fed into a dominant political discourse of a state besieged from within and without by the forces of reactionary Islam. In passing, one may note the extent to which immigrant Indians in the US and UK fund and support right wing organizations in India, particularly in Gujarat, as well as the fact that these diasporic connections were not highlighted in the media.45 In an editorial, ‘American Desi: The Indian media’s hype over Bobby Jindal is misplaced’, The Times of India attempted to place the media coverage in perspective. It noted that ‘Bobby Jindal has captured our imagination because he seems so much an integral part of a collective narrative — of our pride and imagination: The story of the great Indian diaspora conquering the world.’46 It went on to state that ‘Mr Jindal is the equivalent of a born-again immigrant who is brown in nothing but his skin colour’ and asked the question that I have raised, ‘Why then are we so keen to corral him as an “Indian” and dub his achievements as a great Indian success story?’47 In attempting to answer this question, the editorial veered into an essentialist and conveniently evasive niche with references to A. O. Hume, Annie Besant and Mother Teresa, reflecting on what it called an ‘old innocence, where identity was a state of mind rather than a fact of biology or geography’.48 At one level it is remarkable that The Times of India editorially raised some uncomfortable questions about the lionizing of Jindal in the Indian media. At another level, the constructed nostalgia of an apolitical, universal identity — where all who are associated with India become Indians by some magic of ‘cultural osmosis’ — relates precisely to the ‘collective narrative’ of immigrant Indians as global players and their glory, reflecting the resurgence of a shining India. Jindal’s defeat in the election was widely covered in print and on television with some dark mutterings about racial prejudice that allowed his rival Kathleen Blanco to triumph. In the reportage of the defeat, Jindal’s own disavowal of racial identity was forgotten. Identity as a ‘state of mind’ was replaced in defeat by crude generalizations about race and racism in American politics.49 It was as if another opportunity for bolstering Indo-US

Indian Diaspora in the UK and US 105

conservative alliances and the fight against demonic Islam had been inexplicably defeated.

The Brain Drain Syndrome While extolling the achievements and presence of immigrant Indians in the US and UK, the reportage I have considered thus far ignores an underlying cause of that immigration: economic betterment. Whether it was Indian doctors joining the National Health Service in the UK or cab drivers in New York or software engineers in Silicon Valley, the flight from India was largely predicated on the desire for a better quality of life in the West. In the pre-liberalization era this migration was berated and bemoaned in terms of a ‘brain drain’; in the age of the global Indian this phenomenon is co-opted into a larger narrative of a resurgent India. In fact, the IT revolution and India’s eminent position within that world is attributed to those Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) graduates who fled the mother country. Occasionally, however, as in Shobha John’s article ‘20 percent IIT-ians still leave India… And we thought brain drain was over’, we return to the theme of qualified but dispirited Indians leaving for better opportunities abroad. The article details the fact that 15–20 per cent of IIT graduates leave India for the US, which is a more attractive destination because of higher salaries. A B.Tech in the US earns $40–60,000 p.a., a PhD in finance $130,000 p.a., an engineering PhD from IIT $70,000 p.a. In contrast, a B.Tech in India fetches Rs 20,000 p.m., an MBA with engineering degree Rs 40–80,000 p.m. While the salary differential is substantial it is not absolute, for it does not take into account differences within the Indian context where a significant section of the population lives on less than a dollar a day.50 The latter seldom exist in the imagination and lexicon of media reportage except when they crop up inconveniently in news items related to famine and drought or urban slums. There is also an underclass of immigrants who seldom feature in dominant political or media discourse related to the NRI except when they are arrested or deported as illegal migrants. Their desire to belong to the global community is occasionally reflected in immigration scams attributed to the likes of Daler Mehendi and Mallika Sarabhai. In the latter case, it was interesting to note the ways in which nativism (the Gujarati asmita [pride, tradition, culture] insulted by Sarabhai’s outspokenness on the Gujarat riots) was combined with a vestigial suspicion of


Tracking the Media

immigration and immigrants which was then used as a convenient ploy to harass the activist.51 Simultaneously, Gujarat’s Chief Minister wooed the diasporic Gujarati with dreams of an investment haven. These connections and patterns were not mentioned in media reports related to the global Indian. Shobha John writes that a better work environment in the US also lures the IIT graduate and quotes several immigrants. ‘You are given credit for what you do. Facilities are excellent.’ In India ‘the environment — corruption, inefficiency, bijli pani [electricity and water] issues — drains one out.’ ‘There is less pay here, politics, company promises which are not adhered to, no work culture, and lack of transparency’.52 The contrast between a backward India and an efficiently utopic US may be exaggerated, but it gives the lie to the projection of a continually progressive India.53 Despite this indictment, the article ended on a note of hope that the ‘brain drain’ will be reversed. John quotes one Abhijit Choudhury — IITKGP (Kharagpur), 1972 — currently teaching business strategy and technology at Bryant College, Rhode Island: ‘Reverse brain drain is bound to happen. As the economy grows, the number of Indians going back to India would increase. India would get back its best and brightest, but only after suitable exposure to the West.’54 In Choudhary’s formulation, immigration is a type of rite of passage, a staging point after which India’s sons will return to the motherland. In that return lies the hope for the future of India, a hope cultivated by the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. Why this reversal will happen is neither explained nor analyzed in this article; it is seen as a kind of inevitable process or cycle that will wish away the corruption and inefficiency, the lack of work culture and transparency that led to the migration in the first instance. Two Sundays later, Shobha John dwelt on the reasons why Indian immigrants were returning without addressing the issues raised in her earlier piece. ‘What brings them back? A dream.’ Dr Parag Bhargava articulated one such dream: ‘My friends and I wanted to apply our ideas to root out illiteracy from India. It materialised with the birth of Prabudha Bharat, a group running an education-cum-library-cumactivity centre for poor children near IIT.’55 Despite the fact that no details were presented in the article, this dream was at least cognizant of poverty and illiteracy in India. For Jayant Sinha, formerly of IIT Delhi and Harvard and a partner in McKinsey, India ‘is an exciting place to be in. We are now entering a new phase of nation-building.

Indian Diaspora in the UK and US 107

Technology, IT services and telecom are all growing rapidly in India.’56 Sinha’s dream is perhaps the more dominant one, eyeing the huge market potential inherent in the country, and ‘nation-building’ can comfortably co-exist with profit making. Despite the fact that India has 3 per cent of the world market share in IT services, it is an idea of economic prowess that sits easily with the notion of India as a global economic presence. India’s IT presence in the world was examined in a dispassionate article by Narayanan Madhavan, ‘Is India really an IT Superpower?’ He cited a study ‘commissioned by Business Software Alliance (BSA), a global industry association that champions the cause of IT’, which came ‘out with a surprising finding that India ranks a lowly 46 in the global IT business in terms of competitiveness’.57 Poor infrastructure, a weak R&D (Research and Development) environment, and low labour productivity were some of the factors responsible for India’s position. ‘India’s hardware and software output per industry employee is at $39,033, while for Taiwan, with its humongous hardware manufacturing and electronic components companies, is at $386,413 and China at $136,506.’58 As Narayanan observed: ‘What comes out of the study is a simple truth: software is much more than coding as a service in which Indian companies have been excelling.’59 Arguably, this survey did not exist at the time Jayant Sinha was making his claims about ‘nation-building’, but the contexts which the survey and the article raise did exist and they were not mentioned by Sinha. Instead, the article by John focused on the impetus for homecoming and mentioned another reason for the return of immigrants: the constant fear of losing jobs and the desire to refocus on family ties. This was particularly true post-9/11 and in the subsequent context of the economic downturn in the US. ‘The US always seemed alien’, says one returnee. The sense of alienation is related to homesickness and an emphasis on cultural rootedness. The latter in turn is linked to ‘the view that there is a fixed relationship between place, identity and culture. The idea of routes — rather than roots — emphasises that identity and belonging are formed from the experience of real and imagined journeys and connections. These link people, places and histories in ways that resist the easy categorisation of Britain with whites, or Africa with blacks, for example’.60 The distinction between ‘roots’ and ‘routes’ is crucial because of the ways in which they allow for different perceptions of ‘home’ and the ‘self’. As Karim Murji, citing K. Woodward, points out: ‘Routes are counterposed to


Tracking the Media

roots because routes are regarded as dynamic and forward-looking, while roots are thought to be static and historical.’61 It is this ‘static’ sense of roots that seemed to be prized by the returning NRI, but quite often the mythical roots have been transformed both in themselves and by the experiences of the returnee. ‘Roots are often proclaimed by far right nationalist groups and seem to be more about origins and “where you’re from”, whereas routes bring out the movements and flows — cultural, geographical and emotional — that make up “where you’re at”.62 Murji’s analysis is apposite for the Indian situation, where the consolidation of right wing nationalism coincided with the renewed nostalgia of NRIs such as Dr Bhargava who says he ‘found a certain shallowness abroad’.63 This relates to earlier representations of the NRI as deracinated and desirous of the ‘substance’ offered by home, a myth of ‘depth’ residing within India that can be recovered and is enabling for the returnee as well as the immigrant. As Arvind Rajagopal writes: ‘The liminal status of first generation Indians as immigrants inflects their expatriate nostalgia with a peculiar poignancy; “home” gains in brilliance as a constellation of memories drawing closer emotionally even as it recedes in time. “India” becomes a touchstone of their identity, assuring them of a place where they truly belong, or once belonged.’64 A further link to the home country is available in the desire to raise children in an Indian milieu so that they are not deprived of their cultural capital. Melissa Butcher analyses how the ‘“return of the NRI” theme was also a mainstay of many popular films released in the late 1990s. The contestation of identity using the NRI’s return to his (he was generally male) homeland was conceived of as the point of confrontation between generic western and Indian culture. Ultimately, the Indian values of family, religion and social order prevailed. However, in the real world, the ambiguity of boundaries between local and global, familiar and foreign, was much more nuanced and not always reconciled, resulting in a sense of dislocation from former frames of reference.’65 The ambiguities and dislocations of relocation were rarely mentioned in the media representations of the returning NRIs. What was also left unsaid in John’s articles, and only briefly dwelt upon in a slew of articles on the returning immigrant, are realities of race and colour prejudice. As John Oliver Perry points out, ‘despite their relatively high economic position, Diasporan Indians are soon made aware that multiculturality in America does not mean either social equality for different ethnic

Indian Diaspora in the UK and US 109

groups nor absence of racism, sexism, and prejudice based on ethnic stereotypes’.66 Thus, while the global Indian is valorized for his deeds abroad, those deeds are fraught with contradictions and tensions. Media reportage, with some exceptions, largely ignored these fissures and created a dominant narrative of achievement abroad which is paradoxically revealed and doubly celebrated when the immigrant returns to his roots, thereby validating not only his worth but also the intrinsic value of the country of origin. Like Shobha John, Anil Padmanabhan celebrated the phenomenon of reverse ‘brain drain’: ‘the expatriates are coming back. The epiphany that had lured them to the US has been transferred to their native land — complete with a robust economy, infinite opportunities and improved lifestyles — and it is drawing them back to their own country’.67 Like John, Padmanabhan attributed the return to the collapse of the ‘Great American Dream’ and 9/11. Unlike John, however, Padmanabhan did mention the fact of race prejudice: ‘“No matter how long you stay in the US, you are always singled out; you are identified with your colour and background,” says Dheeraj Bharadwaj, who is returning to IIT, Delhi, his alma mater, after three years in the US. “Nowhere else can one get the kind of freedom found in India,” says Bharadwaj.’68 9/11 is perceived as an epochal moment in the lives of the returnees, as they belatedly awake to the realities of racism and the underside of the American Dream. The article did not, however, deal with the undermining of civil liberties within the US after 9/11, the problems of multiculturalism in America prior to 9/11 and the limits of ‘freedom’ within India. It moved from one constructed extreme to another, with the perceptual collapse of the American Dream leading without pause to the realization that India is a land of freedom and opportunity. The quality of life has improved for the NRI ensconced in Gurgaon or Noida (suburbs of Delhi) with their shopping malls and apartment blocks named Hamilton Court, Richmond, Carlton, and Beverley Park. The mix of Edwardian nomenclature and American mall culture represents a desire for the desi (native) as well as a return ‘home’ for the NRI. It is crucial that ‘home’ for the NRI is a spatial construction that approximates to the lifestyle that he and his family enjoyed in the US. The social and cultural aspect of ‘home’ can include more ‘Indian’ aspects such as tradition and ceremony, but these are bound within recognizable urban facilities such as gated communities, golf courses, clubs, and malls. These facilities then constitute the


Tracking the Media

visible face of globalization in India. The pride in globalization, however, barely conceals the underbelly of that process. India’s 8 per cent GDP growth is seldom contextualized in terms of illiteracy, poverty, or the bijli–pani problems that beset the exclusive enclaves of the nostalgic NRI.69 The dominant rhetoric is one of celebration, whereby the ‘two-way mobility’ of the global Indian creates its own momentum of growth and development, never mind the irritants that litter ones existence. That the feelgood syndrome has a teflon hide was revealed in Kankana Datta’s article ‘Cutting-edge Dilbert hits out at Indian techies’, where the Scott Adams cult comic strip satire on IIT graduates was seen as indicative of their stature in the US. As Amit Pande, an IIT-ian put it, ‘“I love it that the IITs have created so much panic. As usual Adams is ahead of the pack in anticipating media and public opinion about IIT grads.”’70 In terms of media coverage the situation is a win–win one: upmarket, tech savvy Indians are making a mark in the US and then returning to India. The concentration is on the nostalgia of return, whether in actuality or through television dramas such as Second Generation. This drama presents three of the lead characters returning to India. ‘Two of them — a Bengali Hindu–Muslim pairing — are beer-swilling, bhangra-rapping, British-born-and-bred. […] But, for the first time ever on British TV, the British–Indian second generation is shown to reject the bright lights of London for the alien-but-dimlyremembered chaos and camaraderie of Kolkata.’71 Director Jon Sen, quoted in a pre-release interview, declared that his TV show was a ‘benchmark production because it took the British Asian narrative on, even as it started from a position of Indian pride, wealth and success’.72 Various kinds of nostalgia related to place (Kolkata), politics (the Hindu–Muslim pairing) and possibility (the seamless interweaving between the metropolitan centre and the dimly remembered margin) coalesce with the ‘position of Indian pride, wealth and success’. Ultimately, it is the latter that matters the most, both in terms of diasporic movement and cultural exchange (if one may define Second Generation in such terms) as well as the idea of a booming, successful community abroad. In ‘Karisma of a “brown” Mela’, Karisma Kapoor’s jetting into London to inaugurate a three-day mela is precisely the type of ‘Indian pride, wealth and success’ that is celebrated. ‘Asian-ness is not just fashion but big business, with the two million strong

Indian Diaspora in the UK and US 111

Asian community’s collective spending power now estimated at an impressive 10 billion pounds.’73 The mela was not just about curry and henna tattoos, but about Ford and British Telecom spending huge sums to make their presence felt. It was about a makeover in the image of British Asians, who are ‘newly being categorized as a fast growing, acquisitive, label conscious, status-seeking niche market. ‘“It’s a sign we’re integrating but not assimilating”’, says Anjna Raheja, who authored a report for the advertising industry in Britain on the untapped potential of the ‘brown pound’.74 Pride in economic visibility is a marker of ‘arrival’ within the marketplace and it is also seen as a signifier of integration without giving up on one’s roots. This is the ideal situation where tradition or their variants (henna tattoos) are in perfect sync with the consumerist instinct. Label consciousness adds to racial profile (the ‘brown pound’) and simultaneously erases racial difference, with the market as a great equalizer. Such reportage ignored the nuances of race identity, as well as the anxieties and travails of immigrant existence explored in films by diasporic filmmakers such as Gurinder Chadha. The fantasy of integration and rootedness is perhaps best indicated by the presence of Bollywood at the inaugural. This desired imaginary space — presumably one where integration into the host society does not lead to deracination — is dealt with in Bollywood films which cater effectively to conservative constituencies in India and further the nostalgic bond of the Indian abroad to his mother country.75 It is this bond which the former BJP-led coalition hoped to cash in on through its Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, which is emblematic of a diasporic triumphalism seamlessly connected to conservative agendas. Melissa Butcher’s observation on the ‘space binding’ and ossifying aspects of transnational television is equally valid in this context: ‘transnational television can also be designated as space binding. This is evident in its symbolic creation of community, within the state or globally, between diasporic groups and the homeland, for example. But there is also a negative aspect to this. The binding of space of shared meaning and practice can solidify and ossify dimensions that were once porous and mutable (for example, the positioning of the images of Hindutva as the definitive representation of Indianness)’.76 The symbolic community celebrated in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas seemed to revel in the ossification of NRI identities, especially if they reaffirmed India’s centrality and greatness in the formation of those identities.


Tracking the Media

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas From 2002, the return of the prodigy and the prodigal was carefully orchestrated by the former National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and its founding of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has continued with the Divas. The first Divas, with V. S. Naipaul as chief guest, was held in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots, an event that reverberated during the deliberations. The unwelcome intrusion highlighted the cusp within which the jamboree functions: that of economic desire and political conservatism. The Divas held in January 2004 was attended by 2,000 NRIs and PIOs from 60 countries. Arun Kumar Das celebrated the economic fallout of the event in terms of hotel occupancy. This however, was not the only high point of the three-day event. ‘A highlight of the event is the cultural evenings, during which 5,000 years of Indian shringar parampara will be showcased through a unique blend of the spiritual and the sensual. Officially speaking, the focus of the conference is on the Gen Next of pravasis [migrants]. “We want this generation to know about the country of their origin, its culture and people,” says [Vivek] Bharti (advisor to FICCI [Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry] and co-ordinator of the summit). “This will go a long way in strengthening bonds between NRIs, PIOs and India.” After all, irrespective of wherever an Indian might be on the globe, phir bhi dil hai Hindustani’ [‘the heart is still Indian’ — taken from a popular Hindi film song].77 The blend of the spiritual and the sensual, along with the emphasis on an unshakeable Hindustani dil, hark back to media and film representations of NRI/Indian identity in the 1950s and 1960s as ineluctably fixed, no matter what the actual political and cultural location might be.78 In this, Indian media representations were/are unwittingly similar to dominant western media discourses about the mysterious and unruly ‘other’, even if that ‘other’ has IT specialists and call centres. In other words, Indian representations also contribute to essentialized portraits of the ‘self’. That this idea of an immutable Hindustani dil is a powerful myth is evident in the ways in which the Divas constructs Indian parampara and reconstitutes identity in a majoritarian discourse. In fact, the Divas provides a meeting ground for conservative immigrant ideations of Indianness and a political dispensation that is happy to cater to nostalgic and mythic fantasies. These ideas

Indian Diaspora in the UK and US 113

of what constitutes Indianness are, as Arvind Rajagopal notes, linked to the manner in which the VHP of America, for example draws connections between immigrant Indians and Hindu culture. Rajagopal writes: ‘Until a strong nationalist party rules India, and brings the country power and international prestige, Indians abroad will not get the respect they deserve, the President of the VHP of America [Yashpal Lakra] declared in a 1994 speech […] The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, […] is the natural candidate for such a task, he explained, since it draws on Hindu culture and upholds a program of aggressive national regeneration. If all politics is local, identity politics is no different. In order to improve their local image and conditions, Indians in the U.S. may support a militant nationalist party at home. Expatriate nationalism thus has a social basis different from that of its adherents in the homeland. Religion becomes a way of asserting cultural difference from the majority in the U.S. without an overt political emphasis.’79 The Divas was more overtly political in that it provided a literal and rhetorical space for the intermingling of home-grown and expatriate nationalisms as well as the circulation of ideas related to a resurgent and ideationally Hindu India. Rashmee Z. Ahmed concentrated on more mundane realities however, and pointed out that the economic hoopla surrounding the summit was unjustified. In a rare critical article Ahmed wrote, ‘The great diasporic Diwali is on and India we are told “is shining”. There is no connection. These are two, almost-but-not-quite mutually exclusive phenomena. Where, for instance, on that list of privileged yellow-carded foreign delegates to the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, were the following: Lakshmi Mittal; Arun Sarin; Gulu Lalvani?’80 The three corporate giants of Indian origin are based in the UK and have no wish to do business in India. As Lalvani puts it, ‘I’m already there [India], doing charity work and so on, it’s just in business that I don’t have the patience to wait for licenses etc.’ Ahmed concludes, ‘The dil-hai Hindustani routine may still go down well in Mumbai’s multiplexes but it has the glossy factory finish of the ultimate theatrical flight of fancy. Ask the big boys of business. They know’.81 That NRIs and PIOs are still wary of putting money where their nostalgia is, is an uncomfortable fact that the article highlighted. Many immigrants in the Gulf region (the nurses, foremen, cooks) who are not as upwardly mobile and represent the basic economic impulse behind immigration do not figure in the pravasi


Tracking the Media

discourse at all, although they collectively remit vast amounts of money to their families in the mother country.82 Ahmed’s cautionary tale of three NRIs who wished to have no stake in the Indian pie was a stunning counterpoint to the hype surrounding the Divas and indicated the ways in which the very wealthy and the down-at-heel NRIs seem to share a common scepticism of their home country. The story of the pravasi did not, however, end in gloom as one of the trio decided to finally invest in India. ‘Nearly 30 years after he left Kolkata to build a 13-nation steel empire, Lakshmi N. Mittal plans to come home. “India is at the take-off stage, and we want to have our footprint there.” ’83 Mittal was clear that it is ‘profit, not patriotism, that drives him towards India. He argues for globalization of mindset, commerce without passports’, but his return was touted in terms of the return of a native son. ‘The significance of Mittal’s interest in the land of his birth can hardly be overstated. Until last year, he firmly kept India out of his business plans, saying “conditions were not right because India did not have the right infrastructure, such as good ports or railway facilities, and the necessary electricity supply.”’84 The turnaround specialist preferred to invest in former communist states such as Romania, the Czech Republic and Poland, which was ‘an insult’ to free, democratic, and rapidly globalizing India. The insult could now be forgotten since ‘this particular government opened up the whole country for investment’.85 The implications of that opening up are entirely positive; it was enough that Mittal had spoken and added substance to the Pravasi Divas from which he was absent.

Seamier Aspects of the Diaspora: Crime and Terrorism While the dominant media representations of the global Indian are positive, feelgood stories, there are occasional lapses which indicate that the NRI/PIO may be involved in crime and terrorism abroad. I could not find any such article in The Times of India but Hindustan Times had a front page piece by S. Rajagopalan and Vijay Dutt, ‘Indians abroad in big time fraud’: ‘From Los Angeles to London Indian white collar criminals have been leaving a trail of fraud — and setting some dubious records in the process.’86 The article provided a rogues gallery ranging from 55-year-old Surinder Singh Panshi, an Indian American doctor sentenced to 16 years in jail for Medicare fraud amounting to $20 million, to 26-year-old

Indian Diaspora in the UK and US 115

Sunil Mahtani sentenced to nine years in the UK as Britain’s biggest credit card fraudster. Mahtani also pleaded guilty to child pornography charges. ‘According to Mahtani’s defence counsel, he embarked on the crime course in order to keep up with his highflying financier girlfriend Elizabeth Ryan, who as a merchant banker took home much more than him.’87 This is a rare article on the flip side of immigrant success stories, although it was a standalone piece with no follow-up. Mahtani’s defence touched upon some of the pressures, economic and social, which immigrants (among others) might face and which are seldom, if ever, mentioned in mainstream media in India.88 India Today carried a cover story, ‘Hemant Lakhani: Trading in Terror’ by Anil Padmanabhan and Sandeep Unnithan, which detailed a FBI and international sting operation whereby Hemant Lakhani, a former rice and garments trader, was caught trying to sell shoulder-fired missiles for possible use by terrorists. Originally from Ghatkopar in Bombay and based in Britain he was probably a small operator in the illegal arms trade, but the article linked him to Dawood Ibrahim and the Al Qaeda. In conclusion, the article blamed Lakhani’s greed rather than terrorist outlook or ideology. This is a curious article that shares the paranoia about terror networks and terrorism prevalent in post 9/11 US and UK, links India to that paranoia and takes pride in exposing a small component of much larger networks. There can be little doubt about Lakhani’s dubious business ethics and functioning, but his role in terrorist networks seems hyped. Once again this is a story that was not followed up. At an obvious level this was not a positive story. However, in exposing this bad egg and tying up with global concerns as regards terrorism, the article reinforced India’s position as a staunch ally in the war against terror, as a country that is a victim of terrorism and desires restitution. The exposé of Lakhani’s deals served to reintegrate India within the global fraternity. It also contributed to a sense of ‘truth’, ‘objectivity’ and ‘balance’ in reportage whereby India Today projected itself as a media entity that is not afraid to deal with traitors within and without its borders. My analysis is by no means exhaustive, but it indicates that there is a clear bias toward feelgood stories regarding the diasporic community. As stated earlier, they tell us as much about India as they do about the immigrants themselves. In its 19 January 2004 issue, India Today attempted to reposition Indians abroad by


Tracking the Media

defining them as Overseas Born Indians (OBIs), and through that redefinition to characterize second generation Indians. Inevitably, however, that characterization can only take place by reference to the mother country. Kaveree Bamzai in her essay ‘AB But No Longer CD’ writes: ‘Their growing numbers have given them confidence, as has the global emergence of the nation their parents still call home and the warmth with which it envelops them. With men and women running around in tights, no longer is yoga a cruel ethnic joke. As Indian movies acquire iconic status, what was an embarrassment has become a proud anthem.’89 We have here familiar tropes of the welcoming Bharat Mata (mother India) which is now a global player, and the reference to yoga indicates the ways in which ethnic chic has been successfully marketed. One is not sure for whom Indian movies have ‘acquire[d] iconic status’ apart from the diasporic community, since Bollywood’s offerings to the Oscar altar are embarrassing in content and in their regular rejection in the foreign film category. The articles in the issue go over familiar ground, enumerating the achievements and role of well-known OBIs such as Bobby Jindal, Manoj N. Shyamalan, Parminder Nagra, Rhona Mitra, and Bobby Friction. ‘Immigrants,’ write Anil Padmanabhan and Ishara Bhasi, ‘value success, and that has brought acceptance for their children. Success has happened when the second generation has assimilated the best, when it has broken through the glasshouse of ethnicity’.90 One wonders what that breakthrough means and whether it is predicated solely on ‘success.’ Undoubtedly, second generation migrants are better adjusted to their diasporic status, but whether they can live in a post-ethnic community or imagination is open to question. In any case, dominant media discourses in India are more interested in how these American/Brit desis relate to India, and in that focus we see a nation straddling two worlds. On the one hand are the mantras of globalization (India as IT giant and BPO powerhouse), economic growth (8 per cent GDP, booming stock markets and the India Shining campaign), and political leverage (India as deserving of a permanent seat at the UNSC, a responsible nuclear power, staunch ally in the war on terror). On the other hand are the problems that are seldom mentioned, but have not gone away: poverty, illiteracy, communal violence and identity politics (Gujarat), the defanging of trade unions, and the increasing inequities within the nation.91 By focusing on the achievements of the NRI/PIO/OBI and their interaction with the land of their birth,

Indian Diaspora in the UK and US 117

dominant media representations bolster the sense of a nation on the move. At the same time, it is a nation that remains rooted in its ethos and culture, whatever that might mean and however conservative it may be. As Saira Mohan, an OBI model for Chanel and Calvin Klein puts it, ‘India is the most virtuous country in the world’. Amen.

Notes 1. NRI is a term formalized retrospectively by the Indian government to designate Indian immigrants abroad and to tap their economic potential. In the 1970s and 1980s the term referred almost exclusively to immigrants in the US, Canada, and UK. In informal and popular culture discourse, particularly Hindi films, the NRI was a source of fascination and criticism from the 1950s. In both these domains the NRIs in the Gulf States — the foremen, truck drivers, and nurses — were ignored. PIO is a term of more recent provenance — the 1990s — formalized and used by the Indian government and available in media language. PIO includes, by definition, people who have some connection to India which is not necessarily that of being born in the country, such as descendants of indentured labourers in Fiji and the West Indies. While this casts a wider net it limits membership to the entity of India post-1947, ignoring the subcontinental nature of forced or voluntary migration prior to the creation of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Within this ambit, the Government of India now has a minister for NRI/PIO affairs and will grant dual citizenship to NRIs and PIOs in designated countries. 2. Shukla 2003: 59. 3. Butcher 2003: 31. 4. Shukla 2003: 10. Notions of a ‘purer relationship to homeland’ are partly responsible for fostering diasporic interest in and funding for extreme Hindu right wing groups such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), who aim to restore the sanctity of Bharatmata, the motherland, by ridding the land of minorities such as Muslims. 5. Rajagopal 2001: 241. 6. Shukla 2003: 46. 7. Anderson 1991: 35. 8. Ning 2001: 211. 9. Seth 2003: 18. 10. Ibid.: 18. 11. Alternately it could be seen as a realistic picture of India’s role in and share of the world’s Information Technology sector. See Madhavan 2007: 25. See also discussion below. 12. ‘About 70% of the people are dependent on the land for their living. […] [However,] agriculture accounted for 25% of GDP in 2002, industry 25% and services 50%’ (Turner 2005: 822, 820). Manufacturing employed 28.07


13. 14.

15. 16. 17. 18.

19. 20. 21. 22.

23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29.

Tracking the Media

million people and contributed Rs 2,700 billion to the national income. While agriculture’s share in net domestic product was Rs. 20.9 billion, manufacturing, electricity and construction together contributed Rs 23.6 billion (figures for 2002–2003). See ‘India in Figures 2007’, http://mospi., pp. 50, 52, 55. Ahmed 2003a: 1. See Mathur, Johnson and Kumar 2003. A press release by CSE declared that little had changed since their report was published: ‘Three years after CSE released its findings on pesticide residues in soft drinks, a new nationwide study shows nothing much has changed: soft drinks remain unsafe and unhealthy. And public health remains severely compromised. Worse, even the directions given by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) have been disregarded: standards for safety have been finalised but blocked because of company opposition. Our health is nobody’s business, it would seem, indicts the study’ (CSE Press Release, 2 August 2006, http://www.cseindia. org/misc/cola-indepth/cola2006/cola_press2006.htm. Ahmed 2003a: 1. Padmanabhan 2003c: 53. Shukla 2003: 23. ‘India is the world’s largest tea producer. The 2000 crop was 749,000 tonnes.’ (Turner 2005: 823). In 2005–2006 tea output was 931,000 tonnes and exports were worth $17.31 billion. See ‘India in Figures 2007’, 2007&type=NSSO, pp. 40, 112. India is the world’s fourth largest exporter of tea after Sri Lanka, Kenya and China. See http://www.indiainfoline. com/sect/teil/ch04.html. Padmanabhan 2003c: 53–54. India Today 2003a: 4. Ibid.: 4. In a different context, RSS publications display a similar ‘constitutive sense of peripherality’ and concomitant ‘craving for recognition’. Thomas Blom Hansen goes on to write: ‘[…] in the Hindu nationalist appellation, this alternative universalism is no longer a critique of the West, but rather part of a strategy to invigorate and stabilize a modernizing national project through a disciplined and corporatist cultural nationalism that can earn India recognition and equality (with the West and other nations) through assertion of difference’ (Hansen 2004: 231). India Today 2003b: 21. India Today 2003c: 102. Ibid.: 105. For a more nuanced interpretation of issues in British–Asian cinema see Bose 2003. Ahmed 2004b: 13. Ibid.: 13. Padmanabhan 2003b: 62.

Indian Diaspora in the UK and US 119 30. Ibid.: 62. 31. Naipaul 2002: 516, 517. The idea of the American and the western as the benchmark of civilization is central to Huntington’s thesis and he perceives this civilizational identity to be in absolute opposition to the non-western: ‘The survival of the West depends on Americans reaffirming their Western identity and Westerners accepting their civilization as unique not universal and uniting to renew and preserve it against challenges from non-Western societies’ (Huntington 1996: 20–21). While V. S. Naipaul and Anil Padmanabhan, among others and in different ways, wish to create a universal (and multicultural) world modelled on the West, Samuel Huntington is concerned that such multiculturalism will dilute and finally ruin the unique nature of America (and the western world). ‘As a result [of high infertility rates], Westerners increasingly fear “that they are now being invaded not by armies and tanks but by migrants who speak other languages, worship other gods, belong to other cultures, and, they fear, will take their jobs, occupy their land, live off the welfare system, and threaten their way of life.” […] A multicivilizational United States will not be the United States; it will be the United Nations’ (ibid.: 200, 306). From Huntington’s perspective, that is a pretty damning indictment of multiculturalism. 32. Padmanabhan 2003b: 62. 33. Ibid.: 62. 34. For a fictional representation of the complex interplay between ethnic origins and memories and the acquisition of Americanness see Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel The Namesake. 35. Marqusee 1996: 200. 36. The Sunday Times of India supplement, ‘Men & Women’, 2003a: 1. 37. Ahmed 2003c: 13. 38. For an analysis of the global Hindu identity fostered by organizations such as the VHP see Rajagopal 2001, particularly Chapter 6. Arvind Rajagopal writes: ‘The VHP of America has been registered since 1970, and regular meetings had begun as early as 1969, just five years after its founding in India. Its growth during the 1990s has been rapid’ (ibid.: 239). 39. The Sunday Times of India supplement, ‘Men & Women’, 2003b: 1. 40. Padmanabhan 2003d: 102. 41. Saund’s autobiography was titled Congressman from India. 42. Shukla 2003: 147. 43. Rajghatta 2003. Interestingly, Jindal attempted to occupy political spaces articulated by white, right-wing politicians to distinguish himself from black positions and concerns. For a discussion of the Indian immigrant anxiety of being mistaken for black in the US, an ‘ever-threatening “blackness”’, see Rajagopal 2001: 244–53. 44. Padmanabhan 2003d: 102. 45. See ‘The Foreign Exchange of Hate: IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva’, sacw.pdf: ‘The United Way, for a while had a donor choice agency code (#015546), so that tax-deductible contributions could be made to the VHP


46. 47. 48. 49.


51. 52. 53.

54. 55. 56. 57. 58.

Tracking the Media

of America. The VHP has also signed up with AT&T’s Reward’s Program, in which customers could direct a portion of their monthly long-distance bill to an approved organization. […] Estimates of donations for the Global Vision 2000 Conference in Washington, D. C. itself ranged from half a million to five million dollars, with the official souvenir listing nearly $200,000 in confirmed donations. This support was used to enormous effect in militant campaigns back home, in terms of the dollars and pound sterling that flowed in, as well as the prestige of multinational support. For instance, in Ayodhya, at the VHP office, bricks for the Ram temple from abroad were enshrined prominently in a glass case, and each exhibit was labeled. Those from the far-flung villages of India were left in anonymous piles’ (Rajagopal 2001: 240–41. The Times of India 2003: 10. Ibid. Ibid. While Blanco figured prominently in post-Hurricane Katrina coverage, Jindal was not seen. Perhaps the resurgence of ‘racism’ was too much for the Brady Bunch fan. Four years later, Jindal was elected governor of Louisiana and while Blanco did not contest the election, the vote for Jindal was seen ‘as a sort of “buyer’s remorse” from people who voted for Blanco last time and had second thoughts about that decision. […] “I think the Jindal camp, almost explicitly, (wanted) to cast it this way: If you were able to revote, who would you vote for?” said Pearson Cross, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette political scientist’ (Deslatte 2007). The issues raised by Indian media coverage of his earlier campaign remain valid since Jindal seemed not to have rescinded from any of his earlier positions. 21.7 per cent in 2004–2005 were in this category. See ‘India in Figures 2007’, 2007&type=NSSO, p. 66. See ‘False case against Mallika Sarabhai: A letter from Mallika Sarabhai’, 25 October 2003, John 2003a: 7. Similar comparisons were drawn, ironically, by the first RSS sarsanghachalak to have undertaken a trip to the West in 1995. Thomas Blom Hansen refers to Rajendra Singh who returned from his trip ‘disillusioned with the stagnation in India, lamenting the “lack of work culture” and the rampant corruption: “Why is this country lagging behind, this India which was once hailed as the Golden Bird before foreign invaders discovered her…. Beggars, that is what we have been reduced to, because we are going with begging bowls before the affluent nations and multinationals”’ (Hansen 2004: 233). John 2003a: 7. John 2003b. Ibid. Madhavan 2007: 25. Ibid.

Indian Diaspora in the UK and US 121 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65.


67. 68. 69.

70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75.

76. 77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82.

Ibid. Murji 2006: 162. Ibid. Ibid. John 2003b. Rajagopal 2001: 246. Butcher 2003: 214. Melissa Butcher refers to NRI returnee films such as Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1996), Tera Mera Sapne (1996), Judwaa (1997), Banarasi Babu (1997), Pardes (1997), Jeans (1998), and Bombay Boys (1999). Perry 2002: 98. This racialization led to a further consolidation of Indian and particularly of Hindu identity. ‘Indian immigrants’ assertion of Indian/Hindu identity were indissociable from their experience of racial marginalization in the US’ (Rajagopal 2001: 268). Padmanabhan 2003a: 93. Ibid.: 93. For a media perspective on contrasts between affluent India and its opposite, see Ramesh 2006. ‘A gated development for the subcontinent’s super-rich ... and a funeral for a cotton farmer, forced into suicide because of spiralling poverty. India’s economic growth is dazzling but, in the new, globalised era, its inequalities are becoming even more polarized.’ Although Ramesh dealt with contrasts in Maharashtra, these would be applicable in various other parts of India, with obvious differences of context. Datta 2003: 1. Ahmed 2003b: 1. Ibid.: 1. Ahmed 2003d: 14. Ibid. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1996), one of the NRI returnee films mentioned by Melissa Butcher, is a good example of the superficially westernized Raj (Shahrukh Khan) who is at heart a pure ‘Hindustani’ and respects family, patriarchal authority, and the need for pre-marital abstinence. The seemingly immutable quality of his ‘Hindustani’ character is not only uncorrupted by the West but helps to strengthen Raj’s bonds with his mother country. Butcher 2003: 193. Das 2004. As noted earlier, this idea of Indianness was repeated in NRI returnee films in the 1990s. Rajagopal 2001: 239. Ahmed 2004a. Ibid. The economic motivation underpinning the granting of NRI/PIO status by the Government of India explains why the NRI/PIO policy has been targeted very selectively. As J. Lessinger observes, ‘In theory any member of


83. 84. 85.

86. 87. 88.

89. 90. 91.

Tracking the Media

the Indian diaspora could qualify for these privileges. In practice, the new policy has been aimed at the wealthiest and best-connected immigrants in the US and Europe’ (Lessinger 2003: 176). Ahmed 2004c. Ibid. Sandhya Shukla writes of the ways in which expatriate media also emphasize India’s attractiveness as an investment haven: ‘While India Mail [published in Britain] presupposed that social experience in Britain was important, its primary economic interest lay in the promise of investment in India, and in this way the publication constructed Indian economic success as a kind of commodity, an object of desire, and ultimately a salve for immigrant life. […] The India that India Mail accessed and had a role in creating was steadfastly a new, postcolonial, and ascendantly capitalist state’ (Shukla 2003: 196, 197). Rajagopalan and Dutt 2003: 1. Ibid. An article syndicated by the Associated Press dwelt on the usual success stories of Indian immigrants in the US, but also mentioned the downside: ‘About one-tenth live in poverty, and as many as 400,000 are undocumented, said Deepa Iyer, executive director of South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow in Takoma Park, Md. “This is a community of contrasts,” Iyer said. “We hear so much about this highly educated and affluent group, but we also have segments that are not fluent in English and are battling immigration problems and hate crimes”’ (Texeira 2006). Bamzai 2004: 99. ‘ABCD’ is an acronym for ‘American Born Confused Desi’. Padmanabhan and Bhasi 2004: 100. Sevanti Ninan, citing Mrinal Pande, notes in the context of Hindi newspapers that ‘“the poor don’t want to read about poverty”. […] By and large, local editions had middle-class concerns: power supply, water, crime, development infrastructure. Not caste atrocities or exploitation of labour or subjugation of women’ (Ninan 2007: 88, 129). The English language media under survey was even more effective in its obliteration of negative stories and focused instead on how India was now a welcoming haven for NRI returnees.

6 ‘Hindi–Chini Bhai–Bhai’: Indian Media Representations of China In its pursuit of economic prosperity and its desire to belong to an increasingly globalized world, Indian policy makers and politicians often evoke the example of the ‘West’. Although Europe is a part of that western model, the primary template for many of the virtues of modernization and its attendant joys is the US. A 2005 Pew Research Center global poll (the Global Attitudes Project) found that Indians were the most enthusiastic and positive about the US, in sharp contrast to skepticism and cynicism in the UK, France, Spain, and Germany.1 This positive attitude is evident in the proliferation of what is perceived to be quintessentially American lifestyle icons in India, ranging from shopping malls to designer labels, from Ruby Tuesday to the television sitcom ‘Sex and the City’. The fascination with all things American is reflected in media coverage which includes not only politics and sport but celebrity trivia emanating from Hollywood. The focus on America is intertwined with awareness that there are countries in geographical proximity to India which are closer to the dream of realizing the American utopia and which are far more integrated into the global trade, economic and power systems than India is. An earlier generation of Indians in the 1950s and 1960s was envious of the Japanese; in the 1980s it was the Asian tigers that showed up the inefficiency of India’s economy; and now the object of competition as well as standard of comparison is China. From the 1980s onwards, the comparative mode created a phenomenon in India that Thomas Blom Hansen defines as ‘“foreign technology fetishism” — an obsession with the stereotyped symbols of modernity: Japanese efficiency, American ingenuity, German solidity, French sophistication, Italian taste — as these qualities were believed to be embedded in commodities. Commercial advertising underlined the nationality of the foreign technology behind the particular product. It showed interestingly that “commodity fetishism” in the age of globalization is linked not only to certain global styles of consumption but also to the imagined location of one’s culture and nation in a global hierarchy.


Tracking the Media

[…] The success of China and the East Asian economies attracted considerable attention among educated groups in India, and produced a feeling of being somewhat left behind a dynamic economic development in neighboring areas.’2 This chapter looks at English language print media articles dealing with China as well as one internet portal’s response to the Chinese premier’s visit in April 2005. With a few exceptions, I will be looking at articles published in 2005. I have limited the time frame to ensure that I can focus on some primary issues raised by the media coverage rather than be overwhelmed by the volume of that coverage. Indian media’s obsession with matters Chinese is not, of course, limited to 2005 and the issues dealt with in that year are available in articles published earlier and later. However, 2005 was also perceived as an epochal moment in Indo-Chinese relations primarily because of the visit of Premier Wen Jiabao, and I concentrate on that to foreground certain hopes and anxieties that underlie India’s response to China. These media responses chart the contours of contemporary India’s ‘imagined location’ vis-à-vis China and ‘in a global hierarchy’. While there are innumerable China specific articles, it is important to emphasize the extent to which China functions as a constant frame of reference in pieces that are about India’s politics and concerns. For example a special two-page report on the completion of one year by the present coalition government, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), ‘Worldly-Wise India is Happy Making New Friends’, lauded the government for its foreign policy initiatives. It would seem from the article that India is a pivotal player in world politics. ‘China is wooing India, the US is wooing India, so are Japan and Asean, and the Pakistanis are coming in droves. Surely something is going right.’3 Despite the importance of the US in a largely unipolar world, a fact acknowledged by the 10-year Indo-US defence pact signed in June 2005, the order of countries mentioned by Indrani Bagchi is not entirely without significance, as she indicates later in the same analysis: ‘China is clearly the feather in the cap. A boundary settlement is just over the horizon and with galloping trade acting as ballast, the Sino-India relationship now has a foundation of trust. If the 21st century belongs to Asia, both India and China will accommodate each other, even as they seek domination. The Indian foreign office is dealing with China with a sophistication that has managed to make strategic partners out of strategic competitors.’4 The boundless optimism of this sentence encapsulates some of

Indian Media Representations of China 125

the problems and desires that are reflected in many media reports emanating from India. The boundary settlement, to take the most vexed problem between the two countries, is not really ‘just over the horizon’. There is an assumption here that the ‘ballast of trade’ will offset competition and historical memory, as well as the complexities of the border negotiations. The hope is not entirely false as over the past decade China and India have been willing to proceed with trade ties and allow questions of territory to be taken up later. Indeed, China’s recognition of Sikkim as an integral part of India and India’s reciprocal gesture regards Tibet indicated that progress can be made. There are, however, no facile solutions and the border dispute is at the center of a future of (dis)trust and cooperation between the two countries. The only indication of the crucial importance of the border settlement in the Indian media appeared in the newsmagazine Frontline, to which I return later in the chapter. Bagchi’s use of the word ‘wooing’ along with its coy matrimonial connotations places India at the center of attention, the reluctant but powerful regional (and perhaps world) power that must be courted assiduously. Bagchi also highlighted in passing a theme that recurs in media reportage: that India and China seek both accommodation and domination. The subtext of this is that the two are equal partners, an idea that most of the Indian media sustains quite ably. The economy and economic facts are a major point of comparison in media reports dealing with the two countries. Achievements or non-achievements are constantly weighed against the Chinese model. For example an article on the visit of Wal-Mart’s President and CEO, John B. Menzer, to India in May 2005 detailed the excitement triggered by his desire to shop for food and dairy products for his behemoth chain. ‘After Indian textiles, apparel, jewellery and household products, it could well be basmati rice, gulab jamuns, vegetarian cheese, and spices that could find their way on Wal-Mart shelves in global markets.’5 At an obvious level, Mr Menzer’s need was for cheaper goods and the buzz was created by India’s ability to export primary products to Wal-Mart. One aspect of the new global economy is the ways in which older trade patterns persist, whereby poorer countries export raw materials in exchange for precious foreign exchange and/or aid. Indian corporate leaders are justifiably proud of their new ventures into foreign manufacturing markets, but their share is still relatively small. As Ratna Bhushan pointed out, ‘It [Wal-Mart] sources products worth $1 billion


Tracking the Media

from India. In comparison to China that’s small, from where it sources products worth $18 billion.’6 Not only is this is a stark comparison that put the visit and its hype in perspective, it also omitted the fact that a major part of products sourced from China are manufactured goods, not primary products such as rice and spices. The divergence in manufacturing is evident not only from Wal-Mart sourcing, but in the number of people employed in that sector in the two countries. ‘In 2005 India employed just seven million people in the formal manufacturing sector, as compared with more than a hundred million in China.’7 The following table enumerates some differences between India and China (all data is for 2006 unless otherwise noted): China Population Median age Population growth Infant mortality Life expectancy Literacy rate Total GDP (PPP* in trillions) GDP per capita (PPP) GDP growth, 2005 Manufacturing (% of GDP, 2003) Labour force, millions Export goods and services (% of world total, 2004) Percentage living below $1/day Electricity consumption (kilowatt hours/person, 2003) Internet users (per thousand people, 2004) Aircraft departures (2003) Railways (miles) Percentage of roadways paved


1.31 billion 32.7 0.59% 23.1/1000 72.6 90.9% (2002) $8.2 $6,300 9.3% 39% 706 6%

1.09 billion 24.9 1.38% 54.6/1,000 64.7 65% $3.7 $3,400 7.6% 16% 406 1%

16.6% 1, 379

34.7% 435



946,000 44,675 (2002) 80% (2003)

264,000 39,289 (2004) 63% (2002)

*Purchasing Power Parity Sources: CIA World Factbook, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Foreign Policy, Deutsche Bank, World Bank8

Indian media discomfort in this disparity with China’s manufacturing base was indicated in another article, ‘China far ahead in textile exports’, that dealt with an area in which India has a world

Indian Media Representations of China 127

presence. The article, however, was surprisingly candid about India’s inadequacies in the face of the Chinese juggernaut. ‘“We were never in the running for the first place,” said an official. “We aim to come second and we are on track.”’9 The only hope seemed to lie in protectionist measures taken by the US and EU against the Chinese ‘deluge’. ‘In the wake of the two rounds of quota curb announcements by the US against China this month [May 2005], Assocham (Association of Indian Chambers of Commerce) said India’s textile exports could increase by 50% to those two major markets.’10 Unable to compete, Indian traders were ready to give up on the free market and hope that old fashioned trade barriers would help them, which is, as Pranab Bardhan pointed out, a ‘sign of Indian defeatism’.11 This was a clear acknowledgement of non-parity and the projection of China as a threat which has to be contained by bigger powers — the US and EU. In its use of the term ‘deluge’ and its alignment with the US and EU the article, perhaps unwittingly, tapped into dominant western anxieties about the threat represented by China’s economic clout. In this identification, Indian media followed a pattern established by the media in the West. The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Washington Post are just some prominent media names which have over the years heightened western fears of being swamped by cheap Chinese goods.12 These representations find their counterpart in academic discourse such as Samuel Huntington’s harping on the challenge represented by China and in political discourse such as Donald Rumsfeld’s characterization of China as a threat to regional security (June 2005).13 Underlying these iterations are older patterns of fear related to a period, particularly in the US, when the Chinese were both necessary as labour for the Pacific Railroad and despised as the yellow hordes who would overwhelm and contaminate Anglo-Saxon purity. The Chinese were portrayed in popular culture and political discourse as drug abusing, cheating heathens and their entry into the country, frequently referred to in terms of a deluge or pestilence.14 In the twenty-first century, older racist appellations applied to an immigrant community, and people are now transferred to encompass the ‘deluge’ of Chinese products which are the metonymic representations of the new yellow peril. In India, the fear of Chinese immigration was non-existent but substituted particularly since the 1962 war by the dread of invasion. By appropriating these western stereotypes, some Indian media representations participate in an egregious


Tracking the Media

discourse reflective of national anxieties and inadequacies. The rhetoric also reflects the difficulty of acknowledging the economic gap between the two nations. Occasionally, as in the article about the textile issue, a gap is acknowledged, but also simultaneously displaced by the hope of a US–EU–India alliance to stem the Chinese tide. There was, for example no analysis in the article of what ails India’s textile industry and how to make it more competitive. Indo-Chinese relations, as reflected in media discourse in India, move between extremities, from the bonhomie of ‘Hindi–Chini Bhai–Bhai’ (‘India–China are brothers and friends’) to suspicion, and they are not helped by political factors such as India’s granting asylum to the Dalai Lama or the 1962 war. There is an acute and simultaneous sense of competitiveness, desire for parity and inadequacy, available most obviously in the realm of Information Technology. India’s prowess in software and its burgeoning presence in business process outsourcing are acknowledged the world over. Wen Jiabao visited Bangalore, India’s Silicon Valley, before New Delhi, a sign of the importance that China places on India’s IT industry. The numbers, however, give the lie to the idea of India as a global giant, whether in terms of computers per capita, internet penetration, or share of the world market. Narayanmurthy, founder and CEO of Infosys, the first Indian IT firm to register on the New York Stock Exchange, reminded the industry at home of its relatively paltry presence on the world stage.15 For example while India has 99 million telecom users, China has 650 million; India has 15 million internet users, China 94 million. These statistics are offset somewhat by the entry of Indian software companies into the Chinese market and the gap between the two countries in the software business. The recent joint venture between Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and three Chinese partners is a case in point. As Pallavi Aiyar writes, ‘Just the size of China’s software exports when compared to India’s is an indication of the gulf between the two. In the fiscal till March 2007, the software and services exports segment in India was worth $31.4 billion, compared to $2.5 billion for China.’16 Aiyar cites Jonathan Lam, CEO of TCS (China) on the advantages enjoyed by India over China in the software sphere: ‘China’s biggest drawbacks, according to Mr Lam, are its reputation for lax intellectual property rights protection, continuing inadequacy of Englishlanguage skills and lack of mid-level project management talent.’17

Indian Media Representations of China 129

The lurking fear that China will soon outpace India in this sector as well is dismissed by Mr Lam: ‘The market intelligence firm IDC predicted in a report out earlier this year that when it came to the software sector “Chinese cities were nipping at India’s heels” and would overtake Indian cities as the preferred destination for offshore back-office functions by 2011. […] However, Mr. Lam is dismissive of the report. “The day China can catch up with India is the day that customers feel as comfortable that they will get the same quality and security in China as in India and that day is not close,” he says.’18 Mr Lam’s confidence may or may not be borne out by time, and the general tenor of the article was hopeful of future parities between the two neighbours. The next category of comparison and national heartburn is the importance of and integration into globalized trade frameworks. Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into China are a constant source of envy and amazement, so much so that some media reports attempt to argue against the facts. An Indian internet portal, www., carried an article by Rajeev Srinivasan, ‘India v China: Startling Economic Facts’, wherein Srinivasan argued that although India may be somewhat behind in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) or FDI, China had manipulated its national accounts and the situation is not as bad as it appears to be. The idea that the Chinese communist government is inherently untrustworthy and that economic indices emanating from such sources are grossly inflated is an old one and has been in circulation in western media for a while. Srinivasan cited several such sources ranging from The Economist, Time and Newsweek to the San Jose Mercury News. The titles are indicative of their content: ‘China: How cooked are the books?’, ‘Workers wasteland’, ‘A dragon out of puff’.19 Srinivasan cited with approbation an opinion piece in The Asian Wall Street Journal, ‘India and China: Asia’s Tortoise and Hare’, where the author Bruce Gilley wrote: ‘North Asia’s colossus appears to be a paragon of efficient government and high growth. Its South Asia counterpart seems mired in political stasis and sluggish growth. That view is propagated most forcefully by Western investment banks and multinationals, and eagerly embraced by Chinese nationalists and disaffected Indian intellectuals. Yet it is a gross misreading of the comparative achievements of the two countries. A closer reading shows that, in the last two decades, India has done better


Tracking the Media

than China both in social and economic progress and in the expansion of rights and freedoms.’ [Emphasis Srinivasan’s] Gilley has correctly identified craven Indian ‘intellectuals’ – India’s greatest liability – as those most eager to embrace the views of Chinese nationalists. In other words, “secular progressives”, Nehruvian Stalinists, JNU-ites and Marxists. Unfortunately for them, they are wrong, as Gilley goes on to demonstrate in the rest of his article.20

According to Gilley and Srinivasan, it turns out that China inflates its FDI inflows and India under reports its own. Apparently 50 per cent of the FDI in China is actually flight money, Chinese money being rerouted. As a result, it turns out that instead of a gap of about $40 billion, the difference is much less. In Srinivasan’s words: ‘Therefore, the reported FDI for India is considerably less than the reality: thus, in fact, on an apples to apples comparison, India’s FDI goes up to $8 billion or so and China’s comes down to $20 billion or so: roughly proportional to their nominal GDPs. So it is not the case that India has done frightfully badly in FDI.’21 The article is a wonderful combination of factual arm twisting, patriotic jingoism and intolerance. Gilley’s conflation of ‘Chinese nationalists and disaffected Indian intellectuals’ was expanded upon by Srinivasan to blame the pet hate groups of the political right in India: ‘“secular progressives”, Nehruvian Stalinists, JNU-ites and Marxists’, as if they alone are to blame for the inefficiency, corruption, mismanagement, and bureaucracy that continue to plague Indian industry and economy. Srinivasan built a rhetorical bridge between Chinese communism and its godless Marxist or socialist counterpart in India, represented in particular by Jawaharlal Nehru and the university named after him. Srinivasan concluded: ‘Indians also have no reason to be overawed by a mythical Chinese success story. That is the intent of this essay, to urge Indians to not blindly follow China’s example. This is a real danger, because India’s “intellectuals” are uncritically starry-eyed over China.’22 The article seemed to argue that if India only rid itself of starry-eyed intellectuals and its inferiority complex vis-à-vis China, then the economic indices would take care of themselves. Srinivasan wrote a series of articles for and his brand of rhetorical defense is part of the discourse of intolerance and racism I noted earlier with respect to the fear of a Chinese ‘deluge’.23 Ironically, the only defence seemed to lie in the kind of semantic and statistical comfort offered by Srinivasan.

