The panellist Vinod K Jose, Executive Editor of 'The Caravan' magazine, used the platform on Thursday to claim that religious minorities were being persecuted in India.
Prasar Bharati Chairman Dr A Surya Prakash has slammed the editor of an Indian magazine for his “blatant” anti-India presentation during a session on ‘Religion and the Media’ at the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London, saying many of his statements were “false” and “inaccurate”. The panellist Vinod K Jose, Executive Editor of ‘The Caravan’ magazine, used the platform on Thursday to claim that religious minorities were being persecuted in India. To buttress his argument, he showed clips of media coverage of attacks on minorities.
During his presentation, Jose claimed that “a hundred Christians were murdered in India” and “the RSS engineered the pogrom against the Sikhs in 1984”. After his presentation, when the discussion was thrown open to the floor, Prakash stood up and debunked the presentation made by Jose. He said many of the statements made by ‘The Caravan’ editor were “false” and cautioned the audience about the “inaccuracies” in the presentation.
Prakash said India was not only the world’s largest democracy, but also the most vibrant. It was also the most diverse society in the world. India had 900 million electors, of whom 600 million had voted in the recent parliamentary election. He warned that if the audience left the hall believing Jose, democracy across the world would be in jeopardy.
The Prasar Bharati Chairman said there were a few activists in the world who were uncomfortable with the electoral decision made by the voters of India in the recent parliamentary election and used such fora to peddle their theories. The conference was organised jointly by the governments of the UK and Canada. “I am pained by the decision of the organisers to have given a platform for such a blatantly anti-India presentation. I don’t think anyone is furthering the cause of democracy by running down the most vibrant democracy in the world,” he said.
Prakash said some time ago there were race riots in some parts of the US, but that cannot be taken as an example to brand America as a non-democratic nation or a racist nation. Further, India’s diversity was not just confined to the social space, he said, adding, “over 20 political parties govern India at the federal level and in the states, so it is wholly incorrect to state that one party runs the country”.
He also pointed out that it was a free and responsible media in India which reported on social tensions and attacks on minorities and, ironically, all this reportage was used by the presenter to debunk India’s free and alert media!
The Chairman of the session and the Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, immediately took note of Prakash’s observations and said he had the highest respect for India’s democracy and while ethnic and other conflicts could be debated, India’s standing in the democratic world should not be in question.
[UPDATE] Vinod K Jose has has called the PTI report “highly distorted”. The panel discussion on ‘Religion and the Media’ held at the Global Conference for Media Freedom in London can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKja1clbWNs