François Gautier was born in Paris, France. In the early eighties, he began freelancing in India for different publications and finally ended-up being the correspondent in South Asia, for the Geneva-based « Journal de Geneve », then one of the best international newspapers in Europe. In 1993, he switched to Figaro, one of France’s leading newspapers for which he worked exclusively for ten years. He also started writing regular columns for Indian newspapers, first in Blitz Bombay, then in the Hindustan Times, later came the ‘Ferengi’s column” in the Indian Express, then the “French Connection” column in the Pioneer, as well as regular contributions for Rediff., New Indian Express, Dainik Jagran, etc.
François has written several books: Un autre Regard sur l’Inde” (Editions du Tricorne, Geneva-Paris), which has been reprinted thrice and for which he was invited in May 2000 to ‘Bouillon de Culture’, France’s most prestigious TV literary programme; “Arise O India” (Har Anand) 1999, “A Western journalist on India” (Har-Anand 2001), “India’s Self Denial (Editions Auroville Press, 2001), “Swami, moine hindou et PDG (Editions Delville, Paris, 2003, 8000 copies sold) “Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a guru of Joy” (India Today Book Club, 2003; 11 reprints, 100.000 copies sold). La Caravane Intérieure (Les Belles Lettres, Paris 2005). A New History of India (Har Anand, 2008), The Art of Healing (Harper Collins, 2011), Quand l’Inde s’éveille, la France est endormie (Editions du Rocher, 2012). He is now writing a biography of Shivaji Maharaj for Hay House. Francois is also the editor in chief of the Paris-based La Nouvelle Revue de l’Inde (lanouvellerevuedelinde.com) and a director of a book collection on India with the same publisher. Francois is married to an Indian from Delhi, Namrita and shuttles between Pondichery, Pune and Delhi.
By Rahul Chandra | 07-06-2014 | Houston, TX, USA
On agreeing to fact that operations and architecture of American, European and Asian media houses are different, let’s start with Indian media. In your perspective, why Indian media is so biased in projecting Hindus, Hinduism in correct perspective?
So the British used to make fun of Hindu tradition, Cows, Brahmins and Temple worship, in fact when India became independent, Jawaharlal Nehru himself was not the lover of Hindus and he believed that temples of Hindus are things of past. Because of Nehru’s policies and cultural outlook, Indian media started taking up the British views on Hindus and as a result today we see that not only the Hindus are being taken seriously, but are made fun of and disregarded, that’s what British policy was for Hindus.
These days we are seeing that most of the Indian media houses are being directly operated by political families who have non-Hindu ideological inclination, which leads to hiring of editors, publishers etc. with a similar ideology background, is this a correct observation?
There are different structures; one example is Times of India which is being owned and operated by Jain Family. They have not only commercialized media but also have taken up pro- Congress (Congress Party of India) policy and they have debased journalism in India by introducing ‘sour journalism’ – Like you can buy articles, editorials. This is very unethical. I don’t think there is any Christian or Muslim organization behind them. It just for different reasons their journalism direction is Anti Hindu, also for commercial reasons it suits them to have an anti-Hindu stand.
Then you have NDTV, which is very Marxist in outlook, Pranoy Roy Sister Brinda Karat has been a strong Marxist family background. Anti-Hinduism stands for Marxism. Now you have other houses which has Western investment in it like the fundamentally Christian group newspaper, their heart is Christian, they look at India from a Christian point of view which is normal as they are Christians.
Many news editors we met in Washington and other American cities, when asked why they publish news on Hindus and Hinduism with an incorrect perspective, most of them say that they follow news from Indian media and get empowered by its anti-Hindu stand. Is that a factor in western media houses in America and Europe publishing Anti Hindu news?
It work both ways, western journalists may have a Christian outlook, they may not be practicing Christians, but their implication is Christian, they look at India from a western point of view with a slight superior complex of inferiority. They feel that their culture is superior to Indian culture, which is a Hindu culture. This is enhanced by the simple facts that when they read news originating from Indian publishing houses (TOI, NDTV etc.); this further comforts that complex of inferiority for Indians. They say ‘Oh…look, Indian they are themselves saying this’, and they feel confident in their perception.
