New York Times article on Narendra Modi was biased, unfair and prejudiced; Requests apology and corrections
As many of you may know that The New York Times foreign correspondent Mr. Gardiner Harris wrote an article entitled “Campaign for Prime Minister in India Gets Off to Violent Start” published on September 17, 2013. Many people have written their responses, comments and letters condemning the article for it’s blatant bias against Hindus, Muzaffarnagar riots, Gujarat Riots and Mr. Narendra Modi. Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF) also has written a lengthy letter on September 28 taking ten statements from the article and tried to explain the reasons as to why that article was biased, prejudiced and unbalanced. After giving three business days to respond, we left two messages via phone on October 3 and one message on October 4. By about 2:00pm on October 4, we received the following email by Mr. Michael Blackman, who is the Deputy Foreign Editor.
Dear Dr. Velagapudi,
Forgive me for a delayed response. We have received all of your notes regarding this article and had many discussions here about them. We would like, if you have any plans to be in New York, to invite you in to the Times to have a discussion about your concerns and issues you raised of this piece. Joe Kahn, the foreign editor, will be out of the country until the end middle of the month. If you don't mind waiting, perhaps we can meet sometime toward the end of the month.
I am not sure if this is even feasible, given your Texas address. But we could instead try to arrange a conference call instead. Thanks for your patience. (By Michael Blackman).
Four of us (Prakasarao Velagapudi, Prasad Yalamanchi, Satya Dosapati and Arvind Kumar) met with The New York Times correspondents on October 25, 2013 in their office in New York and had a dialogue with them.
Following is the Response to their article GHHF sent to The New York Times. We will also follow up with our correspondence and the gist of our meeting shortly.Thanks (GHHF)
LINK to The New York Times article:
[GHHF] New York Times article on Narendra Modi was biased, unfair and prejudiced; Requests apology and corrections
TO: The New York Times
“These men ask for just the same thing, fairness and fairness only. This, as far as in my power, they, and all others shall have.” Abraham Lincoln
On behalf of Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF), we write this letter to express our dissatisfaction and displeasure regarding your article entitled, “Campaign for Prime Minister in India Gets Off to Violent Start” published in New York Times (NYT) on September 17, 2013. Many people have expressed their outrage and disappointment over the content of the article that is considered biased, prejudiced, unfair, and partial. The correspondent, Mr. Gardiner Harris has shown Muslim community as victim in the hands of Hindus while questioning the integrity of the Hindu community. The correspondent seems to lack the historical perspective of the atrocities Muslims have committed for over seven centuries against Hindus, their Temples, their Deities, their riches, their women and their children. If he had visited the sacred places such as Mathura, Benares, Ayodhya, Somnath and other cities where the destruction numbs the mind of any person of any faith, he would have a better grasp of the history of these perpetual riots. There are more than 2000 Hindu temples converted to Mosques by using the Temple’s stones and Deities to demonstrate their superiority. Suffice it to remember Will Durant, who said "the Mohammedan conquest of India was probably the bloodiest story in history".
It is worth remembering the core values of The New York Times published under “Company Policy and Ethics in Journalism.” They are as follows:
a) "enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news, information and entertainment."
b) "Content of the highest quality and integrity: This is the basis for our reputation and the means by which we fulfill the public trust and our customers' expectations."
c) “our goal is to cover the news impartially and to treat readers, news sources, advertisers and all parts of our society fairly and openly, and to be seen as doing so. The reputation of our company rests upon that perception, and so do the professional reputations of its staff members.”
d) “strives to maintain the highest standard of journalistic ethics.”
e) “protect the impartiality and neutrality of the company's newsrooms and the integrity of their news reports.”
f) “In case of conflict, the policy with the higher standard shall apply.”
g) “Whatever the medium, we tell our audiences the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it. We correct our errors explicitly as soon as we become aware of them…. We publish corrections in a prominent and consistent location or broadcast time slot.”
h) “it is essential that we preserve professional detachment, free of any hint of bias.”
Keeping these guidelines in mind, we want to point out some of biases, partialities, and preferences toward one community, which we feel may have compromised the Company’s high standards, high quality, integrity, reputation, truth and professional detachment.
1) Title of your article is misleading
Your article title “Campaign for Prime Minister in India Gets Off to Violent Start” is not only misleading but it is maligning BJP, Mr. Modi, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindus. Let us look at the implication of the title. First of all, Congress Party has not yet announced its candidate for Prime Minister. Only BJP announced its candidate - that is Mr. Modi. That means Congress Party has not yet started its campaign.
