Tavleen Singh is a prominent journalist and sometimes also appears on TV discussion panels. Here are excerpts (in blue) from an article “The enemies within” in the Afternoon Despatch & Courier (July 28, 2011). The excerpts are produced in a rearranged order and not in the same way as they appear in her article:
A TELEVISION show may seem like an odd place to make a profound political discovery but this is what happened to me last week. I agreed to appear on Nidhi Razdan’s show, left, right and centre……. So on Monday of last week she decided that the two most compelling subjects were the corruption charges that currently surround the chief minister of Karnataka and, more puzzlingly, the lessons India can learn from the massacre in Norway. Her guests in the NDTV studio in Delhi included Nirmala Sitaraman, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s spokeswoman, Shoma Chaudhury, editor of Tehelka and a British journalist of bleeding hearted liberal disposition. I was in a studio in Mumbai listening to the discussion on an earphone and participating when Nidhi gave me the chance to intervene
It was when we got to the second topic of the day that I found myself horrified by the discussion that went on in the NDTV studio in Delhi. Nidhi led it by saying that Anders Behring Breivik represented right wing terrorism and that this was something we needed to deal with in India as well. By this she meant Hindutva terrorism and within minutes she had everyone, including the spokesperson of the BJP, agreeing that all terrorism was bad and that it should not be linked to any religion.
One has come to expect NDTV to be a mouthpiece for the Congress and the Left. Nidhi Razdan does not attempt to camouflage anything. That Shoma Chaudhury or the foreign journalists that NDTV usually invites follow NDTV’s line of discourse is also not surprising. The surprise is always the unusual eloquence with which journalists who claim to be right-thinking also try to camouflage the truth. Tavleen Singh here has attempted a clarification in writing which she could not get the chance to do on TV. But try and recall all the BJP spokespersons, the Swapan Dasguptas, the Kanchan Guptas and their likes and you will find them doing the same thing. On one hand they will claim to be critical of the left and the media delusions but when they do appear on TV, they become the very spokespersons they criticise. Seriously, terror has no religion? Whether it’s a BJP spokesperson, or Swapan Dasgupta or Kanchan Gupta or any other so called right-thinking journalist, you will find them all agreeing. What exactly is the reason for such doublespeak? Let’s read a bit more from Tavleen Singh:
In the cause of the jihad against India these groups have killed hundreds of innocent Indians in temples, bazaars, hotels and even hospitals. Does this compare with the two or three terrorist incidents we have seen that involved Hindu terrorists? Yet, not only do our leftist intellectuals make this comparison but so do important politicians. The Home Minister said last week that he thought the BJP was targeting him in the 2G spectrum scam only because he was investigating acts of terrorism that involved leading members of the RSS. As for Rahul Gandhi’s mentor, Digvijay Singh, he has hinted on more than one occasion that he believes that it was the RSS who organized the attack on Mumbai.
Shoma of Tehelka then went into a passionate dirge about ‘innocent’ Muslim boys rotting in Indian jails and about how only when it came to jihadi acts of violence was an act of terror linked to religion. The consensus among Nidhi’s panelists was that Hindutva terrorism was more of a threat to India than Islamist terrorism with the British journalist pointed out that someone as clever and informed as Rahul Gandhi had informed the American ambassador, as reported by Wikileaks, that he was more worried about majority communalism in India than about any threats from across the border.
In vain did I try pointing out that the reason why jihadi terrorism was linked to Islam was because it was the terrorists who called themselves holy warriors for Islam. In vain did I try reminding my fellow panelists that the jihadi groups committing acts of violence in India were created by the ISI and that this meant that they had the might of the Pakistani army behind them. Nidhi’s panelists, led by the very verbose Shoma, were convinced that ‘saffron’ terror as it has come to be known was the biggest threat to India. While listening to them I realized, more than ever before, that India’s biggest enemies are Indian opinion makers and our leftist intellectuals.
I have already stated many times over that the biggest threat to Indian democracy is from the media crooks. But Tavleen Singh has got it only half right. The opinion makers are not just leftist intellectuals but also the right wing or centre-right intellectuals and journalists. Except for routinely condemning statements made by Rahul Gandhi or Digvijay Singh I have yet to come across a single journalist who has clearly stood up and asked the government to acknowledge Islamic or Jihadi terror. The reason? Most of these journalists are now freelancers who have to depend on the likes of NDTV and CNN-IBN for survival. You cannot be foolish enough to bite the hand that feeds you. The US government does not talk about China’s human rights anymore and you can guess why. One will recall that it was a college student that had the courage to ask Barack Obama about Jihadi terror. And he managed to give a vague, twisted reply.
After I appeared on Nidhi’s show I received a small floodgate of tweets from twitterers who had seen the show asking if I knew where Tehelka got its funding from. I do not and nor do I care to speculate but what I will say is that most of Tehelka’s investigative journalism seems designed to prove that India is as failed a state as Pakistan and that Indian democracy is mostly a sham. It is a viewpoint that is beginning to get on my last nerve.
It is now being revealed that NDTV, CNN-IBN and HT got lucrative media contracts from the CWG organisers. So it’s natural that they were initially low key on the scams related to CWG when reporting it. Who was the one making the loudest noise about CWG? TimesNow, of course! And why? If the Times group had got the media contracts they had bid for it appears unlikely they would have gone after the CWG scams with the same vigour as they did in July-August last year and continued ever since. They would have been too busy then promoting a rosy picture about the games and the CWG organising committee. Are the right-thinking journalists any different?
There are a few stray journalists who care to state things as they are or as they see it. When it comes to confronting the central government with the truth about terrorism I doubt there are too many journalists, left right or centre, who want to take the risk. The main job of these journalists still is to be largely politically correct. In the recent case of TimesNow’s Arnab Goswami kicking and screaming over cops being targeted by Narendra Modi, not one journalist has managed to find the courage to stand up and write or talk about the deluge of nonsense that Arnab is attempting to spread. The only clarification to come was from Jaynarayan Vyas of the Gujarat government itself.
In principle all terrorism is bad. It does not take an Einstein to discover that. The question here is to acknowledge and respond to the biggest terror threat that confronts us. The government and the media would have you believe it is Hindu communalism. Unfortunately, there are only a few, like Subramanian Swamy, to confront it.
It is also in this context that a one-man party like Subramanian Swamy is leading an extraordinary fight against corruption and against Islamic terror. And he is not really a journalist. Those journalists who pretend to stand up for fairness and straight talk are the most misleading ones. You know the government stooges, the leftists when you see them in print or on TV but the really misleading ones are the right wing fantasy journalists. They are the ones giving credence to the chorus of ‘terrorism has no religion’. This ends up with polls like the ones CNN-IBN is currently doing to merely reiterate that falsehood.