Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rulers and Media Manufacturing Consent in India

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum....” ― Noam Chomsky, The Common Good 

A recent Pew Global Attitudes survey shows that 85% of Indians are satisfied with their government's performance, particularly its handling of the economy. Only the Chinese and Brazilians are more satisfied with their economic situation among the 22 countries included in the survey.

India, a nation which has the dubious distinction of being home to the world's largest population of poor, hungry, illiterate and sick people, and where 7000 people die of hunger every day, fully 81% say terrorism is the biggest problem India faces today.

The only way to explain these strange opinions from the Pew Poll in India is to seriously ponder over the following excerpts from MIT's Linguistics and Communications Professor Noam Chomsky's inteview recently published in Outlook India:

Q: You once said, “Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to totalitarianism.” Do you mean that propaganda enables the elite to dull the will of people, depriving them of the capacity to make political choices?

A. That clearly is its goal, in fact its stated goal. Back in the 1920s, it used to be frankly called propaganda. But the word acquired a bad flavour with Nazism in the 1930s. So now, it’s not called propaganda any more. But they were right in the 1920s. The huge public relations industry, for example, has its goal to control attitudes and beliefs. Liberal commentators, like Walter Lippmann, said we have to manufacture consent and keep the rabble away from the decision-making. We are the responsible men, we have to make decisions and we have to be protected—and I quote Lippmann—“from the trampling under the rage of the bewildered herd—the public”. In the democratic process, we are the participants, they watch. And the task of intellectuals, media and so on is to make sure that they are quiet, subdued and obedient. That is the view from the liberal end of the spectrum. Yes, I don’t doubt that the media is liberal in that sense.

Professor Noam Chomsky, co-author with Ed Herman of Manufacturing Consent, also told Outlook India that “media subdues the public. It’s so in India, certainly".

Here are some more excerpts from Chomsky's Outlook inteview:

"I spent three weeks in India and a week in Pakistan. A friend of mine here, Iqbal Ahmed, told me that I would be surprised to find that the media in Pakistan is more open, free and vibrant than that in India.

In Pakistan, I read the English language media which go to a tiny part of the population. Apparently, the government, no matter how repressive it is, is willing to say to them that you have your fun, we are not going to bother you. So they don’t interfere with it.

The media in India is free, the government doesn’t have the power to control it. But what I saw was that it was pretty restricted, very narrow and provincial and not very informative, leaving out lots of things. What I saw was a small sample. There are very good things in the Indian media, specially the Hindu and a couple of others. But this picture (in India) doesn’t surprise me. In fact, the media situation is not very different in many other countries. The Mexican situation is unusual. La Jornada is the only independent newspaper in the whole hemisphere."

"As soon as the plan to invade Iraq was announced, the media began serving as a propaganda agency for the government. The same was true for Vietnam, for state violence generally. The media is called liberal because it is liberal in the sense that Obama is. For example, he’s considered as the principled critic of the Iraq war. Why? Because, right at the beginning, he said it was a strategic blunder. That’s the extent of his liberalism. You could read such comments in Pravda in 1985. The people said that the invasion of Afghanistan was a strategic blunder. Even the German general staff said that Stalingrad was a strategic blunder. But we don’t call that principled criticism."

"Perhaps the period of greatest real press freedom was in the more free societies of Britain and the US in the late 19th century. There was a great variety of newspapers, most often run by the factory workers, ethnic communities and others. There was a lot of popular involvement. These papers reflected a wide variety of opinions, were widely read too. It was the period of greatest vibrancy in the US. There were efforts, especially in England, to control and censor it. These didn’t work. But two things pretty much eliminated them. One, it was possible for the corporate sector to simply put so much capital into their own newspapers that others couldn’t compete. The other factor was advertising; advertiser-reliance. Advertisers are businesses. When newspapers become dependent on advertisers for their income, they are naturally going to bend to the interest of advertisers.

If you look at the New York Times, maybe the world’s greatest newspaper, they have the concept of news hole. What that means is that in the afternoon when they plan for the following day’s newspaper, the first thing they do is to layout where the advertising is going to be, because that’s an important part of a newspaper. You then put the news in the gaps between advertisements. In television there is a concept called content and fill. The content is the advertising, the fill is car chase, the sexy or whatever you put in to try to keep the viewer watching in between the ads. That’s a natural outcome when you have advertiser-reliance."

Chomsky is not alone in his assessment of the Indian media. Here are a few other examples:

1. Alice Albinia in the preface to her book "Empires of the Indus":

"It was April, 2000, almost a year since the war between Pakistan and India over Kargil in Kashmir had ended, and the newspapers which the delivery man threw on to my terace every morning still portrayed Pakistan as a rogue state, governed by military cowboys, inhabited by murderous fundamentalists: the rhetoric had the patina of hysteria."

2. John Briscoe, Harvard Professor and water expert on coverage of India-Pakistan water dispute:

Living in Delhi and working in both India and Pakistan, I was struck by a paradox. One country was a vigorous democracy, the other a military regime. But whereas an important part of the Pakistani press regularly reported India's views on the water issue in an objective way, the Indian press never did the same. I never saw a report which gave Indian readers a factual description of the enormous vulnerability of Pakistan, of the way in which India had socked it to Pakistan when filling Baglihar. How could this be, I asked? Because, a journalist colleague in Delhi told me, "when it comes to Kashmir – and the Indus Treaty is considered an integral part of Kashmir -- the ministry of external affairs instructs newspapers on what they can and cannot say, and often tells them explicitly what it is they are to say."

3. Shekhar Gupta in Indian Express:

Can we deny the fact that every new terror attack on the Pakistani establishment, every development that marks a further decline in the authority of its government is greeted with an utterly unconcealed sense of delight? This is not just the mood of the mobs here. Even the “intelligentsia”, the TV talking heads, opinion page columnists, government spokespersons, all have the same smug air of “I-told-you-so” and “so-what-else-did-they-expect” satisfaction. And they ask the same patronising question: hell, can Pakistan be saved?

It is time therefore to stop jubilating at the unfolding tragedy in Pakistan. India has to think of becoming a part of the solution. And that solution lies in not merely saving Pakistan — Pakistan will survive. It has evolved a strong nationalism that does bind its people even if that does not reflect in its current internal dissensions. It is slowly building a democratic system, howsoever imperfect. But it has a very robust media and a functional higher judiciary. Also, in its army, it has at least one national institution that provides stability and continuity. The question for us is, what kind of Pakistan do we want to see emerging from this bloodshed? What if fundamentalists of some kind, either religious or military or a combination of both, were to take control of Islamabad? The Americans will always have the option of cutting their losses and leaving. They have a long history of doing that successfully, from Vietnam to Iraq and maybe Afghanistan next. What will be our Plan-B then?

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Disease Burdens in South Asia

Pakistan's Media Boom

Manufacturing Consent: Political Economy of the Mass Media

India 63 Years After Independence

Pew Poll in India

Media Subdues The Public. It’s So In India, Certainly

Empires of the Indus


Vishal said...

I cannot agree more with you.

If you leave certain newspapers like Hindu - many of the Indian online newspapers are completely trash. A case in point is Times of India - a completely trash portal whose only objective is to make money by selling sensational news and dumb chit-chats.

In comparison Pakistani online newspapers like Dawn seem to be much more mature; and yes, you hardly see trash there...

It should not be any surprise that Dawn and Geo have been pressured too much by Pakistani Govt recently, whereas no one gives a damn about TimesofIndia.

Anonymous said...

The first step to progress is to think freely and even if one has to believe in a certain concept of life and universe, it should be by argument and not by birth. That way the society will not only have tolerance on socio-political level but also will encourage free thinking and criticism which will open new vistas of probability for the discovery of new ideas, sciences, techniques and methodologies.

Religion is mainly a private affair based on certain dogmas, creeds, rituals, customs, traditions and morals having some points of intersection with cultures of third world countries in particular and hence should be respected. However it neither can nor should interfere into the collective politico-economic affairs of the state which are more related to the means of capital production and its distribution and hence determine whether a nation is qualified to pass the litmus test for development or not. The whole idea of development is in reference to the collective [politico-economic] aspects of social life and religion being more an individualistic affair has least to do with science of development

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "Religion is mainly a private affair based on certain dogmas, creeds, rituals, customs, traditions and morals having some points of intersection with cultures of third world countries in particular and hence should be respected."

Religious dogma is not the only dogma prevalent in the world today.

Other dogmas include democracy, free markets and laisez faire capitalism which are being thrust upon the world today through war, incessant propaganda through corpoate media, and other means.

The practitioners of these other dogmas are responsible for the bulk of violence we see in the world today.

And such violence is not just physical; it also includes violence to peoples' minds done through propaganda that persuades them to act against their own best self-interest when they choose their leaders in a "democacy".

As Noam Chomsky puts it:

“Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to totalitarianism.”

"The huge public relations industry, for example, has its goal to control attitudes and beliefs. Liberal commentators, like Walter Lippmann, said we have to manufacture consent and keep the rabble away from the decision-making. We are the responsible men, we have to make decisions and we have to be protected—and I quote Lippmann—“from the trampling under the rage of the bewildered herd—the public”. In the democratic process, we are the participants, they watch. And the task of intellectuals, media and so on is to make sure that they are quiet, subdued and obedient. That is the view from the liberal end of the spectrum. Yes, I don’t doubt that the media is liberal in that sense."

Anonymous said...

'Other dogmas include democracy, free markets and laisez faire capitalism which are being thrust upon the world today through war, incessant propaganda through corpoate media, and other means. '

So basically what your saying is that India got it right vis a vis initial protectionism to nurture its nascent industry ?

Anonymous said...

"Religious dogma is not the only dogma prevalent in the world today. "

No other dogma has kept its people so backward as religion, specially the so called Religion of Peace. Islam is totally Fatalistic, leaving everything to so called "insha allah". So you don't study for exams and then leave it to allah to get good grades !!!.

Back in 1980s during Soviet invasion of Afghan, one soviet army person asked a afghan villager, who had nothing in his house, except a copy of Quran "why don't you do something to improve your life". To which the afghan said "but the more we suffer in this world, the better will be our life in jannat".

Son of Lee Kuan Yew (first PM of Singapore) was in Pak about 7/8 yrs back and at the time of departure he was asked by journalist whether he has anything to say for Pakistanis. he replied "I have nothing to say, anyhow most of pakistanis are more worried about life after death".

Riaz, don't get my started on Islam. I felt relieved the day I left it. I can't do anything about the life I spent as a muslim, but certainly I can do a lot during the rest of my life as an ex-muslim.

anoop said...

To a certain extent this is true. Indian media is fiercely nationalistic.

But, I ask you this, is there any kind of control on the content? Aren't the media establishments free to air anything they like?

Media houses are free to follow government version of things if they find it suitable, you are talking as if Government of India is forcibly pushing all this down their throats.

Besides, with Globalization this theory doesn't hold good. If someone is interested in something he can always Google it and find alternative theories.

Aren't Pakistani newspapers and YOU doing the same thing, following Pakistani Establishment propaganda regarding Kashmir and Balochistan? Weren't Urdu newspapers filled with blame India,US and Israel even after the Karachi blasts? Dont even talk about regular days, anti-non-Muslim rhetoric goes through the roof!

Show me one major publication which directly targets any particular community, such as those which exist in Pakistan do.

Do they ever talk about,for instance, that FTA they signed with China has been a disaster, which has killed the local industry by filling it up with cheap, low-quality Chinese products?

They dont do this because China is a friend and there is no need to ask such kind of questions.

So, Riaz, do not throw stones at others when you are living in a Glass house.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop:"So, Riaz, do not throw stones at others when you are living in a Glass house."

The recent Pew poll in India, a nation which has the dubious distinction of being home to the world's largest population of poor, hungry, illiterate and sick people, and where 7000 people die of hunger every day, fully 81% say terrorism is the biggest problem India faces today.

Pew Global Attitudes survey shows that 85% of Indians are satisfied with their government's performance, particularly its handling of the economy. Only the Chinese and Brazilians are more satisfied with their economic situation among the 22 countries included in the survey.

I can't find any time in the histoy of Pakistan, or anywhere else, when 85% of the people have expessed such deep satisafaction in the face of such widespead poverty and hunge as exists in India today.

Anonymous said...

here is a feel good article

I am happy that the lady (Ms Parveen) chose not to believe in non existent allah and instead work hard to uplift her life and kudos to
Roshaneh Zafar to do Microloans despite interest being haram.

Anonymous said...

The media in both India and Pakistan is reactionary...the only difference is that Pakistani politicians have a thicker skin, whereas in India their counterparts often succumb to pressure.

In last 3 weeks, 3 ministers in India were forced to resign with accusations of corruption. Throughout this period, the Indian media maintained a 24 hrs focus on them and why they should be fired.

On the contrary, Pakistan media openly calls Zardari and ilk cheats and thieves, but no heads have rolled since a decade.

As far as my criticism goes, I hate timesofindia for their absolute low quality, utter disregard for journalism ethics and their preference for articles like : "how to have better sex" than "Haryana having skewed sex ratio".

Anonymous said...


Kashmir removed from UN list of unresolved disputes.

Another victory for India's world beating diplomatic corps.

Zen, Munich said...


These polls are often designed to get the results powerful people want to hear, period. OK, if you ask rather trivial things you may get fair result. Polls like the one from PEW works best in homogeneous egalitarian countries like Sweden. But in a country like India, it has got not much meaning. PEW writes in its website that in India, survey was confined to urban areas. How representative that will be? The message that the survey solely represent the opinion of a few urban middle class who work in IT/call center is lost in transmission. That is why sometimes you find rather ridiculous results like 65% Indians like George Bush, when in fact I doubt whether 65% of Indians ever heard about him.

Pew survey on Islam-West (mis)understanding states(or rather nags) that when asked about increasing misunderstanding towards Islam in West, around 25%(if I remember correctly) in Egypt/Jordan volunteered to name Jews as the culprits. If a significant part of Muslims feel that some or many Jews which control the media stir hatred towards Muslims, doesn't their opinion carry any weightage?(Well, this doesnt mean that those who read the survey result has to believe it). Instead of disparaging these 25%, why dont Pew ask themselves why if tehy get some unpleasant response which tehy cannot swallow, they would mock the people who participated in the survey.

Anonymous said...

"Religious dogma is not the only dogma prevalent in the world today.

Other dogmas include democracy, free markets and laisez faire capitalism which are being thrust upon the world today through war, incessant propaganda through corpoate media, and other means."

I would tend to agree with that view. The West would be better off in the long run pursuing an isolationist policy and let the third world fester in its own mediocrity (whether it be medieval theocracies or dictatorships). It's unlikely that most countries have people (in terms of human capital) to allow for liberal democracy/capitalism to flourish.

It also makes sense for the West to, in conjunction, have a moratorium of immigration from unassimilable peoples from the 3rd world, though exceptions should be made for those that have both the intellectual capital AND the value systems to flourish in the West.
Immigration, after all, is NOT a right - it's a privilege.

"And such violence is not just physical; it also includes violence to peoples' minds done through propaganda that persuades them to act against their own best self-interest when they choose their leaders in a "democacy". "

Right! As if propaganda is absent in the 3rd world. If anything, it is rife in the more despotic nations of the world. I'm sure you think you are a phenomenally heterodox thinker, but you're peddling the same clap-trap that 18 year old leftists in American colleges peddle. As such, it betrays a shocking lack of intellectual depth to put scare quotes around "democracy" (you're free to move back to Pakistan, Mian, if you're so oppressed in this Western democracy).

"The recent Pew poll in India, a nation which has the dubious distinction of being home to the world's largest population of poor, hungry, illiterate and sick people, and where 7000 people die of hunger every day, fully 81% say terrorism is the biggest problem India faces today. "

Yeah, but what was the sample like? You ought to cast aspersions on the sampling methodology rather than on the Indians as a people here. I have relatives in India who received an outstanding education, cared little for others outside of the immediate family, and were happy to have their time investment in education pay off in a big way eventually. They don't care about the poor (again, a typical 3rd world trait - Westerners are less inured to poverty as compared to (say) South Asians. Gates and Buffet can donate the majority of their wealth to eradicate disease/hunger/ignorance, while the Mittals and Premjis won't).
They're obviously pleased at the prospect of further economic progress for THEM and their kids. That's only natural.

"I can't find any time in the histoy of Pakistan, or anywhere else, when 85% of the people have expessed such deep satisafaction in the face of such widespead poverty and hunge as exists in India today."

