Editor’s Note: We tried to reach out to the editors and writers of the WSJ India Edition. Our hope was to engage in a dialogue and seek answers to basic questions we have. Unfortunately, the people at WSJ-Delhi responded with what we perceived as arrogant indifference. Below we lay out our questions and views. WSJ India Edition is welcome to respond. We shall print their response verbatim.
We respect the Wall Street Journal for its coverage of news and for its centrist conservative approach to global events. We do not see in the Wall Street Journal what we see often see in MSNBC, a deep seated arrogance that presumes to know what is good for the American people better than the people themselves.
But Wall Street Journal does not seem to ensure that its centrist and relatively unbiased journalistic standards apply to its foreign units, specifically to its India Edition. We discern a deep arrogance in the WSJ India edition, an innate feeling of superiority towards the average Indian. The WSJ India Edition showed its true colors during its discussion of the recent firestorm in Mumbai and the state of Maharashtra.
Recently, a professor named James Laine from a small Minnesota college published a book called Shivaji; The Hindu King in Muslim India.This book is riddled with deep seated bias against core Indian culture and demeans well documented Indian history, according to its many critics. In particular, this book gives voice to scurrilous rumors of a vile sort. This led to white hot outrage in the state of Maharashtra of which Mumbai is the capital. The State Government banned this book but this ban was overturned by the Supreme Court leading to more vitriolic protests. The publisher, Oxford University Press, apologized to the Indian Prime Minister and promised not to sell any more copies of the book in India.
- Emperor Shivaji is in our opinion the greatest figure in Indian history of the past millennium. At the tender age of 16, he set out to establish Swa-Rajya or an Independent India free from foreign Muslim rulers. This goal makes him unique, at least for the past 800-900 years. He galvanized an entire population and finally the Mughal ruler of North India came down with the entire Mughal Army to the state of Maharashtra. He and the Mughal rule remain buried in Maharashtra.
- The Maratha Empire formed by Emperor Shivaji grew and by 1760 it controlled much of what is called South Asia today, including parts of today’s Pakistan.
- Shivaji was crowned as Chhatra-Pati or Emperor by Gaga-Bhatt, the Chief Scholar of Varanasi, the holiest city on North India. Gaga-Bhatt was convinced that a crowned Indian Emperor was absolutely crucial to the independence of all of India.
- The great poet Bhushan left the Mughal court in Delhi to come down south to Emperor Shivaji’s capital. It was Bhushan who composed the great line “If it were not for Shivaji, all of India would have been forced into Sunta (converted to Islam).
You can see why the legacy of Shivaji is hated by pro-Muslim writers like Laine. His vision, his legacy is anathema to their vision of Muslim India, a weird slogan given the fact that India was never an Islamic country.
The British had even a greater reason to hate the legacy of Shivaji. Their final battles were with the armies of the splintering Maratha empire in late 18th century. The rebelion to British rule began and gained force in late 19th century in Maharashtra under the legacy of Emperor Shivaji.
During their rule, the British did everything they could to destroy the legacy of Emperor Shivaji. They minimized Maratha history in the textbooks they created for India. You see this British hatred even today in the articles in the Financial Times of London. Their writers cannot stop demeaning Maratha history even when writing about leisure travel in India.
So we were not surprised by the book of an Islamist author like Laine. What we were astonished by was the utter lack of journalistic standards at WSJ India Edition.
Journalistic Misconduct at the WSJ India Edition – Ethnic & Linguistic Discrimination
India is like Europe with many states with their own ethnic races, languages and cultures. Like Europe, India has seen different states come to power at different times. France is a well known European country, a country that adores Napoleon, its main military hero. To this day, French people cherish the legacy of Napoleon even though he was defeated and spent his final years in an English prison.
- Imagine a vile, false book about Napoleon by an American author that demeans the legacy and story of Napoleon. There would be massive outrage in France.
