News India Times – that’s all you need to know Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed on this page are those of the authors and Parikh Worldwide Media does not officially endorse, and is not responsible or liable for them. Indian DiasporaMust Practice NewParadigms In T&T, Foster Closer Cultural TiesWith India The Indian diaspora must move away from the tradi- tional floats and celebratory parades and instead forge a new forum to regenerate new thoughts, and new aspira- tions and advance to a worldview shaped by the wisdom and knowledge we have inherited. The Indian diaspora must avoid too much talking, and replace it with pro- found actions worthy to be emulated in the governance of the nation. NEW THOUGHT PROCESS NEEDED In marking the 179th anniversary of Indian Arrival Day in 2023, the Indian diaspora must seek to motivate a new thought process for the coming generation. There have been several MOUs signed by both governments, India and Trinidad and Tobago, and one wonders how many of the points of agreement have been practical and in the interest of both nations. And except for religious and tourism forays, and several Indian-established business entities, there is not much bilateral engagement to count. The Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Cultural Co-oper- ation came into existence in 2020, and has been doing a worthy job in terms of promoting Indian culture and religion. A new Indian High Commissioner, Dr Pradeep Rajpurohit, seems to be keen on reinvigorating the relationship and dusting off the several MOUs stuck in the shelves in both countries. Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has just returned from India where he signed an agreement, among other things, to assist in the establishment of a cricket academy at Trinc- ity in northern Trinidad. GIVING DIASPORA A NEW MEANING A notable personality who will be missed this year is Dr Brinsley Samaroo, former government minister and pro- fessor emeritus at the University ofWest Indies, who for more than half a century had been diligently researching the Indian diaspora in Fiji, Mauritius, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and other parts of the Caribbean. He gave the Indian diaspora a new meaning and a new ethos. He would surely be missed as an integral figure in the whole Indian diaspora process. And to mark his death last July, in a recent publication entitled, “FromVillager To International Schola—The Life Of A Legend”, several of his associates paid tribute to him for the meaningful academic work he did in pursuance of the Indian diaspora worldwide. Dr Samaroo put Trinidad and Tobago on the international map in terms of dias- pora issues. The Indian diaspora must continue to etch its mark as a serious segment of the population of this Caribbean nation where 37 per cent of its 1.4 million people are of Indian descent. It has to make its statement boldly, af- firmatively and respectfully, aimed at avoiding the pitfalls we might make. We have the leadership to mount this assignment and the challenges we might endure. It must be an academic and philosophical task, and let us not be fooled merely by floats and riverboats. We are past that stage. The author is a Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago-based jour- nalist. He can be contacted at -South Asia Monitor - Continued From Page 3 Opinion News India Times (June 8 - June 14, 2024) June 14, 2024 4 WesternMedia Biases Colour South Asia Coverage: Need For Greater Journalistic Empathy And Objectivity S outh Asian nations, bursting with diversity and contradictions, have long been a captivating subject for global journalism. Yet, despite their in- creasing importance on the world stage, Western media often misses the mark when it comes to accurately portraying these multifaceted and culturally rich countries. This discrepancy in coverage not only re- flects a lack of understanding of the region’s complexities but also raises concerns about journalistic integrity and political interference. Recent scandals and exposés have brought into ques- tion the motivations of foreign journalists covering South Asia, particularly India and Bangladesh. India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has pointed out that criti- cism from theWestern press isn’t merely due to a lack of information but rather a belief that they are political players in Indian elections. This perception challenges the credibility of foreign media coverage and raises con- cerns about political neutrality. Western media’s visible tilt in Bangladesh’s national election seemed to aim at destabilizing the country’s polity, highlighting a trend of Western interference in domestic affairs. One glaring example of the disparity between foreign and Indian journalism emerged during a panel discus- sion on BBC’s Newsnight, where Amana Begam Ansari, a journalist for The Print, challenged the portrayal of Muslims and minorities facing genocidal threats. Ansari emphasized the importance of data in dispelling mis- conceptions, highlighting that India has never been safer for minorities. However, her remarks left the program’s anchor visibly perplexed, showcasing the gap in under- standing betweenWestern and Indian perspectives. BRIDGING THE GAP India’s vibrant democracy, cultural richness, and economic dynamism evoke global interest. However, delving into