Please! Don't peddle more specious BS, Riaz. If and when a subsection of Pakistan starts to prosper owing to POLICY DECISIONS the way a small subsection of India has, we'll be able to compare apples to apples.

Take your blinkers off. There's partisan hackery in India (no doubt; I'd characterize India as a semi-liberal poorly functioning democracy with low economic potential - it is the biggest lemon that's being sold to the world right now) and I love Dawn as much as the next semi-aware guy, but to criticize, on this basis, democracies and free markets in general is juvenile.

Anonymous said...



1. For an awesome take-down of Indian hubris, read the *COMMENTS* here - there's much truth to all of this:

2. Read Steven Pinker's Blank Slate for a repudiation of the belief in equality (loaded word, I know) of all races in terms of their genetic traits. This relates to the argument put forth by me below on how South Asian IQs, even in disease-free situations, is significantly below that of Whites/East Asians/Jews.


anoop said...


"I can't find any time in the histoy of Pakistan, or anywhere else, when 85% of the people have expessed such deep satisafaction in the face of such widespead poverty and hunge as exists in India today."

--> So you are basically miffed that the average Indian is more optimistic than the average Pakistani.

Poverty doesn't mean that you have to be unhappy and pessimistic all the time!

My father grew up in a village. That village is now called a town. It has progressed tremendously and real estate prices have gone through the roof!

I remember the when I used to visit it when I was a kid. There were NO roads, forget about good roads. Slowly the roads came, then the road's maintenance increased to a certain extent. All this happened in my lifetime itself. I am still in my early 20s. Not a single kid, however poor misses school in the village. No wonder my state aims to become 100% literate in 5 to 6 years!

If all this isn't reason for optimism I dont know what is.

You are just angry that Indians in general are happy. Ultimately that is all it counts,isn't it. India is growing and the people who are living here can see that. Pakistan is not growing, infact it is progressing backwards! Pakistanis see that.

If you started living in Pakistan again, you would notice. I guess its asking too much from you.

Well, you can always move to India!

Riaz Haq said...

anoop:"Poverty doesn't mean that you have to be unhappy and pessimistic all the time!"

I agree. But over 80% approval of a government delivering such bad governance can only be the result of brainwashing by a self-serving corporate media.

As to hope and optimism, over 7000 Indians who have aleady died evey day of this year have no hope.

The 46% of Indian children growing up undernouished with a heavy disease burden are being condemned to a miserable life with an underdeveloped or damaged brain.

In fact, a child in a poor county in Africa has more hope than a poor child in "Shining" India.


A 10-year-old living in the slums of Calcutta, raising her 5-year-old brother on garbage and scraps, and dealing with tapeworms and the threat of cholera, suffers neither more nor less than a 10-year-old living in the same conditions in the slums of Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. But because the Indian girl lives in an “emerging economy,” slated to battle it out with China for the position of global economic superpower, and her counterpart in Lilongwe lives in a country with few resources and a bleak future, the Indian child's predicament is perceived with relatively less urgency, and gets little help from her own government or the intenationhal aid donors.

One is “poor” and gets help from intenational donors, while the other represents a “declining poverty rate” and gets less help and attention of the world.

Due to the fake ‘India Shining’ propaganda, foreign donors are reluctant to help the poor people in India. According to figures provided by Britain’s aid agency, the total aid to India, from all sources, is only $1.50 a head, compared with an average of $17 per head for low-income countries. And aid to India (particulaly from India's biggest donor UK) is being reduced as we speak with the British budget cuts.

anoop said...


Talking about schools, while India is building schools and legislating about education, Pakistan is doing this.

Name one university of repute in Pakistan. Shows that Indians and Pakistanis have different priorities.

On the one side Taliban are blowing up schools,girl schools in particular, on the other, Pakistani government is too afraid to stand up to the Army and reduce its budget to make space for development and instead asking the world community to waiver the debt Pakistan intentionally took!

The above report says,"From the provision of education and health services to infrastructure development projects, all the money the state spends is borrowed money. So in a way, eliminating the debt-servicing burden would open up a great deal of fiscal space for Pakistan and would reduce the need for the country to borrow to cover its other expenses. But that is a very simplistic view. Having more fiscal space does not guarantee that Pakistan will turn around its structural problems. "

The reports coming from Pakistan's largest newspaper doesn't inspire much confidence does it.

I am of the opinion, the worst times for Pakistan is yet to come. In 4 to 5 years, NATO will leave Afghanistan and Aid to Pakistan will be promptly withdrawn or humiliating conditions imposed, like in KLB. The only leverage Pakistan has over NATO is supply routes and it has overplayed its cards and lost all sympathy when it closed down the routes.

The worst things are yet to come Pakistan's way. Even China will be reluctant to help considering Pakistan is right next door.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "Talking about schools, while India is building schools and legislating about education, Pakistan is doing this."

First, this post is about 80% plus approval ratings of the government in India, which have never existed in Pakistan even in periods of high economic growth.

Pakistani media you quote are not complicit in the government's brainwashing of Pakistani people like Indian media brainwash Indians.

Pakistan's public sector education is a mess and continues to decline, and letters to Dawn and newspaper Op Eds are rightly critical of it.

The private sector in Pak has been picking up the slack and building thousands of schools every year, but a lot more are needed.

anoop: "Name one university of repute in Pakistan. Shows that Indians and Pakistanis have different priorities."

Pakistan has dozens of very good universities and colleges, some of which, like NUST, show up in the top rankings published by THES every year.

Gaduates of Pak univesities working in the West are competing with the best and the brightest fom any other country in the world.

In terms of population ratios, one Pak university in the top 400 is equivalent to India's fact only six Indian universities show up on the Times list of top 400.

anoop said...


A section of the Pakistani media is hell-bent on removing the Government to the extent it would misuse its power.

Missed this one in the links I've provided.

I've read in some Pakistani newspapers where they question 9/11 even happening and even go on to claim they were done by Mossad and RAW. Same with Mumbai attacks.

Oh, wait, even you believe IB and RAW were involved in Mumbai attacks. The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree does it.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "Funny that this logic is not used when comparing the ratio of Indian vs Pakistan people in West as Doctors, Engineers, IT professional. It is more like 1 to 25 or 1 to 30."

Your data is not credible. I am not aware of any such data published by any cedible source.

Anecdotally, I see a ratio of more like 10:1.

Besides, what you boast about is really India's shame because it trains these professionals at Indian taxpayers' expense, only to have them escape India to serve in the West rather than their own nation.

No other nation has this kind of exodus of its top professionals as India.

Over a million Indians are escaping India every year, and the visa lines outside foreign consulates in India continue to be the longest in the world.

Anonymous said...

'Anecdotally, I see a ratio of more like 10:1.

Besides, what you boast about is really India's shame because it trains these professionals at Indian taxpayers' expense, only to have them escape India to serve in the West rather than their own nation.'


First off all something like 70% of India's professional higher education(Btech,BE,MBBS,MBA etc) is in private hands.

What is more the proportion of Indian vs Pakistani professional education graduates is more like 20:1.So proportionally a larger percentage of Pakistani professionals flee Pakistan,understandable since the salaries of white collar professionals in Pakistan is on average 1/3 that of India and opportunities are significantly less.You don't need a advanced management degree to manage a feudal sugar or cement factory(the bulk of Pakistan's industrial base)

In addition of the 30% of people educated at state expense only about 20% flee India in an economic sense more than compensate the money in terms of remittance flow as well as successfully lobbying for India in the western world.

'First, this post is about 80% plus approval ratings of the government in India, which have never existed in Pakistan even in periods of high economic growth.'

I don't know why you are getting so worked up about a poll from a unknown(in S Asia) polling agency.

If the approval rating really is 80% why does it have only 45% of the popular vote???

I think the elections in India are a much more realistic feedback of governance and its approval than a commissioned poll with an iffy sampling procedure.

Riaz Haq said...

anon: "In addition of the 30% of people educated at state expense only about 20% flee India in an economic sense ....."

India's top tier schools are IITs which are in the public sector, and the vast majoity of IIT grads leave India soon after graduating.

The second tier in India is really very poor quality, and the hunge gap between tier 1 and tier 2 is growing, not shinking.

A few top-tier Indian schools, such as the elite Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), are often compared with world-class schools, but the American investors and businesses have finally learned the hard way that there is huge gap between the few tier one schools and the large number of tier two and three schools in India, and the quality of education most Indians receive at tier 2 and 3 schools is far below the norm considered acceptable in America and the developed world.

anon: "What is more the proportion of Indian vs Pakistani professional education graduates is more like 20:1"

The numbers of college grads in India are highly exaggerated to try and create more code coolie jobs there.

Over 10,000 of the current 1.2 million annual college graduates in Pakistan are engineers with 4-year degrees. In addition, Pakistan also produces at least 25,000 polytechnic inst graduates with three year diplomas (according to recent news in the Nation newspaper) who have less than 4 years of college.

A number of reports inflate the number of engineering graduates in India, as these numbers includes both 4 years and 2-3 years degrees. While it is claimed that India graduates over 200, 000 engineers a year, a Duke study concluded that half of these are 2 or 3-year degrees.

Anonymous said...

in my experience the ratio of 25:1 seem to be more true in UK/USA in IT and medical field. Engineers and Doctors from pakistan has gone down after 9/11 precipitously.

And as much as pakistanis in west find it hard to digest, Indians have achieved more in west than pakistanis.

Anonymous said...

And as much as pakistanis in west find it hard to digest, Indians have achieved more in west than pakistanis.

Yup here's a paper by the world renowned RAND corporation.

satwa gunam said...


In my perception, it had nothing to with manipulation of the media. Please look more into the culture and the religion. Religion has given more importance for duty than rights. Fatalist but it teaches the person to look inward rather than blaming everybody in the world. Everybody within their limitation are trying to grow with help if any given from the external factor. Since the expectation is less, the happiness with the government is ok.

satwa gunam said...


Read this interesting article and that will tell you how the media is brain washing the american on anti-islam front

Vested interested uses all available option to drive home their point. It is the question of the individual capacbility to think independently and donot get influenced.

satwa gunam said...'beyond_madness':_obama's_war_on_terror_setting_nuclear-armed_pakistan_on_fire?page=2

This article will give a truthfull picture of what is happening in pakistan by america and how the media of pakistan and usa try to project.

satwa gunam said...


This article brings out the reality with regard to the blind belief that people in advanced country are well informed and are aware of facts.

satwa gunam said...

pew research says that pakistan has more government restriction on religious ground more than india by 27% and in social restriction and discrimination india is more than pakistan by 5%

Pakistan 6.5 8.4
India 5.1 8.8
difference -1.4 0.4
% -27% 5%

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts from a recent NY Times report on persistently high levels of poverty in India:

In Mumbai on Nov. 7, President Barack Obama told a group of students that India was no longer a “rising power,” but rather an “already risen” power. He celebrated an economy that “has risen at a breathtaking rate.”

Three days earlier, in New York, the United Nations released the 20th edition of its Human Development Report, a publication that has in many ways become the authoritative measure of poverty and deprivation.

India ranked 119th of 169 countries. The nation’s eight poorest states contain as many poor as the 26 poorest African countries combined. In terms of life expectancy and even gender inequality, India rates below its neighbors of Bangladesh and Pakistan.

After nearly two decades of economic changes that were to have ushered in an era of prosperity, it is clear that in some ways the nation has been naïve: high growth rates alone cannot cure poverty.

The problem, as Anirudh Krishna, a political scientist at Duke University in North Carolina, and the author of a remarkable new study on poverty, put it to me, is that “poverty in India has become very resilient. The numbers hardly budge.”

Indeed, while official estimates suggest that poverty has declined since the advent of reforms, other recent studies suggest that it is in fact far more widespread than had been thought.

At least three government committees have been formed to count the poor in India. The variance in their findings — ranging from 37.2 percent to 77 percent — suggests not only the prevalence of poverty, but also that its very nature is misunderstood. For all the attention directed at the issue, poverty remains something of a mystery.

Mr. Krishna’s study, published in September as “One Illness Away: Why People Become Poor and How They Escape Poverty,” is in large part an effort to peel away the layers of this mystery. The outcome of a decade of work in five countries, and the result of conversations and surveys with more than 35,000 families, one of its chief goals — and accomplishments — is to flesh out our understanding of economic deprivation.

There are several insights in this book, but one of Mr. Krishna’s more important is that, as he writes, “poverty is not an undifferentiated mass living beneath some theoretical or statistical line.” It is, rather, a constantly churning pool of deprivation, with those who escape being replenished by a new population that has fallen from relative prosperity.

In a 25-year study he conducted in Andhra Pradesh State, for example, Mr. Krishna found that while 14 percent of households escaped poverty, another 12 percent became poor. Overall, there was a 2 percent reduction in the poverty rate, but 26 percent of households had seen their status change.

This understanding of poverty as nonstatic, always in flux, has policy implications. It suggests that welfare programs need to be designed not just to raise people out of poverty, but also to prevent those who are not poor — and thus perhaps off the radar of such programs — from descending into poverty.

In particular, Mr. Krishna’s research highlights the major role played by illness in pushing people over the edge. He writes about “chains of negative events” that lead, through costly hospital bills, unemployment and debt, into economic hardship.

“I am fully convinced that we can’t reduce poverty in India without first doing something about health care,” he said.

Mr. Krishna’s ideas for alleviating poverty are generally convincing. But what is most persuasive about this book is less the policy prescriptions than the nuanced and rich portrait of poverty that informs those prescriptions.

Rahul said...

You wrote an article..correlating CWG
medals with population growth....Same applies with development also.

Inspite of having 1/6th of India's population , Pakistan is still far below the development indicators. Its poverty ratio is 51%(MPI). India's may be 55%, but India's population is also 6 times more.

We have educated over 700 million people. But your country inspite of having only 170 million has not educated even a 100 million. So in fact Pakistan has vehemently failed

Anonymous said...


Japan has also run up a record amount of debt to finance those social indicators with a stalled economy 200%+ of GDP.This at a time when its population is ageing and the dependency ratio is climbing alarmingly upwards.The future isn't looking very pretty for Japan.

Unknown said...

A recent Pew Global Attitudes survey shows that 85% of Indians are satisfied with their government's performance, particularly its handling of the economy. Only the Chinese and Brazilians are more satisfied with their economic situation among the 22 countries included in the survey.

India, a nation which has the dubious distinction of being home to the world's largest population of poor, hungry, illiterate and sick people, and where 7000 people die of hunger every day, fully 81% say terrorism is the biggest problem India faces today.

Bollocks. The government is judged by the change in the people's living conditions not by the conditions themselves. If someone labouring under the delusion that a new super-govt. can change India into a developed country in eight years, they need to wake up.

Given its powers and limitations the current government has done fairly well though not spectacularly as the poll seem to suggest. The average India lives a much better life than he or she did a decade ago.

Coming to the survey's other finding - terrorism. This is NOT the public's chief concern and other more professionally conducted surveys but India Today and Outlook prove as much. Rising prices were ranked by both to be the common man's biggest worry. Terrorism on the other hand has decreased very sharply since the Mumbai attacks of 2008 in a country where bomb blasts were a bi-monthly affair.

Chomsky is not alone in his assessment of the Indian media. Here are a few other examples:

The Indian media may not be very balanced when it comes to Pakistan but in other affairs they are pretty fair. They have been getting more opinionated in the western style of late but mostly in the liberal direction. I'm sure Chomsky didn't find most economic policies espoused to be 'fair and balanced' but that's because leftist economics isn't popular ANYWHERE.

Also, Pakistan with its nutty power balances has to shoulder a lot of blame because of its sheer irresponsibility right from the Kargil fiasco to the Mumbai attacks. Worse part is one doesn't know who to blame - politicians, the army or the ISI. As the Indian government regularly wonders - who's in charge? Who do we talk to?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's part I of BBC columnist Soutik Biswas's column on Indian media's "biggest crisis of credibility":

"Indian journalists are fixers!" shouted a young lady in the audience during a play I attended in Mumbai last week. She even took the name of one of the country's leading news presenters to demonstrate her point. The play was about to begin, and one of the actors was engaging in casual banter with the audience. "Do you think news is unbiased in our country?" he asked.

Many in the audience guffawed, and the lady spoke up in outrage. At that moment it struck me how much the controversy over leaked phone conversations between some senior Indian journalists and a prominent lobbyist had enraged people. It is, clearly, the Indian media's biggest crisis of credibility.

To cut a long story short, transcripts of the leaked tapes, published in two magazines, reveal some journalists in conversation with a corporate lobbyist, who also owns a public relations company. Nothing wrong with that - journalists routinely speak to a range of people for information. In the leaked tapes, some of the reporters trade vicious gossip. Others "promise" to pass on sensitive political messages and information. Still others give the lobbyist tips on how to organise a scripted media interview with a business baron. The journalists have said in their defence that they have neither received any favours or relayed any information or fixed things as a result of these conversations.

People don't buy it entirely. A recent poll after the tapes were released showed that 86% of people felt let down by journalists. Also, 66% said that the media was protecting its own tribe by not reporting on the tapes adequately. Let's face it - the stock of journalists has hit a new low in India.

After last year's general elections, independent investigations revealed how "paid news" had become commonplace in many Indian papers and news channels - politicians were paying them to publish favourable stories. But the leaked tapes have cast a cloud over the credibility of some of the country's top journalists.

Whether the allegations of fixing and lobbying are true or not, we will possibly never know. But critics believe the tapes point to a bigger crisis in the media. The cosying up to politicians and businessmen is just one issue. Many point to an increasing lack of grace and dignity among many leading journalists, and the crass self-promotion that threatens to turn news into purely entertainment. My friend and editor Kai Friese says the mainstream media in India is "driven by compulsions of grand narcissism and greed".

Night after night, on India's news TV, top journalists, often fawning and self-righteous, conduct interviews and talk shows. It all sounds very noisy and rather contrived. They claim every other story as an exclusive, even when it isn't. Top film critics are paid off by producers to write glowing reviews - the Bollywood publicity machine has effectively muzzled most film criticism in India. Portions of an editor's letter to readers in a top magazine are plagiarised from a leading American online publication, then blamed on jet lag. Another big worry is how the public relations industry has subsumed a lot of journalism, mostly because journalists have been happy to play along.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's part II of BBC columnist Soutik Biswas's column on Indian media's "biggest crisis of credibility":

Night after night, on India's news TV, top journalists, often fawning and self-righteous, conduct interviews and talk shows. It all sounds very noisy and rather contrived. They claim every other story as an exclusive, even when it isn't. Top film critics are paid off by producers to write glowing reviews - the Bollywood publicity machine has effectively muzzled most film criticism in India. Portions of an editor's letter to readers in a top magazine are plagiarised from a leading American online publication, then blamed on jet lag. Another big worry is how the public relations industry has subsumed a lot of journalism, mostly because journalists have been happy to play along.

Possibly, it had to happen in a country where institutions are weak and corruption is rife. It is an environment where the media can wield extraordinary power - and many a time this is used responsibly to expose and explore India's many ills. It is also an environment where journalists can lose their heads easily and suffer from delusions of grandeur because of easy access to politicians and businessmen. The fact that India remains an intensely hierarchical society also reflects the way journalists behave and interact with powerful politicians and businessmen - it is almost never a professional relationship between equals.

Most Indian media owners need a new covenant with their journalists. For too long and far too often, they have been seen to hire journalists to do their dirty work - negotiating with politicians, businessmen, public relations executives and lobbyists. It is an open secret that many editors and senior journalists are part-time reporters - and full-time fixers for their owners.

Critics say that many owners have emasculated editors so much that they have become faceless and supine, only too willing to roll over for the powers that be and facilitate deals. With some 60,000 newspapers and 500 news channels, India has one of the world's most vibrant and competitive media environments. It is now time to take a reality check and ask whether all is well with it.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some exerpts of a review by Ashok Mitra of Amit Bhaduri's "The Face You Were Afraid to See" as published in Calcutta's Telegraph:

Surely Amit Bhaduri is dead wrong. His recent book bears the title, The Face You Were Afraid to See. The “face” he has in mind is the stark reality of destitution, malnutrition, illiteracy and joblessness which is still the fate of a huge lot of citizens in independent India. The “you” Bhaduri addresses his epistle to are the roughly 10 — at most 15 — per cent of the nation at the top of the social ladder who, thanks to economic liberalization, had never had it so good: industrial tycoons, financial conglomerates, ruling politicians and assorted hangers-on of each of these species, including the media and the so-called intelligentsia. These latter categories, Bhaduri seems to assume, are scared to come face to face with the other India, the India of progressive immiserization and ruthless exploitation. Quite the contrary. For the first time since the British left, the richer layer of society has come to acquire an extraordinary self-confidence. The lurid contrast between how, on the one hand, its members are indulging themselves at spas, shopping malls, five star hotels and golf links and, on the other, the fact that at least 300 million of their countrymen exist at subhuman levels and, perhaps another 300 million or thereabouts, while not exactly starving, are bereft of a minimum of housing, education and healthcare, does not disturb them. The bizarre combination of happenings like India slipping down every year in the human development index constructed by the United Nations even as it attains the dubious distinction of having the largest number of billionaires after the United States of America is taken in its stride. More than half of Mumbai’s population lives in ramshackle jhoparpattys; awareness of this grim fact does not deter a tycoon from building in the city the obscenity of a mansion costing more than Rs 5,000 crore as his residential abode. Consider yet another instance. The loss to the national exchequer because of the 2G spectrum shenanigan, the comptroller and auditor general has estimated, is around Rs 1,80,000 crore. A public distribution programme covering the entire national population, which could reach food to each and every starving citizen of this country, would cost only one-half of that sum. But the powers that be are unwilling to endorse the programme; they even have the effrontery to suggest that public distribution reeks of corruption...
Bhaduri unravels these complex themes with an equal measure of acuity and elegance in The Face You Were Afraid to See. As one who identifies himself with the bottom 90 per cent of the community, he is, however, not satisfied with mere analysis; he is, so to say, stripped for action. And he has his own ideas regarding what activism should consist of. The established political parties, Bhaduri is convinced, are in cohorts with the ruling hegemony. He has equal contempt for the organized trade unions; these are, in his view, interested only in their own narrow interests and ignore such issues as the plight of villagers dispossessed of their cultivable land. He apparently forgets that the trade union movement, too, is itself a victim of the Machiavellian growth model fathered by economic liberalization. Any way, salvation, Bhaduri suggests, lies only in initiatives on the part of civil society groups in different spheres; these will then come together and accomplish the heroic task of smashing to smithereens the conspiracy hatched by corporate bosses and their crony politicians.

Unknown said...

i agree about the situation of media in India. Times of India is basically responsible for turning newspaper into an advertisement supplement. However it's good in a manner that this has popularised newspaper reading in India. I would have delighted if you could have stated the situation in Pakistan as well.

anoop said...

It is interesting to note that you haven't talked about the latest goof up by the Intelligence agencies in Pakistan to spread state propaganda.

3 Major newspapers carried a story about a cable from US embassy which talks of Indian involvement in 26/11, how India's generals are inept, how India is active in supporting Terror in Balochistan, etc.

Now, the Guardian has come out with a scathing report about how false the Pakistani news reports were.

Here, is an article in the same newspaper which published those unsubstantiated reports how the Intelligence agencies in Pakistan are driving this propaganda campaign in India.

I know you have read all about this, Riaz. I was convinced that you wont highlight this particular news story in your blog. How right was I!

I wont be surprised even if you dont publish my comment, even though I've not called anyone names or have tried to spread lies.

Now, tell me. Which country's media is used for spreading propaganda. This has become an issue just because it was printed in English Language Newspapers. But, such lies are spread by the Intelligence agencies through Urdu Newspapers which have a far wider circulation base.

Now, in view of all this, you can safely tell why Pakistanis, including this blog's author, are led to believe such canards like- India is supporting Balochi Terror,etc.


Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "It is interesting to note that you haven't talked about the latest goof up by the Intelligence agencies in Pakistan to spread state propaganda."

You are a little late on this one...several other Indians have beat you to it and offered the link to comment on my post on WikLeaks.

What the Pak media have done in this case is downright stupid...not professional propaganda that the Indian government and media engage in on a daily basis....and those who published have retracted and apologized.

You should be more worried about India's own WikiLeaks about the Indian media selling itself out to the billionaires like Tata and Ambani against the interest of 75% of the impoverished Indian people who live on less than $2 a day.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from the NY Times story about mounting European criticism of the US stance on Julian Assange:

.. American officials and politicians have been widely condemned in the European news media for calling the leaks everything from “terrorism” (Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York) to “an attack against the international community” (Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton). Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates called the arrest of Mr. Assange on separate rape charges “good news.” Sarah Palin called for him to be hunted as an “anti-American operative with blood on his hands,” and Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate, said that whoever leaked the cables should be executed.

For Seumas Milne of The Guardian in London, which like The New York Times has published the latest WikiLeaks trove, the official American reaction “is tipping over toward derangement.” Most of the leaks are of low-level diplomatic cables, he noted, while concluding: “Not much truck with freedom of information, then, in the land of the free.”

John Naughton, writing in the same British paper, deplored the attack on the openness of the Internet and the pressure on companies like Amazon and eBay to evict the WikiLeaks site. “The response has been vicious, coordinated and potentially comprehensive,” he said, and presents a “delicious irony” that “it is now the so-called liberal democracies that are clamoring to shut WikiLeaks down.”

A year ago, he noted, Mrs. Clinton made a major speech about Internet freedom, interpreted as a rebuke to China’s cyberattack on Google. “Even in authoritarian countries,” she said, “information networks are helping people to discover new facts and making governments more accountable.” To Mr. Naughton now, “that Clinton speech reads like a satirical masterpiece.”

The Russians seemed to take a special delight in tweaking Washington over its reaction to the leaks, suggesting that the Americans were being hypocritical. “If it is a full-fledged democracy, then why have they put Mr. Assange away in jail? You call that democracy?” Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin said during a news briefing with the French prime minister, François Fillon. Mr. Assange is in jail in Britain while Sweden seeks his extradition to face rape charges.

Mr. Putin then referred to a Russian proverb that roughly translates as “the pot calling the kettle black.”

“You know, out in the countryside, we have a saying, ‘Someone else’s cow may moo, but yours should keep quiet,’ ” Mr. Putin said. “So I would like to shoot that puck right back at our American colleagues.”

German newspapers were similarly harsh. Even The Financial Times Deutschland (independent of the English-language Financial Times), said that “the already damaged reputation of the United States will only be further tattered with Assange’s new martyr status.” It added that “the openly embraced hope of the U.S. government that along with Assange, WikiLeaks will disappear from the scene, is questionable.”

Mr. Assange is being hounded, the paper said, “even though no one can explain what crimes Assange allegedly committed with the publication of the secret documents, or why publication by WikiLeaks was an offense, and in The New York Times, it was not.”

The left-wing Berliner Zeitung wrote that Washington’s reputation had been damaged by the leaks. But the reputation of United States leaders “is being damaged much more right now as they attempt — with all their means — to muzzle WikiLeaks” and Mr. Assange. They are the first, the paper claimed, to have “used the power of the Internet against the United States. That is why they are being mercilessly pursued. That is why the government is betraying one of the principles of democracy.” ...

anoop said...

"What the Pak media have done in this case is downright stupid"

--> Pakistani media has only reported what a Media Agency has fed them. They never bothered to check the background of the story.

The 'agency' in question has links with Pakistan's intelligence agency according to the report I talked about earlier. You talk about Government Interference in India in Media but you ignore this.

Here is how one reports puts it,"Going through the contents of the fake WikiLeaks story, it seems obvious that nothing much has changed in these last 20 years as far as the spy network’s understanding of how media works. They apparently still believe that good propaganda merely means getting someone to print your lies. It doesn’t matter how transparent the lies are and how easily they can be caught out."

I mean how dumb was it from the Intelligence Agencies to push this story! And, I would like to point out the propaganda related especially to Balochistan and FATA. It has claimed that India is behind both. How convenient isn't it? This is the best Intelligence Agency in the world,as you had once reported?!!! God, spare me!

Here is BBC talking about how Pakistani Intelligence is believed to be behind this.

It says,"The hoax is said to have originated from the Islamabad-based Online wire agency.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Karachi says Online is known for its close links to the Pakistani intelligence services.

The agency gained notoriety in 2002 when one of its correspondents tried to sell a video of US journalist Daniel Pearl's murder to US diplomats.

You seem to desperately wanting to sell the idea that Indian Intelligence agencies have gone rogue or indulge in some nasty work like the ISI have in the past. But, curiously you seem to ignore the "deep state", as Kamran Shafi puts it, in your own country.

You think the Radia tapes have any similarity,either in implications or size? No way. Radia tapes mere expose lobbying which is considered legal in countries like the US. But, those tapes cannot put anyone in jail or prove anything which everyone didnt know already- there are elements in the media who use their influence for personal advantage.

This is much bigger. The best "Intelligence" agency in the world thinks that they can plant a story and nobody will notice. How dumb considering today's world where anyone can read any news item in the world.

Even more astonishing is the fact that 3 large publications actually printed the story without cross-checking its authenticity(when it could have easily done so over the Internet) on its front pages!!!

Well and truly a comedy of errors by people with very low intelligence. I guess its not appropriate to call ISI as an Intelligence Agency anymore after this embarrassment.

I asked you something at the end of my last comment- Which country's establishment tries to brainwash its citizens,Indian or Pakistani?

I hope you will publish my comment.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "I asked you something at the end of my last comment- Which country's establishment tries to brainwash its citizens,Indian or Pakistani?"

Judging from the results, the answer is Indian establishment. It has brainwashed an unprecedented 85% of its citizns (Pew Survey) into being happy and satisfied with the status quo where 75% of Indians are living on less than $2 a day while the numbber of billionaires has grown to 60, second only to the United States.

Almost all of the benefits of growth in India have gone to a very small population while the rest of India constitutes the world's largest population of poor, hungry, illiterate and sick people.

There is abject poverty (India's poor are more numerous and poorer than the poorest of the poor Africans) and widespead hunger in "resurgent" India while the Indian establishment (Govt and business and media collusion) has persuaded the disheveled masses into believing they are doing well in "Shining India".

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some details from the leaked tapes on Indian media's collusion with big business, as published in The Hindu:

In one tape, HT Media advisor Vir Sanghvi has a follow-up conversation with Ms. Radia regarding his June 21, 2009 column in the Hindustan Times on the tussle between the Ambani brothers over gas pricing, framed as an article about oligarchs taking over natural resources.

“Wrote it… I've dressed it up as a piece about how the public will not stand for resources being cornered, how we're creating a new list of oligarchs,” Mr. Sanghvi tells Ms. Radia. “Very nice, lovely, thank you, Vir,” she says, while he adds: “It's dressed up as a plea to Manmohan Singh, so it won't look like an inter-Ambani battle except to people in the know.”

Confronted with this tape, Mr. Sanghvi still insists he was just stringing her along, “sweet-talking” a news source. In an interview to TheHindu, he claims the final published column included elements that Ms. Radia was unhappy about, proof that he was not exclusively pandering to her agenda.

While this particular column seemed to have elements taken word-for-word from a previous conversation with Ms. Radia, the lobbyist's efforts to ensure the publication of favourable articles took various other forms.

In other tapes, she is heard instructing an IAS officer to do an interview with a journalist for a story critical of Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, and telling a subordinate to compile questions for Mr. Sanghvi's interviews with Mr. Mukesh Ambani or Mr. Tata, both of whom are represented by Ms. Radia.

In another conversation, she seems to be directing the entire restructuring of the channel News X, which raises questions about her editorial influence there as well.

She does not hesitate to take negative action either, the most striking example of which is the discussion of a communication plan for the Reliance Industries group, which includes a proposal to “blacklist” news agency PTI, possibly in cooperation with the Tata group.

Ms. Radia's conversations include an attempt to manipulate the media and the police into providing bad publicity for rival Anil Ambani's Reliance Communications in Jammu. She also discusses “incorrect edits” and “a serious problem with [ET's] desk in Delhi”, and gloats about shifting a Noel Tata interview from a resistant Businessworld to a seemingly more cooperative Business Today magazine. However, the final laugh seemed to be on her in that particular case, with Business Today's former editor, Rohit Saran, pointing out that he went ahead with his own editorial agenda in the final published version of the interview, much to Ms. Radia's chagrin.

anoop said...

