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JOURNALISM IS ABOUT TRUTH

When I taught journalism at the Sri Sri Media center in Bangalore, the first thing I used to tell every new batch of students was that the prime duty of a journalist was to let go of his or her atavism, that is what they learnt from their parents, teachers, books, society and get FIRST-HAND experience - that they can in turn relay to their readers/viewers.Most of us repeat more or less brilliantly all our lives, what we have been taught, or what is politically correct at the moment and in fashion. I was lucky: born and educated in a catholic family, I had no idea about India when I came here. And thus, it cannot that I have echoed the beliefs of my parents or teachers. I have been accused of being a ‘saffron’ journalist, a RSS lover, a BJP spokesperson, but whatever I said, rightly or wrongly, has been MY opinion, which I garnered myself, while reporting for 30 years, from Kanyakumari to the LOC in Kashmir. In fact I doubt that any other foreign journalist crisscrossed so much India – Mark Tully, maybe, though he has been out of action for 15 years now, as he has health problems.

 

I have been interviewed many times, but often,, as I hear or

 

See the questions, doubts rise in my mind, because as it is often the case, the questions indicate that the journalist had already made up his or her mind, without even meeting me or doing a thorough background check on me. We can see today that sensationalism, false information, biased reporting, anti-divine slants, the kind of campaign that has been going in the name of 'Intolerance' against Narendra Modi is the work of the Asuras and the Rakshasas, because if you look coldly at statistics, India has been the most tolerant country in the world

 

#You have written widely in praise of PM Modi, his political accomplishments and his work. When did you begin to feel an affinity towards the BJP and Mr Modi's idealogies and work?

 

A. I did not know Mr Modi. But I have a Foundation FACT (Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism) that does exhibitions on Indian History, as well as great heroes and heroines. We have such one based on Aurangzeb’s firmans or edicts, which are preserved in the Bikaner archives (https://factmuseum.com/aurangzeb-as-he-was-according-to-mughal-records/), it was attacked in Chennai by goons of the nawab of Arcot, whose ancestors was nominated by Aurangzeb, with the support of the Chennai police then under the DMK’s Karunanidhi and closed down. This was widely reported in the Media and Mr Modi who was chief minister of Gujarat, heard about it and contacted me. He subsequently came to Mumbai to inaugurate our exhibition on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Vinod Khanna and Gopinath Munde. Subsequently, I met Mr Modi quite a few times in Gujarat. What particularly impressed me was that when I first went to his office, there were no hangers on, no sycophants, only people who came for work. I found the same thing when I visited his culture minister row of chairs and people waiting, while the minister with one secretary taking notes gives 5 mnts to each applicant. This is totally contrary to the Congress policy of most people to meet ministers and MP’s are for favours not work. I also found that Mr Modi was a great ecologist and had a genuine interest in that field, making of Gujarat the greenest, most investor friendly state of India. So I started praising him in my articles, though at that time nobody thought he could become PM of India

 

#What drew you to the Hindutva idealogy?

 

A. You have to give me some credit: most journalists in India are mostly their father’s children or their teachers pupils, that is they repeat more or less brilliantly what their atavism has grooved into them from early childhood. I had an upper class catholic education in France and when I came to India, I did not know the difference between a Hindu or a Muslim. In fact, I had many of the ideas that are politically correct today about India – Congress is the best party to unite it; Hindus can be fundamentalists too; or the RSS is a dangerous outfit.. But then I covered extensively Kashmir from the late 80’s till 2000 for Le Figaro, France’s largest circ paper and saw the Hindu leaders I had interviewed earlier such as Dr Tikoo, savagely assassinated by Kashmir Muslims separatists and then was 350.000 kashmiri Pandits flee the Valley under terror, for no other fault than being Hindus, without firing a single shot in self-defense, becoming refugees in their own country, a first in this already sad world. I also witnessed how Kashmir, once a more gentle sufi place (I witnessed the burning by Muslim of the last sufi shrine in Kashmir the Shrahr-e-Sharif), became so easily radicalized by Sunni influences from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The truth is I don’t know about Hindutva, I only know what Francois gautier saw first hand and now believes in. The only thing is that often what looks good is a-dharmic and what you may think bad is dharmic. The Media is a champion in portraying people who are causing harm as champions of truth. Even more, sometimes, beings who appear to be unique and holy, create tremendous harm. The Mahatma Gandhi for instance, no doubt a great soul, did a lot of damage to India by his insistence on non-violence at all costs, even if Hindus were butchered during the Kalifat movement or in Kolkata in 1946. Nehru, who adapted blindly the Mahatma's creed, refused to have a proper army and this resulted in the thrashing of India by the Chinese in 1962.

