An Open Letter to The Hindu

Posted in General by Karthick RM on July 6, 2009

A friend asked me to look at the last page of the Hindu today (July 4th, 2009). At a first look, it appeared as though there were a lot of advertisements on the page. After a closer observation, I found out that I was not far from the truth. The lead article “Visiting the Vavuniya IDP camps: an uplifting experience” is nothing short of an advertisement for the Lankan government. The article flows like a good corporate ad – the (non-existent) virtues of the Lankan state have been overstated while its miserable failures have been understated.

I’ve been associated with the media enough to know how the Hindu functions, what are its holy cows, and its perception of “ethics.” I understand ‘Manufacturing Consent’ well enough to know how your dependence on being in the good books of the government and the corporates influences your paper’s stance. But what I don’t understand is your paper’s belief that your reader will accept your stories as gospel truth – this reflects in the quality of quite some your articles which are ideal cases of pamphleteering. And today’s article by Mr N. Ram takes the Oscar.

I fail to understand how a visit to any refugee camp can be an ‘uplifting experience,’ as Mr. Ram describes it. Every refugee is a tale of tragedy, a product of unfavourable circumstances beyond her/his control. And in Sri Lanka, they are products of an ethnic war, the roots of which lie in decades of state sponsored discrimination against the Tamils. Do you seriously think that all of your readers would fall for those pictures of all smiles and no tears? Do you think that we would believe that the Tamils would be happy in camps set up by a government that massacred their people by the thousands to apprehend a handful of so-called “terrorists”?

Never would the Hindu publish a story that is even mildly in praise of Israel. Never would the Hindu miss an opportunity to highlight the plight of the Palestinians. But different standards for genuine movements in India, Sri Lanka and China. But then, you have no interests worthy of concern in Israel. The Israeli govt doesn’t give your journalists free access like Sri Lanka or China. You don’t ruffle feathers in the Indian govt by adopting a pro-Palestinian stance but you might lose your precious government ads by being pro-Tamil or even mildly supportive of those brave tribals of Lal Garh. And let us not forget the Sri Lanka Ratna conferred on your Editor-in-chief by the Lankan state. Thus, the mistakes of the Lankan govt and the misery of the Tamil people – they don’t exist for the Hindu.

You try to portray a picture of being an “ethical” newspaper but your selective morality stands exposed in your coverage of people’s movements in and around India. You are no where near radical – you want to play it safe, be on the good side of the establishment. And your leftist stance? A farce, that will dropped at the first instance of trouble. I am willing to bet that if the Maoists target your interests tomorrow, you will sing paeans to the Salwa Judum. Even pro-right media orgs are better than you. At least they are honest about their stance.

PS I know that this letter will not be published. Truth hurts, and a paper like yours that lives in a world of constructed falsehoods wouldn’t want to face it. This exercise was to let you know that your readers are not fooled by your stories. That there are quite some who know the Hindu for what it is – a pro-establishment, bordering on the reactionary newspaper. There are others who are willing to wage an ideological war against such forces of reaction – through written letters, e-mails and blogs. Of course, we do not have a media mafia to back us, only the truth. And our conscience which we haven’t sold for some Ratna.

I wrote this letter as a response to the article “Visiting the Vavuniya IDP camps: an uplifting experience,” by N. Ram in the Hindu, Saturday, July 4th, 2009. A reliable contact within the Hindu told me that it was highly unlikely that my letter would get published. It was expected. My intention was to get the point across to the paper that there is resistance to their propoganda.

7 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Ganga said, on July 7, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Good ripping Karthik. Media agents form an abyss of hypocrisy. N Ram knows very well about how he is hated by many. But these cockroaches always thrive.

  2. தஞ்சாவூரான் said, on July 9, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Very well written letter. Majority of Hindu’s readership would agree with you on your views. Hindu is known to be an official media partner of the genocide committed by the SL government. We can only expect these kind of truth less articles from a person who is barking for few bones thrown by the genocidal SL government.

  3. Shree said, on July 21, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Dude, Kudos! Well written.

    I think the problem now is that the pillars of democKracy are being removed one by one. Atleast phase by phase. Ruling party, Opposition, Judiciary (atleast lower levels are known…), Media. The problem with the first three is that they can be set right by people. While Media, we have no control over it. All we can do is to stop reading those papers. But then, ALL of the so-called national media is pro-congress to be specific. (I am not supporting the opposition parties either!) So, worthless to even comment on it. Purely waste of time.

    If at all we start blogging / spread / preach the wrong doings of media, people are ready to accept it. But, it should be a centralised one. Currently, we are spread across various countries to counter the false media. If at all we do, the so-called national media is all out against us to blocking us or even questioning our credibility! So, what do you think of as a solution? Should we join efforts with Eelam brothers to get more centralised to get rid of this false media operations? You should read my blog (shreedharan.com) where I have written briefly about it.

    Matter of fact is that when I spoke to my friends in advertising, they all agreed that media in India is not good. But, advertising revenue is what drives them. Not at all Ethics! So, be sure of it, they won’t get better in the near future.

    Keep up your effort. thanks!

    • Karthik RM said, on July 21, 2009 at 4:32 pm


      Media houses, especially those like the Hindu, have massive amounts of capital for them to be challenged and exposed overnight. Let us not forget that a majority of their revune comes from advertisements and not due to circulation. The age of idealism in the media was over long ago. This is the age of pamplet writers and screaming anchors – they are the best a consumerist culture can produce. The problem is multi-dimensional and thus requires a multi-dimensional solution. The net is one of the grounds where you can wage an ideological war considering that its open to all – but blogging and mailing alone wont bring about a radical change. A joint effort is a nice idea, provided it materialises. Then again, it is a part of the solution, not the solution as such. So let us do what we can with what resources we have. As they say, from each according to his ability.

      • Shree said, on July 21, 2009 at 5:08 pm

        True Karthik,

        But do remember, there is nothing we could stop on advertising revenue. Rather we should not do it for good. Instead we should use the same advertising revenue to mould them to our views. In otherwords, we should be so rich in content that they themselves should turn at us for advertising. But thats not a overnight solution.

        On Eelam false propoganda, one solution that reaches my mind is that may be we should start a news syndication service thats distributed to all the tamils of this world. Currently, tamilnation.org is doing one such thing. But, according to google ad planner, there are only 63K unique visitors. So, we should aim to increase this from 63K to 630K in the next one year. Over a period of time, it would be so rich and powerful that it would be ‘listened to’ by the so-called international community.

        Again, this should include tamils in FB / Orkut / Search engines. I know the technical know-how to do this. Its all available for free. So, money is not an issue. But, finding people to help each other in these efforts is the most difficult task. Reason: We are scattered across different countries. Lets see how it goes. Hope the saying “Thamizhan illadha naadillai, thamizhanukkendru oru naadu illai” changes as soon as possible.

  4. Neil said, on August 18, 2009 at 10:00 am

    I remember being surprised to see an article in the Op-Ed page, which actually claimed China was the best thing that happened to Tibet. I understand where these come from. But The Hindu was anti-imperialist, I thought.

    • Karthik RM said, on August 19, 2009 at 1:04 am

      Its not. It parades as a “leftist” paper – but its out and out bourgeois in character. What more can you expect from a paper that depends on corporate and govt ads for more than 85% of its revenue? I think that these pro-establishment chaps who masquerade as “progressives” are more dangerous than the reactionaries.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: