If Indian media did its job, WikiLeaks cables on India should not have anythingÂ substantially new.Â
â€˜What about the press? What about the media? Isnâ€™t it the job of the press, isnâ€™t it the job of the media, isnâ€™t it the job of journalism to expose what governments do? Donâ€™t journalists learn from I.F. Stone, who said, “Just remember two words,” he said to young people who were studying journalism, he said, “Just remember two words: governments lie”? Well, but the media have not picked up on thatâ€¦. They didnâ€™t do their job of questioning.â€™
This is the third and concluding part of the series of articles that look at Indian aspirations, how it probably got hijacked under imperialists influences and vested interests; and what needs to be done now. Part I (India’s Aspirations and Hysterias in Light of Imperialists Anonymous and WikilLeaks) and Part II (Bizarre Indian Priorities, Policies and Media)Â of this seriesÂ provide the necessary background.
It is time that Indian mainstream media grows up, thereby acts as an adult for a matured audience. It is time Indian media starts questioing itself once more, rather than questioning tainted Indian politicians alone for their coziness to the US diplomats that may have compromised genuine aspirations of Indians to the US interests.
Many respected global interpretations of the content of the WikiLeaks cables stated that there is not much new substance in these WikiLeaks cables (including the NYT, and many more, because their articles had provided the same insights before the leaked cables did).
Can most Indian media organizations claim so? And if not, why?Â Should they act as the spokespersons of the Government and reproduce information in Government web-sites under one more web-page, or should they report on how the inner machineries of the Government work – from the grassroot levels to the foreign office to the PMO? Haven’t most Indian journalistsÂ learnt those two words of I. F. Stone – “governments lie”? (else the buck should come back to educators like us?).
Before this article deals with the title of this article, few obvious cables need to be reviewed, in light of the disappointments in IndiaÂ during Premier Wen’s visit compared to the jubilationÂ of President Obama’s visit, back in Nov-Dec 2010. And Indian media owes an explanation on what went wrongÂ with Premier Wen’s visit, compared to President Obama’s visit.
On the UNSC, Indian media was silent on the â€˜in the years aheadâ€™Â part of Obama speech. If the (UN and the) UNSC need to be relevant for a changing world, it has to have India at some point of time in future, provided India acts on the legitimate aspirations of its people, locally and globally. India must not go with a begging bowl for theÂ position that India already deserves. India just needs to make the impact of its absence bigger (barring the population factor alone). The way China has been bargaining, for itself and also for the whole block of developingÂ nations, for a bigger say in the World Bank and in the IMF, speaks about the route to follow.
In the humble view of this writer, if President Obama exceled in playing upto the Indian gallery without delivering much content; Premier Wen(#) tried to mend the delicate Sino-Indian relations pragmatically; but Â failed against the mental wall of Indian policy-makers,Â magnified many times over by the IndianÂ media.
Question is – during Premier Wen’s visit,Â the objective reporting of Indian media got lost due to the usual characteristics of Indian media, or was there further vested interests in play, under imperialists influences.
WikiLeaks helps India in understanding the validities of Indian aspirations. Between Obama and Sarkozyâ€™s visit came WikiLeaks cable on how the same Obama administration views â€˜emergedâ€™ India and Indiaâ€™s aspiration of having a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, â€˜in the years ahead.â€™Â Premier Wen talked about need of reform in the UNSC without making tall, open-ended promises.
Hillary Clinton didnâ€™t say anything wrong based on the present global geopolitics when she termed India as the â€˜self-appointed frontrunnerâ€™ for that coveted position.Â Â She merely spoke the truth. As a global leader of the world, it takes courage to state such factual representations of aspirations. It is true that she didnâ€™t doÂ so on national television as Prof. Zinn thought of, but anyway it should have had its consequential impact on Indian policy-forums and media. For a change - â€˜itâ€™s time, you knowâ€”time to tell the truthâ€ â€“ and sheÂ had doneÂ it, in diplomatic cables, that got leaked.
Surprisingly, it did not have any lasting impact in India. Had there been an impact, Indian media or policy-makers should not been disappointed by the reform idea of the UNSC that Premier Wen Jiabao talked about.
WikiLeaks, however,Â does not (and can not, as of now) help in explaining the bizarre actions of Indian media, as it does for Indian government. Radia-leaks, to some extent did that, and also showed the lobby at work, exploiting the â€˜GDP-cultâ€™ hysteria.
At the same time, because there is no â€˜WikiLeaksâ€™ like evidence (few opinions did cover these issues, like the one talking about George Fernandesâ€™ visit to China when he was the Defense Minister, post-his comment on China being Indiaâ€™s number one threat, and his changeÂ of stanceÂ from that visit) against US policy-influence on Indian media; one must also not come to any hasty conclusions that no such pressure (or monetary benefits)Â comes from the US Government directly or indirectly on Indian media, or from the freewheeling capitalismÂ of these two nations.
