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‘SC now a tool for anti-nationals,’ says Hindu Right press on BBC documentary row 

ThePrint’s round-up of how pro-Hindutva media covered and commented on news and topical issues over the past few weeks.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court is being used as a tool by “anti-Indians”, Panchjanya, the Hindi mouthpiece of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), said in its editorial this week. This was in response to the court’s notice to the Narendra Modi government over its ban on a controversial BBC documentary on the prime minister.  

Meanwhile, the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, an RSS-affiliated body, came to the defence of the Adani group, saying that the “gain of Adani is loss of China” and those who participated in India’s growth story “should not be targeted”.  

Besides these, the Hindu Right press also focussed on Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s anti-child marriage drive and India’s GDP growth, among other subjects. ThePrint brings you a wrap of how pro-Hindutva media covered and commented on topical issues over the past week.

‘SC runs on taxpayers’ money’

Criticising the Supreme Court’s notice to the government, the Panchjanya editorial said the court belongs to India and runs on “taxpayers’ money”.

The court had issued the notice in connection with the government’s ban on a BBC documentary called India: The Modi Question, a two-part series about the riots that took place in Gujarat in 2002, during Narendra Modi’s tenure as chief minister. Following the release of the documentary, the government had banned social media from sharing links to it.

Discussing the Supreme Court, the editorial said, “Its job is to work according to the Indian legislation and laws, which are of India and for India. We have created and maintained the facility called the Supreme Court in the interests of our country. But it is being used as a tool by anti-Indians.” 

Many “anti-national forces” were trying “to take advantage of our democracy, our generosity, the facilities of civilisational standards”, the editorial said.

“There are attempts to protect terrorists in the name of human rights. From creating hurdles in India’s development story in the name of the environment to efforts to hamper India’s defence preparedness, everything is a story in itself,” the editorial said.

“Now going a step further, efforts are being so that the anti-national forces have the right to spread bad propaganda in India, the right to weaken the nation by religious conversions. And not only this, (there are efforts to ensure that) they also get the benefit of the laws of India while doing this,” the editorial said, referring to those who filed a petition in the Supreme Court asking for the links to be reinstated. 

Also Read: ‘Supremacist ego hurt seeing Bharat’s rise’ — Hindu Right press on ‘anti-Modi’ BBC documentary

Assam’s child marriage intervention

In its cover story headlined ‘Masoom Bacchiyon ke Chacha Himanta’ (Himanta, the uncle of innocent young girls), Panchjanya endorsed Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s anti-child marriage drive that led to the arrests of over 2000 people. 

While the drive has been criticised for allegedly targeting Muslims, the article claimed that opposition parties never accept that most child marriages happen among Muslims.

“Most of the arrests have been made from the middle and lower districts, where a large number of Bangladeshi infiltrators live. The maximum number of arrests was made in Biswanath district, where more than 80 per cent of the population is Hindu”, it said.

It further said, Congress state president Bhupen Borah wants the government to show humanity towards those who commit crimes like child marriage. At the same time, AIUDF (the All India United Democratic Front) led by Badruddin Ajmal says that the BJP government is targeting the Muslim population in the state. These parties never accept the fact that more than 70 per cent of child marriages in the state are among Muslims.”

Asaduddin Owaisi, chief of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, says that before taking steps against child marriage, the government should have tried to improve the literacy rate among Muslims, the article said. 

“Owaisi had also criticised the state government’s decision to convert around 4,000 madrasas in the province into regular schools to provide modern education to Muslim students,” it added.

Swadeshi Jagaran Manch backs Adani 

In a report published on his own website, the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch’s co-convenor, Ashwani Mahajan, said that Gautam Adani was a wealth creator and that those who participated in India’s growth story shouldn’t be targeted.

He was referring to the fallout of a report by New York-based short-seller Hindenburg Research LLC. Published on 24 January, Hindenburg accused the Adani Group of “brazen stock manipulation” and accounting fraud. 

The report had adverse consequences for the Indian conglomerate, wiping out billions of dollars of investors’ money from the market and leading to several overseas regulators launching investigations into the allegations. 

