How (free) India treats Foreign Correspondents

17 July 2010

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: Indian politicians and patriots have long held the belief that the “western” media only relays bad news from Bharat.

That, despite all the towering progress made by the emerging superpower, foreign correspondents based out of India only tell their news consumers about death, disease, despair and disillusionment in our glorious land.

If not snakes, sadhus and superstition.

As if to underline the point, the Indian government has reportedly refused to extend the visa of Japanese television journalist, Shogo Takahashi of NHK television, allegedly because his reports focused extensively on poverty and the caste system.

In other words, “consistently negative reporting” about India, that is “not convenient for the interest of India“.

The Times of India reports that Takahashi, 46, first earned the displeasure of Indian officials because his despatches for the TV show Indo no Shogeki (The impact of India) dwelt overtly on the caste system in the Indian electoral system during the 2009 general elections.

Word has also now been conveniently leaked by anonymous officials that Takahashi often filmed his documentaries without taking permission or misused permissions to shoot something other than what permission had been taken for, and also shot “high-security” defence installations.

The word “bias” has also been mentioned.

NHK has expressed surprise at the Indian government’s abrupt decision and has sought an appointment with Indian embassay officials in Tokyo. There is talk that the channel may approach the Japanese foreign ministry to take up the matter with New Delhi.

However, the timing of the decision—shortly after a journalist of the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun complained at prime minister’s Manmohan Singh‘s national press conference about the difficulties in obtaining a press information bureau (PIB) accreditation—and the ostensible reasons are revealing.

On the one hand, for several months now, all the attention has been at estimating the number of poor in India (now conveniently fixed at 37% of the population). Is it so wrong if a foreign correspondent points it out? And since when did “consistently positive reporting” become a condition for visa renewal?

Does India even half-a-case to protest against anybody, Indian or foreign, dwelling on the menace of caste?

But it is the brazen manner in which a journalist has been sent out by a supposedly “liberalised” country for reporting what is not kosher that takes the breath away. That, and the silence of the Indian media lambs—the press council, the editors’ guilds, etc—at the treatment meted out to one of their own.

If Shago Takahashi had failed to convey something vital about freedom of expression in India, the faceless officials of the home and external ministries have done his job.

QED.

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6 Responses to “How (free) India treats Foreign Correspondents”

  1. Mohan Nair Says:

    Look at how the External Affairs bureaucrats treat Indian citizens in the various Indian embassies. They are held in utter contempt. Has any Foreign Secretary done anything to prevent this?

    What’s happening to the journalist is the result of Indian bureaucratic Raj. Hypocrisy and high-handedness are its hallmark.

  2. Sagarika Says:

    Japan controls its image in the west by massive inputs of scholarships at the top universities and cultural institutions, among countless other initiatives.

    Japanese biological warfare criminals and experts on medical experiments on prisoners were taken by Rockefeller University and in return the US agreed to drop prosecutions for biological war crimes a la Nuremburg.

    Pakistan has sent in thousands of students to European and Ivy League schools (with US scholarships) so that they have the right accent and demeanor to give the US/west exactly the angle Pak wishes to promote.

    Saudi Arabia has put money and people on the New York Times board to stop any derogatory reports. Tiny examples of massive PR work done to cover their misdeeds!

    China simply refuses visas/scholarships to anyone who writes anything negative. No China scholar can afford this, hence all reports are watery and congratulatory. eg No mention anywhere of what they did to S Lanka’s Tamils.

    As for Britain’s massive PR, the country that depended on slavery and opium for its current wealth made itself famous as one that abolished slavery. The Tate museum, all stately homes and institutions are built with money made by abusing Carib/Indian slaves.

    Any Belgian reporter King Leopold’s wickedness in Congo or the current mess Belgium deliberately provoked in Rwanda?

    ***

    Japanese youngsters know little about Hiroshima, the US controlled its iamge by ensuring that.

    Ask S Lankans about their 40+ reporters who died after actually asking about the Chinese soldiers brought in to surround and torture the Tamils. The Chinese said, we know how to deal with journalists. They advised S Lanka to put Tamils into concentration camps for 6 months and said, let’s then see who is still interested in them. Nothing about this in the world or S Lanka press? Where were the foreign correspondents?

  3. mysore peshva Says:

    *sagarika*

    wow, that a lot of information, in which lies perhaps a good argument. but why would you conclude that india should be like any of those manipulating countries?


  4. [...] Serif highlights a case of not renewing the visa of a Japanese journalist by Indian authorities because of his alleged [...]


  5. [...] Serif schreibt über den Fall eines japanischen Journalisten, dessen Visa von den indischen Behörden nicht verlängert wurde, [...]

  6. Akash Says:

    What makes India so special and Indians so special that we have to bend over backwards tolerating every other idiot who comes from abroad, misrepresents our culture, attacks us, denigrates us and is then supposed to be tolerated? Indians are perhaps the most idiotic people who bend over slavishly whenever any non Indian talks of India, and then constantly spend their time and energy in an attempt to show how liberal they are, and how everyone and anyone can mock them and portray a distorted image of India. Heck, kicking out patronising, asinine journalists from India was long overdue. They can keep their idiocy and cultural awareness inhouse and spare us Indians.


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