Times Now Navbharat: Where hate sells like hot cakes daily

The Hindi news channel of the powerful Times Group has been belligerently pushing its anti-minority agenda through its shows: an analysis of their content of over just seven days, shows how tireless they are in propagating hate; where this leaves the quality and standards of fair and equitable practices in broadcasting is a question that bears examination

“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
Malcolm X

News channels that run on our television screens 24 hours a day have been branded as “mainstream news media” though commercial media that no longer plays a part in actual dissemination of news may be a more apt definition. This media has, of late, often being showcased for a deliberate suppression of news while selectively creating studio discussions on selective subjects that fuel a divisive, one-sided majoritarian agenda that currently suits the ideology of the party in power.

The technique used is hysterical and repetitive, with one-sided WhatsApp forwards based on no truths becoming the focus and subject for discussion! The one channel that has been prominently badgering its viewers with this persistently unethical, anti-constitutional and stigmatising anti-minority, narrative is Times Now Navbharat, affiliated to the all-powerful media house, the Times of India group.

Citizens for Justice and Peace has been consistently monitoring news channels and their tiresome trope and tools used to spread and further demonise the religious minorities. In this process, CJP has filed several complaints with the News Broadcasting & Digital Standards Authority (NBDSA) and received favourable orders as well. In our analysis we have found that while the narrative of news channels is similar to each other, it is the frequency that now plays a part. In this year, 2023, alone, CJP has filed five complaints against the channel and out of these five shows, CJP has complained against, three shows used the “jihad” trope. The channel is often seen using emotionally charged language, misinformation, and biased narratives to sway people’s beliefs and attitudes.

Even with noticeable trend, the past fortnight was a shocker. Not one day passes without this channel pushing its vicious, dehumanizing agenda. With CJP’s sizeable complaint bank behind us, we now bring you an analytical look at just one week of Times Navbharat content and leave our readers to judge what the motivations and ethics underlying generation of such content may be.

Repetition as Propaganda:

Picking the same issue over and over

After the violence in Kolhapur in the past few days, news channels kept running the debate over ‘Aurangzeb’! The main focus was on ‘Aurangzeb’ as villain in 2023! One of the last Mughal emperors that has had a particularly significant impact on the Deccan plateau, the historical narrative of his betrayal of and subsequent encounter (through Afzal Khan) with Shivaji is part of folk and political lore, given that Shivaji is a much loved figure, albit one who’s image has been also distorted for political gain. Anyway back to the channel, Times Navbharat. The channel, day on day, has been itself in the act of pushing the narrative that even harking (or hailing) back to Aurangzeb –who is and was un undeniable part of India’s past – is both sacrilegious and seditious, an outrageous (even unlawful) notion pushed by India’s present rulers, in Delhi and Maharashtra (belonging as they do to the majoritarian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The channel appears to be on its own mission to convince (or brainwash?) its viewers into terming Aurangzeb referencing today as not only treason but acts that retaliatory targeted violence.

On this one incident alone, the channel ran provocative taglines in all their shows. These include:

“Aurangzeb par fasaad , kaun Pakistan ki aulaad” (riots over Aurangzeb, who is the son of Pakistan?)

“Shivaji ke Vanshaj vs. Aurangzeb ki aulaadein?” (Descendants of Shivaji vs. Sons of Aurangzeb?)

Hinduon ka atyachari ki kis ke liye Krantikari?” (The oppressor of Hindus, for whom, is he a revolutionary?)

Such propaganda often relies on oversimplification and selective generalisation to stereotype religious minorities. It portrays them as threats to national integration, social order, national security, or cultural values, emphasizing their “differences” from the majority population. By portraying them as “the other,” propaganda fosters an “us vs. them” mentality, making it easier to sow seeds of hatred and discrimination.

Religious conversions

Forced conversions are another trope the channel consistently harps upon. The false narrative is the claim that religious conversions in India are primarily forced or coerced. Through its shows the channel suggests that religious minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians, engage in unethical practices to convert individuals from Hinduism or other faiths.  This coverage flies in the face of actual circumstance and data from the ground, as questions and answers in Parliament, studies conducted on the issue from government gazettes (New Indian Express) all show that in fact maximum converts were towards Hinduism! Pertinently also the Indian Constitution accords every citizen the right to freely choose and propagate any faith.[1]

By depicting each alleged cases of forceful conversion, the channel exaggerates these incidents as a phenomenon and suggests that large-scale conversions are eroding the majority religion and threatening the nation’s cultural fabric.

