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Is it outright ignorance?

Western media\’s refusal to acknowledge India\’s Progress and transformative changes should be brought to closer scrutiny.

K.A.Badarinath / Neha Dahiya

Why’s it that several Western media editors are anti-India in their stance? Many media friends from Western world are either outright ignorant, pursue an editorial line given by their top management or oblivious to transformative changes that have turned this country into bulwark against tyranny, intolerance and is bustling with multifaceted activity.


The view from London’s West Minister or US Capitol Hill may not fit into what’s on ground zero in India. Pathetic abhorrence about the country’s economic heft, celebration of diverse faiths, rule of law, thriving democracy and not for profit organizations that operate in multitude tantamount to driving a view point.

It may not be easy for western trained minds to understand Indians sensitivity when casual and flippant comments are made. These commentators just may not fully comprehend this complex country, Hindutva, Modi or BJP and would have taken a line that’s far from truth. For that matter, rise of patriotic Hindus that love their country being equated with Mussolini’s forces is something that borders on ignorance par excellence.

For instance, when The Guardian, The New York Times or BBC says 200-odd million Muslims in India are either being treated as second class citizens or subjected to genocide, do these responsible media outlets fully gauge the implications?

I’m tempted to quote a recent research paper produced by Indian Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council member Shamika Ravi titled ‘A secular Democracy in Practice: Objective assessment of Amenities Programs in India’. The study that focuses on bottom 20 per cent households demolishes this preconceived view that minorities have been targeted in India.

On the contrary, the study based on a nationally representative sample of 1.2 million households across 2015-21 shows no discrimination whatsoever against minorities. If at all, there’s bias in favour of minorities especially the Muslims who have been large beneficiaries of government schemes and projects to provide electricity connections, open bank accounts, access to toilets, mobile connectivity. In a few cases, the minorities dominated by Muslims have gained more than Hindus.

The study cites the case of access to electricity provided to 71 per cent Muslim households while it was 68 per cent for Hindus. Bank accounts coverage in Muslim households was as high as 77 per cent. Even the myth that Hinduism purportedly dominated by ‘Brahminical order’ discriminates against low caste communities and tribes gets busted. While access to bank accounts for backward classes was 75 per cent, for scheduled castes and tribes it was over 70 per cent.

Centre for Integrated and Holistic studies (CIHS), as a think tank based in New Delhi has recently put together a detailed report on State of Religious Minorities in India. The report’s in-depth analysis based on evidence and data provided by Indian Government and other agencies establishes that minorities have been big beneficiaries of specific schemes and projects for socio-economic progress of these faith-based groups.

As per the report, 49,000 major infrastructure projects were sanctioned by Central Government for minorities including Muslims and their demarcated areas in last nine years till date. From schools, medical colleges, universities, top-notch health care centres, skill development institutes, service centres to sports facilities and handicraft hubs have either already become operative or in the process of execution.

As per Ministry of Minority Affairs, students of religious minorities will have to study subjects that place them on par with other students. While the Ministry does not interfere in their traditional systems of education, it promotes subjects that enhance critical thinking, reasoning and incorporates scientific thinking.

Religious minorities were allotted 35 graduation colleges, 177 residential schools, 1,572 school buildings, 23,473 classrooms, 14,311 smart classrooms and modern teaching aids, 689 student hostels, 94 ITI buildings, 20 skill centres, 15 polytechnics, 2,397 health projects, 413 sadbhava mandapas (community centres), 168 common service centres, 553 market sheds, 100+ hunar haats, 6,762 toilet and sanitation projects, 84 sports facilities, 27 working women hostels and one unani medical colleges.

Central Government’s scheme for Education of Madrasas and Minorities (SPEMM) was reportedly rolled out. Madrasas which avail these schemes benefit from curriculum redesign and redevelopment that includes introduction of subjects like science, mathematics, social studies, Hindi, and English.

Other skill development schemes like Seekho aur Kamao (i.e. Learn and Earn), USTTAD (Upgrading The Skills and Training in Traditional Arts / Crafts for Development), Nai Manzil, Haj Management were introduced by the government that were specifically for Muslims in India.

A recent editorial in ‘The Guardian’ talked about laying an epitaph to multi-ethnic secular democracy in India. Again, this is a line that’s completely misplaced given that Election Commission of India is the most authoritative, independent and autonomous institution that does not allow elbow room for discrimination against any religious class, faith practice, castes, tribes or a political class.  Even women representation in all four tiers of well-established Indian democratic structure has been on the rise.

As per data provided by Law & Justice Minister Kiran Rijiju on December 9, 2022,  Lok Sabha or lower house of Indian parliament has 14.94 per cent women members while upper house or Rajya Sabha accounts for 14.05 per cent. Similar is the case with state legislative assemblies, district councils to panchayats that represent lowest rung of Indian democracy at village level or clusters.

If strong democratic institutions, law and order machinery coupled with judiciary were not enough, public scrutiny at virtually each level makes Indian democratic experience all the more unique though it’s a wee bit chaotic.  This again demolishes Western perception that Indian democratic institutions ‘serve a particular ideology’. 

Western media reportage claims time and again that information gets censored routinely by the government and civil society organizations were hounded out. This is far from truth. As per Registrar of Newspapers for India, over 114,000 newspapers and publications in over 100 languages have formally been registered by the time Covid 19 set in India. This does not include scores of TV channels, websites in thousands – registered and free float – to social media handles that are operated from within and outside India. To say that Giga bites of content churned out every minute is censored by the Indian government is far from truth or outright untrue.

Non-government organizations that actively operate in this country may run into millions across sectors even today. Hence, claims that not for profit bodies are restricted come out as a fat lie or misrepresentation against tenets of responsible journalistic writing. Is asking NGOs to operate within laws of the land tantamount to hooting them out? Should handful organizations especially those with international linkages that violated FCRA laws be allowed to go scot free? Should a few vociferous NGOs with terror links be given a free hand to create chaos with no third party scrutiny on last mile usage of funds?

What many of western commentators do not comprehend is that community driven organizations, associations, clubs, groups and institutions that undertake socio-economic work is rather common or normal for millennia in India.

Informed commentary on India’s affairs will only amplify the conversation globally. Logic, reasoning, rationale based on data and evidence should be at the fulcrum of this open debate on India.

(Badarinath is Director & Chief Executive at CIHS and Neha is specialist content writer at this New Delhi based think tank)  

1 thought on “Is it outright ignorance?”

  1. Very well explained with statistics of all areas proves the truth of western media.

    India is emerging as a superpower. all citizens had equal rights

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