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Analyzing the Representation of Hindus in Western News Coverage During the 2019 Indian Elections

on 2019/6/1 5:46:58 ( 929 reads )


UNITED STATES, May 17, 2019 (Pragyata by Vamsee Juluri): The Wester media coverage of events in India have a heavy tilt where they repeatedly show Hindus in a bad light. There have been several news reports, analyses and opinion pieces published in important Western media outlets in the past few months about the ongoing elections in India. The New York Times, The Washington Post, the BBC, Time magazine, The Economist, and National Public Radio are among the media that have devoted much attention to events and issues in India. The overall tone of these articles has been severely critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Some articles criticize his economic policies and alleged failures. Most articles though, focus on a broader discourse which somewhat has Modi and his party as the focus, but also point to a deeper question of postcolonial representation - that of Hindu identity.

In this essay, I focus on the ways in which Hindus, Hinduism, and Hindu struggles for political and cultural representation in democratic modern India have been presented before Western news readers and listeners. Does the coverage of the elections recognize the space for a Hindu identity or existence even outside of the more commonly used "Hindu Nationalism" conceptual framework that prevails in media and academia today? Or does the coverage conflate the word "Hindu" with the notion of "Hindu Nationalism" and a particular understanding of it, and with the political groups often labelled as "Hindu Nationalist," namely the Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian People's Party) of Prime Minister Modi? In this essay, I focus mainly on certain objective indicators of representation, and evaluate the perception among many Hindu citizens in India, America and elsewhere, and among some scholars and activists, that there appears to be a strong Hinduphobic bias in media coverage of India, reducing the work of even once well-regarded news sources to efforts, intentional or otherwise, at propaganda.

Extensive article at "source" above with documented examples from major news sources including the New York Times, NPR, the BBC, and Time.

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