Indian Media Representations of China 131

While Rajeev Srinivasan represents an extreme, untenable and factually dubious portrait of the relations between India and China, there is another line of defense that the Indian media frequently projects. This is the fact that India is a democracy and China is not. Chidanand Rajghatta’s ‘India a growing global power, natural friend: US’ is part of this stable of journalism. The article was primarily an interview with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the questions were loaded towards making explicit comparisons between China and India as global powers. Rice made the point that India’s advantage is its functioning democracy: ‘ “The advantage in India is its democracy. And it is a quite remarkable democracy. […] It’s a remarkable story. And because our view is that democracies tend to be stabilizing in their activities and behaviour, obviously it’s a good thing that India is a democracy. […] The United States has issues with China over democratization, human rights issues, religious freedom issues, the transparency and openness in politics, its currency and intellectual property rights. An economy that big has simply got to be within the rules of the international economy or it will be disruptive to the international economy.” ’24 This was music to Indian ears and carried the stamp of US approval so central for reinforcing India’s self esteem. As in the appropriation of American racist tropes to counter China’s economic prowess, so too here India acquired identity and affirmation by firing over the shoulders of the US. It is interesting to note that some of the issues that Condoleezza Rice raised — human rights, religious freedom, transparency and openness in politics — are equally applicable to India. Indian pretensions towards global power status are often stymied by a corrupt, inefficient and obdurate political and bureaucratic class and more fundamental changes would be necessary before Condoleezza Rice’s endorsement takes root in reality.25 The trumpeting of democracy as a panacea for all ills is central to US foreign policy at present and India is an automatic beneficiary of that outlook. The article and interview also inadvertently highlighted the fact that the US has ‘issues with China’ because China impinges in a major way on US economic and geopolitical interests, whereas India is still a relatively minor player.26 The Time issue of 30 May 2005, for instance emphasized China’s increasing clout in Southeast Asia and US anxieties about this phenomenon. However, Rajghatta’s article headline and text highlighted India’s global desire and its affirmation by the US.


Tracking the Media

In an op-ed piece in The Times of India, Ashutosh Varshney, Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, articulated the oft repeated arguments about India’s democratic advantage over China. Varshney’s was a much more sophisticated analysis stating that although China has short-term advantages over India, in the long term India has certain institutional advantages over China in the economic and political sphere. ‘Of the many differences in economic institutions, two stand out: world class firms have emerged in India, but not in China; and India’s capital markets are significantly more developed.’27 Varshney cited the authority of Lee Kuan Yew, the father of Singapore, to bolster this assertion. The greater advantage that India has over China, however, is political. ‘The odds are,’ Varshney wrote, ‘that Chinese communists will face a societal challenge in the next decade or so. A society that has gone through a market-based annual growth rate of 7–8% for nearly three decades is almost certain to witness the emergence of a vigorous middle class. Can one imagine a quiescent, 400–500 million strong middle class for long? […] Sooner or later, China’s communist rulers will have to face the prospect of a middle-class unrest.’28 Predicting the future of nations as complex as India and China is always hazardous, but the trajectory of Varshney’s formulation is interesting in the ways in which it posited an inevitable clash between the middle class and their rulers, perceiving that class as an engine for societal change. In India’s case, internal economic liberalization and globalization have led to a burgeoning middle class that is increasingly conservative in its political and religious outlook. The rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coincided with the growing clout of the middle class (the main votaries of the BJP) and the besmirching of India’s democratic traditions and institutions by genocidal religious riots and bigotry in the public sphere. Thomas Blom Hansen, analyzing the patterns of communal violence in 1992–93, disagreed with the idea that these riots had revealed ‘a general lowering of the middle-class Hindu’s resistance to communal violence’.29 Instead, Blom argued that ‘there is an element of hypocrisy in this discomfort with the ostensible “normalization” of communalism. […] The discomfort arises because the Hindu nationalist movement has been able to create a discourse capable of activating the “communal unconscious” among individuals who may not otherwise subscribe to its political program. This reactivation has revealed that communal consciousness is enormously widespread and exists and thrives in the middle-class

Indian Media Representations of China 133

society at the core of the nation, to the extent that educated men and women, believed to be good-hearted and susceptible to reason and secular practices have shown their capacity for hatred and violence. The hypocrisy, to my mind, lies in the fact that the “pathologization” of communalism into a matter for primitive, criminalized lower-caste males “outside” normal social life conceals the historical origins of communal myths and stereotypes in educated groups, always more anxious to protect status and purity’.30 Hansen goes on to write: ‘If nothing else, the “saffron wave” and the widespread violence it engendered have demonstrated that the “massification” of national identities in the last decades in India has produced public enunciation of communal myths and enmities, not least within the upper-caste Hindu middle class as a reaction against the sustained political mobilization of cultural communities and cultural differences from the lower and hitherto marginalized rungs of Indian society and polity.’31 The rise of fascism in Europe in the twentieth century was ably aided by the middle class in Germany and Italy. In his analysis of the development of fascism in Italy in the context of the 1923 elections, Roger Eatwell writes: ‘Fascism remained strong too among the groups who had helped the squadristi, though there was a feeling that Mussolini was compromising too much — and sometimes anger that the leaders of the squads had not been rewarded with more government posts. The main growth in support seems to have come from the white-collar middle class, who saw in fascism the main alternative to either the old political class, or a renewed threat from the left.’32 Within these contexts, it seems optimistic to perceive the middle classes as an agent for societal or pro-democratic change in a post-industrial, globalized world. Varshney’s is a comforting argument but he too ignored some of the problems that beset India’s economic and political institutions. While India has an enviable institutional framework for everything ranging from poverty eradication to laws that will protect the elderly against their ungrateful children, there seems to be a substantial disconnect between the framework of laws and institutions on the one hand and their functioning on the other. The institutionalization of corruption and communalism, the poor infrastructure — roads, power generation, airports, ports — that continue to hold up economic development, massive poverty and inequity and almost total lack of social security networks are just some of the problems.33 Even an astute economic analyst such as Pranab Bardhan, who


Tracking the Media

concludes his article with justified caution about ‘looking at deeper social and historical forces than simply referring to an aggregative comparison of an authoritarian and a democratic political regime’, asserts that ‘China is far behind India in the ability to politically manage conflicts’.34 Bardhan compares the Chinese government response to demonstrations in Tiananmen Square with India’s almost continuous handling of dissent. In this comparative frame Bardhan seems to minimize the impact of events such as the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the Babri Masjid demolition or the 2002 Gujarat riots which, although they were ‘managed’, continue to reverberate in political, social and personal spheres. Needless to say they also constitute not just a few recent blots on the Indian democratic horizon, but raise serious questions about types of political and democratic management. India’s management of political conflict has been noteworthy given the recent provenance of its democratic institutions, as well as in comparison to the record of some other developing countries. However, the same conflict management whether in the north east or Kashmir or the events mentioned above, has also created its own unsavoury history of violence, abuse and insecurity. By skimming over these issues, Bardhan seems to fall back upon an implicit valorization of democracy over authoritarian government. China too faces its share of poverty and inequity as a result of the rapid economic growth over the last two decades and the dismantling of communist economic structures.35 When the Indian media carries stories and analyses trumpeting India’s democracy, one wonders how that in itself is an advantage over China or any country. Is the dichotomy and choice between democracy and what Varshney calls the ‘communist monopoly on power’?36 The Indian media casts the differences in these terms and often overlooks endemic problems within India, casting aspersions on China’s human rights records while being smug in its own democratic virtue. While the Chinese paradigm is omnipresent, it is seldom analyzed for models that India might emulate. The economic boom in China has created inequities, but it has the advantage of a revolutionary past which emphasized social equality and literacy, among other aspects of social capital. To cite Bardhan again, China has ‘one of the world’s most egalitarian distributions of land cultivation rights that has followed the decollectivisation since 1978 (the size of land cultivated by a household is assigned almost always strictly in terms of the demographic size of the household). In most parts of India for the

Indian Media Representations of China 135

poor there is no similar rural safety net; and the more severe educational inequality makes the absorption of shocks in the industrial labour market more difficult (to the extent that education and training provide some means of flexibility in retraining and redeployment). […] It is in this sense that it may not be entirely flippant to state that compared to India the Chinese are better capitalists now because they were better socialists before: the egalitarian base has made the shocks of transition to capitalism more bearable.’37 China also has a solid manufacturing base which powers its growth. India seems to be attempting to leap-frog over and ignore dire problems (such as poverty, illiteracy, female infanticide) and create a globalized utopia for its middle class. In an article written almost two years after The Times of India op-ed piece, Ashutosh Varshney dwelt at length on the inequities and problems that characterize India’s economic reforms and progress. He pointed to the burgeoning middle class ‘numbering anywhere between 200 and 250 million, depending on the measure used. In what is fast becoming an emblem of the rising Indian middle class, six million cell phones are bought every month, making India the fastest growing market for cell phones in the world. Businesses in the cities are booming, five-star hotels are fully booked, airports are clogged, and flights are regularly oversold’.38 However, as Varshney also noted, ‘the begging bowls and emaciated faces of malnourished children, historically the most visible signs of mass deprivation on the streets of Indian cities, have not appreciably receded. Poverty has clearly decreased since the reforms began, when roughly a third of the country was below the poverty line, but close to a fourth of the population still lives on less than $1 a day […]’39 Varshney goes on to characterize India’s reform politics in terms of ‘elite politics and mass politics’, whereby the poorer majority has less enthusiasm for economic reforms since they have benefited less from the changes. Varshney’s detailed and acute analysis inevitably turns to comparisons with China, and here he returns to the thesis of India’s democratic advantages: ‘[…] although democratic politics makes life challenging for reformers [in India], it could also turn out to be a huge benefit in the long run. Consider the counterexample of China. It is hard to believe that the single-party state in China will not eventually be challenged from within the existing party structure, by the burgeoning middle class, or by rising peasant and labor unrest. The attendant economic consequences of a political


Tracking the Media

transition or upheaval in China are uncertain. In contrast, democratic India has a viable solution to the problem of political transition: the party, or coalition of parties, that wins elections will run the government. Transition rules are now deeply institutionalized in India, and long-term political stability is a virtual certainty.’40 It is interesting that Varshney reverted to the normative values of democracy when he compared India’s future with that of China’s, assuming that democratic structures will lead to a brighter and more equitable future in the former. While the argument is speculative it seems to take us back to the ‘imagined location’, the anxiety of belonging in a global hierarchy that is central to media and analytical representations of the India–China relationship.41 Gautam Adhikari’s op-ed piece, ‘Dancing Their Way To Oz’, was emblematic of this desire for an utopic future that blithely erased the uncomfortable present in the very enumeration of that present. He too listed the discomfiting facts: ‘A majority of people lives on less than two dollars a day, with a quarter of the population scrounging for subsistence daily on less than a dollar. India figures way near the bottom of the United Nations’ quality of life chart, barely above sub-Saharan nations. A third of the population still can’t read or write after more than half a century of independent growth.’42 Yet, according to Adhikari, these facts can now be discounted because young India is dancing its way to ‘individual dreams of a happy life’ and even if this is illusionary, ‘illusions must not be dismissed out of hand’.43 When inconvenient facts intervene it is these ideas of democracy, human rights and moral capital that seem to sustain the media in its continuous comparisons with China. Thus far, I have looked largely at coverage of China in The Times of India, which claims to be the largest circulating broadsheet in the world. I turn now to some news magazines which, while covering the visit of Wen Jiabao to India in April 2005, reiterated some of the themes addressed above. Raj Chengappa and Saurabh Shukla began their article by citing Wen Jiabao’s response to George Fernandes, former Defence Minister, who declared China as India’s ‘enemy number one’ soon after India’s nuclear tests in May 1998. ‘On a patch-up visit to Beijing in 2003, he [Fernandes] was given a lesson in subtlety by Wen Jiabao. The Chinese premier told Fernandes “During the past 2,200 years, about 99.9% of the time we have devoted to friendly cooperation between our two countries.” The 0.1% that Wen was referring to was the 1962 war that left deep scars in

Indian Media Representations of China 137

India’s psyche but which China now is keen to heal.’44 The article covered familiar ground, outlining Indian business fears of being swamped by Chinese products, the need to solve the border dispute and that the new China led by ‘young leaders who do not carry the baggage of the past’ ‘is concentrating fiercely on its economic development’.45 Chengappa and Shukla stressed the importance of economic and political cooperation rather than conflict between the two nations. This theme was carried forward in a follow-up piece, ‘Factory of the world… meets Lab of the World: Once called Asia’s non-identical twins, India and China are becoming more of a twosome.’46 The emphasis again was on business rather than old border disputes, on Indian companies ‘looking at China as a cheaper and more efficient manufacturing base than India’47 and on the fact that cooperation and competition can coexist. The IT sector came in for its usual praise along with possibilities in steel manufacturing. Rohit Saran cited Joydeep Mukherjee, director with Standard and Poor’s, New York, who declared that as the Chinese ‘engage more with India [they] are likely to realize that the Indian private sector is remarkably modern and sophisticated in comparison with the Chinese private sector’.48 Mukherjee’s assertion was not backed by facts in the article. The very next page highlighted facts that contradicted Mukherjee’s optimistic assertion. A table titled ‘Four Ps of India– China’ indicated that in terms of Prosperity, People, Public Goods and Partnership, India lags behind. Its conclusions were fairly clear: ‘China is richer, but also more unequal; India is younger, but less productive’ and in Public Goods ‘China’s superiority is overwhelming’.49 While lauding India’s private sector, Saran simultaneously wrote that ‘Haier and TCL, the Chinese consumer appliances and electronics giants, have entered India only to sell their products. That isn’t surprising. Chinese companies will not leave an infinitely more efficient and abundant infrastructure in their country to come and manufacture in India’.50 In fact in July 2005, Haier declared that it was putting off all operations in India by a year; reasons were not cited. Saran’s observation about China’s manufacturing advantage was remarkably candid in the context of a media that generally shies away from dismal comparative realities. However, Saran’s piece itself veered from realism to optimism, displaying a schizophrenic awareness of India’s negatives and attempting to cover up with hype and testimonials from ‘experts’. This is a strategy that many


Tracking the Media

media practitioners adopt in their attempt to be ‘balanced’. Often, however, they end up highlighting shortcomings and problems which they may have wished to downplay. Alternately, as in the piece by Gautam Adhikari, negatives are focused on only to be swept aside by ‘individual dreams of a happy life’ wherein these ‘dreams’ have greater economic, social and moral currency than the problematic contexts in which they exist. In a ‘Guest Column’ Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School and teacher of senior executives in a HBS-Tsinghua University programme stated that while differences between India and China are huge, those very divergences would be the basis for future cooperation. Unlike Varshney, he did not attempt to predict the future of the Chinese polity or economy, but he too ended on an upbeat note: ‘To me the most heartening aspect of the current bonhomie between India and China is that they have finally begun to understand and engage with each other. That will help fill the knowledge gap that persisted between them. And as that gap narrows, the huge potential–performance gap in the bilateral trade and investment will also shrink’.51 Perhaps Wen Jiabao’s visit contributed in part to the bridging of that ‘knowledge gap’. Wen played up the importance of the trip to India much before it actually took place when he told his Indian counterpart, ‘My visit to India will be the most important event of my calendar for 2005 and the world will look at it.’52 Saurabh Shukla went on to write that although problems persist, the agreements between the two countries represent what officials describe ‘as a “mindshift” — China was no longer doing business with the vanquished of 1962 but with an emerging global player’.53 These officials are most likely to have been Indian, for they touched on two raw nerves at one go: the 1962 war which still rankles and India’s not so major presence in the global stage. Perhaps China’s engagement with India would help to assuage some of the insecurities. At least two other English newsmagazines, Outlook and Frontline, ran stories preceding and on Wen Jiabao’s visit. V. Sudarshan’s ‘Wen, Where, Why’ dealt with the gamut of issues between the two countries and did so in a manner devoid of hype.54 It described at some length the mechanisms evolved for solving the border dispute and the fact that the resolution would take time. It also strove, as most Indian media reports do, to create an aura of equivalence

Indian Media Representations of China 139

between the two nations. In sharp contrast to the hyperbole of The Times and India Today, however, Outlook was restrained and factual. Surprisingly, it did not devote a cover story to the visit. Frontline thought Wen’s visit was crucial enough to warrant a cover and it also put together, in its characteristic manner, a set of thoroughly analytical articles on Sino-Indian relations. The cover story, ‘Moving Closer’, inevitably cited some of the platitudes that are diplomatically necessary and an essential part of media shorthand in Indian discourse on the subject. Wen, in his speech to students at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, quoted Gandhi, Nehru, Tagore, and Amartya Sen. ‘He ended his speech with the slogan of the 1950s, “Hindi–Chini, Bhai–Bhai.” ’55 John Cherian also parenthetically cited an US National Intelligence Council study which came to the conclusion that the twenty-first century would be led by China and India in the way the twentieth had been by the US.56 In passing, one may note that Cherian succumbed to the need to seek selective or partial validation for India’s future status and equivalent power from agencies outside the country, most notably the US. Thus while Gandhi, Nehru et al. might testify to the strength of its anti-colonial struggle, a resurgent, postcolonial India needs testimonies of its promise and prowess from the fountainhead of post-industrial power, the US. The West is not just an imitative model — the malls to McDonald’s syndrome — it is also a certifying agency imbued with authority that Indians do not have. It is worth observing that such testimonials from the West (Condoleezza Rice, Standard and Poor’s, Lee Kuan Yew, Wen Jiabao) are perceived as an end in themselves.57 Western models of efficiency, civic development, human rights, or accountability in public life are seldom emulated with any great zeal within India.58 In fact, an invitation to do so leads to a curious reversion to nativist pride and essential Indian values, as if those values were in total contradistinction to honesty and efficiency. The template remains superficial and the rhetoric is all.59 John Cherian’s piece, however, did not shy away from dysfunctional aspects of the relationship between the two countries. For instance it clearly enunciated India’s reluctance for creating a free trade zone with China. ‘Indian industry gives the impression of being overawed by the competition from China at this juncture.’60 This was an understatement given the lack of parity between the two. Parvathi Menon’s ‘Business as bridge’ looked exclusively at


Tracking the Media

the realities and possibilities of business collaboration. Wen’s visit to Bangalore and Indo-Chinese cooperation in IT featured prominently. Menon noted that Indian companies such as Tata Consultancy Service (TCS) have set up base in China and are thriving. TCS’s wholly owned subsidiary, Tata Information Technology (Shanghai) Co. has been operating since July 2002.61 This is a case of genuine and equal cooperation and fields such as genomics, nano science and micro-electrical systems represent the future of joint commitment. Menon’s piece was refreshingly factual and steered clear of the type of rhetoric available in mainstream media as well as in the series written by Rajeev Srinivasan. In the final article, Mira Sinha Bhattacharjea, Emeritus Fellow and former Director of the Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi, analyzed the centrality of the border dispute. ‘No matter how the outcome of the recent visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is assessed, it would be difficult to deny that the centrepiece of the summit was the festering boundary problem. In fact, judging by the substance and thrust of the three political documents signed, this appears to have been the real purpose of this visit, as indeed it seems to have been of every prime ministerial meeting since 1954.’62 Bhattacharjea was quite emphatic that the political drives the economic and not the other way round. She perceived the ‘economic prospect’ as playing ‘an important diversionary role’ and helping to ‘advance the process forward on this most knotted problem of boundary settlement’.63 She then detailed the way in which the 2005 agreements were fundamentally different from the negotiations since the late 1950s: ‘there is now a stated and shared agreement on the nature of the problem, that is, of defining a “boundary”, not confirming a border; of reaching a single comprehensive settlement covering the entire stretch, not separate agreements for different sectors; of wrapping this up in a “package” that should shape the form and nature of the future relationship; and, to round all this off, an agreement not to use force “by any means”, which can be interpreted as amounting to a no-war pact, complete with demilitarized borders and a border management system to encourage easy cross-border movement of goods and people. Such agreement as has come about, is a truly remarkable achievement particularly for a democracy as untidy and as lacking in unified thinking as ours.’64 For the first time amongst the reams of media reports and analyses I read, Bhattacharjea’s article was an example of clear analysis and a deconstruction of the idea that democracy is some sort of absolute normative, a natural advantage, or

Indian Media Representations of China 141

a magic mantra that condones all problems. Bhattacharjea unravelled the intricacies of the border question by showing how entrenched positions on both sides have been modified. ‘In tandem with this development [the stabilization of the Line of Actual Control (LAC)] has been the gradual attenuation of the extreme claims of the past, whether as historical, or as legal and traditional right, to extended boundaries that were preferred by both in the 1950s. These claims, in any case, were never more than notional. Neither state could hope to realize these claims without breaking up the other state or by all-out war. […] There is also a growing awareness that the military/political equation across this de facto boundary is so well balanced as to render any attempt to alter it by force unsuccessful.’65 In other words, a military solution is not considered viable any longer. Changes in the global situation have also contributed to the progress in negotiations and alterations in perspectives and positions. The collapse of the Soviet Union, ‘the resultant unipolar distribution of global power had created large areas of shared concern and strategic commonality between the two neighbours’.66 These commonalities were/are often stymied by the border question but even that is amenable to change and progress. Bhattacharjea’s essay is informative, incisive and analytical in a way that some of the other articles are not. It represents a paradigm shift in media discourse in India, although one must not overrate its influence or reach. While she clearly perceived political realities, hers was a voice not heard often in mainstream media. Frontline has its dedicated readership, but it is small compared to that of India Today and The Times of India. The fabled middle class of India prefer the hype of economic equality and global presence conveyed by correspondents in India Today or The Times of India. However, readership volumes and the magic of numbers cannot obfuscate the real contribution of news magazines that prefer to be seriously analytical. Articles on China proliferate in the Indian media and one could go on forever. For example prior to President Hu Jintao’s visit beginning 20 November 2006, The Times of India carried an article, ‘Tortoise can never beat hare’, which raked up some sensitive issues: Unlike the hare in Aesop’s fable, the Chinese “hare” would never give the Indian “tortoise” an opportunity to overtake it, a senior Chinese trade official has said. He also criticised certain “unfair” actions by the Indian government against Chinese investors.


Tracking the Media

“Only when the hare (China) naps does the tortoise (India) overtake it. China will never ‘nap’ in the process of its economic development,” Wang Jinzhen, secretary-general of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said. He was reacting to some economists likening China and India to the tortoise and the hare in the fable. Speaking to the People’s Daily, the official organ of the Communist Party of China, Wang pooh-poohed predictions of some economists that India would overtake China by 2020. “There is a prevailing belief in the international community that India will overtake China by 2020. This statement lacks statistical evidence.”67

Every high profile political visit engendered its own interest and rhetoric, as did the 2005 visit of Premier Wen Jiabao and the 2006 visit of President Hu Jintao. Both visits, but especially the former, brought to the fore the entire baggage of issues that reverberate between the two nations: the 1962 war and the border dispute, economic development, the need to integrate further into global trade frameworks, the IT industry, and the debate between democracy and communism. It is interesting that all these issues are seen almost exclusively from the Indian point of view, so that these articles tell us more about Indian anxieties, fears and desires than anything substantial about China.68 The emphasis on Indian democracy as an inherent advantage over China is just one example of the way in which issues of good governance are often evaded. Neither are the internal political issues and complexities within China of any but the most superficial interest in the Indian media.69 Mainstream English language print media in India perceives and projects the Sino-Indian relationship in terms of a race. The hare versus tortoise analogy is often used and it has an obviously comforting subtext for India, as the tortoise represents solid progress rather than flashy but temporary brilliance.70 Within the race paradigm China is ahead at present, but there is the tantalizing prospect that India will not only catch up but out perform its neighbour and rival. Chinese economic indices, its presence in the hallways of power (the UN Security Council, for example), its dazzling cities such as Shanghai have coalesced into a mythology of what it means to be developed and therefore one step closer to the West. We learn little about what enables these cities, what drives China’s economic development, what sorts of civic arrangements thrive or collapse

Indian Media Representations of China 143

in the face of China’s modernization. Simultaneously, we are told little of India’s own problems because often they are airbrushed to create the sense of a competition where India may overhaul and overtake its giant neighbour. ‘Right at the very heart of news, history threatens to disappear.’71 Jean Baudrillard is referring primarily to television news, but his aphorism is applicable to the ways in which Indian print media representations often suppress or misrepresent inconvenient facts related to the India–China scenario. ‘Hindi–Chini, Bhai–Bhai’ is a phrase that is fraught with sentiment, resentment and fear towards a brother who has not always been benign and is certainly not equal. The only way to quell that fear seems to be to emulate and hopefully outstrip that brother in the path towards the mythical West. In ancient China ‘the West’ denoted India; in twenty-first century India China represents what India wishes to be in its quest for the West.72

Notes 1. A comparison of ‘Favorable Opinion of the US’ in the Pew Global Attitudes Project in India, Britain, France, Spain, and Germany in the years 2002, 2005 and 2007 shows a downward trend in all countries except India. In 2002 54 per cent in India had a positive view of the US, compared to 75 per cent in Britain, 63 per cent in France, and 61 per cent in Germany (no data for Spain). In 2005, 71 per cent in India had a positive opinion of the US as compared to 55 per cent in Britain, 43 per cent in France, 41 per cent in Spain and Germany. In 2007, 59 per cent in India expressed a positive view of the US, compared to 51 per cent in Britain, 39 per cent in France, 34 per cent in Spain and 30 per cent in Germany. Although 2007 registered a drop in favourable opinion of the US in India the percentage was still higher than that of the other countries. In answer to the question ‘Does U.S. Foreign Policy Consider Others’ Interests?’ in 2005, 63 per cent in India said yes, compared to 32 per cent in Britain, 18 per cent in France, 19 per cent in Spain and 38 per cent in Germany. See ‘U.S. Image Up Slightly, but Still Negative’, Pew Global Attitudes Project, released 23 June 2005, http:// and ‘Global Unease With Major World Powers’, Pew Global Attitudes Project, released 27 June 2007, 2. Hansen 2004: 140. Thomas Blom Hansen acutely observes an ambivalence in Indians’ ‘imaginings of the hedonistic Westerner — the excessive, intoxicated, and immoral consumer — [who] is an established and fascinating other, not hated intensely, but rather somehow ambivalently admired for technical capability, while ridiculed for lack of self control’ (ibid.: 211) 3. Bagchi 2005: 12.


Tracking the Media

4. Ibid. China’s importance in the public imagination in India was also indicated by a Times News Service Poll across 11 cities. ‘In response to a question on which was the bigger achievement of the government — sustaining economic growth or improving ties with neighbours China and Pakistan — the economy took a backseat, with 59% voting for better relations with China and Pakistan’ (Raghuraman 2005: 12). 5. Bhushan 2005: 19. 6. Ibid. 7. Luce 2006: 49. 8. Chu 2006: 1. 9. Dash 2005: 9. 10. Ibid. 11. Bardhan 2003. 12. See, for example, Helprin 2004; ‘Stoking protectionism: Concerns rise about the quality of Chinese exports,’ The Economist 2007; Crutsinger 2007: ‘“As long as China keeps cheating, the U.S. trade deficit with China will keep rising,” said Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, which represents textile companies that have been hard hit by Chinese imports.’ 13. Samuel Huntington perceives ‘Sinic assertiveness’ as one probable cause of future conflicts between the West and the rest of the world. The idea of China as a hegemonic power is outlined in Chapter 7, in the section titled ‘Greater China and its Co-Prosperity Sphere’. Huntington details Chinese arms exports to Pakistan, Iran and Iraq (see Chapter 8: ‘The West and the Rest: Intercivilizational Issues’). On ‘June 4 in Singapore, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made headlines with a hawkish speech, asserting that “China’s defense expenditures are much higher than Chinese officials have published.” Rumsfeld continued, “Since no nation threatens China ... why these continuing large and expanding arms purchases? Why these continuing robust deployments?”’ (Elliott 2005). 14. See Christopher 1995: Chapter 3. 15. See Madhavan 2007 for an analysis of India’s standing in the world of information technology. See also ‘India’s IT capital share is only 3.5%!’ 28 April 2005,, which comes to similar conclusions based on a study — ‘Information Technology in the Economy of India — conducted by Sallstrom Consulting and Nathan Associates Inc across 30 countries and supported by Microsoft Corporation India’. 16. Aiyar 2007c. 17. Ibid. 18. Ibid. 19. See The Economist, 14 March 2002, displayStory.cfm?story_id=1034342; Forney 2002; The Economist 2002. 20. Srinivasan 2002a. 21. Ibid.

Indian Media Representations of China 145 22. Ibid. 23. Racial stereotyping was evident in a follow-up piece by Rajeev Srinivasan wherein he observed: ‘And speaking of the law of unintended consequences, The Economist of 20 June had a story about 30 million surplus men in China by 2020, a result of the strict one-child norm and son-preference. These men will never find a wife, as that many women are ‘missing’, victims of selective abortion and female infanticide. History suggests that so many testosterone-driven young men will be highly restless: married men are more sedate. China may go to war to channel their aggression and, frankly, to kill off some of them. China, goes this logic, may have no option but to go to war. Demographics has its own ruthless logic: some say Arab and Pakistani terrorism is largely a function of the population bulge — they have large numbers of unemployable young men who have nothing better to do than kill and be killed’ (Srinivasan 2002b). Srinivasan moved effortlessly from the restless ‘testosterone-driven young men’ in China to similar hordes in Pakistan, a conflation between high populations in Muslim countries (or seemingly high reproductive rates of Muslims in India) and terrorism that is beloved of the Hindu right in India. In this process Srinivasan ignored the fact that ‘many women’ in India ‘are “missing”, victims of selective abortion and female infanticide’ and that, although it is not state policy in India, female infanticide has led to skewered gender ratios and creates social problems. 24. Rajghatta 2005a: 8. 25. In the 2006 Transparency International ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’, India was ranked 70 out of 163 nations, with a CPI score of 3.3. ‘CPI score relates to the perception of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts and ranges between 10 (highly clean) and 0 (highly corrupt).’ See Transparency International, ‘Corruption Perceptions Index 2006’, cpi/2006, p. 5, 6. 26. India–US trade stands at $32 billion in contrast to Sino-US trade which is worth $200 billion. As Pallavi Aiyar writes: ‘Compared to the India-China bilateral trade of $25 billion plus, Sino-U.S. trade stands at well over $200 billion and in fact China’s trade with a single American company, Wal-Mart, was worth a staggering $18 billion last year’ (Aiyar 2007a). 27. Varshney 2005: 14. 28. Ibid. 29. Chandra 1993: 1884. 30. Hansen 2004: 216. 31. Ibid. For the ways in which the RSS mobilized the middle-class to construct ideas of Hindu nationalism and the Hindu rashtra see also Zavos 2004. John Zavos writes that Hindu nationalism is an ideology that ‘was developed largely by middle class Indians, over a period coterminous with the development of elite-led Indian nationalist ideology’. The RSS is ideologically ‘rooted firmly in the middle class, and its leadership, right down to pracharak




34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41.

42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50.

Tracking the Media

level, has remained a high caste, middle class preserve. This is a reflection of the trajectory of Sangh ideology, emanating from this middle class, high caste base’ (Zavos 2004: 5, 196–97). Eatwell 1995: 50. See also Felice 1976: 12 and Felice 1980. Eric Hobsbawm, in his magisterial history of the twentieth century, makes an observation about fascism that seems particularly apt in the context of the right in India: ‘Fascism was triumphantly anti-liberal. It also provided the proof that men can, without difficulty, combine crack-brained beliefs about the world with a confident mastery of contemporary high technology. The late twentieth century, with its fundamentalist sects wielding the weapons of television and computer-programmed fund-raising, have made us more familiar with this phenomenon’ (Hobsbawm 1994: 118). An aspect of this inequity is indicated by Edward Luce: ‘India produces about a million engineering graduates every year, compared to fewer than 100,000 in either the United States or Europe. However, India’s literacy rate is only 65 per cent whereas China’s is almost 90 per cent’ (Luce 2006: 52). Bardhan 2003. See, for example, Aiyar 2006. Varshney 2005: 14. Bardhan 2003. See also Aiyar 2007b for an analysis of how Chinese agriculture is more productive and equitable than India’s. Varshney 2007: 98. Ibid. Ibid.: 106. See note 2 above for Thomas Blom Hansen’s formulation on ‘imagined location’. See also Zakaria 2006. Fareed Zakaria dwelt on the problems with India’s democracy: ‘Democracy in India too often means not the will of the majority but the will of organized minorities — landowners, powerful castes, farmers, government unions and local thugs. (Nearly a fifth of the members of the Indian Parliament have been accused of crimes, including embezzlement, rape and murder.) […] As these power plays go on, the great majority’s interests — those 800 million who earn less than $2 a day — often fall through the cracks.’ Yet Zakaria saw democracy as ‘India’s destiny’, a political system that will enable India to forge ahead despite all the problems. Adhikari 2005: 18. Ibid. Chengappa and Shukla 2005: 49. Ibid. Saran 2005: 52. Ibid.: 53. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.: 54.

Indian Media Representations of China 147 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56.

Khanna 2005: 58. Shukla 2005: 48. Ibid. Sudarshan 2005a: 67. Cherian 2005: 5. ‘The likely emergence of China and India as new major global players — similar to the rise of Germany in the 19th century and the United States in the early 20th century — will transform the geopolitical landscape, with impacts potentially as dramatic as those of the previous two centuries. In the same way that commentators refer to the 1900s as the “American Century”, the early 21st century may be seen as the time when some in the developing world, led by China and India, come into their own.’ The National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project Report went on to enumerate the advantages and disadvantages of both countries, and mentioned democratic structures and institutions, ‘working capital markets and world-class firms’ in India as advantages that it has over China. What John Cherian and most media commentators did not cite from the report were the negatives in India’s balance sheet: ‘On the other hand, while India has clearly evolved beyond what the Indians themselves referred to as the 2–3 percent “Hindu growth rate,” the legacy of a stifling bureaucracy still remains. The country is not yet attractive for foreign investment and faces strong political challenges as it continues down the path of economic reform. India is also faced with the burden of having a much larger proportion of its population in desperate poverty. In addition, some observers see communal tensions just below the surface, citing the overall decline of secularism, growth of regional and caste-based political parties, and the 2002 “pogrom” against the Muslim minority in Gujarat as evidence of a worsening trend’ (‘Rising Powers: The Changing Political Landscape’, Mapping the Global Future, National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project, December 2004: 47, 53 57. The ‘West’ functions quite obviously not only as a geographical entity but as a paradigm for development and progress. Within the latter, Singapore (indeed much of Southeast Asia) and China are objects of envy, if not emulation, in India. 58. There are, of course, some notable exceptions such as Vurghese Kurien’s conceptualization and realization of Operation Flood or E. Sreedharan’s management of the Delhi Metro system. 59. Indian responses to Finnish and European Union concerns about the Gujarat riots illustrate this refusal to accept valid criticism from ‘outside’. Nirupama Rao, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson said: ‘“We would like to make it clear that India does not appreciate interference in its internal affairs.” Referring to Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomiojia’s interview to The Indian Express as an example of the “utilization of the Indian media by foreign leaders”, Ms Rao said that India did not like “visiting dignitaries making public statements in order to pander to their domestic lobbies”’



61. 62. 63. 64.

65. 66. 67. 68.


70. 71. 72.

Tracking the Media

(Noorani 2002: 389). A. G. Noorani goes on to analyze ‘a pattern of international accountability [that] has been firmly established’ and focuses on Indian policy hypocrisy in its commentaries on minority issues in countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Fiji. See Noorani 2002: 389–97. Cherian 2005: 6. Trade differentials between India and China relate not only to volumes but to types of products traded. As Pallavi Aiyar wrote: ‘India’s exports to China are overwhelmingly dominated by low-value, primary products with an outsized reliance on iron ore. […] The majority of Chinese exports to India, on the other hand, comprise manufactured and value-added products’ (Aiyar 2007a) . Menon 2005: 9–10. Bhattacharjea 2005: 10. Ibid.: 11. Ibid. See ‘Protocol between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Modalities for the Implementation of Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the India–China Border Areas’ signed between India and China on 11 April 2005, for the full text of the agreements referred to by Bhattacharjea. 11ta1104200502.htm. Ibid.: 11–12. Ibid.: 12. The Times of India 2006c. This self-obsession is also evident in Indian media reportage on Indians living abroad, the Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), People of Indian Origin (PIOs) and Overseas Born Indians (OBIs). See Chapter 5. The exceptions to this insular coverage of Chinese matters within India are Pallavi Aiyar’s regular and insightful dispatches from China for The Hindu. Another comparative analogy is that of the tiger versus the elephant. See Bardhan 2003. Baudrillard 1994: 6. For example, Huein Tsang’s mid-first millennium passage to India was mythologized in the Chinese epic Journey to the West.

III India–Pakistan Media: Comparative Perspectives


Tracking the Media

7 ‘Dispelling the Spooks about Nukes’: Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations Manmohan Singh’s visit to the US in July 2005 was, by all media accounts, a crucial one and seen as a turning point in Indo-US relations. Chidanand Rajghatta claimed that India and the US were now in a ‘geo-strategic and economic embrace that will set the course for the twenty-first century equations in India and beyond’.1 While reports did dwell on the specifics of the guard of honour and the dinner hosted by a President who hates late nights and official events, most of the articles and editorial pieces concentrated on the Indo-US nuclear deal and its consequences. The media prequel to the visit took the form of reports on the Defence Minister’s visit to the US prior to Dr Singh’s and agreements signed therein. At the same time that the media was preoccupied with such high profile events, there was the continual coverage of India’s bid for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), a blow by blow account of machinations, negotiations and hopes. While I look at each event as a discrete one, there are interconnections as well which will be highlighted. The analysis will consider articles on all four subjects in the month of July 2005 appearing in six broadsheets — The Hindu, The Indian Express, The Times of India (India); Dawn, The Nation, Daily Times (Pakistan) — and five news magazines — Frontline, India Today, Outlook (India); The Herald, Newsline (Pakistan). While reportage and analysis on Indo-US defence and nuclear deals continued well beyond July 2005, the survey focus on that month enables a distillation of media inputs and attitudes in both countries that continued to ricochet in the after months. Such an analytical survey not only reveals some of the desires and anxieties underlying India’s quest for ‘great power status’ (a theme available in the previous chapters dealing with the reflected glory of the NRI and China as seen through Indian lenses) but also how this quest is perceived across the border in Pakistan. Media representations and reactions within Pakistan offer insights into the ways in which media discourses construct India and relations between the two nations. This chapter deals with


Tracking the Media

broadsheet coverage in India and Pakistan. The next chapter will examine news magazine reportage of the same events in the two countries, along with selected broadsheet coverage of India’s bid for a permanent UNSC seat.

Indo-US Defense Pact and Indo-US Nuclear Deal: The Indian Media Response The prequel and the sequel to the Prime Minister’s visit figured most prominently in The Hindu, which carried 20 articles and/or editorials related to Indo-US defence agreements. Two opinion pieces, Sandeep Dikshit’s ‘Decoding the Indo-U.S. defence tieup’ and Amit Baruah’s ‘A Damage Control Exercise’ berated then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), and the Congress Party in particular for signing the defence pact with the US. ‘If it was only an exploratory visit, how did the two countries end up signing a document obligating India to a defence relationship some of whose provisions go against the tenets of its foreign policy?’2 asked Dikshit. Dikshit cited Shankar Bajpai, former Foreign Secretary, on the need to negotiate public policy in secret, but criticized the government for that very secrecy. Baruah accused the Congress of betraying the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) commitment to an independent foreign policy and multipolarity. Some of the points Baruah made were repeated by Prakash Karat at a public meeting to protest the deal: ‘“Dump the defence agreement with United States into dustbin.” ’ 3 The CPI (ML) urged the government to come out of the ‘dangerous US-laid politico-military trap’.4 Baruah tied the deal to India’s bid for a UNSC seat: ‘With the Americans indicating that a decision on extending support for India’s case for a permanent United Nations Security Council seat was to be taken by Mr Bush, the defence framework appears to be part of the quid pro quo offered by the Government of India.’5 As a result of political opposition, Mr Mukherjee first tried to mollify his critics and then denied the deal: ‘There has been no defence agreement or pact with the United States of America.’6 The Hindu carried no comment on this sudden retraction of a deal entered into by two sovereign states. Dr Singh modified the denial, saying that the deal was not a ‘defence pact’ but ‘a framework for defence relationships’ that were an extension of a 1995 agreement.7

Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations 153

This seemed like semantic juggling and further queered the pitch, as no details of the 1995 agreement were in the media or public domain. Siddharth Varadarajan’s article ‘America, India and outsourcing imperial overreach’ was more analytical and less hectoring and moralistic than Baruah’s or Dikshit’s.8 He looked in detail at a report commissioned by the Pentagon in October 2002. Juli A. MacDonald’s The Indo-U.S. Military Relationship: Expectations and Perceptions offers fascinating insights into the motivational logic underlying shifts in US policy towards India.9 Primarily, this report sees India as a strategic counter to China, the ways in which India will help in the ‘tethering’ of China, as well as India’s usefulness for ‘low end’ strategic designs of the US. India’s value as a strategic counter to China has been trumpeted by the strategic establishment in India and the US, but it seemed to overlook a basic asymmetry between India and China in military and economic terms. The only expression of the immediate implausibility of India acting as a counterweight to China was articulated by S. Enders Wimbush: ‘China is a global economic power, so where’s the containment?’10 The ‘tethering’ theory also ignored the burgeoning trade between the US and China as well as their joint opposition to the expansion of the UNSC. Despite these inconsistencies in the premises put forth by the proponents of the India–US strategic partnership, The Hindu editorialized on the need for India to maintain its independent foreign policy: ‘If the new framework is implemented the way Washington wants, India will undercut its international stature and generate misgivings through much of Asia and beyond.’11 The editorial was accurate in its prognostication of the treaty generating misgivings in Asia (as well as in India) and this was particularly evident in reactions within Pakistan, which I examine separately. However, the precise definition of India’s ‘international stature’ as well as its scope and extent was not spelt out, although there seemed to be nostalgia for the heyday of the non-aligned movement. With the visit of Dr Singh to the US, media focus shifted to the Indo-US nuclear deal. Siddharth Varadarajan’s ‘Nuclear cooperation with U.S.: experts urge caution’ anticipated problems that such a deal would create. It cited Dr A. N. Prasad, former director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), who believes that separating military and civilian facilities is not feasible. There was also an emphasis on national pride: ‘At no point should India


Tracking the Media

“compromise the basic strength so relentlessly built over the years under heavy odds”.’12 The article treated Dr Prasad’s words as gospel truth and described a closed world of experts where international inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are unwelcome. After the agreement, Prasad declared, ‘ “It is totally against the national interest”’ and that ‘Only those who have worked on advanced nuclear research know the harmful effect intrusive inspections can have.’13 Varadarajan presented the privileged insider’s world of the nuclear scientist in India who seems to function with little or no accountability. Dr Prasad’s main grouse seemed to be that IAEA inspections will be intrusive and that the US has few or no inspections. There was also a fear of dependence for nuclear fuel on the US and a nationalist subtext in the way fast breeder reactors are seen as the solution to India’s nuclear energy quests. Dr Prasad’s definition and defence of ‘national interest’ coexists with a distrust of the US as an unreliable and intrusive ally, if at all, and reflected a general perception of Indian policy makers’ attitudes towards the US. Juli A. MacDonald’s report on the future of India–US military relations reveals that US counterparts dealing with India were well aware of these suspicions: ‘Indian bureaucrats, Generals, Admirals and Air Marshals could be “easily slighted or insulted”, are “difficult to work with”, harbor “deep-seated distrust” of Americans, are mostly “obsessed” with history than [the] future and “see the world through their perennial distrust of Pakistan”. These scathing observations have been made by some 40 or so US policy makers in the Pentagon, state department, Pacific Command and the American embassy and reported by the Indo-US Military Relations: Expectations and Perceptions, a restricted US defence department document [.]’14 While MacDonald’s report predates the nuclear deal, it did highlight the types of obstacles that such an agreement would encounter. Sections of the media under survey were equally skeptical not only of the deal but of US overtures towards India in general. In an opinion piece on 29 July, Siddharth Varadarajan repeated his fears that the nuclear deal involved hidden costs, particularly vis-à-vis the Iran gas pipeline, and used the redoubtable Ashley Tellis to bolster his argument. He wrote: ‘And let it [the government] say openly that nuclear deal or not, India will continue to work for global disarmament and has no desire to play the role of a “hedge”, fence or “tether” in the U.S. plan to contain China.’15 Once again,

Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations 155

the anxiety of asserting an independent foreign policy was coupled with the fear that too close an alliance with the US would mean getting drawn into neo-conservative paradigms of ‘containing’ China. While the anxiety of policy independence may be seen as a legitimate one, it is surprising that the basic premise of the paradigm was not questioned, i.e. India is in no practical position yet to ‘contain’ China and may not wish to do so in the future either.16 The hoped for pledge that ‘India will continue to work for global disarmament’ holds the country’s foreign policy to a moral standard that is unexceptionable, but seems untenable given India’s nuclearization and consistent militarization. Whether the nuclear deal could in any way be squared with disarmament was not mentioned or analyzed, but the juxtaposition of the two opposing paradigms was indicative of the unease at the alacrity with which the deal was signed. Harish Khare, in an opinion piece on the implications of the deal, was equally cautionary: ‘Foreign policy deals must not be done in secret, they must be open and democratic.’17 This is an ideal worth pursuing and highlights the disjunction in democracies between the rulers and the ruled. In another context, an aspect of this disjunction was evident in the way in which President Bush and the then Prime Minister Tony Blair committed their respective countries to war in Iraq despite protests and opposition from a significant proportion of their people. Suman Gupta’s comment on this ‘gap’ in democratic functioning is apposite: ‘The view that what people express in a democracy has nothing to do with what a leader does unquestionably offends the deep sense of democracy, the minimum linguistic definition of democracy that now, […] underlines all modern conceptualizations of democracy at some level. George Bush’s view that ‘The role of a leader is to decide policy based upon the security’ makes precisely that point. It smacks of precisely the kind of totalitarianism that is often instinctively posited against the minimum understanding of democracy.’18 While Khare was not referring to the politics of protest related to the war in Iraq, he did help highlight the elite and often secret modes of inter-governmental negotiation which then presents fait accompli such as the nuclear deal to people in a particular country. He went on to write: ‘And, let there be no mistake, notwithstanding the preferences in the socalled strategic community in this country, the national sentiment remains strangely reluctant to trust the U.S. to wish this country


Tracking the Media

well in the long run.’19 ‘National sentiment’ is a vague term and Khare did not define how it is measured, unless selective media distrust is one aspect of that sentiment. He also ignored a 2005 Pew Research Center poll, wherein Indians were the most positive and supportive of the US among the countries polled.20 Despite these lacunae Khare touched upon the problem of democratic disjunction mentioned earlier, particularly in terms of the lack of suitable mass forums where such issues could be debated. Furthermore, Khare did take on the Indian nuclear establishment in his enumeration of where the opposition to the nuclear deal would emanate from: ‘First, the entrenched nuclear scientific establishment, which has built for itself a mythology of global competence and national commitment and as the last bastion of “national interest.” From time to time, this establishment keeps on feeding the political leadership’s grandiose delusions of becoming a “superpower.”’21 Khare’s skepticism was in sharp contrast to Siddharth Varadarajan’s privileging of the nuclear establishment voice. It is interesting that while Varadarajan was critical of any attempt to place India as an American proxy strategic counterpoint to China, he did not similarly critique the nuclear lobby within India and its nationalist credentials, and how that would contribute precisely to possible power equations vis-à-vis China and indeed other countries in the region. The divergence of opinions expressed by Varadarajan and Khare highlights policy and ideological distinctions within the same newspaper. Such distinctions are not unusual within media houses and point to a degree of flexibility available in the expression of differing opinions. In most cases, however, there is an overarching view that is often expressed editorially, as it was in The Hindu.22 N. Ravi’s report, ‘Nuclear deal will lead to quantum jump: Officials’, attempted to place the agreement in perspective albeit by quoting unnamed officials. These functionaries disputed all the negative coverage and opinions expressed by experts. They stressed the bilateral nature of the agreement — that President Bush had expended considerable political capital on the deal, that India’s obligations would be no less or no more than other nuclear powers, and that India could negotiate an additional protocol on specific issues with IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).23 This report was followed by an editorial, ‘Some caveats on a constructive deal,’ marked by its moderation. While it disagreed with the secrecy surrounding the deal, the editorial argued that the ends justify

Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations 157

the means: ‘In sum, the Manmohan–Bush nuclear deal is to be understood as a constructive, although clumsily non-transparent, preference exercised by the UPA Government in favour of the civilian nuclear programme.’24 The latter summation followed from a crucial observation made earlier: ‘It [the nuclear deal] is probably a loss from the standpoint of the hawkish votaries of India’s postMay 1998 nuclear weaponisation, which derailed India’s longstanding policy and twisted out of shape its independent character as well as its peace and disarmament orientation.’25 This reorientation of the nuclear progamme for energy requirements and its distinctiveness from the Pokhran II model is something that many analysts did not mention. This editorial was a notable exception in a discourse of nuclear weapons technology as a source and subtext of national pride and power. However, two points were largely ignored in all analyses and reports on the role of nuclear energy in ‘de-carbonising the Indian energy sector’. One is that installed capacity is only 3310 MWe and that plant load factors have actually declined. Two, that the poor power infrastructure in India including transmission and distribution losses need to be overhauled if nuclear power plants are to make a substantial difference. The Indian Express coverage of the Indo-US nuclear agreement was more positive and upbeat in comparison to that of The Hindu, although it did raise similar concerns about hidden costs and lack of transparency. It also highlighted aspects of safety in nuclear plants, particularly the lack of safeguards against radiation.26 An editorial on 20 July, ‘Born in the Future’, praised the Prime Minister for the paradigm shift in policy vis-à-vis the US. ‘In the past, India and the US were unwilling to make their own shared democratic values a basis for their foreign policy — the US supported pro-Western dictators and India, the anti-imperialist ones who mouthed thirdworld slogans. Now Singh and Bush recognize the importance of promoting the values of pluralism and tolerance which they identify as the key to winning the war on terrorism.’27 This editorial seemed entirely convinced that the state of Indo-US relations and India’s ideological repositioning vis-à-vis the US was all to the good for both countries. In particular, India was positioned as an equal partner in the ‘war on terror’, at least from a perceptual point of view. Within this argument, democracy was seen as an inherent virtue and a shared inheritance that binds the two countries, never mind the differences of context, be they political, economic or strategic. It is


Tracking the Media

interesting how an editorial on the nuclear deal and consequent paradigm shift (or perception thereof) elided seamlessly into a partnership in the ‘war on terror’. This elision acquires greater significance given the military component of India’s nuclear ambition and unconsciously highlights those ambitions even while the ostensible purpose of the deal was to solve India’s energy problems. Bhanu Pratap Mehta’s ‘An Embrace Too Ardent’ was a more skeptical article: ‘By embracing the US as ardently as we are, we are giving up our bargaining chips too soon. We are letting the US set the terms of this relationship more than is warranted. India should become a different kind of great power, not one that orients itself to endorsement by the United States.’28 While the skepticism was perhaps warranted, this article sustained the idea that India can be a great power in the near future and achieve that status independent of the US. Precisely what ‘a different kind of great power’ implies or entails was not worked out in the opinion piece. It is this penchant for dealing in generalities that seemed to bedevil many analytical forays into the subjects under consideration. In contrast, Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar was much clearer about realities which could not be wished away: ‘India may like to pose as partner rather than supplicant, but it will be a very unequal partnership.’29 Aiyar’s was a rare piece highlighting the inequities between the two nations and not surprisingly, it was not taken up within a largely optimistic media field. Ashok Malik’s ‘American Idol’, while totally in favour of the Indo-US agreement, pointed to real problems that were likely to crop up in the future.30 While Malik did not subscribe to the containment of China theory he perceived competition with China as inevitable. In this context, he reminded Indian policy makers that ‘a meaningful manufacturing base cannot be forgotten forever’.31 He perceived the need to adjust to new perspectives created by the visit: ‘For decades, Indian foreign policy was a tearjerker starring institutionalized victimhood. After Singh’s visit, America has left India with very few excuses to hang on to. Depending on how one sees it, this could be either an opportunity or a problem.’32 It is within this opportunity–problem cusp that most of the media articles were concentrated. Most of these in The Indian Express seemed to think that the nuclear deal was an ‘unprecedented grand bargain’. Another piece finessed Ashok Malik’s arguments: ‘The Manmohan Singh government, sensitive to the tectonic change in Asian geopolitics

Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations 159

amidst the dramatic rise of China, is rightly pursuing simultaneous strategic engagement with both Beijing and Washington. India is too big to fit into the pocket of either.’33 This formulation moved away from the us versus them, either–or frameworks within which foreign policy choices are often perceived, while at the same time asserting India’s independence. In ‘Indo-US Ties: Why the Flak?’, Radha Kumar mentioned America’s capacity for ending wars in Europe and that ‘US democracy-building’ is not always equal to ‘neo-imperialism’. While this is debatable, Kumar returned to the idea of balance and perhaps the kind of multipolarity prized by Amit Baruah and others. ‘First of all, there is little danger of India becoming a US dependency when it comes to our international relations. On the contrary, the accusation reveals a puzzling sense of inferiority. If our Prime Minister can voice his pleasure in cooperating with the US and his opposition to the Iraq war at the same time, then what is all this fear-baiting about?’34 The ‘fear-baiting’, as the Express editorial ‘Foreign non-policy’ pointed out, was probably related to the fact that the pacts are with the US: ‘If a similar agreement were to be signed with Russia or China, the Left would have hailed it as a triumph of anti-imperialist forces.’35 The extreme rhetoric was emblematic of political divisions within the country and gave the lie to notions of objective analysis, as desired by Kumar: ‘By most unbiased standards, the PM’s visit was a triumph, but our politicians seem bent on denying the country its benefits. How absurd is that?’36 The Express analyses (and that in The Hindu and The Times of India) indicate quite clearly that there were few ‘unbiased standards’ available in newspaper reportage and analysis related to the issue of the India–US nuclear deal. I have dwelt on aspects of media ‘objectivity’ in Chapter 1 and those issues are valid here as well, with the additional proviso that the media debates dwelt on thus far reflect desires and anxieties within the particular matrix created by the nuclear deal. Such reflexivity is as valid here as in the case of the Kargil War, the Gujarat riots or India’s attitudes towards China, and that validity makes media critiques all the more necessary. As Edward Said observes, ‘There would be no point in analyzing and criticizing the phenomenon [media] if it were not true that the media are responsive to what we are and want.’37 US foreign policy is not as benign as this article implied nor is it as Machiavellian as The Hindu would have us believe. However, Kumar highlighted a visceral anti-Americanism that permeates sections of Indian polity


Tracking the Media

and that find expression in the media. There were very few pieces that transcended through analysis this either–or spectrum. Some articles such as Ila Patnaik’s ‘Dispelling the Spooks about Nukes’ camouflaged bias in a question–answer format that was seemingly objective. Patnaik’s piece was in favour of the efficient use of nuclear energy. She debunked nationalist discourse a la Dr Prasad and preferred ‘commercial judgement’ as a benchmark for deciding on nuclear projects. Patnaik also raised environmental concerns and mentioned Chernobyl. ‘The Indian nuclear establishment is relatively inexperienced in safety issues, and fairly non-transparent. There may be much to gain by adopting international practices on questions of safety.’38 Patnaik’s outlook was reflective of the general tenor of coverage by the Indian Express which was more pragmatic, less anti-US or moralistic than The Hindu. The Times of India was even more enthusiastic than the Express on the Prime Ministerial visit and the subsequent nuclear pact. ‘Three decades of nuclear apartheid were swept aside in two paragraphs of a landmark joint statement on Monday as President Bush sought out New Delhi as an overarching ally for the 21st century.’39 The triumphalism and hype were based on the curious and inaccurate interweaving of nuclear discrimination with racial, as if the two could be equated in moral or political terms. This kind of rhetorical leap allowed little space for analytical thought.40 The next day, 20 July, Chidanand Rajghatta wrote: ‘Fast work! After clinching a breathtaking nuclear agreement with India in a matter of months, the Bush administration has already begun lobbying Congress and its nuclear allies to amend laws and rules to bring New Delhi aboard the nuclear club as a de facto member.’41 There was a palpable sense of excitement as India was on the threshold of joining an elite power club. That this had not materialized at the time was not taken up by Rajghatta (or any other media analyst).42 In an op-ed piece on 25 July, ‘Come Together on Nuclear Pact: Criticism of the Indo-US treaty is misleading’, K. Subrahmanyam argued for consensus on the nuclear deal within the Indian political establishment on the grounds that it is good for India.43 It is interesting to note that media discourse on the India–US nuclear deal dwelt exclusively on the strategic, defence and foreign policy aspects of the deal. Although the deal was ostensibly for civilian power generation, the military angle could not be ignored given the military dimension of India’s nuclear capability. It was

Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations 161

surprising, therefore, that there were no references to the terrors residing within militarized nuclear power. Media reports, with one exception (Ila Patnaik in The Indian Express) seemed to ‘domesticate’ the horror of nuclear fallout (such as in Chernobyl or Three Mile Island) as well as the possibilities of nuclear conflict, in much the same way as it was done during World War II. As Donald Pick writes: ‘The language of nuclear war (for example the personalization of the bomb dropped on Nagasaki as ‘Fat Man’, or the abbreviation ‘Nuke’, to say nothing of the word ‘deterrence’ itself) serves to domesticate the unspeakable terror.’44 Given this impulse towards ‘domesticating’ the implications of nuclear capabilities, it is not entirely surprising that there was no media analysis in either country of the paradoxical insecurity that the nuclearization of the subcontinent has led to. As Amartya Sen observed, ‘the principal argument against nuclearization is not ultimately an economic one. It is rather the increased insecurity of human lives that constitutes the biggest penalty of the subcontinental nuclear adventures’.45 Contrary to Sen’s analysis Indian media was, with a few notable exceptions, caught up with the idea and rhetoric of India as an emerging power that was getting due attention from the US. The nuclear deal — along with the defence agreement, as well as India’s bid for UNSC permanency — were part of this larger discourse on India having arrived as it were on the world stage. As Edward Luce notes: ‘Across all political parties, with the exception of the far left, there is a consensus that India should be aiming for “great power” status, even if this focus on India’s standing in the world sometimes looks unbalanced — even narcissistic — against the backdrop of India’s continuing social and economic problems.’46 J. N. Dixit, former Foreign Secretary, was equally blunt in his assessment of foreign policy desires in the aftermath of the Kargil War: ‘[…] we have a sense of self, an exaggerated sense of self, which has nothing to do with the existentialist realities of international politics. We want India must become a Permanent Member of the Security Council; India should be in the Executive Board of all multi-fora and India should be acknowledged as a leader in the Asian region. Specially, when we deal with our South Asian and South East Asian neighbours there is an undercurrent of our articulation with them that their culture, their history, everything were given to them by us. Up to a point people are willing to listen to us, but beyond that they feel that we are suffering from some exaggerated sense of


Tracking the Media

egotism. So the sense of self transmuting itself into — what shall I say, the cosmetic ambitions of foreign policy is again wrong.’47 Throughout this intensive media survey, there is discernible a fairly consistent degree of agreement across the media spectrum about the imminent and indeed desirable acceptance of India in the corridors of global power.48 Understandably, neither this optimism nor the consensus was shared across the border.

Pakistan Broadsheets on the Indo-US Defence Pact and the Nuclear Deal Broadsheets under survey in Pakistan covered the Indo-US defence pact in far greater detail and frequency and ‘generate[d] misgivings’ aplenty. Dawn carried 22 pieces, including a series of editorials and opinion columns, on the defence deal as well as nuclear cooperation; The Nation and Daily Times 11 pieces each. Considering that Pakistan was not directly involved in either event this saturation coverage might seem odd, but the two deals were perceived as crucial to Pakistan’s interests, foreign policy and position vis-à-vis India in particular and emerging geopolitical scenarios in general. Pakistani media concerns can be analyzed under some broad categories as follows.

Multilateralism The anxiety and nostalgia expressed by The Hindu for a bygone era of non-aligned isolation found an echo in Pakistan media. Aziz-ud-din Ahmad in ‘Will India take the bait?’ wrote, ‘In case India agrees to act as an American satrap in the region, it will lose the moral high ground it has frequently claimed.’49 Multi-polarity or lack thereof was one axis on which the Indo-US pact was critiqued, and there was also a sense in which India’s moralistic pronouncements on foreign policy were shown to be a sham by the strategic calculations underlying the Indo-US deals, although within those calculations India was perceived to be a subordinate, ‘an American satrap’. Ahmad’s observation also carried with it a subtext of competitive envy with an unstated preference for an India that could be projected as strategically naïve. At the same time, however, there was a perception that Pakistan had been out-manoeuvred by India and this was a theme that was repeated in various forms in the Pakistan media.

Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations 163

Agha Shahi’s opinion piece, ‘Indo-US strategic pact’, began with the argument that Pakistan was entitled to the same benefits as India. Shahi also stressed the need for Pakistan to strengthen its relations with China, Russia, Iran, and Afghanistan. ‘All these countries have a common interest in a multi-polar world order in preference to global or regional hegemonism for establishing “strategic stability in the world.”’50 Pakistan’s insecurity in the midst of ‘regional hegemonism’ was transformed here into a strategic occupation of the moral high ground of multilateralism. Since India seemed to have abandoned that multilateral platform Pakistan could now fill the vacuum and simultaneously secure its borders.

Betrayal, Insecurity, and Kashmir The Indo-US pact was constructed as a moment of national peril when internal solidarity rather than critical insight was the need of the hour. The sense of peril was heightened by the Pakistan media portraying a foreign policy establishment that had been outplayed by India and betrayed by the US. The anxiety of isolation (evident in repeated references to Pakistan’s ‘special relationship’ with China) coalesced with the desire for diplomatic and military parity with India. An editorial in The Nation expressed this idea of betrayal. ‘The US–India defence agreement indicates that all this [Musharraf being acclaimed by the Bush administration, Pakistan being declared a major non-NATO ally] was no more than smoke and mirrors. While the government benefited in the sense that it came out of the international isolation that had been imposed on it, and was widely praised for collaboration, Pakistan’s strategic concerns remain unaddressed.’51 These ‘strategic concerns’ centred on Kashmir and the US refusal to intervene in that conflict as well as on the ways in which India had made more substantial policy gains than their Pakistan counterparts. Pakistan foreign policy makers were berated for depending too heavily on the US. ‘Unlike Pakistan, which has put all eggs in one basket, India still keeps its options open. The agreement with the US comes within weeks of India’s first “stand-alone” meeting with China and Russia at Vladivostok. The trilateral move was widely interpreted as a step toward promoting multi-polarity and countering US influence.’52 This led to the conclusion: ‘Unless Pakistan has cordial relations with all major international players, it will find


Tracking the Media

it difficult to cope with a large and hostile neighbour with hegemonic designs.’53 The sense of having been out-manoeuvred diplomatically by India created a siege mentality within Pakistan. Unlike Aziz-ud-din Ahmad and Agha Shahi who took solace in India’s seeming abandonment of multilateralism, The Nation editorial saw India as deftly multilateral and Pakistan flat-footed in it overdependence on the US. There was in this editorial, and in some subsequent ones, a subtext of resentment at the way in which President Musharraf had allied Pakistan to the US in its ‘war on terror’. This resentment was partially reflective of divisions within Pakistani politics — between elite military support for the US and support for a more radical Islamic polity.54 The July 2007 raid on the Lal Masjid in Islamabad brought some of these contraries to the fore. William Dalrymple describes his meeting with Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi (subsequently killed in the raid) and Ghazi’s sense of an elite–popular divide. ‘As we sipped tea, Ghazi, speaking eloquently in idiomatic English, described his campaign to get rid of Musharraf’s elitist and pro-American government and replace it with a more egalitarian Islamic regime. According to Ghazi, the women in his madrassa reflected the true feelings of most Pakistanis, and particularly their resentment of the United States’ influence over Musharraf. “After 9/11, Musharraf made an abrupt change in our policy that was not supported by the people of Pakistan,” Ghazi said. “The attack on Afghanistan caused a lot of resentment, and in the name of the war on terror many innocent people have been killed. In the name of “enlightened moderation” vulgarity has been promoted – women running in marathons, brothels, pornography in CD shops.”’55 The Nation editorial predates the raid on Lal Masjid but in its analysis of India’s diplomatic triumphs and critique of Pakistan there is, bar the rhetoric against ‘vulgarity’, a striking precursor to the antipathy towards Musharraf’s policies expressed two years later by Abdul Rashid Ghazi. Another Nation editorial on 22 July, ‘US–India accords’, repeated this theme of betrayal: ‘It [Pakistan] has already paid a heavy price for cooperation with the US without gaining any assurance on some of its most vital concerns, notably Kashmir.’56 It referred to ‘Kashmiri freedom fighters, with whom Pakistan enjoys little clout’ and blamed India for the failure of peace talks: ‘Despite the initiation of the composite dialogue, the first round spread over a whole year and the next one currently going on,

Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations 165

no understanding whatsoever has been reached on any of the disputes, simply on account of Indian pigheadedness.’57 A seeming analysis of the fallout of an Indo-US defence deal ended up as a catalogue of frustrations at lack of progress in peace talks in the subcontinent. It reiterated a shopworn and coded rhetoric related to Kashmir with little analysis and less self-reflection. In both Pakistan and India, the US and its attitudes and policies toward a particular country were of central importance. Just as Indian policy makers felt vindicated by the deals with the US, so too Pakistan felt that it had not been duly rewarded for its loyalty to the US in the war on terror. The Indo-US deal also undermined a comforting binarism in American foreign policy whereby its relations with India and Pakistan were always hyphenated and enabled the latter to hold its own against its more powerful neighbour. In this sense, the IndoUS deals represented a perceptual, if not actual shift, in strategic balance, although the two were not so easily distinguishable in Pakistan media commentary.

Strategic Disparity Ghayoor Ahmed cited Alan Kronstadt of the Congressional Research Center who averred that ‘“India and Pakistan are no longer perceived as equals in Washington. Pakistan is viewed as a middle power and India has the much greater strategic potential down the road. You won’t hear ‘strategic partner’ being used much with Pakistan but you will hear it with India.” It’s thus clear that Washington’s foreign policy has now changed in India’s favour and the doctrine of parity between the two nations of South Asia has been abandoned.’58 That this ‘doctrine of parity’ was related to Cold War politics and that it was open to modification in a post-Cold War scenario was not mentioned by Ahmad. In fact, Ahmad seemed to be nostalgic for that strategically familiar paradigm and rather uncomfortable with the complexities and insecurities introduced by the India– US deals. Afzaal Mahmood, a former ambassador, made the same point in his opinion piece, ‘A Strategic Defence Pact’: ‘Pakistan is a valued US ally in the war against terrorism and continues to be even a major non-NATO ally. But the US has a deeper and a more meaningful strategic relationship with India. […] India now enjoys the unique distinction of being the “strategic partner” of both the US and China. It will be a feat of Indian diplomacy if it can manage to maintain this


Tracking the Media

contradictory posture for long.’59 Once more, India’s multilateral gains were highlighted and were a cause of concern. The Indian media coverage I have looked at was largely concerned with the bilateral aspect of the Indo-US deal, with considerable focus on its implications for the ‘independence’ of India’s foreign policy. Pakistan media seemed alarmed and dismayed by the multilateral possibilities embedded in India’s recent foreign policy maneuvres. The repeated references to China — with whom Pakistan has historically shared a ‘special’ relationship — and to Russia seemed to emphasize a sense of isolation and diplomatic fear of encirclement. Indian diplomacy will, as Mahmood observes, have to be fleet footed and adept at balancing the contradictions created by its various alliances, often between countries with opposing interests. This, of course, is part of the challenge of diplomacy and one of the signs of a mature nation. Whether India would rise to the occasion is open to debate, but Mahmood’s hope in the last line seemed to be that the ‘contradictory posture[s]’ will ultimately unravel and the parity that Pakistan desires would be restored.

Arms Race and Poverty An editorial in the Dawn newspaper began with the idea that the Indo-US defence deal (the Mukherjee–Rumsfeld prelude) would undermine the fragile peace process between two neighbours. It then made the valid point of wasted resources: ‘Already, Pakistan and India are spending more money on arms that they could possibly afford. This is a tragedy for their people, given the grinding poverty in the two countries. […] The people of Pakistan and India need a better life, and this could be ensured if their governments were less profligate with missiles and arms spending.’60 This point was repeated in an editorial in The Nation and an opinion column by Farrukh Khan Pitafi, ‘Mocking Buddha.’ The former stated that the Indo-US pact ‘will perpetuate the pervasive misery in the region, letting it maintain the lamentable distinction of housing the largest mass of poverty-stricken people in the world’.61 While this is true, the editorial implied that the blame for this rests entirely with India: ‘The history of bitterness and active hostility, and existing bilateral disputes, especially Kashmir, that have continued to fester because of India’s hegemonistic attitude, would compel Pakistan to divert its precious resources to defence preparedness, resources which otherwise would have been used to remove the evils of

Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations 167

illiteracy, disease and poverty.’62 That the dispute over Kashmir has bedeviled relations between the two countries is undeniable. Also difficult to dispute, especially since the elections in Kashmir in 1986, is the Indian governments’ and Indian Army’s role in the roiling of that dispute. In The Nation’s opinion, however, the sole cause of the Kashmir problem lay within India and rhetorically Pakistan was absolved of all responsibility. There was no mention, for example of decades of military rule or the corruption of power elites within Pakistan who have also contributed to ‘illiteracy, disease and poverty’. Edward Luce comments that ‘India can foster [peace with Pakistan] by shedding its deep-seated neurosis about its neighbour. Pakistan has many flaws, but India has yet fully to come to terms with its neighbour’s existence.’63 I will deal with aspects of this ‘neurosis’ as evidenced in media representations on both sides of the border in later chapters. Here it is necessary to note, however, that Pakistan media contributed in equal measure to an atmosphere of distrust, setting up an absolute dichotomy between a ‘hegemonistic’ India and a victimized Pakistan. Yet again, the victimhood trope was mobilized but this time to shelter and defend Pakistan. Victimhood allows for a type of historical amnesia and competitive victimhood — such as that between the Hindu right in India and elements within Pakistan — erases responsibility for past (and present) actions. Such a pattern of representation and remembrance through the prism of victimhood was evident in some Indian representations of the Kargil War and repeated in editorials and commentaries across the border with reference to India’s hegemony, thereby rendering invisible historical and political contexts responsible for conflict, illiteracy or poverty.64 Farrukh Khan Pitafi began with a long diatribe against India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and ended by blaming Pakistan’s backwardness on Indian policy. ‘India in my view then instead of trying to join the nuclear club officially as it already is a de facto power should have taken more time to seek western assistance to end the poverty of its downtrodden people. Such an effort would have granted Pakistan more breathing space to focus on the betterment of its own people too. […] What a pity then that a potential like India is being wasted owing only to the imperial hubris.’65 India’s ‘imperial hubris’ and its ‘delusions of becoming a superpower’ are valid analytical observations, but they were used to score points over India rather than focus on subcontinental solutions.66 The emphasis


Tracking the Media

on regional poverty and backwardness was salutary, but it served as a mode of rhetorical displacement and precluded analysis of Pakistan’s own domestic and foreign policies. It seemed as if the media on both sides of the border could not transcend the limitations of their tunnel vision and the exceptions only bolster the power of dominant media frames on the issues under consideration.

Need for Internal Consolidation to Counter India Occasionally, opinion columns mentioned the need for national improvement and consolidation, but this was primarily to counter India’s hegemony. The formulations were monolithic and there was little analysis of the ills that plague Pakistan. Tariq Fatemi’s ‘Changing Equations in Asia’ embodied this idea: ‘Foreign policy can only enhance and improve what we have: it cannot make up for domestic deficiencies and shortcomings.’67 Fatemi’s nostalgia for a time when the US ‘tilted’ towards Pakistan provides the context for regret and a stiffening of the national spine: ‘The Nixon era saw the American president refer to the Indian prime minister as “a witch”. Now India is the darling of the West.’68 Fatemi’s nostalgia hoped to recreate a past without having to deal with the challenges thrown up by a dynamic present, much like Ghayoor Ahmed’s preference for the strategic certainties of the Cold War era. Fatemi also referred to the bonhomie between India and China as well as India and Russia: ‘We thus have this strange spectacle of India being courted by all the three major powers, all offering India special concessions to gain its friendship. This is not only proof of India’s current strength, but its estimated future potential as well.’69 In its focus on Indian policy triumphs, Fatemi echoed the triumphalist rhetoric of political and media elites in India but did not offer any substantial analysis of those accords and their potential effect on India–Pakistan relations. However, Fatemi did rearticulate an anxiety of encirclement and national inadequacy noted in earlier articles on the subject. Maqbool Ahmad Bhatty, in ‘Indo-US pact & our response’, repeated Fatemi’s anxiety about the need to strengthen Pakistan’s ‘all-weather friendship with China’ and concluded: ‘The effectiveness of our response will be determined by our internal strength and stability that will come from democratic institutions, economic dynamism, and national unity.’70 The subtext is clear: that lack of democracy and national unity have affected Pakistan adversely, but this realization seemed to be related solely to the ‘defeats’ that

Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations 169

Pakistan has suffered on the international scene. There was no interrogation of why democratic norms had failed within Pakistan and what the possible modes of restoring democratic plurality were. Implicitly, however, Bhatty acknowledged that ‘democratic institutions’ and ‘economic dynamism’ were conditions and factors that helped India to progress to the stage where it could negotiate a defence and nuclear pact with the US.

Plea for Parity Such an acknowledgement was only implicit and outside dominant media frames as was evident from Ghayoor Ahmed’s ‘India’s quest for nuclear status’, which made a rather specious distinction between the two countries’ nuclear policies and went on to plea for parity: ‘whereas India’s quest for nuclear status is aimed at fulfilling its long-held ambition to be a regional hegemon and a major global power, Pakistan’s perspective on this issue is rather different. Pakistan, […] had concentrated on the nuclear option, much against its will […] The United States and other permanent members of the UN Security Council should, therefore, take a realistic view of the ground realities and recognize both Pakistan and India as de jure nuclear states in the interests of peace, security and stability in the region […]’71 Ghayoor’s argument is that only the granting of nuclear status to Pakistan will enable it to keep the balance of peace in the region, since India is a hegemonic and irresponsible power. Pakistan’s desire for parity with India, as expressed by Ahmed, is similar to India’s desire for a UNSC seat, or parity with China, or the idea that India is a strategic counter to China, and these rhetorical fictions proliferated with little consistent interrogation from either side. Ahmed cast Pakistan as a passive player in the nuclear and power equations within the region, reacting ‘against its will’ to India’s belligerent moves. This passivity may be linked to notions of Pakistan as victim, as mentioned earlier, and such arguments serve the same purpose: that of absolving Pakistan of responsibility.

Nuclear Proliferation Pakistan media response to the Indo-US nuclear agreement was often not separated or separable from its reactions to the 10-year defence agreement between the two countries. While there was heartburn over the proposed sale of military hardware such as the


Tracking the Media

Patriot Advanced Capability — 3 (PAC 3) to India, concern over the nuclear deal centred on questions of nuclear proliferation. In ‘US advised to be cautious: N-technology for India’, the Dawn correspondent cited Michael Krepon and Ziad Haider of the Stimson Center and their study ‘Changing the rules of nuclear commerce.’ They ‘argue that a relaxation of the international rules for nuclear commerce “could do more harm than good unless President Bush and Prime Minister Singh can implement good ideas to strengthen global norms against proliferation”’.72 While this argument is a sound one, the correspondent conveniently ignored Pakistan’s poor record in nuclear proliferation. In an editorial, Dawn averred that ‘the deal virtually amounts to America’s recognition of India as a nuclear power’ and that ‘if America goes ahead with the deal, Moscow and Beijing would be tempted to enter into similar agreements with other states that have nuclear ambitions’.73 This raised the bogey of nuclear proliferation and an arms race, both of which are plausible, but it did so in a historical vacuum, ignoring the US supply of arms to Pakistan over decades and Pakistan’s own role in the proliferation of nuclear technology. Khalid Hasan’s ‘US-India N-tech-sharing decision faces Congressional opposition’ cited critics within the US such as Leonard Spector and Edward J. Markey. Markey said, ‘“Why should the United States sell controlled nuclear goods to India? We cannot play favourites, breaking the rules of the non-proliferation treaty to favour one nation at the risk of undermining critical international treaties on nuclear weapons.”’74 Hasan also cited Ashley Tellis, the poster boy of increased defence cooperation between India and the US. He pointed to the effect this pact will have within Pakistan: ‘The decision is also going to have an adverse effect on the already negative image held on a popular, public level in Pakistan.’75 Hasan mentioned the crucial disconnect within Pakistan between elite cooperation with the US in its war on terror and ground level discontent and anger against that war. As noted earlier, the broadsheets in Pakistan reflected some of that anger in repeatedly conveying a sense of having been betrayed by the US.

Pakistan’s Role in Nuclear Proliferation While raising the very vital question of nuclear proliferation, it is interesting that not one Pakistani commentator in the broadsheets

Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations 171

under survey wrote about Pakistan’s record in this field. Given numerous references to the ways in which de facto nuclear states such as Iran and North Korea might take advantage of the Indo-US deal, and Abdul Qadir Khan’s role in the proliferation of nuclear technology, this omission is striking.76 There were, however, two articles that dealt with the issue of proliferation. ‘A new nuclear era’ was syndicated from The Washington Post. It enumerated some of India’s advantages over Pakistan from the US point of view: ‘As an emerging Asian superpower, India may serve as a counterweight to China. As home to a large and tolerant Muslim population, it may serve as an ally against Islamic militancy.’77 The idea of India as a strategic counterweight to China is an article of faith among some neo-conservatives in the US, but is somewhat unrealistic given current asymmetries of power between the two countries. In fact, the Post article downplayed India’s possible future role as ‘America’s satrap’ in the region: ‘India […] would probably stand aside in other potential U.S.-China rows that do not affect Indian interests.’78 The reference to India’s ‘tolerant Muslim population’ has some truth and it was meant to serve as a counterpoint to more radicalized elements within the Muslim population in Pakistan. However, it overlooked recent inter-religious violence in India where Muslims have suffered and some of that ‘tolerance’ has frayed. It then addressed Pakistan’s desire for parity: ‘Pakistan, […] will seek a similar de facto blessing for its nuclear status. Given Pakistan’s record as a nuclear proliferator, the United States ought to refuse this. A rebuff could help to turn Pakistan’s anti-India nationalism into an anti-India-and-America nationalism; pro-Western secularists may lose ground to militant Islamists.’79 The Post mentioned both Iran and North Korea but distinguished India from both on grounds of the transparency and steadfastness of its non-proliferation record. What is crucial here are the ways in which an accord between India and the US was seen to affect internal configurations of power within Pakistan and how those reconfigurations would in turn affect Pakistan’s neighbours and the region. The battle between ‘proWestern secularists’ and ‘militant Islamists’ was linked to the war on terror, and the Indo-US deal was frequently contextualized within that framework. What seemed to irk some Pakistani commentators was that India was a beneficiary — an undeserving one — of US concerns in this battle despite Pakistan’s overt commitment to the


Tracking the Media

US cause. To put it another way, while India’s ‘tolerant Muslim population’ was a policy asset, Pakistan’s Islamists were not. Since the focus was on Islamic radicals India’s Hindu fundamentalists largely escaped notice, except during the Gujarat riots (and even that did not impact adversely on the Indo-US pacts).80 The second piece that mentioned Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation record was by Strobe Talbott. Talbott’s role in the establishment of the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) with India is well known. He was blunt about the difference between Pakistan and India in terms of nuclear proliferation: ‘Unlike Pakistan, which has been called the Wal-Mart of illicit commerce in dangerous technology, India has been careful not to let its nuclear material and know-how fall into the wrong hands.’81 Talbott, however, saw US and Indian unilateralism as threats to the future of the UN and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and thought that the nuclear deal was ‘short-sighted’ and would lead to ‘a more dangerous world’.82 This clarity and balance was rare in media articles in both countries although it was sometimes on display in several pieces in the Daily Times.

Out-of-the-Box Analyses Former Foreign Secretary Tanvir Ahmad Khan’s ‘Indo-US defence framework’ was a notable exception to the jingoism and fear mongering available in most media commentary in Pakistan. Khan noted: ‘Except a hiccup or two in 1998 caused by India’s nuclear tests, Washington’s engagement with New Delhi over the last decade has been qualitatively different from that with Pakistan.’83 There was none of the surprised outrage expressed by other commentators neither was there alarm: ‘The new dynamic injected into South Asia by the Indo-US defence pact would become less alarming as India and Pakistan make tangible progress towards a settlement. It would enable India to embrace the century’s hyper power without compromising its sovereignty and free Pakistan of the historical threat to its security.’84 Khan was clear about the fact that Pakistani expressions of dismay at the India–US deal would be ineffective: ‘[…] the stock response that Pakistan should vigorously make its concerns about the balance of power known to Washington springs from a facile optimism about the leverage that Pakistan enjoys’.85 More crucially, Khan did not perceive the Indo-US pact as necessarily jeopardizing bilateral relations and talks between India and Pakistan.

Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations 173

The two could co-exist and the deal could paradoxically free both countries from their respective security anxieties. He did not shy away from realities such as the fact that the ‘historical threat’ to Pakistan has been India, but argued that a stronger India may actually negotiate peace on more equitable terms. The validity of this formulation has not been tested as yet, but Khan represented a welcome attempt to think outside the box of Indo-Pak jingoism and platitudes. Jonathan Power in a syndicated editorial traced a history of US ‘mistakes’ in dealing with India, particularly during the Carter presidency. He expressed an opinion not available in any of the broadsheets being surveyed: ‘The new policy has all the advantages of jettisoning hypocrisy. The next step, which logically should grow from it, would be to revise the Non-Proliferation Treaty to make India formally one of the established nuclear powers, and thus gain India’s membership of the Treaty. Then India’s immense diplomatic energies could be harnessed to the battle of ensuring that other countries are not pushed towards the bomb by the double-standards of the nuclear haves.’86 While ‘the double-standards of the nuclear haves’ is evident, Power seemed to advocate a legitimization of India’s status so that it can exercise the discrimination it had been subjected to. One set of double standards was to be replaced by another. The ‘double standards’ argument is also flawed on the grounds that it creates what Amartya Sen called a ‘prudential blunder’: ‘The fact that other countries, including India and Pakistan, have grounds enough for grumbling about the nature of the world order, sponsored and supported by the established nuclear powers without any serious commitment to denuclearization, does not give them any reason to pursue a nuclear policy that worsens their own security and adds to the possibility of a dreadful holocaust. Moral resentment cannot justify a prudential blunder.’87 Apart from syndicating articles and columns from western papers, Pakistan media strategically reprinted Indian media pieces critical of the pact. Seema Mustafa’s ‘Indo-US nuke deal remains discreet’ was syndicated from The Asian Age, Delhi. Mustafa provided details of the pact and quoted Brahma Chellaney and Bharat Karnad to refute official Indian claims to being acknowledged as a nuclear power. She outlined the problems with the pact from an Indian point of view.88 Her skepticism was in contrast to a majority of Pakistani media articles and editorials. For example, Anwar Iqbal wrote in Dawn:


Tracking the Media

‘The United States has decided to allow India to acquire the same facilities accorded to a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty without signing the agreement, a move tantamount to recognizing India as a nuclear weapon state.’89 That this recognition strengthened neither the NPT nor India was a point that was not sufficiently emphasized because most media commentaries seemed obsessed with security and strategic concerns and did not contextualize those concerns within ‘prudential’ or moral frames. Praful Bidwai’s ‘N-option & India’s compulsions: Energy policy’ was a characteristically scathing critique of India’s sudden reliance on nuclear energy. He cited Kamal Mitra Chenoy: ‘“Indian policy-makers have decided to play a purely cynical game: join the Nuclear Apartheid regime, which they stridently condemned for decades.”’90 The truth of this was hinted at by some Indian and Pakistan commentators but never put so baldly. Bidwai linked the nuclear pact to the proposed Iran gas pipeline and multilateralism in the south: ‘If India yields to US pressure on the Iran pipeline, India is likely to be stuck with the wrong paradigm and court energy insecurity. If it follows its South–South instincts, India will improve relations with its neighbours and create greater security and prosperity for South and West Asia.’91 Bidwai appealed to an older paradigm of South–South cooperation as if that were separable from the geopolitics of the present day world. However, his critique of the shift in Indian energy policy and its consequences for the region was valuable and difficult to fault. The syndicating of Bidwai’s column in Dawn was perhaps indicative of a hope (from a Pakistani perspective) that this would be the kind of critical moderation that will guide Indian policy, although not much of this moderation was available on either side of the border.

Pakistani Dismissal of the Fears Generated by the Pact S. M. Hali, in ‘Indo-US defence agreement’, cited articles from the Deccan Herald, C. Uday Bhaskar and Brahma Chellaney to indicate that the deal has problems and Pakistan should not be ‘unduly pessimistic. […] Pakistan need not fret over the Indo-US agreement’.92 Indian media analyses were co-opted to allay Pakistani fears and highlight cross-border skepticism about the deal. While highlighting legitimate concerns, however, the reprinting of Indian voices served more to alleviate Pakistani reservations and fears

Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations 175

than engender a wider debate about the deal. In another piece, ‘Indo-US nuclear deal’, Hali adopted the same strategy, citing K. Venugopal in The Hindu, Dr A. N. Prasad, M. J. Akbar, and the Deccan Chronicle of 21 July. From this he concluded that ‘the saner elements in the Indian media are not only questioning the deal but advocating rationality’.93 Hali’s articles highlight a degree of debate within the Indian media, but one wonders what the purpose and hope underlying these pieces was. Perhaps it was to indicate a lack of consensus within the ‘hegemonic’ other thereby, paradoxically, destroying the idea of India as a monolithic and inimical power. Perhaps it was to soothe anxieties within Pakistan. The retired General Mirza Aslam Beg wrote in a similar vein in ‘Anatomy of the Indo-US defence pact’: ‘Pakistan must not be unduly perturbed, nor it should enter into an arms race, as the Indo-American Defence pact is a geo-political aberration, carrying self-defeating propensities.’94 General Beg never quite analyzed why the deal is an ‘aberration’, but the declaration seemed designed to suppress undue fears. In the context of The Nation’s coverage of the pacts, these pieces by Hali and Beg were token gestures of comfort. While it had an occasional analytical piece providing commentary on the arms race and poverty in the subcontinent, its dominant tone ranged from regret and recrimination to rant and abuse. It covered and editorialized on the India–US pacts obsessively. Dawn was equally obsessive but more balanced in the type of opinions it printed. Of the three Pakistan broadsheets surveyed, Daily Times was the least jingoistic and most open to views critical of Pakistan, mentioning taboo subjects such as Pakistan’s less than creditable proliferation record. Indian broadsheets surveyed display a similar spread of opinion, except that Pakistan was less of a centre of focus. That was understandable given the fact that the deals concerned India and even newspapers such as The Hindu which carried critical pieces, followed the general consensus that the pacts were a triumph of Indian diplomacy and a recognition of India’s growing clout in the comity of nations. This rhetoric of increasing power was also evident in Indian media coverage of India’s bid for a seat at the United Nations Security Council. In the Pakistan media, the G-4 failure to secure a consensus, and therefore India’s failure was covered in detail and some degree of satisfaction. The next chapter examines further the ways in which


Tracking the Media

Indian and Pakistani media covered the subjects discussed here, as well as highlighting the pathology of power displayed in India’s failed bid for a UNSC seat. The broadsheets surveyed in Pakistani and Indian media reveal hierarchies of power and desire for power. In Pakistani media, the Indo-US pact was also seen as a setback against the context of the London bombings, the Pakistan links of some of the bombers, and the subsequent battering of its national image in the western media. Simultaneous with editorials and opinion pieces on Indo-US defence deals were articles on the need to reform Pakistan and move away from obscurantist politics. For example Dawn editorialized on 10 July 2005: ‘Pakistan has reason to be particularly on guard [against Muslim stereotyping and bashing] because of the way its territory has been used by all kinds of terrorist and militant organizations. Irrespective of what the present military-led government may say or do, we have not been able to quite shake ourselves free of our past association with the Taliban and our encouragement of militant tendencies. We may have come out of our previous state of denial, in which we refused to differentiate between sectarian parties and ‘jihadi’ groups, but recognition of the link between the two has not led to forceful enough action on either front. The fact that wanted persons are regularly unearthed within Pakistan shows that the country remains a beehive of terrorists.’95 The editorial was scathing in its analysis of the inadequate steps that Pakistani governments have taken against terror groups sheltering within the country and called for a change of mindset as well as policy: ‘Basically, the problem goes beyond punitive action, of which there have been many instances recently. It concerns the basic question of whether we have firmly and finally decided to stop being a laboratory for all kinds of strange ideological and fundamentalist obsessions and illusions of superiority that were not justified by either economic or political power. […]There is very little comfort to be drawn from proclaiming that we are in the “front line” in the war on terror until we can convince not only other states but also ourselves that we have decided to put the past firmly behind us. Pakistan is particularly vulnerable because of our nuclear capability, which irks many and which was seriously jeopardized by the Qadeer Khan episode.’96 The editorial was clear-sighted and selfreflective and made connections between disparate contexts — the proliferation activities of A. Q. Khan, the support for the Taliban,

Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations 177

the war on terror, and, by implication, the India–US pact — in ways that were not often in evidence on either side of the India–Pakistan media border. In fact, sections of the Indian media (India Today in particular) consistently highlighted the idea that Pakistan is a haven for jehadis, and that militant Islamism combined with the shenanigans of Abdul Qadir Khan make it a ‘rogue’ and ‘failed state’, not merely to offer analytical insights but primarily to pillory and essentialize Pakistani polity and society.97 Post 7/7, the Pakistan links of three of the London suicide bombers again enabled sections of the British, US and Indian press to reiterate the idea of a state barely under control. This would be one reason and context why the Indo-US pact received the kind of interest it did in Pakistan. While the Indian Defence Minister was busy denying the pact (to suit his domestic constituencies), Pakistan media saw it through the prism of its own anxieties and took this deal as well as the nuclear pact very seriously. In fact, Pakistani media saw the Indo-US defence pact and the nuclear agreement as one seamless entity, which was analytically sound but simultaneously revealed compounded domestic anxieties related to both agreements.

Notes 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

Rajghatta 2005c. Dikshit 2005. Karat 2005. The Hindu 2005g. Baruah 2005a. The Hindu 2005b. The Hindu 2005c. Varadarajan 2005c. ‘For many [American military strategists], India is the most attractive alternative [to China]. For this reason, several Americans underscored that eventual access to Indian military infrastructure represents a critical “strategic hedge” against dramatic changes in traditional US relationships in Asia’ (from a six-part analysis of Juli MacDonald’s report: see Joseph 2003: Part II). Wimbush 2005: 16. The Hindu 2005e. Varadarajan 2005d. Varadarajan 2005e. From a six-part analysis of Juli MacDonald’s report: see Joseph 2003: Part III,


Tracking the Media

15. Varadarajan 2005f. 16. Fareed Zakaria was more attuned to the complexity of relations between the countries: ‘The American relationship with China is complex, with many elements of cooperation. China, after all, is one of America’s chief creditors, and Americans in turn buy Chinese goods, fuelling its growth. Nor will India want to play along as counterweight to China, since its own relations with its powerful neighbor are crucial. Beijing will overtake America as India’s largest trading partner within a couple of years. Both India and America will want to retain their independence in dealing with the Middle Kingdom’ (Zakaria 2006). 17. Khare 2005. 18. Gupta 2006: 179. 19. Khare 2005. 20. See ‘U.S. Image Up Slightly, but Still Negative’, Pew Global Attitudes Project, released 23 June 2005, php?ReportID=247 and ‘Global Unease With Major World Powers’, Pew Global Attitudes Project, released 27 June 2007, reports/display.php?ReportID=256. 21. Khare 2005. 22. For an analysis of a similar cohabitation of divergent analyses and articles in The New York Times and the maintenance of an overall ideological cohesion, see Chattarji 2007: 101–15. 23. Ravi 2005. It is interesting to note that these issues continue to reverberate two years after the initial deal with controversy swirling around the Indo-US 123 agreement. See Ramesh 2007. 24. The Hindu 2005f. In the context of war and the ends–means argument, Daniel Pick writes: ‘Their [Deleuze and Guattari’s] critique suggests that the Clausewitzean relationship between war and politics needs to be turned upside down. War, is the subject, politics merely one manifestation, one form war may adopt. As Foucault writes, “power is war, a war continued by other means”’(Pick 1993: 259). 25. Ibid. 26. Ramanathan and Agarwal 2005. 27. The Indian Express 2005b. 28. Mehta 2005. 29. Aiyar 2005. 30. The title ‘American Idol’ from the popular US reality TV show was perhaps reflective of an awareness of the power of American popular culture icons in India. The Indian version of the show highlights this imitative desire which is played out on a fuller scale in the realm of politics. Acceptance by the US — even if it is sometimes resented — is too precious a political, cultural, and psychological product to be rejected out of hand. 31. Malik 2005. See Chapter 6 for the gap between India and China in the manufacturing sector. 32. Ibid. ‘Institutional victimhood’ is a trope that was played out in various contradictory forms during the Kargil War (see Chapter 1). The Indo-US

Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations 179

33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40.

41. 42.

nuclear deal was seen by some as an opportunity to jettison that victimhood. Within certain Hindu right wing visions of India’s history, such repudiation would also strengthen the argument of ‘historic’ victimization suffered by the Hindus and allow it to strike against internal enemies such as Muslims. The Hindu Right championed nuclear weaponization because it was perceived as an answer to victimization as well as a reiteration of India’s power in the comity of nations. As Thomas Blom Hansen writes: ‘The decision to assert India’s place in the world by acquiring nuclear capabilities was met with general approval among political parties in India […] The response from newspapers seemed even more positive, opinion polls indicated overwhelming support to the decision, and the BJP could now appear on the domestic scene in its much-desired role as the most resolute defender of India’s national pride and its national interest. When a local RSS organizer in the western state of Gujarat told a journalist, “after the nuclear tests, many other nations have realized that India is not merely a developing nation, but a superpower,” he was not merely articulating a Hindu nationalist sentiment. His and the RSS’s exhilaration at a new-found national self-respect seemed to resonate with widely held perceptions of nation, cultural pride, and India’s place in global hierarchies’ (Hansen 2004: 3). In scenarios of external (Kargil War) or internal (Gujarat riots) conflict the Hindu right prefers, however, to maintain a simultaneous victim–avenger stance, never completely rejecting the idea of victimhood even in the present. The Indian Express 2005a. Kumar 2005. The Indian Express 2005a. Kumar 2005. Said 1997: 52–53. Patnaik 2005. Rajghatta 2005d. Chidanand Rajghatta’s use of the term ‘apartheid’ was another instance of the victimization trope, implying that the nuclear deal was a form of just restitution. The term was used earlier by Jaswant Singh in an article titled ‘Against Nuclear Apartheid’, where Singh justified Pokhran II and wrote: ‘The first 50 years of Indian Independence reveal that the country’s moralistic nuclear policy and restraint paid no measurable dividends, except resentment that India was being discriminated against’ (Singh 1998: 43). Rajghatta 2005e. More than two years later Rajghatta proclaimed the triumph of membership: ‘India and the US are all set to begin exceptional civilian nuclear cooperation — overturning three decades of mistrust, heartburn and antipathy — under the terms of a landmark agreement released simultaneously in the two capitals on Friday’ (Rajghatta 2007: 1). As earlier, the implications of the deal were seen entirely in positive terms with no analysis of downsides. Also see Bagchi 2007. It is interesting that Indrani Bagchi repeated the language of apartheid used two years earlier.


Tracking the Media

43. Subrahmanyam 2005. 44. Pick 1993: 263. Similarly, Carol Cohn writes of the abstraction of language within the nuclear establishment: ‘What hit me first was the elaborate use of abstraction and euphemism, of words so bland that they never forced the speaker or enabled the listener to touch the realities of nuclear holocaust that lay behind the words. […] The isolation of this technical knowledge from social or psychological or moral thought, or feelings, is all seen as legitimate and necessary’ (Cohn 1987: 690, 712). 45. Sen 2006: 260. 46. Luce 2006: 299. 47. Dixit 1999: 62. 48. Media optimism within India was bolstered by articles such as the one written by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, who defended the nuclear deal from every possible point of view and concluded: ‘Looking back decades from now, we will recognize this moment as the time when America invested the strategic capital needed to recast its relationship with India. As the nations of Asia continue their dramatic rise in a rapidly changing region, a thriving, democratic India will be a pillar of Asia’s progress, shaping its development for decades. This is a future that America wants to share with India, and there is not a moment to lose’ (Rice 2006: A 15). 49. Ahmad 2005. 50. Shahi 2005. 51. The Nation 2005a. 52. Ibid. 53. Ibid. 54. The latter was related not only to Pakistani internal politics but to Pakistan’s policies vis-à-vis Kashmir. Pakistan media attitudes to Kashmir are analyzed in Chapter 9. 55. Dalrymple 2007. See also Bergen 2007 for an analysis of the elite-radical Islam conflict in Pakistan. 56. The Nation 2005c. 57. Ibid. 58. Ahmed 2005a. 59. Mahmood 2005. 60. Dawn 2005a. 61. The Nation 2005b. 62. Ibid. 63. Luce 2006: 355. 64. American soldiers were often perceived as victims of the Vietnam War in post-war America and, as Kali Tal points out, ‘“Soldier as victim” representations depend upon the invisibility of the soldiers’ own victims, namely Vietnamese soldiers and civilians’ (Tal 1996: 138). 65. Pitafi 2005. 66. See Jamil 2005 for a similar argument. Mohammad Jamil concluded his analysis by emphasizing Pakistan’s special relationship with China and the

Indian and Pakistan Media on Indo-US Relations 181

67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80.

81. 82. 83. 84. 85. 86. 87. 88. 89. 90. 91. 92.

improbability of India rivalling China: ‘Pakistan has excellent relations with China, and both have stood by each other in the past. And as the things stand today India could not become a regional power in the presence of China, and does not seem to catch up with China within the foreseeable future.’ Fatemi 2005. Ibid. Ibid. Bhatty 2005. Ahmed 2005b. Dawn 2005c. Dawn 2005f. Hasan 2005. Ibid. For example, see Dawn 2005d. Dawn 2005e. Ibid. Ibid. More recently Indian connections to global terrorism have been noted but without the demonizing of an entire community, culture and religion as is often the case with instances of Islamic terror. Khafeel Ahmed, who drove a jeep into Glasgow airport on 30 June 2007, and the arrest (and subsequent release) of Mohammed Haneef in Australia highlighted these connections. These instances were seen as aberrations rather than the norm and the article stressed the unique non-jihadi aspect of Indian Muslims: ‘At a time when Muslim nations from Algeria to Indonesia have emerged as incubators for anti-Western extremists, India — by some estimates the world’s second-most-populous Muslim nation — has remained a unique case’ (Sappenfield and Rice-Oxley 2007). Ashis Nandy argues that religion is not a major factor in recent communal riots in India: ‘It is a major paradox of contemporary India that religious passions now play a diminishing role in religious violence; money, politics and organized interests play a much more important part’ (Nandy 2001: 93). Talbott 2005. Ibid. Khan 2005. Ibid. Ibid. Power 2005. Sen 2005: 259. Mustafa 2005. Iqbal 2005. Bidwai 2005b. Ibid. Hali 2005a.

182 93. 94. 95. 96.

