India Elections 2024 (Part III) – OpEd


Manufactured Narratives, Concocted Data & Imperialistic Objectives of superpowers who fear a “resurgent India” want Modi to go.

Every effort is being made to limit India and keep its role regional, subverting any attempt to allow her to rub shoulders with the superpowers. 

One of the easiest ways to do this is by controlling what Indians are beginning to believe about a ‘Resurgent India’, and to simultaneously ensure that the rest of the world does not believe the positive transformation of India that they are witnessing with their own eyes.

Quite obviously, which major world power will want a country of nearly a billion and a half people to transform itself from playing a regional role to becoming an economic and political heavyweight ? The truth that they are not able to subvert is that there is no serious decision on world affairs today that can be taken without accommodating India in some way.

Some examples of the false narratives being built and then a discussion on who are the constituents of this anti-Modi brigade which is  propagating them. First, let us look at the headlines that are indicative of the editorial line anti-Modi media houses have been flashing  – “Freedom of Press is Dealt Deadly Blows by Modi’s Proto-Fascist Regime in India” to “The Fabulous and the Fascist” to “BJP in Historical and Comparative Perspective of Fascism”.

The less aggressive journalists are calling Modi decisions a  “democracy backslide”, while the belligerents are bellowing out ridiculous headlines such as “Hindutva Fascism Threatens The World’s Largest Democracy”.

This narrative of building Modi, BJP and RSS as fascists, from those who fear a ‘Resurgent India’, starts with the usage of the phrase “right-wing Hindu nationalist”. You will find that most foreign news agencies and left-dominated media within India use this as mandatory language to address the BJP and RSS.

It is important to point out that this isn’t just happening in the last two or three years in the run-up to the general elections. Democracy started “eroding” on the front pages of foreign press newspapers and journals from the very time that Narendra Modi came to power in 2014! The term “fascist” started getting liberally sprinkled across all articles whenever there was a mention of Modi. The brigade became restless as Modi moved forward with a bold and dynamic vision to build a strong India that was self-reliant and could boast of a steady economic growth. They huddled together and ensured screaming headlines against the BJP government, more so in 2019 when BJP came to power for the second time and decided to right a historical wrong by abrogating Article 370 and thereby integrating Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh fully into the mainstream.  While India rejoiced, Modi’s detractors splashed their newspapers with partisan headlines such as – “Darkest Day Uproar As India Strips Kashmir of Special Status”, including “From India’s Perspective The Conundrum of Kashmir Has Been Resolved But In Reality, The Worst Is Yet To Come”, and many worst news stories like in the The New York Times which alleged that the Indian government has “unilaterally wiped out the autonomy of the restive Kashmir region”.

The Kashmir decision was followed by many other bold decisions, amongst which was the consecration of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya at the site where Hindu God Ram is believed to be born (decisions that were unthinkable before Modi took over as Prime Minister). Millions of Indians have been waiting for the temple’s construction because of religious faith, unconcerned over legal and philosophical nuances. Western media’s hypocrisy was further exposed when instead of reporting from ground zero about India rejoicing and the festive atmosphere across the country, Modi-baiters called it an electoral stunt and again screamed hoarse – “Hindu supremacy on razed mosque”!

Why is this happening? What is the purpose?

Many “intelligent and well-read” people in posh Lutyens Delhi brush me aside when I begin to describe the incestuous relationship that is crystal clear between major media platforms, the powerful academia lobby, cash-rich NGOs and sponsored think tanks. I sometimes do not blame the public, however intelligent they may be, because most of these entities being used to propagate the “manufactured narrative” are considered to be high-credibility entities and are acclaimed to be non-partisan and impartial. These entities have been carefully nurtured by the Congress over decades and have the resource base to continuously concoct fresh, baseless narratives through sponsoring seminars, webinars, workshops, award functions and policy conclaves.

Method to the Madness 

To hit India inside and outside is the sole purpose of these manufactured anti-India narratives and concocted data.

During the prolonged 70-year regime of the Congress, India’s oldest political party, the public was made to believe this charade of the West that the country’s strategic interests, commercial considerations, academic efforts and religious goals converge in developing and delivering such narratives.

The narratives were generated in the West – with local collaborators and their top-notch institutions like V-Dem, Freedom House, Amnesty International, Transparency International, etc. 

My Editor friend, a former Member of Parliament and also an ace political commentator, Balbir Punj, in his article published this week quotes a recent report that South Korea and the US tech giant Microsoft have warned that China was likely to deploy Artificial Intelligence-generated content via social media to sway public opinion to boost its geopolitical interests during elections in India.

I think that we do not need Microsoft to tell us this. We already know that the Chinese have a vested interest and are using all means to stall another round of BJP-led regime from returning to power in the ongoing election.

In his article, Punj discusses the agenda-driven international agencies that are trying to water down the achievements of the Modi government using reports that have been carefully manipulated. 

