BBC Complaints Team Misses the Point in Our “Jai Shri Ram” Article Critique - Hindu American Foundation
On The Issues

BBC Complaints Team Misses the Point in Our “Jai Shri Ram” Article Critique

By July 31, 2019 September 21st, 2020 No Comments

On July 10th, HAF wrote to the BBC expressing concern that an article titled “Jai Shri Ram: The Hindu chant that became a murder cry” likely violated the outlet’s own Editorial Standards which require that coverage will be fair and accurate, as well as impartial.  

After several weeks in the BBC’s complaints review process, we received a reply.  While we do appreciate that the BBC both has an official complaints process and does respond — something that can’t be said about all major media outlets — the BBC Complaints Team has failed to actually understand what the complaint was.

They replied: 

This article was written to focus on a killing which has shocked India. 

As our correspondent Geeta Pandey explains, the greeting has been used by Hindu extremist attackers to target minorities. 

Our article covers similar ground to others written in the Indian and international media. 

For example, the Times of India has this blog on 23 July https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/weaponising-jai-shri-rama-it-militates-against-ramas-benevolent-image-which-inspires-millions-of-hindus/ which examines how Jai Shri Ram is no longer restricted to a benign greeting.

Thank you once again for getting in touch.

We’re not disputing the fact that “Jai Shri Ram” has been used in a case of Hindu-Muslim violence, nor that it has been used at times in an intimidating manner of communal assertion. 

Rather, the substance of our complaint is that by failing to include any contextualizing statements about other instances of communal violence currently going on that run counter to the simplified narrative of majority oppressor versus always oppressed minority, readers are left with a one-sided picture of ground realities in India. 

It is true that there have been incidents of Hindu on Muslim violence. But it is also true that there have been incidents of Muslim on Hindu violence — including some recent threats against Hindu pilgrims and an averted tragedy where ISIS-inspired terrorists planned on poisoning prasad (ritual food offerings) at a major mandir in Mumbai. There has also been Muslim on Dalit violence. And there have been many attacks and assaults that were initially framed as communal in nature, but were actually not motivated by religious animus at all.  

The fact is that no one religious community in India has been spared being made the victim of attacks, yet BBC and other outlets ignore entirely attacks on Hindus, Dalits, and others.  

This selective coverage has consequences.  

  1. It promotes a false narrative of rising violence in India when for a nation of some 1.3 billion people, it has a remarkably low amount of violent crime per capita. 
  2. The overwhelming majority of Hindus in India, the UK, and the US deplore vigilantism. Yet, similar to the way in which the Muslim community as a whole often takes the blame for the acts of extremists engaged in terrorism, there is the risk here in the Hindu community wrongly being associated by the violent acts of a few in the mind of the non-Hindus. 
  3. As we know all too well in the United States, such wrong associations can lead to more violence. Already the Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu communities here have been the victim of hate crimes stemming from such misperceptions. 
  4. Readers are robbed of a broader, more accurate view of the world.. 

At the very least, it’s our hope that In future reporting on communal violence in India, BBC will abide by its own Editorial Guidelines in order to provide a broader, more accurate view of the situation with more nuance in their details.

 

10/28/22Dr. Anandibai Joshi

Dr. Anandi Gopal Joshi is credited with being the first woman from India to study medicine in the United States. Born in Bombay in 1865, she was married at the age of ten to an older man who had been her teacher. Dr. Joshi had a child at the age of 13, but the child died when only 10 days old. She believed that with better medical care, the child would have lived, and she frequently cited this as motivation for her desire to attend medical school. Her husband encouraged her in her academic pursuits and in 1883, Joshee joined the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, now known as the Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. She graduated in 1886 with her degree in medicine; her M.D. thesis focused on Hindu obstetrics. Unfortunately,  Dr. Joshi was only able to practice medicine for a few months before passing away from tuberculosis.

Science in Hinduism

10/2/2022Gandhi Jayanti

Gandhi Jayanti marks the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, the ‘Father of the Nation’ for India and the Indian Diaspora. To honor Gandhi’s message of ahimsa (non-violence), volunteer events and commemorative ceremonies are conducted and statues of Gandhi are also decorated with flower garlands. Gandhi and the satyagraha (truth force) has inspired many of America’s most prominent civil rights and social impact movements and leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., and Cesar Chavez. The United Nations declared October 2 as the International Day of Non-Violence in honor of Gandhi, whose work continues to inspire civil rights movements across the world.

Examining the Impact of Mahatma Gandhi on Social Change Movements

Why we should not tear down statues of Gandhi

10/1/2022First Hindu temple in US

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 facilitated the journey of many Indian immigrants to the United States. In this new land, many created home shrines and community temples to practice and hold pujas (services). As Hindu American populations grew in metropolitan and rural areas, so did the need to find a permanent temple site for worship. In 1906, the Vedanta Society built the Old Temple in San Francisco, California but as this was not considered a formal temple, many don’t credit this with being the first. Others believe it is the Shiva Murugan Temple built in 1957 in Concord, California, whereas others believe it is the Maha Vallabha Ganapati Devanstanam in New York that should be considered the first. Today, there are nearly 1,000 temples in the United States . Regardless of where you live, you have the right to practice your faith.

A Guide To Temple Safety and Security

5 Things to Know About Visiting a Hindu Temple