Tracking the Media

Hali 2005c. Beg 2005. Dawn 2005b. Ibid. See also Shaikh 2005. Najmuddin A. Shaikh wrote: ‘If it is established, as one fears it will be, that Shahzad Tanveer and Haseeb Hussain did attend training camps in Pakistan, then the consequences will be as grim as President Musharraf fears. It should perhaps be the catalyst which will help him convince the naysayers among his advisers and associates that the game of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds is no longer an option. Nobody will believe us when our foreign office spokesman dismisses as wrong Mr Natwar Singh’s charge that he is prepared to provide photographs of training camps and asserts that this was harking back to the “legacy of the past”.’ An editorial in The Nation, ‘A common struggle’, noted certain historical connections, sometimes ignored in western media: ‘It is not without reason that Pakistan should appear in the press again and again as a source of recruits or infrastructural facilities in terror operations. It was here that the US-led West, with the help of General Zia at the helm, created the Frankenstein that stalks it now. Pakistan was used as a training ground by the CIA and European agencies for radical elements collected from all over the world, including Britain. Their role in the Afghan struggle against the USSR was glamourised by the western media. It was at this time that the seminaries in Pakistan were radicalised by one superpower to overthrow the other, making full use of what Mr Blair now calls an “evil ideology” .This said, what is needed now is to launch a common struggle against terrorism instead of indulging in mutual recrimination’ (The Nation 2005d). 97. See Chapter 1 for examples of attitudes towards Pakistan expressed in India Today in the context of the Kargil War.

8 ‘Big Time’: A Seat at the UNSC and Indo-US Relations in India and Pakistan Media The subtext of India’s desire for and negotiations towards acquiring power at a global level underpins most of the articles examined in the previous chapter. In fact, it was India’s success in negotiating the defence and nuclear deals with the US that equally preoccupied Pakistani media analysis during the period under survey. Those analyses, as we have seen, alternated between berating the failures of Pakistani foreign policy and criticizing India for its hegemonic desires as well as for orchestrating a power if not an arms race in the region. The discourse of an apparently imminent great power status was perhaps best embodied in the reports on India’s bid for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). A UNSC seat was projected as a just follow-up of the deals with the US and due recognition of India’s power. As with the Indo-US deals, the Pakistan media covered India’s bid with intensity and an ultimate sense of triumph as the move petered out.

Indian Media Representations The Hindu carried seven reports on the subject. On 6 July, Siddharth Varadarajan reported the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) opposition to the G-4 initiative. The next day Varadarajan mentioned that the G-4 had decided to defer the vote on UNSC expansion.1 On 11 July a report, ‘G-4 favours U.N. vote around July 20’, concentrated on the African Union (AU) factor and the importance of their votes. It ended with a quote that the expansion may not happen in 2005 but did not comment on it.2 On 13 July there was a report on the G-4 introducing a draft resolution in the UN. This detailed the debates and the opposition of China and Pakistan to the proposed expansion of the UNSC.3 On the same day, in the ‘National’ news section, Amit Baruah virtually repeated the draft resolution report. On 17 July Baruah continued the coverage: ‘G-4 proposal: chances for compromise.’4 On 29 July Varadarajan’s ‘G-4 remains focused on the African Union’ contained more details


Tracking the Media

of the tortuous negotiations between the G-4 and the AU.5 The frequency of these reports suggests great interest verging on the obsessive in India’s bid for a UNSC seat. The grouping itself — Brazil, Germany, India, Japan — placed India on par with Germany and Japan, which was both flattering to India and inaccurate in its creation of a rhetorical equivalence between the nations. It is possible to perceive the G-4 as a pairing of countries that used the other set to fulfill its own agenda. Germany and Japan as developed nations could well have launched individual or a joint bid for the UNSC, but the alliance with two developing nations provided the bid a politically correct balance. Similarly, Brazil and India acquired greater legitimacy and leverage by being associated with two G-8 members. In this context it is interesting that The Hindu, which was largely critical of the defence and nuclear pacts, offered little criticism of India’s desire, effectively endorsing the idea that India was deserving of permanent membership of the UNSC. On 14 July The Times of India carried a report: ‘India’s UNSC dreamboat sinks in US waters’. It cited US representative Shirin Tahir-Kheli: ‘“Let me be as clear as is possible: the US does not think any proposal to expand the Security Council — including one based on our own ideas — should be voted upon at this stage.”’6 The Hindu cited an unnamed official in its 11 July report: ‘“Africa is the weakest link. If a compromise is reached on the two resolutions, fine. But if at the end of the day there are still two separate resolutions, we might just have to accept that expansion [of the Security Council] will not happen this year.”’7 This was not followed up and TahirKheli’s clear rejection seems to have been ignored by The Hindu. There was a sense in which the desire and hope for permanency at the UNSC obscured the realities of power equations in the world and within the UN. One such reality was the consistent opposition of the US and China. The US has its own ambivalent — verging on the oppositional — relationship with the UN which was evident during the run-up to the Iraq War. While India was championed as a strategic counterweight to China by sections of US policy makers (especially in the context of the defence and nuclear deals), that did not hinder the US and China from agreeing to block the G-4 bid. The US rejection, however, did not prevent The Times from writing further stories on the G-4 saga. On 28 July it carried a bizarre story wherein the Italian ambassador to the UN, Marcello Spatafora, ‘alleged that one of the G-4 countries had threatened to

‘Big Time’


halt a $460,000 project in an unnamed country to gain its support for their resolution’.8 The G-4 counter to the Italian accusation was reported in The Times the following day, but did not dwell on the obvious machinations for power at the fountainhead of normative democracy. Reportage in the Indian broadsheets under consideration saw India’s bid for a UNSC seat as an inherent good and offered little or no analytical comment, preferring instead to dwell on the minutiae of negotiations, accusations and hopeful prognostications. The only exception to the above was in a sister publication of The Hindu, indicating perhaps that there is limited coherence within certain media publishing groups and/or that such groups allow for some difference and autonomy. The manner in which dissenting, critical or minority opinions enter mainstream media and circulate is analyzed by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky as part of their ‘propaganda model’. Such opinions help to maintain the idea of plurality within a media field. However, by their very dissidence and infrequent appearance, they are deliberately ‘positioned’ as dissenting opinions and effectively marginalized within larger media discourses on a subject.9 Praful Bidwai’s regular column in Frontline offered an analysis of India’s bid for a UNSC seat. Bidwai stated that India could gain a seat but it would have to strike untenable compromises with the US for acquiring such a position: ‘The Times of India (28 May) reported that Washington wants India to agree to amend the U.N. Charter to provide for the “right” of states to use military force in “anticipatory self-defence”, presumably including both pre-emptive and preventive war. This is a terrible bargain. […] This is morally obnoxious, strategically irrational, and utterly repugnant to the spirit of the U.N. Charter.’10 Although Bidwai cited a Times of India report, The Times did not contain the kind of pointed analysis that Bidwai offered. He asked questions that looked beyond the ‘achievement’ of a UNSC seat: ‘What sort of India is it that goes to the Council? What does it stand for in regard to reform of the present unequal world order? And will India merely promote its narrow and parochial national interest as perceived by the ruling elite, or will it contribute to making the world a better place, less conflict-ridden, less violent, less dominated by hegemonic powers and more equal?’11 At one level, these questions may sound naïve in their idealization of a normative function of power. However, for Bidwai’s analysis the questions were not merely rhetorical ones


Tracking the Media

and he traced differences in India’s policies from the 1950s onwards through to India’s pretensions at the present time. Such a trajectory, Bidwai implied, served to highlight the possibilities of ethical policies and their failure or abandonment in the Indian context. ‘This is not the India of the 1950s and 1960s, which championed decolonization, non-alignment, peace, nuclear disarmament and equity and balance in the world. It is not the India of the 1970s, which called for the New International Economic Order based on fair trade and correction of structural imbalances in the world economy. It is not even the India of the 1980s, which resisted Western pressure on intellectual property rights and which, despite having acquired a nuclear capability, still maintained restraint by not overtly crossing the nuclear threshold, a certain “discipline” as Amartya Sen called it.’12 There was an element of nostalgia in this characterization, particularly for the non-aligned movement and a refusal to delve into the failure of that and other movements. Praful Bidwai’s questions, however, delve into a larger debate between policy makers who stress realpolitik, the necessity to deal with the world as it is, on the one hand, and idealists who wish to create a better world, on the other hand.13 The divide, however, is not as deep or irreconcilable as proponents of either side make it out to be, for the world as it is can also be shaped by ideals. As Anthony Appiah writes, ‘So-called realists about international relations often say that our foreign policy should pursue only our own national interest. They sound as though they’re saying that nobody matters but our own fellow countrymen. But if you ask them whether they think that we should engage in genocide if it is in our national interest, they typically deny that it could be in our national interest, because our national interest is somehow internally connected with certain values.’14 It is the whittling away and absence of ideals and values that Bidwai highlights in this chronology and points to in present policy formulations: ‘Today’s India is driven by chauvinist nationalism, of the muscular, militant and misanthropic kind, and pressed by an obsessive desire to join the dominant rather than fight them. […] Its present policy is unbalanced, excessively focused on the U.S., and nearly always obsequious towards it.’15 Echoes of earlier media debates on India’s obsession with America and anti-Americanism are evident here and while they focus on a definite bias in recent Indian foreign policy initiatives, these debates also imply that any alignment with the US is in itself a sign of obsequiousness. The realpolitik–idealist frame

‘Big Time’


is somewhat muddied here, as the latter is as ideological as the former. Such an argument is a staple of the left in India and seems to betray a curious lack of self-confidence in its very attempt to ‘stand-up’ for India. Where Bidwai’s analysis is distinctive, however, is in the way he characterized the domestic implications of India acquiring a UNSC seat as a would-be triumph for a retrogressive elite. ‘Domestically, India’s entry into the Security Council will be seen as a great triumph by an elite which has psychologically seceded from the people and looks westwards. The top one-tenth of the population will see it as vindication of its own hubris and a sign of India’s “arrival” as a Great Power — no matter that it remains a cesspool of poverty and deprivation, in which rank casteism rules, the majority is condemned to economic bondage and social servitude and female foeticide is acquiring epidemic proportions. Worse, a Security Council seat will be seen as license to ignore these terrible realities.’16 A counter argument would state that Bidwai ignores the social and economic progress that India has made since the 1950s which then constitutes a justification for the UNSC bid. This counter truth might have some value, but Bidwai dismissed it because that value is outweighed by the inequities and chauvinism that have gained centre stage in recent years. As Edward Luce writes in his lucid and sympathetic account of the rise of modern India and the challenges facing the country: ‘It [India] is also suffering from a premature spirit of triumphalism, believing it is destined to achieve greatness in the twenty-first century without having to do very much to assist the process. […] Surpassing the overall size of Japan’s economy is all very well (it is projected to happen during the 2020s on a dollar basis), but Japan would still have only a tenth of India’s population, and virtually nobody living in poverty. A nation should surely be judged by how it treats its people, not by how many people it has, or by how many nuclear weapons it has developed. Which brings us to one final challenge [apart from poverty, HIV-AIDS, environmental degradation, the threats to liberal democracy] that India must overcome in the near future: the complacency of its privileged classes.’17 Bidwai highlighted precisely this challenge of complacency that underpinned India’s futile bid for a UNSC seat and the concomitant obliteration of uncomfortable realities back home, as it were, to pursue chimeras of power abroad. Bidwai’s critique also indicated the ways in which the English language media sometimes erases questions of


Tracking the Media

inequity, deprivation and servitude when it reports on and analyzes issues such as the UNSC race. While media covered the UNSC negotiations in tortuous detail, none provided as critical an analysis as this piece. Among the Indian news magazines as well as broadsheets under survey, Bidwai’s piece in Frontline was the most analytical. One may or may not agree with aspects of the analysis but at the very least the column was neither bland nor triumphalist. India Today’s coverage of all four stories was cursory at best. Anil Padmanabhan’s ‘Seizing the Moment’ laid out the basic parameters of Indo-US relations and India’s expectations vis-à-vis the UNSC bid and nuclear energy issue. ‘Indian officials have told US interlocutors that India has invested too much political capital in its UNSC bid and that it was a now-or-never attempt for it, and that the US should support it.’18 Padmanabhan’s officials seem to have ignored or forgotten the clear dismissal of India’s ambitions reported in The Times of India on 14 July. Neither Padmanabhan nor any of the reports cited earlier pointed to the obvious reluctance that the US displayed towards UNSC expansion. This prevarication, as Ashley Tellis pointed out in his upbeat report on India–US relations, was due to ‘two larger administration concerns: whether an expanded Security Council would be conducive to American well-being, and whether having India — with its penchant for pursuing independent foreign policies sometimes at odds with U.S. preferences — as a permanent member of a reconfigured Security Council would advance American interests over the long term. Since there is in fact a strong case to be made for contracting the Security Council rather than expanding it at this juncture in history, Washington has been deliberately obscure about its own preferences with respect to increasing council membership, preferring to hide behind the position that this is an issue requiring more reflection and discussion within the international community’.19 Padmanabhan did not, of course, venture into territory staked out by Bidwai. It was a lowkey, tepid two-page article partly because the cover story was on ‘Al Qaida: Matrix of Terror’, with a lurid green rogues gallery of photos and a linking of the attack on Ayodhya with global Islamic terror. Outlook was the most enthusiastic about the Prime Minister’s visit as well as the nuclear pact. In fact it even had a little box item on the almost forgotten prequel. Seema Sirohi’s ‘It’s Really Special When It’s Special’ pointed to the welcome that Donald Rumsfeld laid out for Pranab Mukherjee and its implications: ‘Rumsfeld is the other big advocate of a strategic partnership with India, apart

‘Big Time’


from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “There’s nothing that divides them on this,” said one insider. US officials told Outlook that there is “frenzy” on both sides, a lot of expectations and hopes to raise the defence relationship into higher gear.’20 Despite this ‘frenzy’, ‘What can be achieved is still unclear days before the visit’21 just as what was achieved remained unclear after the visit. The following week Seema Sirohi’s cover story, ‘Big Time’, looked forward to Dr Singh’s impending visit: ‘At issue: how should the world’s lone superpower engage an India in full flight to join the big league?’22 Notably, it was the US engaging India and not the other way round. Sirohi cited in detail a report, India as a New Global Power: An Action Agenda for the United States, by Ashley J. Tellis, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Tellis, formerly adviser to Robert Blackwill, former US ambassador to India, was also cited by The Hindu’s Varadarajan, but to highlight his sense of dubious quid pro quos rather than to champion the Indo-US deals. The report seemed to be a neo-conservative’s dream come true and repeated earlier ideas of India as a counterpoint to China and India’s strategic importance in terms of preserving order in South Asia. Ashley Tellis wrote: ‘India remains an island of democratic values and political stability in a region convulsed by religious fanaticism, illiberal governments, state sponsors of terrorism, and economic stasis. The fact that India’s democratic political system has managed to peacefully integrate the aspirations of close to 150 million Muslims at a time of worldwide Islamist ferment remains a tribute to the accomplishment of the Indian political experiment. The sheer scale of democracy in India — where more than a billion people speaking fifteen different languages and more than 600 dialects peaceably associate through a complex federal system and regularly return to the polls to elect new governments — ought to underscore the point that an India that joined its neighbors in succumbing to state failure or was threatened by its neighbors’ pathologies would be catastrophic for U.S. interests, if only because it would release disaffected individuals onto the world stage on a scale that would make many other contemporary challenges look small in comparison.’23 India’s record of maintaining ‘democratic values’ is quite remarkable, given some of the burdens which accompany and indeed define its democratic structures and stature. As Ashutosh Varshney notes, contrasting the Indian democratic experiment with ones in the West: ‘India adopted universal suffrage at the time of


Tracking the Media

independence, long before the transition to a modern industrialized economy began. The country does not have an extensive welfare system, although it has made a great effort to create one of late. And, defying democratic theory, a great participatory upsurge has marked Indian politics, […] The stability of Indian democracy is not in question.’24 Fareed Zakaria wrote in a similar vein: ‘Indian democracy is a wonder to behold. One of the world’s poorest countries, it has sustained democratic government for almost 60 years. And this is surely one of the country’s greatest strengths compared with many other developing countries.’25 India’s achievement is all the more remarkable if contrasted with neighbouring countries where democracy seems to flounder all too often. However, as in many democratic nations, India’s record has not been unblemished witness the Emergency (1975–77) or the frequency of communal riots to mention just two blots on the democratic horizon. There was no mention in Tellis’s report or in Seema Sirohi’s of some of the failures of the Indian state, the Gujarat riots being the most recent example. This omission served once more to flag democracy as a normative value seemingly devoid of history. For a news magazine that covered the horrors of Gujarat with some distinction, it was surprising that Outlook took Tellis’s compliments and arguments at face value. ‘The report,’ Sirohi wrote gushingly, ‘is a thunderbolt of ideas, a shockwave of innovative solutions. It is backed by meticulous research so those married to the status quo can’t yawn or dismiss it.’26 The only input Tellis’s report lacked seemed to be the contexts and analyses provided by Praful Bidwai. The Tellis analysis not only asserted neo-conservative policy doctrines with authority but it also reflected certain elite desires and aspirations within India as Sirohi’s article made apparent.27 Seema Sirohi then went onto write about the UNSC race: ‘The support [for India’s bid to be on the UNSC] will ring in India as nothing else can and help clean the slate on which ugly words from the likes of Nixon and Kissinger still faintly show.’28 The attempt to cleanse history was also an attempt to erase contexts within which those ‘ugly words’ were uttered: in this instance India’s help for the Bangladesh freedom movement. What Outlook defined as a ‘paradigm shift’ was more emblematic of the way in which Indian foreign policy seems to have moved from one extreme to the other: from blanket anti-Americanism to an unquestioning acceptance of American policy, without sufficient debate and analysis and without any middle ground for reflection.

‘Big Time’


Post-Dr Singh’s visit, Seema Sirohi had another upbeat cover story, ‘To the Power of N’: ‘The world of the Nuclear Five had suddenly evolved into a world of the de facto Nuclear Six, with India’s unique position being clearly recognized.’29 The article was almost entirely triumphant about this recognition and critical analysis was precluded to the extent that such a piece claimed to deal with realpolitik, where neither criticism nor moral considerations need to be entertained. She highlighted domestic opposition to the new agreement in the US, but belittled them as ‘nagging nannies’ (Blackwill’s phrase). In contrast to these ‘nagging nannies’, Condoleezza Rice was seen as a ‘steely and task-oriented’ ‘heroine’ for her support and stewardship of the deal.30 The focus was not on policy or moral issues but on personalities and their roles in the dramatic unfolding of the nuclear deal. This shift allowed for a trivialization of the issues and resultant opaqueness of analysis. The cover spread included a boxed story, also by Seema Sirohi, ‘Still a Guest at the Party’, which bemoaned the fact that ‘India’s Security Council bid is stuck’ and that ‘G-4 commitments and a reluctant US aren’t helping’. Apart from this dampener the article lived up to its opening line: ‘There are moments in history when hyperbole is not enough.’31 India’s ambassador to the US, Ronen Sen, contributed to some of that hyperbole when he was cited as saying that ‘the ultimate aim [of the Indo-US nuclear and other deals] is to generate employment, uplift people from rural poverty and distribute the fruits of development’.32 Although there was one passing reference in the piece to an agricultural agreement ushering in a second Green Revolution, it was not entirely clear nor spelt out how a nuclear pact (or a seat at the UNSC) would achieve Sen’s stated goals. Sen’s insertion of politically correct mantras on development and distribution of ‘the fruits of development’ was perhaps a mode of deflecting the kind of criticism offered by Bidwai, but it was so transparently out of context that it was almost analogous to beauty queens proclaiming their love of the poor and the fact that they are closet Mother Teresas. Apart from Bidwai’s article this was the only reference to lack of employment opportunities, rural poverty, and under development as problems that bedevil India, and that in itself is indicative of the media consensus surrounding the Indo-US deals. The media consensus within India was strengthened by the authority of metropolitan think tanks such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace from where Ashley Tellis’s report emanated. The energy angle of the nuclear deal was examined


Tracking the Media

from various points of view but there were no analyses of who this new energy would benefit or why, for example, big farmers had access to subsidized power while smaller ones had none. In most media accounts examined there seemed to be a disconnect between foreign policy achievements and their relevance to India’s problems, as indicated by Sen’s comment. Prem Shankar Jha’s opinion piece, ‘Coming of a Nuclear Age’, highlighted positives in the nuclear pact. He made a contrast between China, which is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but a blatant proliferator, and India which is not a signatory to the NPT, is not a proliferator, but slapped with sanctions. There was the familiar echo of India as a victim of unfair international regimes. While there may be some truth to the Indian assertion of western double standards vis-à-vis the nuclear issue there was, as Amartya Sen argued, little reason for India to compound western duplicity by joining the nuclear bandwagon. In Jha’s formulation, we have another version of the victimhood trope although in this case it was redeemed by the nuclear pact with the US. India was projected as a ‘responsible’ nuclear power, unlike Iran or North Korea. Jha used the phrase ‘ethical code’ with reference to India’s nuclear policy, which is an oxymoron given the context. Jha made no mention of India’s initial and ethical objection to nuclear weapons in the 1950s and attempted to unite the worlds of realpolitik and morality through the use of that phrase.33 In the same issue, V. Sudarshan analyzed the impact of the Indo-US nuclear pact from a scientific point of view. He repeated arguments available in the broadsheets: that the scientific fraternity in India ought to have been consulted, that demarcating civilian and military facilities may be difficult and unwise (from a security point of view).34 The scientific viewpoint seemed to seal the deal off from the contingencies of politics and history. This was another rhetorical mode of avoiding larger ethical or even practical issues.35

Pakistani Media Representations As mentioned in Chapter 7, the media in Pakistan perceived the Indo-US pact as a setback not only in itself but also against the context of the London bombings and the subsequent battering of its national image in the western media. Umer Farooq’s ‘Joining the Club’ made this connection explicit. Farooq began by stating that

‘Big Time’


the Bush–Singh joint statement ‘bestowed virtual nuclear weapons status on India’. He then went over familiar territory about the growing cooperation between the two countries post-Pokhran. He mentioned the ‘Jaswant Singh–Ian Talbot’ (sic) dialogues and how they have culminated in the US policy to ‘“help India become a major world power in the twenty-first century”’.36 Farooq reiterated a familiar argument in Pakistani media: that the deal will lead to nuclear proliferation. However, Farooq then cited Strobe Talbott’s characterization of Pakistan as the ‘ “Walmart (sic) of illicit commerce in dangerous technology” ’ and said that in this context India’s pact with the US is ‘no mean achievement’.37 Farooq contextualized the deal in a manner not seen in the broadsheets and news magazines under survey: ‘For people in Islamabad, all this [the Indo-US defence and nuclear deals] was taking place at a time of increasing pressure with regard to the trends of extremism in Pakistani society, which has been applied with renewed vigour after the suicide bombings in London and surfacing of alleged links of the bombers with madrassahs in Pakistan.’38 He perceived the fact that Pakistan lacks credibility in the spheres of non-proliferation and in its stated support for the war against terror. In turn, these two factors impact adversely in its relations with the US and India. As an article on the Indo-US nuclear pact the piece was factual and even-handed. It concluded inevitably with a comparative framework and there was an element of envy in the way in which India’s foreign policy triumphs were contrasted with Pakistan’s contemporary troubles and lack of credibility. As with analysis in some broadsheet articles, the Newsline piece was as much about Pakistan as it was about foreign policy advances made by its neighbour.

Pakistan Media on UNSC Expansion It is interesting that Aziz-ud-din Ahmad in his piece ‘Will India take the bait?’ cited Praful (sic) Bidwai’s piece on India’s desire for a UNSC seat, but only to score a point over India. Pakistan media covered the UNSC bid with equal obsession and general lack of analysis. Dawn carried seven pieces, The Nation 10 and Daily Times 10. Dr Akhtar Hasan Khan’s ‘No need to back India’s bid’ compared the two countries’ records at the UN: ‘The parity of Pakistan’s


Tracking the Media

election to the Security Council with India is because of its effective performance. Otherwise India should have been elected more often. […] The UN system has not seen a more impressive writer and speaker of English than [A. S.] Bokhari.’39 This banal comparison was followed up by the obvious: ‘India has been defying Security Council resolutions on Kashmir for more than fifty years. Pakistan has no such stigma.’40 Dr Khan preferred to ignore the fact that the UN has all but jettisoned those resolutions as a means of solving the Kashmir issue and seemed relieved that there are no skeletons in Pakistan’s Kashmir closet in contrast to its nuclear proliferation, for instance. Karl F. Inderfurth’s ‘UN needs a real change’ moved away from the one-upmanship of Dr Khan, arguing for change which is balanced and reflects current political realities.41 Thalif Deen’s ‘US push for global democracy excludes UN Council’ was the only non-Pakistan centred article and scathing about the politics and hypocrisy of Council expansion. It referred to the P-5 (Permanent 5) as the ‘H (Hereditary) 5’ and cited Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies, Washington: ‘The United Nations has always faced a difficult imbalance between power and democracy.’42 In quoting the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s statement that there is a ‘democracy deficit in the UN governance’, Deen indicated the skewed power equations that dominate the so-called fountainhead of democratic plurality. As Suman Gupta points out, there are ‘two compromises implicit in UN structures […]: the compromise whereby universal normative democracy (in the Human Rights declaration) and denotative procedural multilateral democracy (in the constitution of the General Assembly) uneasily shoulder each other; and the compromise whereby the procedural multilateral democracy of the General Assembly is undercut by the undemocratic prerogatives of the UN Security Council’.43 Praful Bidwai, in his critique of Indian power elites’ desire to join the UNSC, was referring precisely to the undemocratic structure and functioning of the Security Council, a fact overlooked by all but two of the media analysts under survey. In fact, the undemocratic nature of the UN found its mirror image in some of the failures of the democratic state within India. It was as if a seat on the councils of power at the UN would mitigate or gloss over some of the contradictions within. The G-4 agenda was couched within the framework of reforming the UN, but that rhetoric could not hide completely the urge for

‘Big Time’


a stake in dispensations of power that the UN represents. To cite Gupta once more: ‘A close historical analysis of the evolution and functioning of the UN shows that it serves as a forum for controlled power politics to protect existing (state, or larger than state) vested interests. The normative connotations of democracy have been endlessly manipulated by states and alignments which have associated it with their denotatively democratic credentials to hide realist and narrower interests.’44 Rarely did any of this analysis filter into mainstream media on both sides of the border. A Daily Times editorial, ‘UN-war of contending drafts’, was suitably cynical about all the proposals but offered no overarching analysis a la Bidwai and was typical of the regular media fare on this subject.45 Apart from these two pieces, Pakistan media carried detailed reports on the nitty-gritty of negotiations in and between various camps without much comment, much like the Indian media. Unlike the Indian media, all Pakistan articles under survey displayed a steadfast opposition to the G-4 and, by extension, India’s bid for a UNSC seat. As a Daily Times front page article put it, ‘Pakistan is adamantly opposed to India securing permanent membership of the Council.’46 This adamant opposition was diplomatically framed by Munir Akram, Pakistan’s UN Ambassador, speaking on behalf of United for Consensus (UfC): ‘The seekers of special privileges and power masquerade as the champions of the weak and the disadvantaged.’47 UfC, comprising Canada and Italy amongst others, portrayed its resolution as more just and equitable and Akram’s critique was as applicable to that grouping as to the G-4. Akram wished to place the UfC outside the matrices of power seeking and power politics, a difficult task given the nature of the UN. Munir Akram’s phrase was repeated in the Pakistan media and while it occupies the moral high ground, it was essentially aimed against India and did not venture into the analytical and actual complexity of UN functioning. S. M. Hali’s column, ‘Indian bid for UNSC seat’, expressed this anti-India bias: ‘India’s dream to achieve a coveted permanent seat at the UNSC appears to be coming to naught […] India has been going from pillar to post to realize its aspiration. It has manouevred (sic), begged, cajoled and even bullied some members of the United Nations to help it secure the highly sought-after position.’48 India’s desperate bid for a UNSC seat, as Praful Bidwai pointed out, camouflaged problems in India’s domestic


Tracking the Media

and international policies, and Hali was accurate in his representation of the begging and cajoling.49 His point, however, was to express satisfaction at India having been stymied. India’s failure in the UN arena seemed to serve as a sort of compensation for Pakistan’s foreign policy failures vis-à-vis the US. Sadly, this myopic concentration on India in Pakistan media did not allow for in-depth analysis of the issues surrounding UNSC expansion, barring the exceptions mentioned. A significant amount of newsprint and analytical effort was spent by broadsheets and news magazines in covering the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US, the subsequent Indo-US nuclear pact and India’s bid for a UNSC seat. In India, they revealed a broad consensus on the issues under discussion. Where there were differences — as in the largely critical and skeptical tone of The Hindu and the largely supportive articles in The Indian Express and The Times of India — they reflect divisions within the Indian polity as well as a vestigial and visceral suspicion of the US. In Pakistan there was extensive coverage of these events, almost as if they were of national import. In a literal sense, they were not. However, Pakistani media surveyed reveals the extent to which Indo-US relations impact on Pakistan. The increasing bonhomie between the two countries and the seeming de-hyphenation of India and Pakistan in the US foreign policy mindset was cause for further anxiety in Pakistan. One commonality between media surveyed across borders was that there were only a few articles that went beyond their respective national obsessions and/or political divisions. A small minority of articles attempted to analyze issues that went beyond the surface news. While that was a welcome break, by and large there seemed to be a media consensus that concentrated on obsessive repetition of detail (particularly in coverage of the UNSC bid) rather than in-depth analysis. That lack of consistent analysis was a loss both for the media and its readers.

Notes 1. 2. 3. 4.

Varadarajan 2005a. Varadarajan 2005b. 13 July 2005. Baruah 2005a and Baruah 2005b.

‘Big Time’


5. Varadarajan 2005f. 6. Rajghatta 2005b. 7. 11 July 2005, stories/ 200507 1112450100.htm. 8. The Times of India 2005b: 21. Spatafora’s allegations were prominently covered by all three Pakistan broadsheets under survey. The Daily Times and Dawn also reported the then Japanese Foreign Minster Nobutaka Machimura’s warning ‘that his country would face mounting domestic pressure to cut its contribution to the UN if it was denied a permanent seat on the UN Security Council’. (Daily Times 2005b). Given Japan’s status as the second largest contributor to the UN after the US, this threat carried some weight, but was not acted upon. 9. See Herman and Chomsky 1994: Chapter 1. 10. Praful Bidwai 2005a: 103. 11. Ibid. 12. Ibid.: 103–104. 13. While the kind of analysis offered by Samuel Huntington could be considered as part of a realpolitik framework, others such as Wole Soyinka emphasize ‘idealistic’ models which can shape the political worlds we live in. Soyinka writes: ‘The ethical will is the redeeming assertion that, even when all other considerations of social conduct are subjected to the fortuitous, one, an ethical core, remains inviolate’ (Soyinka 2005: xiv). 14. Appiah 2006: 152. Kwame Anthony Appiah’s seemingly extreme example of genocide focuses on the limits of realpolitiks and illuminates the possibility of morals and ideals in public policy. Thus, while the desire to ‘dismember Pakistan’ may be articulated (see Chapter 1), it has not been acted upon. Of course, the ‘genocidal urge’ that Ashis Nandy refers to with respect to the nuclear tests in the subcontinent is the troubling obverse of moral possibilities. 15. Bidwai 2005a: 104. 16. Ibid. 17. Luce 2006: 359. 18. Padmanabhan 2005: 24. 19. Tellis 2006: 35. 20. Sirohi 2005a: 14. 21. Ibid. 22. Sirohi 2005b: 21. 23. Tellis 2006: 49. 24. Varshney 2007: 93, 105. 25. Zakaria 2006. 26. Sirohi 2005b: 24. 27. Ashley Tellis’s report has a section on the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) launched by the US to interdict traffic in WMDs. Tellis’s argument that India be allowed to join this formally is an example of neo-conservative realpolitik devoid of ethical and moral considerations. See Tellis 2006: 36–37.

198 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33.

34. 35.

36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49.

Tracking the Media

Sirohi 2005b: 30. Sirohi 2005c: 32. Ibid.: 36. Sirohi 2005d: 32. Ibid.: 44. Jha 2005: 31. Prem Shankar Jha did not refer to the moral and prudential blunder that Amartya Sen perceived in India’s nuclear ambitions. See Sen 2005: 259. Bertrand Russell in his anti-nuclear tract Has Man a Future? noted India’s contributions to the cause of nuclear disarmament: ‘The Indian Government drew up a report written by thoroughly competent men of science, entitled “Nuclear Explosions and their Effects.” This was published in Delhi in 1956; the second edition in 1958. It is admirably objective and reliable, but, for this reason, it did not serve the purposes of the politicians of East or West and offered nothing of interest to sensational journalists’ (Russell 1961: 51). Significantly, no politician or media report in India referred to this report during the debate on the India–US nuclear deal. Sudarshan 2005b: 34–35. For a theoretical analysis of the relationship between science and the realms of politics see Kuhn 1970, especially Chapters v and vii. Thomas Kuhn’s notion of a scientific paradigm as standing ‘for the entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques and so on shared by the members of a given community’ is equally applicable to media practitioners and the creation of media consensus (Kuhn 1970: 175). Farooq 2005: 67. Ibid. Ibid. A. H. Khan 2005. Ibid. Inderfurth 2005. Deen 2005. Gupta 2006: 38. Ibid.: 99. Daily Times 2005b. Daily Times 2005a: 1. Ali 2005. Hali 2005b. As the G-4 bid petered out it was overtaken by the oil-for-food scam. The Volcker report indicted, among others, India’s then foreign minister, K. Natwar Singh, who was an ardent votary of India’s membership of an expanded UNSC. As domestic politics overrode international concerns they revealed some of the contradictions — such as corruption within the Indian political class and the UN bureaucracy — Praful Bidwai had highlighted.

9 ‘Hatred Must End’: Indo-Pak Media on Kashmir, Terrorism, and the Munabao–Khokrapar Issue Chapters 7 and 8 surveyed broadsheets and news magazines in India and Pakistan over a month in 2005 to gauge reportage and analyses offered on issues related primarily to relations between India and the US. This chapter and the ones that follow will look at non-English language newspapers in India and Pakistan as they report and reflect on news that is more immediate to the subcontinent. The survey covers four newspapers — Dainik Jagran, Amar Ujala (India), Daily Ibrat, Nawa-i-Waqt (Pakistan) — and reveals common attitudes and interconnections as well as significant divergences in the coverage of Kashmir and terrorism, the troubles in Balochistan, the Munabao– Khokrapar issue, and negative coverage of the ‘other’ in India and Pakistan. The survey indicates the ways in which these newspapers contribute to the creation of what Edward Said calls ‘communities of interpretation’ and how these communities are constructed and create perceptions of the self and its others.1 The period of primary survey for all four subjects is from 15 January to 15 February 2006 with the exception of Balochistan, where coverage of Nawab Bugti’s death in August 2006 will also be discussed. While Dainik Jagran and Amar Ujala are Hindi language papers, Ibrat is a Sindhi daily and Nawa an Urdu one.2 Language does imply different constituencies and sometimes differing political attitudes toward the same event, as will become evident in the course of the survey. While articles on the India–US nuclear and defence deals dealt with strategic concerns as well as notions of national status and image, some of the articles that are analyzed in this and subsequent chapters focused on actualizations of conflict and their complex contexts.

Cross-border Terrorism — Indian Representations An editorial in Dainik Jagran, ‘Half-hearted initiative against terror’, dismissed the forthcoming foreign secretary level talks. ‘Is it


Tracking the Media

possible that in the name of friendship, the issue of cross border terrorism is not being firmly put forward before Pakistan?’3 The editorial associated this lack of Indian foreign policy firmness with domestic political compulsions: ‘It is unfortunate that the Indian government appears to be attaching more importance to vote bank politics when it comes to dealing with the issue of Pakistan sponsored terrorism. [...] It seems that the greed for the vote bank has made the government forget that terrorists are only enemies of peace and cannot be grouped into religion, creed or class.’4 The Jagran analysis reiterated a familiar idea of India as a soft state that panders to its minority community; in fact the ‘softness’ of the state is related, in this argument, to the pandering. It also identified terrorism with Pakistan and Islam despite the final claim that terror knows no religion or class. In this conflation of Islam (and Pakistan because it is an Islamic nation) with terrorism, Jagran reiterated a trope available in mainstream English language media, the Hindu right, as well as western models of representing Islam.5 Examples of the first two were dwelt upon in Chapters 1 and 2 and it is interesting to note here the ways in which an overarching media discourse permeates representations of Islam. To cite Edward Said once more: ‘Looming over their work [journalists covering Islam] is the slippery concept, to which they constantly allude, of “fundamentalism”, a word that has come to be associated almost automatically with Islam, although it has a flourishing, usually elided, relationship with Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism.’6 The Jagran editorial further conflated the legitimate issue of cross-border terrorism with an insinuation that questioned the loyalty of Indian Muslims. According to this oft-repeated argument, since all Muslims are terrorists, Muslims in India constitute an enemy within who must be purged. Daniel Pick’s comment on First World War propaganda in Britain is equally appropriate for this construction of an internal enemy. ‘ “Foreign” forces,’ Pick writes, ‘were found not only to be startlingly invasive but, still more alarmingly, to meet with a certain support from an internal world of outcasts, “stubborn aliens in our midst.”’7 In the Indian context, Muslims within the country are constructed as sympathizers with their brethren across the border. An editorial in Amar Ujala argued that while ‘Pak has been attacking India since its inception’, the mode of attack has changed and it is now using ‘regional helpers’. ‘In the past few years among all those people caught [as terrorists], none were foreigners. Whether they are involved in explosions in Delhi bazaars, or those responsible for

‘Hatred Must End’


the attack on Bangalore Science Institute or those attempting to blow up the place of lord Ram.’8 The ‘invasive’ nature of the enemy was quantifiable, in the worldview projected by Jagran and Ujala, from the frequency of acts of terror within India as well as the memory of Kargil. Little evidence was adduced to prove conclusively that all acts of terror in India were indeed the handiwork of the ubiquitous enemy. Even less or no evidence was available for the insinuation that Indian Muslims were ‘the stubborn aliens’ who would gladly sabotage their own country.9 Yet Ujala argued that minority appeasement had created a dangerously ‘separatist mentality’: ‘Our politicians also make announcements that go against the verdict of courts giving reservations and status; this is also encouraging the pre-independence separatist mentality and the attempt at harmony going on in that section has received a blow. But by maintaining the status of certain citizens as minority, we have given them the mentality of being more than equal. They want to follow their own laws instead of those of the nation. This mentality while encouraging them to continue being separatist also leads to their becoming a helper to those belonging to the same religion.’10 Within the paradigm outlined by the Jagran and Ujala editorials peace with Pakistan was equated with appeasement of Muslims, as if only Muslims have a stake in and would benefit from the peace dividend. Just as in the context of the 2004 cricket tour of Pakistan, Muslim team members of the Indian cricket squad bore a disproportionate burden of loyalty, so too here the entire community was held to account for putative peace moves made by the government of the day. At a crucial level, the two editorials revealed not only the intolerance and short-sightedness of right wing Hindu discourse masquerading here as impartial editorial commentary, but also the problems within the secular state model in India. As Ashis Nandy observes, ‘though the secular state is expected to remove the suspicions of the various ethnic and religious communities over which it rules, the paranoia of fundamentalists or religious and ethnic chauvinists often finds a new basis in the actions of the state, however secular’.11 Thus, peace negotiations which would benefit all irrespective of religious affiliation are interpreted as a precursor and indication of national weakness and proof of the government pandering to minority sentiments. In another editorial, ‘New initiative in peace talks’, Jagran exhorted the Indian government to talk to Kashmiri Pandits in addition to separatist leaders in the valley. It then returned to the old


Tracking the Media

theme of Pakistan sponsored terror: ‘This cry of independence is engineered by Pakistan. [...] The solution to the problem of Jammu and Kashmir is inherent in the end of activities of terrorist organizations and lessening of Pakistan’s influence. In reality, terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir has taken the form of a business.’12 While there is some truth in the assertion that terrorism in Kashmir is no longer an indigenous movement, to place the entire blame on Pakistan is to absolve India of all responsibility. The Jagran editorial repeated a rhetorical strategy available in Pakistan media coverage of the India–US deals. Just as sections of Pakistani media blamed India for all internal problems, so too Jagran blamed Pakistan for the Kashmir insurgency rather than examining complex histories and contexts. Such historical amnesia obliterates events such as the rigged elections of 1987 or subsequent depredations by the Indian armed forces. At the same time, it enables a further consolidation of the idea of Islam as a permanent enemy of India and the need for constant vigilance on the part of the Indian state. Within this formulation ‘ “Islam” seems to engulf all aspects of the diverse Muslim world [within Pakistan, for example], reducing them all to a special malevolent and unthinking essence.’13 Much of this essentializing impetus was sadly mirrored in coverage across the border.

Pakistan Perspectives Nawa-i-Waqt carried 71 articles and/or editorials on Kashmir in the period under survey. A front page headline ‘Five Kashmiris martyred due to Indian brutalities’ and the article indicated a shift in language registers, with frequent use of words such as ‘martyr’, ‘mujahideen’, ‘brutalities’, ‘jehad’. The lexical frame is part of and sustains interpretative contexts which represent India as the enemy and Muslim brethren in Kashmir as martyrs: ‘Indian forces following on their tradition of committing brutalities have killed five more Kashmiris including two Mujahideen.’14 Details of Indian army atrocities co-existed on the same page with a fairly balanced piece on Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Khan’s visit to New Delhi to pursue Confidence Building Measures (CBM). Thus, while Nawa included articles on the composite dialogue between the two countries, it was much more forthright about Kashmir. An editorial, ‘India-Pakistan talks — where is the Kashmir issue?’ was followed by an article, ‘Kashmir can only be liberated through jehad’. Nawa mirrored Jagran’s terminology of soft states in

‘Hatred Must End’


its headlines: ‘Pakistan’s soft approach has increased India’s violence against Kashmiris. India considers discussions with the Hurriyat as an internal matter. Kashmiris do not consider anybody other than [Syed] Ali Gilani as their leader.’15 It also cited Saleem Hashmi, Hizbul Mujahideen spokesman: ‘“We are only waging a jehad to liberate Kashmir from India and make it a part of Pakistan.”’16 Whether all Kashmiris would consent to such a merger was not considered by Hashmi or by media reports which quoted the likes of Hashmi without comment. The media appropriation of Kashmiri agency and sovereignty seemed only to reflect political desires and hopes within sections of Pakistani media and polity. Coverage of Kashmir often verged on paranoia as in a front page piece, ‘Kashmiris to observe the Indian Republic Day as Black Day’: ‘According to various intelligence reports they have received information that India might try to stage terrorist activities during the January 26 celebrations in which the Saudi King is also a guest of honour and will implicate Pakistan in it. [...] The report also suggests that during President Bush’s expected visit in March there is a possibility of creating such a situation.’17 An article the following day, ‘India and Saudi Arab friendship is unnatural: Sahibzada Fazal Karim, head of the Jamiatul Ulema Islam’, was in keeping with the general anti-India bias of Nawa-i-Waqt. The article implied that foreign policy is predicated on ‘natural allies’ determined purely on the basis of religious affinity. It also expressed anxiety at the bonhomie between India and Saudi Arabia and was unconsciously indicative of India’s strength as a pluralist polity.18 Nawa’s unease at India’s relationship with Saudi Arabia continued to reflect the earlier discomfort about India’s relations with the US, Russia and China with reference to the nuclear and defence deals as well as Indian foreign policy initiatives in general. Nawa editorialized on Kashmir on 29 January ‘Nine Kashmiris martyred’: ‘On the one hand India is extending the hand of friendship towards Pakistan and on the other hand is killing the innocent people in Kashmir. [...] The [Pakistan] government should look at resolving the Kashmir issue; starting of Amritsar bus service or the Munabao-Khokrapar train service are not the solutions to the real problem!’19 Quite clearly, Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) initiated by both sides were not enough for Nawa; in fact, it perceived a contradiction between the CBMs and Kashmir, seeing the former as a diversion from and a dilution of the Islamist agenda in Kashmir.


Tracking the Media

Nawa-i-Waqt’s obsessive concern with Kashmir was reflected in another editorial, ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’: ‘In occupied Kashmir, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, India and any where else in the world, the Kashmiris are observing 5 February, today as the Kashmir Solidarity Day. The brave people of the valley since the past 58 years have been fighting a war for their independence. Thousands have lost their lives fighting against the Indian hegemony in the region. Indian forces, police and the Hindu goondas have burned several houses; destroyed thousands of homes and this valley of peace and love have been turned into a graveyard.’20 There is some truth in the assertion that Indian armed forces have indeed contributed to human rights abuses in the Kashmir imbroglio, but the intemperate language and exaggeration give the lie to any notion of editorial balance. The editorial concluded with a statement of Pakistani solidarity for Kashmiris: ‘On 5 February, the whole world has united behind the Kashmiris and has assured them that they will get their civil and democratic rights and nobody can stop them. India can delay in granting them this right but it cannot stop the freedom movement. Pakistani government and its people have always supported our Kashmiri brothers because Kashmir is Pakistan’s main artery. Pakistan will be complete only with the freedom of Kashmir and that time is near.’21 The rhetoric of historical inevitability and the completion of unfinished agendas relates to Pakistan’s conception of itself as well as to the memory of the dismemberment of its eastern flank in 1971, ably aided by Indian forces. Kashmiri freedom becomes in this context a mode of retrospective vengeance. Ironically, the language of completing the unfinished business of history finds an echo in some sections within India, where the notion of Akhand Bharat is trumpeted as a means of recreating a mythical subcontinental unity that will erase Pakistan. For example Madhav Govind Vaidya, RSS spokesperson, declared some months after the Gujarat riots: ‘“We believe the whole of Kashmir is an integral part of India. If it’s to be integrated, war is the last resort. But why rule it out? What is the military for? It has to be used sometimes. We are for friendly relations with our neighbours. We are also for Akhand Bharat.”’22 Vaidya did not care to explain the contradiction between ‘friendly relations’ and the possible military means to achieving Akhand Bharat. His rhetoric is emblematic of the Hindu right and finds its mirror image within Pakistan in editorials such as the one above. While unconsciously mirroring Indian extremist language, Nawa

‘Hatred Must End’


dealt with a concept with which sections of the Pakistan media are also acutely uncomfortable. This discomfort was most evident in media reactions within Pakistan to the troubles in Balochistan and the Indian reaction thereof and mirrored the Indian unease at coverage of Kashmir, for example. The lack of self-reflexivity and critical analysis regarding internal problems of a particular country is evident in some media representations in both India and Pakistan. On 6 February, the same theme of solidarity and imminent unity was repeated in a report on a speech by the Pakistani Prime Minister: ‘PM Shaukat Aziz has said that Kashmiris will soon reach their destination and Kashmir and Pakistan will become one. Adding that Pakistani people will not sit in peace until the Kashmir issue is resolved according to the wishes of the Kashmir people. There is no other “short cut” to permanent peace in South Asia.’23 The ‘wishes of the Kashmir people’ were rhetorically conflated with the desire for union with Pakistan, once again rendering the people voiceless. A lead editorial, ‘Kashmir Issue — Don’t Expect Too Much’, perceived the peace talks between the two nations as having been foisted on Pakistan and a futile exercise: ‘The CBMs and the process of dialogue between India and Pakistan started under pressure from America and Europe after 9/11 has so far resulted only in exchange of trade and cultural delegations, start of train and bus service and trade of useless things from India. India on the other hand, is making use of the peaceful situation with Pakistan and has increased state terrorism in the region, killing almost a dozen people on a daily basis.’24 Nawa highlighted not only its distaste with having to negotiate with India, but also a fissure within Pakistan caused by General Musharraf’s support of the US in its war on terror. This divide was to become more acute in the raid on the Lal Masjid in Islamabad two years later.25 In every report and editorial, Nawa was clear that cultural exchanges and other such CBMs were ‘useless things’ and that the only issue worth discussing was Kashmir. It went on to outline India’s interest in occupying Kashmir: ‘By keeping Kashmir with itself, India not only wants to take control of all the rivers of Pakistan so that it makes Pakistan barren. It also wants to create disturbance in the entire region so that Pakistan will be forced to spend its resources on increasing the war budget instead of spending on overcoming illiteracy, reducing poverty and on developing infrastructure in the country.’26 While admitting that


Tracking the Media

Pakistan spends an inordinate amount of its national capital on the military and that this compounds problems of illiteracy and poverty, the editorial placed the blame on India, as if there are no internal factors which are also responsible for the lack of development within Pakistan. The displacement of responsibility was followed by an attack on the West and the need for Pakistan to focus on the Kashmir agenda: ‘Expecting any support from America and Europe is useless as we have seen their attitude during the blasphemy incident and they will never put pressure on their anti-Islam friend India on this issue.’27 The idea of having been betrayed particularly by the US, expressed in the context of the India–US defence and nuclear deals, resurfaced here in an absolutization of opposition between Islam and the West. The idea that one type of fundamentalism feeds off another was best embodied in the competing rhetoric of media on both sides of the border. In the world according to Nawa, India was clubbed along with the anti-Islamic West and the only hope of the Kashmiri people lay with Pakistan. While sections of media in the West and in India often demonize Islam, it is interesting to note how Nawa repaid the stereotype by projecting several of its own. As Edward Said observes: ‘To Westerners and Americans, “Islam” represents a resurgent atavism, which suggests not only the threat of a return to the Middle Ages but the destruction of what is regularly referred to as the democratic order in the Western world. For a great many Muslims, on the other hand, “Islam” stands for a reactive counter response to this first image of Islam as a threat.’28 Some of this reductive dynamics of stereotyped representation and blame apportioning was evident in Nawa’s commentaries on the Kashmir issue, although even within this dominant discourse there were occasional alternative opinions. In contrast to Nawa-i-Waqt, Daily Ibrat was more hopeful and temperate in its responses to Kashmir. Imdad Soomro in ‘Hyderabad Letter’ (a weekly column) wrote: ‘Now enough is enough. For the last half century all our resources have been utilized for the Kashmir issue. […] Now there is a need for a big interval and during this period a permanent solution of Kashmir problem should be found.’29 The mode of achieving this ‘permanent solution’ was left unclear, but Soomro did not see Kashmir as the unfinished business of partition nor did he blame India solely for the problems in that state. An editorial on Kashmir began by highlighting the disjunction between peace talks and killings: ‘Is it not a joke with peace talks that

‘Hatred Must End’


on one hand dialogue for security in the region is in process and on the other hand Indian Army is harvesting the crops of human lives in Kashmir? […] It is a sad situation that the country, which claims to be one of the largest democracies in the world, has crossed all the imperialistic limits for suppressing the Kashmiris’ historic right of self determination. But the outcome of this has proved that despite using every type of force, India has failed to suppress the voice of Kashmiris and now the only way out left for it is to find a peaceful solution of this problem.’30 The language was reminiscent of the Nawa editorials, especially in the way in which it highlighted the disjunction between democracy and imperialism in Indian policy towards Kashmir. That contradiction is one that continues to trouble India’s democratic credentials, although ‘imperialistic limits’ may not be the best analytical definition of all disaffections within the Indian state. Unlike Nawa, however, Ibrat perceived the proposed withdrawal of some troops from the border areas as a symbol of hope and future intent of peace: ‘Anyway, it is better that India has at least initiated the process; even it is small and limited. It has taken the first step in the right direction, so we welcome this announcement. […] The sooner India takes a step towards withdrawal of its army, the earlier the dream of peace in the region would be realized.’31 This conciliatory tone was in contrast to that of Nawa, which saw Kashmir from the point of view of jehad rather than a space for future reconciliation, even if the specifics of the parameters of peace were undefined (as in the Ibrat editorial).

