Ranjona Banerji: Journos get hysterical on Twitter on Mihir Sharma’s religion

07 Apr,2015

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Last week, Twitter went into frenzy mode over the religion of journalist Mihir Sharma, who writes a popular column for Business Standard. Let me amend that sentence: the Indian right wing of Twitter was most agitated. Apparently, according to the tweets, Mihir Sharma, whose name indicates he is a Hindu, is actually a Christian called Simon Mathew. Your first thought on reading this should be, so what? And indeed, it would have been even a year ago.

 

But Sharma, you see, is often critical of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Narendra Modi-led government and that is reason enough to attack him. The logic, if you really don’t understand it, is clear: Mihir Sharma is hiding behind a Hindu name to criticise a pro-Hindutva government because he is actually a Christian minority. Or that is, no real and proper Hindu would criticise a pro-Hindutva government. If any do, then they are communists, liberals, naxalites, anti-nationals, secular and so on.

 

Dig a little deeper and all you find is a reaffirmation of the Hindutva creed – that all Indians who do not embrace their Hindu origins are traitors. Underlying that is the other idea that religion determines your loyalty. So an Indian Christian automatically pays allegiance to the Vatican and so on. The idea that all Christians are not Catholics or all Muslims are not Sunnis and so on is irrelevant to your argument.

 

The flip side is the reaction to Julio Ribeiro’s column in the Indian Express about his fears as a Christian as attacks on churches and Christian gatherings have gone up in the past few months in India. Ribeiro, one of India’s most respected police officers, was immediately dismissed as someone who was given to exaggeration and whose intent was to malign the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.

 

A tangential view of this defence is visible in the columns of Tavleen Singh, also in the Indian Express, where everyone else but the prime minister is to blame for the Central government’s shortcomings. Singh also called the reactions of Christian’s “hysterical” in her Sunday column.

 

But at the bottom of it all, lies this: as a journalist (or indeed as a citizen) you are free to call yourself what you want and criticise whoever and whatever you want. There is no rule and there cannot be a rule which says that you have to belong to X religion to comment on Y government. Who cares if Sharma is a Christian? Why should that invalidate his opinion? Similarly, journalist Rana Ayyub is attacked because she investigates and writes about atrocities committed on Muslims in India. Her name becomes reason enough to question her journalism.

 

There would be no need for this comment if the “hysterics” on Twitter about Mihir Sharma’s religion had been limited to those known as “trolls” and to BJP supporters. But when journalists themselves jump in, then you have a problem. As we do.

 

**

 

One problem that thinking editors face is how to deal with “source” journalism used commonly by all reporters. Veteran journalist and author Katherine Boo suggests doing away with it altogether and using freedom of information acts instead. Here, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism makes it clear how dangerous “source” journalism can be. It tears apart a Rolling Stone report on rape through sharp forensic analysis.

 

A strict lesson in how journalism should not be practised: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/06/business/in-report-on-rolling-stone-a-case-study-in-failed-journalism.html?smid=nytcore-iphone-share&smprod=nytcore-iphone&_r=2

 

 

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20 responses to “Ranjona Banerji: Journos get hysterical on Twitter on Mihir Sharma’s religion”

  1. Shyam Krishnan says:

    As an artist in spreading propaganda he is not really far behind the blind hindutva followers. When one is biased and does not have integrity the people dealing him can be expected to have same qualities. Tit for tat?

    http://www.opindia.com/2015/02/when-an-aam-aadmi-exposed-journalist-mihir-s-sharma/

  2. Vidhey says:

    I don’t go by the name… My only concern is this is journalism and one needs to state the facts, not one’s opinions… And Mihir Sharma, as you rightly said has been critical about the BJP government which in most case isn’t actually true causing the furore… Lets talk based on facts not on made up opinions…

  3. Priyadarshan Pant says:

    I liked most of the comments – people like Hari, Indian Voter et al are so forthright and good in their observations. And, this woman who goes (masquerades) under the name of RB is like a nobody in front of them. She should be ashamed of herself. Like they say – chullubhar paani mein doob marna chahiye!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Mihir Simon Sharma, Arundathi Suzanne Roy are bible thumping Christians passing of Hindus to a casual observer. They are part of Vatican strategy to seed confusion between Hindus, and retain their Hindu names with a hidden christian middle name to gain credibility before striking their venom. These snakes must be named and id’d for who they are actually are.

  5. Ramu says:

    Why did Dilip Kumar and other Bollywood greats have a Hindu screen name?

    • Those were different times. The shadow of tragedy & killings of partition was a big reason; lakhs had died & so millions of families were affected & grieving. But now bollywood superstars Khans’ don’t hide their names.

