Controlled media in India spreading fake reports about Nepal

 

An image in the Times of India depicting the Nepal PM as the problem and not India

 

by Hari Prasad Shrestha      7 August 2020

There is a major hidden cause behind the bitter relationship of India with almost all its neighbors. The retired club of seasoned Indian bureaucrats of the Ministry of External Affairs with the support of current bureaucrats and so-called South Asia experts play a dominant role to destabilize its neighbors.

The more instability in the neighborhood has meaning for them – to be more dominant in policy-making as well as facilitate in meddling and exploitation of weak neighbors.  And they have a strong ability to easily influence politicians to act negatively towards neighbors and have been also successful in spreading negativity feelings between Indians and its neighboring countries people level.  Nepal is its latest example.

Nepal is more important for India than India for Nepal and why? Indian media is portraying a grim picture of Nepal as a country that is dependent on India. However, the reality is different, which they never disseminate to Indian people.

First, Nepal is a monopoly market for India. It imports goods worth US$ 15 billion from India annually. If India loses this and goes in the hand of China and Bangladesh, it will negatively affect export industries of UP, Bihar, and Delhi areas.

Second, Nepal is the seventh-largest remittance-sending country to India. Indians work in Nepal send remittance equivalent US$ 5 billion to India, which Nepalese working in India sent the amount to Nepal US$1 billion annually.

Third, Nepal is helping sustain millions of the weakest people of border states of India by providing employment which has been neglected by New Delhi.

Fourth, Nepal’s water has great importance for India, which is can be compared with blood in human life for irrigation in its agriculture and drinking water.

Fifth, Nepalese Gurkhas in the Indian army are protecting India and Indian people.

Since the dawn of democracy in 1951 till the promulgation of the new constitution of Nepal in 2015, Nepal was suffering from Indian micromanagement and meddling in politics, economy, social and cultural affairs. However, in 2015, after India imposed border blockade, it reversed the perception that Nepal was under the sphere of Indian influence and under its courtyard. The so-called Indian experts on Nepal and political authorities have been shocked.

Even after border blockade, India time and again made historical blunders by publishing a political map on 2 Nov 2019 including Nepali territory of Kalapni, Lipulek, and Limpiadhura. Thereafter, in 2020 Indian defense minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a road track in that territory of Kalapani, which had been previously accepted as disputed territories both by India and Nepal. Former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj had accepted that there is a dispute in that area to the Northwest of Nepal and that it must be discussed.

Nepal strongly objected through diplomatic notes on all forceful Indian occupation on Nepalese territories and requested India several times to start a dialogue on this issue. However, India refused all the time to talk with Nepal.

In response to Indian occupation and its one-sided unacceptable activities, in May 2020 Nepal also published a new political map incorporating Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiadhura territories in its new map.

The first time, in history, Nepal strongly responded and opposed India’s suppressive and expansionist activities. Currently, Nepal India relations are at its lowest level.  Anti- India sentiments are climax in Nepal, not only on the public level but also on the political level and India’s despotic foreign policy towards Nepal is responsible for it. India lost its all-time best friend and China tactfully replaced it in Nepal.

Instead of talking on the Kalapani issue with Nepal, India is blaming China and Nepal PM Oli to raise this issue. Now, India seems to be more restive and its main target is to overthrow Nepal PM Oli by using his party associates as it overthrew him easily from power in 2016.  Mr. Oli is also openly blaming India conspiring to overthrow him from power.

To counter Oli’s blame to India, Indian media, politicians, government spokespersons, and opinion makers are diverting the real issue of Nepalese territory occupation by blaming China for supporting Oli to act against India.

India always wants to keep Nepal under its security umbrella-making excessive dramas by highlighting  Roti Beti  ( bread and daughter) relationships through open borders, the similarity in Hindu religion, providing employment to Nepalese especially the Gurkha army, supporting Nepalese economy through trade and transit facilities.