Terrorism in the Rest of India In the period under survey, articles on Jammu and Kashmir dominated the media landscape, but they were interspersed with pieces on terror attacks elsewhere in India, particularly the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore shoot out. Dainik Bhaskar declared that ‘Pakistan has formulated a new strategy to continue the terrorist activities against India. It trained a number of South Indian youth in Baluchistan. It is being said that the attack on the prestigious Indian Institute of Science was accomplished by one of these terrorists.’32 The article insinuated rather than proved its contention that Pakistan had indeed trained terrorists and sent them to Bangalore. In mentioning Balochistan as a site of that training it seemed to forget that Balochistan is, for sections of the Indian media and policy


Tracking the Media

elite, an embodiment of the failures of the Pakistani state. Why insurgents who fought against Pakistan would also train to fight against India was not mentioned or analyzed. An article in Punjab Kesari, ‘South India too in the web of Pakistani Terrorists’, offered a more detailed exegesis of why allegedly Pakistani terrorists had targeted Bangalore. ‘Pakistan aims at targeting these [defence related institutes] in order to cripple India from the military point of view. [...] It also wants to prove to the world that now it is in a position to target any Indian city it chooses.’33 It then speculated on how the attack had been planned: ‘It is to be noted that a group of Pakistan industrialists had toured the two cities [Bangalore and Hyderabad]. It seems that there had been a spy amongst them who must have inspected the place.’34 This speculation was reflective of a paranoia that thrives on and feeds off anti-Pakistan sentiments, whereby all Pakistanis and their co-religionists in India are perceived as terrorists. The article then went on to provide a ‘historical’ perspective on the growth of Muslim fundamentalism in south India. ‘Due to Nehru’s appeasement of Muslims, Kerala saw the birth of a new large district, Malapuram. A candidate of Muslim League has been winning from the region. [...] In Kerala these days a pro-Pakistani extremist group, “Al Umma”, is quite active.’35 According to this line of reasoning, the enemy within has been nurtured since independence by the pseudosecularists and the article implied that the chickens were now coming home to roost. The analyst dealt next with Hyderabad, ‘once the capital of Nizam’s kingdom’, and reminded the reader that the ‘Nizam had declared the merger of his kingdom with Pakistan’.36 The implication was clear: because the Nizam had declared his desire to join Pakistan the Muslims denizens of Hyderabad who chose not to flee to Pakistan, are fifth columnists and potential terrorists, almost 60 years after the event. Finally, Bangladesh was pilloried because it ‘happens to be the most prominent centre of antiIndia activities’.37 The article was a classic example of the manner in which Muslim aspects of India and its Muslim neighbours are treated as treasonous. In referring to the Nizam’s desire to accede to Pakistan, historical memory was dredged to prove the proverbial disloyalty of Indian Muslims and India is projected as a state under siege beset by enemies within and without. The paranoiac strain in Hindi papers was reiterated in Amar Ujala, which declared ‘2500 Pakistanis hide in India’. It cited the

‘Hatred Must End’


Union Home Ministry which ‘admits that 7216 Pakistanis live in India illegally’ and concluded ‘There will always be a possibility of danger to the internal security of the country.’38 The latter follows, of course, from the assumption that all Pakistani nationals within India’s borders are suspected terrorists. The number of suspected illegals from Pakistan is much less than the numbers of Bangladeshis who are constantly enumerated to show how the ‘soft’ Indian state is being undermined from within by these Muslim immigrants. The focus on illegal migrants did not dwell upon the reasons why thousands of poor people from Bangladesh migrated to India or how more cooperative policies between nations in the subcontinent may help toward creating more just modes of migration.39 The focus was not on analytical insights and solutions, but on browbeating India’s Muslim neighbours and on stressing the divided if not dubious loyalties of India’s Muslim population. In this context, it is significant that broadsheets such as Dainik Jagran and Amar Ujala have a much higher circulation than English language dailies. Dainik Jagran has a circulation of 2,116,5000 and Amar Ujala 1,084,7000.40 Sevanti Ninan, in her study of the newspaper revolution in north India, believes that there are three main reasons for the phenomenal growth in rural and small town readership in the Hindi heartland: ‘Literacy expanded, purchasing power increased and better communications made it possible to print newspapers from a number of small towns and deliver them to semi-urban and rural areas in the morning.’41 These factors, coupled with aggressive marketing and advertising revenues, have enabled the burgeoning of newspaper giants in north India.42 Dainik Jagran and Amar Ujala are emblematic of a larger growth in language daily readership which have ‘grown from 191.0 million readers [in 2005] to 203.6 million [in 2006] while English dailies have stagnated at around 21 million’.43 Circulation figures are one indicator of the ‘reach’ of a media product and that ‘reach’ often translates into the formation of opinions and prejudices. As Harivansh, editor of Prabhat Khabar, puts it: ‘Especially in the past 15 years, the content of big Hindi newspapers has become fictional and sensational. […] In the Hindi media, it has become a habit to shamelessly publish false information. Even if this happens on a single day, it could mislead a lot of readers. But such “serious mistakes” take place every week, while smaller ones are committed everyday. Yet, there is no accountability — not to the readers, to society, or even to one’s own organization.’44 Harivansh’s critique


Tracking the Media

of Hindi dailies is applicable to English language or other language papers on the subcontinent, as is evident from the ways in which prejudices are passed off as editorials on both sides of the border. The frequency and virulence with which the print media stereotypes and castigates its respective ‘other’ bodes ill for reconciliation. However, the media profiles are not entirely monochromatic and in that lies the hope for some comprehension and solidarity across boundaries of nation, state and religion. Significantly, Amar Ujala and Dainik Jagran ran 46 stories and/or editorials in the one month under survey related to the presence, threat and arrest of Lashkar-e-Taiba or other terror groups or persons related to terror attacks. This number does not include articles related specifically to Kashmir and cross-border terrorism. The density of coverage is indicative of the obsessive focus on Islamic terror. Across the border, Nawa-i-Waqt had 71 stories related to Jammu and Kashmir, mirroring a similar obsession with the ‘other’ as the fountainhead of all violence and brutality. M. H. Lakdawala’s comment on the Urdu press in India finds a parallel in the Nawa coverage of matters related to Pakistan and India, especially Kashmir: ‘When reporting internal, regional and global conflicts, the Urdu papers often seem to become weapons of war rather than purveyors of peace. While being loyal to their readers and supportive of their community, they project stereotypes passionately as leaders and extremists.’45 Such parochial stereotyping is not limited to the Urdu press in India as mainstream Hindi and English language press are equally prone to insular portraits of ‘others’ within and without.46 The almost absolute oppositional frames in newspapers such as Nawa and Jagran are indicative of what Thomas N. Franck and Edward Weisband defined as ‘word politics’. ‘Word politics’, in the context of media representations of Islam, constitutes ‘the challenging and the answering, the opening of certain rhetorical spaces and the closing of others: all this makes up the “word politics” by which each side sets up situations, justifies actions, forecloses options, and presses alternatives on the other’.47 Edward Said’s analysis of western media positions on Islam and its throwback are apposite for the subcontinent in that the newspapers under survey create and function within a similar rhetorical as well as consequently instrumental framework. There is a trajectory from the demonization of Muslims and Pakistan in India during the Kargil War and Gujarat riots to the counter demonization within Pakistan

‘Hatred Must End’


regarding Kashmir, which is indicative of the power of paradigms sustained by ‘word politics’. There is an underlying consistency in the types of stories and attitudes conveyed by the media across languages and borders. This consistency serves, as Murray Edelman observes in a different context, certain political and socio-cultural ends. ‘This priority in enemies,’ Edelman writes, ‘brings with it a pattern of related cognitions: leaders to be followed, problems to be noticed or ignored, and crises to be alarmed about. Once established, such a constructed political world perpetuates itself for a time, for consistent stories and interpretations are noticed and remembered while inconsistent ones are ignored or reinterpreted. […] The political scene as interpreted insures a belief in its own rationality, for once its premises are fixed, conclusions about leaders, problems, and appropriate courses of action follow logically.’48 Of course, print media (or television) are not the sole agents that participate in this process of interpretative prioritization, but they do play a pivotal role in the creation and sustenance of ‘consistent stories and interpretations’ that help shape dominant discourses and perceptions of the reading (or viewing) publics. Even within a sometimes depressing media landscape, however, there are some welcome exceptions, as was indicated by the Daily Ibrat coverage which was less obsessed with Kashmir and more concerned about the Munabao– Khokrapar rail link, indicating a regional Sindhi bias towards more local affairs, and the hope that the local would impact positively on inter-country relations.

The Munabao–Khokrapar Issue In the midst of accusations and counter charges on Kashmir and Balochistan, as well as the general skepticism that the language papers on both sides of the border displayed regards the peace talks, there was another major event: the opening of a rail link between Munabao and Khokrapar, across the Thar Desert. Significantly, this was covered with greater frequency and depth in Pakistan than in India. The Daily Ibrat had 52 pieces related to the event and issues arising, Nawa-i-Waqt carried 21 articles, Amar Ujala six and Dainik Jagran four, in the period under survey. Being a Sindhi daily, Ibrat covered the opening of borders with greater interest and intensity, reflecting regional hopes and fears. It was generally more positive about the move than Nawa-i -Waqt. As a result of this concentration, Ibrat was also less obsessed with Kashmir as compared with Nawa.


Tracking the Media

Daily Ibrat Coverage The new rail link was perceived as an economic opportunity. ‘The Chief Minister [of Sindh Arbab Ghulam Rahim] said that hundreds of youth of Thar would get jobs with the opening up of Khokrapar border, which would help remove unemployment from Thar.’49 While issues of underdevelopment and economic deprivation were highlighted to underscore discrimination in Balochistan (see Chapter 10), they functioned as a similar nationalistic trope in the Sindh context. In the Balochistan sphere, both the Balochis and India’s unseemly interest in their affairs were cast in an adversarial light. Some of that hostility was absent in the Ibrat coverage of what it hoped was a new era of development and peace. The hope of economic resurgence was expressed in another article, ‘Sound of Silence: Stubborn deer is still thinking!’: ‘Sindhi people have been facing a lot of discrimination and exploitation since the past so many years. Now this oppression should end. […] We have observed from the start that people from all the border areas of Sindh were suffering due to lack of facilities. […] Now people of these areas should see prosperity, they should also be provided electricity, drinking water, roads and other basic amenities, so that when people of this area visit the other side, they should not feel deprived and develop an inferiority complex.’50 While describing a sense of regional discrimination, the article also wished that the region would catch up with ‘the other side’. There was a feeling of lagging behind not only within Pakistan but also with respect to India. Significantly, Balochi leaders also expressed a similar sense of being exploited by the Pakistani state, although their resentment took a more violent form, as we shall see in Chapter 10. This resentment is also visible in some regions in India, most notably in Kashmir, and in this sense there is cross-border symmetry of grievances based, at least in part, on economic deprivation. Sheharbanu’s focus on economic disparities and regional differences was crucial in the context of two countries bedeviled by poverty and lack of development. In the media debates related to the defence and nuclear deals between India and the US or in India’s failed bid for a UNSC seat, aspects of essential and basic human development were seldom mentioned, and if such issues did come up it was mainly to score points rather than engage in analysis. Media on both sides of the border highlighted regional disaffections to point to and gloat over the failures and contradictions within

‘Hatred Must End’


respective ‘others’. Sheharbanu’s article was exceptional in its reference to hierarchies and desires for betterment within what may appear to be homogenous third world nations. Citing the idea that ‘politics is the art of possibilities’, Sheharbanu concluded by hoping to hold India to a promise of fuelling prosperity: ‘Indian government has always been expressing its opinion that people of both the countries deserve prosperity. If it is truthful to this statement then it should also prove it.’51 This was a burden of hope and sincerity that sits uneasily with India, since it has its own constituencies of hate and intolerance as well as problems of poverty and inequity to deal with. What was touching and significant, however, is the faith reposed in Indian goodwill and that it was seen as a benevolent entity rather than as a bully or an interloper. The suspicion with which Dainik Jagran, for example had caviled about the India–Pakistan peace talks and its insinuation that only Muslims would benefit from such talks was absent in Sheherbanu’s less cynical analysis. Another piece, ‘Khokro=Teasing People’, argued at length and in florid, rhetorical prose for the opening of the border in Sindh. It dwelt on the idea of Sindhi identity and rootedness and the ways in which ‘outsiders’ had entered the region: ‘Where have these people come from? Who are they? Except for Karachi, the population of Sindh has increased because of illegal settlement of those powerful people who have no restriction on getting government lands allotted and live anywhere and the other are Afghans, who are digging roots of Sindh. The important thing of these settlers is that they not only do businesses, earn money, loot Sindh and Sindhis, but after earning money they send that entire amount to Waziristan, sometimes to Azad Mahmand or sometimes to Kabul, Kandahar or Ghazni or sometimes even further.’52 Jai Parkash Morani highlighted the ways in which Sindhis believe they have been ousted and looted by people from not only other parts of Pakistan, but from Afghanistan as well. There was a clear sense of economic exploitation and subsequent deprivation of local people and a simultaneous creation of an indigenous Sindhi identity which is being violated by various ‘outsiders’. In dominant media discourse related to India– Pakistan issues, national borders constitute and determine the notion of ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’. This is evident throughout the surveys on various issues related to relations between the two countries. Morani, however, pointed to the existence of what K. Shankar Bajpai, in his insightful commentary on the Balochistan issue, called


Tracking the Media

‘discontented diversities’ within the deliberately homogenized nation.53 The recognition of these ‘diversities’ creates a fear of dissipation, if not disintegration, and often leads to the consolidation of dominant discourses and images of the nation state. In some discourses these ‘discontented diversities’ are seen as the enemy within, so that national boundaries are more the reliable marker of ‘outsiderness’, as national spaces have been infiltrated.54 Morani suggests instead that one way of countering this fear of being swamped by ‘others’ within Pakistan is to open borders with India, so that Sindhi brethren from across the divide may express solidarity: ‘We are supporters of Khokhro opening, so we say this on trumpet that there is no harm to Sindh with this decision. We have the same blood in this side and the other side.’55 Morani was not too worried about illegal settlers from ‘the other side’ and the subsequent dilution of national identities: ‘Everyone knows that how much difference is there in Rs 80,000 and Rs 190, how much hardship is in a journey of half an hour and five days, or what is the strategy behind migration from a well off country to a country, which is backward and full of law and order problems. All this is known by the opponents.’56 He believes that the rail link will reunite families and lessen the hardships of the pre-Thar Express journey, which took five days and cost Rs 80,000. The comparison highlighted the futility of closed borders as well as the arbitrary nature of such markers. In referring to ‘the same blood’, Morani was articulating a pre-1947 ideation of rootedness at the same time that he was disrupting the national imaginaries created in and after 1947. Inadvertently perhaps, Morani was also gesturing to the Akhand Bharat thesis with its nostalgia for a pre-partition Hinduized identity. At the same time, Morani repeated the point of economic disparity between the two Sindhs and implicitly hoped that they would be lessened through interaction. The former Indian Foreign Minister, Jaswant Singh’s visit to the region was intimately linked to local politics and projected as a symbol of hope. Headlines on 8 February stated: ‘86 member delegation led by Jaswant Singh returns to India via Khokhrapar border, hundreds of people see them off with tears’ and ‘Pak-India friendship to last long, nothing exists but love in the Subcontinent.’57 Jaswant Singh asserted that Indo-Pak relations could be cemented partly as a result of the opening of the rail link and more could be done: ‘He suggested starting of a bus services from Umerkot, Mirpurkhas to Ajmer Sharif. He said Khokhrapar–Munabao route

‘Hatred Must End’


has been opened as a result of joint efforts by both the countries and this route will remain opened permanently. He said Pak–India friendship will last forever.’58 That the last statement was hyperbolic was proven by the general level of suspicion displayed in political and media discourses on both sides, as well as in other pieces dealing with the Sindh border issue. However, the hyperbole injected a note of hope and possibility in an otherwise bleak landscape. Imdad Soomro, in ‘We, the forgetful of Khokrapar way’, dealt with some of the complexities surrounding the border issue rather than wax eloquent about everlasting peace. Unlike earlier articles, Soomro did not perceive the benefits percolating down to all sections of Sindhis: ‘It is a matter of fact that the train will break the silence of the desert with its whistles, but the local people say they will not reap the fruits which they deserved. […] The real people of Thar have been kept away from the festivities and dialogues on this historic occasion.’59 The sense of disaffection was similar to the one expressed by Morani when he wrote of ‘outsiders’ looting the Sindhi community. There was further, in Soomro’s rhetorical question, a concentration on how gestures of peace can be easily hijacked by political elites: ‘Jaswant Singh was also accompanied by one Sher Mohammad Nahri, a close relative of Sindh Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim, who also belongs to Thar, but how many people of Nahri community were seen welcoming him?’60 That Jaswant Singh’s visit was closely tied to local politics was evident, but that it had trans-border implications was also dwelt on by Soomro in his reference to the old Pakistan bogey of Akhand Bharat from the Sindhi point of view. ‘Jaswant Singh also held a meeting with Pir Pagaro, in which the latter referred to unification like Europe. Almost the same statement was also issued by the Indian President Abdul Kalam in Singapore on the same day. […] On that occasion, Pir Pagaro also hit hard at the nationalist elements, who are opposing the opening up of Khokrapar border. […] When Pir Pagaro, in his meeting with Jaswant Singh at Kingri House was talking about the possibility of a union between India and Pakistan like the EU, at the same time Mumtaz Bhutto was expressing her apprehensions of the conversion of Sindhis into Red Indians [sic] because of the opening of Khokrapar border.’61 Unlike other Pakistani leaders Pir Pagaro was not averse to a future state of union between India and Pakistan, but Sindhi solidarity across borders and Sindhi nationalism are not monolithic entities.


Tracking the Media

The Jaswant Singh visit and the imminent opening of the border crossing set up a complex matrix of reactions, hopes, anxieties, and fears. This was evident not only in the above analysis but in some of the headlines that featured in Ibrat. ‘With the opening of Khokrapar border, Hindus will migrate to India and more Mohajirs will come’ (21 January), ‘Sindhi nationalists led by Mumtaz Bhutto meet Jaswant Singh, reservations on Khokrapar border presented’ (4 February), ‘Those talking of India–Pakistan unity are traitors: Mujeeb Pirzado’ (5 February).62 There was a fear repeatedly articulated that Sindhis would be swamped by their more prosperous brethren and, worse, Mohajirs from across the border. Thus, hopes of an economically bright future co-existed with anxieties of community and ethnic purity as well as coherence and equity. The idea of ‘Sindhiness’ was seen to be under threat from within — the ‘outsiders’ in Morani’s analysis, as well as from across the border in the figure of the Mohajir as well as, with greater ambivalence, the wealthier Sindhi community in India. Imdad Soomro also dwelt on the ways in which the Sindhi elites, because of their internal dissensions, had let an opportunity for greater freedom and autonomy slip by: ‘Earlier when the Pakistan army was deployed at the border with guns, […] the Sindhi intelligentsia was under heavy pressure on charges of being friendly with India. And now when Pakistan government, its establishment and the blue eyed boy of Punjab are eager to develop new relations with India, our people are standing outside from this entire process.’63 Soomro implied that Sindhi solidarity has been fractured and the peace dividend hijacked by the ruling powers in Punjab. Soomro’s analysis was important because it foregrounded the crucial ways in which local issues impact upon and often conflict with international relations. He was in favour of open borders, but he lamented Sindhi shortcomings. In his piece there was an interesting interplay between hopeful master narratives — that of Pir Pagaro and Jaswant Singh — and local narrations of disaffection and anxiety. The latter was reflected in a piece carried by Ibrat on 25 January. ‘Chairman, Sindh Taraqi Passand Party, Dr Qadir Magsi has said that the decision to open Khokrapar–Munabao border is a conspiracy to convert the Sindhi nation into a minority and take away the power from the Sindhis. […] With the opening of this route, Sindh would suffer a two-way loss — one, a large number of outsiders would settle down here and two, majority of Hindus living in Mirpurkhas region

‘Hatred Must End’


would migrate to India.’64 These are well-worn and oft expressed issues, but their repetition points precisely to fears of being swamped by ‘outsiders’ and of losing that ineffable possession called Sindhi identity. Interestingly, the fact that Hindus may migrate back to India was seen as a loss, undercutting Sindhi solidarity and reinforcing the stranglehold of ‘outsiders’. Within discourses of Hindu nationalism, all co-religionists are putatively members of the Hindu Rashtra or nation that is Bharat, and therefore Hindus migrating back to India would be seen as a validation of this ideology. Within this framework all that is not Hindu and Bharat — primarily Pakistan — is seen as the perennial and evil ‘other’. That such dichotomies are constructed, often untenable, and continually negotiable and negotiated was effectively demonstrated by Ibrat’s representations of the complex interplay between ethnicity, religion, language, region, and nation. Such complexities allowed a political leader in Muslim Pakistan to regret the return of Hindus to India, something inconceivable within certain discourses of hate and bigotry on both sides of the border.

Nawa-i-Waqt on Munabao–Khokrapar While Nawa-i-Waqt carried less than half the number of pieces on the subject of rail links across the Thar, it was relatively uninvolved in the issue and appeared to be more balanced. Its commentary and analysis on the Munabao–Khokrapar issue was certainly more temperate than its corresponding coverage of Kashmir. A comment piece by Altaf Mujahid was very balanced in its outlining of the pros and cons of the issue. ‘Millions of devotees of Pir Pagaro are there in Rajasthan and similarly, Mehr, Rajar, Nahri, Rahmo, Rana, Kolhi, Bheel, Meghwar and other minorities have relations who live across the border. Economically it will be a viable option for the Urdu speaking or the Mohajir population living in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and other cities to travel to India from this route otherwise the travel from Karachi for the Indian visa is a very expensive option. Similarly for the people of Thar, Umarkot, Sanghar, Badin and Mirpurkhas district, the majority of whom could not go to India after the 1965 war, it will be very good. Due to these reasons, the Sindh Qaumi Mahaz has supported the opening of the border and their leadership has said that we have been very vocal about our stand.’65 Mujahid’s enumeration of minorities within the Sindh region highlighted once more the complex and fragmented


Tracking the Media

composition of ‘the Sindh Qaumi’ and hence the varied reactions to the border agreement. The article then summarized the opposition to the opening: ‘Politicians opposing the opening of the border, Dr Qadir Magsi, Mumtaz Bhutto, Ibrahim Joyo and Abdul Khaliq say that there will be influx of people from across the border which will increase the economic burden on Sindh and the Sindhis will in fact become a minority in their own province.’66 The article ended by questioning the motivations of the nay sayers: ‘What are some people trying to prove by opposing the opening of the border? There is another point of view that says that these political parties are afraid of the increasing popularity of Pir Pagaro and the MQM and hence trying to oppose such ideas so that they remain politically active — this question requires an answer!’67 In representing the views of both sides — Pir Pagaro versus the Sindhi nationalists — and then casting doubts on the latter, Mujahid did take sides, but he did so with a degree of finesse often absent in articles carried by Nawa when the subject was Kashmir or Indian interference in Balochistan. Nawa’s articles relating to Kashmir and Balochistan had varying degrees of immediacy and even, occasionally, a sense of hysteria. Ibrat was similarly involved in its coverage of the Munabao– Khokrapar links, although with a much lesser degree of anti-Indian feeling. The contrast between the two papers reveals the ways in which language — Urdu and Sindhi — relates to representations of regional and national interests, as well as international affairs. Thus, Ibrat concentrated less on Kashmir and was less volatile in its representation of national interests in that region, as compared to Nawa. In fact, the definition of ‘national interest’ shifts focus when one moves from an Urdu language paper to a Sindhi one. Yet even among these differences, underlying anxieties about Indian intentions and the future of peace remained, whether they related to Kashmir or to Sindh.

Notes 1. 2.

See Said 1997: Chapter 1, p. 36 ff. All citations are given in English translation. Translations were done by Sonali Sharma. For Balochistan, particularly the coverage of the killing of Nawab Bugti, the survey will also include Indian media representations in English, to highlight the interweaving of issues and attitudes in English as well as Hindi and Urdu media.

‘Hatred Must End’


3. Dainik Jagran 2006a: 8. 4. Ibid.: 8. 5. A Times of India editorial on the Kandahar hijacking offers a typical instance of the conflation of terrorism and Pakistan in mainstream English media: ‘The fact that four of the hijackers have been identified as Pakistanis and that they have carried out their terrorist act to obtain the release of Maulana Azhar Masood — a Pakistani citizen and general secretary of the Harkat-ul-Ansar, an international terrorist organization operating freely from Pakistan — should amply demonstrate that country’s role as a state sponsoring terrorism’ (The Times of India 1999e: 10. 6. Said 1997: xvi. 7. Pick 1993: 228. 8. Amar Ujala 2006l: 4. 9. It is interesting that while analysts such as Ashley Tellis were praising the non-radicalized, loyal Muslim population of India, powerful sections within India were asserting precisely the opposite, casting the Muslims as the enemy within. 10. Amar Ujala 2006l: 4. 11. Nandy 2001: 100. 12. Jagran 2006: 8. 13. Said 1997: 8. 14. Nawa-i-Waqt 2006b: 1. 15. Nawa-i-Waqt 2006c: 12. 16. Ibid. 17. Nawa-i-Waqt 2006e: 1. 18. Nawa-i-Waqt 2006e: 7. 19. Nawa-i-Waqt 2006g: 13. 20. Nawa-i-Waqt 2006k: 13. 21. Ibid. 22. Cited in Singh 2002b: 42. 23. 6 February 2006: 1. 24. Nawa-i-Waqt 2006l: 6. 25. See Chapter 7 for comments on this fissure. Also see Carol Grisanti who wrote: ‘After the 9/11 attacks, Musharraf threw his support behind the United States as it launched a military campaign to defeat al-Qaida’s hosts, the Taliban, in neighboring Afghanistan. It was a one-man decision, without broad political support. Most here now disagree with Musharraf’s alliance; they see the “war on terror” as America’s war in which Pakistanis are getting killed’ (Grisanti 2007). 26. Nawa-i-Waqt 2006l: 6. 27. Ibid. The ‘blasphemy incident’ could be a reference to the Danish cartoons controversy then raging across Islamic countries and communities. Although the cartoons lampooning the Prophet were originally published in September 2005, the protests became widespread only in January–February 2006. See Sullivan 2006.

220 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39.

40. 41. 42.

43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54.

55. 56. 57.

Tracking the Media

Said 1997: 55. Soomro 2006a: 4. Daily Ibrat 2006f: 4. Ibid. Dainik Bhaskar 2006: 10. Punjab Kesari 2006. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Amar Ujala 2006d: 3. For an analysis of issues related to Bangaldeshi immigration, especially in northeast India, see Hazarika 2000. The concluding chapter, ‘Seeking Partnership, Renouncing Confrontation’, offers modes of tackling a humanitarian, economic, social, and political crisis without demonizing the primarily Muslim immigrants. NRS 2006 Key Findings, 91766177Hoot125650%20AM2286&pn=1. Ninan 2007: 65. ‘In 2004–05 the growth of print media advertising surpassed that of television. The expansion and growth has meant that in early 2005 the print media industry was getting 50 per cent of the total advertising expenditure on media, valued at Rs 120,000 million’ (Ninan 2007: 263). NRS 2006 Key Findings 91766177Hoot125650%20AM2286&pn=1. Harivansh 2005: 59. Lakdawala 2005: 203. See especially Chapters 1, 2 and 3 for English language media biases in India, and Chapters 7 and 8 for stereotyping in Indian as well as Pakistan media. Said 1997: lvi. Edelman 1985: 203. Daily Ibrat 2006b: 1. Sheharbanu, Daily Ibrat 2006e: 6. Ibid. Morani 2006: 4. Bajpai 2006. See Pick 1993: 228–29, 231 for a discussion of this idea of ‘foreign’ invaders in Europe. In right-wing Hindu demonology, Muslims are similarly constructed as the ubiquitous ‘other’ who must be ousted. ‘The discourse of the expunction of the Muslim other is ceaselessly circulated by Hindu nationalism’ (Hansen 2004: 213). Morani 2006: 4. Ibid. Daily Ibrat 2006f: 1.

‘Hatred Must End’


58. Ibid. Amar Ujala did not share Jaswant Singh’s optimism in its dismissive contrast between the terrorism fostered by Pakistan and the opening of borders: ‘On the other hand a train between Rajasthan and Sindh is being started, and details of bus service without passport between the two Kashmirs is being planned out. Last year when the Pakistani cricket team came to India, we gave visas to Pakistani cricket lovers with all generosity. Then the news came that out of these, more than two-dozen people did not return within the given period’ (Amar Ujala 2006l: 4). Ujala is a perfect example of consistent storifying that cements dominant perspectives. 59. Soomro 2006b: 4. 60. Ibid. 61. Ibid. 62. Daily Ibrat 2006a: 1, 2006d: 1 and 2006e: 12. 63. Soomro 2006b: 4. 64. Daily Ibrat, 25 January 2006: 1. 65. Mujahid 2006: 8. 66. Ibid. 67. Ibid.

10 ‘Indian Interference in Balochistan’: Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs Since Partition, Kashmir has been the bone of political contention and wars between Pakistan and India. Simultaneously, the media focus has increased with the passage of time and is proven by the density of articles in the press under survey on both sides of the border. For example Nawa-i-Waqt carried 71 articles in a onemonth period on Kashmir. Its focus was on Indian army atrocities and how solidarity with the Kashmiris would ultimately lead to their deliverance and union with Pakistan. Amar Ujala and Dainik Jagran were almost equally obsessive about Kashmir and connected the Kashmir issue to Pakistani terrorist infiltration into all parts of India. The anxiety of infiltration was further extended to cast doubts on the loyalty of Indian Muslims and the efficacy of the peace process.1 With the eruption of troubles in Balochistan and the Indian Ministry of External Affairs comment on the ‘suppression’ in the province, Balochistan became a byword in Pakistan for Indian interference in Pakistani affairs, mirroring a paranoia in India about Pakistani meddling in Kashmir. The Balochistan issue resurfaced in the media with the killing of Nawab Bugti in August 2006; this chapter will dwell on aspects of that coverage to highlight continuities in opinions and attitudes.

Pakistan Perspectives In an editorial, ‘Indian interference in Balochistan’, Nawa-i-Waqt quoted a former governor of the province, Nawab Akbar Bugti, who declared that although India was not supporting the insurgents at present, the insurgents would accept a hypothetical offer of help from India. This declaration was editorially condemned and refuted. ‘There is strong evidence of the Indian support to various Sardars in Balochistan. There have been reports of money, arms and ammunition being transferred to various Sardars through the Indian consulates based in Kandahar and Herat.’2 This accusation mirrored the frequent and often unsubstantiated allegations in Indian media that Pakistani consulates in Kathmandu or Dhaka are the hub of

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 223

terror cells and/or conduits for counterfeit Indian currency to finance terrorism in India or generally undermine the Indian economy.3 The reference to Kandahar and Herat also articulated an anxiety about the access that India had to Afghanistan post the US invasion, an access that had been denied when the Taliban controlled the country. The editorial reminded the Nawab of the debt he owes Pakistan: ‘Nawab Akbar Bugti and other such Sardars are in such high positions only because of Pakistan. Otherwise in India Princely States were abolished soon after 1947 and all properties of Rajas and Sardars were confiscated and they were forced to stand in the queue of ration depots.’4 There was not only a charge of ingratitude, but an almost perverse pride expressed here in the preservation of feudal structures and a refusal to consider whether those inequities might need to be addressed. Indeed, while the Baloch leaders were campaigning for equal dispensations vis-à-vis the central government, equality within Balochistan was not often stressed. On 19 January, Nawa carried the following headlines on the front page, some of which were statements made by the Pakistan foreign ministry spokesperson in Delhi: ‘India should stop interfering in Balochistan otherwise peace will be in danger. Balochistan is our internal problem; India has been told to find a permanent and acceptable solution to the Kashmir issue: Riaz Mohd Khan and Tasneem Aslam.’5 Sandwiched between the two was another headline: ‘Pakistan involved in explosions in Bangalore in Delhi’. That these charges and counter charges were traded while the Pakistan delegation was in India to talk peace is indicative of the substratum of distrust against which all such initiatives have to swim. Collective prejudices and cultural memories related in this case to Kashmir were also corralled to create a sense of the perfidious ‘other’. A back page article on the same day further highlighted suspicion and paranoia: ‘Due to Indian interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs, Pakistan has asked federal ministers, members of Parliament and government officers to seek NOC before accepting any invitation from the Indian High Commission for parties, private dinners from Indian diplomats or any other invitation that requires traveling to India to participate in any conference or meeting.’6 A comment piece on 22 January, ‘India–Pakistan relations at a turning point’, by Afzal Mahmood stressed an asymmetry of trouble spots: ‘It is hard to digest the Indian concern towards Balochistan as the two do not have a common border from which infiltration is feared neither has Balochistan a problem vis-à-vis religious


Tracking the Media

fundamentalism which might pose a danger to India. Therefore, this Indian concern is quite disturbing and it would be as surprising if Pakistan were to show concern for Naxalite movement in AP, or a demand for freedom in Assam, Nagaland or Mizoram.’7 In comparing Balochistan to Nagaland or Mizoram Mahmood implicitly accepted that there may be a problem in the former, but held out the veiled threat of India’s vulnerabilities which Pakistan might exploit. Indeed, the references to infiltration across common borders and to religious fundamentalism were an indirect mode of acknowledging the role played by Pakistan-sponsored jehadis in Kashmir. The point, however, was not to find solutions or to analyze the causes of all these troubles but to point fingers and to warn and rhetorically ward off potential threats. The concern over Indian interference in Balochistan was indicated in a letter carried by Nawa on 29 January by one Nadir Zaman from Karachi. Titled ‘Jaswant Singh’s new ploy’, it perceived the former Foreign Minister’s peace mission as part of a larger conspiracy: ‘The army operation in Balochistan and the ensuing chaos and India’s statements on the situation are enough evidence to wake us up. Jaswant Singh’s scheduled trip is part of the same conspiracy. It has just one purpose and that is to prove that India has a spiritual and religious link with Balochistan […]’8 Zaman admitted to Pakistan army operations in the province (unlike the majority of the articles surveyed), but he too was convinced that the Balochi troubles were a means of extending Indian influence and therefore orchestrated by India. According to this argument, the purpose of Indian infiltration was to further dismember Pakistan as it had during the 1971 war. The Bangladesh War and its outcome haunted media commentary and served as a paradigm to prove India’s less than honourable designs in Balochistan. The paradigm of ‘invasive’ foreign forces noted in Indian media representations of Kashmir and terrorism in Chapter 9 was replicated by the Pakistani media in the Balochistan context. Zaman did not think that Balochi leaders might have legitimate problems with the Pakistani state and his reaction was instructive of the ways in which media opinions are sometimes reiterated by their consumers, a point I look at later with reference to the Bugti killing. Professor Fateh Mohammad Malik’s comment article further stressed Pakistan’s fears of the Akhand Bharat ideology: ‘Kashmir is India’s “atoot ang” and Balochistan is the unresolved agenda of the partition. This Indian logic is the result of the Western theory

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 225

of calling an enemy a friend and which has now been adopted by our leaders as well.’9 Professor Malik then catalogued aspects of India’s interference: ‘Balochistan CM has disclosed that India has established 40 terrorist camps where the terrorists are given a monthly stipend of Rs10, 000 per month (Daily Times, 30 December 2005). These “CBM” are taken to give impetus to the freedom movement in Balochistan. The former RAW has asked the terrorists to draw strength from the Bangladesh freedom movement and have asked them to get together with the Sindhi nationalists, people of Azad Kashmir and the disgruntled elements of the Shia community in Baltistan and Gilgit and jointly push forward the freedom movement.’10 There is a direct mirroring of the ways in which Indian media details Pakistani help for Kashmiri militants, as well as a paranoiac sense of being surrounded by the enemy. Just as Amar Ujala and Dainik Jagran portrayed the ubiquitous Pakistani terrorist within India, so too Nawa projected a larger Indian conspiracy to dismember Pakistan. In both countries intelligence agencies — the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) — take on a largerthan-life presence and are held responsible for most, if not all, acts of political protest and/or terror. Within Pakistan, it is significant that the historical frame for this fear is the Indian role in the creation of Bangladesh. While Bangladesh is the archetype for India’s desire to fragment Pakistan, there were no historical and political contexts which would help explain what motivated the freedom movement in erstwhile East Pakistan. The creation of Bangladesh becomes, in this de-historicized framework, an example of Indian perfidy and hegemony and Pakistan’s role is erased or modified. After the loss of East Pakistan, there were media reports that castigated politicians and bureaucrats for the defeat. ‘We are not willing to accept,’ Nawa-i-Waqt declared on 18 December 1971, ‘that we have lost the war or that the war has ended. The nation can never accept that an army which was regarded as the finest in the world could hand over Dacca to the enemy without offering any resistance. What has happened in East Pakistan is not a defeat of the army, or of the people. It is a defeat of certain very high officials; it is a defeat of the bureaucracy; it is a defeat of our channels of communication; it is a defeat of those official spokesmen who kept the nation in the dark and are still doing so.’11 Another editorial in Zindagi (20 December 1971) acknowledged the fact of defeat and called it ‘a breach in the fortress of Islam’. It blamed Yahya Khan and his cohorts for


Tracking the Media

everything and reminded readers that though Muhammad Ghori lost the first battle of Tarain, he came back ‘with renewed determination to unfurl the banner of Islam over the Kafir land of India’.12 The spectre of the loss of East Pakistan haunts media commentary partly because of the types of contemporary rhetorical displacement and analytical poverty available in these earlier reports. The later reports, albeit in a different context, lack historical insight and depth because they seem to continue from the earlier template. Having raised the Bangladesh bogey, Professor Malik delved into history to assert that Balochistan is an inalienable part of the country: ‘But we should know that Balochistan opted for Pakistan through a democratic process. Whereas, there were military interventions in Hyderabad, Junagarh and other estates but Balochistan opted for Pakistan through a clear democratic process.’13 There is an unintended irony in that the inalienability of Balochistan, which is predicated on ‘clear democratic process’, is now under threat precisely because of a lack of democracy. Again, a parallel with Kashmir is apparent in the ways in which India asserts its rights over all of Kashmir and that assertion is denied by the separatists and Pakistan. Professor Malik’s references to Indian military intervention in Hyderabad and Junagadh are interesting because they highlight, justifiably, a lack of uniform democratic consensus in the process of accession. By the same token of elite consent, however, Pakistan ought to have no problems with Kashmir because Maharaja Hari Singh did sign the instrument of accession. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that while the Maharaja’s accession in Kashmir is projected within India as an instrument of democratic legitimacy, the forceful acquisition of Hyderabad and Junagadh are not mentioned in quite the same way as Professor Malik does. The (un)democractic histories and memories of 1947 and its aftermath are manipulated on both sides for suitable political or ideological purchase. Deliberate collective historical amnesia is, as Ernest Renan observed, essential to the creation of a nation. ‘Forgetting,’ Renan wrote, ‘I would even go so far as to say historical error, is a crucial factor in the creation of a nation, which is why progress in historical studies often constitutes a danger for [the principle of] nationality.’14 This type of nationalistic ‘forgetting’ is ably aided, as Jean Baudrillard notes, by agencies of advertising and the media, creating what he calls ‘synthetic memory’. Baudrillard outlines two modes of forgetting: ‘on the one hand, the slow or violent extermination of memory, on

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 227

the other, the spectacular promotion of a phenomenon, shifting it from historical space into the sphere of advertising, the media becoming the site of a temporal strategy of prestige’.15 The latter was perhaps best illustrated in media representations of the Kargil War and it is repeated in different forms in media reports and analyses that reconfigure history for and from particular nationalist purposes and perspectives. In his conclusion, Professor Malik was surprisingly candid: ‘It is true that we are responsible for the present situation in Balochistan and India is just making use of the bad situation like what it did with East Pakistan. The greatest sin of our rulers has been that they have never tried to better the economic and political conditions in Balochistan despite repeated promises from them since the creation of Pakistan. Present day situation demands that we make the dreams of the Pakistan movement a reality and don’t just keep on pleasing India for the sake of American goodwill.’16 The lack of self-reflection mentioned earlier vis-à-vis Bangladesh was rectified and a need for internal reform recognized, lest India capitalize on that discontent within. Yet the failure to ‘make the dreams of the Pakistan movement a reality’ was attributed not so much to problematic internal policies as to ‘pleasing India for the sake of American goodwill’. Once again, it was easier to make a scapegoat of India than analyze internal problems in depth. The national policy that was criticized was Pakistan’s alignment with the US in its war on terror and the fact that the country had reaped little benefit from that alliance. The shadow of India’s defence and nuclear deals with the US was a long one and continued to embitter media and political elites in Pakistan. Daily Ibrat joined this chorus of accusation, although without the intensity of Nawa. On 2 February it carried a headline ‘Proofs of Indian involvement in Balochistan have started to become visible: Zafarullah Jamali’ and cited Jamali: ‘He said improvement in relations with neighbouring country, India, is welcome, but our neighbours have never been faithful to us. […] He said there has been evidence about the Indian involvement in Balochistan. However, no concrete evidence has been received, so we cannot say much in this regard. He said Balochistan is not a political issue, but it is an economic one.’17 Jamali’s statement did not have the kind of edge that we find in articles in Nawa and he made the simple point about lack of ‘concrete evidence’ of Indian interference a point that did


Tracking the Media

not have much currency in the Pakistan media. Jamali deliberately separated the political from the economic, refusing to see how economic discontent was/is one reason behind the demands of the Balochis for greater autonomy. In contrast, the economic basis of discontent was highlighted in the Indian media, particularly after Nawab Bugti’s killing.

Indian Representations Ibrat seemed to echo an earlier piece in Amar Ujala, ‘General Musharraf on same path as dictator Saddam’ which cited a Balochi leader: ‘According to Sanaullah, Baluchistan is rich in gas, minerals and other natural resources. Pakistan has been exploiting it since 1952. But unfortunately the people of Baluchistan are obliged to live in the Stone Age.’18 Sanaullah pointed to the symbiotic relationship between politics and economics rather than the divergence stressed by Jamali, stressing a type of economic and political colonization. It is interesting that while Sanaullah focused on economic exploitation he did not dwell on the internal, i.e. the feudal exploitations prevalent within the province. In an editorial, ‘India-Pakistan over Baluchistan’, Amar Ujala took umbrage at Pakistan’s reaction to India’s comments on the Balochistan issue: ‘If there is the slightest of brawls in a Muslim inhabited area in India, Pakistan gets enraged enough to threaten to raise the issue in international forums, but if India is to comment on the atrocities and oppression in Pakistan, then it is seen as interference on India’s part. Baluchistan is such a case.’19 There was an erasure of India’s recent communal history such as the 2002 Gujarat riots, which cannot be dismissed as ‘the slightest of brawls’, while maximizing ‘atrocities and oppression in Pakistan’. This historical amnesia and prickliness are inimical to any sort of peace and understanding between the two nations. There was also the assumption that India had a moral right to state its opinions on the Balochistan issue, and that the right stemmed from its being a pluralistic democracy in opposition to the ‘dictatorship’ within Pakistan. In some ways, this assumption was related to India’s conception of itself as a regional power and putative world player.20 The editorial then went on to articulate its real anxieties about the ways in which Pakistan meddles in Indian affairs with impunity: ‘Pakistan cannot expect India to be blind to its activities and consider legitimate whatever steps it may take in the region, while,

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 229

its secret agency, ISI may have a free hand in India. Pakistani seal was found on the grenades used in the terrorist attack on Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. […] Does Pakistan imagine that India’s statement would have an adverse impact on the peace process and that its own actions would give a boost to peace? Actually, the root of the various problems of South Asia is ISI, the control of which is the need of the hour. Therefore Pakistan should cleanse itself before adopting a venomous attitude towards India.’21 The Ujala commentary harks back to the old strategy of blaming outsiders for problems within. At one time it was the ‘foreign hand’ (read CIA) for all ills within, now it is the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan. Foreign policy is predicated here on a simplistic tit-for-tat strategy. The Ujala editorial, however, went further in identifying Pakistan and ISI as ‘the root of the various problems of South Asia’. ‘Various problems’ is a catch-all phrase that encompassed not only terrorism and security issues — presumably the main cause of editorial ire — but also any other problems faced by various South Asian nations. Thus there was an implicit opposition created between a terror-sponsoring and therefore irresponsible Pakistan, on the one hand, and their victims, on the other. Whether or not India has designs on Balochistan is a moot point, but media intolerance on this side of the border fed paranoia and fear mongering on the other side. Part of the mutual cycle of suspicion was also based on a familiar trope of victimhood. Thus while Pakistani commentators saw themselves as victims of Indian interference, India was surrounded by the agents of the venomous ISI. There is within this repetitive narrative a ‘diagnosis of “national character” [that] tends to reproduce the reassuring scenario in which “the enemy” is the exclusive container of evil and danger, the self-enclosed belligerent entity’.22 Daniel Pick’s analysis of the ways in which Germany — Prussia in particular — was perceived by English commentators prior to the First World War seems appropriate for the mutual media suspicions in both countries as well as the replication of predictable ideas of the ‘enemy.’ While Pakistan papers in the period under survey carried more articles on Indian interference in Balochistan than Indian media – seven as opposed to two – there seemed to be a symmetry of suspicion and the former were delighted to point to the Indian hand in the troubled province, just as much as the Indian media saw the problem as indicative of Pakistan as a failed state (a favourite of mainstream English language media). Of course, coverage of Balochistan pales


Tracking the Media

in comparison to that of Kashmir. Nawa-i-Waqt, for example had four pieces on the former as compared to 71 Kashmir related articles. However, Balochistan was significant because it allowed the Pakistani media to blame India of meddling in its internal affairs and fomenting disaffection in much the same way as India does with respect to Kashmir. The cycles of accusation and counter accusations remained intact and resurfaced with the killing of Nawab Bugti.

Some Indian Media Representations of Nawab Bugti’s Killing Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, the Balochi tribal chief, was killed on 26 August 2006, and his death was followed by massive antigovernment protests in Pakistan and saturation media coverage in India. Some of the themes and symmetries noted in January– February 2006 — Kashmir and Balochistan as parallel situations, India’s sense that Pakistan was being hoist on its own petard in Balochistan, the idea of Pakistan as a failed state — were repeated in August–September. In print the Nawab’s death remained a top story for about a week, and it was on TV screens for almost the same period. However, there were editorials and analyses well into September. With the exception of The Hindu, which had a correspondent in Islamabad and expressed opinions at odds with general media consensus, The Asian Age, Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, and The Times of India relied mainly on agency reports. The last four displayed a remarkable homogeneity of opinion and outlook. The media dealt broadly with three issues/topics: (1) the Balochi national movement and Nawab Bugti as ‘iconic’ leader; (2) the reaction within Pakistan and repercussions for India– Pakistan relations; (3) India’s official reaction and condemnation of the killing along with expressions of moral superiority. Of course, none of these categories is exclusive and connections between and across them are important, especially since quite often the same article dealt with one or all of the issues outlined. The division, however, is convenient in terms of ordering a vast amount of material produced on this subject.

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 231

(1) Balochi National Movement and Nawab Bugti as ‘Iconic’ Leader A day after Bugti’s killing NDTV declared: ‘Islamabad finally found one of its targets, 79-year-old Bugti, known as the tiger of Balochistan, who was leading a fight against the Pakistan government for the autonomy of Balochistan. […] Bugti has been the face of Baloch nationalism, the main plank of which has seen ill treatment by Islamabad.’23 The NDTV story cited its correspondent, Munizae Jahangir’s interview with the Nawab in April 2006, where Bugti had predicted his death at the hands of Pakistan’s armed forces. ‘ “They have been given instructions that myself and Nawabzada Balach Marri — that the two of us should be wiped out,”’ Bugti had then declared.24 The repetition in August 2006 of the April 2006 interview added an element of poignant prescience and helped to further emphasize the sense of injustice generated after the killing. Bugti was represented by some former Indian diplomats ‘as a secular leader, of not just Pakistani tribals but also Hindus. The ex-High Commissioner to Pakistan Satish Chandra says, “He was a wise man, learned man. They could have utilized him to reach out to the Balochis, but they didn’t.” ’25 The minority religious angle and the fact that a wise and learned man was not consulted by the Pakistan government were combined to convey the sense of mis-governance and worse. A history of bad governance was highlighted by frequent references to Balochistan’s natural gas resources. In a story prior to Bugti’s killing, Munizae Jahangir reported: ‘The crux of the problem is economic. Balochistan has the richest gas and mineral reserves in Pakistan. While large gas pipelines like the one at Sui supply the rest of the country, the region itself remains Pakistan’s most underdeveloped. “The fact remains that this is a territory, a people who have been oppressed for the last 50 years. This is a battle about resources where they feel they do not get their fair share,” said Ahmad Rashid, international journalist and author.’26 After Bugti’s killing, NDTV quoted Bugti from an earlier interview on the economic basis of the conflict: ‘“Everyone is after our national wealth, our Baloch national wealth. We don’t get any thing out of it, it is ours.”’27 On 3 September, CNN–IBN repeated Balochistan’s economic importance in tandem with its strategic


Tracking the Media

importance: ‘The military has been pounding tribal areas in gas-rich and strategically crucial Balochistan.’28 The economic angle was taken up by the print media as well. C. Raja Mohan combined economic and strategic factors in a piece for The Indian Express. He pointed out that the failure to address the aspirations of the Baloch people ‘has also complicated Pakistani plans to exploit the geo-economic significance of the province. All projects to bring natural gas and build energy pipelines from either Iran or Central Asia into Pakistan and India depend on peace in Balochistan’.29 By referring to the Iran gas pipeline and the need for peace in Balochistan, Raja Mohan also hinted at the imperatives for peace between India and Pakistan. The idea of energy security raised earlier by Praful Bidwai in the context of the Indo-US nuclear deal was reiterated here, especially in terms of alternatives to nuclear power and too close an alliance with the US. That cooperation would be a more fruitful mode of interaction was sometimes expressed in media opinion, but not often enough to significantly alter broader paradigms of suspicion and accusation. On 29 August, Hindustan Times carried a front page report by Imtiaz Alam, a senior Pakistani journalist. Alam wrote that ‘In his death, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, once a villain, became a martyr of the Baloch nationalist movement — one he has never been part of, except in the recent past when he took to the hills of Balochistan to fight back the Pakistan army.’30 While the transformation from ‘villain’ to ‘martyr’ may not have been as dramatic as Alam suggested and while the terms refer to opposing sides in the political battle (‘villain’ for the Pakistan government, ‘martyr’ to Balochis), Alam did refer to an important aspect of Bugti’s history. This history was highlighted by the NDTV story on 27 August: ‘Bugti was not always an anti-establishment figure. In 1973, he was briefly appointed governor of Balochistan, but resigned after a few months after disagreeing with federal government policies. In 1989, he was elected the province’s chief minister but resigned little more than a year later. On other occasions, he was elected as lawmaker.’31 It is interesting that Alam and NDTV used Bugti’s past for differing purposes. Alam wished to demythify Bugti as the great Balochi resistance leader by pointing to his relatively recent conversion to the cause and blamed the inept tactics of the Pakistan government for his transformation into a ‘martyr’. On the other hand, NDTV suggested that although Bugti had worked with the Pakistan government he had to rebel in

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 233

order to secure the legitimate rights of the Balochis, that there was an element of principled agency in his opposition. This interpretation served to highlight the inherently undemocratic nature of Pakistan, a point repeated in print media. One way of stressing Pakistan government oppression was to quote Bugti’s interviews, as NDTV did. On 29 August The Asian Age reprinted one such interview from the Pakistani news magazine, Herald. Bugti had said in the March 2006 interview: ‘“Phosphorus bombs which the Americans used in Vietnam are being dropped on us. Only three or four resistance fighters have so far been killed by these bombs, whereas the rest are all civilians. Now our options are clear: resist or die without resisting. The people have chosen the former.”’32 The reference to the American involvement in and atrocities during the Vietnam War created a deliberate historical parallel of tenacious nationalist interests battling against superior state power. Bugti conveniently erased his own involvement in the government he was now accusing of indiscriminate violence and attempted to cloak his resistance with some of the moral armour and ardour of the anti-US forces in Vietnam. The parallel ignored the politics and often gratuitous violence of the Vietnamese resistance and tended to sanctify them as ahistorical warriors for freedom and justice.33 This was a common desire and element of oppositional discourse within the anti-war movement in this US. 34 Bugti’s comparison also ignored the fact that the Vietnamese were fighting for their nationhood, while the Balochis were not a nation and could not realistically hope to be one. These points of contextual comparison were of little interest to the Indian media and Bugti’s comparisons were repeated without comment, primarily because it reflected poorly on the functioning of the Pakistani state. The Asian Age carried a PTI report on 29 August, citing former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief’s comments to Pakistan’s GeoTV. Sharief believed that the killing was an attack on Pakistan’s unity and integrity. ‘“I feel sad that the weapons we acquired for protection of the defence and security of the country are being used against our own people from Waziristan to Balochistan.”’ He added that ‘“such operations resulted in formation of Bangladesh”’ in 1971.35 That Sharief would make such a comment about his nemesis General Musharraf is not surprising, but that Indian media picked up and reproduced these quotes is important in the context of how such statements by Pakistani leaders bolstered ideas close


Tracking the Media

to certain Indian establishment and media positions, particularly ones related to the 1971 war and Pakistan as a failed state. What The Asian Age did not directly comment on was Sharief’s lament at the misuse of weapons bought for the ‘defence and security of the country’. That this could refer to Pakistan’s wars — past and future — with India was not considered for analysis.

