By Sushil Kutty
Are we Indians in the majority confused? Who do we support, Russia or Ukraine? Sitting here in India, the question bounces off umpteen talking heads. Russia is an old friend, Russia stood with India through thick and thin—War & Peace. But have we forgotten Russia when confronted by the upstart Ukraine? Like one Indian media says, “The Indian public opinion is split with the old-timers supporting Moscow and the younger lot in favor of Ukraine.” Of course, it adds the caveat that things would change if even one Indian student is caught in the crossfire.
The confusion, however, is not just because of age differences. It is also due to poor knowledge Indians have of Russia, and Ukraine, the entire ‘Russian Federation’, of why Belarus has chosen to stand with Russia, and why Poland and Romania will not? Indians, by and large, are poorly informed of the international world, though social media gives them the impression that they are giants in the information game.
This is glaringly reflected in the Indian media coverage of the conflict, which Russia calls is an “operation” and the Indian media asserts is an “invasion”. Our domestic television channels are wholly or partially sold out to the western narrative and wouldn’t know ‘Tass’ from ‘bass’. The ‘Godi Media’ and the ‘Lutyen’s Media’ are cut out of the same ‘western’ cloth when it comes to Russia and Ukraine.
Top of that, there is this lackadaisical approach to news, to this war in particular—one TV channel has virtual military choppers and military tanks crisscrossing the television screen like in a computer game while anchors with little or no understanding of the Russia-Ukraine conflict are holding forth their half-baked theories juxtaposed with those trotted out by grizzled former generals who have little patience to suffer pig-heads.
Nobody in the Indian media seems to know of the total hegemony of the West over the narrative; how the Americans have painted President Putin and Russia into the darkest of corners while themselves coming out in shining armour. It’s always been like this, ever since the Allied victory in WW-II—every country not aligned with America, every ideology other than that of America, declared “bad” and “dangerous”.
Whether it’s the United Nations, the international financial system or the international justice order, all these are geared and tuned to favour and mollycoddle the ideology and system put in place by the victors of WW-II. The international court of justice takes suo moto notice of “Russia’s war crimes” but acts unaware of Ukraine’s “neo-Nazi white supremacists” and their atrocities across Eastern Europe.
These neo-Nazis were roaming the streets of Kyiv when Indian television anchors turned western bots were selling CNN, MSNBC, NYT and WaPo narratives. They questioned battle-hardened retired Indian Army generals about Russia and Russia’s intentions, but didn’t talk of the neo-Nazi Ukrainian militias. Does domestic Indian media even know that the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion has infiltrated the Ukrainian Army and Ukraine’s police, which is why Putin is bent on the “deNazification” of Ukraine?
These all-knowing TV news anchors have little inkling of the Azov Battalion. They act as if they don’t know why Africans and Indians; Pakistanis and Arabs being thrown out of trains pulling out of Kyiv? There are plenty of videos showing Indian students getting roughed up by rightwing Ukrainian border guards.
It is like Gandhi getting thrown out of a train in South Africa. Brazen and blatant display of racism. Indian TV channels have refused to question this Ukrainian racism. Neither the Republic’s anchor with his affected English accent nor his counterpart in the ‘Today’ stable. Their sympathies wholly and solely for the “blue and brown-eyed” Ukrainians”, who get precedence at the border crossings over the “black & brown skinned.”
Some of these “blue-eyed Ukrainians” have even “brown” Indian students mooning over them! For example, the girl-student from Haryana who has refused to quit Ukraine as she’s “in love” with a Ukrainian family of Kyiv. The Indian media found it very touching, but none of them cared to ask the girl what about the widowed mother she’s left behind in India?
Truly, this Russia-Ukraine standoff is revealing to us a lot of things about ourselves, about where we stand. For example, we now know how the global system is skewed in favour of the capitalist West. We are in the West’s grip; we play by West’s rules; we fall in line with the West or we will be judged and punished under West’s laws.
Imagine India in Russia’s place. India making a move to take back Pakistan Occupied Kashmir by sending in the Indian Army? India disregarding the West’s opposition? India hammered with sanctions? If a superpower can be rendered powerless and bankrupt, what chance does a rising power like India have?
Especially, when the Indian television media and domestic Indian opinion are openly partial to Ukraine, refusing to acknowledge that Russia is India’s friend and Ukraine’s with its neo-Nazism and its avenging character, steadfastly voted in favour of the sanctions slapped on India after India’s 1998 nuclear test. Ukraine is not a friend of India. It never was, it never will be.. Indians must be told and informed about Ukraine’s anti-India bias. India is duty-bound to stand with Russia come rain or shine. (IPA Service)