Published in the India Link magazine, March 2018

The BBC online coverage of India is dominated by negative stories of the country and I wonder why such a reputable establishment seems to give a carte blanche to its reporters. No other country gets such a biased coverage, not China, not any number of countries where there is no democracy and where anarchy rules. India, a country of over a billion people remains a dynamic democracy and is a relatively peaceful place where people of whatever faith, ideology and persuasion are free to express their beliefs. This is a country where the persecuted  Zoroastrians have made home and excelled beyond imagination. This is a country where the Jewish people have lived peacefully for as long as anyone can remember. Persecuted Buddhists from Tibet led by Dalai Lama have found a safe haven in India. This is a country which made Mother Teresa an icon and welcomed her with open arms even though she professed a religion that was different from the majority of the country. It is difficult to imagine any other country which would have not only welcomed but adopted an individual in the very fabric of Indian society and bestowed her with the highest honour. This is a country which gave shelter to ship loads of Polish refugees fleeing Hitlers army. Rejected by many countries when the ship docked in India the local king of Gujarat state provided them with every facility including schools for the Polish children, The Polish people have never forgotten this gesture from India and there are places in Poland with Indian names. Some of the screaming  headlines from the BBC are, ‘ Is India descending into mob rule’?, ‘ Savitri Devi the mystical fascist being resurrected by ultra right group‘, There was a school of thought that Hitler would bring India independence from the British. Subash Chandra Bose one of the most revered freedom fighters also believed in this idea. He was by no means a fascist, his goal was to liberate India. When it is convenient for BBC journalists of Indian origin they use this German connection to malign present day leaders and freely use the word,’ fascists’. Another headline asks, ‘ Why India’s Hindu hardliners want to side line Mahatma Gandhi?’. Quoting some obscure members of the ruling party the writer tries to convince the readers that the present leaders are trying to rubbish Gandhi’s legacy. Gandhi remains the father of the nation for the ruling party and for all political parties. Soutic Biswas in his piece on the elections in Gujarat mourned the idea that the Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visited Hindu temples during his campaign. According to him this goes against the secular ethos of the country. The UK is a secular nation in the sense that religion is separated from politics but it does not mean that the Queen and the leaders of political parties do not acknowledge the Christian heritage of the country. Christian prayers are offered at momentous events in the life of the country. In India’s case the vast majority of the people are Hindus and what is the problem with expressing your respect for the sentiments of the majority? A majority cannot and should not be considered to be in the wrong every time just because it is a majority. But in the UK too there are many well meaning mainly left wing academics and overly politically correct  institutions who decry any Christian symbolism. Instead of greeting someone with, ‘ Happy Christmas or Merry Christmas’ they insist on  saying, ‘ Seasons Greetings’! They would like the reference to Christmas dropped!  Apparently this would not offend the non Christian minorities! One academic of Indian origin even suggested that minorities need not show allegiance to the country or to the national flag! They can have allegiance to their local town, city or the local football team! Rather than helping minorities this attitude divides the country and further alienates the minorities from the mainstream of the nation. Acknowledging the value systems and symbolism as well as the historical and spiritual heritage of the majority takes nothing away from the minorities. It should be a starting point for any individual who makes his or her home in a different country.

Nitin Mehta,

London UK

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