The two-part BBC’s controversial series “India: The Modi Question” has stoked a massive controversy since it has been released. While the documentary claims it investigated certain aspects relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots when Modi was the chief minister of the state, the government has termed the series a “propaganda piece”.
The Modi government has banned this series in India, which has created an uproar among the Leftists, Islamists, and pseudo secularists. While several nations have garnered their support for PM Modi, there is a nation which has once again came into the limelight as evidences have emerged that it could be behind this entire controversy.
Yes, we are talking about China. BJP MP and senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani on Tuesday attacked BBC and accused it of receiving funds from Chinese state-linked Huawei outside the United Kingdom, quoting UK magazine The Spectator. In his tweet, Jehthmalani questioned if the British Broadcasting Corporation was ‘anti-India’ stating that it is involved in a ‘cash-for-propaganda deal’.
Jethmalani shared an article by The Spectator related to the controversial broadcaster receiving funds from Huawei for an advertising deal on the BBC website for visitors outside the UK.
“Why is BBC so anti-India? Because it needs money desperately enough to take it from Chinese state-linked Huawei & pursue the latter’s agenda (BBC a fellow traveller, Comrade Jairam?)It’s a simple cash-for-propaganda deal. BBC is up for sale,” Jethmalani tweeted.
British magazine ‘The Spectator’ in an article dated August 2, 2022, claimed that BBC is using Chinese company Huawei’s money to fund its overseas journalism. Advertisements displayed on BBC.com this week show adverts paid and presented by Huawei boasting about ‘The new frontier of education: How can we bridge the education gap and bring bright young minds into the digital future?’” The Spectator had claimed.
A series of marketing presentation slides reviewed by the Washington Post last December found Huawei had a role in developing surveillance projects created in a partnership with other Chinese companies. They included analysis of voice recordings, monitoring detention centres, tracking locations of political individuals of interest, police surveillance in the western Xinjiang region, and corporate tracking of employees and customers.
The content was only available to overseas readers as UK visitors were unable to access it. The netizens from the UK were greeted with the message “We’re Sorry! This site is not accessible from the UK as it is part of our international service and is not funded by the licence fee.”
Another news portal Deadline has also claimed that BBC’s sponsored content team, StoryWorks, is actively partnering with at least 18 Chinese clients since launching in 2015.
China’s alleged role has created ruckus in Indian Political circle
BJP leader Amit Malviya claimed that the documentary was being used to “torpedo India’s growth story”.
“It is a well known fact that several Chinese companies sponsored by their government have dealings with the BBC and have also bankrolled the BBC in the last couple of years. So it is quite likely that the Chinese establishment with the BBC and with our opposition in tow is using this documentary to torpedo India’s growth story,” Amit Malviya said on Tuesday.
He added, “The Supreme Court has exonerated PM Modi. We can’t have foreign media agency dictate to India what its public discourse should be. We will not allow that kind of interference.”
Meanwhile, Congress MP Karti Chidambaram said that the government’s method in dealing with the BBC documentary by banning it is “childish”.
“I think if the (BJP) MP has solid evidence (on Chinese funding BBC series), he should go to the appropriate oversight body in Britain and expose the BBC. This is quite childish,” Karti Chidambaram said.
Talking about the government banning the BBC series, Karti Chidambaram said, “If the government believes the documentary is factually incorrect, they must come with a counter-narrative instead of banning it. In this modern age, nothing can be banned. People will find ways around it and will watch it. People will disseminate and distribute it. Banning is a crude method.”
BJP Leader Jethmalani exposes BBC’s anti Indian stance
Jethmalani, in another tweet, said, “Apart from publishing a truncated map of India w/o J&K until 2021 when it apologised to the Indian govt & corrected the map, BBC has a long history of spreading disinformation against India. The anti PM documentary is a continuation of this malafide trend.”
Indian government took stern action against BBC
The response to the film, which is critical of Narendra Modi’s handling of the riots when he was the CM of the state, has been swift and stern.
The govt has exercised emergency powers vested in it under the Information Technology Rules 2021, to block the documentary on social media platforms YouTube and Twitter. India’s Ministry of External Affairs has trashed the documentary as propaganda.
“If anything, this film or documentary is a reflection on the agency & individuals that are peddling this narrative again. It makes us wonder about the purpose of this exercise &the agenda behind it,” Arindam Bagchi, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson.
BBC’s adventurism could create an embarrassment for the UK
Experts believe the airing of the documentary by the national broadcaster of the United Kingdom is embarrassing for the leadership of the UK and India, at a time when the two nations are in talks for a trade deal. It may impact the new found close partnership among the leaders of both the nations. Above all, taking funding from China can certainly raise the alarm for the Indian government.