If there would have been a nationalist press in India, like we have in China and by the way which is coming up in India with advent of Narendra Modi. For example when the Indian counsel in New York was strip searched, there was a nationalist outcry in Indian press. For example Times Now has nationalist outlook, though the anti-Hindu bias continues. The moment Mr. Narendra Modi became prime minister, he was an institution and suddenly in the eyes of Indian media too. The fact that he became the prime minster of India has helped Hindus. Because of this, the Indian press would be slightly more inclined for Hindus and western press will be more respectful for Hindus and Hinduism.
Mark Tully, a prominent journalist from BBC once told me that what makes India great is its Hindu civilization. But he remains British and Christian. In Kashmir, when he was in Kashmir he knew that Hindus were getting victimized and were good people, still he reported anti-Hindu news for BBC. Because of his background and because BBC is BBC, he didn’t have the courage to stand up.
Does that imply that source of anti-Hindu bias is more because of editorial and media houses positions for Hindus rather than what journalist learn in schools of journalism on Hindus?
For any western journalism, for example when I was reporting for a media house in Paris on Indian affairs, almost all the journalists have to toe to a line, which is mostly pro-Islamic and anti-Hindu and most journalist, almost 99% give up because their content will not get published and that’s a real career problem, because if a journalist content is not published then one is helpless. There is a journalist in Paris who is profoundly anti RSS view, profoundly anti BJP view and sees that Hindus are inherent fundamentalists.
One solution we presented at Global Hindu Conference on Alternate Hindu Development program which emphasized development of Hindu perspective journalism course material alongside bringing up of media portals which reports, publish and disseminates news with a correct perspective. What are your thoughts on this?
I support above program structure.
Schools of journalism should also teach Hindu values, ethics, traditions etc. That may help journalists get a better perspective on Hinduism. Unfortunately most of the journalism schools in India don’t have a course credits on Hinduism. Moreover most faculties in Indian schools of journalism are Christians.
One important think I would like to mention that if in India if Hindus would stand up for Hindu cause, for example for the artist M.F. Hussain, who portrayed mother India in defamatory pose, Hindus stood up and that guy left India and never returned. Every time Hindus are defamed, they need to stand up, go down the streets; they don’t need to be violent like Muslims. Their voices will be respected, the problem is that Hindus are not feared, they are not respected. And also many Christian journalists are present at Indian schools of journalism. Plus Hindu parent’s doesn’t like their children to become journalist; they encourage becoming doctors and engineers. In west it’s quite prestigious to be a journalist.
Many Hindu journalists have sold their souls to media houses with Abrahamic ideology and finance prospects.
Christians and Muslims don’t have any problem if their children become journalists; they work in a clever and subtle manner to promote their cause. For example on reading between articles lines published by Muslim journalists, you can see that have an agenda, same is true for Christian journalist.
Thus there are multiple factors like parents non-cooperation, media houses owned by anti-Hindus and lack of good course material and non-Hindu faculty on subjects Hindus.
One thing people don’t understand that if the media houses in India are owned and operated by Hindus, why there is a need to publish anti-Hindu news – Is it for fun or for monetary reasons?
It’s not for fun, people are followers and there has been an anti- Hindu trend for example at Times of India. The intelligence Indian media houses have taken it up – the anti-Hindu stand, it was first taken up by British, later by Jawaharlal Lal Nehru and then generation after generations. For example, even in USA, you have so many Hindu journalist professors and you see how much they talked against Narendra Modi and Hindus in general. I myself read several articles during my US visit in Boston Globe which were so anti-Hindu, so biased. Once I went to San Francisco – HSS organized talk about this and asked what can be done to counter anti-Hindu bias in media. I told them that you can’t do anything with an American journalist about this problem of news reporting with bias for Hindus; they are mostly Christians and will keep reporting news with a Christian perspective.
