I was born in 1990, grew up in a typical Marathi family, did schooling in Marathi medium, and have been an avid reader of newspapers and current affairs since 1998. First thing that made me encounter with Right Wing issues was pamphlets distributed by Vishwa Hindu Parishad opposing visit of Pope John Paul II to India in 1999. My curiosity for issues faced by Hindus increased, and I found Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamana and editorials written by Bal Thackeray a source of inspiration. Bal Thackeray used to fiercely attack ally BJP for forsaking Ram Mandir, Article 370 and UCC while building alliances with other parties to form government. I still remember his editorial ‘How curse of Hindus affected BJP (for neglecting Hindutva issues)’, when BJP lost major state like Uttar Pradesh in February 2002. Saamana fiercely defended Narendra Modi after Gujarat riots when every other newspaper was baying for his blood. Over the period of time, when Sanjay Raut started to write editorials on behalf of Bal Thackeray, quality of editorials started decreasing. But still, Saamna was the only source to get news of forceful conversions of Hindus, incidents/riots where Hindus were victims, etc.
Fast-forward to 2010. First time I had internet on mobile, which made me subscribe to Twitter. ‘Radiagate’ was watershed moment, which no MSM was covering it. It took Right Wing Twitter accounts and their trends like #RadiaGate, #ChorMedia, and #MediaMafia eventually made MSM notice and debate media’s corruption. It also made me realise how deeper is MSM’s anti-Hindu narrative, fake news, biased covering, suppression of news where Hindus are victims and so on. Though Mediacrooks have had very temperamental attitude on Twitter, for common RW netizens like me, its blogs were a good source to understand the issues. In the run-up to LS 2014 elections, there wasn’t any other publication or blog that would feed us the much needed dose of understanding the Right Wing issues. Though websites NitiCentral (which eventually closed down and wasn’t up to the mark) and 5Forty3.in gave blogs, it was entirely for elections-related coverage. In September 2014, Swarajyamag has been re-launched, which has become the main source of inspiration for Right Winger intellectia and masses (especially after present ED R. Jagganathan joined the Magazine), of course, along with Opindia.com (which was launched in December 2014). This was a summary of my (and most probably of other Right Winger’s) struggles to get information and inspiration regarding Right Wing issues. One common thing among all was every Right-leaning publication has been either from vernacular media or some start-up mostly set up by amateurs.
Now, amidst all these struggles, as a reader, to get objective news and options about Hindu/Right Wing causes, I got one pleasant surprise in the last week of September 2016 when ScoopWhoop published a story on plight of Pak-Hindu refugees staying in inhumane conditions Delhi. Till then, ScoopWhoop was seen like a desi version of BuzzFeed for its dumb content. Story was written by some Swati Goel Sharma. In my mind, I really appreciated this lady. Though, later on, she did notable stories like highlighting frequent murders due to seat disputes in trains (amidst background of Junaid Murder and liberals accusing it as a hate crime), narrating other side of ‘Liberal hero’ Dr. Kafeel Khan, Rohingyas in Delhi converting to Christianity to avoid deportations and a story that grabbed the attention of Right Wingers was when in first week of October 2017, she reported the Gurmeher Kaur’s threats to a teen guy, who runs account Squint Neon, over making memes on her.
Later on, she joined Swarajyamag and did numerous reports countering popular liberal narratives right from Kathua Asifa, Kairana, Gorakhpur and a recent counter to IndiaSpend’s data of which are available here. I was really happy with her for taking issues of Right Wing and already started comparing her with Right Wing publications that I followed all over the years.
But then came a little shock. Despite being in Right of centre publications like Swarajyamag and doing lots of reports on Right Wing causes, she refused to identify herself as a ‘Right Winger’
Thanks but I reject this label of being RW. I don't know what this really stands for.
— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) November 16, 2018
That made me think and analyse with a different perspective and I came into following conclusions:
1) Labelling any fact-based journalist as Right Winger (or even Left Winger) is incorrect:
It’s not only that a journalist might feel upset about it but also many fence sitters or left wingers may not even open the article of someone who has been already labelled as ‘Right Winger’. When Swati does story even on some out-and-out RW issue, she puts only facts. So technically she’s still neutral. Because, you show your biasness only when you start drawing conclusions.
When a journalist does out-and-out fact-based reporting, there’s, actually, everything for every ideological person if one tries to draw conclusions smartly.
For example, Swati reported from the ground that Rohingya are staying in India for economic opportunities and not because they feel threatened in Myanmar or even Bangladesh where they were already staying. Now, Right Wingers latched onto this report and showed how it’s aligned with their narrative that Rohingyas should be sent back.