"It has brainwashed an unprecedented 85% of its citizns (Pew Survey) into being happy and satisfied with the status quo where 75% of Indians are living on less than $2 a day while the numbber of billionaires has grown to 60, second only to the United States. "

--> Is there a rule somewhere that the economically poor have to be unhappy? Just because you associate wealth with happiness doesn't mean everyone else does.

If the PEW survey had come up with the opposite results you would have said people are unhappy because they are poor. Now, that it says majority in India are happy with the things they are going, it burns you. Ultimately, the thing that matter is Happiness, isn't it. So, you come up with a theory to explain this.

Government brainwashes a population of 1.3 Billion into being happy!! Give me a break!

If it was the case then why did the NDA government, who campaigned with the slogan "India Shining" lose the elections ,most were expecting it to win in 2004?

In the past 6 months, 3 of the P5 Countries's Premiers have visited India and the rest 2 are going to come in the next few days and weeks. This is unprecedented that in such quick succession the P5 Countries have visited any Country.

Why? India is growing, that is why.

If one believes what you say then the Indian government has not only succeeded in brainwashing its massive population into believing in the Indian growth story, but also the top 5 powers in the world.

Only a Pakistani called Riaz Haq knows the truth about India. All are fools, the whole 2/5th of the world population.

anoop said...


Recent Bihar elections point to the poorest in India believe in Democracy. They have voted in large numbers and overwhelmingly for a man who has made India's poorest state as the 2nd fastest growing in India after Gujrat. They see their lives improving.

With India poised to become the fastest growing economy in the world in 3-5 years the victory of Democracy and India will be clear.

If wealth were the only barometer of Happiness then people of USA would be the happiest in the world.

I came from a lower-middle class family and I never felt not happy. Most of my friends have similar backgrounds and they have never been not happy with their lives.

Trust me, Indian government has not sent a hypnotist to brainwash either me nor my friends, unless they have erased my memory, which I think is highly unlikely.

If one were to go by poverty rate percentage Pakistan(32.6%) should be more unhappy than India(28.6%).

If you want to talk about Brainwashing then we have recently seen how Pakistan establishment tries to scapegoat India for its follies in FATA and Balochistan through the fake reports. India has not dared to do any such thing.

The strange thing is even educated people like to believe in things like 26/11 was done by RAW-IB, India is supporting Baloch Movement, supplying weapons to TTP,etc.

If you want to live in a bubble, no power on this earth can stop you.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "If one believes what you say then the Indian government has not only succeeded in brainwashing its massive population into believing in the Indian growth story, but also the top 5 powers in the world."

I find it strange that you think it is natural for 85% of Indian people without basic necessities to be "satisfied with the Indian government's handling of the ecnoomy" as Pew survey reported.

I think it is highly unnatural.

And the only way to explain such unnatural behavior is to understand the basic fact that the media in a democracy have the power to manipulate illliterate and sick people unable to think for themselves because of their deep deprivations.

As to the foreign powers, they don't care about the starving Indians, they are interested only in using India to the extent they can, and then mocking it as "self-appointed front-runner for the UNSC seat", while avoiding even menytion of the word poverty" (as British PM Cameron was advised to do) beause it offends their hosts.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "If one were to go by poverty rate percentage Pakistan(32.6%) should be more unhappy than India(28.6%)."

Resorting to use 10 years old poverty data is the bst you can do to make your lame argument?

Do you know that, acording to WB, poverty in Pakistan was last reported at 17.2% for 2008?

And, unlike brainwashed Indians, Pakistanis have never approved of any government even in the best of times by 80% or more.

As to Indian interference in Balochistan, there are substantial reasons to believe it is happening via Afghanistan. Why else would India have such deep interest in Afghanistan as to spending billions there while its own people are starving.

The key Baloch nationslist leader Bramdagh Bugti lives in Afghanistan in constant touch with his Indian handlers to plot insurgent attacka in Pakistan.

Who else is funding the Baloch insurgents besides India?

Iran? Of course not! Iran is not suicidal, given its own Baloch problem.

Afghanistan? Maybe, but only in support of India as counterbalance to Pakistan.

Israel? Most likely. To hurt Iran. But in collusion with India whose only aim is to hurt Pakistan.

anoop said...

"Do you know that, acording to WB, poverty in Pakistan was last reported at 17.2% for 2008?"

--> WB speaks in a lot of voices. It also says this:" Poverty rates, which had fallen substantially in the 1980s and early 1990s, started to rise again towards the end of the decade. According to the latest figures, as measured by Pakistan’s poverty line, 32.6 percent of the population is poor.",,contentMDK:20170390~pagePK:1497618~piPK:217854~theSitePK:293052,00.html,,pagePK:158889~piPK:146815~theSitePK:223547,00.html

Here, is what a more reliable database says- The CIA factbook.

India: 25%

Here, is what is Pakistan's real growth rate compared to India's.

If you count from 1999 when Musharaff came along the average is around 5%. It has NEVER touched 7%.

But, you have a theory ready for this too. You say that the fruits of it is experienced by the top 10-15%. But, if that were true I nor the people that I know wouldn't have come up the ladder. You rely on your ego, I rely on pure observation.

Riaz Haq said...

anoop: "WB speaks in a lot of voices."

Wrong. Poverty rate is not a constant. It changes over time.

If you pick WB reports from different periods, you'll see different figures.

Regardless of source or methods, poverty in Pakistan is and has ben lower tha India.

Developed at Oxford University, the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) goes beyond income poverty based on $1.25 or $2 a day income levels. It measures a range of "deprivations" at household levels, such as schooling, nutrition, and access to health, clean water, electricity and sanitation. According to Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) country briefings 2010, 55% of Indians and 51% of Pakistanis are poor.

OPHI 2010 country briefings on India and Pakistan contain the following comparisons of multi-dimensional (MPI) and income poverty figures:

MPI= 55%,Under$1.25=42%,Under$2=76%


Lesotho MPI=48%,Under$1.25=43%,Under$2=62%
Haiti MPI=57%,Under$1.25=55%,Under$2=72%

Among other South Asian nations, MPI index measures poverty in Bangladesh at 58 per cent and 65 per cent in Nepal.

anoop said...

"Wrong. Poverty rate is not a constant. It changes over time"

--> I am not questioning the change itself but the rate of Change. WB says Pakistan had a Poverty Rate of 33% in 2006 and its now 17%? With a growth rate of around 4% in 4 years it has halved the Poverty Rate with a population growth rate of 2.5%! Rubbish.

WB is very inconclusive about poverty rate in Pakistan.

Pakistan is set to grow at 4% next year will probably grow at the same rate for several years to come. But, population growth will not decrease. There is a bubble waiting to explode in Pakistan.

The day NATO leaves Af-Pak Pakistan can kiss its aid from NATO goodbye. IMF wont be so forthcoming in giving further loans. China will treat Pakistan as another North Korea.

In the past decade, especially when Musharaff ruled, 60% of the budget got allocated to defence and debt servicing. With this and one of the lowest Tax-to-GDP ratio Pakistan has halved its poverty rate? Laughable.

I agree on one count. Pakistan Human Indicators. But, everything is changing now. While India is progressing, Pakistan is moving in the opposite way.

While India is considered a lucrative Outsourcing Destination, Pakistan is considered the most dangerous country in the world and is constantly figuring on top ten failed states in the world.

There is simply no comparison. Pakistan is now competing with the likes of North Korea, Afghanistan,Yemen and Somalia. Not India.

A country which has "apparently" reduced its poverty rate by half in 4 years is a failed state you would have us believe. Puh-leaze!

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts from a Sydney Morning Herald piece on India:

..India's euphoric victory in this month's cricket world cup final fits with a mood that its time has come. "The World at Our Feet," screamed a headline in The Times of India the morning after triumph.

And yet the numbers show India is a very poor world power. Its per capita income is $US1265 ($1207) according the International Monetary Fund's latest estimate. That's less than one third of China's and just 2.7 per cent of America's. The 2010 United Nations Human Development Index, a measure that combines income, education and life expectancy, ranked India at 119th out of 169 countries. That's only one place above East Timor. China was 30 places higher than India and Russia was 54 places up the list.

In India, more than 700 million people survive on less than $US2 a day and about 42 per cent of children aged five or less are under-weight. A UN report found there are 421 million Indians living in ''multi-dimensional'' poverty, a greater number than in Africa's 26 poorest countries combined.

Rapid economic change in India has created confronting anomalies. High-tech wizardry and medieval squalor live side by side. It is possible to access fast wireless broadband in villages where children are dying of starvation and thanks to the explosive growth of mobiles, more Indians probably have access to phone calls than toilets.

There is mounting evidence that the spoils of economic growth have become disproportionately concentrated among a small group of super-rich industrialists. Research by the former World Bank economist Michael Walton shows the combined worth of India's US dollar billionaires rose from the equivalent of 1.7 per cent of India's gross domestic product in 1999 to a peak of 23 per cent in 2008.

India's economic miracle, so often lauded abroad, is contested at home. Three of India's 28 states have communist governments. Leftist political parties, critical of India's economic trajectory, are an influential force in politics. India's dynamic volunteer sector, which includes tens of thousands of non-government organisations, has produced an army of activists who decry the social and environmental damage being done amid India's rapid development.

The sense of alienation and anger among India's poor has helped stoke a bloody Maoist rebellion in its most destitute regions. These insurgents - called Naxals after the eastern Indian village of Naxalbari where the movement began - are active in more than one-third of India's 626 districts. The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, has branded them ''the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country''.


The World Bank estimates the proportion of Indians living on less than $US1 per day (in 2005 purchasing power parity) fell from 42 per cent in 1981 to 24 per cent in 2005 but population growth meant the actual number of people living below that poverty benchmark was only reduced from 296 million to 266 million in that period.

In a new book, the British writer and historian Patrick French criticises journalists who "make a living by reporting ceaseless tales of woe" from the subcontinent. He is right to challenge the outdated stereotype of India as a poverty-stricken basket case but the media obsession with India's growth rate, urban middle-class and super-rich entrepreneurs can also be misleading.
Some analysts have attributed an apparent middle-class disengagement from mainstream politics to the power exerted by poorer ''vote blocks''. Very low voter turnouts in wealthy neighbourhoods of Mumbai and Delhi are cited as evidence of this apathy. But if the middle class cannot hold sway at the ballot box, it exerts influence in other ways.--------

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an Op Ed in The Hindu on growing disconnect between mass media and mass reality:

•The mass reality in India (which has over 70 per cent of its people living in the rural areas), is that rural India is in the midst of the worst agrarian crisis in four decades. Millions of livelihoods in the rural areas have been damaged or destroyed in the last 15 years as a result of this crisis, because of the predatory commercialisation of the countryside and the reduction of all human values to exchange value. As a result, lakhs of farmers have committed suicide and millions of people have migrated, and are migrating, from the rural areas to the cities and towns in search of jobs that are not there. They have moved towards a status that is neither that of a ‘worker' nor that of a ‘farmer.' Many of them end up as domestic labourers, or even criminals. We have been pushed towards corporate farming, a process in which farming is taken out of the hands of the farmers and put in the hands of corporates. This process is not being achieved with guns, tanks, bulldozers or lathis. It is done by making farming unviable for the millions of small family farm-holders, due to the high cost of inputs such as seed, fertilizer and power, and uneconomical prices.
•India was ranked fourth in the list of countries with the most number of dollar billionaires, but 126th in human development. This means it is better to be a poor person in Bolivia (the poorest nation in South America) or Guatemala or Gabon rather than in India. Here, some 83.6 crore people (of a total of 110-120 crore) in India survive on less than Rs.20 a day.
•Eight Indian States in India are economically poorer than African states, said a recent Oxford University study. Life expectancy in India is lower than in Bolivia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
•According to the National Sample Survey Organisation, the average monthly per capita expenditure of the Indian farm household is Rs.503. Of that, some 55 per cent is spent on food, 18 per cent on fuel, clothing and footwear, leaving precious little to be spent on education or health.
•A report of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations shows that between 1995-97 and 1999-2001, India added more newly hungry millions than the rest of the world taken together. The average rural family is consuming 100 kg less of food than it was consuming earlier. Indebtedness has doubled in the past decade. Cultivation costs have increased exorbitantly and farming incomes have collapsed, leading to wide-scale suicides by farmers.
•While there were 512 accredited journalists covering the Lakme India Fashion Week event, there were only six journalists to cover farmer suicides in Vidharbha. In that Fashion Week programme, the models were displaying cotton garments, while the men and women who grew that cotton were killing themselves at a distance of an hour's flight from Nagpur in the Vidharbha region. Nobody told that story except one or two journalists, locally.
Is this a responsible way for the Indian media to function? Should the media turn a Nelson's eye to the harsh economic realities facing over 75 per cent of our people, and concentrate on some ‘Potemkin villages' where all is glamour and show business? Are not the Indian media behaving much like Queen Marie Antoinette, who famously said that if people had no bread, they should eat cake.
No doubt, sometimes the media mention farmers' suicides, the rise in the price of essential commodities and so on, but such coverage is at most 5 to 10 per cent of the total. The bulk of the coverage goes to showing cricket, the life of film stars, pop music, fashion parades, astrology…

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the intro to an interview of Smita Narula, faculty director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University Law School, co-author of the report, "Every Thirty Minutes: Farmer Suicides, Human Rights and the Agrarian Crisis in India" as published by Democracy Now on Indian farmers plight:

A quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide in the last 16 years—an average of one suicide every 30 minutes. The crisis has ballooned with economic liberalization that has removed agricultural subsidies and opened Indian agriculture to the global market. Small farmers are often trapped in a cycle of insurmountable debt, leading many to take their lives out of sheer desperation. We speak with Smita Narula of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University Law School, co-author of a new report on farmer suicides in India.
SMITA NARULA: Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about this report that you are just releasing today.

SMITA NARULA: Our major finding for this report is that all the issues that you just described are major human rights issues. And what we’re faced with in India is a human rights crisis of epic proportions. The crisis affects the human rights of Indian farmers and their family members in extremely profound ways. We found that their rights to life, to water, food and adequate standard of living, and their right to an effective remedy, is extremely affected by this crisis. Additionally, the government has hard human rights legal obligations to respond to the crisis, but we’ve found that it has failed, by and large, to take any effective measures to address the suicides that are taking place.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, this number is unbelievable. Thirty—every 30 minutes, an Indian farmer commits suicide?

SMITA NARULA: And that’s been going on for years and years. And what these intense numbers don’t reveal are two things. One is that the numbers themselves are failing to capture the enormity of the problem. In what we call a failure of information on the part of the Indian government, entire categories of farmers are completely left out of the purview of farm suicide statistics, because they don’t formally own title to land. This includes women farmers, Dalit, or so-called lower caste farmers, as well as Adivasi, or tribal community farmers. In addition, the government’s programs and the relief programs that they’ve offered fail to capture not only this broad category, but also fail to provide timely debt relief and compensation or address broader structural issues that are leading to these suicides in the country....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a new definition of "conspiracy" theory offered by former US Secretary of Treasury Paul Craig Roberts:

While we were not watching, conspiracy theory has undergone Orwellian redefinition.

A "conspiracy theory" no longer means an event explained by a conspiracy. Instead, it now means any explanation, or even a fact, that is out of step with the government's explanation and that of its media pimps.

For example, online news broadcasts of RT have been equated with conspiracy theories by the New York Times simply because RT reports news and opinions that the New York Times does not report and the US government does not endorse.

In other words, as truth becomes uncomfortable for government and its Ministry of Propaganda, truth is redefined as conspiracy theory, by which is meant an absurd and laughable explanation that we should ignore.

When piles of carefully researched books, released government documents, and testimony of eye witnesses made it clear that Oswald was not President John F. Kennedy's assassin, the voluminous research, government documents, and verified testimony was dismissed as "conspiracy theory."

In other words, the truth of the event was unacceptable to the authorities and to the Ministry of Propaganda that represents the interests of authorities.

The purest example of how Americans are shielded from truth is the media's (including many Internet sites') response to the large number of professionals who find the official explanation of September 11, 2001, inconsistent with everything they, as experts, know about physics, chemistry, structural engineering, architecture, fires, structural damage, the piloting of airplanes, the security procedures of the United States, NORAD's capabilities, air traffic control, airport security, and other matters.

These experts, numbering in the thousands, have been shouted down by know-nothings in the media who brand the experts as "conspiracy theorists."

This despite the fact that the official explanation endorsed by the official media is the most extravagant conspiracy theory in human history.

