Traitors for asking the tough questions?

31 Jan,2023



By Ranjona Banerji


Ranjona BanerjiWas it never suspected? That the lightning-fast rise of India’s fastest growing business group may have had some murky elements? Have we never read anything about protests in Australia? Have we never seen questions about growing debt without collateral? Have we never heard speculation about the burden being carried by the Life Insurance Corporation of India? Has there been no wonder about this massive leapfrogging to second richest man in the world from being a virtual unknown outside India?

The answer to all of these is yes. Yes, we have heard, read, seen and wondered. And yet, the publishing of the Hindenburg report on the Adani Group has us behaving as if our territorial integrity and sovereignty has been attacked.

Lots of Adani ads in the newspapers has reduced the coverage. The Adani Group lost some Rs 5 lakh crore or maybe Rs 56 trillion or maybe $72 billion as markets tumbled and their FPO found very few takers.

So while the media, the opposition and some people of India are clearly traitors for questioning Adani, investors are exempt from SLAPP cases, and cannot be forced to part with their money. Unless, dare I say it, they are LIC or some other publicly owned corporation?

The collation of patriotism and support for a private sector company is the act of a highly insecure administration. Of course, this is also a very powerful administration but its power depends on all its publicity cogs working seamlessly. Hindenburg Research has shaken things up a little.

For India’s inveterate TV “news” consumers, the news doesn’t always hit them. Thus several are surprised that NDTV, recently taken over by Adani, now supports Adani. This is a lovable naivete I see quite often with consumers of TV news. They believe everything they hear and in spite of that, they have high expectations of journalistic investigations from their favourite TV channels.

Of course, when the BBC does an investigation into Narendra Modi’s relationship with Indian Muslims starting with the Gujarat riots of 2002, they are appalled and filled once again with patriotic fervour. How can this foreign entity criticise our great prime minister?

And who can blame the viewers when TV itself is brimming with angry nationalism, searching every corner of the globe for possible criticism of their noble benefactor?

How many TV channels called out Jugeshinder Singh, Australia-based CFO of the Adani Group, for his despicable linking of his company’s rout in the stock market to the Jallianwallah Bagh massacre?

And how many TV channels were overjoyed that a VHP member in Karnataka boasted about the glory of Hindutva in Gujarat 2002 when Hindus killed 2000 Muslims – his words, not mine?

Meanwhile, the IMF has cut India’s growth rate forecast ahead of the Union Budget, but we should not focus on that too much. Because the IMF said India is a “bright spot” and there’s a global dip, so yaay! And ignore! Plus, as some pro-BJP people explained to me, Rahul Gandhi apparently controls the BBC, Hindenburg Research and perhaps the UN and the IMF and thus no nationalistic Indian should believe a word that comes out of these institutions.

Instead, have you heard about the problems in Pakistan? OMG! Everything is going wrong there!



Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She writes on MxMIndia on Tuesdays and Fridays. Her views here are personal


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