When you say that Campaign gets off to a violent start, you are implying that the BJP candidate MR. Modi’s campaign was responsible for riots in Muzaffarnagar. That is totally false and biased. The title of your article is illogical, ill intended, misleading and deceptive only to create negative opinion about Mr. Modi’s campaign.
2) Time line does not match the title of the article - Campaign for Prime Minister in India Gets Off to Violent Start.
Muzaffarnagar riots, which took over 50 lives, started on August 27, 2013. However Mr. Modi was announced as BJP’s Prime Ministerial Candidate on September 14, 2013. This announcement was made 19 days after the riots broke out in Muzaffarnagar. That means the riots broke out way before the announcement. How can you attribute the riots to the announcement of the candidacy? Do you mean that riots broke out way ahead of time with the knowledge that Mr. Modi may be nominated as the candidate of BJP? Your title of the article would have been highly appropriate if the riots were started after the candidacy of Mr. Modi was announced. But that was not the case.
What is the reason behind the title of the article? What are you implying?
3) NYT is wrong in identifying the reason for riots.
The article says that “…. mass rioting broke out last week in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous and politically important state, after a legislator from Mr. Modi’s party circulated a fake video of two Hindus being lynched by a Muslim mob.”
This is a biased and inaccurate reporting for the following:
a) On September 6, it is reported that two Hindu girls were molested when they were returning from college. These girls were being sexually groped/brutalised en route almost daily by Shahnawaz Qureshi - a Muslim of the same village.” (Atlasshrugs). NYT never mentioned about this incident. One wonders why?
b) NYT never mentions the name of the legislator who belongs to Mr. Modi’s Party. Why his name was not mentioned in the article. Is it because you are trying to hide from the facts, or you wanted to foam more tension in the community, which already became the victim of religious tensions?
Is it ethical on the part of NYT to write up something that is not backed up by facts or evidence?
4) Your statement that Mr. Modi “is unapologetic Hindu Chauvinist” is against your philosophy, which states, “fundamental purpose is to protect the impartiality and neutrality.” When you make statement like that are you saying Mr. Modi should apologize for being a Hindu. Why should he not be “unapologetic?” Why should he apologize for being a Hindu? What do you mean by “chauvinist?” Are you implying that Mr. Modi is a bigot, extremist?
a) Do you also say that any body, who says that he is a Muslim, or he is a Christian, will be called “unapologetic Muslim chauvinist” or “unapologetic Christian chauvinist.”? Mr. Modi never said any think like what Omar Abdulla said in 2009 in the Parliament: “I am a Muslim and I am an Indian, and I see no difference. “ Basically he is equating India and Muslims as one and the same.
b) Compare the above quote with Mr. Modi. Asked whether the 'real Modi' was a Hindu nationalist leader he said, "I'm nationalist. I'm patriotic. Nothing is wrong. I'm a born Hindu. Nothing is wrong. So, I'm a Hindu nationalist so yes, you can say I'm a Hindu nationalist because I'm a born Hindu."
c) If Hindus are as chauvinistic as you seem to imply, how come you don’t even find one Hindu country? India is a SECULAR country, not a Hindu country. Compare this with approximately 57 member states whose Islamic interests are espoused by theOrganization of the Islamic Conference.
d) As you all know that the Hindu population is dwindled to negligible numbers (less than one percent) from about 18 percent at the time of Independence in 1947 in Pakistan and less than 6 percent from over 25 percent in Bangladesh since it’s Independence. Are the Hindus chauvinistic?
5) Hindu Nationalist Party Benefited from Violence?
You observed, “critics also say he and his Hindu nationalist party have benefited from past violence between Hindus and Muslims, using it to paper over Hindus’ historic differences over caste and get them to vote as a bloc along religious lines.”
NYT has become prisoner of Congress Party mindset toward vote bank politics. What evidence do you have to say that Hindu party benefited from the violence? If you look at the elections over the years, more than 90 percent of Muslims voted for Congress party. If you look at Hindus, majority of them voted for Congress. How can you make a statement based on the perception of critics, who have no proof of evidence? Why NYT has not even looked at the facts of elections?
6)Modi made anti-Muslim Slurs?
NYT stated that: “By choosing Mr. Modi, a fiery orator who once peppered his speeches with anti-Muslim slurs, the Bharatiya Janata Party has raised the prospect that this election could be the deadliest in decades.”
a) Can you identify Mr. Modi’s speeches that were peppered with anti-Muslim slurs?
b) What makes you think that the elections would be deadliest? Are you supporting and siding the views of Congress Party, who have vested interest in destroying the country with corruption and tolerating the terrorists? Are you also supporting the divide and rule policy of Congress party for their failure to stop the Islamic terrorists and take appropriate action against Pakistan, the country that exports terror to India.
c) It is sad to see that NYT is becoming a vehicle for fomenting fear among the readers.
