Island News

Anti- Indianness in New Zealand media

Written By : SUBHASH APPANA. In my two earlier articles on racism in the NZ media, I highlighted how the media targeted the XIX Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and
30 Oct 2010 12:00

Written By : SUBHASH APPANA. In my two earlier articles on racism in the NZ media, I highlighted how the media targeted the XIX Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and attempted to portray it as a non-starter apparently because it was being managed by Indians and because it was in a state governed by an Indian Chief Minister called Dixit – still being spelt as Dicksh*@ in the NZ Herald.
In the heat of these attacks, two big presenters turned on NZ’s Governor-General (who is of Indian extract) and made some absolutely unbecoming and irresponsible comments about him.
As the Games proceeded, there was hardly anything positive seen or heard in the first few days even though the games were on full-swing.
Selective coverage continued to be seen on what was not there rather than on what was there against expectations that had been falsely (and some might say maliciously) shaped by the media prior to arrival in Delhi.
TVNZ was particularly pronounced 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 in for focussed analysis.
This selective representation by the media is perhaps best seen in the fact that after the Aussie cricket team lost the second test match against the Indians.
An Aussie athlete’s uncivilized outburst and vandalism at the Games Village was not even mentioned.
This is what happened: after the much-fancied Aussie cricketers got humbled by the Indian team, a number of Aussie athletes at the Games Village couldn’t stomach it.
They went berserk according to AAP/AFP reports, destroying electrical fittings and furniture in their part of the village while shouting derogatory remarks about batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar who scored a double century in the win.
A washing machine was hurled from the eighth floor of their lodgings with no regard for potentially-fatal danger to passersby.
Luckily no one was injured.
The machine thrower however, was unceremoniously sent home even though he was not named. “At the end of the games, these things happen,” said Oz Games CEO Perry Crosswhite.
The point however, is that this was deliberately left out of the NZ media.
And the question that begs answering is: why was the media so anti-Indian when the Commonwealth Games is supposed to be an exclusive club comprising ex-British subjects – countries that Great Britain had pillaged unendingly during the days when the sun never sets in the Queen’s realm.
Is it because the Indians have never been forgiven for demanding and attaining independence against the combined will of Britain and its cohorts way back in 1947?
Or is it because the Indians were the first to dare 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 had entered the thought patterns imposed and reified in the colonies to complete the process of colonization which essentially involved physical, mental and spiritual subjugation.
In fact the idea of Indian independence had already become a thorn on the British psyche by the 1930s.
From 1920 when Gandhi entered the fray in India, Churchill refused to call him anything else but “fakir”.
His back-flips and schemes on how to contain Gandhi and stall independence make for some very interesting reading as Churchill clearly believed that if India won independence the “sun (would) set on the British Empire.”
There was very little noble in the strategies adopted by the Brits at the time.
In fact the schism that divided India and cursed it for life with the cancer of Pakistan was hatched in Britain.
The belief was that if Jinnah demanded Pakistan, Gandhi and Co would baulk because they wouldn’t be able to stomach the tearing apart of Bharat Mata (Mother India).
And the colonials would continue to rule because the country was irreconcilably divided – sound familiar?
Despite these contentions and negativities, Indian troops fought gallantly beside their colonial masters through thick and thin.
This loyalty and gallantry was recognized pretty early by no less than Rudyard Kipling when he immortalized 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!” Mental palpitations and conscience there perhaps!
Indian sacrifice for the Crown continued in WWI where 69,214 Indians were wounded and 74,187 died when the war ended in 1918.
During WW2, a further 1.58-2.58m were wounded while 87,000 offered their lives on the battlefields.
This prompted Churchill to call them “splendid fighting men” even though one would have to delve into his motivations given the splendid nature of the man himself.
Given the above, it is difficult to understand why there has continued to be so much negativity in the NZ (and western) media about India and things Indian.
After all some of the best times were had by the colonials in India -elephant rides for shikar, the ultimate in tiger hunting, midlings lording over Rajahs and Maharajahs, free servants for any and every whim, you name it.
It was all there.
India was, after all, 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?
This question begs answers. Watch this space.
The opinions contained in this article are entirely those of the author and not necessarily shared by any organizations he may be associated with both in Fiji and abroad. Email

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