In spite of the fascinations that Indian media have been showing on the India cables now,Â a minority number of Indians surely had inklings Â of behind the scene diplomatic influence the US have been having on India, without those cables as NYT stated that there was nothing substantially new in these cables. This minority group in IndiaÂ also have similar readings on most of the Indian media.
IsÂ the vast majority of Indian mediaÂ indeed ignorantly objective in their reporting when it comes to ties with China, Russia, or even with Iran; or overly jubilant when it comes to the US or the UK?
The recent Jasmine Revolution in the Arab world led to some discussions in Indian media on the poor Indian media presence in these parts of the world, and elsewhere as well â€“ barring the US and the UK. The more important point, however, is to ask how many correspondents do they have in the hinterlands of India, and not based in Indian metro cities alone, doing only desktop journalism in the comfort of the AC rooms in a networked world of the digital age (or at best collating same from a ‘source‘)?
And if the Indian media, on a broad scale, have not been as objective as Radia-tapes revealed; one needs to ask whetherÂ their exists more vestedÂ influence in the areas of foreign policiesÂ reporing of theÂ Indian media. Â The matter is too important to be ignored, in the context of the soft-power influence of information and news, in our 21st century world.
Coming back to the legitimate aspirations that India should follow,Â it should primarily focusÂ on literacy, onÂ poverty reduction in a sustainable manner, and on how to provide universal access of basic soft and hard infrastructures to its people. If India worksÂ with as much focus as it does for the ‘GDP-cult’ growth rate,Â it would take care of its GDP growth rates better, and its distribution parts (inclusive growth agenda) as innumerable global studies have shown,Â with the coveted UNSC seat as well.
Indiaâ€™s external policies should try and build mutually beneficial relationship with its geographic neighbors. It is critical, in the short term, as the inevitable withdrawal of America happens from Afghanistan, a writing in the wall that India ignores to read:
â€˜But at some point the war in Iraq (and Afghanistan) will come to an end. At some point, the United States will do in Iraq (and Afghanistan) what it did in Vietnam, after saying, “We will never leave. We will never leave. We will win. We will stay the course. We will not cut and run.” At some point, the United States is going to have to cut and run from Iraq (and Afghanistan), you see. And theyâ€™re going to do it because the sentiment is going to grow and grow and grow in this country and because more and more GIs are going to come back from Iraq (and Afghanistan) and say, “Weâ€™re not going back again,” and because theyâ€™re going to have more and more trouble supplying the armed forces in Iraq (and Afghanistan), and because the parents of young people are going to say more and more, “We are not going to allow our young people to go to war for Bechtel, you know, and Halliburton. (Note here that US corporations have not been winning as big in Iraq and Afghanistan as China’s firms have). Weâ€™re not going to do that.” So at some point, yes, at some point we are going to do what they say we mustnâ€™t do: cut and run.Â
We donâ€™t have to cut and run. Cut and walk. Cut and swim. Cut, but get out, as fast as you can, because weâ€™re not doing any good there. Weâ€™re not helping the situation. Weâ€™re not bringing peace. Weâ€™re not bringing a democracy. Weâ€™re not bringing stability. Weâ€™re bringing violence and chaos. Weâ€™re provoking all of that, and people are dying every day.â€™
The U.S. will not be in Afghanistan a single day more than needed, for the sake of Indiaâ€¦be it they do ‘cut and run’, or ‘cut and walk’, or ‘cut and swim’. They will do it as per the U.S. priority alone. It will further aggravate when Pakistan openly goes against the U.S. policies as the power of the U.S. relatively declines eventually, with respect to a rising China, more so in the very neighborhood of India.
Following the Washington-consensus policies, India mayÂ never succeed, even in the longer term, to provide its billion-plus citizens a quality of life anyway closer to that, thatÂ the WestÂ had provided its citizens years ago. India would need new technologies (renewable energies where China has been leading leaving behind the US, thorium-based nuclear technologies due to Indian reserves of thorium), new thinking, new relationships, and most importantly new perspectives that represent genuine aspirations of India withoutÂ any hysterias and fears.
New Delhi, toÂ meet the genuine aspirations of the vast majority of the Indians, would need Beijing more in future than it has needed Washington in the past. It is high time New Delhi realizes the fear and hysteria and the lobby-interests that have hijacked Indiaâ€™s aspirations, and follows-up with a road-map of course-corrective actions.
#This series of articles faced little constraint as no official Chinese translations of Premier Wen Jiabao’s speeches in India was found (as per research back in December). The writer requested for those copies, evenÂ to the Government of China back in December, however in this one single area so far – Chinese efficient machineries failed to deliver.
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