(2) The Reaction within Pakistan and Repercussions for India–Pakistan Relations (a) Protest and Violence in Pakistan Print and television media in India covered the protests and violence that followed Bugti’s death in great detail. The violence within was seen as evidence of what the Times of India defined as Pakistan taking ‘one more step towards becoming a failed state’.36 On 28 August, Parul Malhotra stated that ‘Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf is under pressure from within his country and without.’37 I look at the ‘pressure’ from India in the next section, but it is important to note here how the two were conjoined to further imply that Pakistan is a weak state in need of political–moral hectoring from its more virtuous or worthy neighbour. Malhotra went on to describe a split between the Pakistani army and civil society: ‘And at home, the General may have praised the Pakistan army for killing popular Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti, but he now has a violent protest on his hands that is fast spreading. A nationwide strike has been called on Friday. Baloch capital Quetta, the centre of the protests is now under indefinite curfew.’38 Details of the numbers of people killed, arrested or injured, the setting of shops and banks on fire, the closing of the Quetta–Karachi and Quetta–Punjab highway, and that ‘people defied curfew orders voicing their anger over Bugti’s killing’ were reported as the ‘Baloch fury spread’.39 Print media was equally insistent in its reporting of the reactions to Bugti’s death. The Asian Age carried a PTI report under the heading ‘Balochistan on Fire’, with ‘Tribal Chief Killed, Riots in Quetta, Trains Cancelled’ as the strap line.40 The Indian Express headline read ‘Balochistan in flames after Pak Army kills top leader’ and the double strap line said ‘Bugti Killed in Missile Attack. Red alert across Pak, curfew in Quetta after riots; Pak opposition warns of 1971-like situation.’41

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 235

(b) The 1971 Parallel and Secessionist Movements The reference to 1971 made by Pakistan opposition leaders such as Nawaz Shareif was repeated by Parul Malhotra: ‘Some Opposition leaders even warn that Pakistan could see a repeat of 1971 when east Bengal broke away to form Bangladesh but for that a fractious opposition will need to overcome the power of the gun.’42 For India, 1971 was a moment of triumph and the frequent references to that event indicated more than a cautious hope that it would perhaps be repeated, if only the Pakistan opposition were to get its act together. While replicating what some opposition leaders in Pakistan said was part of the ambit of so-called balanced reporting, Indian media proclivities were evident in the way it commented on those statements and repeated them with some satisfaction. Within this reportage, the repeated references to 1971 served to create a discourse of threat and peril within Pakistan. The Bangladesh template seemed to imply that such a situation needed internal consolidation — opposition unity in Pakistan — and perhaps timely help from India (although the latter was not directly stated). Media commentary also stated or implied that matters had come to such a pass in Balochistan because of the failure of democracy. The democracy deficit in Pakistan allowed for some complacent moralizing in Indian media discourses. In an editorial on 29 August The Asian Age pontificated: ‘Discontent in a state if not addressed sensibly and sympathetically, or worse, if it is sought to be crushed by the use of force, may turn into disaffection which sometimes can even lead to division and disintegration of a nation. Who should know it better than the rulers of Pakistan which was dismembered in 1971 precisely because the powers that be in West Pakistan cynically ignored the genuine aspirations of the then East Pakistan? […] The fact that a government had to launch an armed attack on its own region to eliminate a political leader is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in Pakistan.’43 The way in which the lessons of 1971 were smugly interwoven with the idea of political failure within Pakistan is remarkable because the editorial assumed a vantage moral position, totally obliterating parallel contexts within India, as if India has survived intact purely on the basis of democratic negotiations with various secessionist movements. It was also noteworthy how Imtiaz Alam’s ‘villain’ was transformed into a ‘political leader’ by The Asian Age, the fluidity of


Tracking the Media

appellations — from ‘villain’ to ‘martyr’ to ‘political leader’ — indicative of the numerous media manipulations of the personage and legacy of Bugti. A lack of historical self-reflection was also available in The Times of India International section of 1 September, which had a ready reckoner of dissident movements in Pakistan. The headline ‘Perils of Pakistan’ was followed by ‘What’s on Pakistan’s insurgency map’. The article listed FATA/Waziristan, Sindh, Northern Areas, Balochistan, and the Pakistan heartland, with a paragraph on the dissident activity in each region. It said that ‘subnationalist movements and insurgencies now exist in three of Pakistan’s four provinces’.44 A map of India at the height of the Khalistan movement, Kashmir, insurgencies in various north eastern states and Maoist incursions would not have looked too pretty either, nor for that matter would such a contemporary map. Neither would the histories of the suppression of these movements make for pleasant reading or reflect positively on India’s democratic record.45 None of these contexts existed in the media frame because the focus was on India’s tottering neighbour and by contrast on India’s shining democracy. Sevanti Ninan notes how media in India has adroitly focused on the positive aspects of Indian nationalism even in the face of daunting realities. ‘Internal security,’ Ninan writes, ‘in some ways is as grim today as it was in the early ‘80s and early ‘90s, with Naxalism spreading in a continuous ribbon from North Bihar to Andhra Pradesh, and the North-east and Kashmir still vulnerable to militancy. It provides stories for the news media, but does not shake the confidence with which the idea of India is projected.’46 Theoretically, this ‘confidence’ and subsequent lack of self- reflective criticism can be related to gaps or fissures between normative and denotative conceptions and representations of democracy. As Suman Gupta writes: ‘By any standard it is questionable whether the formal arrangements that are denoted as democratic come close to realizing the normative connotations of democracy even with regard to those whom it involves directly. But by dint of being denoted as democracies, states and organizations with the above formal arrangements often claim to embody the normative connotations of democracy, and such claims are often widely accepted.’47 The repetition of India’s democratic credentials as a means of emphasizing India’s superiority vis-à-vis Pakistan’s perceived problems and failures

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 237

is indicative of the ways in which ‘the normative connotations of democracy’ circulate in media language to create a commonsensical notion of democratic virtue.48

(c) Bugti’s Body The dubious nature of Pakistani governance was emphasized by Indian media scrutiny of the controversy surrounding Bugti’s body and subsequent death rites. On 29 August carried a piece, ‘Mystery surrounds Bugti’s death’: ‘While the alleged killing of Baloch tribal chieftain Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti has sparked off much political turmoil and also kicked off a war of words between India and Pakistan, Bugti’s body remains mysteriously elusive. […] The Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), which Bugti headed, said the government was creating confusion about the whereabouts of Bugti’s body.’49 Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Mohammad Yousuf was quoted as asserting that the Bugti’s body was not in the Combined Military Hospital and that ‘“all possible efforts are being made to find the body in the cave”’.50 On 30 August, CNN–IBN cited Pakistan’s defence spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan who said ‘Bugti was killed when a cave where he was hiding caved in’. The spokesman ‘denied that Bugti was killed in the Army firing’. Bugti’s son, Talal, responded by accusing ‘the government of lying’.51 resurrected the Bugti body controversy on 4 September: ‘“We still can’t believe that the body buried in Dera Bugti on Friday was that of my father. If it were his body, then why wasn’t anyone, including the media, shown the Nawab’s face,” he [Jamil Bugti] said. This has prompted the government to offer to conduct an immediate DNA test.’52 The airing of conspiracy theories and trial by media were intended primarily to show up another aspect of the undemocratic nature of the Pakistani state. Sandwiched between the assertions and accusations was a reference to General Musharraf visiting the hill resort of Murree. ‘Addressing a gathering, he [Musharraf] tried to soothe the Baloch sentiment outraged over the killing of Bugti. He promised financial help to the province. “Just love Pakistan,” he urged the Balochis.’53 Musharraf’s exhortation was disingenuous and his facile comment was deliberately highlighted to show the disconnect between the President and his people. That Balochis may find it difficult to ‘Just love Pakistan’ was amply highlighted in the Indian media.


Tracking the Media

The Hindu’s Nirupama Subramanian provided details of Bugti’s funeral, the rampage afterwards and that the ‘delay by the Government in producing Bugti’s body added fuel to the fire’. She cited one Sherbaz Khan Mazari, ‘a close friend of Bugti’ who said that ‘the story of the collapsing cave was “creative fiction” ’.54 This is just one example of the print media mirroring television obsession with Bugti’s body. The body, as we saw in the context of Shradhanjali during the Kargil War, was appropriated to create a tapestry of pluralism and heroic sacrifice. In contrast, the Indian media focus on Bugti’s body highlighted the martyrdom of a man fighting against an undemocratic state intolerant of minority aspirations.

(d) The bin Laden Angle While the body controversy, its burial and the protests were media staple in India primarily to show anarchy and failure in Pakistan, there was a more subtle mode of placing Bugti’s death within a matrix of dubious policies and practices. Indrani Bagchi pointed out that the action against Bugti had been taken while the US Centcom chief, General Abizaid was in Pakistan. While this could have been mere coincidence, Bagchi went on to assert that the communication interception equipment and helicopter gunships used to track and kill Bugti, had been given by the US to target the Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.55 What Indrani Bagchi implied was expanded upon in two pieces, one by C. Raja Mohan and the other an editorial page article by defence analyst C. Uday Bhaskar. Raja Mohan wrote: ‘India will surely be concerned with the fact that Musharraf has chosen to deal with the Baloch nationalist cause and a former top establishment figure like Bugti, who was Senator, Interior Minister and Governor of Balochistan, with extreme force while meekly surrendering to the Taliban and the religious extremists in Waziristan.’56 Uday Bhaskar wrote: ‘What the Bugti killing demonstrates unequivocally is that Pakistan’s military now has the technological capability to prosecute the war against insurgency and terrorism with great lethality. Whether through satellite phone intercepts or the use of helicopter gunships, it has established a certain operational credibility despite the harsh and sparsely populated terrain of the Baloch region. If this be the case, it would be fair to assume that a military that can take out Bugti can do the same with bin Laden.’57 The implications were fairly clear: while Pakistan had killed Bugti

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 239

adroitly, it has failed to hunt down Osama bin Laden; this is not because of a lack of means or technology but due to a lack of political will; further, this failure to hunt down bin Laden proves that the ‘frontline ally’ in the war on terror is unreliable and duplicitous. Within this analytical framework Pakistan is a failed state (because it kills opposition leaders) and an untrustworthy ally in the great civilizational war of our times. The bin Laden angle and the appeasement of the Taliban are a thread in media commentary that dates back to the Kargil War (see Chapter 1). To weave it into the Bugti killing was to clarify further the extent to which US policy toward Pakistan in the war on terror is mistaken because of the very unreliability of Pakistan.58

(e) Repercussions for India–Pakistan Relations The Times of India editorialized on 29 August on the unrest in most of Pakistan and how this ‘could spiral out of control’. ‘There are dangers,’ it warned, ‘for New Delhi here as well because if Pakistan begins to implode, its rulers will try to hold it together by directing anger against an external target, and India is the obvious candidate.’59 The desperate instability of Pakistan is cause for worry and war may be thrust on India, as it was in the past. This formula placed the blame entirely on Pakistan and ignored India’s role in the subcontinental arms race, the ways in which that race has undermined security and social development on both sides of the border, and cast India in a passive role (similar to some media representations of India as a victim of Pakistani intransigence during the Kargil War). While the Balochi unrest was sometimes contextualized by referring to economic deprivation, those contexts were not expanded upon to look at the larger picture of shortsighted policies on both sides of the border that contribute to desperation and unrest within Pakistan and India. This is not to imply that India created the Balochi problem but to state that Indian media often ignored inconvenient facts or did not emphasize necessary analytical connections between events and their contexts. Pakistani shortcomings were justly highlighted, but India’s role in sustaining a symbiosis of suspicion and hate were seldom mentioned. Praveen Swami further articulated Indian anxieties and fears arising from the Bugti killing. ‘Battered by the growing violence in Balochistan, and bereft of political allies, Gen. Musharraf is desperate for an issue with which to restore his fragile legitimacy. More than


Tracking the Media

a few experts now believe that renewed hostilities with India are the sole card Pakistan’s military ruler has left in his deck.’60 One point of distinction, legitimacy and superiority is the fact that India is a democracy and Pakistan is not. Yet in the perilous situation described, democracy is no guarantee against attack from a desperate neighbour and one possible solution was to democratize Pakistan. Swami cited a letter written by ‘prominent figures in Pakistan’s public life’, calling Musharraf to count. ‘No democracy, the letter said, could function unless the institutions of state abided by their constitutional roles, and respected the principle of separation of powers. “The elections scheduled for 2007,” it concluded, “will not be credible without neutral and impartial caretaker governments, both at the Centre and in the provinces.”’61 This democracy deficit is what makes Pakistan a ‘failed state’ and Bugti’s killing was repeatedly foregrounded as proof of that failure. Swami cited the belief of unnamed Military Intelligence people in India that Musharraf will embark on another Kargil. Prior to this, perhaps unwittingly, Swami drew attention to India’s strategic weakness post-Pokhran II: ‘Pakistani strategists have come to believe that their nuclear shield guarantees them the freedom to wage small, localized wars, or to support enterprises like the jihad in Jammu and Kashmir. To Pakistan’s military, India’s decision not to cross the LoC during the 1999 Kargil war, or to risk a conflict in 2001–2002 after the terrorist attack on the Parliament House, demonstrated that this belief was robust.’62 The argument is a sensible one and was made earlier by Amartya Sen: ‘[…] India enjoys massive superiority over Pakistan in conventional military strength. Surely this strategic advantage has become far less significant as a result of the new nuclear balance.’ Sen also refers to Kargil: ‘With the danger of a nuclear outburst, the Indian government’s decision not to countercross the line of control in retaliation was clearly right, but it had no real option in this respect, given the strategic bind that it had itself helped to create.’63 Sen points to a ‘moral and prudential’ failure on the part of Indian policy makers, but Swami and friends seemed to think that the Bugti killing only bolsters India’s moral superiority. To this end, Swami cited the Balochistan Express. ‘The Baloch protests, the Express asserted, were “of the same level that was [seen] in Bangadesh on March 1, 1971 [when elections were called off in West Pakistan], which was the beginning and the end of politics.”’64 This reference to 1971, like the ones noted earlier, signalled the return to moral comfort and Indian political superiority.

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 241

(3) India’s Official Reaction and Condemnation of the Killing (a) Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Statements Parul Malhotra mentioned India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) reaction to the Bugti killing: ‘No shrill rhetoric, no direct condemnation of use of excessive force. A sensitive India stuck to paying rich tributes to Akbar Khan Bugti and offered some gentle advice to Pakistan. MEA spokesperson Navtej Sarna says, “The heavy casualties in the continuing military operations in Balochistan underlines the need for a peaceful dialogue to address the grievances and aspirations of the people of Balochistan.” ’65 The NDTV story on the same subject was less diplomatic than Malhotra in its representation of what the MEA said. ‘In a remarkably strong statement, India has slammed Pakistan for the killing of iconic Baloch rebel Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. In the statement released by the foreign office, New Delhi called the killing a tragic loss for the people of Balochistan and Pakistan. The description of Balochistan as a separated entity is bound to anger Islamabad.’66 NDTV pointed to a history of mutual suspicions: ‘India had accused Pakistan of having a hand in the Mumbai blasts and Pakistan has in the past accused India of backing the separatist violence in Balochistan.’67 NDTV also mentioned the Kashmir parallel: ‘By saying military force cannot solve a political issue, New Delhi is using Pakistan’s rhetoric on Kashmir to beat Islamabad.’68 The Indian media’s glee at Pakistan’s discomfiture was evident in the way the reactions to Bugti’s killing were covered. In that sense it was a sad mirroring of Pakistan reportage on Kashmir. While referring to this tit-for-tat political and media response, NDTV offered no comment or analysis because it was itself implicated in that Pavlovian cycle of accusation and counter accusation. The print media also reported on the MEA statements and the Pakistani response. The Asian Age carried the story with the headline ‘Pak: Keep off, it’s an internal matter’69 and The Hindu front page box had a subheading: ‘Put your house in order: Pakistan’.70 The Hindu correspondent did cite Pakistan’s spokesperson, who said that the Indian statement ‘“is not only against the well-established norms of inter-state relations but also a blatant interference in the internal affairs of a neighbouring country.”’71 Pakistan rightly pointed out that India’s purported ‘concern’ was ill-advised considering it had so many insurgencies of its own — giving a list of insurgencies in


Tracking the Media

the north east that were suppressed by force. Apart from the north east, Kashmir represents the most obvious echo of Balochistan. In all the moral tub thumping, however, it was seldom mentioned in the Indian media and when it was, it was either without comment, as in the NDTV report cited above, or with a smugly positive spin.

(b) The Kashmir Parallel In an editorial on 29 August, the Hindustan Times said that the manner of Bugti’s death spoke for the values which govern Pakistan. It contrasted the Bugti killing with India’s handling of its many separatist insurgencies, asserting that in recent times, there had been no instances where air power and artillery had been employed against them, ‘even in the trying circumstances in Jammu and Kashmir. The chosen method is, instead, police action and negotiation’.72 The editorial said that Baloch resistance to their forced annexation has never ceased despite the Pakistan army’s brutal repression dating back to the 1970s. ‘There is no victory in brutally suppressing your own people and so it is up to the Musharraf government to convince the Balochis that they are an equal constituent of the Pakistani State. But expecting a military government to do so is perhaps asking for too much.’73 The moral hypocrisy of this stance and its convenient elision of history and facts are quite remarkable. For instance there was no mention of repressive measures, such as the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in India’s north east. While India does not have a ‘military government’, its civilian counterpart has not hesitated to use the military to quell unrest. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is a good example of the way in which democratic leaders have allowed armed forces to act with impunity in the north east.74 The Hindustan Times editorial ignored these contexts and projected democracy as an absolute value. The operative phrase ‘in recent times’ and the reference to ‘police action and negotiation’ in Kashmir are at odds with reality in that state and reflect the sort of automatic patriotism displayed by the Indian media during the Kargil conflict. Indian armed forces have often acted with impunity in Kashmir and some of these violations have been covered by the media. On 20 March 2000, for example 35 Sikhs were apparently killed by Pakistan-backed terrorists at Chattisinghpora in Jammu and Kashmir.75 On 28 March five ‘foreign mercenaries’, supposedly responsible for the massacre, were killed in a joint army–police operation.76 It turned out ‘that the “foreign mercenaries”

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 243

killed were, in fact, seasonal labourers working at a nearby brick kiln’.77 The killing of innocent Sikhs as terrorists is just one example of police and army impunity in Kashmir. ‘Police action’ is a euphemism given the numbers of armed forces personnel deployed in the region, the duration of that deployment and specific actions such as the killing of innocents mentioned above, and the consequent violation of human rights documented by international human rights bodies. While negotiations have been a mode of conciliation, they have often failed and the state has returned to armed resolutions. Media credibility is undermined when facts and complex contexts are either ignored or reduced to the level of political euphemisms, as they were in this instance. The Asian Age mentioned the Kashmir issue in a different way in order to give it a positive spin vis-à-vis Balochistan. On 29 August, Seema Mustafa interviewed two top Baloch leaders over the telephone on conditions of anonymity. These leaders compared their situation with their counterparts in Kashmir. One of them pointed out that ‘“Kashmiri leaders travel to New Delhi, where they are given red-carpet treatment, they are able to meet your Prime Minister and other top leaders, and they go back to Kashmir secure about their basic safety. Not a single Baloch leader can speak about his grievances in Islamabad, he will be arrested, and his wife and children at home will be immediately picked up.”’78 While this is true — some Kashmiri separatist leaders do occasionally meet the Prime Minister in New Delhi — the quote painted a picture of freedom for Kashmiri leaders, and by extension Kashmiris, that is not entirely accurate. The Indian Army has a huge presence in the state and human rights violations by Army personnel are documented, just as terrorist ones are.79 ‘Police action’ is a banal euphemism for what the military does and means to the people of the state.80 While Kashmir currently has a democratically elected government, the insurgency in the 1980s arose directly out of disaffection with the rigged election of 1987. These and many other nuances and contexts are sought to be sidelined as the virtues of Indian democracy and ‘negotiation’ are contrasted with the undemocratic, indeed fascistic, elements of Pakistani governance.81 Hindustan Times and The Asian Age seemed to delve into history not so much to critically analyze contexts or to offer possible insights and solutions, but to score points over Pakistan during its troubles, which were ironically similar to ones back home.


Tracking the Media

Munizae Jahangir’s interview with Nawab Bugti enabled her to travel to Balochistan. Pakistan allowed Indian media into the state, which is quite unlike the media access available to Pakistani journalists in Kashmir. One wonders how the Indian government would react if Pakistan Television or GeoTV were to air an exclusive interview with a Kashmiri separatist leader. While Kashmir is reported in detail in the Indian media, when it comes to comparisons with affairs within Pakistan Kashmir becomes a ‘police action’, rather than the long-drawn-out, full-blown and often brutal insurgency that it is. Media double standards seem to be a reflection of government double speak in India. The MEA assumption of a moral high ground and its media mirror were reflections of the illusions of the perfections and virtues of Indian democracy that permeate certain elite discourses in India.

Some Exceptions to Dominant Media Reports While there was a broad consensus about Bugti’s killing in print and television media in India, there were a few notable exceptions. This section looks at two such examples in India and one in Pakistan. One staple of the Indian media was to draw parallels between the current scenario in Balochistan and 1971. An editorial in The Hindu was predictable in its highlighting of ‘authoritarian centralism’ in Pakistan, but disputed the 1971 analogy. ‘[…] before getting carried away by prophesies of “Free Balochistan” and a 1971-like situation, it would be good to remember a few facts. When East Pakistan broke away to become Bangladesh, the Bengalis were the numerically dominant group. The Baloch are a small, scattered minority, comprising not more than five percent of the total population. Baloch militants run a small-scale operation on vast territory and are pitted against one of the most powerful militaries in the world. An insurgency in the 1970s did manage to last out four years against 80,000 troops but now, as then, it lacks resources and the capacity to control territory or carry out big strikes against security forces. Above all, the Baloch demand is not for secession. It is for a due place for the province within Pakistan.’82 That these facts were not reiterated across the media is indicative not only of enthusiastic bias but of a consensus that was evident across media coverage on the Balochistan issue in India. This editorial also put into context

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 245

an earlier interview with Bugti, wherein he had compared the situation in Balochistan to Vietnam. The Hindu editorial represented a partial disjunction within a broad media consensus. K. Shankar Bajpai’s op-ed piece went further in its debunking of some cherished national and media myths. Bajpai began by examining the idea of nationhood: ‘Beyond the sympathy it evokes for a fine, long-harassed people, Balochistan’s continuing torment profoundly underlines disturbing issues regarding both Pakistan’s nationhood and our own — issues sharpened in our case by Malegaon.’83 He then went on to mention some constituents of nationhood such as ‘patriotism, nationalism, devotion to country’ and that ‘Pakistan was conceived as a homeland for the Muslims of India’. However, ‘religion alone is not enough to inspire nationalism’ and ‘what remained of Pakistan [after 1971] has not yet found an answer as to what constitutes its nationhood — except hostility to India. […] One Pakistani handicap is that there is no historical antecedent to their state. […] More importantly, the people of those areas had no sense of common group identity until Pakistan was created except one: they were Muslims of India.’84 Bajpai’s assertion was perhaps a subtler version of an orthodox argument within India which continues to perceive Pakistan as an aberration and an entity that will ultimately be reunited with India and thereby obliterated. Such an argument finds it difficult to imagine that ‘patriotism, nationalism, devotion to country’ can animate the Pakistani nation, even if its original constituent population migrated from India. Bajpai, however, did not use this argument to pillory India’s Muslims or question their loyalty to the nation, which is what the votaries of the right wing in India normally do in their proposition of Akhand Bharat. K. Shankar Bajpai deviated from the mainstream when he engaged in some self-reflection, the kind of which we seldom come across in media coverage of issues related to Pakistan. ‘As the tart Pakistani retort to our inept comment on Balochistan pointed out, we in India have more than our fair share of similar problems — and are in danger of being as thoughtless about them as Pakistan. We can preen over what we have achieved, but it is no longer enough to imagine smugly that we are a democracy and that our democracy will find the answer. Far too many groups in our country feel less and less confident that we can provide the framework within which they can look forward to their future with confidence. Whether in Kashmir,


Tracking the Media

the Northeast or in many tribal areas, not least among our Muslim population all over, resentments keep simmering — and keep being ignored when they are not deliberately exacerbated, domestically or externally.’85 Bajpai concentrated on the problems within India to gain perspective, rather than take pleasure in Pakistan’s inept handling of Balochistan. ‘The concept of India that inspired our national movement seems to have lost both its shine and its driving force. It needs to be revivified so that all our discontented diversities can feel stronger attachment to a nation, if not devotion to it then at least as confidence that it will give them an acceptable future.’86 That India has ‘discontented diversities’, that democracy is not in itself a normative value or a panacea for all political ills that beset India is too close to the bone and mainstream media seldom mentions it. Bajpai questioned the moral pedestal which editors and reporters assiduously construct to highlight how infinitely superior India’s polity is in comparison to Pakistan. In addition, Bajpai also reflected cannily on the constructed nature of nationhood and the constant negotiations that constitute an ‘imagined community’.87 In conclusion, K. Shankar Bajpai turned to the Muslim question and how majority, particularly Hindutva, zealotry has taken the shine off India’s democratic plurality. ‘[…] only those willfully blind can ignore the damage done to any Muslim sense of belonging to an India that will look after their interests by the frightening banalities of Hindutva zealots, who are only playing Pakistan’s game in raising communal tensions (including now the alarming appearance of radicalization among Muslim youth).’88 That the radicalization of young Muslims is not related solely or even importantly to the tenets of Islam has been pointed out by analysts such as Veena Das.89 Ashis Nandy outlines part of this process: ‘They [unemployed Muslim youth] become easy recruits for criminal gangs and for vocations that are free from discrimination, such as smuggling, illicit distillation, and drug-pushing. This allows the negative stereotypes of minorities fuller play in such cities [Moradabad, Aligarh, Ahmedabad, Etawah, Bombay], and fear and anger against urban crime feed into communal hostilities. In many instances, such criminal elements precipitate riots by the very nature of their activities, as also by their attempts to redeem themselves in the eyes of their community by aggressively taking up the community’s cause.’90 The economic and social contexts as well as analytical insights offered by Das and Nandy, among others, was missing from mainstream media analysis.

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 247

While harping on the repression of Balochis — an unjust and untenable position taken by the Pakistan government — Indian media commentators erased significant histories of oppression within the country. It was as if Kashmir, the north east, the 1984 Delhi riots, the Babri Masjid demolition, and the 2002 Gujarat riots (to name a few random relatively recent events) had no bearing on the credibility and functioning of our democracy. K. Shankar Bajpai’s argument was not only heavily contextualized but also more balanced. Although he did not absolve the Muslim community of responsibility, he pointed to the more onerous political and moral obligation that the Hindus have towards their fellow citizens. ‘Our Muslims do appear to need a more thoughtful and effective leadership, which will both serve the community (as distinct from a self-serving creamy layer) and strengthen its Indian-ness, as many individuals are trying to do at an intellectual rather than political level. But the supposedly majority community must realize its obligation both to help in the encouragement of such a Muslim leadership and in the re-strengthening of the only concept of India that can make us the great state and civilization we dreamed of being, and which alone can keep us from disasters even greater than Balochistan — or Malegaon.’91 Bajpai’s was a brave, critical, yet hopeful article dedicated to a future bereft of euphemisms and easy triumphalism. His analytical frame and focus seemed to embody Jurgen Habermas’s vision ‘that in constant awareness of human limitation recognizes the extreme fragility of human civilization and the need, but at the same time the difficulty, of sustaining the social bonds of obligation upon which that civilization depends in the face of the manifold forces that threaten it, forces that are internal and psychological as well as external’.92 Most Indian media representations concentrated on the ‘external’ threat without examining the ‘fragility of human civilization’ embodied in problems within and it was here that Bajpai’s insights were valuable. Across the border, Dawn carried an edit page article by Kaiser Bengali which was introspective in the manner of Bajpai and critical of Pakistan in ways that Indian media seldom is in times of crisis. Bengali was scathing in his assessment of Pervez Musharraf’s actions: ‘That such disproportionate force was used to kill a 79-year old ailing man and that his bereaved family has been denied the opportunity to offer their last respects and accord him a proper burial is deplorable.’93 He too referred to 1971 as well as to the Kargil


Tracking the Media

War to underline the futility of ‘arrogant faith in military solutions’. ‘Questions about the general’s judgment had risen immediately after the inane militarily untenable Kargil misadventure. […] These questions are not frivolous, given the increasingly apparent absence of any degree of political intellect in General Musharraf’s policy decisions.’94 While such pronouncements are music to Indian ears, it is important to note the paradoxical strength of free press commentary in a military state.95 Bengali’s critique is scathing and accurate in a way that Indian media seldom was during Kargil. The general Indian media tendency to band together in patriotic solidarity, eschewing critical analysis, is shown up by this piece. In the Balochistan scenario, barring Bajpai, Indian media seemed to believe in India’s unblemished democratic record and took great moral pleasure in highlighting Pakistan’s lack thereof. Kaiser Bengali was unflinching in his focus on Balochi deprivation in terms of economic, social or political indices. ‘Admittedly, Balochistan’s underdevelopment is a product of over half a century of exploitation and neglect. Unfortunately, however, General Musharraf’s seven years in power has merely seen an extension of the past record. […] The Balochi intelligentsia has seen through Islamabad’s colonization game and the general insurgency is merely a response.’96 Finally, Bengali called for a change towards more democracy. ‘If the damage to the federation is to be repaired, the military establishment will need to withdraw from the political, economic and commercial arenas and a genuinely elected government will need to take effective charge of the country to assuage the deep wounds that have been inflicted on Balochistan.’97 Reading K. Shankar Bajpai and Kaiser Bengali in a media field that was dominated by tawdry nationalism is refreshing because it shows that self-reflective, in-depth media analysis is still possible. That they were exceptions is evident from this survey; that their influence is limited is proven by the ways in which prejudices projected by the media were then regurgitated by its consumers.

Consumer Ventriloquism in New Media A few responses on the message board and HinduUnity. org were indicative of media influence on opinions. One respondent, ‘Ramanand’, wrote: ‘Nawab Bugti Singh was a Hindu and he has

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 249

been eliminated because of his religion. This is not fair and acceptable by any Hindus in India.’98 The religious angle led inevitably to the thesis of Akhand Bharat and the need to dismember Pakistan (the latter an idea expressed, among others, by India Today during the Kargil War). ‘This is the right time,’ declared ‘sandy’, ‘to repeat 1971. Break Pakistan again and the country will be in turmoil. The indo pak problem will be solved once and for all.’ ‘This is the best time to break the pakis to pieces,’ stated ‘Hk’.99 ‘sachinsuri’ referred to the Pakistan spokeswoman’s reaction to Indian reporters questions on Balochistan: ‘it was very disgusting by the way that spokeswomen (sic) answered to all the questions. don’t we have any self respect when she said that India should mind their own business, then she said that india should look at their own problems as they are many and not at pakistan […] being an indian i feel hurt when she spoke like that.’100 The answer to the rhetorical question is of course that, by and large, Indian media and politicians displayed neither self-respect nor a capacity for self-reflection with reference to the Balochistan issue, or else such questions would never have been raised either by the MEA or the media. ‘sachinsuri’ felt ‘hurt’ in much the same way that mainstream media took umbrage at the spokeswoman’s reaction, and that ‘hurt’ is a form of non-rational response to problems within the country. The implication seemed to be that as long as we can dream of ‘break[ing] the pakis to pieces’, our sense of nationhood will be firm and unambiguous. led the discussion on the Balochistan issue with an article by B. Raman, Former Additional Secretary, Government of India. The article, ‘Balochistan: Second War of Independence’, provided a history of the struggle of the Balochis against state oppression and ended with the declaration: The second Baloch War of Independence poses a moral dilemma for India. The Balochs had stood by Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress Party during the independence struggle against the British. They had opposed the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan. If India had to be partitioned, they would have preferred an independent Balochistan. The Balochs were the closest to Gandhi’s heart. Due to reasons of realpolitik, we let them down during their first War of Independence. The same realpolitik would dictate painful inaction by us now too. But that does not mean we should hesitate to draw the attention


Tracking the Media

of the international community to the ruthless massacre of the Baloch nationalists by the Pakistan army. We owe our moral support to them. The struggle for an independent Balochistan is part of the unfinished agenda of the Partition.101

In B. Raman’s analysis, the link between the Balochis and Mahatma Gandhi made it imperative for India to intervene in the moral struggle waged by the Balochis and this connected seamlessly with the Akhand Bharat thesis. is a website that serves as an entry point to the Sangh Parivar on the internet, hosting links to the Bajrang Dal, the Shiv Sena and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), among others. It also has a ‘Hindu Holocaust Museum’ and a ‘Nation of Hindutva’ site. It is avowedly anti-Muslim and propagates the belief that Bharat was and will be one nation once the Muslims have been tamed. For such a site to use Mahatma Gandhi as a moral link for supporting the Balochis is ironic, but it passed without comment. The message board responding to Raman’s article was in agreement with the position taken by the author. For example ‘KhalsaFateh’ wrote: ‘I agree. It would be a missed opportunity if we don’t help out the Balochis. If they are able to successfuly (sic) break away from Pakistan, then other ethnic groups will be encouraged to break away from Papistan. And we may see our dream of Akhand Bharat a reality. It is not unreasonable at all because these Balochis are determined to break from Pakiland. So, this war for Balochistan is HUGE in its importance.’102 Another respondent, ‘HinduRSSVHP’, wrote: ‘Friends: While this is welcome, this struggle for independence appears to be in its infancy! Also, it is very difficult for the BLA to achieve much without outside help. Our leaders are so impotent that they will not be able to take advantage of this internal fight in Papistan! Let us hope (as we do most of the times) somebody else will at least take advantage of this to break Papistan.’103 The appellation ‘Papistan’ is presumably predicated on the ‘sinfulness’ of Partition which led to the establishment of the nation of apostates. This type of message board witticism reflected some deep-seated prejudices and stereotypes, related partially to an inability to deal with ambiguous or complex realities. Murray Edelman’s observations of citizen responses to political crises in America seem appropriate in the context of message board reaction in India. Edelman writes: ‘It is characteristic of large numbers of people in our society that they see and think in terms of stereotypes, personalization, and oversimplifications, that they cannot recognize

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 251

or tolerate ambiguous and complex situations, and that they accordingly respond chiefly to symbols that oversimplify and distort. This form of behavior (together with other characteristics less relevant to the political process) is especially likely to occur where there is insecurity occasioned by failure to adjust to real or perceived problems.’104 The pathologies of ‘stereotypes, personalization, and oversimplifications’ are evident in the ways in which Bugti and the Balochis are constructed as heroes, Pakistan as a dangerous space that must be reclaimed if India is to be safe, and the refusal to accept valid criticism from outside (as in the Pakistani spokeswoman’s rebuttal of India’s charges). These strategies were also evident in the way President Musharraf was portrayed in sections of Indian media, as I discuss in the next chapter. New media such as the internet has enabled modes of query and discussion that are unavailable in mainstream print and television. Protests against war and injustice have been empowered by the virtual communities created the world over by the internet. For example, anti war protests against US involvement in Iraq were coordinated by and culminated in thousands joining peace marches. Another example of the positive creation of an internet community is the gay fraternity worldwide.105 The excerpts from the and message boards cited above are examples, however, of the ways in which prejudices aired in mainstream media are repeated by its consumers. The internet serves in these instances as a vehicle for preaching hate. What the Glasgow University Media Group wrote of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict is equally appropriate for Indian media and some audience responses to Balochistan. ‘If you do not understand the Middle East crisis it might be because you are watching it on TV news. This scores high on images of fighting, violence and drama but is low on explanation.’106 The power of mainstream media in fostering prejudice is perhaps best revealed in these snippets, as they highlight the extent to which opinions are internalized and disseminated by the media consumer. Message board communities are a microcosm of larger ‘imagined communities’ and they reflect consolidations and fears observable in different times and contexts. Daniel Pick, summarizing Melanie Klein and Joan Riviere’s observations on this phenomenon in the post-First World War scenario, writes: ‘An imagined community — the subject and its immediate objects — is thus relatively safe. Hostility and hate are confined or alienated — located


Tracking the Media

in a variety of forms outside.’107 Time and again — from Kargil to Gujarat, to the Balochistan issue — ‘imagined communities’ were consolidated by alienating the enemy without and within. The status of ‘outsider’ was not confined to national borders as Muslims were deemed to be untrustworthy ‘outsiders’ within the national space and hence even more dangerous. The relative safety predicated by Klein and Riviere was constantly threatened by the presence of the enemy within. ‘Papistan’ is therefore both outside and within and needs to be either dismembered or tamed.

Postscript On 4 September 2006, the Press Trust of India (PTI) put out a news item, ‘Pak to crack down on websites’, which reported the Pakistan government decision to monitor and/or shut down ‘websites with objectionable contents’ or those which carried ‘anti-state material.’ It concluded: ‘The government has already banned all the websites relating to Balochistan nationalist struggle.’108 Without doubt, this was a knee-jerk and retrogressive move that did not in any way further the cause of Pakistani unity and harmony and least of all of press freedom. What is significant is that PTI carried the story to highlight the lack of these freedoms across the border and, by implication, to bask in the glory of a free press in India. PTI was quite oblivious of certain paradoxes and contexts, such as that of the freedom of commentary in a military state — most notably available in Kaiser Bengali’s article and in some earlier coverage of the Kargil War in Pakistani media.109 PTI also ignored the Indian contexts of censorship during the Emergency, of the blocking of Pakistan Television (PTV) and of Pakistani internet sites during Kargil. Finally, PTI — nor any other Indian media under survey — considered the websites of, the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which are not censored despite their despicable stereotyping of Muslims and Hindus. While gleefully casting stones at our neighbour the Indian media was, with a few notable exceptions, indifferent to problems in its backyard.

Notes 1. See Chapter 9 for examples of infiltration paranoia in some Hindi newspapers.

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 253 2. Nawa-i-Waqt 2006a: 6. 3. The hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar led to unsubstantiated media speculation. For example, The Pioneer had a headline ‘Underworld nexus comes to the fore’, (The Pioneer 1999) and The Hindustan Times declared ‘It’s a full-fledged ISI Operation’ (31 December 1999). Kanchan L. writes that there was ‘a slew of speculative reports regarding a Nepalese collaborator on board IC 814 who had facilitated the terrorists at Tribhuvan Airport in Kathmandu — the alleged conduit’s name and elaborate personal details were repeated on a multiplicity of channels even as the crisis was unfolding. With the return of IC 814 following a terrorist-swap the truth emerged that the alleged conduit was only an ordinary businessman’ (Kanchan L. 2001: 75). In an editorial, Amar Ujala focused on Dhaka: ‘While traveling for 3 years in Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Assam in the Northeast, a prominent English newspaper of the region carried detailed news of this intention of making Dhaka a centre [for coordinating terrorist activities]. An ISI agent is in touch with all the extremist and separatist organizations active in this region and was occupied with collecting funds worth 100 crore rupees for the same’ (Amar Ujala 2006l: 4). 4. Nawa-i-Waqt 2006a: 6. 5. Nawa-i-Waqt 19 January 2006: 1. 6. Ibid. 7. Mahmood 2006: 14. 8. Zaman 2006: 7. 9. Malik 2006b: 13. 10. Ibid. 11. Cited in Naim 1999: 138–39. For an excellent comparative analysis of Urdu media coverage of the Bangladesh conflict, see C. M. Naim’s ‘Muslim Press in India and the Bangladesh Crisis’, pp. 123–42. I am grateful to Ramachandra Guha for this reference. See also Hasan 2004, where Khalid Hasan analyzes the role of Pakistan media coverage of the 1971 crisis. Citing Hasan Zaheer, Hasan comments on the reportage of three major dailies — Nawa-i-Waqt, Jang and Dawn: ‘“Following the army action, they all lent their full support to it. They continued to toe the official line until the fall of Dhaka, in violation of their professional obligation to inform the people of the objective conditions in East Pakistan; in fact, at times, they appeared more aggressive than the regime itself and seemed to be goading it to intensify defiance of world opinion.” They ran banner headlines, creating war hysteria and wrote editorials praising the government for giving up the political process and urging it on in the same direction, never questioning the aims and limits of army action’ (Hasan 2004) 12. Cited in Naim 1999: 139. 13. Malik 2006b: 13. 14. Renan 1990: 11. 15. Baudrillard 1994: 23.


Tracking the Media

16. Malik 2006b: 13. 17. ‘Proofs of Indian involvement in Balochistan have started to become visible: Zafarullah Jamali’ (Daily Ibrat 2006c: 1). 18. Amar Ujala 2006e: 1. 19. Amar Ujala 2006a: 4. 20. Some of this moral righteousness and prickliness was expressed during the Kargil War and in response to Western governments’ concerns about the Gujarat riots. See comments by J. N. Dixit and A. G. Noorani in Chapters 1 and 6. 21. Amar Ujala 2006a: 4. 22. Pick 1993: 100. 23. NDTV 2006a. 24. Jahangir 2006. 25. Malhotra 2006. 26. Jahangir 2006. 27. NDTV 2006a. 28. ANI/CNN-IBN 2006. 29. Mohan 2006: 1. 30. Alam 2006: 1. 31. NDTV 2006a. 32. Zulfikar 2006: 7. 33. See Gabriel Kolko’s Anatomy of a War for an analysis of north Vietnamese resistance to American depredations. See Denise Levertov’s poem, ‘The Distance’, for the idealization of the Vietnamese in their fight against the US. 34. For an analysis of the moral outrage and support underpinning US antiwar protests during the Vietnam era see Morris Dickstein’s Gates of Eden and Todd Gitlin’s The Sixties. Dickstein and Gitlin display a degree of self-reflection about this moral stance that was seldom displayed in Indian media commentary on the parallels Bugti drew with Vietnam. 35. ‘Killing is attack on unity’, The Asian Age, 29 August 2006. 36. The Times of India 2006a. 37. Malhotra 2006. 38. Ibid. 39. Ibid. 40. The Asian Age 2006a. 41. The Indian Express 2006. 42. Malhotra 2006. 43. The Asian Age 2006b: 6. 44. The Times of India 2006b: 24. 45. For a factual representation of insurgencies and their human rights impact in India see Amnesty International (AI) ‘Report on India’, especially sections on Kashmir and Gujarat. Among other violations AI noted ‘In April [2004] women members of the Association of the Parents of Disappeared Persons were beaten by police when they demonstrated in Srinagar against continuing impunity for those responsible for “disappearances” in the state

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 255

46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58.

of Jammu and Kashmir. While the state admitted in 2003 that 3,744 persons had “disappeared” since insurgency began in 1989, human rights activists believed the true figure to be over 8,000. No one had been convicted by the end of 2004’ ( See also ‘India: Briefing on the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958’, especially the sections ‘Violation of the right to life’ and ‘Torture, ill treatment and “disappearances”’. ‘Amnesty International has received reports that the AFSPA has in practice facilitated the torture and ill-treatment of people while in custody. In 1991, Supreme Court advocate Nandita Haksar recorded the use of torture by armed forces and police in the Northeast to include: “ i) beating with rifle butts, kicking with boots and hitting with blunt weapons, ii) giving electric shocks, iii) depriving persons of food and drink and beating on soles of the feet, iv) threat to shoot, interrogation with gun pointed at forehead or inside the mouth.”’ (http://web.amnesty. org/library/index/engasa200252005: 16). The point here is not to imply that Pakistan has an unblemished human rights record but to highlight that India cannot occupy a moral high ground vis-à-vis its neighbour given problems within the country. Ninan 2006: 252. Gupta 2006: 223. This idea of democratic virtue is also available in academic analytic discourse. See Chapter 6 for some examples. 2006a. Ibid. CNN–IBN 2006. 2006d. Ibid. Subramanian 2006b: 1. Bagchi 2006: 7. Mohan 2006: 1. Bhaskar 2006. Raja Mohan and Uday Bhaskar’s point about the unreliable nature of Pakistan’s support in the war on terror was repeated later in the US media. For example, Carol Grisanti wrote: ‘Musharraf has been a crafty survivor. He quietly tolerated the nexus between the army and the Islamists while at the same time assuring the United States of his support for Washington’s “war on terror.” But this two-track policy may finally have run its course. The Islamists, sensing the government’s ambivalence, have grown stronger and the Bush administration is running out of patience with Musharraf’s failure to root out al-Qaida and Taliban elements in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The recent U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) said that al-Qaida had re-grouped, grown stronger and is plotting attacks against the United States from safe havens throughout Pakistan. This prompted some U.S. lawmakers to call for unilateral strikes inside Pakistan to go after Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaida command’ (Grisanti 2007).

256 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74.

75. 76. 77. 78. 79.



Tracking the Media

The Times of India 2006a. Swami 2006. Ibid. Ibid. Sen 2005: 263, 264. Swami 2006. Malhotra 2006. NDTV 2006b. Ibid. Ibid. The Asian Age 2006c: 8. Subramaniam 2006b. Ibid. Hindustan Times 2006: 10. Ibid. See Amnesty International review of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 at and note 45 above. The Times of India 2000; The Indian Express 2000a. The Hindu 2000a; The Pioneer 2000; The Asian Age 2000a; The Hindu 2000b; The Indian Express 2000b; The Asian Age 2000b. Kanchan L. 2001: 44. Mustafa 2006: 1, 2. See reports by Human Rights Watch detailing abuses by Indian armed forces in Kashmir and the general problem of impunity, including ‘Continuing Repression in Kashmir: Abuses Rise as International Pressure on India Eases’ (1 August 1994), ‘India’s Secret Army in Kashmir: New Patterns of Abuse Emerge in the Conflict ‘(1 May 1996) and ‘“Everyone Lives in Fear”: Patterns of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir’ (2006: 1–156). The last document in particular is a detailed report and analysis of systematic human rights abuses in Kashmir that gives the lie to any type of moral complacency. The phrase ‘police action’ was used with reference to the Korean War (1950–1953): ‘To call what happened in Korea a “police action” or a “conflict” was and is to play semantic games at the expense of reality. It was a war’ (Ehrhart and Jason 1999: xiv). For a more nuanced analysis of the Kashmir issue and the dangers of reporting from the region see Jaleel 2004. Muzamil Jaleel writes: ‘Kashmir is an especially complicated story. In fact, it has always been a story of many truths woven together into layers of lies. It’s a story of relative truth with several contradictory definitions and confusing interpretations. […] The dilemma of local reporters covering this conflict is that most of us are Kashmiri Muslims, and that’s a part of the story. The separatists believe that we have a responsibility to take their side because, as Kashmiri Muslims, we are their people. The (Indian) Government, on the other hand, wants us to prove our “impartiality” by supporting its claims in Kashmir’ (Jaleel 2004: 235, 236).

Indo-Pak Media on Meddling in Others’ Affairs 257 82. 83. 84. 85. 86. 87.

88. 89.

90. 91. 92. 93. 94. 95.

96. 97. 98. 99. 100. 101. 102. 103.

104. 105.

The Hindu 2006. Bajpai 2006. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. ‘It [the nation] is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion’ (Anderson 1991: 6). Bajpai 2006. See Das 1990: 1–36. Similarly for Hindu zealots religion itself is unimportant. As Christophe Jaffrelot writes, ‘Savarkar minimizes the importance of religious criteria in the definition of a Hindu by claiming that Hinduism was only one of the attributes of “Hinduness”. This stand reflects the fact that, like most of the ethno-religious nationalists, Savarkar was not himself a believer but rather an ideologue’ (Jaffrelot 1996: 26–27). Nandy 2001: 114. Bajpai 2006. Garnham 1993: 375. Bengali 2006. Ibid. Prem Shankar Jha pointed to the ‘reason and restraint’ displayed by Dawn in its coverage and editorials on Kargil. ‘Reading Dawn,’ Jha wrote, ‘reveals another world across the border, one very much like ours and with whom, when the time comes, we can do business. Let us never forget it exists’ (Jha 1999: 87–88). Bengali 2006. Ibid. 19982/comments.html. Ibid. Ibid. Raman 2005. topicID=28095.topic, downloaded 12 December 2006. Ibid. For a detailed analysis of and their website see Brosius 2004: 139–51. Christiane Brosius analyzes the ways in which HinduUnity. org constructs ‘Hindus as Victims’, ‘The Hindutva Activist as Judge’ and ‘The New Muslim Stereotype’. Among other stereotypes, the Muslim is presented ‘as a mindless, machine-like tool of jihad’ (ibid.: 146). For an analysis of the generic (mis)representations of Muslims in India see Amin 2004: 92–97. Edelman 1985: 31. For an analysis of the ways in which the internet has helped to foster global solidarity and intervention in the LGBT movement see Vanita


106. 107.

108. 109.

Tracking the Media Forthcoming, especially the section ‘The Gay Movement: Global Homophobia, Global Responses’. Philo et al. 2003: 133. Pick 1993: 231. Melanie Klein and Joan Riviere gave two lectures in 1936 at the Institute of Psychoanalysis, Caxton Hall, Westminster, on the subject Love, Hate and Reparation. (Press Trust of India) 2006e. For critical and self-reflective articles in Pakistan media on Kargil see, for example, Jafar 1999; Amir 1999; Durrani 1999. The point here is not to imply that Pakistan media was more objective or balanced than its Indian counterpart but that Indian media representations created a monolithic picture to further the idea of an undemocratic and illiberal state and did not similarly analyze media consensus within.

11 ‘Musharraf among Worst Dictators’: Negative Reportage in Indo-Pak Media The rhetoric of peace, goodwill and commonality between India and Pakistan manifested itself in the political arena as well as on the cricket field. Regional media on both sides of the border were not impervious to this desire for harmony, especially the way in which Daily Ibrat championed the opening of the Khokrapar–Munabao border. However, there were a significant number of articles that presented a negative portrait of the other and were skeptical about the peace process. This skepticism was evident in the articles on the Kashmir issue on both sides of the border, on Balochistan, as well as in more pointed pieces on the perceived shortcomings of the peace process. There were stories not specifically related to Kashmir or Balochistan which also portrayed negative pictures of respective ‘others’. The frequency of these reports testify to the power of certain discourses and how the type of ‘word politics’ highlighted in Chapter 9 proliferates in some media representations.