Coming back to American media, we see that most doesn’t report news on Hindus with a correct perspective. Except some newspapers like Huffing ton post which do publish news in a correct perspective, does anti-Hindu bias starts from top leadership or middle rung of the editorial board.
Anti-Hindu bias starts from top. Why not buy newspapers? There are some newspapers which are struggling like the Asian Age. They can be bought, Deccan Conical can be bought. If such newspapers can be bought and operated by a pro Hindu at top leadership, good news on Hindu will come automatically. But need to keep newspaper balanced with pro Hindu stand and just not become a Hindu mouthpiece. For example Times of India, Jain brothers control complete entire news from top to bottom and economic lines, even stuff like how much cricket and how much Bollywood. That can be done for good Hindu cause also.
So one scenario we have where the owner is Anti-Hindu and Editorial board is balanced. What sort of publication will come out?
Anti-Hindu. The owner has final say in everything. No matter how good editorial board you have. For example NDTV, it’s controlled from top to bottom. It shows that if top has a certain line, everyone follows that. Other option for a dissatisfied soul is to resign, but generally very few people resign, they just follow whatever owners directs.
Next scenario is where you have a pro Hindu as owner and balanced editorial board. What sort of publication will come out?
Yes, in this case. Positive news on Hindus may come out. I have been told many times to start a newspaper, but it’s too much work. Not making it Hindu mouthpiece but project Hindu news in a subtle manner.
For example Hinduism today is one magazine where we have a quality publications and credible content. That is being published by Himalayan academy and operated with a western methodical structure. That’s a good case study.
If you look at magazines in India, 75% of the media board is Christian, it would not have been possible in America where you have mainstream US magazine where 75% of the board is Hindus, and again this is because Hindus fall in line to the ideology of ownership. If the ownership of media houses is anti-Hindu, no matter how much Hindu journalism courses you attend or what’s your ideology is, you need to fall in line to ideology of owners or resign / exit. For example if in Times of India you have a pro Hindu editor or journalist, he will not last long. Thus building up of media houses is very important as journalist need jobs and portals to publish their content.
There have been questions that Indian media houses get funds from various foreign institutions for promoting Abrahamic ideology.
I have heard it but no credible reports I have seen. That may be possible. But again those journalist who support anti-Hindu ideology, leaders and political parties are Hindus, sorry to say but this is a fact.
Owners of NDTV, TOI, Rediff News, Indian Express etc. are all Hindus, still they are Anti-Hindus. They don’t get any funds for publishing Anti Hindu news, but it’s a practice, it’s a tradition from British / Nehruvian Era. But again the Hindus don’t fight back, had they been fighting back, it would have been a different story. Same is true for vernacular press. This gap of media has been taken over by non-Hindus.
A solution proposed by Global Hindu Foundation – Alternate Media Program under Research – Education – Service backed Tier -1 and Tier -2 program. Tier- 1 focus on development of course curriculum for schools of journalism with a Hindu perspective (backed by historians, educationalist research, conferences and seminars) and Tier-2 on upbringing Media portals where media interns can do hands on practice. Any suggestion to empower this program?
Very Good. That’s a good initiative. That needs to be implemented. If you get hold on rich Hindus, please integrate them in this program as sponsors and try buying some newspapers and TV channels. Many print and TV news agencies are struggling. Many Hindu businessmen in India are pro Hindus and can help towards this program. Later installing good guys in editorial board focused on Hindu news. Hindu’s have lots of money; it’s just that they are not committed to Hindus and Hinduism. Not serious about the cause. They could easily buy newspapers and TV channels but not interested. Most Forbes Billionaires are Hindus.
A businessman is a businessman, many times we have seen that such newspaper by pro Hindu businessman do start up but later started goat grazing for finances, in this scenario do you suggest that person who is managing the whole project has some pro Hindu organizational background will help.
Yes, sure. That will help. Keep up with your good work.
Any message to our audience?
It’s a long battle and journalism shift towards Hindus is need of time.