Ironic as it may sound in the age of the Internet, the international community’s knowledge of each other seems to be on the decline as compared to, say, four decades ago. Nothing else, for instance, can explain the ignorance among even journalists and academics of a subject like Kashmir. One reason could be the passing of the generation of Britishers who lived and worked in India at the time of Independence. Also, the age of the ‘backpacker’ seems to have gone – when young people in prosperous societies took time off from education or work to travel the world and experience people and cultures first hand. They went home and influenced thinking on international relations in a number of ways.
The dominant narrative nowadays is definitely manufactured news – mostly fake, but also motivated by ideology and political objectives rather than opinion based on direct experience. This is why a deliberate slant was given to the citation for the Pulitzer Prize presented to three photo-journalists from Kashmir. Like the Magsaysay Award and other such ‘acknowledgements of excellence’, the credibility in the eyes of large sections of humanity has been almost destroyed. If it is Kashmir in India, there are many such clichéd triggers in the minds of the elite about other countries as well. This section believes it has the mandate because of its ability to maintain a one-sided narrative to decide what happens in ‘inferior’ societies.
Interestingly, this sensitivity towards human rights as well as other issues is conveniently trimmed to ensure it remains on the right side of the wealthy and powerful. This is why nations like Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, et al, get away with the most horrendous atrocities – including arrests and killings of journalists – with impunity. Even an outright racist, theological and terrorist state like Pakistan manages with barely a rap on its knuckles because it keeps on the right side of the ‘rising power’, China.
Now that India has stopped kowtowing to these elites, it is being specially targeted. Its refusal to accept the ‘cultural superiority’ that so many interest groups have pegged their fortunes on has ruffled feathers, including – ironically enough – of those of Indian origin who need to prove their loyalty in foreign lands. Despite their Oxbridge and ‘mid-Atlantic’ accents, they fail, however, to see how they are being consumed by the very masters they serve. Liberal democracies can no longer survive by feeding the monster at the gate – despite the smokescreens created by the collaborators, they must awaken to the reality and face it head on.