Monday, May 20, 2024

How Obama inflames intolerance in India

Obama talked of “intolerance” in India while US itself is in a moral cesspool. Shouldn’t he mind his own business and not refresh the story of a naked emperor? NewsBred investigates in this final piece of the three-part series. 


I had to look up for Ajoy Kumar when Indian Express quoted him this week as spokesperson of Congress during the newspaper’s breathless coverage of growing intolerance in India.

“Even US president Obama has talked about this intolerance,” Ajoy Kumar tried to give sanctity to his ire against the Modi government. He also spoke about Moody’s disapproval which NewsBred took care of yesterday, as we had done with Melinda Gates a day before in this series on Indian mainstream media’s penchant for quoting discredited sources.

Before we dismiss Ajoy Kumar from this piece—he has spoken his lines—I carry this searing disquiet as to why an Indian national party should quote Obama to comment on Indian conditions. “Even Obama…” sounded as someone who has sanctity above the laws of this land. Or Congress has just let out its truth? Or Indian Express parks itself on a similar latitude. I hope I am wrong and am reading too much. Certainly though I would read my favourite newspaper with a scepticism that never existed before.

Now to Obama’s exact quotes. It was delivered as soon as he left India after attending the Republic Day parade this January.  A spell during which Indian radio, television and newspapers tripped over each other in prostrating on his feet. (Sometimes I feel centuries of servility to foreign forces, from Delhi Sultanat to Mughals to British, has robbed us Indians of our independent spirit).

So said Obama: “ (India is a) place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other people of faith…acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji.”

Times of India had then quoted him with glee and a screeching headline: “Obama Smacks (!) Down India.”

So Mr Obama, here’s what you should be worried about your own country before you make India your concern.

  • That your beloved United States has 25 per cent of world’s all prisoners in its jails. 2.2 million prisoners in all. That’s more than double of China which has five times more population and whom US and its gutter media accuse of human rights violations.
  • That 97 per cent of these inmates have been convicted on non-violent crimes. Stats say that 623,000 inmates are innocents of the crime they are accused of. Majority of them are still awaiting trials. That Bill Clinton in 1996 signed a law that ended court supervision and decisions.
  • That it conveys a wrong impression to a country bumpkin like me, sitting in faraway India, if US is a criminal country; whether such crimes happen due to lust, loot or “intolerance” against blacks as videos of police atrocity is regularly passed on to us.
  • That rape of women soldiers by their own seniors in US Army is almost epidemic. In 2011 alone, 26,000 cases of sexual assault were reported
  • That an AP investigation in 41 of the 50 states revealed that over 1000 police officers lost their jobs due to sexual misconducts between 2009-2014. (You must thank AP though that they left out two of the most populous states like New York and California from their survey).
  • That 550 of these sacked officers were guilty of rape and sodomy.
  • That among biggest of citizens complaints against the police are sexual misconduct, according to a Bowling Green University Study.
  • That according to US National Library of Medicines, up to one in three women can expect to be raped such are the conditions in America’s finest colleges and universities.
  • That in the first five months of 2015, US police killed 464 of its own citizens. That’s twice the number US government feels is reasonable homicides by the police, reports the Guardian. That the cold-blooded murder of US citizens is—hold your breath—70 times of other Western nations.
  • That the world which looks up to United States as champion of free speech, has actually put two of its champion whistleblowers, Edward Snowden and Julian Assagne on the run. That more and more people are beginning to learn about Sibel Edmonds, rated as the “most gagged women in US history.”
  • That more and more people are wondering why Bush and Clintons are being elected by rote, Bush Sr, Bush Jr, hopeful-Zeb Bush as is Hilary Clinton in the footsteps of Bill Clinton. And whether these alone are the men and women US democracy can throw up as alternatives.
  • That your own administration says that the President can use lethal weapons against American citizens on US soil without bothering about legality
  • That many bonafide US citizens are renouncing their citizenship. In 2013 alone, the number was 3000.

Okay, let’s assume that Mr Obama, being the head of a country looking for world hegemony, sees all citizens of world as his own subjects. He can’t help but speak out against intolerance in other societies.

If that’s so, Mr Obama you must consider:

  • There is hardly any religious tolerance in Pakistan or Afghanistan yet US is the biggest prop of Pakistan in the eyes of common Indians. You still haven’t chided Pakistan for its intolerance
  • That when you speak of “intolerance,” people in other parts of the world  wonder what do you see in a fundamentalist, intolerant state like Saudi Arabia to support it with such unbounded enthusiasm.
  • That Gandhi whom you quote with much relish actually objected to Church’s intolerance and virulent attacks on Hindu’s religious and social practices in pre-independent India.

The world wonders why a constitutionally elected Obama doesn’t have a word to say on the state of citizens of his own country and whether that’s because he has an agenda to destabilize other countries, like Syria, and India, in the name of “intolerance.”

Mr Obama, your comments are intended to be tools to the forces who don’t want a resurgent, growing India. Forces who would rather have a divided, communally polarized India.

Or may be that’s the intention in the first place. But discerning Indians can read this script. We read our newspapers between the lines these days. 

And please don’t take high moral ground. That’s the basis on which colonialism and imperialism has flourished in this part of the world. We know this game. We know the trajectory of this dice behind the lectures on democracy, equality and freedom.

If anything, US government is in a moral cesspool. Like ostrich you could bury your head in the sand. But the world is watching. We know the naked emperor.

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