Let's take a minute to re-acquaint ourselves with the official explanation, which is not regarded as a conspiracy theory despite the fact that it comprises an amazing conspiracy.

The official truth is that a handful of young Muslim Arabs who could not fly airplanes, mainly Saudi Arabians who came neither from Iraq nor from Afghanistan, outwitted not only the CIA and the FBI, but also all 16 US intelligence agencies and all intelligence agencies of US allies including Israel's Mossad, which is believed to have penetrated every terrorist organization and which carries out assassinations of those whom Mossad marks as terrorists.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from an interesting Newsweek Pakistan Op Ed by Mahreen Zahra-Malik:

In Pakistan, media is a regulated business—at least in theory, since the governing laws are not worth the paper they are printed on. Editors, publishers, and TV executives insist on “self-regulation,” which is code for taking editorial decisions with an eye to the bottom line. The timeworn local tradition of a secret government fund to plant official platitudes across media platforms continues without questions or concerns of integrity. There are advertorials. There are potted phone-ins on talk shows. There are bribes. There are bribes by other names (“foreign tours”). There is cheerful disregard for the country’s feeble antidefamation laws. Yes, wagging fingers at Fleet Street represents an utter lack of self-awareness.

Let’s be clear. There is no such thing as a free press in Pakistan. For each story that is run every now and then to give the appearance of no-fear, no-favor journalism, there are a dozen that never make it—and only sometimes for legitimate reasons. One cannot authoritatively judge Pakistan’s power-drunk but self-preserving media without looking at the stories which are not being reported.

Some media organizations—including in the U.S. and Europe—serve as an ostensible insurance policy for big business, which is fair enough but hardly a foolproof strategy. Often journalists will pontificate and preach about their personal and professional virtue and valor merely to elude the fact that the news organizations they work for—however concerned for the public they may be—are, in fact, commercial enterprises. Media bosses know the cardinal rule well: Do not piss off paying advertisers. In Pakistan, the biggest advertiser is the government. The only complaint you will ever hear from a Pakistani media mogul in his (or her) less guarded moments about this inconvenient fact is that the government isn’t spending nearly enough. Some skinflint news channels and broadsheets have been known to go for the government’s jugular, not in a bid to expose wrongdoings, but to bare fangs and drum up their nuisance value. In the ensuing battle of kings versus kingmakers, what chance does truth stand?

Journalism in Pakistan has come to stand for all-caps scandal-mongering and sensationalism. Political news is the celebrity gossip of our media times. In zealous obeisance before ratings, the cannot-fail business model turns on appealing to the worst in people’s nature: reckless gossip, wild conspiracy theories, fervid and populist rejectionism. Raw emotions help rake it in. The result is a media landscape shorn of any real credibility, barren and bleak. At least in the U.S., there is a Keith Olbermann for every Bill O’Reilly, and there are solid, truly instructive platforms like PBS, NPR and even C-Span. We, on the other hand, have lemmings.

It’s a scandal. Ultimately, it’s audiences and advertisers who enable Pakistan’s media and who are responsible for its self-destructive degeneration. Raised on a bilious diet of distortion and dogma, people buy dailies or tune in for cheap entertainment. And they expect to get what they pay for: salacious half-truths and provocative stories that will elicit a dinnertime rant and then they’re done. But there is always that little bit of hope. After Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination, advertisers were corralled into boycotting a local news channel. It worked, and the inflammatory P.Y.T. host was given the heave-ho. But is it really another matter that she resurfaced weeks later on a rival channel?

Anonymous said...

Riaz Bhai, do also read these posts about IIPM (the institute headed by Arindam Chaudhry).

Much respect to Gaurav Sabnis!

Riaz Haq said...

Here's WSJ blog on Indian claims to Kashmir:

OK, so everyone knows that India, like Pakistan, claims the divided region of Kashmir in its entirety.

Everyone also knows that the seven-decade stalemate that has split the Himalayan territory between India- and Pakistan-administered portions is unlikely to change any time soon.

So, why does India get so upset every time a government, company or international body fails on a map of the region, however small, to show India’s territorial claims over the Pakistan-administered portion of Kashmir?
India’s Ministry of External Affairs lamented the “gross inaccuracies” in the map and said it had conveyed its displeasure to the Embassy. The whole of Kashmir is an “integral part” of India, it said, and maps “should depict the boundaries of our country correctly.”

It’s one thing for a customs official insisting on black-penning the Indian version of the border onto a child’s imported globe (yes, this happened.) But for it to reach the level of official, public MEA statements is absurd.

India has become increasingly militant over its cartographic claims. Editions of The Economist magazine, including the current one, have been held up by Indian customs over objections they showed the effective borders in Kashmir rather than only India’s claims.

Why India believes other countries and international publications must show its territorial claims and not the situation on the ground is unclear, and not matched by how map-makers deal with other disputed borders.

Take the 38th Parallel, for instance, the cease-fire line that has divided the Korean peninsula since 1945. Fighting between North and South Korea ended in 1953, but the border has never been formalized. Yet South Korea doesn’t yell publicly when Google Inc.’s maps show the 38th Parallel as the nation’s effective border with North Korea.

When Google did the same thing with India last year, showing its de facto rather than claimed border with Pakistan-administered Kashmir, it caused a furor here. (Google relented and, today, if you access its maps in India, you’ll confusingly see India sharing a border with Afghanistan, which might be India’s claim but is not reality.)

It is now customary to mark a map of Kashmir with dotted lines with labels that say “controlled by Pakistan and claimed by India” and “controlled by India and claimed by Pakistan.” (China controls a part which is claimed by India, but that’s another story.)

But the U.S. State Department map, part of an A-Z of thumbnail sketches of countries with whom America has diplomatic relations, was by no means meant to show this level of detail.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi acknowledged there were “inaccuracies” and said the State Department had removed the map. But he added it “was not meant to represent the same precision and intricacies of a scientific map.”

There was much gnashing of teeth in the Indian press. One Times of India report even went so far as to claim these cartographic missteps are starting to anger not only officials but also journalists.

It’s clear that India will have to move beyond this kind of petty griping if it’s going to take the lead in a peace deal with Pakistan, an unstable country that is fast losing the support of the U.S.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made peace with Pakistan a key plank of his administration, and a settlement on Kashmir will be key.
Brahma Chellaney, an analyst at the New Delhi-based Center for Policy Research, contacted by the Times of India, went as far as to say the map showed a “pro-Pakistan cartographic tilt.”....

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts of an Asia Times review of a book titled "The Imperial Messenger" criticizing NY Times columnist Tom Friedman's work:

A new book on the influential New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman sets out to debunk his hawkish, neo-liberal views, accusing him of overt racism, factual errors and skewed judgments on issues ranging from the United States invasion of Iraq to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Deconstructing one of the country's highest-paid journalists, Belen Fernandez's The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work presents a comprehensive overview of the man - and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner - she describes as "characterized by reduction of complex international phenomena to simplistic rhetoric and theorems that rarely withstand the test of reality".
The Imperial Messenger looks at Friedman's obsession with US global dominance, his Orientalism vis-a-vis the Arab/Muslim world, and his special relationship with Israel.
Fernandez explained that the first chapter, "America", incorporates Friedman's "cheerleading of punitive economic systems at home and abroad" while the "Special Relationship" chapter delves into the inconsistencies of his persona as a serious critic of the Jewish state.

"His criticism, of course, is limited to intermittently encouraging the Israelis to slightly curtail settlements," Fernandez told Inter Press Service (IPS). "Not because he cares about the plight of non-settlers, but because he wants to avoid a situation in which Palestinians demand equal rights in a multiethnic democracy."

As an example, Fernandez cites his advocacy of the war in Iraq "to create a free, open and progressive model in the heart of the Arab/Muslim world to promote the ideas of tolerance, pluralism and democratization".

She says Friedman wrote this after having said in 2002 that "unless the US encourage(s) alternative energies that will slowly bring the price of oil down and force Arab/Muslim countries to open up and adapt to modernity - we can invade Iraq once a week and it's not going to unleash democracy in the Arab world".

In the same year, Friedman classifies the invasion of Iraq as "the most important task worth doing and worth debating", even while admitting that it "would be a huge, long, costly task - if it is doable at all, and I am not embarrassed to say that I don't know if it is".

In the "Arab/Muslim World" chapter, she quotes Friedman as concluding that the "short answer" for why the US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in response to 9/11 "is because Pakistan has nukes that we fear and Saudi Arabia has oil that we crave".
After stripping down columns, articles and his books, Fernandez said her perception of Friedman worsened from beginning to end.

"I realized how truly criminal his behavior is, whereas before I had thought of him more as a somewhat amusing purveyor of mixed metaphors who had by accident ascended to the post of New York Times foreign affairs columnist," she told IPS.

"The New York Times is totally complicit in Friedman's crimes, just as it was complicit in selling the whole business of the Iraq war. The degenerate state of the mainstream media, which actively sides with corporate profit over human life, is simply a testament to the importance of alternative media outlets."

Riaz Haq said...

Has the explosion of media in India been a mixed blessing? asks BBC's Soutik Biswas:

With more than 70,000 newspapers and over 500 satellite channels in several languages, Indians are seemingly spoilt for choice and diversity.

India is already the biggest newspaper market in the world - over 100 million copies sold each day. Advertising revenues have soared. In the past two decades, the number of channels has grown from one - the dowdy state-owned broadcaster Doordarshan - to more than 500, of which more than 80 are news channels.

But such robust growth, many believe, may have come at the cost of accuracy, journalistic ethics and probity.

The media has taken some flak in recent months for being shallow, inaccurate and sometimes damagingly obtrusive. Former Supreme Court judge and chairman of the country's Press Council, Markandey Katju, fired the first broadside, exhorting journalists to educate themselves more. Predictably, it provoked a sharp reaction from the media.

Economist Amartya Sen is the latest to join the list of critics after being wrongly quoted in the mainstream media a couple of times recently. There are at least two huge barriers, writes Dr Sen in a recent article, to the quality of Indian media.

One is about professional laxity which leads to inaccuracies and mistakes. The other, he says, is a class bias in the choice of what news to cover and what to ignore.

Dr Sen offers unexceptional solutions to ensure accuracy - newspapers should publish corrections (a few like The Hindu and Mint already do) and journalists should be given more training. He suggests that reporters should make use of recorders during interviews rather than take rushed notes for accuracy - in fact, many reporters do use recorders and even when they don't, they usually do take correct notes. But stories can sometimes get mangled on their way to publication, resulting in inaccurate headlines.

Dr Sen's worry about lack of training is more pertinent. Most Indian newsrooms have no legacy - or practice - of editorial training. They still host energetic, sharp and argumentative journalists. But analysts say many newsrooms do lack rigour and there is a crying need for some serious, consistent training in fact checking and reporting ethics.

Dr Sen's other grouse about the class bias in Indian newsrooms is valid but again unexceptional....

Does this also have to do with low minority participation in newsrooms?

A 2006 study by the Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies found that of the 315 key decision-makers surveyed from 37 Hindi and English publication and TV channels, almost 90% of decision makers in the English language print media and 79% in television were from the upper castes. There is virtually no representation of Dalits (formerly known as untouchables), who comprise some 20% of India's population and live on the margins. This accounts for a serious lack of diversity in Indian media.
A 71-page Press Council investigation named leading newspapers that had received money for publishing information disguised as news in favour of individuals, including senior politicians. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, an independent journalist who was one of the investigators, says a lobby of big publishers pushed the Press Council to water down the report. Even Vice President Hamid Ansari regretted the development, saying that the Press Council's inability to come out with the report was "a pointer to the problems of self-regulation and the culture of silence in the entire industry when it comes to self-criticism".

How do you stop this? Journalists like Mr Guha Thakurta argue for increased transparency, self-regulation and competition regulation.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Huffington Post article on journalist murders in India, Pakistan & Brazil:

Brazil, Pakistan, and India--three nations with high numbers of unsolved journalist murders--failed an important test last month in fighting the scourge of impunity. Delegates from the three countries took the lead in raising objections to a U.N. plan that would strengthen international efforts to combat deadly, anti-press violence.

Meeting in Paris, delegates of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for Development of Communication were expected to endorse the U.N. Inter-Agency Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. But a debate that was scheduled for two hours raged for nearly two days, ending without the 39-state council's endorsement.

The plan, which had been in the works for more than a year, is still proceeding through other U.N. channels, although implementation and funding could face continued difficulties if these nations persist in raising objections. Perhaps more important: Brazil, Pakistan, and India--each ranked among the world's worst on the Committee to Protect Journalists' 2012 Impunity Index--missed an opportunity to send a strong message that they do not condone anti-press violence.
In a written responses to CPJ queries, a senior Pakistani official said that while his country "welcomes attempts at the international level to find a workable solution," the U.N. plan "has to be tackled in a comprehensive manner with the cooperation of maximum number of member states at appropriate for[ums]." While acknowledging that Pakistani journalists had been killed, the official said it would be "unfair to say outrightly that Pakistan has a high rate of unresolved cases." He questioned whether journalist deaths were work-related, and attributed Pakistan's fatality rate to his country's war on terror.

Pressure within nations may be a key to keeping the plan on track. In Pakistan, CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee Umar Cheema took his government to task, while Brazilian news media put their government on the defensive with extensive coverage of the story. In an interview last week with CPJ, a senior Brazilian official framed his delegation's objections as procedural, and said the country would not stand in the way of the plan's further progress. "We are 95 percent in favor of all the articles here, but some of them we think should follow a different procedure," the official said. "We are very committed to protecting journalists, although we recognize we have many problems we need to be addressed."

Despite some dissenting nations' calls for "transparency" in UNESCO's information sources, the statistics themselves are clear. More than 560 journalists have been murdered with impunity worldwide over the past two decades, CPJ research shows. Already this year, eight journalists have been murdered across the globe. Pakistan, Brazil and India all have among the highest rates of unsolved journalist murders per capita in the world, CPJ's Impunity Index shows.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by Noam Chomsky titled "Somebody Else's Atrocity":

In his penetrating study “Ideal Illusions: How the U.S. Government Co-Opted Human Rights,” international affairs scholar James Peck observes, “In the history of human rights, the worst atrocities are always committed by somebody else, never us”—whoever “us” is.

Almost any moment in history yields innumerable illustrations. Let’s keep to the past few weeks.

On May 10, the Summer Olympics were inaugurated at the Greek birthplace of the ancient games. A few days before, virtually unnoticed, the government of Vietnam addressed a letter to the International Olympic Committee expressing the “profound concerns of the Government and people of Viet Nam about the decision of IOC to accept the Dow Chemical Company as a global partner sponsoring the Olympic Movement.”

Dow provided the chemicals that Washington used from 1961 onward to destroy crops and forests in South Vietnam, drenching the country with Agent Orange.

These poisons contain dioxin, one of the most lethal carcinogens known, affecting millions of Vietnamese and many U.S. soldiers. To this day in Vietnam, aborted fetuses and deformed infants are very likely the effects of these crimes—though, in light of Washington’s refusal to investigate, we have only the studies of Vietnamese scientists and independent analysts.

Joining the Vietnamese appeal against Dow are the government of India, the Indian Olympic Association, and the survivors of the horrendous 1984 Bhopal gas leak, one of history’s worst industrial disasters, which killed thousands and injured more than half a million.

Union Carbide, the corporation responsible for the disaster, was taken over by Dow, for whom the matter is of no slight concern. In February, Wikileaks revealed that Dow hired the U.S. private investigative agency Stratfor to monitor activists seeking compensation for the victims and prosecution of those responsible.

Another major crime with very serious persisting effects is the Marine assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in November 2004.

Women and children were permitted to escape if they could. After several weeks of bombing, the attack opened with a carefully planned war crime: Invasion of the Fallujah General Hospital, where patients and staff were ordered to the floor, their hands tied. Soon the bonds were loosened; the compound was secure.

The official justification was that the hospital was reporting civilian casualties, and therefore was considered a propaganda weapon.

Much of the city was left in “smoking ruins,” the press reported while the Marines sought out insurgents in their “warrens.” The invaders barred entry to the Red Crescent relief organization. Absent an official inquiry, the scale of the crimes is unknown.

If the Fallujah events are reminiscent of the events that took place in the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, now again in the news with the genocide trial of Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, there’s a good reason. An honest comparison would be instructive, but there’s no fear of that: One is an atrocity, the other not, by definition.

As in Vietnam, independent investigators are reporting long-term effects of the Fallujah assault.

