India and the BBC’s Intellectual Trash


By Jan Arden

It is a matter of historical record that the major 90s economic crisis in India, with little forex reserves left, a Moody’s downgrade, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suspending its loan program and the World Bank also stopping its assistance, forced India’s hand. The then shell-shocked establishment and government had few options to address the crisis, and it was forced to take drastic measures to avoid defaulting on its debt payments.

BBC’s anti-India bias must end: British Indians launch massive protests in London. Pic- PGurus

This paved the way for the liberalisation of the Indian economy, since one of the conditions stipulated in the World Bank and IMF loan, required India to remove obstacles and open itself up to participation from foreign entities in its industries, including its state-owned enterprises. India’s economic rise since those reforms initiated by Manmohan Singh in the early 90s, has been pushed by all governments since and the improvement has been dramatic across the past 25 years.

Since 1995, the country’s nominal GDP has jumped more than 700% and a couple of years ago India leapfrogged UK, France, Italy and Canada to become the world’s fifth economy in terms of nominal GDP. Despite that impressive progress, a half-full glass is always half-empty, and India still has numerous enormous challenges to tackle (regional and wealth disparities, poverty reduction, sustainable and greener development, public sanitation, etc). Still, international agencies reckon India as one of the engines for worldwide post-pandemic recovery with growth expected to hum along at 7-8% over the coming decade and India targets a $ 5-10 trillion economy over the next 5 years from its current $ 3.1 trillion.

Forex reserves, including gold and dollars, at a bare bone 5 weeks of imports in 1990, stand today at an impressive $570 billion, that is more than the combined reserves of UK and France. PM Modi’s accession to the Presidency of the G20 recognises the trajectory and fact that India has no longer a sub-regional South Asian dimension but its inherent dynamism can contribute to larger conversations about poverty reduction, national security or sustainable economic growth and development on the world stage in an era of increased global competition for rarefied resources.

Gigantic turnaround

Without having the resources of expert analysts, an educated guess would surmise that this gigantic turnaround will have deep and lasting implications both for geoeconomics and geopolitics in the region. The post-Brexit British government of Boris Johnson have been hard at work since 2021 to develop a framework trade and economic agreement which PM Rishi Surnak and his successors are likely to explore further. As other European governments (France, Italy or Scandinavians), they foresee and hope to tap into consequential opportunities for trade or investment in key sectors such as military hardware, avionics and aviation, space or communication and 5G technology, tourism and massive public infrastructure India plans and still needs to invest in.

On the geopolitical front, one can expect India to try and maintain a focus on its own strategic interests while meshing more and more closely with the Western and Quad military and naval powers notably the US, France, UK and Australia in the Indian Ocean. A delicate balance demonstrated with some consummate juggling over the Ukraine crisis.

With the near collapse of Pakistan caught in the grips of economic turmoil that is leaving much of the country’s population impoverished and starving, its national currency wrecked, its terror networks revived and its regions increasingly rebellious of its Punjab deep state after decades of freewheeling with US military assistance and subsidies, there was no choice for the latter but to dispel the past narratives and establish a growing trusting strategic partnership with India Inc.

Breakup of the ISIS state and dispersal of its terror network across south Asia and the Middle East, the Afghan take-over by the Taliban and China’s aggressivity in the South China region makes sense for such a partnership when ominous regional perspectives and the security of energy supplies across the Indian Ocean become more vital.

This unparalleled growth and development has brought its own share of accentuated problems both internal and worldwide. Faced with the BJP’s clear successes, Congress still has no clear focus and strategy beyond damning the BJP and PM Modi while regional political chiefs in Bengal or the greater South have their own oppositional agendas.

BBC’s intellectual trash

More worryingly, outside influence and the resurgence of manipulation and radicalisation of youths by a variety of non-state actors and hotbed institutions like Jawaharlal Nehru University has to be addressed firmly but with some intelligence to maintain the common thrust for development with benefits accruing to all sections of the population. The Hindu Dharmashastra of peace, tolerance and goodwill can be upended by terror networks financed by inimical interests from outside and local politicians jumping on every bandwagon so long as it makes noise.

As if those internal and sub-regional dynamics were not enough, there are some quarters particularly in the former colonial power who seem deeply troubled and unable to grow over the rise of an economic giant they had so liberally plundered and left waste at the end of their two-century rule. Winston Churchill’s long shadow of racism towards those half-naked fakirs and wogs (an insulting and contemptuous term for dark-skinned persons) Indians, Hindus or the Indian renaissance, still seems to haunt some corridors of the UK’s liberal media, peddling somewhat regular bias or abuse that could upset the budding UK-India strategic partnership. The Guardian and the BBC have come under heavy fire from Indian associations in Britain for their running biased and malicious coverages: in September, the community strongly condemned the Guardian for coverage of Leicester anti-hindu rioting by vandals based on biased and fake reporting.

So too was the Leicester reporting by the BBC, more accustomed perhaps to systematic anti-India or anti-Hindu biased coverages. The latest two-part BBC documentary is another cheap intellectual trash as it tries to rake up the 2002 issue of rioting in Gujarat and blaming it on PM Modi, when the matter has been amply investigated and Modi’s responsibility conclusively dispelled at the Indian Supreme Court. Would the UK welcome an Indian investigative team probing rigorously its treatment of Irish nationalists or even the Chagos islanders for that matter?

The authorities in India and the UK have condemned the BBC for trying to raise communal disharmony inside India and there are demands for the BBC’s director-general and peddlers of anti-India narratives to be investigated or sacked.

Jaundiced view

What prompts the Beeb’s jaundiced view of India? Alastair Pinkerton, a reader in geopolitics at Royal Holloway, University of London, had conducted an in-depth analysis of BBC coverage of South Asian geopolitics in 2008 and reported a “pervasive and hostile anti-India bias” attributed to its imperial past and neo-colonial mindset. Obviously the anti-hindu mobbing and the haughty dismissal of systematic biased reporting by the Beeb cannot continue without placing a heavy strain on strategic relations between the two countries at a time of economical and geostrategic confluence of interests.

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 27 January 2023

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