Now, Nepal is completely familiar with these ill, fabricated, and sentimental Indian motives. And both Nepalese politician, as well as people, are reacting strongly against its evil intentions to capture Nepalese territories. As a result, there is a continuous war of words between Nepal and India through the political, public, and media levels of both sides.

Now, India is looking for an opportunity to undermine Nepal by showing its muscle power through fake media-war. However, the situation is not so easy, even if it changes government forcefully, it would be difficult for India to compete with China in Nepal as the majority of Nepalese people and politicians are against India’s occupation of Nepalese territories.

Nepal PM made a statement saying Lord Ram was born in Nepal, not in India. Time will prove its right or wrong in the future, however, it hurt badly to BJP because of the issue of Ram birthplace was major political card for them to win the elections.

Addressing at an event on the birth anniversary of famous Nepalese poet Bhanubhakta, at his residence, PM Oli said, “Nepal has become a victim of cultural encroachment and its history has been manipulated. Although the real Ayodhya lies at Thori in the west of Birgunj, India has claimed the Indian site as the birthplace of Lord Ram”. The Indian religious, and BJP supporters opposed this statement of Nepali prime minister.

And India’s medias started to announce the date and time of Oli’s resignation, some of them even asking him to step down. In becoming their target and helping them gain higher TRPs, Oli has, in fact, became a solid source of their bread and butter.

The Indian medias crossed all the limits and started to broadcast false and shameful stories against Nepal PM Oli and Chinese Ambassador Hou, both of whom have been targets of a vicious propaganda war run by a section of the right-wing, nationalist Indian television media. Calling the Chinese ambassador, a vishkanya, or a poisonous woman, and flashing her photographs alongside Oli’s only shows the deep anti-feminist that runs through Indian newsrooms.

During the 16-minute programme with a headline derogatory towards Oli and the Chinese envoy, the anchors said that PM Oli had been expressing views against Indian interest due to the influence of Ambassador Yanqi. The campaign also uncovers the deep crisis of trustworthiness that characterizes Indian television media today.

Moreover, the Times of India published a disrespectful picture of Prime Minister Oli in its editorial. Indo Asian News Service, India Today, WION, Times Now, and Republic TV are other Indian media channels that ran untrue reports on Nepal.

Taking a strong exception to the disrespectful materials about Nepal and Nepal’s political leadership, Nepal sent a ‘diplomatic note’ to India, to take steps against the broadcast of such disgusting stories transmitted by a section of Indian media.

In a diplomatic note to India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) via Embassy of Nepal in New Delhi, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said that the materials disseminated are fake, baseless, and insensitive as well as abusive to Nepal and Nepali leadership.

“Such materials tend not only to mislead and misinform but also impair the sense of minimum public decency,” it said in the note.

The MoFA in its diplomatic note also said that such a motivated smearing campaign unleashed by a section of Indian media has deeply hurt the feelings of Nepali people and the persona of Nepali leadership. The embassy also requested Indian authorities to take steps against these obscene materials about Nepal by a section of Indian media and make sure that such materials do not find space in the media.

“Such false, concocted and obnoxious materials purportedly broadcast to humiliate and insult Nepal and Nepali people are contrary to the declared pronouncements of the two countries to consolidate the solid foundation of bilateral relations for the benefit of media outlets synchronized against a friendly neighbor and its leadership will only serve the opposite. They sow anguish and aversion among the ordinary people for generations,” the letter further adds.

Meanwhile, Nepal’s ambassador to India Nilambar Acharya telephoned Punit Goenka, managing director, and chief executive officer of the Zee News TV channel, to express the country’s serious objection to a recent imaginary and defamatory show run by Zee News which linked Prime Minister Oli with the Chinese ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi. 

The Federation of Nepalese Journalists, Press Council Nepal, and other media organizations also vented ire against the Indian media reports which ran news on PM Oli, linking him with the Chinese ambassador to Nepal.

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Spokesperson of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Narayan Kaji Shrestha said that the Indian media must stop the baseless propaganda against the Nepal government and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.