“Adani is producing solar panels. Adani is producing semiconductors,” the report on Mahajan’s website quoted him as saying. “Adani has built all these airports. They are all real assets. So Adani’s model of business is not cash-burning. Therefore, saying that his firm is cash-burning is wrong. I question how the assets being built will vanish. It will not. (sic)” 

He further said the rise of Adani was a threat to China. “The gain of Adani is the loss of China. There were many people who had literally stolen India’s money and fled abroad. They should be called the real ‘culprits’,” he said, according to the report.

Mahajan said that with global economies contracting, international investors had “no option than to invest in India”. 

‘Adani group down but far from out’

In his opinion piece in The New Indian Express, right-leaning author Makarand R. Paranjape said that if the Adani Group were to “take this trashing as a learning experience and improve both its books and its image, it is sure to regain its standing in the market both in India and overseas”. 

Despite this, however, Paranjape dismissed the Hindenburg report, saying it wasn’t research but a “heap of allegations and accusations”. 

However, he did admit that Adani stocks were grossly overvalued. 

“Highly levered, with huge stockpiles of debt, and very high price-to-equity ratios, they were already inflated and unattractive to ordinary investors. The run-up on several Adani company shares in the last year, which had made Gautam Adani the second richest person in the world for a while, was, to say the least, somewhat unusual, if not unnatural. The bubble was bound to burst. It only needed an opportunistic short-seller like Hindenburg to hasten the correction,” Paranjape said in his article. 

The opinion piece also mentions Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in Parliament, which he called “his comprehensive counter to his adversaries”. Modi’s speech in Parliament on 8 February was in response to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s speech attacking the government over the Adani-Hindenburg controversy. 

“It was another masterly performance, which showed how much Modi has aced the parliamentary system of debate and rebuttal,”  Paranjape said in his column. “Modi was a picture of composure, peppering his speech with sarcastic jibes, humour, and occasional verse quotations.” 

RSS can’t defend its own leaders’

In a column in Naya India, right-leaning author Shankar Shara wrote about the journey of the RSS, from its founding under K.B Hedgewar, a former Congressman and the first chief of the Hindu organisation, to the present. 

Shara claimed that the Sangh wasn’t doing enough to protect the interests of the Hindus. 

 “After all, the Sangh was born by fighting directly against Muslim aggression, while distributing lathis and literature on heroism among the Hindus,” he wrote in the column. “That situation is still the same — in fact, (it’s) become much worse than before. Meanwhile, about one-third of the country became Hindu-less. Two anti-Hindu countries have been formed cutting off from the nation. Even in the remaining Swadeshi Raj, Hindus were legally made second-class citizens and their education and temples were snatched from their hands.” 

Such things weren’t seen even during the British Raj, Sharan alleged in his article. “But far from fighting on these issues, the leaders of the Sangh have stopped even raising their voice,” he said, claiming that the incumbent Sangh leadership and its workers don’t want to come forward officially in defence of their policies or activities. 

“Rather, even the statements or actions of any sarsanghchalak and top leaders (eg, Golwalkar, Sudarshan, Madhok, Vajpayee, etc.) are avoided, saying that it was their ‘personal’ thought/action, ‘not that of the Sangh’. But then what is the idea — the work  — of the Sangh,” he asked. 

‘The professional pessimists’ 

In his column in Open magazine, Minhaz Merchant referred to former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan as a “professional pessimist”.  

Referring to Rajan’s column in The Times of India last month on India’s growth being lower than in the pre-pandemic era, Merchant says: “Rajan deliberately chooses the period between 2019 and 2022, which contained two years of virtually flat GDP growth, like most of the rest of the world, due to the Covid pandemic. A less disingenuous way would be to examine GDP growth between 2014-15 and 2018-19, before the Covid pandemic struck”.

He further claimed that facts have never stood in the way of “professional pessimists”. 

“Uncomfortable ones are silently buried. Rajan would be mortified if the vast Indian hoi polloi discovered that, as chief economic adviser to the Ministry of Finance in 2012-13, he presided over an inflation rate of 10.2 per cent,” Merchant wrote in his piece.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: ‘Religious frenzy causes inhuman behaviour’: Hindu Right press links Shraddha murder to ‘love jihad’


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