Indian Media Reservations Both Amar Ujala and Dainik Jagran carried articles that highlighted negative aspects of Pakistan, not necessarily related to Kashmir, terrorism or Balochistan. For example Ujala had headlines such as ‘Pak cannot play on a green pitch’, ‘Pakistan silences Mukhtaran’, ‘Tunnel of explosives found on Indo-Pak border’, and ‘Starting of Munabao–Khokrapar rail a lethal decision for nation’.1 Jagran’s headlines included ‘Mukhtaran interview banned under Pak pressure’, ‘Musharraf spoilt Pakistan’s image in the whole world’ and ‘Pak not trustworthy’.2 The Ujala headlines did not exempt cricket from the ambit of criticism, implying that the Pakistan team was generically incapable of playing on a green pitch. That the Indian team has similar chronic inadequacies was omitted, as was the spirit of goodwill generated by the 2004 tour. What is more interesting is that both papers picked up the Mukhtaran Mai story partly because of the embarrassment it caused Pakistan as a result of the


Tracking the Media

outrage at her rape in the international sphere. Such a negative story without a concomitant contextualizing of the problem of violence against women in South Asia made it seem as if the issues of rape were limited to Pakistan. The de-contextualized reference to Mai’s rape and subsequent controversy also helped to focus on Islam and women, implying a subtext of uniform denigration and worse. While some Islamic communities in Pakistan sometimes treat women badly — honour killings are one example — there was little sense in the articles mentioned that such ill-treatment may be applicable to Muslim communities (or Hindu ones) outside Pakistan. Such a singular focus allowed the Mukhtaran Mai case to stand in for Pakistani society at large and, of course, the picture was far from positive.3 In another context Dainik Jagran carried a piece, ‘India Ahead on the Path of Friendship’, which was typical in its insertion of the negative while reporting on the Samjhauta Express, which is a sign of cooperation between India and Pakistan. The article consisted largely of statistics of passengers and railway earnings and concluded: ‘A speed breaker in the “journey of friendship”: even in the year 2005 Samjhauta Express could not save itself from passengers carrying false currency and passports [into India].’4 The insinuation indicated an inability to jettison suspicions of the ‘other’ and the idea that friendship between the two countries is not only difficult but also a fraud, because India makes all the overtures which Pakistan then takes advantage of. There was no mention of the symbolic significance of the trans-border train associated with painful memories of Partition. While the samjhauta between the two countries may be tenuous, the express remains a potent symbol of goodwill. For Jagran, however, the Samjhauta Express not only underlines goodwill but also borders drawn in trauma and hate and it is the latter memory matrix that dominates. By implying that Pakistanis travelling on the train are largely forgers and cheats, the Jagran article seemed unnecessarily petty. The barriers and cycles of suspicion that could have been overcome were instead reinforced by media reports such as this one. Musharraf bashing was one way in which Amar Ujala attempted to indict Pakistani society and politics. ‘Musharraf among worst dictators’ cited a survey done by the US illustrated magazine, Parade: ‘Last year this magazine had Musharraf on number 7 in the list of 10 worst dictators. The magazine says, in this year’s

Negative Reportage in Indo-Pak Media 261

list Musharraf’s position has gone down from the top 10 [to 17th position] not because his conduct has improved but because other dictators’ attitude has worsened even more.’5 The rogues gallery cited from Parade included Kim Jong Il of North Korea and Hu Jintao of China. The survey was strategically employed to highlight once again Pakistan’s lamentable lack of democracy. In citing an American magazine, albeit a rather non-serious and unanalytical one, Ujala seemed to wish to focus on the contradiction of the US support for Pakistan, particularly after 11 September. The Jagran piece on the Samjhauta Express and the Ujala article established a continuity implying that Pakistan’s leader and its people (at least the ones travelling to India) are equally untrustworthy. On 25 January 2006, Ujala highlighted an interview given by Musharraf: ‘As far as terrorism is concerned it is a mere inclination produced in the mind. Musharraf stated this during his tour of Norway. […] Referring to the investigation against terrorist elements in Pakistan, Musharraf said that it is important to understand pure/real Islam for a Muslim renaissance.’6 The conjunction of the two pieces was deliberate because the first piece discredited Musharraf’s claims to fighting terror by nominating him amongst the world’s worst dictators. It also highlighted the paradox of Musharraf’s position: a military dictator and yet a frontline ally in the war against terror. The aim was also to indicate the political and moral difference between a non-democratic Pakistan and a democratic India. This difference was clearly stated in an earlier article: ‘Musharraf’s army is killing people with poisonous gases in Baluchistan. […] The Pakistani senator for Baluchistan province says that Musharraf is going one step ahead of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in torturing and afflicting the people. […] During an interview with a regional daily [Baluchi leader] Sanaullah asked who Musharraf is. He did not come to power after a democratic election.’7 Troubles in Balochistan were covered with as much alacrity and sense of moral superiority in India as Kashmir was covered in Pakistan, though without the frequency of the latter. While I have dealt with the coverage of Balochistan in an earlier chapter, here it is worth repeating that Musharraf’s credentials or lack thereof were linked with the problem of Balochistan, implying that a democratically elected leader would have acted differently. No connections with Kashmir, where a democratically elected government rules, was made by this article or any subsequent ones in the survey period.


Tracking the Media

Once more lack of political contextualization allowed for a rather one-sided picture to emerge. Such analyses focused primarily on Pakistan’s faults and flaws and seldom on possible correspondences within India. Dainik Jagran’s skeptical attitude to the peace talks as well as General Musharraf was evident in a series of articles. In ‘Musharraf harps on Siachen’, the disjunction between peace and Kashmir was made clear: ‘A day after raising the issue of Kashmir in the World Economic Forum, Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf harped on the issue of Siachen on Saturday. He said that his country cannot talk of business and economic aid when “people are killing each other” on the border.’8 That there might be some justification for Musharraf’s statement and position was not even considered. This oft repeated stance of automatic skepticism was then bolstered by a bit of moral sentimentalism with a direct quote from Musharraf: ‘“I may be bhala for Manmohan Singh but what is the guarantee that the next person would also be like this? We should work for peace and if we can’t then we will let our future generations down.”’9 There was an after-me-the deluge syndrome that Musharraf employed with some skill and it was shown to be, perhaps justifiably, mere grandstanding. Musharraf’s credibility was dented not only by his lack of democratic credentials, his sentimental rhetoric, but also by the ways in which these articles were juxtaposed one after the other, creating a collage of an untrustworthy yet intelligently manipulative leader. In ‘Each one blows one’s own trumpet’, Dainik Jagran harped on the theme of Pakistan’s untrustworthiness: ‘Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s disappointment is actually due to Pakistan’s distrustful behavior. The government has presented an unprecedented example of peaceful co-existence with Pakistan, which was not seized wholeheartedly by Pakistan.’10 The title of the article pointed to the mutually exclusive enclaves of moral and political superiority that leaders and analysts in both countries inhabit and seem reluctant to step out of. Thus, most of the reportage and analysis was about moral grandstanding than about attempting to seek ways towards peace. The piece ended, however, with a cautionary word about the geopolitical need to make peace with Pakistan: ‘The representatives of India and Pakistan have met off and on, during several world forums, but every time Pakistan presents its fanatical and stubborn attitude. But India must keep in mind that if she desires to be a superpower of the twenty-first century, then the relations with these neighbours

Negative Reportage in Indo-Pak Media 263

must be improved.’11 Thus realpolitik, rather than brotherly love, should be the motivating force behind India’s peace initiatives, because Pakistan is unlikely to jettison ‘its fanatical and stubborn attitude’. In this analytical framework, better relations with Pakistan are a means to an end. Since the end is the teleological achievement of ‘superpower’ status, cordial relations with ones unreliable neighbour is a necessity, a small price to pay for fulfilling national destiny. That fanaticism and stubbornness also exist within and are embodied in this commentary was overlooked. There was also the assumption, shared by mainstream English language media, that India is destined for great power status. Within this framework of inevitable progress, none of the problems that bedevil India are taken into account. As Edward Luce astutely notes: ‘Indians themselves have got into a habit of counting their chickens before they are hatched. In recent years it has become commonplace in India to talk of the country as being on the verge of superpower status.’12 The cyclical aspect of some Indian media reportage on Pakistan and India’s place in the world (noted earlier), the ebb and flow between millennial fulfillment and the anxiety of status, achievement or national security concerns, was evident in a Dainik Jagran piece on India–Pakistan relations. Jagran reverted to the idea of India as a soft state in ‘Tit for Tat’: ‘Pakistan’s perpetual statements against India are the result of the soft attitude of India. Pakistan has always viewed India’s generosity and straightforwardness as her weakness. Thus, India should also follow a policy of tit for tat with Pakistan. […] The way Pakistan has given patronage and cooperation in its country to separatist groups active in India makes its wish clear. It would always wish to see a weak India instead of a strong one.’13 The media’s constant carping on Pakistani designs on India’s unity and integrity reveals a curious paradox of weakness and fear while attempting to project a superpower of the future. Quite exactly how India could move beyond the cycles of ‘tit for tat’ were not examined or analyzed. There was also a sense in which India’s road to ‘superpower’ status was strewn with obstacles and that these barriers were the handiwork of Pakistan.

Pakistan Media Skepticism As with the Indian papers, Nawa-i-Waqt carried headlines that highlighted the negative within India: ‘Betting rumours high on


Tracking the Media

Sehwag’s innings’, ‘Culture is severely affected due to the caste system in India’.14 Its special venom was reserved for articles related to Kashmir. In keeping with its general attitude of animosity towards India, Nawa-i-Waqt carried numerous pieces expressing disdain for the peace overtures made by India and occasionally Pakistan (as was evident in the articles on Kashmir). A comment piece by Professor Fateh Mohammed Malik, ‘New creation of Pakistan in an Indian mould’ was a detailed critical commentary of Pakistan’s New Creation, a book written by a former Indian Director General of Military Training, Major General Vinod Sehgal. General Sehgal’s fantasy of a subcontinental confederation from Kabul to Colombo involves the obliteration of Pakistan as it exists today. It offers familiar arguments of Pakistan as a failed jehadist state that needs to be remoulded in the image of India. This feeds into the Akhand Bharat fantasy beloved of the right in India. Professor Malik’s critique of the book was therefore justified, but he couched it in terms of an absolute opposition between Islam and Hinduism and along the way attacked Ayesha Jalal as well. This absolutism tended to divert attention from the question he asked in conclusion: ‘shouldn’t I call the person who is giving a threat like this a “Hindu terrorist?”’15 Indeed he should and one wonders why General Sehgal’s book was not commented upon by the Indian media under survey. Perhaps because it showed Indian policy commentators in poor light and India as a state with hegemonic desires which are not confined to the Hindu right wing but shared by mainstream military personnel. Another comment article by Shahzad Chughtai, ‘India’s efforts for its inclusion in the OIC’, was equally forthright in denouncing India: ‘After facing defeat militarily, India has now decided to face Pakistan politically and diplomatically. […] India is not a Muslim country yet wants to be a part of the association of Islamic countries. In fact it wants to get into every international organization so that it can irritate Pakistan. […] India is still busy back-stabbing Pakistan. It has no interest in Pakistan.’16 Again, Pakistan’s identity was predicated purely on Islam and India’s desire to be a part of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) was seen as the irritating moves of an interloper. Chughtai’s idea of a stable, homogenous Muslim identity in Pakistan is parallel to the idea of India as an uncontested, equally homogenous Hindu nation propagated by the right. This is the tit-for-tat strategy outlined by Dainik Jagran from a Pakistani angle.

Negative Reportage in Indo-Pak Media 265

Chughtai’s jingoism became sharper as he wrote: ‘India used the pretext of the “attack on the Parliament incident” as an excuse for going to war with Pakistan. Although its forces were deployed for almost a year they did not have the courage to go to war with Pakistan in case they face similar military defeat as they did during Kargil.’17 In this instance history was rewritten from the Pakistan perspective and ‘courage’ defined in terms of military adventurism, although it is not entirely inaccurate to state that the Indian government of the time adopted an unreasonably aggressive military posture, using the attack on Parliament as a pretext. Chughtai’s valid observation about India’s military folly was, however, lost in the volley of his arguments, which laid the blame for all of Pakistan’s troubles at India’s door. Chughtai perceived the peace process as inimical to Pakistan interests and imposed by the US: ‘After the Kargil defeat, India is following on the policy of increasing political problems for Pakistan. […] For a long while, India tried to create unstable conditions in Karachi; now it is trying to do the same in the entire country. Pakistan stopped Kashmiri infiltration on American pressure, but that increased India’s political interference.’18 Chughtai’s admission that Pakistan controls infiltration in Kashmir co-exists with the idea that India is responsible for all the troubles that plague Pakistan. Just as Amar Ujala saw all Pakistanis (and indeed Muslims) as traitors and terrorists, so too Chughtai established a symmetry of suspicion whereby Indians are the untrustworthy ones. In a lead editorial, Nawa returned to the conspiracy of Akhand Bharat, citing a speech by President Abdul Kalam on the possibility of an Indo-Pak federation. ‘Pakistanis have always been skeptical of India’s expansionist dreams and its anti Pakistan sentiments and the Hindu leadership actually accepted the June 3 plan with the specific purpose that the newly formed state will not be able to survive for long and will come into India’s lap like a ripe fruit. Maulana Azad has written about his talk with Patel and Gandhi in his book. That was the reason for which Pakistan’s assets were withheld and the Kashmir issue was raised so that Pakistan will continue to have instability and India will thus be able to disprove the division of mother India. However, due to special blessing of God, Pakistan is not only here but is also an atomic power.’19 The editorial provided historical ‘evidence’ to prove India’s unhappiness with


Tracking the Media

the creation of Pakistan omitting, for instance, Gandhi’s insistence that Pakistan’s assets be repatriated post-1947. It also conceived of nuclear weapons as a source of national pride and security mirroring right wing rhetoric in India. Some of the insecurities and fears within Pakistan were foisted on India’s plan to decimate the country. ‘However, India considered the creation of Pakistan a defeat and started hatching the plan of ‘Akhund Bharat’ from day one. Supporting the creation of East Pakistan and calling Kashmir an unbreakable part are all part of the plan to weaken Pakistan militarily, economically and politically so that it can disintegrate further.’20 Even Jaswant Singh’s call for open borders was perceived as a part of India’s design: ‘Jaswant Singh while crossing into Pakistan through the Munabao–Khokrapar route talked about erasing the division line on which the Pakistani government did not protest and tell him to shut up. Now the Indian puppet President has said that there is a possibility of a federation between India and Pakistan.’21 Finally, the editorial rejected the parallel with the unification of Germany: ‘The creation of Pakistan was not a hasty decision but a very well thought out plan, whereas Germany was forcefully divided into two parts. Pakistan is here to stay and because of such statements from the Indian leadership it cannot forego its independent status. After the Indian President’s statement those people who say that the Indian leadership and politicians have accepted the creation of Pakistan should now go and jump into the lake. With its increasing involvement in Balochistan, we should take a note that India is preparing ground for the creation of a federation and hence we should stop the peace process and take steps to curb this menace.’22 The historical parallels are more accurate than Nawa would like to admit, particularly since the Indian subcontinent was forcefully divided, albeit by a colonial power. That in itself is no justification for the Akhand Bharat thesis, but in denying history, the editorial also wilfully and paradoxically projected the peace overtures as a ‘menace’. In this paragraph, as in the rest of the editorial, anxieties related to Partition, Kashmir, Balochistan and, paradoxically, the stability of Pakistani identity coalesced to provide insights not only into the sad state of India–Pakistan relations, but on the contingency of national formations and the ways in which they are continually negotiated and reformulated.23 Thus, these negative portrayals of the ‘other’ on both sides reveal as much as about internal conceptions of the country — whether India or Pakistan — as about the ‘other’ that is being caricatured or castigated.

Negative Reportage in Indo-Pak Media 267

Exceptions to Negative Reportage None of the papers under survey were totally monolithic in their coverage of the ‘other’. Thus, even Nawa-i-Waqt carried a headline contrary to Pakistan foreign policy and Musharraf’s declarations: ‘“There is nothing common in the Palestinian and Kashmiri issues; both issues should not be linked”: International Court of Justice.’24 The ICJ’s declaration may have caused dismay in Pakistan but at least there was an acknowledgement of alternative visions, in this case an international rather than Indian one. Dainik Jagran carried a piece by Satish Kumar Singh that was at odds with the newspaper’s dominant tone of suspicion: ‘Nobody wants that the noise of the gun between the two hearts should pierce through the people, they always pray for aspiration of love among the people. […] They should always share love and brotherhood since love is everything.’25 Although the article waxed sentimentally about generalities, it was in sharp contrast to the hawkish pieces examined earlier. That there can be alternatives within a dominant discourse of hate and suspicion was proved by another article in Amar Ujala, ‘God is a multimillionaire even in Karachi’, which described a Hindu temple and the atmosphere of religious tolerance in Sindh. ‘Everyday apart from the “aarti”, all Hindu festivals are celebrated. During Holi, Jinnah road that links it with the new town is closed and during Navaratri, “jagrans” of goddess also take place. The temple is even allowed the use of loudspeaker during all the religious rituals. The trustee of the temple Jawahar Lal informs that the temple does not face any problems in carrying out these activities. Nobody refuses the payment of rent and whenever there has been a conflict over this it has been sorted out in Court.’26 More than Singh’s paean to cross-border love, this piece was about a living and vibrant syncretism within Pakistan that Indian media seldom, if ever, highlights. The stereotypes of an intolerant, monolithic Islamic country were at least questioned in this article. The fraught relationship between the two countries as well as the uneasy balance between peace and goodwill on the one hand and hate and jingoism on the other was perhaps best reflected in the coverage of the Indian cricket team’s tour of Pakistan in 2006. While Nawa-i-Waqt carried triumphalist headlines — ‘India’s worst ever defeat’, ‘Befitting reply to the defeat on home ground in 2004;


Tracking the Media

Pakistani bowlers crushed India’27 — Daily Ibrat was more measured in savouring Pakistan’s victory. Ibrat also covered cricket in greater detail. For example, 12 of 14 articles on 15 January were on or related to the Lahore Test. While Jagran and Ujala had no positive or personality based stories on Pakistan, Daily Ibrat did include some India-centric articles that were less caustic. There were pieces on Bipasha Basu, Jet Airways purchase of Air Sahara, and ‘Big B Amitabh Bachan declared best actor of the 20th Century’ (28 January). It was the Indian papers which captured the difficulties of reconciling cricket with peace, as in an article that Amar Ujala carried related to Mohammad Sami and Shoaib Akhtar staring at Indian batsmen. ‘According to a senior official of PCB, the board wants to avoid any conflict because of which Indo-Pak cricket relations, normalized with difficulty, would be adversely affected.’28 Similarly Dainik Jagran cited Younis Khan, the vice captain of Pakistan, who rebuked spectators who were barracking the Indians: ‘“I advise the viewers to cheer for their team but not to hurt anyone.”’29 While cricket may not be a harbinger of peace, it provided some space for competitive goodwill.

Conclusions A one-month (15 January–15 February 2006) survey of four papers from India and Pakistan in three languages reveals some degree of consensus on issues related to Kashmir, Balochistan and the peace process between the two nations. On the issue of Balochistan, the extension of the survey to August 2006 and English language media in India reveals a similar consensus, indicating that language is not necessarily a marker of difference in terms of media attitudes and stances. Generally, there was a mirroring of suspicion and stereotypes of the ‘other’ in most reportage. The exceptions to this straitjacketing of the ‘other’ as the perennial enemy were few and only seemed to bolster the rule. Of course, there were variations in focus as in Daily Ibrat’s extensive coverage of the Munabao–Khokrapar issue, and indeed, Ibrat was the least jingoistic of the four papers. Language papers — particularly the two Hindi ones in India — have larger circulations than English language papers. Given their statistical reach they can notionally influence larger sections of the people about issues such as Kashmir, terrorism, Islam, or the peace process.

Negative Reportage in Indo-Pak Media 269

By and large, that influence would seem to negate hopes of mutual regard and peace between the two nations, as the old fears and anxieties continue to circulate.30 In fact, for Nawa-i-Waqt Balochistan seemed to provide additional ammunition to blame and criticize India. If regional media provides some reflection of national consensus and if it is to be a force multiplier for goodwill, some major paradigm shifts are necessary. Till such time, perhaps the only spaces for moderation and dialogue lie in some of the articles on cricket or Bollywood stars. ‘It is hard to remember,’ Murray Edelman writes, ‘as we contemplate current or recalled events, that none of them just happened — that their meanings are constructions of our language and our situations and that they and we are constantly reconstructed in the same way.’31 The survey of media in India and Pakistan — indeed the interpretative endeavour central to this book — reveal the structures, constructions, reconfigurations, and reiterations of presents and pasts that shape the ways in which consumers of media perceive themselves and their respective ‘other’ across the border. That the media plays a significant role in the creation and proliferation of meanings seems undeniable; that it will mediate futures of discriminate understanding and solidarity may be a fond but not unreasonable hope.

Notes 1. Amar Ujala 2006c: 12, 2006f: 18 and 2006h: 3, 7. 2. Dainik Jagran 2006d: 11, 2006i: 12 and 2006j: 8. 3. The Ujala and Jagran concern for Mukhtaran Mai’s plight could be construed as an ironic reflection of rhetorical imperialism where, as Gayatri Spivak put it, ‘white men sav[e] brown women from brown men’. In this case it was brown or Hindu men ‘saving’ Muslim women from their benighted brethren. See ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’ in Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (eds.), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture. 4. Dainik Jagran 2006b: 9. 5. Amar Ujala 2006h: 16. 6. Amar Ujala 2006j: 16. 7. Amar Ujala 2006e: 1. 8. Dainik Jagran 2006f: 14. 9. Ibid. 10. Dainik Jagran 2006g: 8. 11. Ibid. 12. Luce 2006: 7. 13. Dainik Jagran 2006h: 8.

270 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.

24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30.


Tracking the Media

Nawa-i-Waqt 18 January 2006: 7 and Nawa-i-Waqt 2006h: 4. Malik 2006a: 12. Chughtai 2006: 8. Ibid. Ibid. Nawa-i-Waqt 2006j: 10. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. ‘Selective creation of a past and a future justifies contemporary interests. Dwelling on the past or the future in either millennial or threatening terms may be taken as a signal of present anxiety, and the character of the utopia that is created specifies the respects in which present threat is perceived.’ Murray Edelman’s observation seems very apposite for media constructions of pasts and futures on both sides of the border, as well as for message board hysteria noted in Chapter 10 (Edelman 1985: 187). Nawa-i-Waqt 1 February 2006: 4. Singh 2006: 6. Amar Ujala 2006k: 2. Nawa-i-Waqt 2006i: 1, 7. Amar Ujala 2006b: 12. Dainik Jagran 2006e: 15. As Om Thanvi observed, ‘The situation in the Hindi press merits very serious discussion precisely because of its dismal coverage of Pakistan. […] Pakistan will figure only if it is the kind that, say, will show Pakistan in a bad light, and which will enable the paper to show that it is more patriotic, more nationalistic.’ See ‘The regional language press and Pakistan,’ in ‘Roundtable: A session in the hills: The India–Pakistan media retreat’, Edelman 1985: 213.

Bibliography Primary Media Sources Abdi, S. N. M. 1999. ‘Lies out of control’, Himal South Asian, vol. 12 (9). September. Adhikari, Gautam. 2005. ‘Dancing Their Way To Oz’, The Times of India. 16 May. Ahmad, Aijaz. 1999. ‘The Many Roads to Kargil’, Frontline, vol. 16 (14). 3–16 July. Ahmad, Aziz-ud-din. 2005. ‘Will India take the bait?’, The Nation. 14 July. Ahmed, Ghayoor. 2005a. ‘India’s defence ties with US’, Dawn. 7 July. http:// ———. 2005b. ‘India’s quest for nuclear status’, Dawn. 31 July. http://www. Ahmed, Rashmee Z. 2003a. ‘Europe tells Indian chilli: Never Say Dye’, The Times of India. 5 August. ———. 2003b. ‘Passage to India II: Children of diaspora return via tube’, The Times of India. 13 September. ———. 2003c. ‘Will Brent East Make History?’, The Sunday Times of India. 17 September. ———. 2003d. ‘Karisma of a Brown Mela’, The Times of India. 10 October. ———. 2004a. ‘The great diasporic Diwali is not a highlight for India’, The Sunday Times of India. 11 January. articleshow/416368.cms. ———. 2004b. ‘Hyphenated videshi emerges as Bollywood Star’, The Times of India. 18 January. ———. 2004c. ‘LN Mittal heads home, wants footprint in India’, The Times of India. 14 February. Aiyar, Mani Shankar. 1999. ‘Accountability in time of war: the guilty men of 1999’, The Indian Express. 16 June. Aiyar, Pallavi. 2006. ‘In China a problem of plenty’, The Hindu. 22 June. http:// ———. 2007a. ‘Sino-Indian trade: growing concern’, The Hindu. 28 August. ———. 2007b. ‘Agriculture: where India and China stand’, The Hindu. 3 September. ———. 2007c. ‘China joint venture, advantage Tata Consultancy Services’, The Hindu. 17 September. stories/2007091756141600.htm. Aiyar, Shankar. 2002. ‘How Vajpayee ended up as the Hindutva Choir Boy’, India Today. 29 April.


Tracking the Media

Aiyar, Swaminathan S. Anklesaria. 2005. ‘Will Bush Sing India’s Tune?’, The Times of India. 16 July. cms. Alam, Imtiaz. 2006. ‘Pak has given Balochis a hero’, Hindustan Times. 29 August. Ali, Iftikhar. 2005. ‘G-4 seeking compromise with Africans on UNSC expansion’, The Nation. 16 July. php. Amar Ujala. 2006a. ‘India-Pakistan over Baluchistan’, editorial. 2 January. ———. 2006b. ‘Warning: Sami and Shoaib must stop staring at Indians’. 18 January. ———. 2006c. ‘Pak cannot play on a green pitch’. 20 January. ———. 2006d. ‘2500 Pakistanis hide in India’. 20 January. ———. 2006e. ‘General Musharraf on same path as dictator Saddam’. 21 January. ———. 2006f. ‘Pakistan silences Mukhtaran’. 22 January. ———. 2006g. ‘Tunnel of explosives found on Indo-Pak border’. 24 January. ———. 2006h. ‘Musharraf among worst dictators’. 24 January. ———. 2006i. ‘Starting of Munabao–Khokrapar rail a lethal decision for nation’. 24 January. ———. 2006j. ‘Terrorism is mere product of the mind’. 25 January. ———. 2006k. ‘God is a multimillionaire even in Karachi’. 29 January. ———. 2006l. ‘Nature of terrorism has changed’, editorial. 10 February. ANI/CNN-IBN. 2006. ‘Baloch party chief quits provincial assembly’. 3 September. Ansari, Iqbal. 2002. ‘Partisan Police: Only Reforms Can Prevent Riots’, The Times of India. 26 April. Asian Age, The. 2006a. ‘Balochistan on Fire’. 27 August. ———. 2006b. ‘A Political Assassination’, editorial. 29 August. ———. 2006c. ‘Pak: Keep off, it’s an internal matter’. 29 August. Babar, Marianna. 1999. ‘In Isolation Ward’, Outlook. 28 June. Bagchi, Indrani. 2005. ‘Worldly-Wise India is Happy making New Friends’, The Sunday Times of India. 15 May. ———. 2006. ‘US equipment used against Balochis’, The Times of India. 29 August. ———. 2007. ‘End of nuke apartheid against India: Civil Nuclear Deal Clinched Without Any Compromises’, The Times of India. 4 August. Bajpai, K. Shankar. 2006. ‘Balochistan: the wider issues at stake’, The Hindu. 14 September. 91100. htm. Bamzai, Kaveree. 2004. ‘AB But No Longer CD’, India Today. 19 January. Baruah, Amit. 1999. ‘Targeting Critics’, Frontline. 4 July. ———. 2005a. ‘A Damage Control Exercise’, The Hindu.7 July. http://www. ———. 2005b. ‘23 co-sponsors for G-4 resolution’, The Hindu. 13 July. http://

Bibliography 273 Baruah, Amit. 2005c. ‘G-4 proposal: chances for compromise’, The Hindu. 17 July. htm. BBC. 2000. ‘England v Germany History’. 4 October. sport1/hi/football/world_cup_2002/955747.stm. Beg, Mirza Aslam. 2005. ‘Anatomy of the Indo-US defence pact’, The Nation. 23 July. Bell, Martin. 1996. ‘Conflict of Interest’, The Guardian. 11 July. Bengali, Kaiser. 2006. ‘Whither Balochistan?’, Dawn. 14 September. http:// Bergen, Peter. 2007. ‘Red Dawn: Musharaf’s Enemies Close In’, The New Republic. 23 July. n072307. Bhagwat, Ramu. 2003. ‘PM Encouraging Jihadis: Togadia’, The Times of India. 9 January. Bhambri, C. P. 1999. ‘Super-Patriot Games’, Outlook. 19 July. Bhaskar, C. Uday. 2006. ‘Tactical Gain, Strategic Blunder’, The Indian Express. 30 August. Bhattacharjea, Ajit. 1999. ‘Grapes of Patriotism’, Outlook. 2 August. Bhattacharjea, Mira Sinha. 2005. ‘Beyond Boundaries’, Frontline, vol. 22 (9). 6 May. htm. Bhatty, Maqbool Ahmad. 2005. ‘Indo-US pact & our response’, Dawn. 25 July. Bhushan, Ranjit. 2002. ‘A Dangerous Symbiosis: Communalism cannot exist in a vacuum-is that of minorities being soft-pedaled?’, Outlook. 1 April. Bhushan, Ratna. 2005. ‘Wal-Mart CEO visit triggers hopes among food, dairy cos’, Business Times. 16 May. Bidwai, Praful. 1999a. ‘From Pokhran to Kargil: The Nuclear Danger is no Fantasy’, The Times of India. 2 June. ———. 1999b. ‘Playing with fire in Kargil’, Frontline. 18 June. ———. 1999c. ‘And now, information warfare’, Frontline. 2 July. ———. 2005a. ‘India’s global aspirations’, Frontline. 15 July. ———. 2005b. ‘N-option & India’s compulsions: Energy policy’, Dawn. 31 July Chengappa, Raj, Rohit Saran and Harinder Baweja. 1999. ‘Will the war spread?’, India Today, pp. 20–26. 5 July. Chengappa, Raj and Saurabh Shukla. 2005. ‘The New Bhai Bhai’, India Today. 18 April. Chenoy, Anuradha M. 2004. ‘Pakistan & Indian Muslims: My Religion is not My Nation’, The Times of India. 27 March. http://timesofindia.indiatimes. com/articleshow/584379.cms. Cherian, John. 2005. ‘Moving Closer’, Frontline, vol. 22 (9). 23 April–6 May. Chu, Henry. 2006. ‘Rising Tiger Chases Soaring Dragon’, Los Angeles Times. 1 May.


Tracking the Media

Chughtai, Shahzad. 2006. ‘India’s efforts for its inclusion in the OIC’, Nawa-i-Waqt. 29 January. CNN-IBN. 2006. ‘Army’s new theory on Bugti’s killing’. 30 August. http://www. Crutsinger, Martin. 2007. ‘Trade deficit shows slight decline’, The Washington Post. 11 September. article/2007/09/11/AR2007091100609.html. Daga, Mahesh. 2002. ‘Psyche of the Aggressor: No Kalinga Effect in Gujarat’, The Times of India. 13 July. Daily Ibrat. 2006a. ‘With the opening of Khokrapar border, Hindus will migrate to India and more Mohajirs will come’. 21 January. ———. 2006b. ‘People of Thar to get employment with the opening up of Khokhropar border: Sindh CM Arbab’. 31 January. ———. 2006c. ‘Proofs of Indian involvement in Balochistan have started to become visible: Zafarullah Jamali’. 2 February. ———. 2006d. ‘Sindhi nationalists led by Mumtaz Bhutto meet Jaswant Singh, reservations on Khokrapar border presented’. 4 February. ———. 2006e. ‘Those talking of India-Pakistan unity are traitors: Mujeeb Pirzado’. 5 February. ———. 2006f. ‘The announcement to withdraw 15 thousand Indian army soldiers — “Much needed for permanent peace”’, editorial. 8 February. ———. 2006g. ‘86 member delegation led by Jaswant Singh returns to India via Khokhrapar border, hundreds of people see them off with tears’. 8 February. ———. 2006h. ‘Pak-India friendship to last long, nothing exists but love in the Subcontinent’. 8 February. Daily Times. 2005a. ‘Third draft on UNSC expansion’. 23 July. http://www. ———. 2005b. ‘Japan warns of cutting UN dues if denied UNSC seat’. 29 July. ———. 2005c. ‘UN-war of contending drafts’, editorial. 29 July. http://www. Dainik Bhaskar. 2006. ‘IIS Bangalore Attacker Trained in Pakistan?’. 1 January. Dainik Jagran. 2006a. Editorial. 1 January. ———. 2006b. ‘India Ahead on the Path of Friendship’. 15 January. ———. 2006c. ‘New initiative in peace talks’, editorial. 16 January. ———. 2006d. ‘Mukhtaran interview banned under Pak pressure’. 22 January. ———. 2006e. ‘Pak admirers ridicule Indian players’. 23 January. ———. 2006f. ‘Musharraf harps on Siachen’. 28 January. ———. 2006g. ‘Each one blows one’s own trumpet’. 30 January. ———. 2006h. ‘Tit for Tat’. 30 January. ———. 2006i. ‘Musharraf spoilt Pakistan’s image in the whole world’. 31 January. ———. 2006j. ‘Pak not trustworthy’. 12 February.

Bibliography 275 Das, Arun Kumar. 2004. ‘Delhi’s a stage for pravasis worldwide’, Delhi Times. 8 January. Dasgupta, Swapan. 1999. ‘It’s Pakistan, Stupid: What India can learn from the Kargil War’, India Today. 21 June. ———. 2002. ‘In the line of fire’, India Today. 11 March. Dash, Priya Ranjan. 2005. ‘China far ahead in textile exports’, The Times of India. 21 May. Datta, Kankana. 2003. ‘Cutting edge Dilbert hits out at Indian techies’, The Times of India. 17 September. Dawn. 2005a. ‘An arms race in the offing?’, editorial. 3 July. http://www.dawn. com/2005/07/03/ed.htm#1. ———. 2005b. ‘Combating terrorism’, editorial. 10 July. ———. 2005c. ‘US advised to be cautious: N-technology for India’. 16 July. ———. 2005d. ‘Indian PM makes jibe at Pakistan’. 20 July. http://www.dawn. com/2005/07/20/int3.htm. ———. 2005e. ‘A new nuclear era’. 21 July. ———. 2005f. ‘US-India nuclear deal’. 22 July. 2005/07/22/ed.htm#1. Deen, Thalif. 2005. ‘US push for global democracy excludes UN Council’, Dawn. 17 July. Deslatte, Melinda. 2007. ‘Jindal wins Louisiana governor’s race’. 21 October. Dikshit, Sandeep. 2005. ‘Decoding the Indo-U.S. defence tie-up’, The Hindu. 5 July. htm. Diwanji, Amberish K. 2004. ‘Irfan Pathan brings Hindus, Muslims closer’, http:// Accessed 20 April. Economist, The. 2002. ‘A dragon out of puff’. 13 June. http://www.economist. com/surveys/displaystory.cfm?story_id=1164570&CFID=5099256&CFTO KEN=4ce53d8-e3eeede8-8eb3-4126-8129-2846eef576d6. ———. 2007. ‘Stoking Protectionism’. 16 August. agenda/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9657177. Elliott, Michael. 2005. ‘Small World, Big Stakes’, Time. 20 June. http://www.,9171,1074151,00.html. Farooq, Umer. 2005. ‘Joining the Club’, Newsline. August. Fatemi, Tariq. 2005. ‘Changing Equations in Asia’, Dawn. 10 July. http://www. Financial Express. 1999. ‘Pakistan tortured soldiers, reveals post-mortem report’. 12 June. Forney, Matthew. 2002. ‘Workers’ Wasteland’, Time. 17 June. http://www.time. com/time/asia/covers/1101020617/cover.html. Gardyn, Rebecca (ed.). 2001. ‘An All-American Melting Pot,’ American Demographics, pp. 8–10. July.


Tracking the Media

Ghosh, Avijit and Pradeep Thakur. 2005. ‘Terror feasts on India — worst victim’, The Times of India. 31 October. Gokhale, Nitin and Ajith Pillai. 1999. ‘The War that should Never Have Been’, Outlook. 6 September. Goswami, Seema. 1999. ‘Is Patriotism the newborn industry?’, The Telegraph. 29 August. Grey, Stephen. 2007. ‘CIA ran secret prisons for detainees in Europe, says inquiry’, The Guardian. 8 June. story/0,,2098266,00.html. Grisanti, Carol. 2007. ‘What’s next for Musharraf? Pro-democracy leaders to Islamic leaders add to political pressures’. 25 July. http://www.msnbc.msn. com/id/19955166/page/2/. Guha, Ramachandra. 2004. ‘Wicket Politics’, New York Times op-ed, section A: 21. 29 March. Guerriere, Daniel. 2001. ‘Multiculturalism: American Success, Liberal Education, or Political Correctness?’, Modern Age, vol. 43 (2): 175–80. Hali, S. M. 2005a. ‘Indo-US defence agreement’, The Nation. 6 July. http:// ———. 2005b. ‘Indian bid for UNSC seat’, The Nation. 20 July. http://nation. ———. 2005c. ‘Indo-US nuclear deal’, The Nation. 27 July. pk/daily/july-2005/27/columns4.php. Harlankar, Samar. 1999. ‘Prime-Time War’, India Today. 14 June. Hasan, Khalid. 2004. ‘No Tears for Dhaka’, Friday Times. 28 May. http://www. &pn=1§ion=S5. ———. 2005. ‘US-India N-tech-sharing decision faces Congressional opposition’, Daily Times. 20 July. 20-7-2005_pg7_43. Hattotuwa, Sanjana. 2005. ‘Media and reconciliation’. http://www.thehoot. org/story.asp?storyid=Web22022450110Hoot104833%20AM1738&pn=1. Helprin, Mark. 2004. ‘Beyond the Rim: We ignore China’s growing military and economic power at our peril’, 13 December. http:// Hindu, The. 2005a. ‘Accord will hurt security interests: Left’. 9 July. ———. 2005b. ‘No defence agreement with U.S., clarifies Pranab’. 12 July. ———. 2005c. ‘No defence pact with U.S., assures PM’. 16 July. http://www. ———. 2005d. ‘G-4 introduces draft resolution in UN’. 13 July. http://www. ———. 2005e. ‘Friends yes, but not allies please’, editorial. 16 July. http://www. ———. 2005f. ‘Some caveats on a constructive deal’, editorial. 22 July. http://

Bibliography 277 ———. 2005g. ‘Pranab briefs Left leaders’. 8 July. http://www.hindu. com/2005/07/08/stories/2005070814961200.htm. ———. 2006. ‘The Bugti fallout’, editorial. 12 September. http://www.hindu. com/2006/09/12/stories/2006091205201000.htm. showMessage?topicID=28095.topic. Hindustan Times. 1999. ‘Defending the indefensible’. 20 August. http://www. ———. 2006. Editorial. 29 August. Hussain, Zahid and Harinder Baweja. 1999. ‘Sharif’s Shame’, India Today. 24 May. 2006a. ‘Mystery surrounds Bugti’s death’. 29 August. http://www. ———. 2006b. ‘Army’s new theory on Bugti killing’. 30 August. http://www. ———. 2006c. ‘Baloch party chief quits provincial assembly’. 3 September. http:// ———. 2006d. ‘Buried body may not be Bugti’s’. 4 September. http://www. ———. 2006e. ‘Pak to crack down on websites’. 4 September. http://www.ibnlive. com/news/pak-to-crack-down-on-websites/20590-11.html. Inderfurth, Karl F. 2005. ‘UN needs a real change’, Dawn. 14 July. http://www. Indian Express, The. 1999. ‘Pak sends mutilated bodies ahead of Aziz’. 11 June. ———. 2005a. ‘Foreign non-policy’, editorial. 11 July. http://www.indianexpress. com/res/web/pIe/archive_full_story.php?content_id=74196. ———. 2005b. ‘Born in the Future’, editorial. 21 July. http://www.indianexpress. com/res/web/pIe/archive_full_story.php?content_id=74770. ———. 2006. ‘Balochistan in flames after Pak Army kills top leader’. 28 August India Today. 1991a. 21 June. ———. 1999b. ‘Wangchuk’s War’. 28 June. ———. 1999c. 5 July. ———. 2001. 1 October. ———. 2002a. ‘Modi Apart’, editorial. 15 April. ———. 2002b. ‘Beachfront Vajpayee’, editorial. 29 April. ———. 2002c. ‘More than Modi: Gujarat 2002 repudiates the dead certainties of secularism’, editorial. 30 December. ———. 2003a. ‘Bond with the Best: England quivers with excitement at the thought of another Virgin Queen’, editorial. 28 April. ———. 2003b. ‘Austen Powers’. 28 July. ———. 2003c. 6 October. Iqbal, Anwar. 2005. ‘US move to accept India as nuclear state’, Dawn. 20 July. Jadeja, Ajay. 1999. ‘Nationalism Comes First’, Outlook. 12 July.


Tracking the Media

Jahagirdar, Archana. 1999. ‘The People’s Army’, Outlook. 12 July. Jahangir, Munizae. 2006. ‘Baloch battlefield poses challenge for Pak government’. 17 April. &frmsrch=1&txtsrch=Munizae%2CJahangir%2Cinterview%2CNawab%2 CBugti. Jamil, Mohammad. 2005. ‘Convergence of Interests’, The Nation. 23 July. Jeffries, Stuart. 2007. ‘Faith’, The Guardian. 26 February.,,2021337,00.html. Jha, Prem Shankar. 1999. ‘Saluting the moderates’, Outlook. 2 August. ———. 2005. ‘Coming of a Nuclear Age’, Outlook. 1 August. John, Shobha. 2003a. ‘20 percent IIT-ians still leave India… And we thought brain drain was over’, The Sunday Times of India Special. 3 August. ———. 2003b. ‘The brains are coming back after the drain’, The Sunday Times of India. 17 August. cms. Joseph, Josy. 2003. ‘Six-part analysis of Juli A. MacDonald’s report’, Indo-US Military Relations: Expectations and Perceptions’. 21 April. http://www.rediff. com/news/2003/apr/21josy.htm. Joshi, Manoj. 2002. ‘Hitler as hero: Society without a moral compass’, The Times of India. 26 December. articleshow/32382342.cms. Joshi, Manoj and Raj Chengappa. 1999. ‘The Marathon War’, India Today. 21 June. Joshi, Rajesh. 1999. ‘Objectivity was the biggest casualty in the coverage of the Kargil conflict’, Outlook. 26 July. Kang, Bhavdeep. 1999. ‘A News Twist’, Outlook. 12 July. Karat, Prakash. 2005. ‘Accord will hurt security interests: Left’, The Hindu. 9 July. Khan, Akhtar Hasan. 2005. ‘No need to back India’s bid’, Dawn. 5 July. http: // Khan, Tanvir Ahmad. 2005. ‘Indo-US defence framework’, Daily Times. 22 July. Khanna, Tarun. 2005. ‘Guest Column’, India Today, p. 58. 18 April. Khare, Harish. 2005. ‘Selling the United States of America in India’, The Hindu. 21 July. htm. Kumar, Radha. 2005. ‘Indo-US Ties: Why the Flak?’, The Indian Express. 28 July. php?content_id=75195. Lancaster, John. 2007. ‘My Servant Problem’, The New Republic. 2 July. http:// Madhavan, Narayanan. 2007. ‘Is India really an IT Superpower?’, Hindustan Times. 31 August.

Bibliography 279 Mahmood, Afzal. 2005. ‘A Strategic Defence Pact’, Dawn. 9 July. http://www. ———. 2006. ‘India-Pakistan relations at a turning point’, Nawa-i-Waqt. 22 January. Mahurkar, Uday. 2002a. ‘Horror on 9168 DN’, India Today. 11 March. ———. 2002b. ‘Sins of Modi’, India Today. 18 March. Malhotra, Parul. 2006. ‘India, Baloch puts Mush under pressure’, CNN–IBN. 28 August. Malik, Ashok. 2005. ‘American Idol’, The Indian Express. 21 July. http://www. Malik, Fateh Mohammed. 2006a. ‘New creation of Pakistan in an Indian mould’, Nawa-i-Waqt. 19 January. ———. 2006b. ‘India’s nefarious activities and the Balochistan situation’, Nawai-Waqt. 12 February. Martyris, Nina. 2003. ‘Mumbai’s sister city in holiday mode’, The Times of India. 13 March. ———. 2004. ‘Brothers Across the Border’, The Times of India. 25 March. Mehra, Sunil. 1999. ‘Last Journey Home’, Outlook. 28 June. Mehta, Bhanu Pratap. 2005. ‘An Embrace Too Ardent’, The Indian Express. 20 July. php?content_id=74718. Menon, Parvathi. 2005. ‘Business as bridge’, Frontline, vol. 22 (9). 6 May. Mitra, Ashok. 1999. ‘Cutting Corners: Saffron nation theory’, The Telegraph. 7 July. Mohan, C. Raja. 2006. ‘Killing may complicate Indo-Pak relations’, The Indian Express. 28 August. Morani, Jai Parkash. 2006. ‘Khokro=Teasing People’, Daily Ibrat. 6 February. Mujahid, Altaf. 2006. ‘Political parties in favour of or against the opening of Khokrapar border’, Nawa-i-Waqt. 5 February. Mustafa, Seema. 2005. ‘Indo-US nuke deal remains discreet’, Dawn. 21 July ———. 2006. ‘Balochis: Fight to go on’, The Asian Age. 29 August. Nag, Kingshuk. 2002. ‘Business Basics: Surat stood firm against violence’, The Times of India. 8 October. dll/articleshow?artid=24595612. Nair, Vinod. 2004. ‘Host Pak wins goodwill series 5-0’, Delhi Times. 27 March. Narula, Sunil and Ranjit Bhushan. 1999. ‘Drawn into Battle’, Outlook. 7 June. National Readership Survey (NRS) Key Findings. 2006. http://www.thehoot. org/story.asp?storyid=Web591766177Hoot125650%20AM2286&pn=1. Nation, The. 2005a. ‘Left high and dry’, editorial. 1 July. pk/daily/july-2005/1/editorials1.php. ———. 2005b. ‘Perpetuating Misery’, editorial. 3 July. daily/july-2005/3/editorials2.php.


Tracking the Media

———. 2005c. ‘US-India accords’. 22 July. july-2005/22/editorials1.php. ———. 2005d. ‘A common struggle’, editorial. 23 July. pk/daily/july-2005/23/editorials1.php. Nawa-i-Waqt. 2006. ‘Betting rumours high on Sehwag’s innings’. 18 January. ———. 2006a. ‘Indian interference in Balochistan’, editorial. 15 January. ———. 2006b. ‘Five Kashmiris martyred due to Indian brutalities’. 17 January. ———. 2006c. ‘India-Pakistan talks — where is the Kashmir issue?’, editorial. 20 January. ———. 2006d. ‘Kashmir can only be liberated through jehad’. 24 January. ———. 2006e. ‘Kashmiris to observe the Indian Republic Day as Black Day’. 26 January. ———. 2006f. ‘India and Saudi Arab friendship is unnatural: Sahibzada Fazal Karim, head of the Jamiatul Ulmae Islam’. 27 January. ———. 2006g. ‘Nine Kashmiris martyred’, editorial. 29 January. ———. 2006h. ‘Culture is severely affected due to the caste system in India’. 31 January. ———. 2006i. ‘India’s worst ever defeat’. 2 February. ———. 2006j. Editorial. 4 February. ———. 2006k. ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’, editorial. 5 February. ———. 2006l. ‘Kashmir Issue — Don’t Expect Too Much’, editorial. 13 February. NDTV. 2006a. ‘Bugti’s killing sparks violence’. 27 August. http://www.ndtv. com/template/template.asp?id=20136&template=bugtikilling&callid=0&fr msrch=1&txtsrch=Munizae%2CJahangir. ———. 2006b.‘Tragic loss: India condemns Bugti killing’. 28 August. http://www. 0&frmsrch=1&txtsrch=India+condemns+Bugti+killing. New Republic, The. 2007. ‘Should there be a “war on terror”?’. 26 September. Padmanabhan, Anil. 2003a. ‘Return Flight’, India Today. 11 August. ———. 2003b. ‘Staging a Coup’, India Today. 1 September. ———. 2003c. ‘Cup De Grace’, India Today. 13 October. ———. 2003d. ‘What Makes Bobby Tick?’, India Today. 20 October. ———. 2005. ‘Seizing the Moment’, India Today. 25 July. Padmanabhan, Anil and Sandeep Unnithan. 2003. ‘Hemant Lakhani: Trading in Terror’, India Today. 1 September. Padmanabhan, Anil and Ishara Bhasi. 2004. ‘At Home in the World’, India Today. 19 January. Pandit, Saleem. 2005. ‘Now, a terror temblor’, The Times of India. 19 October. Patnaik, Ila. 2005. ‘Dispelling the Spooks about Nukes’, The Indian Express. 25 July. php?content_id=75026. Pioneer, The. 1999a. ‘Barbarians: Pak army gouged Indian soldiers eyes, chopped off ears, genitals’. 11 June. ———. 1999b. ‘Underworld nexus comes to the fore’. 30 December.

Bibliography 281 Pitafi, Farrukh Khan. 2005. ‘Mocking Buddha’. 21 July. pk/daily/july-2005/21/columns2.php. Power, Jonathan. 2005. ‘Bush starts to get it right on India’s nuclear status’, Daily Times. 29 July. 29-7-2005_pg3_2. Priest, Dana. 2005. ‘CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons: Debate Is Growing Within Agency About Legality and Morality of Overseas System Set Up After 9/11’, The Washington Post. 2 November. Punjab Kesari. 2006. ‘South India too in the web of Pakistani terrorists’. 1 January. Purie, Aroon. 1999a. ‘From the Editor in Chief’, India Today. 14 June. ———. 1999b. ‘From the Editor in Chief’, India Today. 21 June. ———. 2002a. ‘From the Editor in Chief’, India Today. 11 March. ———. 2002b. ‘From the Editor in Chief’, India Today. 18 March. Puri, Rajinder. 1999. ‘Bull’s Eye’, Outlook. 14 June. http://www.outlookindia. com/full.asp?fodname=19990614&fname=BullsEye&sid=1. Raghuraman, Shankar. 2005. ‘Never Mind the Promises, It’s a Job Well Done’, The Sunday Times of India. 15 May. Rajagopalan, S. and Vijay Dutt. ‘Indians abroad in big time fraud’, Hindustan Times. 11 September. Rajghatta, Chidanand. 2003. ‘Jindal rises to the top’, The Times of India. 1 October. ———. 2005a. ‘India a growing global power, natural friend: US’, The Sunday Times of India. 29 May. ———. 2005b. ‘India’s UNSC dreamboat sinks in US waters’, The Times of India. 14 July. ———. 2005c. ‘India, US enter into strategic partnership’, The Times of India. 18 July. ———. 2005d. ‘US opens all N-routes to India’, The Times of India. 19 July ———. 2005e. ‘Bush will do it for a nuclear India’, The Times of India. 20 July ———. 2007. ‘123 text out: India has its way with US: Pact Recognises New Delhi as De Facto Nuclear Power’, The Times of India. 4 August. Raman, B. 2005. ‘Balochistan: The Second War of Independence’. 21 December Accessed 12 December 2006. Ramanathan, K. and Veena Agarwal. 2005. ‘From Non-Proliferation to Civilian Energy Cooperation’, The Indian Express. 20 July. http://www.indianexpress. com/res/web/pIe/archive_full_story.php?content_id=74722. Ramesh, Randeep. 2006. ‘A Tale of Two Indias’, The Guardian. 5 April. http://,,1746869,00.html. Ramesh, Y. P. 2007. ‘Fresh crisis brews over India-US nuclear deal’. 23 September. Ravi, N. 2005. ‘Nuclear deal will lead to quantum jump: Officials’, The Hindu. 21 July. htm.