7) Gujarat Riots in 2002
Your statement that, “In 2002, less than a year after he was appointed the state’s chief minister, riots swept Gujarat and killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims.”
a) Do you know how the Gujarat riots started and who were the culprits of this atrocious act? As you may know or may not know that the rioting erupted after a group of unruly and hateful Muslims torched a train carrying Ram sevaks in Godhra burning alive 58 people, mostly women and children.
b) Do you think that nearly 21 percent of Muslims would vote for Mr. Modi in 2012 elections, if they feel that he was responsible for the riots?
b) Why did not the article even recognize it?
8) Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh
NYT stated that RSS “espouses a muscular religious nationalism. Indeed, a former member of the R.S.S. assassinated Mohandas K. Gandhi, the nation’s founding father, in 1948.”
a) Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) definitely espouses nationalism. It means that they feel proud of their Indian heritage, advocate patriotic duty of every citizen to protect their country from outside forces, and encourages self-government with full loyalty.
b) Mr. K T Thomas, a former Supreme Court Judge and a practicing Christian observed that RSS has primary commitment to the nation, not to any group. He continued by saying that, “In this matter, I very much admire. I am a great admirer of this organization I say the smearing campaign must end in this country. Otherwise it will be really unjust on the part of any one.” Please remember he had observed RSS for more than 20 years before he expressed his admiration.
c) When every body was playing dead and obeying the Emergency declared by Mrs. Indira Gandhi and every body’s freedom was trampled, the only organization that stood up to the Emergency was RSS. Hence Justice Thomas said: “We owe very much to this organization for sacrificing many lives and many of the pleasures of life for the purpose of regaining what our leaders gained for this country, mainly the fundamental rights of this country.”
d) It is unfair and unethical to imply that former RSS member was responsible for Mahtma Gandhi’s assassination. Justice Khosla, who conducted the hearings in the court, completely exonerated RSS as having anything to do with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Then why did NYT inject such hateful statement in the article?
e) Would NYT say that since a Jewish person assassinated Jesus Christ, that the whole Jewish Community is responsible for his death? Do you identify the religion or membership of the assassins of Dr. Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and others?
f) Is there an intention on the part of the journalist to flare up the animosity between the communities?
9) NYT stated that Mr. Modi never apologized for the 2002 riots.
The question is what do we mean by apologize and who should apologize? Generally an apology is rendered by a person who expresses regret for something that he has done wrong. Mr. Modi has done every thing possible to contain the riots and took all necessary steps to see that every citizen is protected. The highest court of the land, The Supreme Court of India, absolved Mr. Modi of all the baseless charges against him.
When would NYT honor the judgment of Supreme Court, the highest court in the land and stop being the sidekick of the Congress Party?
10) Why only Muslims were interviewed?
If we read the article it looks so bizarre that not a single Hindu was interviewed. Why? Were there no Hindus living in Muzaffarnagar to be contacted and interviewed? Did NYT find no Hindus to be interviewed? It looked like a preplanned anti-Hindu article.
According to 2011 Census, there are 49 percent Hindus and 47 percent Muslims who live in the city. We are sure if the correspondent wanted to be objective, impartial and present the article in a fair manner, he could have interviewed and reported their assessment of the magnitude and frequency of the riots. Unfortunately, the correspondent failed the fairness test, which requires one to look at both sides of the issue. The correspondent interviewed only Muslims and failed to interview Hindu residents. He should have interviewed the family of the girl who was molested and harassed by Muslims.
What do we request?
1) We request you to respond to each of the ten concerns expressed in this email so that public trust is established and the long cherished reputation of the newspaper is restored.
2) We request New York Times to apologize for highly slanted article and accusing Modi and Hindus as the cause of Riots in Muzaffarnagar.
3) We request New York Times to publish this article with all the corrections removing all the biases and prejudices, following high ethical standards and publish only unvarnished truths.
4)Assign journalists to India, who are equipped with historical perspective of the country, and who can grasp and appreciate the diversity and richness of the land.
The New York Times is known for its quality journalism, the high standards it maintains, integrity of its correspondents, and balanced coverage it upholds. It is also committed to enhance society by providing accurate information. We sincerely request NYT take appropriate action to publish all the corrections in a prominent place in the newspaper.
If you have any questions, please contact me. Thank you.
Prakasarao Velagapudi PhD; Prasad Yalamanchi; and Satya Dosapati.
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