The all-time favourite “Love Jihad”

Despite there being no empirical evidence to prove the existence of this conspiracy theory of “love jihad” and many alternate news portals busting this falsehood, the news channel (any many others of its kind) have continued running with it. ‘Love Jihad’ is a conspiracy theory of the right-wing, which claims that Muslim men feign love to non-Muslim, especially Hindu women to induce them to convert to Islam with an intention to increase their population. However, what is pertinent is that no official agency has come forward with a definition or any data to substantiate the claims.

The coinage of the term gained national prominence in 2009 and its origins can be traced back to Kerala and the coastal belt of Karnataka. On June 25, 2014, then Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy informed the state legislature that 2,667 young women had converted to Islam in the state since 2006. However, he stated that there was no evidence for any of them being forced conversions, and that fears of ‘love jihad’ were “baseless.”

Here are some instances of shows the channel ran through last one week using “love jihad” as the main angle.

In this news report, the channel made sure to highlight the religious identity of the victim, a Hindu. It becomes amply clear when the channel does this, that the accused has to be a Muslim.

On the other hand, when an incident of murder came to light from Mumbai where in a live relationship, the man killed his partner in a rather gruesome manner (akin to the Shraddha Walkar case), the religion of neither the victim nor the accused was mentioned, because both were Hindus.

They even invented another term – “Gaming Jihad” alleging that there is game created by a Mulsim whereby Hindu boys are coaxed into converting to Islam. The news report ran an “investigation” on how this games allured Hindu boys into religious conversion to Islam.


Other divisive tools

When the trope of all kinds of “jihad” and religious conversion are used, they also resort to other tools. Like, establishing hegemony of Hindus by claiming Hindus saved Muslims:

Portraying certain prominent individuals/political figures as enemies of Hindus by vitute of them speaking in favour of Muslims:

Creating unsubstantiated trivial controversy over Muslim actors entering temples and seeking blessing of Hindus gods is also another of their favourites.

Questioning the sensitivity of certain topics and defending propaganda: When the teaser of the movie “72 hoorain” came out, the channel aired a debate on why are Muslims offended over it.

This week long overview establishes a clear political agenda and motive.

The intention of the channel is clear: to create a distorted reality that fosters division, fear, and animosity towardsthe Muslim community. False narratives contribute to the marginalization and stigmatization of religious minority communities, fostering discrimination, and hostility. This has already led to social exclusion, violence, and restrictions on the religious freedom. The spread of false narratives further deepens existing communal tensions and perpetuates an “us vs. them” mentality as well.

Where this leaves the quality and standards of fair and equitable practices in broadcasting is a question that has more than serious implications for India and Indian democracy.

What do the figures tell us? CJP Legal Resource: Hinduism saw the largest increase in new converts, according to statistics collected by The New Indian Express collated from government gazettes that contain official figures for the year 2020. Hinduism, says this analysis, was “adopted” by 47% of those who converted to a different religion in Kerala during the referred year. 241 of the 506 people who reported their change of religion with the government were Christians or Muslims who converted to Hinduism. Islam attracted 144 converts overall, compared to 119 converts to Christianity.[2] The majority of Dalit Christians, or Christian Cheramars, Christian Sambavas, and Christian Pulayas, made up 72% of the new Hindu converts. It was clear that the absence of quota and reservation advantages had led to the re-admittance of Hinduism by many Dalit Christians. Christianity lost 242 believers to the other two religions and attracted only 119 persons. Islam gained 144 new believers and lost 40 during the period. Buddhism received two new believers who switched from Hinduism.As many as 77% of the new converts to Islam were Hindus and 63% women. It attracted the highest number of persons from Ezhava, Thiyya and Nair communities. 25 persons, including 13 females, switched from the Hindu Ezhava caste, to Islam. Data reveals that 17 Thiyya community members including 11 females converted to Islam. 17 persons including 12 females were from the Nair community. Of the 33 persons who crossed over to Islam from Christianity, 9 were Syrian Catholics, who included two women.








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