I have, in my recent articles, highlighted how the New Zealand media targeted the XIX Commonwealth Games held in New Delhi (October 3 to 14, 2010) and attempted to portray it as a non-starter apparently because the Games were being managed by Indians held in a state, whose Chief Minister is named (Sheila) ‘Dixit’, but still being spelt as ‘Dickshit.’
In the heat of these attacks, two popular presenters turned on our Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand (who is of Fiji-Indian origin) and made unbecoming and irresponsible comments about him.
As the Games proceeded, there was hardly anything positive seen or heard in the first few days. Selective coverage continued to be seen on “what was not there” rather than “what was there against expectations” that had been falsely (and some might say maliciously) shaped by the media. TVNZ was persistently vociferous in its condemnation and persistent skepticism.
This skepticism appeared to be a grudging acknowledgement of the unexpected – the Games was proceeding after all. At that stage, anything that went wrong was blown up to the extent that even the facial expressions of the two key officials and what they said was the focus of analysis. This selective representation by the media was manifest when the media ignored the vandalism of Australian athletes in the Games Village after the Australian Cricket team lost its Second Test against India in Bangalore.
According to Indian media, AAP and AFP reports, the athletes, apparently peeved by their Cricket team’s defeat (more than 1700 kms away), went berserk, destroyed electrical fittings and furniture and hurled a washing machine out of the eighth floor of their apartment block. They were also heard shouting derogatory remarks about Sachin Tendulkar who scored a double century in the Test.
Luckily, no one was injured. The unnamed vandal was unceremoniously sent home. Australia’s Commonwealth Games Chief Executive Perry Crosswhite downplayed the incident saying, “At the end of the Games, these things happen.”
Attack on India
The point however, is that this was deliberately left out of the New Zealand media.
Why was the media so Anti-Indian, when the Commonwealth Games is an exclusive club of former and existing British Colonies?
Is it because Indians have never been forgiven for demanding and attaining Independence against the combined will of Britain and its cohorts in 1947?
Is it because Indians were the first to question the British about the façade of their class system that automatically installed them as superiors?
A selective look back at history is warranted here.
It is no secret that the Indian struggle for Independence began long before emancipation entered the thought patterns imposed and reified in the Colonies to complete the process of colonisation, which involved physical, mental and spiritual subjugation.
In fact, the idea of Indian Independence had become a thorn on the British flesh in the 1930s, long before it became a reality.
From 1920, when Gandhi entered the fray in India former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill refused to call him anything else but “Half-naked fakir.”
His back-flips and schemes on how to contain Gandhi and stall independence make interesting reading. Sir Winston believed that if India won Independence, “the Sun would set on the British Empire.” There was nothing noble in the British strategy, including the creation of a separate Islamic State of Pakistan.
Despite these contentions and negativities, Indian troops fought gallantly beside their colonial masters. This loyalty and gallantry was recognised much earlier by British poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling who immortalised war water bearer Gunga Din (1892) by saying, “Tho’ I’ve belted you and flayed you, By the livin’ Gawd that made you, You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”
India’s sacrifice for the Crown was pronounced in World War I with 74,187 Indian soldiers dead and 69,214 wounded. During World War II, 87,000 Indians died and more than two million were wounded. This prompted Sir Winston to call them “Splendid fighting men” even though one would have to delve into his motivation, given the splendid nature of the man.
It is difficult to understand so much negativity on Indian and anything Indian continues in the New Zealand and Western media. After all, British officials had the best time of their lives in India, enjoying palatial homes, servants and a grand lifestyle, not to forget elephant rides and tiger hunting.
India was the Jewel in the British Crown. Unfortunately, it was a usurped jewel that would demand a reckoning at some stage. Is it this resentment and ridicule for a lowly upstart, who is now seen as an undeserving pretender that drives the negativity against India?
Subhash Appana is an academic, with a deep insight into the politics, economics and other aspects of India and his native Fiji. He says the opinions expressed in this article are his own and may not represent those of others. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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