  6. Krishna Kumar says:

    Ms. Banerji,
    I am extremely disappointed at your highly generalized characterization. What we all had commented on about was the completely skewed representation of Rajiv Malhotra’s books and the charge of plagiarism in them by Mihir Sharma, who claims he read them, but proves that he has not read them at all. This is following a similar adhominem attack on Rajiv by Richard Fox Young. This is typical of Christians who like to preserve the fort of American Academia, and that of Indian Sepoys who support them. Mihir is hiding behind his name to show he is neutral, and that he is ‘commenting’ like any journalist. He is not. If he is, let him write with his full name, or declare his loyalties in his article. Then it is easy for the reader to know which lens he is wearing in mounting an attack on a respected writere and thinker.

  7. Samb Trishul says:

    ranjona bannerji herself could be the wolf in sheep clothes same like simon mathews. ye atankvadi hai kabhi khanjar khopenge, pata nahi.

    • Indian Voter says:

      Yes, might be true, these presstitutes are all wolves of a pack. Remember how these dalals rallied after rapist Tarun Tejpal.

  8. Hari R says:

    Mihir is the typical anti Hindu writer. They have an agenda against Hinduism and to justify that act as a Hindu themselves. Why are all Hindus right wing. Is Mihir a Christian right wing. If by right wing you mean that they have the right view then I accept. Otherwise who are the left wing Hindus?
    As Rajiv Malhotra has pointed out the left versus right is an European invention to separate people who smelt not having had a bath and the others ones who could cover their odour using perfumes.
    Mihir is trying to use a Hindu name as a perfume but his odour is so high his Christian intentions come to the fore.
    Ranjona is another one of our hindus who support these Mihirs without any idea about their agenda. I find a lot of leftist Bengalis like Amartya Sen, Ramachandra Guha talking the same way. It is ironic the land of Vivekananda has so many lost souls.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The fact that a Christian, Simon Matthew, uses a Brahmin Hindu name shows that deception is at the very core of his existence in cyberspace. What is his agenda? Who funds him? I would not be surprised if he turns out to be a paid anti-India, anti-Hindu subversive [sepoy].

    • Indian Voter says:

      Ranjona just want to win some brownie points with commie journalist to prove how Sickular she is. She is truly sick, her article is full of rants.

      • Anonymous says:

        They are sold out to the highest bidder. Otherwise they wouldn’t have sided with the most corrupt, casteist and criminal elements.

  10. प्रभात गुप्त Prabhat Gupta says:

    Ranjana – The guy being a crypto Christian is not an issue. There are many Christians who support Modi. The problem is why does he wants to hide? Have you even bothered to find out?

    Also consider this pearl from Crypto Christian Mihir Sharma: “quintessentially desi problem, plagiarism”

    in that broad stroke he call you, me and everybody desi a literary CHOR. Are you one? Are your parents? Family? I am sure nothing of that sort apples to me. If it applies he probably got some bits right but I doubt that. So fix his thinking first. Ask him to be man and own up his religion. When he grows up, maybe he will also learn to apologise.

    • Indian Voter says:

      What can you expect from a scum who has sold his religion & soul for some money. These converts become like zombies & fanatics to convert others. I have a christian friend who told me that christian priests like father / brother literally fight among themselves for the area they are given to convert people, Evangelism is like a shady ponzi scheme where they are given money to recruit. These scums are all wolves in sheep’s hide.

  11. Cap says:

    Hey Guys,
    This is an old issue not related to Rajiv Malhotra issue 🙂

  12. DesiBhai says:

    Author manipulates what the issue is. RM clarified that issue is not Mihir Sharma is a Christian convert; but he fakes neutral a gaze to lash at everything Hindu.

  13. NKU says:

    I am extremely disappointed to the approach this author has taken. She has just not gone into the core of the issue and continued to build strawman’s argument which Mihir also did. Extremely poor quality discourse.

  14. You are right when you say that a person’s religion does not bar him from criticizing the government. But my question is what if this same person is writing with an agenda and a bias and is twisting facts and statistics in pursuance to that agenda. Why he is hiding behind his name ? Do yourself a favour, be well-informed, do read Rajiv Malhotra’s books “Breaking India” & “Indra’s Net”. Whether you appreciate it or not, Mr. Rajiv Malhotra has raised very important issues in his books that needs to be addressed. It has become fashionable to quote “some section at twitterati”; Madam, the amount of awareness among Indians now especially the youths is enormous to the fatal consequences of the actions of Islamists & the western powers who with the Christian Church is using the tool of “Invasion to Conversion”; to further their political agenda, to weaken India & divide it. Do yourself a favour, read the above books and then debate on the merits of issues raised there., don’t just write to be in the good books of Congress leaders & institutions from whom you want an invite for 7star seminars abroad. If Mihir Simon Sharma & you have a democratic right to voice your thoughts, today’s youth because of internet & social media have also found a platform where they too have a democratic right to voice their thoughts, concerns & issues., like I am doing here.

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