Medical researchers have found dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukemia, even higher than Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Uranium levels in hair and soil samples are far beyond comparable cases.

One of the rare investigators from the invading countries is Dr. Kypros Nicolaides, director of the fetal-medicine research center at London’s King’s College Hospital. “I’m sure the Americans used weapons that caused these deformities,” Nicolaides says.

The lingering effects of a vastly greater nonatrocity were reported last month by U.S. law professor James Anaya, the U.N. rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.....

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Gulf News story on Pak media's role being questioned:

Claims across the Internet suggest that a number of Pakistani journalists, including some very high-profile ones, also received large payoffs from Riaz. As expected, the claims have been rebutted by some of those targeted in the allegations.

Who will watch the watchdog?

There are compelling questions related to media that must be resolved

By Farhan Bokhari, Special to Gulf News
Published: 00:00 June 17, 2012
Gulf News

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Who will watch the watchdog?


A week of high drama is not unknown in Pakistan as the country is often caught in the proverbial ‘eye-of-the-storm’. But the past week has been unusually dramatic even by the standards of Pakistan’s moments of recurring turmoil and continuing uncertainty.

This latest episode began when media reports raised questions over the conduct of a son of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary. Arsalan, Justice Chaudhary’s son, reportedly received large sums of money from Malek Riaz, Pakistan’s best-known realty tycoon.

In the wake of the controversy, the Supreme Court has stepped in to investigate the matter. However, in the meantime, the storm has widened to bring out some very disturbing questions over the conduct of prominent players across Pakistan’s increasingly robust media.

Claims across the Internet suggest that a number of Pakistani journalists, including some very high-profile ones, also received large payoffs from Riaz. As expected, the claims have been rebutted by some of those targeted in the allegations.

Article continues below

However, the matter cannot be taken lightly. In the past decade, Pakistan’s media has emerged as the most visible example of an increasingly open country where democratic values have rapidly taken root. This evolution has armed the Pakistani media with the reputation of being an emerging watchdog.

But the status of watchdog notwithstanding, parts of Pakistan’s media, notably the country’s TV channels, have also acquired the reputation of behaving without any restraint. The latest controversy in Pakistan only deepened when Riaz was shown in an interview with a private TV channel, questioning the conduct of Justice Chaudhary.

More damaging for Pakistan’s emerging private media has indeed been the leakage of video footage on the Internet, which clearly showed exchanges between Riaz and two prominent TV hosts during breaks in that interview, which. in part. could at least be construed as being potentially offensive to the top judiciary. Last Friday, justice Chaudhary presided over a special session, with other Supreme Court judges present on his side, to review the footage and decide the best way forward.

Irrespective of how the judges will proceed from here, there are indeed compelling questions related to the media itself which must be debated and resolved.
While a free media is central to the successful evolution of any democratic society, no entity in a free environment must ever be allowed to carry on its work without some element of independent oversight. Tragically, in Pakistan’s case, it seems that the country’s rapidly evolving free media has flourished without legitimate constraints. Pakistan is haunted today by a question that should have been asked when this evolution began in the first place, which is: Who will watch the watchdog?

Hopewins said...

"Besides, what you boast about is really India's shame because it trains these professionals at Indian taxpayers' expense, only to have them escape India to serve in the West rather than their own nation.

No other nation has this kind of exodus of its top professionals as India".

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times piece on how Bollywood portrays Pakistan and Pakistanis:

...the need for patriotic films arose as the newly formed nation was looking for a reason to remain united. Pakistan became a convenient excuse. As India’s national identity began to strengthen in the 1960s, jingoistic films began to emerge.

Manoj Kumar’s 1967 classic, “Upkar,” for instance, had covert references to Pakistan, but never named the country outright. The protagonist in the film is suggestively called Bharat (Hindi for India), who takes a moral high ground when his younger brother asks for the family property to be divided between them.
The younger brother (Pakistan is metaphorically called the younger brother of India) is the evil one, who exploits the older one’s tolerance. “Such family metaphors were used by the industry until much, much later,” said Namrata Joshi, associate editor of Outlook magazine.

Professor Kumar said it wasn’t until 1973, in Chetan Anand’s “Hindustan Ki Kasam,” which was based on the 1971 war between the two countries, that a movie made unambiguous references to Pakistan. “But Pakistan still remained an unnamed malevolent power on Indian screens,” he said.
The 1990s saw a sudden spurt in Hindi films talking about the tensions with Pakistan. “The problem was that Indian filmmakers chose to see Pakistan in only military terms. No one tried to portray or even find out what Pakistani society looked like,” Professor Kumar said. “They began to equate Pakistan to its ‘evil’ military.”

Films like “Border,” based on the 1971 war with Pakistan, were released, where patriotism took on a new definition. “You loved India only if you hated Pakistan,” said Ms. Joshi of Outlook.
A typical modern-day Hindi film on the tension between the two countries would have morally upright Indians and sinful Pakistanis. “However, they always distinguished Indian Muslims and Pakistani Muslims. The former were always the good guys,” said the journalist and film critic Aseem Chhabra.

The cross-border tensions on screens portrayed a rather subtle gender politics as well. “I don’t remember a film where the girl is from India and the boy from Pakistan,” said Ms. Joshi. “India had to have an upper hand sexually as well.”

The Hindi film industry witnessed some high-octane nationalism in the early 2000s with films like “Gadar” and “Maa Tujhe Salaam” having blatant Pakistan-bashing scenes. Pakistan was the evil enemy, much like what the former Soviet Union was to the United States during the Cold War
The way the Hindi film industry has looked at Pakistan has always been dependent on the mood of the nation and government policies. “But now, filmmakers keep in mind the mood of the market as well,” Professor Kumar said, “because Pakistan is emerging as a huge market for Bollywood films.” As Pakistani diaspora increases in number, this market would further expand....
Despite these changes in sentiment, films featuring cross-border espionage like “Agent Vinod” and Salman Khan’s “Ek Tha Tiger,” which released Wednesday, still face problems with the censors on both sides of the borders.

“With Indo-Pak films, as with Indo-Pak relations, it is always one step forward and two steps back,” said Professor Kumar.

Hopewins said...

^^RH: "John Briscoe, Harvard Professor and water expert on coverage of India-Pakistan water dispute:

Living in Delhi and working in both India and Pakistan, I was struck by a paradox. One country was a vigorous democracy, the other a military regime. But whereas an important part of the Pakistani press regularly reported India's views on the water issue in an objective way, the Indian press never did the same. I never saw a report which gave Indian readers a factual description of the enormous vulnerability of Pakistan, of the way in which India had socked it to Pakistan when filling Baglihar. How could this be, I asked? Because, a journalist colleague in Delhi told me, "when it comes to Kashmir – and the Indus Treaty is considered an integral part of Kashmir -- the ministry of external affairs instructs newspapers on what they can and cannot say, and often tells them explicitly what it is they are to say."

Here is John Briscoe saying PAKISTAN HAS WON the arbitration, and in the tightly-controlled Indian Media no less!

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Paul Krugman's Op Ed in NY Times on 10th anniversary of Iraq war:

So did our political elite and our news media learn from this experience? It sure doesn’t look like it.

The really striking thing, during the run-up to the war, was the illusion of consensus. To this day, pundits who got it wrong excuse themselves on the grounds that “everyone” thought that there was a solid case for war. Of course, they acknowledge, there were war opponents — but they were out of the mainstream.

The trouble with this argument is that it was and is circular: support for the war became part of the definition of what it meant to hold a mainstream opinion. Anyone who dissented, no matter how qualified, was ipso facto labeled as unworthy of consideration. This was true in political circles; it was equally true of much of the press, which effectively took sides and joined the war party.

CNN’s Howard Kurtz, who was at The Washington Post at the time, recently wrote about how this process worked, how skeptical reporting, no matter how solid, was discouraged and rejected. “Pieces questioning the evidence or rationale for war,” he wrote, “were frequently buried, minimized or spiked.”

Closely associated with this taking of sides was an exaggerated and inappropriate reverence for authority. Only people in positions of power were considered worthy of respect. Mr. Kurtz tells us, for example, that The Post killed a piece on war doubts by its own senior defense reporter on the grounds that it relied on retired military officials and outside experts — “in other words, those with sufficient independence to question the rationale for war.”

All in all, it was an object lesson in the dangers of groupthink, a demonstration of how important it is to listen to skeptical voices and separate reporting from advocacy. But as I said, it’s a lesson that doesn’t seem to have been learned. Consider, as evidence, the deficit obsession that has dominated our political scene for the past three years.

Now, I don’t want to push the analogy too far. Bad economic policy isn’t the moral equivalent of a war fought on false pretenses, and while the predictions of deficit scolds have been wrong time and again, there hasn’t been any development either as decisive or as shocking as the complete failure to find weapons of mass destruction. Best of all, these days dissenters don’t operate in the atmosphere of menace, the sense that raising doubts could have devastating personal and career consequences, that was so pervasive in 2002 and 2003. (Remember the hate campaign against the Dixie Chicks?)

But now as then we have the illusion of consensus, an illusion based on a process in which anyone questioning the preferred narrative is immediately marginalized, no matter how strong his or her credentials. And now as then the press often seems to have taken sides. It has been especially striking how often questionable assertions are reported as fact. How many times, for example, have you seen news articles simply asserting that the United States has a “debt crisis,” even though many economists would argue that it faces no such thing?

In fact, in some ways the line between news and opinion has been even more blurred on fiscal issues than it was in the march to war. As The Post’s Ezra Klein noted last month, it seems that “the rules of reportorial neutrality don’t apply when it comes to the deficit.”

What we should have learned from the Iraq debacle was that you should always be skeptical and that you should never rely on supposed authority. If you hear that “everyone” supports a policy, whether it’s a war of choice or fiscal austerity, you should ask whether “everyone” has been defined to exclude anyone expressing a different opinion. ...

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excerpts of an article on Indian intelligence agencies and journalists anti-Muslim bias:

ON 19 NOVEMBER 1987, during the protracted final phase of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, Indian Airlines flight IC 452 from Kabul landed at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. Shortly after its arrival, a security guard spotted ammunition cartridges rolling out over the tarmac from a damaged crate, one in a consignment of 22 that had arrived on the plane. Airport staff began an X-ray examination of every box. Apart from cartridges, the scan revealed at least one rocket launcher.

Police and customs officers took the shipment for a haul of terrorist contraband. While airport personnel argued over who should get credit for the seizure, a man in mufti appeared and identified himself as a Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) operative. Before the munitions could be properly inventoried, he confiscated the crates, claiming they were government property.

The journalist Dhiren Bhagat broke the story on 24 April 1988, in Bombay’s Indian Post and the London Observer. The damaged crate “was the sort of slip that journalism thrives on,” he later wrote. According to the freight bill, the consignment was telecom equipment bound for the Director General Communications in Sanchar Bhawan—a non-existent official. Looking for an explanation, Bhagat contacted the cabinet secretary, BG Deshmukh, to whom R&AW reported. Deshmukh said he could neither confirm nor deny R&AW’s involvement.

In his article, Bhagat speculated that the smuggled arms had been destined for Punjab, where the Khalistan insurgency was at its peak. In March 1988, there had been several rocket attacks on police and paramilitary units in the state—though nobody was hit—and such weaponry hadn’t been used anywhere else in the country following the November shipment. Although Bhagat didn’t say as much, it seemed plausible that government forces had staged the assaults as a pretext for stepping up military intervention in Punjab (and discrediting Pakistan). “Indian officials have expressed concern about the increased firepower of the Sikh militants, who in the last week have used shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles, similar to those used by guerrillas in the war in Afghanistan,” Sanjoy Hazarika wrote in the New York Times in early April. “Officials here say they have been unable to confirm reports that these weapons have been smuggled across the Afghan and Pakistani borders into Punjab.”
Indeed, many Indian journalists refer to intelligence officers, and even agency chiefs, not as sources but as friends, calling them by their first names or nicknames, and inviting them to Diwali celebrations and other family events. At its core, however, the relationship between reporters and agents is a crude barter economy. Most agency work, especially at the domestically focused Intelligence Bureau (IB), is on the political desk—tracking dissidents, businessmen and various politicians: the sort of people with whom journalists are relatively free to meet. “One officer told me very bluntly, ‘My job is not to give you stories but to take stories from you.

If there is a steady flow of information from you, once in a while I might consider giving you a story myself,’” a mid-ranking reporter with a leading daily told me. A senior Mumbai journalist described agency information gatherers as “hungry caterpillars”. “It doesn’t matter from which part of the country the information is from,” she said. “Intelligence is after all about connecting the dots. If I get some documents from Orissa, I would give them to the Nagpur police and get some story in return.”

“My understanding is what you bring to the table is important to build contacts, and then you build confidence by writing about issues,” Shishir Gupta, the deputy executive editor of the Hindustan Times, said about cultivating sources within the IB.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's "Tale of Two Indias", a story of pro-rich bias in Indian media:

..These are just some of the English-language news brands, not the national and regional language media. And this is just one holding company in which Ambani has substantial stakes. We’re not talking about other news media where Reliance Industries accounts for substantial ad revenues, just so you get the picture…

Now to get back to junior – or Akash Ambani: There have been reports that the young man was driving a glitzy Aston Martin Rapide early Sunday, following a Saturday night party, when it crashed in Mumbai’s upscale Peddar Road area, injuring eight people. Some reports say two people were killed, but the Mumbai police now say there were no deaths.

Witness accounts say a “fully drunk” young man bearing a strong resemblance to Akash Ambani was in the driver’s street at the time of the accident. The young man was spotted getting into one of two tailing cars and fleeing the scene.

Nevertheless, the next day – and here comes the glorious moment – a 55-year-old driver employed by Reliance presented himself at a Mumbai police station and accepted responsibility for the accident.

Just so you know, there’s a rich history of rich, drunk Indians screeching around in daddy’s cars and killing impoverished souls who live on the streets of Indian cities.

In Sept. 2002, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan ran into a bakery in a Mumbai suburb and killed a man sleeping on the pavement outside the bakery.

More than a decade later, the case is still dragging through the courts. The charges have been lowered to culpable homicide not amounting to murder, the actor’s police guard who testified that Khan was drunk at the wheel was suspended from the police force, and the saga rolls on.

In short, if the average Indian believes the rich enjoy impunity, they’re probably right.

But this is hardly unique to India.

Now let’s examine a case that’s uniquely Indian.

‘In a hold-up with common criminals’

Enter Devyani Khobragade, Indian deputy consul in New York, who was arrested last week outside her daughter’s Manhattan school.

The incident sparked a level of outrage – and diplomatic pettiness – that took Washington, who’s no stranger to anti-US clamor, by surprise.

Apparently, the shock and horror is due to the way Khobragade was treated.

In an email published by several news sites, Khobragade described her ordeal at the hands of the NYPD: “I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing, in a hold-up with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of [diplomatic] immunity,'' she wrote.

Note that “hold-up with common criminals”. Khobragade is not a commoner. She’s a diplomat. She’s educated, erudite, entitled – and her daddy, Uttam Khobragade, is a top bureaucrat who has been linked to the massive Adarsh Housing scam in Mumbai, a city that ranks among the world’s 10 most expensive cities for real estate.

Indian maids are made for exploitation

If you think anyone gives a hoot about Mme. Deputy Consul’s Indian maid who was heinously underpaid (try living in New York City on a $500 monthly salary), you can just fuggedaboutit.

The maid, Sangeeta Richard, fled her employer’s place in June and approached an immigration attorney in July. Very few details are available about Richard and her whereabouts, but the Indian government and press have made a fuss of the fact that her husband was granted a US visa.

Now here’s the fun twist: the Indian employer is accused of paying an illegal wage and falsifying documents in the US. In India, her maid has been charged with cheating and conspiracy. If Richard enters India, she will be arrested.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar, who represents 150 victims of American drones and was twice denied entry to the U.S. to speak about them, told my Intercept colleague Ryan Devereaux how two of his child clients would likely react to Obama’s “apology” yesterday:

“Today, if Nabila or Zubair or many of the civilian victims, if they are watching on TV the president being so remorseful over the killing of a Westerner, what message is that taking?” The answer, he argued, is “that you do not matter, you are children of a lesser God, and I’m only going to mourn if a Westerner is killed.”