Taking to Twitter, Shrestha expressed his disbelief on the extent to which some media channels have gone to defame the current government. “The baseless propaganda by the Indian media against Nepal government and our Prime Minister has crossed all limits. This is getting too much. Stop with the nonsense.”

He further stated, “Nepal is united as far as matters related to sovereignty and geographical integrity are concerned. What we do here is our concern. Divide and rule policies tried by foreign elements will not work here.”

Likewise, Bishnu Rimal, political advisor to PM Nepal also said on Twitter, “The news stories and comments coming from the Indian media against the Government and Prime Minister of Nepal are highly objectionable thus condemnable. Such reports do not care about the basic ethics of journalism.”

Moreover, other numerous politicians and people in Nepal also strongly opposed this disgraceful publication of Indian media.

This kind of aggressive coverage in Indian media is seen as an extension of the Indian government’s foreign policy. Some Indian elites also say that the Modi government maintained tight control over the Indian media’s coverage. Estimates show India has more than 400 news channels, reaching some 400 million viewers. “The Indian government is the biggest advertiser in the country, so in a competitive media space like India, it can be very tough to refuse to listen to the government.”

India’s claim as the world’s largest democracy is only true in theory. This facade of democracy is for a class who are ready to support slavery. Majority Indians still have a culture of being slaves of a stronger class and of making slaves of the weaker people. They learned to practice exploitation just like the British colonial rulers did for hundreds of years. And the media sector has an even stronger impact on slavery by being subservient to the higher class.

According to Indian news channels, the current conflict between India and Nepal is portrayed as a conflict between India and China using concocted anomalies. Most Indian media reflect the will of the rulers and the rich owners.  They are not interested in exploring the truth. For example media person Shekhar Gupta floated fake news by saying Janakpur and Kapilavastu were given to Nepal by the British.

On the contrary, based on global rating, Nepali media is vibrant and freer and fairer compared to Indian media. In India, it is unthinkable to criticize their own government when it comes to international affairs, especially South Asian affairs. In Nepal, it is more of a free-for-all.

Now Nepal is fully aware of the reality that until it becomes self-reliant in economy by breaking the Indian monopoly, until reliable and cheap connectivity is made with northern neighbor , until it regulates open borders with India and until it stops sending  youths in Indian army, it would not be an easy task to be distracted from Indian hegemony. Nepal seems to be serious in these issues.

For example, in 2022 China will start railway connectivity between Nepal and China via the border town of Kerung. It would certainly break the Indian monopoly on trade and transit of Nepal. Petroleum products, medicine, and materials of daily necessities would arrive in Nepal at cheaper cost as opposed to importing from or via  India. India expected to lose a major share of its US$ 15 billion export to Nepal which would negatively affect India’s northern export industries. Moreover, the transit flow of goods from Kolkata and Visakhapatnam India to Nepal would also certainly decrease. It would diverse Nepal’s regional trade and boost the economy to rise rapidly.

Moreover, for the last two years, Modi and his office have not found the time to simply receive the EPG report. Therefore, Nepal must disclose recommendations made by EPGs and implement it by regulating open borders.

And so far, recruitment of Nepali youths in Indian Gorkha battalion, Nepal Foreign Minister Mr. Pradeep Gyawali has already said, “Gorkha recruitment is a legacy of the past. It has various aspects. It opened the window for Nepali youths to go abroad. It created a lot of jobs in the society in the past but in the present context, some provisions in the agreement are questionable. So, we should start discussions on its various objectionable aspects”.

“The 1947 tripartite agreement has become redundant,” he added.

It is an indication and clear message to India that Nepal is no more interested in sending its youths in the Indian army to fight against neighboring friends like China and Pakistan.

In conclusion, currently, India is passing through civilizational distress because everything is seen from the viewpoint of an ultra-rightist Hindutva-laced belief.

One-sided aggressive debates and fake stories are common in the Indian television news industry. It has no effect on the Nepalese as they are fully aware of the state-monitored TV stations in India. As a matter of fact, the whole world is aware of the media hegemony of India.

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