the complexities of Indian society requires more than surface-level reporting. Western journalists often struggle to understand cultural nuances, traditional subtleties, regional disparities, and the wide span of the country. Instances such as ABC News Australia’s Avani Dias’s false claim of being forced to leave India further erode trust between foreign journalists and Indian soci- ety, raising questions about journalistic integrity. Western media sometimes prioritizing narratives with biased coverage that align with cheap popularity or geopolitical agendas. Recent instances of biased report- ing, such as The Guardian’s editorial on India’s general election, undermine the work of foreign press in India and hinder a balanced portrayal of the country. Chris Blackburn, an expert on media, wrote an opinion piece in Daily Express, UK about biased and inaccurate coverage regarding India, “One challenge is the tendency to view India through a narrow lens, shaped by preconceived notions or sensationalized narratives. This can lead to oversimplification and distortion of issues, perpetuating stereotypes.” Access and privilege significantly complicate the land- scape of media coverage, especially forWestern journal- ists. Their struggle to effectively connect with grassroots communities and fully comprehend the daily realities faced by ordinary South Asians deepens the divide. As a consequence, this gap in understanding frequently leads to a distorted depiction of socio-economic issues. In this skewed portrayal, the voices and experiences of mar- ginalized individuals are often overlooked, exacerbating societal disparities and hindering progress toward more inclusive and accurate representation in the media. It was more evident when the incumbent prime minister in Pakistan was ousted, and his tenure in office was depict- ed as a severe threat toWestern nations. The situation is not limited to India or Pakistan alone but extends to Bangladesh as well. Western media’s ‘in- terference’ in Bangladesh’s domestic affairs and national elections has been a recurring issue, raising concerns about sovereignty and political meddling. The 2024 na- tional election in Bangladesh witnessed a flurry of biased reporting and sensationalized narratives fromWestern outlets, reflecting a lack of understanding of the country’s political landscape and internal dynamics. Such interfer- ence undermines the democratic process and fosters mistrust among the Bangladeshi populace toward foreign media. UPHOLDING INTEGRITY Despite the myriad challenges faced byWestern journalists in covering South Asia, maintaining journal- istic integrity is non-negotiable. This entails a rigorous commitment to fact-checking, corroborating information from diverse sources, and challenging inherent biases. Only by adhering to these fundamental principles can journalists hope to offer a portrayal of South Asia that is both comprehensive and unbiased. Fact-checking serves as the cornerstone of respon- sible journalism, particularly in a region as complex and dynamic as South Asia. With misinformation and pro- paganda often rampant, journalists must meticulously verify every piece of information they intend to publish. This not only safeguards the credibility of their reporting but also ensures that readers are presented with accurate and reliable information. Embracing a multiplicity of perspectives is imperative in capturing the true essence of South Asia. This entails going beyond mainstream narratives and actively seeking out voices from diverse backgrounds, communities, and viewpoints. By amplifying often marginalized perspec- tives, journalists can offer a more nuanced understand- ing of the region’s socio-political dynamics, thereby enriching the discourse and fostering greater empathy and understanding among audiences. Challenging biases, both conscious and unconscious, is another critical aspect of responsible journalism. Western journalists must interrogate their preconceived notions and prejudices about South Asia, recognizing that their cultural, social, and political backgrounds may influence their perceptions and interpretations of events. By cultivating a self-awareness of these biases and ac- tively working to counteract them, journalists can strive towards a more equitable and balanced portrayal of the region. Ultimately, the responsibility lies withWestern jour- nalists to transcend the limitations and pitfalls inherent in covering South Asia. By upholding the principles of journalistic integrity, fact-checking, embracing diversity, and challenging biases, they can contribute to a more informed and nuanced understanding of the region on the global stage, fulfilling their crucial role as mediators of truth and knowledge. Accurately capturing South Asia’s essence requires humility, empathy, and a commitment to uncovering the truth. By addressing biases, challenging preconcep- tions, and prioritizing factual accuracy, Western media can bridge the gap and offer a more comprehensive understanding of the region’s vibrant landscape while respecting the sovereignty and internal dynamics of each nation. The author is a political analyst based in Bangladesh. Views are personal. He can be contacted at -This article appeared in South Asia Monitor online May 16, 2024. Used here under a special arrangement with SAM By M.A. Hossain, South Asia Monitor