The British-Yemeni journalist Abubakr Al-Shamahi put it succinctly: “It makes me angry that non-Western civilian victims of drone strikes are not given the same recognition by the US administration.” The independent journalist Naheed Mustafa said she was “hugely irritated by the ‘drone strikes have killed good Westerners so now we know there are issues with drones’ stories.” The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson this morning observed: “It is all too easy to ignore … the dubious morality of the whole enterprise — until the unfortunate victims happen to be Westerners. Only then does ‘collateral damage’ become big news and an occasion for public sorrow.”

This highlights the ugliest propaganda tactic on which the War on Terror centrally depends, one in which the U.S. media is fully complicit: American and Western victims of violence by Muslims are endlessly mourned, while Muslim victims of American and Western violence are completely disappeared.

When there is an attack by a Muslim on Westerners in Paris, Sydney, Ottawa, Fort Hood or Boston, we are deluged with grief-inducing accounts of the victims. We learn their names and their extinguished life aspirations, see their pictures, hear from their grieving relatives, watch ceremonies honoring their lives and mourning their deaths, launch campaigns to memorialize them. Our side’s victims aren’t just humanized by our media, but are publicly grieved as martyrs.

I happened to be in Canada the week of the shooting at the Parliament in Ottawa, as well as a random attack on two Canadian soldiers days earlier in a parking lot in Southern Quebec, and there was non-stop media coverage of the victims, their families, their lives:

Riaz Haq said...

#India Army threatened me for #Kashmir coverage: Veteran Journalist Shekhar Gupta - Rising Kashmir …

Noted Indian journalist, Shekhar Gupta Thursday said he would often receive threats from the Indian Army and other government establishments for covering Kashmir.
“We got a lot of flak for covering Kashmir,” he said speaking at the book release function of Aina Numa, a collection of writings of the former Member of Parliament and editor of ‘Aina’, late Shamim Ahmad Shamim.
Gupta, who remained the editor-in-chief of Indian Express for 19 years and also served as the vice chairman of the India Today Group for a while, was the chief guest on the occasion.
“When we broke the story of Pathribal fake encounter in Indian Express, and did a number of investigative follow up stories, I was getting phone calls from the Indian Army who would tell me, ‘What type of stories are you covering,’” he said.
Gupta, a recipient of Padma Bhushan award for his contribution to journalism, writes a weekly column ‘National Interest’ for India Today magazine and hosts an interview-based television show ‘Walk the Talk’ on NDTV news channel.
He said Kashmir was inextricably woven in the national security story and had been covered as a problem not as a place or people.
“National media sees it purely through the paradigm of that story – Line of Control, infiltration, gunfights, militants, and so on,” Gupta said. “This type of journalism has bedeviled the concept of Kashmir in India.”
Gupta, an author of Assam: A valley divided and India redefines its role, said it was unfortunate that journalists with very little knowledge of Kashmir were parachuted to the Valley to cover Kashmir.
“These people spend a week inside a hotel, do not even come to know about the day-to-day problems of the people like long hours of power curtailments, and return with stories of underlying danger of security increasing in Kashmir,” he said and accepted that Indian media had never been truthful with Kashmir coverage.
Gupta, who did his initial schooling from an RSS-run institution, said reporting anything truthful, embarrassing, or a setback was seen to be anti-national.
“But does it serve the national interest? We came to the conclusion that truth will never hurt the national interest,” he said. “We did a story when the GoC of the 15 Corps called DCs and SPs and told them to target people under the Public Safety Act and we did stories on fake surrender of militants, Srinagar sex-abuse scandal, and the killings of three persons allegedly by the DGP Kuldeep Khoda.”
Gupta, a keen Kashmir watcher, who has written extensively on Kashmir, said Kashmir does not need parachute journalists.
“Previously, calling an encounter a fake encounter was seen as a punishable act but it is no longer so as troops are now even punished in court martial proceedings,” he said. “There still are distortions but the coverage is much more open now.”
Gupta also criticized the Indian media for hyperbole while covering Nepal earthquake after praising Indian Army out of way during the coverage of Kashmir floods.
“We didn’t learn our lessons in Kashmir and we paid for it in Nepal,” he said.
Gupta said he had been laying a stress on reporters to report stories other than that of conflict from Kashmir.
“I tell them there is a state of Kashmir and the people there have their aspirations, they have their problems, there is a story on power cuts, shortage of jobs, how well Kashmiris are treated in different parts of India,” he said.
Gupta said Kashmir journalists working in India were serving as great ambassadors of Kashmir.
“My mother won’t believe Bangladesh had fallen until Mark Tully reported it and Rajiv Gandhi won’t believe his mother was dead till Mark Tully reported it,” he said asking Kashmiri journalists to be ambassadors of Kashmir like Mark Tully.
Gupta said there cannot be any better tribute to Shamim Ahmad Shamim than knowing that people of his profession from Kashmir were doing good.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's strange preoccupation with #Pakistan. India needs to look within for homegrown extremism #Modi via @dwnews

In 2003, on a flight to Hong Kong, I had a Frenchman and an Indian sitting behind me. Both must have been in their 30s, as was I. Their conversation throughout the flight was quite audible, especially when the Frenchman begun to groan about the time that he had spent in Mumbai (in the early 1990s).
He was telling the Indian how he (and his wife) got caught up in a riot that had erupted after mobs of Hindu extremists attacked and destroyed an old mosque in the Indian city of Ayoudhia in 1992.
"It was horrific," he told the Indian. "The rioters were attacking people with sticks and I even saw some of them trying to set a Muslim man on fire."
"The rioters were Hindu?" the Indian asked.
"Well, they were attacking Muslims, so they must have been," the Frenchman replied. "My wife refuses to go back to India now," he added, laughingly.
I concentrated a bit more on the conversation because I was now eagerly waiting for the Indian's response.
And voila: "Usually such riots are funded and instigated by the Pakistanis," came the explanation.
One of my eyebrows went north and I hoped the Frenchman would ask exactly how Pakistan could be involved in starting riots in India.

He didn't. He just went on about his ordeal, and how his wife had made them take the very next flight back to Paris.
"It's worse in Pakistan!" the Indian shot back. "It (Pakistan) is destabilizing the whole region."
"Maybe, but we were in India," the Frenchman reminded him.
I couldn't help but turn around and intervene in the conversation: "Can I just pop in, and speak to my South Asian brother here?" I asked the Frenchman. He just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
Addressing the Indian in Urdu (which is quite similar to Hindi), I said: "Bhai (brother), have you ever been to Pakistan?"
He replied in English: "No, but my father went back in the 1970s. Are you Pakistani?"
"Yes," I replied, "and I am flying to Hong Kong to whip up a riot among the Indian community there."
The Frenchman snickered and so did the Indian. I raised my small green can of Carlsberg, and added: "Here's to the usual mutual accusations and counter-accusations between India and Pakistan. And to the freedom of Kashmir and Khalistan!"
This time the Indian did not snicker, but the Frenchman did, knowing well that I was being entirely sarcastic. The Indian raised his paper cup full of white wine and spouted out his own toast: "And here's to Pakistan stopping being such a nuisance and becoming a part of India again."
I smiled: "Well, it all depends on how the Indian community in Hong Kong treats our French friend here after I incite them to burn a mosque in downtown Hong Kong."
The Frenchman laughed out loud: "So, it's true. This is exactly how we (in France) perceive the way Pakistanis and Indians engage with one another."
I agreed: "Absolutely!"

Riaz Haq said...

CBS News Investigative Journalist Explains How #American Mainstream Media Brainwashes The Masses: via @IamNotSirius

Did you know that only a handful of corporations, 6 to be exact, control over 90 percent of the media? That means nearly everything we hear on the radio, read in the news, and see on television (including ‘news’). I’m talking about General Electric (GE), News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, and CBS.

Ever since Operation Mockingbird, a CIA-based initiative to control mainstream media, more and more people are expressing their concern that what we see in the media is nothing short of brainwashing. This is also evident by blatant lies that continue to spam the TV screen, especially when it comes to topics such as health, food, war (“terrorism“), poverty and more. Corporate interests always seem to get in the way.

Multiple celebrities have even spoken out about this. Roseanne Barr, for example, said that MK Ultra rules in Hollywood. MK Ultra was (and I believe still is) a program run by the CIA to practice methods of mind control and experiment on human beings. (source)(source)

Filled with clever marketing tactics designed to tell us what to think and what to buy, mainstream media manufactures public opinion and popular trends. It’s time to really take a look at what’s going on here and consider the type of information we’re being bombarded with.

In the below eyeopening talk, veteran investigative journalist (and Former CBS NEWS investigative reporter) Sharyl Attkisson shows how “astroturf,” or fake grassroots movements, funded by political, corporate, or other special interests very effectively manipulate and distort media messages.

Riaz Haq said...

Pankaj Mishra: #India's Savage, Invisible War, Unreason on #Kashmir, original sin of #Indian nationalism via @BV

Kashmiri Muslims remain as disaffected as ever -- and with good reason. A few hours before the assault on JNU last week, Indian security forces shot dead two Kashmiri students in the valley. The Indian media, and even those protesting against the scoundrels of patriotism, barely noticed just another day of impunity in Kashmir.

Neither such routine killings (by Indian govt), nor the endless crackdowns and curfews have changed or will change Kashmir’s ground realities. But last week’s multi-pronged assaults on JNU students revealed how profoundly and extensively a sustained lynch-mob hysteria over Kashmir had damaged Indian institutions -- security agencies and the legal system, as well as the media and the larger public sphere -- long before Modi’s ascent to power. In this sense, a long, savage but largely invisible war on India’s margins is finally coming home.


Last week, a tragic farce overwhelmed India just as Narendra Modi was promoting his ambitious “Make in India” program to spur domestic manufacturing. It began with Zee News, a jingoistic and vastly influential television channel, whose owner had openly campaigned for Modi’s election in 2014. Zee broadcast an amateur video that showed students at the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), India’s version of the London School of Economics, shouting slogans in favor of Kashmir’s independence and against the 2013 execution of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri accused of attacking the Indian parliament in 2001.

Some other ultra-patriotic channels picked up Zee’s accusatory refrain against JNU students: that they were “anti-national.” Modi’s home minister declared his resolve not to “spare” the culprits. His education minister tweeted her angry refusal to tolerate any “insult to Mother India.” Delhi police raided the university campus. They arrested, among others, the president of the student union and a former teacher, charging them with sedition no less.

The home minister quoted a tweet supporting JNU students by Hafiz Saeed, a notorious Pakistani militant, to accuse them of links with evildoers. Exercised about the insults to Mother India, a mob of politicians and pro-Modi lawyers at a Delhi court beat up -- on two successive days, as a crowd of policemen stood by -- journalists as well as JNU students, including the one accused of treason.

Soon after these extraordinary events it emerged that not only did Saeed’s supposed endorsement come from a parody Twitter account, but the original video of sloganeering students had also been doctored.

An avalanche of scorn has landed on the Modi government and its seedy partisans in the Indian media. Adverse international headlines have made “Fake in India” and “Hate in India” seem more plausible ventures than Make in India for now.

A government driven hither and thither by Twitter burlesque is guilty of abysmal ineptitude. But frenzied deception and self-deception over Kashmir are not unique to Hindu nationalists. Rather, unreason on Kashmir is the original sin of Indian nationalism, secular as well as hardline Hindu.

Tens of thousands have died during more than two decades of a vicious Pakistan-backed insurgency and counter-insurgency in Indian-ruled Kashmir; an unknown number have been tortured or “disappeared.” The violence drove away an entire community of Kashmiri Hindus from the valley where most of the state’s population lives.

During this time, the political and popular mood has progressively hardened in India. The extravagant middle-class fantasy of a “Global Indian Takeover” made local Kashmiri disaffection seem a trifling irritant -- to be tackled through a U.S.-led emasculation of Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

#India is second most ignorant nation of the world after #Mexico: Survey via @dna

India has the "dubious honour" of being the second most ignorant nation in the world after Mexico, according to a survey which posed questions on issues like inequality, non-religious population, female employment and internet access.

The survey conducted by Ipsos MORI, a London-based market research firm, polled 25,000 people from 33 countries and found that while people "over-estimate what we worry about", a lot of major issues are underestimated.

Mexico and India receive the dubious honour of being the most inaccurate in their perceptions on these issues, while South Koreans are the most accurate, followed by the Irish," the survey said.

The rankings of the nations were based on the "Index of Ignorance" which was determined by questions about wealth that the top 1 % own, obesity, non-religious population, immigration, living with parents, female employment, rural living and internet access.

Most Indians "underestimate" how much of their country's wealth is concentrated in the hands of the top 1%, the survey said, adding that the top 1% actually own an "incredible" 70 % of all wealth.

The survey also found that most Indians "hugely overestimate" the proportions of non-religious people in the country to be 33% when the true figure is under 1 %.

While Israel significantly underestimates the proportion of female employment (by 29 % points), people in countries like India, Mexico, South Africa and Chile all think of more women in work than really are, it said.

India fell in the list of nations which overestimate representation by women in politics.

Countries like Columbia, Russia, India and Brazil all think there is better female representation than there really is, the survey said.

However, the Indian population seriously underestimates the rural population of the country and thinks more people have internet access than in reality.

In India the average guess among online respondents for internet access is 60 per cent - an overestimation of the true picture of 41 percentage points, the survey added.

Riaz Haq said...

Journalist Jailed in Eastern #India Over Social Media Post. #CPJ demands release #Naxal #Maoist #Modi #BJP

NEW DELHI — A journalist in eastern India was arrested after he posted a message on social media criticizing the police and calling for legal protections for reporters in the violence-scarred region, his lawyer said Wednesday.

The journalist, Prabhat Singh, who had worked for an Indian television network and had been posting news on social media sites after he was fired from the station, was detained on Monday in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh State, said Kishore Narayan, one of his lawyers. The post for which he was arrested was circulated on WhatsApp.

Mr. Singh was accused of circulating obscene material, Mr. Narayan said. In court on Tuesday, Mr. Singh said that he was beaten in police custody, Mr. Narayan said. The court denied his bail request.

A Maoist insurgency has been active for years in India’s tribal belt, which includes parts of Chhattisgarh. The rebels disrupt elections and frequently attack security officials. Human rights activists say that security officials trying to suppress the insurgency have committed human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings.

Two journalists were arrested in Chhattisgarh last year and accused of supporting the militants. Those arrests came at a time when the authorities were cracking down on people they called Maoist sympathizers, supporters of the journalists have said. Shalini Gera, a lawyer with the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group, which is representing the journalists arrested last year, said both men were innocent.

Ms. Gera said that last month she and her colleagues were driven out of Jagdalpur, which serves as the administrative headquarters of the Bastar district, by police officials who objected to their work.

On Tuesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists, an advocacy group based in New York, called on the state’s chief minister to release Mr. Singh.

“The arrests and hounding of journalists and their defenders has given way to a climate of fear that risks turning parts of Chhattisgarh into a media black hole,” said Sumit Galhotra, the senior research associate of the group’s Asia program.

A senior police official in Bastar was not available for comment on Wednesday.

Riaz Haq said...

Overreacting to #Terrorism? #BrusselsAttacks #Obama #Trump #Cruz2016 #Islamophobia

Are terrorists more of a threat than slippery bathtubs?

President Obama, er, slipped into hot water when The Atlantic reportedthat he frequently suggests to his staff that fear of terrorism is overblown, with Americans more likely to die from falls in tubs than from attacks by terrorists.

The timing was awkward, coming right before the Brussels bombings, but Obama is roughly right on his facts: 464 people drowned in America in tubs, sometimes after falls, in 2013, while 17 were killed here by terrorists in 2014 (the most recent years for which I could get figures). Of course, that’s not an argument for relaxing vigilance, for at some point terrorists will graduate from explosives to nuclear, chemical or biological weapons that could be far more devastating than even 9/11. But it is an argument for addressing global challenges a little more rationally.

The basic problem is this: The human brain evolved so that we systematically misjudge risks and how to respond to them.

Our visceral fear of terrorism has repeatedly led us to adopt policies that are expensive and counterproductive, such as the invasion of Iraq. We have ramped up the intelligence community so much that there are now seven times as many Americans with security clearances (4.5 million) as live in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, Donald Trump responded to the Brussels attacks with crowd-pleasing calls for torture or barring Muslims that even Republican security experts agree are preposterous.

On the same day as the attacks, a paper by James E. Hansen and other climate experts was released arguing that carbon emissions are transforming our world far more quickly than expected, in ways that may inundate coastal cities and cause storms more horrendous than any in modern history. The response? A yawn.