The latest such report doing the rounds, he says, is the World Inequality Lab report which claims that the present-day “golden era of Indian billionaires has produced soaring income inequality in India — now among the highest in the world”. 

Similarly, close to being ludicrous is the World Happiness Report 2024, which positions India at 126 among 143 countries, trailing behind nations such as Libya (66), Iraq (92), Palestine (103), Ukraine (105), Pakistan (108) and Niger (109) !

In the same vein, the Global Hunger Index 2023 rankings places India at 111 among 125 countries. The index places Pakistan at 102, Bangladesh at 81, Nepal at 69, and Sri Lanka at 60, far ahead of India. Will anyone believe it ? 

Yet another one by the Thomson Reuters Foundation (2018) declared India as “the world’s most dangerous country for women”. This survey was based on feedback from just 550 respondents.

The author claims that these absurd findings aren’t a result of some innocent miscalculations from the scholars undertaking such studies. There is a method to this madness. Obviously, statistics, data and facts are suitably tailored to support predetermined conclusions to further set agendas.

It is indeed interesting that the ‘World Inequality Lab’ findings have been fathered by Hurun Report Inc., a company established in 1999 by Rupert Hoogewerf, also known by his Chinese name Hu Run. With 150 odd employees on its payroll, Hurun is headquartered in Shanghai. In India, the company launched in 2012, is headed by Mumbai-based Anas Rahman Junaid.

The World Inequality Report’s political bias became apparent when it said that inequality has been particularly pronounced since the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) first came to power in 2014. Over the last decade, major political and economic reforms have led to “an authoritarian government with centralisation of decision-making power, coupled with a growing nexus between big business and government”.

Contrary to what the report would have us believe, poverty in India is declining — a fact repeatedly recognised by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. According to informed studies, abject poverty has declined sharply from 29.17% in 2013-14 to 11.28% in 2022-23, resulting in 24.82 crore individuals escaping destitution during the nine-year period. It translates into 2.75 crore people escaping multidimensional poverty every year.

Quite evidently, these proxy wars are aimed at regime change and are not to be taken lightly.

Behind these forces, in the garb of media – print and television, social media, as well as mighty institutions, lie the tentacles of vicious foreign powers who are out to destabilize India. Unfortunately, both Indian and/or Indian-origin people fall prey to this machiavellian design and begin to play a critical role in generating and perpetuating these false and baseless narratives. 

These wars use our weaknesses and fracture points to achieve their aim.

The Western public is equally gullible and sees these reports as authentic, and the Indian public sees them as indigenous. In both cases, it lends credibility to the false narrative.

For instance, in the 2022 Leicester riots, the world was made to believe that “India’s often violent, sectarian politics were playing out on Britain’s streets”. Suddenly, international politicians, diplomats, activists, influencers, pressure groups and the global media turned their attention to Leicester. So much so that even Indian and Indian-origin journalists started claiming on Twitter that the violence was a consequence of Hindutva instigation. This continued despite denials by the Leicester police.

It is important to point out that this narrative is being supported by media houses and other agencies on both sides of the Atlantic.

An Indian news website posted this – “Violent Clashes in Leicester Last Year Stoked by Modi’s Hindu Nationalist Party’, screaming headlines by Daily Mail stating “Those elements close to Indian prime minister Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are suspected of having incited British Hindus to confront Muslim youths in last summer’s explosive riots in Leicester ….” 

Just before the 2019 elections, an article that appeared prominently in the New York Times read – “Under Modi, a Hindu Nationalist Surge Has Further Divided India”. Like I said of course that it’s both sides of the Atlantic. Just ahead of the ongoing elections, a section of the Indian media warned – “Beware of manufactured narratives” and reads on as – “ As we gloat over the fact that India will soon become a $5 trillion economy, we tend to forget that not very long ago we were bothered by unemployment, which had risen to a 45-year high, and consumption, which had.dropped to a 40-year low …”, thereby warning the public of believing the BJP’s manifesto claims of a ‘Resurgent Bharat’. 

Not surprising then that these false and concocted narratives are being doled out to the Indian public once again, ahead of the 2024 general elections. 

It is clear that every possible means is being used to undermine the growing prowess of 1.45 billion Indians. Beyond doubt, when world forces align and combine, they are capable of weakening the ruling party and fracturing their efforts of delivering a powerful India.

India and its people must pay attention to the imperial move of the West and other enemy nations to force-change a political regime that is revolutionizing the country. Similar imperial moves are being made not just against India, but against many other countries as well. A global outcry and a complete destruction of these imperialistic moves is the need of the hour.

Michael Vlahos  “Narrative’ may sound like a fancy literary word, but it is actually the foundation of all strategy, upon which all else – policy, rhetoric and action – is built.”

Manoranjana Gupta

Manoranjana Gupta is a Journalist, TV opinion leader, and a Special Advisor for GDKP in India, at the Center for Digital Future, Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism under the University of Southern California.

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