 

#You have listed enemies of "Hindus" including Sonia & Rahul Gandhi, CPI,  Aamir & Shah Rukh Khan, the Pope and even Hindus themselves. These appear more like the BJP party's list of political opponents. Would you comment?

 

A. Once more, your question is slanted, because it contains an indication of what you or your newspaper thinks, without bothering to verify my point of view. Let me say that my experience in 40 years in India as a journalist is that Hindus are the least intolerant of all communities. In fact, it is because they are the only ones in the world who till today recognize that God manifests himself or Herself at different times of humanity’s history, with different names, using different scriptures. This is why a Hindu is able to enter a church or even a mosque andfthe reverse is not true. This is why all persecuted religious minorities found refuge in India all over the ages from the Syrian christians to the Parsis, from the Jews to the Tibetans today. The irony is that Hindus have been the most persecuted in the world. If a proper tally of how many have died at the hand of Muslims invasions was done, it would easily reach a hundred millions

 

#Your critics feel you are a spokesperson for the BJP. How do you feel about that?

 

A. Well, the BJP never asked me to be a spokesperson and I would not be one for I speak for Francois gautier. Nevertheless I asked Mr Modi to conduct workshops for his MP’s/Spokespersons so that they know how to answer coherently and efficiently accusations of fundamentalism, speak about conversions, respond to western correspondents’s accusations, but never got an answer. It would be fun to have a westerner working for an Indian Govt, whereas Indians worked so long for their western masters and are still queuing like mad in western embassies to get visas, no?

 

#Would you join the BJP or RSS?

 

A. No, though I am an OCI married to an Indian for 30 years. Anyway they never asked me. In fact, since it has come to power at the center, the BJP in many ways resembles other political parties except a few exceptions. That is because they have to function in a system put in place by decades of Congress rule, where every minister or PM for that matter, has a ring of at least 15 PA’s PS’, peons and security, and also the fact that Delhi is a big bubble far away from the rest of India, which suited the British, who wanted to to control acces to North India, but shoud be decentralized today

 

#Do you feel Hindus and Hinduism is misunderstood and a victim of poor image building (the perception of being a polytheist, poor country continues to prevail)?

 

A. See, the biggest enemies of Hindus are Hindus themselves. No country would have been able to invade India if Hindus had not betrayed Hindus, from Alexander the Great who used the King of Taxila against Porus to the Vijaynagar kingdom, the last great Hindu empire, of beauty justice and Dharma, that was betrayed to the Muslims by the Lingayats. Today some of the most venomous anti-Hindus, particularly in American universities, or even in India, are Hindus themselves. And are not members of the Congress 90% Hindus? I defend Hindus, but I am not blind to their faults…

End of Interview….

 

 

But then I found out that only a tiny quote was taken from me and all the rest, which explained my stand clearly was not used!

 

This is bad journalism. One needs to let go of one’s personal opinions and try at least to give a chance to those who are interviewed, reported upon to express themselves. But often – and that is not only in India – journalists have already made-up their minds - and instead of educating their readers/viewers, they reinforce in them prejudices, wrong opinions and clichés. When I was a full time reporter in Le Figaro, I remember foreign editors who had never set foot in India, but had very strong opinions about the RSS, BJP, Hindu fundamentalists etc. This is a problem, but an honest journalist, always find a way to stick to Truth. Whatever people say about me, I have reported what I have seen and stood by my beliefs, never taking advantage of my position to demean or sell myself, whether it is to the beliefs of my editors/owners, or for money.

Francois Gautier

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