A cursory review of the letters published in India Abroad (IA)
columns since December 6, 2002 up until January 17, 2003 reveals that there
were eleven scanty prosaic anti-IDRF letters as opposed to two but well
written pro-IDRF letters. It's beyond one's imagination why a good newspaper
has chosen such a disproportionate representation. One possible answer is
that those letters represented all that they received. One other plausible
argument is that IA skewed it to portray a scenario that all is not well with
IDRF and the majority of Indian Americans is in concurrence with the report
"The Foreign Exchange of Hate, IDRF and the American Funding of Hindutva"
prepared by Sabrang publications. (I assume that Bijju Mathew and his 10
associates hold the ownership of this report and therefore for the purpose of
discussion herein I will refer it as Mathew's report.) An intelligent mind is
apt to dismiss the former possibility as an unlikely scenario since many pro-IDRF
letters sent to IA, as alleged by some readers, have gone into the can. The
latter then is a probable scenario. How come? My discussion hereunder will
bring home this deduction.
Of the eleven anti-IDRF letters three were tagged as "via email" without
revealing the place of the writer while all other letters had the places
clearly affixed. This does not jive with the past practice of IA. From my
personal experience I can vouch that email letters printed in IA had indeed
identified the place of the writer. Then it raises a credibility issue. Are
these emails fake?
The anti-IDRF letters hum the same tune and pitch, and follow the same
style. They are full of mundane repetitive phrases like "thank you for your
coverage", "kudos on your revealing reportage", "congratulations on your
honest coverage" and "keep up good work". Why thank IA if the writer is not a
direct beneficiary in the issue? The stereotype style suggests that the
letters may be all orchestrated and catapulted from one source, perhaps the
source that funded the report. They all seem to parakeet one theme: "IDRF has
not disproved that it is involved in a campaign of violence and hate" as if
the accuser has nothing to prove but the accused has to prove every thing
lest he be done to death. Shouldn't it be the other way around! Nonetheless,
Sanjay Achharya's letter (IA January 3) and Mukund Kute's letter (IA January
24) have provided some clarity on this aspect.
The picture displayed in Josy Joseph's article "Report says NRI donations
funding Hindu right" (IA December 6) has no connectivity to the allegation
that IDRF funds are being used for hate. Then why display it? An isolated bad
picture showing a burning effigy after the terrorist attack on a Hindu temple
should not be used as a yardstick for Hindu violence. What is the intent in
reproducing the same picture later under a different caption "Prejudiced
Campaign" (IA January 3)? To an unsuspecting reader the picture projects
Hindus as a violent race and IDRF as funding the violence. Such portrayal
defies the ethical norms of a good newspaper.
Yet another instance - what does the picture of "water tap" in Sheshu
Sarma's letter (IA January 17) supposed to imply? Is it to imply that dollar
flow into the IDRF bucket is now reduced to drops as a result of Mathew's
report? How callous!
The Managing Editor's (Prem Panicker) question to Rohit Vyasmaan whether
he is a regular subscriber to India Abroad should not be construed (IA
January 24) as a slap on a reader. It is perfectly valid. But it is also
valid to ask the anti-IDRF writers whether any one of them ever contributed
to IDRF. If the answer is no, then they have no moral right to question IDRF
on its Modus Operandi.
Based on the above facts, India Abroad's tilt is obvious and that tilt is
anti-IDRF. Let's not any more polarize the Indian American community on