Continuing with its anti-India bluster, 'The Independent' said Hindu nationalism has surged under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while deliberately ignoring common Indians’ stand on religious tolerance

British daily, The Independent has once again come out with an anti-India story, filled with the same hackneyed, misplaced, and unverified contents which are easily available on the internet. In fact, high in propaganda and low in substance, the British daily has hyped anti-India narratives on the Hindu-Muslim issue, ignoring the fact that Indians in general are tolerant by nature; they are not only law-abiding citizens, but also true adherents of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,’ a philosophy which means ‘The World is One Family.’

Now call spade a spade; the British daily said India has “faced fierce criticism over rising attacks against Muslims.” If that is accepted on the face value, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not have emerged as the most popular leader among his contemporaries in India. In a YouGov-Mint-CPR Millennial Survey held in August, one in every four respondents picked Modi as their most favoured Prime Minister in the Indian political history.

While 65.5 per cent respondents, as per India Today-CVoter Mood of the Nation survey in August, graded PM Modi’s performance as “outstanding” or “good.” As many as 53 per cent said Modi is best suited to be India’s next Prime Minister, the Mood of the Nation survey maintained. Undoubtedly, this popularity speaks volumes of his contributions in advancing the cause of India’s interests. Yet, The Independent said there has been “rise in attacks against Muslims in recent years” and Modi’s “silence” has “emboldened right-wing groups and threatened national unity.”

The British daily seems to be suffering from selective amnesia. Prime Minister Modi during the first term of NDA government in office had stated, “My government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly.” Whosoever has indulged in hate crime has been punished in India.

However, it should not be forgotten that many western countries are also witnessing hate-related crimes along religion, racial and ethnic lines, still no media outlets give prominent coverage to them. In Germany, Austria, Italy, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, and Hungary. Muslims account for less than 0.1 per cent of Poland’s population, the country has witnessed rise in anti-Muslim sentiments.

There have been protests over building of mosques in Warsaw, admission of refugees from the Middle East and Africa. Similarly, Belgium has seen unfavourable rise in anti-Muslim sentiments. Last year, ‘openDemocracy,’ a UK-based media outlet published a poll survey, showing 74 per cent of Belgians viewed Islam as an intolerant religion, while 60 per cent saw it as a threat. But no leading western publications or television channels have reported against such harsh, crude, and divisive growth of anti-Muslim feelings in Europe. Nor have they condemned such a polarising survey.

Yet, they have no qualm in attacking India for its fringe elements’ activities. The Leicester incident is viewed as a South-Asian factor, an import of a polarizing agenda from India. The moot question is if the August-September Leicester incident is a product of India’s political and religious polarization, what about growing clashes between Christians and Muslims in France, Belgium and Poland. Sweden, a peace-loving country, was rocked by a riot by anti-Islam group in April this year. Violence was reported from as many as seven Swedish cities, including Stockholm during anti-Muslim protests in Sweden in April.

These incidents were not as widely covered by western media, but they spare no moment in covering even a smaller incident of street fight in India. They deliberately ignored Pew Research Centre’s study on Indians’ understanding of religion last year. Surveyed on the basis of face-to-face interviews of 30,000 Indian adults in 17 languages between late 2019 and early 2020, the Pew Research Centre, in its report published in June 202, said 85 per cent Indians believed that respecting all religions was very important “to being truly Indian.”The study further said that for most Hindus, religious tolerance was not a civic virtue but also a religious value, with 80 per cent of them stating that respecting other religions was an integral aspect of “being Hindus.” Alas, the British daily would have seen such facts.