Fake Narratives With An Anti-India Bias Have To Be Called Out: I&B Minister Anurag Thakur
The comment comes amid a week-long logjam in the Parliament over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's comments made in the U.K.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said on Saturday that fake narratives with "an inherent anti-India (bias) designed in the West" that are making their way to the country need to be strongly called out, and India should protect itself from the dangers of "digital colonialism".
The comment comes amid a week-long logjam in the Parliament over Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's comments made in the U.K. Thakur was speaking as a special guest in the centenary celebrations of eminent Malayalam daily "Mathrubhumi".
The minister said it took India several years to break the shackles of colonialism and that it must not allow "the menace to resurface".
"The advent of new technologies provides new opportunities to break barriers. However, there lurks the danger of digital colonialism on platforms run by algorithms coded offshore behind the walls of transparency," he said.
"Facts are sacred and opinions are free. Democracy in India will remain strong. We have a beautiful system of democracy where people elect their government every five years."
According to him, "substandard and illogical opinions" delivered freely from within or abroad, cannot destroy the democratic nature of the country.
Several ministers and BJP leaders are strongly opposing the remarks made by Gandhi in his recent Cambridge tour, where he claimed that democracy in India was under danger and institutions were under the control of the BJP-RSS. They have demanded an apology from Gandhi, but the latter has denied insulting the country on foreign soil.
Thakur said the country must be careful before accepting everything in the name of innovation and modernity. "Foreign publications, companies and organisations with an inherent anti-India bias must be identified and called out. Here, Indian media which understands the reality should play an important part," the minister said.
He urged the media to desist from giving space intentionally or unintentionally to such voices and narratives that have the potential to threaten the integrity of India.
Claiming that "violators of press freedom and democracy are pretending to be victims now", the I&B Minister recalled the imposition of Emergency in 1975 by former PM Indira Gandhi, and said one must not forget what media houses went through then.
"Advaniji, Jaitleyji were in Jail then. News is news. Such outrageous assaults weaken democracy and its institutions."
He said that the first elected government in Kerala was a Communist one that came into power soon after the state's formation. "It was the undivided Communist party that had full majority. But the ruling party couldn't take the fact that the people of Kerala had not voted for them, and sacked the government. It was the first gross misuse of the government, and the Congress got away with impunity," the minister said.
"Subsequently, they abused the Constitution to sack 93 state governments. It was a severe blow to the democracy of India. The Left may have forgotten this, but India has not."
Thakur said the image of India has changed in the last few years, and the country was poised to take off with an economy that is the fastest growing, even in turbulent times.
"But unfortunately, for some, India is not their motherland. They have a fatherland, which is a foreign country from where they derive their ideology. And then, there are those who misquote the Constitution and have no knowledge of the Constituent Assembly debates, and describe our nation as a mere union of states," the minister said.