Now if any liberal was smart, he would have seen it in this way: PM Modi always talk of demographic dividend and how India’s young and growing population can help build country. Now if Rohingyas are staying here for economic opportunities and earn their livelihood honestly by doing hardwork without indulging in any crime, what’s the problem if they stay here and get work permits? (Actually rather than Liberals, Swarajyamag’s ED had endorsed this view.)
It is different thing that rising population is a big issue for India, but what I am saying is that Liberals could use her report ,use PM Modi’s statement and put their narrative as well. In other language, Liberals are also not doing their service to themselves by not reading Swati’s reports and labelling her Right Winger/Bhakt.
Another example can be one of the reports on plight of Gau Rakshaks that she had reported and explained how local BJP leaders just doing leap service and not helping them (Gau Rakshaks) due to which the anger is boiling against BJP leaders. Now, Congress, which has included Gau Raksha in their manifesto, could have used this fact in her report to attack BJP saying how their claim of love for cow is pseudo and how Congress can provide better aid to Gau Rakshaks (Congress killed cow in Kerala and how their sympathy for cow is election-specific is altogether a different thing. But what I am repeating here is that Swati’s report can be used by all ideologies to draw conclusions if one reads them carefully.
Actually, we, as RWs, should be happy if journalists of LW publications also start pure fact-based reporting, for example, going to villages (not just in election time) and expose Modi govt’s schemes if they are not reaching the needy people. Actually, right now, liberal journalists doing exactly opposite (of what Swati does): they put narrative and biases above facts. So their agenda get exposed easily, and in turn, helps Modi government!
What’s more when liberal journalists sitting in their posh AC studios cries death threats whole day and night even after covering sensitive issues in most sensitive and unsafe parts of country? Swati, on the other hand, honestly said that no one had ever threatened her
Nobody has threatened me!
— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) August 29, 2018
One more point here to understand is the difference between a reporter and a columnist. Some RWs comparing the reporter like Swati to other columnist is like comparing Christiano Ronaldo with some FIFA Virtual Gaming champion.
2) Biggest strength of journalists like Swati is not commenting on anything that is beyond their expertise.
– On her Twitter feed, I didn’t find a single tweet where she found commenting on economics, policy matters (especially on topics which she doesn’t cover) and sports. She has limited herself on her specialisation i.e. social issues.
I will say Ashu Muglikar has been an exact mirror image of Swati. He only tweets/writes articles on economics and avoids social issues.
Because they know that if they comment anything other than their area of expertise and that comment goes wrong or called as fake news due to their ignorance, then their opponents will leave no stone unturned to malign their hardwork and reputation in their area of specialisation.
3) Calling some journalist ‘Dumb’ is the best way to rattle them rather than labelling RW/LW or Sanghi/Congressi
bored with the polarities of people frankly. your gang thinks that, theirs thinks exact opposite. I really dont care for either label- and i get both on a daily basis- couldnt care less; just for my own mind and work. thanks
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) December 19, 2017
no worries. Never been bothered by how others define/label me 🙂
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) June 15, 2017
Tainted journalists don’t mind if they are get labelled as Presstitute etc, actually it’s a win-win situation for them.
If they are called Congressi/Pidi’: they will proudly show to their side how anti-establishment they are.
If some random LW account, who don’t understand monkey balancing done by such journalists, calls them Sanghi, then they will get a chance to show how neutral they are.
However, if they are proven ‘dumb’, which is easy as most of these liberal journalists are unlike Swati & Muglikar are not self-made , and have been part of journalism & big media house due to nepotism.
They go on commenting on every topic under the Sun, and then for us it becomes very easy to catch their dumbness and their credibility eroded hard way. Nowadays, even liberals don’t take Sagarika Ghose seriously because Right Wing has been successful in proving her epitome of dumbness. Barkha has faced worse of the fate and called not only dumb, but also proven ‘Panauti’. Shekhar Gupta is also called as ‘Duggal Saab’ for falling on his face by commenting on every damn matter. Actually, for the same reason, Arnab Goswami never became popular even among RW and not considered as a credible journalist.
So, here ‘liberal journalists’ also can learn something from Swati and Ashu Muglikar. They should distribute topics/subjects in which they can question Modi government as per their area of interests, earn specialisation on that subject by putting lots of efforts and write/comment only on those topics. If they continue with their current harakiri, they will get embraced with the fate of Barkha, Sagarika, Nidhi, and Shekhar.