Tracking the Media

Razdan, M. K. 2004. ‘Lahore becomes a melting pot where identities merge’, Hindustan Times. 24 March. Rebeiro, Julio. 2002. ‘Lost middle ground: A community loses hope in Gujarat’, The Times of India. 24 April. Rice, Condoleezza. 2006. ‘Our opportunity with India’, The Washington Post. 13 March. Rising Nepal, The. 1999. ‘India opens its purse to help Kashmir fighters’. 19 June. Robinson, James. 2006. ‘ “A billion people? This is a country where you can’t afford not to be publishing” ’, The Observer. 2 April.,,1744649,00.html. Sandesh. 2002. ‘From among those abducted from Sabarmati Express two dead bodies of Hindu girls found near Kalol in mutilated state’. 1 March. Sanjay, B. P. 2006. ‘Does media need academia?’, asp?storyid=Web5917615202Hoot22902%20PM2411&pn=1. Sappenfield, Mark and Mark Rice-Oxley. 2007. ‘Global terror’s India connection’, Christian Science Monitor. 10 July. ts_csm/oindialinks_1. Saran, Rohit. 2005. ‘Factory of the world… meets Lab of the World’, India Today. 18 April. Schier, Steven E. 2002. ‘From Melting Pot to Centrifuge: Immigrants and American Politics’, The Brookings Review, vol. 20 (1): 16–19. Sen, Avirook. 2004. ‘They lose series, we lose goodwill’, Hindustan Times. 26 March. Seth, Suhel. 2003. ‘Soul Curry’, The Sunday Times of India. 20 April. Sethna, A. M. 1999. ‘Information is Half the Battle Won’, The Times of India. 1 June. Shahi, Agha. 2005. ‘Indo-US strategic pact’, Dawn. 28 July. http://www.dawn. com/2005/07/28/op.htm#1. Shaikh, Najmuddin A. 2005. ‘London blasts’ impact on Pakistan’, Dawn. 15 July. Shastri, Paromita. 1999. ‘Waging Jehad on borrowed money’, Outlook. 28 June. Sheharbanu. 2006. ‘Sound of Silence: Stubborn deer is still thinking!’, Daily Ibrat. 5 February. Shukla, Saurabh. 2005. ‘The Dragon Smiles’, India Today. 25 April. Singh, Satish Kumar. 2006. ‘A New Message of Peace’, Dainik Jagran. 27 January. Singh, Jaswant. 1999. 11 June. June_11_1999.htm. Singh, Tavleen. 2002a. ‘Pogrom Politics’, India Today. 18 March. ———. 2002b. ‘Prelude to Partition’, India Today. 29 April. Sirohi, Seema. 2005a. ‘It’s Really Special When It’s Special’, Outlook. 4 July. ———. 2005b. ‘Big Time’, Outlook. 11 July. ———. 2005c. ‘To the Power of N’, Outlook. 1 August. ———. 2005d. ‘Still a Guest at the Party’, Outlook. 1 August.

Bibliography 283 Soomro, Imdad. 2006a. ‘When will snow melt on both sides of the border?’, Daily Ibrat. 16 January. ———. 2006b. ‘We, the forgetful of Khokrapar way’, Daily Ibrat. 4 February. Soondas, Anand. 2005. ‘Valley’s reaction: Disbelief, anger’, The Times of India. 19 October. Srinivasan, Rajeev. 2002a. ‘India v China: Startling Economic Facts’. 26 July. Accessed 1 June 2005. ———. 2002b. ‘China: From mismanagement to collapse’. 29 July. http://www. Accessed 1 June 2005. Subrahmanyam, K. 2005. ‘Come Together on Nuclear Pact: Criticism of the Indo-US treaty is misleading’, The Times of India. 25 July. Subramanian, Nirupama. 2006a. ‘Violence continues to rock Balochistan’, The Hindu. 29 August. ———. 2006b. ‘Put your house in order: Pakistan’, The Hindu. 29 August. http:// Sudarshan, V. 2005a. ‘Wen, Where, Why’, Outlook. 18 April. ———. 2005b. ‘It Can Lead to a lot of Fission’, Outlook. 1 August. ———. 2006. ‘Balochistan shadow over India-Pakistan ties’, The Hindu. 5 September. 2960800.htm. Sullivan, Kevin. 2006. ‘Cartoon furor began quietly’, The Washington Post. 8 February. Sunday Times of India, The supplement. 2003a. ‘Clinton’s India Connection’. 24 August. ———. 2003b. ‘American Desis’. 26 October. ———. 2005. ‘Terror Darkens Diwali, Eid’. 30 October. Swami, Praveen. 1999a. ‘War in Kargil’, Frontline. 18 June. ———. 1999b. ‘In the line of fire’, Frontline. 18 June. ———. 1999c. ‘The Bungle in Kargil’, Frontline. 2 July. ———. 2000. ‘The Kargil Story’, Frontline. 10 November. ———. 2006. ‘Balochistan shadow over India–Pakistan ties’. 5 September. http:// Talbott, Strobe. 2005. ‘Good day for India, bad day for non-proliferation’, Daily Times. 25 July. Texeira, Erin. 2006. ‘Indian community burgeoning in America’. 22 October. Accessed 22 October 2006. Thakur, Sankarshan. 2000. ‘Kargil in the Kashmiri Soul’, The Telegraph. 29 May. http://insaf.pipermail/ Times of India, The. 1999a. ‘Morale Imperative’, editorial. 3 June. ———. 1999b. ‘Pak army doesn’t spare dead jawans in its barbarism’. 11 June. ———. 1999c. ‘India Betrayed’. 15 June. ———. 1999d. ‘Teach Pak a lesson, RSS urges Vajpayee’. 22 June. ———. 1999e. Editorial. 29 December.


Tracking the Media

———. 2002a. ‘Language papers say it in black & white’. 5 April. ———. 2002b. ‘Unmasked Truth’, editorial. 15 April. ———. 2002c. ‘Encashing Fear’, editorial. 16 April. ———. 2002d. ‘VHP will back Mulayam if he adopts a pro-Hindu stand’. 16 April. ———. 2002e. ‘Fundamentally Wrong’, editorial. 25 April. http://timesofindia. ———. 2003. ‘American Desi: The Indian media’s hype over Bobby Jindal is misplaced’, editorial. 16 October. ———. 2004a. ‘BJP milks Lahore victory’. 26 March. ———. 2004b. ‘Another BJP ad features cricket’. 27 March. http://timesofindia. ———. 2005a. ‘India’s UNSC dreamboat sinks in US waters’. 14 July. ———. 2005b. ‘G-4 blackmailing nations for UNSC seats, says Italy’. 28 July. ———. 2005c. ‘Enough is Enough’, editorial. 31 October. ———. 2006a. ‘Dangerous Neighbour’, editorial. 29 August. http://timesofindia. ———. 2006b. ‘Perils of Pakistan’. 1 September. ———. 2006c. ‘Tortoise can never beat hare’. 17 November. http://timesofindia. ———. 2007. ‘Global newspaper circulation up 10%, rises 33% in India’. 7 February. Transparency International. ‘Corruption Perceptions Index 2006’. http://www. Varadarajan, Siddharth. 2002. ‘Beyond the ballot: the issue in Gujarat is justice’, The Times of India. 18 December. http://timesofindia.indiatimes. com/articleshow/31591695.cms. ———. 2005a. ‘Do not impose vote on draft UN proposal, SCO tells G4’, The Hindu. 6 July. 2005070615071300.htm. ———. 2005b. ‘G-4 favours UN vote “around July 20” ’, The Hindu. 11 July. ———. 2005c. ‘America, India and outsourcing imperial overreach’, The Hindu. 13 July. htm. ———. 2005d. ‘Nuclear cooperation with U.S.: experts urge caution’, The Hindu. 18 July. htm. ———. 2005e. ‘Nuclear bargain may prove costly in the long run’, The Hindu. 20 July. htm. ———. 2005f. ‘The truth behind the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal’, The Hindu. 29 July. ———. 2005g. ‘G-4 remains focused on the African Union’, The Hindu. 29 July.

Bibliography 285 Varshney, Ashutosh. 2005. ‘China Faces Uncertain Future: India’s democracy holds long-term advantages’, The Times of India. 9 June. Vinayak, Ramesh. 1999. ‘Price of Austerity’, India Today. 21 June. Wadhwa, Sona and Amarnath Tewary. 1999. ‘Martyrs to Unemployment’, Outlook. 2 August. Wimbush, S. Enders. 2005. ‘Tech That, And That’, Outlook. 1 August. Zaidi, Hasan. 2002. ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’, India Today. 14 January. Zakaria, Fareed. 2006. ‘India Rising’, Newsweek. 6 March. http://www.msnbc. Zaman, Nadir. 2006. ‘Jaswant Singh’s new ploy’, Nawa-i-Waqt. 29 January. Zulfikar, Shahzada. 2006. ‘The Pak Army is dropping phosphorus bombs on us: interview with Nawab Bugti’, The Asian Age. 29 August.

Analytical Works Afkhami, Mahnaz (ed.). 1995. Faith and Freedom: Women’s Human Rights in the Muslim World. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. Akbar, M. K. 1999. Kargil: Cross Border Terrorism. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. Amin, Shahid. 2004. ‘On Representing the Musalman’, in Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Ravi Sundaram, Ravi S. Vasudevan, Awadhendra Sharan, Jeebesh Bagchi and Geert Lovink (eds), Crisis/Media SARAI Reader ’04. Delhi: The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. Amnesty International. ‘India: Briefing on the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958’. Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso. Appiah, Kwame Anthony. 2006. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. London: Allen Lane. Bahadur, Kalim. 1999. ‘India–Pakistan relations in the context of the Kargil conflict’, in Kargil: The Crisis and its Implications, pp. 13–20. New Delhi: Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Bajpai, Kanti, Afsir Karim and Amitabh Mattoo (eds). 2001. Kargil and After: Challenges for Indian Policy. New Delhi: Har-Anand Publications Pvt. Ltd. Bardhan, Pranab. 2003. ‘Crouching Tiger, Lumbering Elephant: A China–India Comparison’, in K. Basu, P. Nayak and R. Ray (eds), Markets and Government. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. macarthur/inequality/papers/BardhanCrouching.pdf Barnett, C., G. Rose and J. Robinson (eds). 2006. A Demanding World. Milton Keynes: Open University. Baru, Sanjaya. 1999. ‘The economic consequences of the Kargil conflict for India and Pakistan’, in Kargil: The Crisis and its Implications. New Delhi: Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Basu, K., P. Nayak and R. Ray (eds). 2003. Markets and Governments. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.


Tracking the Media

Bates, Milton J. 1996. The Wars We Took to Vietnam: Cultural Conflict and Storytelling. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press. Bose, Brinda. 2003. ‘Desire and Diaspora: Gender, Memory and Nostalgia in British South Asian Cinema’, in Tapan Basu, Subarno Chattarji and Suman Gupta (eds), India in the Age of Globalization: Contemporary Discourses and Texts. New Delhi: Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Baudrillard, Jean. 1994. The Illusion of the End. Trans. Chris Turner. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Bauman, Zygmunt. 1993. Postmodern Ethics. Oxford: Blackwell. Bhaskar, Bindu. 2005. ‘Mainstream Indian media: 1990s and after’, in Nalini Rajan (ed.), Practising Journalism: Values, Constraints, Implications. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Bhaskar, B. R. P. 2005. ‘Flourishing Papers, Floundering Craft’, in Nalini Rajan (ed.), Practising Journalism: Values, Constraints, Implications. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Bhogle, Harsha. 1996. Azhar: The Authorized Biography of Mohammad Azharuddin. New Delhi: Penguin Books India. Bidwai, Praful and Achin Vinaik. 2000. New Nukes: India, Pakistan and Global Nuclear Disarmament. Oxford: Signal Books. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1998. On Television and Journalism. Trans. Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson. London: Pluto Press. Brosius, Christiane. 2004. ‘Of Nasty Pictures and “Nice Guys”: The Surreality of Online Hindutva’, in Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Ravi Sundaram, Ravi S. Vasudevan, Awadhendra Sharan, Jeebesh Bagchi and Geert Lovink (eds), Crisis/Media SARAI Reader ’04. Delhi: The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. Brown, Robert. 2005. ‘The importance of being earnest as well as entertaining’, in Nalini Rajan (ed.), Practising Journalism: Values, Constraints, Implications. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Butcher, Melissa. 2003. Transnational Television, Cultural Identity and Change: When STAR Came to India. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Calhoun, Craig (ed.). 1993. Habermas and the Public Sphere. Cambridge, M. A. and London: The MIT Press. Chakravarty, Gautam and Subarno Chattarji (eds). 2004. An Anthology of Indian Prose Writings in English. New Delhi: Penguin Books India. Chandra, Sudhir. 1993. ‘Of Communal Consciousness and Communal Violence’, Economic and Political Weekly, pp. 1883–87. 4 September. Chattarji, Subarno. 2007. ‘“What is the Spanish word for appeasement?” ’, in Nalini Rajan (ed.), 21st Century Journalism in India. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Chenoy, Kamal Mitra, S. P. Shukla, K. S. Subramanian and Achin Vanaik. 2002. ‘Gujarat Carnage 2002: A Report to the Nation’. Chowdhury, Srinjoy. 2000. Despatches from Kargil. New Delhi: Penguin Books India.

Bibliography 287 Christopher, Renny. 1995. The Viet Nam War/The American War: Images and Representations in Euro-American and Vietnamese Exile Narratives. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. Clawson, Patrick. 1997. ‘The relationship between security and economics in South Asia’, paper read at the India Symposium, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, Washington, D. C. December. Cohn, Carol. 1987. ‘Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals’, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, vol. 12 (4 [Summer]): 687–718. Dalrymple, William. 2007. ‘Letter from Pakistan: Days of Rage: Challenges for the nation’s future’, The New Yorker. 23 July. http://www.newyorker. com/reporting/2007/07/23/070723fa_fact_dalrymple. Das, Veena. 1990. ‘Introduction: Communities, Riots, Survivors — The South Asian Experience’, in Mirrors of Violence: Communities, Riots, Survivors in South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. DeBenedetti, Charles. 1990. An American Ordeal: The Antiwar Movement of the Vietnam Era. New York: Syracuse University Press. Dhavan, Rajeev. ‘Riots as Murder: Re-examining the Best Bakery Case’. http:// Dickstein, Morris. 1977. Gates of Eden: American Culture in the Sixties. New York: Basic Books, Inc., Publishers. Dixit, J. N. 1999. ‘Managing Foreign Relations: An Urgent Need for a New Outlook’, in Kargil: The Crisis and its Implications. New Delhi: Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Dower, John. 1999. Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Dutt, Barkha. 2001. ‘Kargil: A View from the Ground’, in Kanti Bajpai, Afsir Karim and Amitabh Mattoo (eds), Kargil and After: Challenges for Indian Policy, pp. 63–72. New Delhi: Har-Anand Publications Pvt. Ltd. Eatwell, Roger. 1995. Fascism: A History. London: Chatto & Windus. Edelman, Murray. (1964) 1985. The Symbolic Uses of Politics. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. Edwards, David and David Cromwell. 2006. Guardians of Power: The Myth of the Liberal Media. London, Ann Arbor, MI.: Pluto Press. Ehrhart, W. D. and Philip K. Jason (eds). 1999. Retrieving Bones: Stories and Poems of the Korean War. New Brunswick, N.J. and London: Rutgers University Press. Emerson, Gloria. 1976. Battles, Retreats, Gains, Losses, and Ruins from a Long War. New York: Random House. Human Rights Watch. 2006. ‘ “Everyone Lives in Fear”: Patterns of Impunity in Jammu and Kashmir’, vol. 18 (11[C]). September. Felice, Renzo De. 1976. Fascism: An Informal Introduction to its Theory and Practice. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. ———. 1980. ‘Fascism and the Middle Classes’, in Stein Ugelvik Larsen, Bernt Hagtvet and Jan Petter Myklebust (eds), Who Were the Fascists? Social Roots of European Fascists. Bergen, Oslo and Tromso: Universitetsforlaget.


Tracking the Media

Franck, Thomas N. and Edward Weisband. 1971. Word Politics: Verbal Strategy among the Superpowers. New York: Oxford University Press. Fussell, Paul. 1975. The Great War and Modern Memory. New York and London: Oxford University Press. ———. 1989. Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. Garnham, Nicholas. 1993. ‘The Media and the Public Sphere’, in Craig Calhoun (ed.), Habermas and the Public Sphere. Cambridge, M. A. and London: The MIT Press. Gera, Shalini. 2002. ‘The Indictment of the Gujarat Police’. http://cac.ektaonline. org/resources/articles/gujpolice.htm. Ghosh, Amitav. 2002. ‘The Ghosts of Mrs Gandhi’, in idem, The Imam and the Indian: Prose pieces. Delhi: Ravi Dayal Publisher and Permanent Black. Gitlin, Todd. 1987. The Sixties: Years of Hope Days of Rage. New York and London: Bantam Books. Guha, Ramachandra. 2002. A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport. London: Picador. Gupta, Suman. 2006. The Theory and Reality of Democracy: A Case Study in Iraq. London and New York: Continuum. Habermas, Jurgen. (1962) 1991. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Trans. Thomas Burger with Frederick Lawrence. Cambridge, M. A.: The MIT Press. ———. 1993. ‘Further Reflections on the Public Sphere’, in Craig Calhoun (ed.), Habermas and the Public Sphere. Trans. Thomas Burger. Cambridge, M. A. and London: The MIT Press. Haines, Harry. 1989a. ‘Disputing the Wreckage: Ideological Struggle at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial,’ Vietnam Generation, vol. 1 (1 [Winter]). ———. 1989b. ‘The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Authority and Gender in Cultural Representation’, in Jeffrey Walsh and James Aulich (eds), Vietnam Images: War and Representation. Basingstoke and London: The Macmillan Press Ltd. Hansen, Thomas Blom. (1999) 2004. The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Hansen, Thomas Blom and Christophe Jaffrelot (eds). (1998) 2004. The BJP and the Compulsions of Politics in India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Harivansh. 2005. ‘Prabhat Khabar: an experiment in journalism’, in Nalini Rajan (ed.), Practising Journalism: Values, Constraints, Implications. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Hazarika, Sanjoy. 2000. Rites of Passage: Border Crossings, Imagined Homelands, India’s East and Bangladesh. New Delhi: Penguin. Herman, Edward S. and Noam Chomsky. 1994. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. London: Viking. Herr, Michael. 1978. Dispatches. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Hobsbawm, Eric. 1994. Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century 1914–1991. London: Michael Joseph.

Bibliography 289 Huntington, Samuel P. 1996. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York: Simon & Schuster. Jaffrelot, Christophe. (1993) 1996. The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India. New York: Columbia University Press. Jaleel, Muzamil. 2004. ‘The Everyday Life of a Srinagar Correspondent: Reporting from Kashmir’, in Monica Narula, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Ravi Sundaram, Ravi S. Vasudevan, Awadhendra Sharan, Jeebesh Bagchi and Geert Lovink (eds), Crisis/Media SARAI Reader ’04, pp. 235–42. Delhi: The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. Jeffords, Susan. 1989. The Remasculanization of America: Gender and the Vietnam War. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. Jeffrey, Robin. 2005. ‘The public sphere of print journalism’, in Nalini Rajan, (ed.), Practising Journalism: Values, Constraints, Implications. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Jha, Shefali. 2002. ‘Secularism in the Constituent Assembly Debates, 1946– 1950’, Economic and Political Review, pp. 3175–80. 27 July. Kamat, Anjali. 2005. ‘ “Youth” and the Indian media’, in Nalini Rajan (ed.), Practising Journalism: Values, Constraints, Implications. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Kanchan L. 2001. ‘The Media in Terror: Analysing Reportage from Theatres of Conflict’, in K. P. S. Gill and Ajai Sahai (eds), Faultlines: Writings on Conflict and Resolution, vol. 8. New Delhi: Bulwark Books for the Institute of Conflict Management. Kargil: The Crisis and its Implications. 1999. New Delhi: Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. Kargil Review Committee Report. 2000. From Surprise to Reckoning: The Kargil Review Committee Report. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Kuhn, Thomas. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. Kumar, Krishna. 2002. ‘Opening a window, just’, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 37 (30): 3119–20. 27 July. Lahiri, Jhumpa. (2003) 2004. The Namesake. London: Harper Perennial. Lakdawala, M. H. 2005. ‘The relevance of the Urdu-language media’, in Nalini Rajan (ed.), Practising Journalism: Values, Constraints, Implications. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Leed, Eric J. 1979. No Man’s Land: Combat and Identity in World War I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lessinger, J. 2003. ‘Indian immigration in the United States’, in B. Parekh, G. Singh and S. Vertovec (eds), Culture and Economy in the Indian Diaspora. London: Routledge. Long, Robert Emmet (ed.). 1986. Vietnam Ten Years After. New York: The H. W. Wilson Company. Luce, Edward. 2006. In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India. London: Little, Brown.


Tracking the Media

MacNeice, Louis. (1966) 1979. Collected Poems of Louis MacNeice. E. R. Dodds (ed.). London: Oxford University Press. Manchanda, Rita. 2001. ‘Covering Kargil: South Asia’s First “Media War” ’, in Kanti Bajpai, Afsir Karim and Amitabh Mattoo (eds), Kargil and After: Challenges for Indian Policy, pp. 73–91. New Delhi: Har-Anand Publications Pvt. Ltd. Marqusee, Mike. 1996. War minus the Shooting: A Journey through South Asia during Cricket’s World Cup. London: Heinemann. ———. 2000. Redemption Song: Muhammad Ali and the Spirit of the Sixties. Calcutta: Seagull Books. Mathur, H. B., Sapna Johnson and Avinash Kumar. 2003. ‘Analysis of Pesticide Residues in Soft Drinks’, Centre for Science and Environment. 5 August. McAlister, Melani. 2001. Epic Encounters: Culture, Media and U.S. Interests in the Middle East, 1945–2000. Berkeley: University of California Press. Mernissi, Fatimi. 1995. ‘Arab Women’s Rights and the Muslim State in the Twenty-First Century: Reflections on Islam as Religion and State’, in Mahnaz Afkhami (ed.), Faith and Freedom: Women’s Human Rights in the Muslim World. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. Murji, Karim. 2006. ‘A place in the world: geographies of belonging’, in C. Barnett, G. Rose and J. Robinson (eds), A Demanding World, pp. 151–88. Milton Keynes: Open University. Naim, C. M. 1999. ‘Muslim Press in India and the Bangladesh Crisis’, in idem, Ambiguities of Heritage: Fictions and Polemics. Karachi: City Press. Naipaul, V. S. 2002. The Writer and the World: Essays. Pankaj Mishra (ed.). London: Picador. National Sample Survey Organisation. 2007. ‘India in Figures 2007’. http://mospi. Nandy, Ashis. 2001. Time Warps: The Insistent Politics of Silent and Evasive Pasts. New Delhi: Permanent Black. ———. 2002a. ‘Obituary of a culture’, SEMINAR: SOCIETY UNDER SIEGE: a symposium on the breakdown of civil society in Gujarat, no. 513. May. ———. 2002b. ‘Unclaimed baggage’, The Little Magazine: In bad faith, vol. III (2). Narula, Monica, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Ravi Sundaram, Ravi S. Vasudevan, Awadhendra Sharan, Jeebesh Bagchi and Geert Lovink (eds). 2004. Crisis/ Media SARAI Reader ’04. Delhi: The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. Nemerov, Howard. 1981. ‘The War in the Air’, in idem, The Collected Works of Howard Nemerov. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. New Republic, The. 2007. ‘Should there be a “war on terror”?’ 26 September. Ninan, Sevanti. 2006–2007. ‘The Public Address System’, in Ira Pande (ed.), India 60, IIC Quarterly, vol. 33 (3 and 4): 244–52. Winter–Spring. ———. 2007. Headlines from the Heartland: Reinventing the Hindi Public Sphere. Los Angeles, London, New Delhi and Singapore: Sage Publications.

Bibliography 291 Ning, Wang. 2001. ‘Seeking a National Identity and Constructing Chinese Critical Discourse in the Age of Globalization’, in Conference Proceedings: International Conference on Subjectivity/Cultural Identity in an Age of Globalization. Taipei: Shih Shin University Press. Noorani, A. G. 2002. ‘India’s reaction to international concern’, in Siddharth Vardarajan (ed.), Gujarat: the Making of a Tragedy. New Delhi: Penguin Books. Nussbaum, Martha C. 2003. ‘Genocide in Gujarat’, Dissent, vol. 10 (3): 15–23. Summer. Page, David and William Crawley. 2001. Satellites over South Asia: Broadcasting, Culture and the Public Interest. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Pande, Ira (ed.). 2006–2007. India 60, IIC Quarterly, vol. 33 (3 and 4), Winter–Spring. Parekh, Bhikhu. 2002. ‘Making sense of Gujarat’, SEMINAR: SOCIETY UNDER SIEGE: a symposium on the breakdown of civil society in Gujarat, no. 513. May. Parekh, B., G. Singh and S. Vertovec (eds). 2003. Culture and Economy in the Indian Diaspora. London: Routledge. Perry, John Oliver. 2002. ‘A Dialysis of Diasporan Difficulties’, Journal of Contemporary Thought, Special Number: Identities Local and Global. Philipose, Pamela. 2005. ‘Engendering the public sphere’, in Nalini Rajan (ed.), Practising Journalism: Values, Constraints, Implications. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Philo, Greg, Alison Gilmour, Maureen Gilmour, Susanna Rust, Eta Gaskell and Lucy West (Glasgow University Media Group). 2003. ‘The Israeli–Palestinian conflict: TV news and public understanding’, in Daya Kishan Thussu and Des Freedman (eds), War and the Media: Reporting Conflict 24/7. London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi: Sage Publications. Pick, Daniel. 1993. War Machine: The Rationalisation of Slaughter in the Modern Age. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Pilger, John. 1998. Hidden Agendas. London: Vintage. ‘Protocol between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Modalities for the Implementation of Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the India–China Border Areas’, a report. 2005. New Delhi: Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. 11 April. in/treatiesagreement/2005/11ta1104200502.htm. Rajagopal, Arvind. 2001. Politics after Television: Hindu Nationalism and the Reshaping of the Public in India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rajan, Nalini (ed.). 2005. Practising Journalism: Values, Constraints, Implications. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. ———. 2007. 21st Century Journalism in India. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Rajiva, Lila. 2005. The Language of Empire: Abu Ghraib and the American Media. New York: Monthly Review Press.


Tracking the Media

Renan, Ernest. (1882) 1990. ‘What is a nation?’, in Homi K. Bhaba (ed.), Nation and Narration. New York: Routledge and Keagan Paul. ‘Report on India 2005’. London: Amnesty International. http://web.amnesty. org/report2005/ind-summary-eng. Rich, Adrienne. 1995. ‘What Would We Create?’, in idem, What Is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics. London: Virago Press Limited. National Intelligence Council. 2004. ‘Rising Powers: The Changing Political Landscape’, in Mapping the Global Future, National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project. Washington, D. C.: National Intelligence Council. December. ‘Roundtable: A session in the hills: The India–Pakistan media retreat’. http:// Rorty, Richard. 1989. Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. Rushdie, Salman. 1991. Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981–1991. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd. ———. 1997. ‘Damme, this is the Oriental scene for you!’, The New Yorker. 23 and 30 June. Russell, Bertrand. 1961. Has Man a Future? Harmondsworth: Penguin. Sabrang Communications and the South Asia Citizens Web. ‘The Foreign Exchange of Hate: IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva’. Sabrang Communications and the South Asia Citizens Web: France. 20 November. Said, Edward W. (1981) 1997. Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World. New York: Vintage Books. ———. 2001. Reflections on Exile and other Literary and Cultural Essays. New Delhi: Penguin Books. Scarry, Elaine. 1985. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. Sen, Amartya. 2000. ‘Other People’, British Academy lecture. 7 November. ———. 2005. The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity. London: Allen Lane. Seshu, Geeta. 1999. ‘Media and Kargil: Information Blitz with Dummy Missiles’, Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 34 (41): 2917–19. 9 October. Shah, Ghanshyam. 2004. ‘The BJP’s Riddle in Gujarat: Caste, Factionalism and Hindutva’, in Thomas Blom Hansen and Christophe Jaffrelot (eds), The BJP and the Compulsions of Politics in India. [1998] In Hindu Nationalism and Indian Politics. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Shekar, Nirmal. 2005. ‘Sports journalism: going against the grain’, in Nalini Rajan (ed.), Practising Journalism: Values, Constraints, Implications. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Shukla, Sandhya. 2003. India Abroad: Diasporic Cultures of Postwar America and England. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Bibliography 293 Singh, Jaswant. 1998. ‘Against Nuclear Apartheid’, Foreign Affairs, vol. 77 (5): 41–52. September/October. Sivaramakrishnan, K. C., Amitabh Kundu and B. N. Singh. 2005. Handbook of Urbanization in India: An Analysis of Trends and Processes. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Soyinka, Wole. 2005. Climate of Fear: The Quest for Dignity in a Dehumanized World. New York: Random House. Swami, Praveen. 2005. ‘Iron veils: reporting subconventional warfare in India’, in Nalini Rajan (ed.), Practising Journalism: Values, Constraints, Implications. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Sznaider, Natan. 1998. ‘The Sociology of Compassion: A Study in the Sociology of Morals’, Cultural Values, vol. 2 (1). January. Tal, Kali. 1996. Worlds of Hurt: Reading the Literatures of Trauma. New York: Cambridge University Press. Tellis, Ashley. (2005) 2006. India as a new Global Power: an Action Agenda for the United States. Washington, D. C.: Carnegie Endowment. http://www. Terkel, Studs. 1985. ‘The Good War’: An Oral History of World War Two. London: Hamish Hamilton. Tester, Keith. 2001. Compassion, Morality and the Media. Buckingham, P. A.: Open University Press. Thussu, Daya Kishan and Des Freedman (eds). 2003. War and the Media: Reporting Conflict 24/7. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Tuchman, G. 1972. ‘Objectivity as a strategic ritual: an examination of newsmen’s notions of objectivity’, American Journal of Sociology, vol. 77: 660–79. Tumber, Howard and Marina Prentoulis. 2003. ‘Journalists under fire: Subcultures, objectivity and emotional literacy’, in Daya Kishan Thussu and Des Freedman (eds), War and the Media: Reporting Conflict 24/7. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks and London: Sage Publications. Turner, Barry (ed.). 2004. The Statesman’s Yearbook: The Politics, Cultures, and Economies of the World 2005. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Vanita, Ruth. (Forthcoming). ‘“What the heart says”: Same-sex unions in the context of globalized homophobia and globalized gay rights’, in Tapan Basu, Subarno Chattarji and Suman Gupta (eds), Globalization in India: Contents and Discontents. New Delhi: Pearson Education. Varadarajan, Siddharth (ed.). 2002. Gujarat: The Making of a Tragedy. New Delhi: Penguin Books India. Varshney, Ashutosh. 2007. ‘India’s Democratic Challenge’, Foreign Affairs, vol. 86 (2); 93–106. March/April. Walzer, Michael. 1992. Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations. New York: Basic Books. Williams, Bernard. 1985. Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. Cambridge, M. A.: Harvard University Press.


Tracking the Media

Williams, Raymond. 1977. Marxism and Literature. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Wolff, Michael. 2004. ‘The plot to sell the news’, Vanity Fair, pp. 184–90. November. Zavos, John. (2000) 2004. ‘The Emergence of Hindu Nationalism in India’, in Hindu Nationalism and Indian Politics. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Index 295

Index Abdi, S. N. M. 21–22 Abu Ghraib xxvi Adhikari, Gautam 136 Advani, L. K. 74 Afridi, Shahid 71 Ahmad, Aijaz 29n Ahmad, Aziz-ud-din 162, 193 Ahmed, Farooq 22–23 Ahmed, Ghayoor 165, 168, 169 Ahmed, Rashmee Z. 96–97, 102–103, 113–114 Aiyar, Mani Shankar 32n Aiyar, Pallavi 128–29, 145n, 148n Aiyar, Swaminathan S. Anklesaria 158 Akbar, M. K. 17 Akhand Bharat xxvii, xxviii, 16, 67, 204, 214, 215, 224, 245, 249, 250, 264, 265, 266 Akram, Munir 195 Akshardham 49 Alagiah, George 4 Alam, Imtiaz 232 All India Hurriyat Conference 203 Al Qaeda 115, 188, 238, 255n Amar Ujala xvi and cross-border terrorism 200–201 and negative reports of Pakistan 259–61 American Civil War 11 American Dream 109 Anderson, Benedict xxvii, xxxiin, 94 Annan, Kofi 194 Ansal Plaza shootout 49 Appiah, Kwame Anthony 37, 54n, 186 Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 242, 255n Ayodhya xi, xvii, 75, 188 Ash, Timothy Gorton xxiv Azharuddin, Mohammad 76 Aziz, Shaukat 205

Babbar Khalsa International 83 Babri Masjid xix, 134, 247 Bagchi, Indrani 124–25, 238 Bahadur, Kalim 7 Bajpai, K. Shankar xxix, 152, 213–14, 245–247 Balochistan xxiii, xxvi, xxix, 67, 207, 212, 261, 266 and Bangladesh War 235–37, 244 and 249–50 and 248–49 and Indian media 228–30 and Kashmir 222, 223, 224, 226, 241, 242–44 and Pakistan media 222–28 and Nawab Bugti killing in Indian media 230–58 Bamzai, Kaveree 116 Bangladesh War 1971 13, 22, 84, 204, 224, 227, 233, 253n and Nawa-i-Waqt 225 and Zindagi 225–26 Bardhan, Pranab 127, 133–34, 134–35 Baru, Sanjaya 8, 29n, 31n, 32–33n Baruah, Amit 152, 183 Baudrillard, Jean 143, 226–27 Bauman, Zygmunt 86 Bech, Henning 86 Beg, Mirza Aslam 175 Bell, Martin 4 Bengali, Kaiser 247–48 Bennis, Phyllis 194 Besant, Annie 104 Best Bakery xix, 76 Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) 153 Bharatiya Janata Party xii, 39, 45, 51, 52, 72–73, 74, 75, 94, 112, 113, 132 Bhaskar, Bindu xxi Bhaskar, B. R. P. xiii


Tracking the Media

Bhaskar, Uday 238 Bhattacharjea, Ajit 51 Bhattacharjea, Mira Sinha 140–41 Bhatty, Maqbool Ahmad 168–69 Bhushan, Ranjit 52 Bhushan, Ratna 125–26 Bidwai, Praful 32n, 174, 185–87, 188 bin Laden, Osama 9, 61, 238, 239, 255n Blair, Tony 155 Bofors gun 15 Bollywood 95 ‘Bollywood Star’ 100 Bombay Dreams 97, 101, 102 Bombay riots 1992–93 xix Bourdieu, Pierre xxv, 14 ‘brain drain’ 105–106, 109 Brown, Robert xxii British-Asian community and identity 110–11 Bush, George W. 155, 156, 160 and Manmohan Singh 157, 170 Butcher, Melissa xxiii, 17–18, 73, 93, 108 Calhoun, Craig 34 Centre for Science and Environment 97 Chadha, Gurinder 99–100, 101, 111 Chai Bazaar 97 Chengappa, Raj and Saurabh Shukla 136–37 Chenoy, Anuradha M. 74 Chenoy, Kamal Mitra, S. P. Shukla, K. S. Subramanian, Achin Vanaik 36, 44 Chenoy, Kamal Mitra 174 Cherian, John 139 Chernobyl 160, 161 China in Indian media 123–48 China ‘containment’ 153, 154–55 Chowdhury, Srinjoy 22 Chugtai, Shahzad 264–65 CIA World Fact Book xiii–xiv, 126

Clausewitz 6, 13 Clinton, William J. 6, 102 CNN-IBN 237 Cohn, Carol 180n Cold War 3, 165, 168 compassion fatigue 85–86 Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) 202, 203, 205 Crawley, William xxiii Cronkite, Walter 3, 28n Daga, Mahesh 37–38 Daily Ibrat on Kashmir and terrorism 206–207 and Munabao–Khokrapar issue 212–17 Dainik Bhaskar on terrorism in India 207–208 Dainik Jagran xi, xiv, xvii and cross-border terrorism 199–202 and negative reports of Pakistan 262–63 Dalai Lama 18, 20, 128 Dalrymple, William 164 Das, Arun Kumar 112 Dasgupta, Swapan 10, 55n, 64 Datta, Kankana 110 Datta, Partho 23 Delhi riots 1984 xix, 50, 134 democracy, as panacea and normative value 131–33, 134, 190, 246 democracy, conceptualizations of 155 Deen, Thalif 194 Dev, Kapil 65 Dikshit, Sandeep 152 Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge 121n Diwanji, Amberish K. 76 Dixit, J. N. 29n, 161–62 Dixit, Kunda 26–27 Dixit, Sheila 80 Dower, John 49 Dravid, Rahul 65 Dutt, Barkha 5, 24–25

Index 297 Eatwell, Roger 133 Edelman, Murray xxviii, 33n, 51, 211, 250, 270n Eden Gardens, 1996 World Cup 62 Edwards, David and David Cromwell 3, 4 Election Commission, Commissioner 36, 39 English language and globalization xiv–xvi European Cup 1996 62 Farooq, Umer 192–93 Fatemi, Tariq 168 Fernandes, George 136 Fernandes, Uma 102–103 Fiedler, Leslie 20 Fussell, Paul 16, 25 Gandhi, Priyanka and Rahul 61 Ganguly, Sourav 62, 65, 72, 76 Gavaskar, Sunil 102 G-8 6, 8, 184 G-4 183, 184, 185, 191, 195 George, T. J. S. 44 Ghazi, Abdul Rashid 164 Ghosh, Amitav 58n Ghosh, Avijit and Pradeep Thakur 83 Gilley, Bruce 129–30 Gokhale, Nitin A. and Ajith Pillai 11–12 Guantanamo Bay 84 Guha, Ramachandra 63, 69, 73–74, 75 Gujarati diaspora 42–43 Gujarat riots xii, xvi, xvii, xxi, xxii, xxix, xxx, 36–59, 105, 134, 159, 172, 190, 204, 210, 247 Gupta, Suman 155, 194, 195, 236 Guru, Gopal 23 Habermas, Jurgen 50 Haider, Zaid 170 Hali, S. M. 174–75, 195–96 Hansen, Thomas Blom 37, 54–55n,

118n, 120n, 123–24, 132–33, 143n, 179n, 220n Haq, Zia-ul 61 Harivansh 209–10 Harlankar, Samar 12 Harlankar, Samar and Harinder Baweja 17 Hasan, Khalid 170 Hattotuwa, Sanjana xxx Herman, Edward S. and Noam Chomsky xxiii, xxv, 3, 4, 14, 25, 27, 185 Herr, Michael 24, 34n Hindu Rashtra 43 Hizbul Mujahideen 203 Hobsbawm, Eric 146n Hobson, J. A. 7 Howe, Darcus 66 Hu Jintao 141, 142 Hume, A. O. 104 Huntington, Samuel P. 101, 119n, 127, 144n India–China War 1962 xxix, 127, 128, 135–36, 142 Indian diaspora, in UK and US 93–122 India–Pakistan Media Retreat, May 2002 xxxiiin, 55n India and IT 107 India Shining 60, 61, 74 India Today on Gujarat riots 39–41 India Today and Kargil War 5–35 Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) 105–106, 110 Inderfurth, Karl F. 194 Indo-US nuclear deal xxii, 151–82, 188–93 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 154, 156 International Cricket Council (ICC), Anti Corruption Unit 65 International Monetary Fund (IMF) 8, 13 Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) 47, 225, 229


Tracking the Media

Iqbal, Anwar 173–74 Islam and terrorism 82–83 Islamic radicals in Pakistan 171–72 Jadeja, Ajay 63–64 Jaffrelot, Christophe 30–31n, 78n, 257n Jaffrey, Madhur 101 Jahagirdar, Archana 32n Jahangir, Munizae 231 Jaleel, Muzamil 256n Jana Sangh 38 Jeffrey, Robin xvii Jeffries, Stuart 57n Jha, Prem Shankar 192, 257n Jha, Shefali 59n Jindal, Bobby 103–105, 120n John, Shobha 105–107 Joshi, Manoj and Raj Chengappa 13 Joshi, Manoj 34n, 49–50 Kaif, Mohammad xix, 65, 72, 75 Kamat, Anjali xxii, xxvii Kanchan, L. 79, 80 Kannada Prabha 44 Karachi, ‘Karachi Captured’ xix, xxix, 60–78 Kargil Review Committee Report 5, 26, 28 Kargil War xii, xvi, xvii, xviii, xix, xx, xxii, xxvi, xxix, 3–35, 38, 85, 87, 159, 161, 167, 201, 210, 238, 239, 240, 248, 258n, 265 Kargil War and cricket 63, 64, 70 Kargil War and Gujarat riots 42, 45–49 Kashmir xx, xxiii, xxvii, 7–8, 16, 49, 61, 67, 70, 75, 81, 82, 84, 134, 163–64, 165, 166–67, 266 and Amnesty International (AI) reports 254–55n and Human Rights Watch 256n Kashmir earthquake 2005 81–82 Kashmir, Pakistan Occupied (Azad Kashmir) 15, 81, 204, 225

Kashmir and cross-border terrorism 199–207 Khalistan 83 Kissinger, Henry xxv Khan, Abdul Qadir 61, 171, 176, 177 Khan, Akhtar Hasan 193–94 Khan, Tanvir Ahmad 172–73 Khan, Zaheer 65, 72, 75 Khanna, Tarun 138 Khare, Harish 155–56 Krepon, Michael 170 Kronstadt, Alan 165 Kuhn, Thomas 198n Ku Klux Klan 103 Kumar, Krishna xvii Kumar, Radha 159 Lahore bus ride 10, 12, 49 Lakdawala, M. H. xvi–xvii, 210 Lalvani, Gulu 113 Lara, Brian 66 Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) 81, 210 Latif, Rashid 65 Lawrence, Jack 26 Leed, Eric J. 19 Line of Control (LOC) 81, 82 London bombing 79, 87, 176 and Pakistan link 182, 193 Lone, Ghulam Nabi 82 Luce, Edward 161, 167, 187 MacDonald, Juli A. 153, 154, 177n MacNeice, Louis ‘Snow’, xi Madan, R. N. 23 Madhavan, Narayanan 107 Madrid bombing 79, 87 Mahmood, Afzaal 165–66, 223–24 Mahurkar, Uday 40, 41 Mai, Mukhtaran 259–60 Malgi, D. B. 75 Malhotra, Parul 234, 235, 241 Malik, Ashok 158 Malik, Fateh Mohammad 224–27, 264

Index 299 Malik, V. P. 12 Manchanda, Rita 8, 16, 20, 25 Markey, Edward J. 170 Marqusee, Mike 61, 62–63, 65, 71, 102 Martyris, Nina 61–62, 70–71 Masjid, Lal 164, 205 McAlister, Melani xxiii media-academia relationship xxiv–xv Mehendi, Daler 105 Mehta, Bhanu Pratap 158 Menon, Parvathi 139–40 Menzer, John B. 125 Mernissi, Fatimi xx Miandad, Javed 65 middle class and communalism 132–33, 145–46n middle class and fascism 133 middle class and liberalization 132 middle class in China and India 135–36 Mishra, Brajesh 7 Mittal, Lakshmi 113, 114 Mitra, Robin 22–23 Modi, Narendra 39, 40, 50, 51, 72 Mohan, Raja C. 232, 238 Monsoon Wedding 101 Morani, Jai Prakash 213–15 Mother Teresa 104, 191 Mujahid, Altaf 217–18 Mukherjee, Pranab 152, 188 multiculturalism 67, 99–101 Munabao–Khokrapar issue 211–18 Murji, Karim 107–108 Musharraf, Pervez 9, 61, 62, 69, 164, 205, 219n, 228, 234, 237, 239, 240, 248, 255n, 259, 260–61, 262 Mustafa, Seema 173, 243

47, 48, 53, 54n, 58–59n, 60, 181n, 201, 246 National Democratic Alliance (NDA) 60, 61, 112 National Human Rights Commission 36 National Intelligence Council (US) 2020 Project 139, 147n National Readership Survey (NRS) xiii Navbharat Times xvi Nawa-i-Waqt on Kashmir and terrorism 202–206 and Munabao–Khokrapar 217–18 and negative reports of India 263–66 Nayyar, K. K. 14 Nehra, Ashish 65 Nehru, Jawaharlal 52, 208 New Delhi Television (NDTV) xxx, 79–81, 231, 232–33, 241 Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) 172 Ninan, Sevanti xi, xii, xiv, xvi, xxix, xxxin, 78n, 122n, 209, 220n, 236 Ning, Wang 95 Non Resident Indians (NRIs) xv, xxii, 93, 94, 108, 109–10, 112, 114–15, 117n Noorani, A. G. 147–48n Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) 172, 173, 174, 192 Nussbaum, Martha 40

Nag, Kingshuk 42 Nagasaki 161 Naipaul, V. S. 100, 101, 112 Nair, Mira 99–100 Nair, Vinod 68 Nandy, Ashis xix, xxix, 11, 27, 42,

Padmanabhan, Anil 97–98, 100–101, 103–104, 109, 115, 188 Pagaro, Pir 215–16, 217, 218 Panchajanya 7 Pandit, Saleem 82 Parekh, Bhikhu Lord 36, 43, 46

objectivity and media 3–5 Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) 264 Overseas Born Indians (OBI) 116–17


Tracking the Media

Pathak, Lakhubai 96 Pathan, Irfan xix, 72, 75, 76 Patnaik, Ila 160, 161 Patnaik, Prabhat xxi Patriot Act (USA) 84 People of Indian Origin (PIOs) xv, xxii, 93, 94, 112, 117n Perry, John Oliver 108–109 Pew Research Center (Global Attitudes Project) 123, 143n, 156 Philipose, Pamela xxi Pick, Daniel 5, 6, 16–17, 35n, 38, 47, 161, 178n, 200, 229, 251–52 Pilger, John 3 Pitafi, Farrukh Khan 166–67, 167–68 Pokhran II 9, 16, 18, 157 Power, Jonathan 173 Prabhat Khabar 43–44 Prajavani 44 Prasad, A. N. 153–54, 175 Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 43, 94, 95, 106, 111, 112–14 Prentoulis, Marina 3 Press Trust of India (PTI) 252 Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) 36 Punjab Kesri on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism 208 Puri, Rajinder 31n Purie, Aroon 55n, 63, 64 Rai, Aishwarya 98–100 Ramjanmabhoomi campaign xii, xvii Rajagopal, Arvind xvii–xviii, xxxin, 93–94, 108, 113, 119–20n, 121n Rajagopalan, S. and Vijay Dutt 114–15 Rajghatta, Chidanand 131, 151, 160, 179n Rajiva, Lila xxvi, 4–5, 30n Raman, B. 249–50 Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) 38 RSS Resolution 50 Ravi, N. 156

Ray, Satyajit 95 Razdan, M. K. 66–67 Rebeiro, Julio 39 Renan, Ernest 226 Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) 167, 225 Rice, Condoleezza 131, 180n, 191 Rich, Adrienne 17 Ridenhour, Ron 26 Robinson, James xiv Rorty, Richard xx, 88n Rumsfeld, Donald 127, 188 Russell, Bertrand 198n Said, Edward xii, xviii–xix, xxvi, 32n, 82, 159, 199, 200, 206, 210 Samjhauta Express 260 Sandesh xvi–xvii, xxx, 44 Sanjay, B. P. xxiv Sarabhai, Mallika 105 Saran, Rohit 137 Sardesai, Rajdeep 54n Saund, Dalip Singh 103 Savarkar, V. D. 78n Scarry, Elaine 19, 24–25 Second Generation 110 Second World War and US 48–49 and Japan 49 secular versus non-secular debate xvii–xxi, 40, 52–53 Sen, Amartya 9, 74–75, 78n, 161, 173, 186, 240 Sen, Avirook 68–69, 71 Sen, Ronen 191 September 11, 2001 9 Seshu, Geeta 5, 21 Seth, Suhel 95–96 Sethna, A. M. 35n Shah, Ghanshyam 38 Shahi, Agha 163 Shaikh, Najmuddin A. 182n Sharif, Nawaz 6, 233 Sharma, Kalpana 55n Shastri, K. K. 43 Sheharbanu 212–13

Index 301 Shekar, Nirmal 66 Shetty, Shilpa xi Shiv Sena 62, 71 Shradhanjali, theatre of 16, 21, 23, 87, 89n Shukla, Sandhya xxvii, 93, 94, 97–98, 103, 122n Sindhi solidarity, Sindh Quami 212– 214, 216, 218 Singh, Jaswant 13, 22, 34n, 179n, 214–15, 216, 224, 266 Singh, Kuldeep 86–87 Singh, Manmohan 151, 152, 189, 196, 262 Singh, Satish Kumar 267 Singh, Tavleen 56n, 58n Singh, Yuvraj 65, 71 Singhal, Ashok 39 Sirohi, Seema 188–89, 190, 191 Soomro, Imdad 206, 215–16 Soondas, Anand 82 South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) 83 Soyinka, Wole 197n Spector, Leonard 170 Spivak, Gayatri 269n Sri Lanka xxx Srinivasan, Rajiv 129–30, 145n STAR TV, STAR NEWS xxiii, 5, 27–28, 46–47 Subramanyam, K. 160 Subramanian, Nirupam 238 Subramaniam, Vidya 45–46 Sudarshan, V. 138, 192 Suroor, Hasan xxiv Swami, Praveen 12, 19, 26, 30n, 239–40 Sznaider, Natan 85 Tahir-Kheli, Shirin 184 Tal, Kali 180n Talbot, Strobe 172, 193 Taliban 176, 239 Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) 128, 140

Tebbit, Norman Lord 74, 78n Tellis, Ashley 154, 170, 189, 190, 197n Tendulkar, Sachin 65, 71, 76 terror attack in Delhi 2005 79–89 Tester, Keith 4, 86 Tet Offensive 1968 3 Thackeray, Bal 84 Thakur, Sankarshan 27, 35n The Hoot xxiv, xxv, xxvii The Times of India on Delhi blasts 2005 81–85 The Times of India on Gujarat riots 41–43 The Times of India and Kargil War 9–11 Togadia, Praveen 41, 56n, 72, 84 Trivedi, Shikha xxx, 46 Tumber, Howard 3 Twain, Mark xii United Nations Security Council (UNSC), India bid 151, 152, 169, 175, 183–98 United Progressive Alliance (UPA) 124, 152 Vaidya, Madhav Govind 204 Vajpayee, Atal Behari 10, 43–44, 49, 51, 58n, 69, 72, 73 Varadarajan, Siddharth 21, 41–42, 53, 54n, 57n, 153, 154–55, 156, 183–84 Varshney, Ashutosh 52, 132, 135–36, 189–90 Vietnam War xi, 3, 10, 20, 25–26, 35n, 233 Vinayak, Ramesh 15 Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) 7, 15, 39, 43, 103, 113 Vishwa Hindu Samachar 43 Vyas, Rajendra Kumar 53 Wadha, Sona and Amarnath Tewary 20


Tracking the Media

Wal-Mart 125–26 War on terror 157–58, 177, 205, 255n Wen Jiabao 124, 128, 136, 138, 139, 140, 142 Wimbush, Enders S. 153 Williams, Raymond 28n ‘word politics’ 210, 211

World Trade Center 87 World Trade Organization (WTO) 96 Zaidi, Hasan 30n Zakaria, Fareed 146n, 178n, 190 Zaman, Nadir 224 Zavos, John 145–46n