- Now imagine the European Edition of the Wall Street Journal covering this issue with a debate between two German students, students with demonstrated ignorance of French history or of Napoleon.
- Also imagine an obscure non-French woman from Paris being invited by the European Edition of the Wall Street Journal to write an article of protest against French expression of outrage.
- And imagine the WSJ European Edition giving no voice at all to the French feelings of outrage and not printing a single article by a French writer on this topic.
Our opinion – this would never happen in the European Edition of the Wall Street Journal. Every editor of WSJ including the Managing Editor would recognize such behavior to be an utter failure of Journalistic Integrity and Ethics, a clear act of ethnic, linguistic and cultural discrimination against the French.
But this is exactly what happened in the Indian Edition of the Wall Street Journal. This edition published a debate between two North Indian students, one from Delhi and one from Pilani, a University town near relatively close to Delhi. Neither of were from Maharashtra, neither of these two students demonstrated any knowledge about Emperor Shivaji or Maratha history and neither student expressed any outrage against disgusting innuendo and false characterization.
And the WSJ India Edition did not feel any need to get any response from the people of Maharashtra, from any Marathi student from the great city of Mumbai. This is why we think our analogy of two German students writing about French outrage about an anti-Napoleon book is apt.
* Note: Let us be clear. Napoleon cannot be compared to Emperor Shivaji in any realistic manner. A more valid comparison can be made between Napoleon and Mahadaji Shinde, the 4th great figure in the history of the Maratha Empire.
The MSNBC Attitude inside the WSJ Indian Edition
This may not be widely known but India continues to use the same type of textbooks that were used under British rule even 63 years after Indian independence. So each year, Indian students continue to graduate from high school and college without any real knowledge of Indian history or culture. The more elite the institution, the greater the lack of knowledge.
Besides lack of Indian education, the British education system in India produces students steeped in the attitude that European ideas are modern and Indian ideas are backward or old fashioned. This is the same attitude that pervades the shows of Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, the attitude that small town American values are backward and old fashioned while the value systems of Paris, Brussels are modern and progressive
If MSNBC can create such stereotypes in the most advanced economy in the world, imagine what WSJ India Edition, CNN-IBN and NDTV-NBC can do in India that is still toiling under a severe inferiority complex.
Just as MSNBC goes out of its way to shun the conservative voices of American South, Midwest and Southwest, the WSJ Indian Edition goes out of its way to shun the conservative, core Indian voices of Maharashtra, Gujrat and small town India.
This is why the WSJ India Edition invited a totally obscure non-Maharashtrian woman from Mumbai to lament about the type of society India needs to become. But, WSJ India did not deem it fit to invite a Maharashtrian figure of repute to discuss the outrage in Mumbai.
This is a classic case of Journalistic Condescension and Ethnic Contempt, fueled by an attitude that Journalists of the prestigious Wall Street Journal know what is best for stupid, backward Indians, that views of local areas or states like Maharashtra are to be ignored at best and ridiculed at worst.
So we asked a few basic questions of the editors and writers of the WSJ India Edition. We were hoping for a dialogue. We got nothing.
The Awakening of Core India – Its Implications for US Media Networks
Core India is waking up. As Indian economy grows and Indians get more disposable income, the Indian Middle Class and Lower Middle class are beginning to make their views known. This is the strength of the Indian economy and the real strength of India. Their views are now being felt in the local media. This may be why local language newspapers are gaining share at the expense of English language papers.
This is not a good omen for American Media networks like the Wall Street Journal. These American outfits are staffed by pseudo-British, pseudo-European writers and editors who think the core Indian is beneath them. So they routinely talk down to the core Indian. This in our opinion is destructive for the brand image of Wall Street Journal and others.
A few years ago, Oxford University Press had a good name in India. Today, thanks to the Laine book, it is a brand name that creates disgust. We used to love reading Penguin books as a student in India but today, thanks to Penguin’s vile book about Hindu History, that publishing company is dead to us.