Hansen is an eminent former NASA scientist, but he’s also an outlier in his timing forecasts, and I’m not qualified to judge whether he’s correct. Yet whatever the disagreement about the timeline, there is scientific consensus that emissions on our watch are transforming our globe for 10,000 years to come. As an important analysis in Nature Climate Change put it, “The next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far.”

To put it another way, this year’s election choices may shape coastlines 10,000 years from now. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have both mocked the idea of human-caused climate change, with Trump suggesting that it is a hoax invented by China to harm the American economy (he now says that last point was a joke).

The upshot is that Brussels survived this week’s terrorist attacks, but it may not survive climate change (much of the city is less than 100 feet above sea level).

Doesn’t it seem prudent to invest in efforts to avert not only shoe bombers but also the drowning of the world’s low-lying countries?


Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, says that the kind of threats that we evolved to deal with are those that are imminent rather than gradual, and those that involve a deliberate bad actor, especially one transgressing our moral code. Explaining our lack of concern for global warming, he noted,“Climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, not flags.”

In short, our brains are perfectly evolved for the Pleistocene, but are not as well suited for the risks we face today. If only climate change caused sharp increases in snake populations, then we’d be on top of the problem!

Yet even if our brains sometimes mislead us, they also crown us with the capacity to recognize our flaws and rectify mistakes. So maybe we can adjust for our weaknesses in risk assessment — so that we confront the possible destruction of our planet as if it were every bit as ominous and urgent a threat as, say, a passing garter snake.

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts of an NPR Fresh Air interview with Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize winning author of "The Sympathizer":

one of the first movies that I remember watching was "Apocalypse Now." I was probably about 10. And I think that was the first indication, also, that I had that there was something called this war and that this was how Americans saw this war as one that had divided them. And that was my first glimmering that there was something like a civil war happening in the American soul and that we as Vietnamese people were caught up in that because I watched that movie as a good, American boy who had already seen some American war movies - John Wayne in World War II.

And I was cheering for the American soldiers until the moment in "Apocalypse Now" where they started killing Vietnamese people. And that was an impossible moment for me because I didn't know who I was supposed to identify with, the Americans who were doing the killing or the Vietnamese who were dying and not being able to speak?

And that moment has never left me as the symbolic moment of my understanding that this was our place in an American war, that the Vietnam War was an American war from the American perspective and that, eventually, I would have to do something about that.


Their function is to literally just be stage props for an American drama. And my narrator understands this. And he understands it very intellectually and viscerally that what is happening here is that Hollywood is the unofficial ministry of propaganda for the Pentagon, that its role is to basically prepare Americans to go fight wars by making them focus only on the American understanding of things and to understand others as alien and different and marginal, even to their own histories, right?

And so his belief is that he can somehow try to subvert this ministry of propaganda, this vast war epic that is going to continue to kill Vietnamese people in a cinematic fashion, which is simply the prelude to actually killing Vietnamese people in real life. So he believes that he can try to make a difference. And, of course, the humor and the tragedy is that he can't.


you know, that the United States lost the war, in fact, in 1975. But for the very same reason that the United States was able to wage a war in which it lost 58,000 American soldiers, which is a human tragedy, but was able to create the conditions by which 3 million Vietnamese people died of all sides and 3 million Laotians and Cambodians died during those years and in the years afterwards.

For the very same reasons that the industrial power of the United States is able to produce this vast inequity of death, that's the same reason that the United States, in the years afterward, through its incredibly powerful cultural industry, is able to win the war in memory because wherever you go outside of Vietnam, you have to deal with American memories of the Vietnam War. Inside Vietnam, you have to confront Vietnamese memories. But outside, wherever I've gone and talked about the Vietnam War and memory, one of the first questions that I get is what do you think of "Apocalypse Now?" So...


Americans are preoccupied with their own experiences. That's an exact replication of the mindset that got us into Vietnam and that has now allowed Americans to remember the Vietnam War in a certain way that makes it an America war.

Riaz Haq said...

NY Times Op Ed by Mohammad Hanif:

Once, in a TV studio near Delhi almost eight years ago, I tried to stop a war between India and Pakistan and left thinking: Let them fight. It’s never a good idea to join a TV debate when those two are on the brink of yet another war.

I was visiting Delhi just after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, and my publisher persuaded me to accept an invitation to discuss Indo-Pak relations. I was the only Pakistani among the half dozen panelists, mostly Indian ex-generals and defense experts, all apparently trying to start and win a war with outrageous sound bites.

As the panelists made their case, a map flashed on a studio screen, and crude animated Indian missiles blew up one Pakistani city after another. The panelists called these cities targets. There was a live poll during the program. It asked viewers a simple question: Should India carry out targeted strikes in Pakistan? Suddenly, it was my duty to convince millions of Indians that attacking my country wasn’t such a good idea.

I was scared, but I tried. I mumbled something about the fact that the cities being annihilated on the show’s virtual map were not terrorist training camps but regular places with ordinary folk. Yes, there were terrorists in Pakistan, but I didn’t have their addresses. I pleaded peace. For the first time I realized how some words, like some countries, are stronger than others. The phrases my co-panelists were using — surgical strikes, hot pursuit, psy-ops, befitting reply — had power, immediacy, significance. They sounded like calls to action — like jumping in a raging sea to save your baby from drowning, like rushing with a bucket of water toward a house on fire.


Most reports on Indo-Pak tensions remind us that the two countries have gone to war over Kashmir three times. What they fail to mention is that all these wars achieved was to obliterate the aspirations of Kashmiri people. In the din of conflict, the first voice to be silenced is theirs. In the current noise hardly any one notices that since July some 1,000 Kashmiris have sustained eye injuries because Indian forces are firing at them with pellet guns.

Saner pundits say: Nothing much more will happen; it’s all bluster; India and Pakistan would not go to war again because both have nuclear weapons. I hope they are right, but I am reminded of the massacres during Partition in 1947, when we didn’t have bombs and had few automatic guns. With knives and rods we managed to kill more than a million people. We didn’t have Twitter to ignite the violence; we managed to do it by word of mouth, through pamphlets and rumors that said, let’s kill them before they kill us. Now those rumors are in our living rooms, accompanied by animated maps.

Peace doesn’t make good TV. Dialogue is not an exciting visual. The history of Kashmir doesn’t fit into 140 characters. While peaceniks on both sides of the border search for a new vocabulary, we need a few moments of quiet mourning.

Riaz Haq said...

South Asian media
All hail. The Economist

India’s press is more craven than Pakistan’s
Oct 22nd 2016 | DELHI | From the print edition

most Indians assume, their media are freer. When Cyril Almeida, a Pakistani journalist, revealed earlier this month that he had been banned from travelling abroad after writing a story that embarrassed Pakistan’s security forces, India’s tabloid press gloated.

The Schadenfreude proved short-lived. To general surprise, Mr Almeida’s colleagues rallied in noisy support. Pakistani newspapers, rights groups, journalists’ clubs and social media chorused outrage at his persecution. The pressure worked; the ban got lifted.

On the Indian side of the border, however, there has not been much critical examination of the government’s actions. Instead, Indian media have vied to beat war drums the loudest.

When an army spokesman, providing very few details, announced on September 29th that India had carried out a retaliatory “surgical strike” against alleged terrorist bases along the border, popular news channels declared it a spectacular triumph and an act of subtle statecraft. Some anchors took to describing India’s neighbour as “terror state Pakistan”. One station reconfigured its newsroom around a sandbox-style military diorama, complete with flashing lights and toy fighter planes. A parade of mustachioed experts explained how “our boys” would teach Pakistan a lesson it would never forget.

Such jingoism was predictable, given the fierce competition for ratings among India’s news groups. Disturbingly, however, the diehard nationalists have gone on the offensive against fellow Indians, too.

This month NDTV, a news channel with a reputation for sobriety, advertised an interview with Palaniappan Chidambaram, a former finance minister from the opposition Congress party. Mr Chidambaram was expected to say that previous governments had also hit back at Pakistan, but with less fanfare than the present one. Abruptly, however, NDTV cancelled the show. An executive sniffed that it was “not obliged to carry every shred of drivel” and would not “provide a platform for outrageous and wild accusations”.

Arnab Goswami, the anchor of a particularly raucous talk show, has declared that critics of the government should be jailed. Extreme nationalists in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, have urged filmmakers to ban Pakistani actors. One party has threatened to vandalise cinemas that dare show a Bollywood romance, “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, due for release later this month, which features Fawad Khan, a Pakistani heartthrob. The film’s director, Karan Johar, has aired a statement declaring his patriotism, explaining that the film was shot before the current trouble and promising never again to work with talent from “the neighbouring country”. One commentator described his performance as akin to a hostage pleading for mercy.

Why, asks Mr Chidambaram, are the media toeing the government line so slavishly? Some answer that they have become ever more concentrated in the hands of big corporations, many of which carry heavy debts and so are wary of offending the party in power. Others ascribe the shrinking space for dissent to the unchecked rise of chauvinist Hindu-nationalist groups. Repressive colonial-era laws on sedition and libel also play a part.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan fares better than #India for #freedom in conflict reporting, political satire. …

Report said Both India and Pakistan would allow limited or no freedom on five topics but political satire and conflict were not among the censored subjects in Pakistan.

The report claimed that Internet is “partly free” in India. However, in so-called largest democracy Internet is usually censored when someone criticises the state authorities, makes comment on conflicts like Kashmir, makes satire of the politicians or other high profile personalities, does social commentary and says something which is considered blasphemous.

In Pakistan, the topics including criticism on state authority, blasphemy, social commentary, lesbian/gay issues and ethnic and religious minority face partial or complete censorship.

The report ranked Pakistan 56th in the index of 65 countries in terms of Internet freedom, with 34 million users. The countries which have poor score than Pakistan included Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Cuba, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, Iran, Syria and China. The report revealed that Internet freedom has declined for the sixth consecutive year, with more governments than ever before targeting social media and communication apps as a means of halting the rapid disseminating of information, particularly anti-government protests.

Riaz Haq said...

#India has been a post-truth society for years. #Modi #Trump #alternativefacts … via @_TCGlobal

India: home of post-truth politics

That was the global context of post-truth politics and its advent in the West. But as the US and UK wake up to this new era, it’s worth noting that the world’s largest democracy has been living in a post-truth world for years.

From education to health care and the economy, particularly its slavish obsession with GDP, India can be considered a world leader in post-truth politics.

India’s post-truth era cannot be traced to a single year – its complexities go back generations. But the election of Narendra Modi in 2014 can be marked as a significant inflection point. Ever since, the country has existed under majoritarian rule with widely reported discrimination against minorities.

India’s version of post-truth is different to its Western counterparts due to the country’s socioeconomic status; its per capita nominal income is less than 3% of that of the US (or 4% of that of the UK). Still, post-truth is everywhere in India.

It can be seen in our booming Wall Street but failing main streets, our teacher-less schools and our infrastructure-less villages. We have the ability to influence the world without enjoying good governance or a basic living conditions for so many at home.

Modi’s government has shown how key decisions can be completely divorced from the everyday lives of Indian citizens, but spun to seem like they have been made for their benefit. Nowhere is this more evident than with India’s latest demonetisation drive, which plunged the country into crisis, against the advice of its central bank, and hit poorest people the hardest.

Despite the levels of extreme poverty in India, when it comes to social development, the cult of growth dominates over the development agenda, a trend that Modi has exacerbated, but that started with past governments.

The dichotomy of India’s current post-truth experience was nicely summed up by Arun Shourie, an influential former minister from Modi’s own party. He disagrees with the prime minister, just as many Republicans share sharp differences of opinion with President Trump.

Shourie said the policies of the current administration were equal to his predecessors’ policies, plus a cow.

...there is an argument to be made that the US and the UK have been living in denial of facts and evidence for years. In 2003, after all, both the countries went to war in Iraq over the false notion that Saddam Hussein was harbouring weapons of mass destruction.
Major social change does not happen within the space of a year. Yet, to a large number of observers around the world, the “post-truth” phenomenon seemed to emerge from nowhere in 2016.

Two key events of 2016 shaped our understanding of the post-truth world: one was in June, when Britain voted in favour of leaving the European Union. The other was in November, when political maverick Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States of America. Trump’s administration spent the third day of his presidency speaking of “alternative facts”, and making false claims about the size of the crowds that had attended his inauguration.

For the rest of the world, the importance of both Trump and Brexit can best be gauged by understanding that they happened in the USA and in the UK. The UK was the key driving force of the world from the 19th century until the second world war, the US has been ever since. The US and the UK often have shared a similar point of view on many global geopolitical developments, as strategic allies or by virtue of their “special relationship”.

Riaz Haq said...

Arun Shourie On Media Freedom: #Indian govt raids are an attempt to intimidate #India's free press. #Modi … via @ndtv

My dear friends, I want to first begin by expressing my deep gratitude to Narendra Modi. He has brought so many friends together. And as a return favour, I want to read him a couplet, which Kuldip Nayar will tell us who it is by:

Tujhse se pahle vo jo ik shakhs yahan takht-nashin tha
Us ko bhi apne khuda hone pe itna hi yaqin tha

(He who occupied this throne before you
He too believed himself to be God as much as you)

And as that is from a Pakistani poet (Habib Jalib) I must protect myself by reading from the Granth Sahib: Ram gayo, Ravan gayo, jake Bhau Parivaar...Ye bhii jaayenge. (Ram is gone, so is Ravan, and these people too will go.)

So we must have that confidence. As there is no fact that needs to be added, no point in law that needs to be added after the person who has been the shield of freedom in India, Mr Fali Nariman, has given us such a good exposition.

I will address the question which (journalist) Nihal Singh sahib proposed. The question is: What should we do? And as Mr Kuldip Nayar said, it is not necessary to answer this question, at the time of the Emergency, but the fact of the matter is every generation is taught the lesson of freedom.

So this time, once again that lesson has begun. The first thing we must do is to recognise that a new phase has begun. Because thus far the government was using two instruments. One was to stuff the mouth of the media with the bribe of advertisements. There is a Zulu proverb that a dog with a bone in its mouth can't bark. So, they were converting the media into a dog with the advertisements in its mouth that cannot bark at them.

And the second point was, they were controlling and managing the media by the subterranean spreading of fear: Yaar, tum jaante nahi ho, Modi sab sun rahaa hai, uske paas saari team hai, ye hai, woh hai... Amit Shah CBI ko control kartaa hai, kal tumhaare par ye hogaa...Arre yaar, ye ho gayaa hai, phir bhi aadmi zindaa hai (points towards Prannoy Roy). Phir bhi channel chal rahi hai. (You know, Modi is listening to everything. He has this big team, he has this, he has that...Amit Shah controls the CBI, tomorrow they will do this to you... But, this has happened (the CBI raids) and the man (Prannoy Roy) is still alive. The channel is still going strong.)

You must see that now they have got what they could from those two instruments. So now they are using the third instrument, which is overt pressure. And they have made NDTV an example of that. And this will intensify in the coming months, I believe this will intensify. One because of the nature of the regime, the nature of the regime - its genes are totalitarian. What does totalitarian mean? Total domination in the entire geography of India, in every sphere of life - in all fora, they must dominate. So, they are extending it step by step, if you look at the pattern. The second is, that the gap between what they claim in their advertisements and speeches, and what the people are feeling on the ground in their lives - whether you're a farmer or a person who is losing his job, that is so wide already but that will become wider in the next two years as investments doesn't revive and other things happen. For that reason, they will then take to not just managing but suppressing the voices of dissent. So that's the first thing to realise.....

Riaz Haq said...

After Pulwama, the Indian media proves it is the BJP's propaganda ...
Washington Post-Mar 4, 2019
Suchitra Vijayan is the executive director of the Polis Project. Vasundhara Sirnate Drennan is director of research at the Polis Project.

Riaz Haq said...

Noam Chomsky: "The primary element of social control is the strategy of distraction which is to divert public attention from important issues and changes determined by the political and economic elites, by the technique of flood or flooding continuous distractions and insignificant information. distraction strategy is also essential to prevent the public interest in the essential knowledge in the area of the science, economics, psychology, neurobiology and cybernetics. “Maintaining public attention diverted away from the real social problems, captivated by matters of no real importance. Keep the public busy, busy, busy, no time to think, back to farm and other animals"(quote from text Silent Weapons for Quiet War ).