If the WSJ India Edition continues its current practices, it would not take long for the name of Wall Street Journal to get besmirched.
This is not just a reputational issue, it could be a huge financial issue as well.
Should Indian Society be like American Society or Should it follow China?
America is the most advanced, the most wealthy and the most informed society in the world. Check out the American media scene.
- You cannot watch a Foreign Network in the USA.
- Foreign companies cannot own Broadcast networks in America.
- As a matter of practice, it is nearly impossible for foreign networks to get shelf space on American cable networks.
- No foreign newspaper has a mainstream circulation within America.
American society understands that to be a free society, it needs core American media organizations. If you allow foreign media to shape your thoughts, intellectual subservience may not be far behind. America gets it.
Yet, in India it is hard to watch a pure Indian channel. Every day Indian society is being bombarded by US & European media companies. Their coverage to a large extent features the ethnic and cultural superiority complex that we see in the WSJ Indian edition.
Unlike India, China is learning the American lesson. It has put brakes on the growth of US & European media companies in China. This is why US & European media companies are flocking to India. Unlike China, India is still caught up in its inferiority complexes.
Now core India is waking up and soon India will be faced with a decision about Foreign media networks. The behavior of WSJ India edition can only hasten that day.
But we hope India does not ban foreign networks. Instead, we recommend the great American democratic solution against Corporate arrogance. What do we mean?
- Develop a Class Action Law that can be used by core India against entities like the WSJ India edition.
- Judge the behavior of every foreign media organization in India against its own behavior in America towards Americans or in Europe against Europeans.
- For example, Contrast:
- Coverage of the Tea Party, coverage of small town America, of conservative American causes in the American edition of the Wall Street Journal with the
- Coverage of core Indian movements, coverage of small town India and coverage of conservative Indian causes in the Indian edition of the Wall Street Journal.
- Any substantive difference in coverage should be actionable under the Indian Class Action law.
- If this comes true, the financial damages to about 68 million people of Maharashtra should be a tidy sum. In this case, we have no doubt that many North Indians would feel loyal to the legacy of Emperor Shivaji and claim damages for their emotional injury as well.
- If the Wall Street Journal cannot pay as a stand-lone entity, no problem. Its parent News Corp owns Star TV, the largest TV network in India. Damages can be collected from this ownership of Star TV.
- This can be applied to Penguin and Oxford University Press as well. If Penguin can demonstrate a anti-Christian publication similar to their anti-Hindu publication, then fine. If not, they would become liable for financial damages to a billion strong Indian society.
- This can apply to multinational food companies as well. Take the case of the American food company that had the racist guts to launch a new ice cream to non-Indians only in Delhi, the capital of India. If that company can demonstrate similar launch in Washington DC restricted to non-Americans, then fine, Otherwise, that US multinational would be subject to class action damages for emotional injury to a billion Indians.
You get the point. There is no reason to riot, to burn books, to protest or to ban organizations. Pass such a class action law and make money from their vile acts. One decision in the plaintiff’s favor and all abusive behavior would stop on a dime.
It is important to note that, as far as we know, the launch of a new ice cream to non-Indians only was the brainchild of an Indian employee of the American multinational. No American executive would have thought of such a nutty idea.
Similarly, the problems at WSJ India Edition seem to be problems created by Indian employees of the Wall Street Journal. But when things hit the fan, no one will blame the Indian employees. The story will be about the American media giant trashing Indian culture and Indian heros due to American racism.
This is why we suggest that the US Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal take immediate steps to clean up their India Edition and find staff that is core Indian rather than with a pseudo-European education or attitude.
Actually, the stakes are far greater than commercial interests of US media networks. We are firm believers in the US-India partnership. This is good for both nations and good for the world. The US Embassy in India is planning “Know US” clubs in Indian Schools. All this good will can be lost and good work jeopardized by the journalistic misconduct of entities like the India Edition of the Wall Street Journal.
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