Saeed Naqvi: Entire Indian elite stuck in colonial thinking

Pravda.Ru special correspondent Daria Aslamova, during her trip to India, had a meeting with Saeed Naqvi, a patriarch and living legend of Indian journalism. During the interview, Mr. Naqvi explained why the entire Indian elite still has colonial consciousness, how this affects relations between Russia and India, how the West controls Indian newspapers and why BRICS needs to create its own unified media.

Good evening, Mr. Naqvi. You are a legend of Indian journalism, one of the most famous journalists in India. Today we are going to speak about the relations between Russia and India, as well as about BRICS.

The relations between India and Russia are actually very solid, but the public perception of these relations is conditioned by the media. The entire foreign policy elite in India has not been able to get out of the old colonial baggage. It has actually grown after the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the times of the Soviet Union, there was a balance of forces between Moscow and Washington. India was non-aligned, but it was still inclined towards Moscow. Moscow used to pay a very big role in creating Bangladesh, so the relations were very good. However, the Indian elite, the owners of Indian newspapers have always been pro-Western from the very beginning. They became big in India because they were getting finance from the British oil industry. Some years ago, a foreign editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a friend of mine, a correspondent in Delhi, went to Moscow once and then came back to Delhi. He said that he was very surprised because the Indian ambassador can pick up the telephone and speak to anybody in the Kremlin. That was back during those days in the past. However, your foreign correspondents are not there, he said. Instead, they go to London and Washington. Why is that so? The proprietors were very pro-Western individuals from the very start. They prospered under the British. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the entire Indian elite was West-oriented. No Indian newspaper has correspondents in Moscow. They don't have correspondents in Kabul, Katmandu, not even in Colombo, Sri Lanka, not in Maldives. When the British left, they agreed that the Indian media would cover internal affairs, but the foreign affairs would be covered by imperial powers, namely Washington and London. Therefore, if something big happens, like Ukraine, India does not have correspondents there. Indian covered of world affairs is very lopsided. We echo Western propaganda even on the Gaza crisis. This is a very sad state of affairs. You are also to blame here to a certain extent. The Americans and the West created the so-called liberal independent media. Such media outlets become means of propaganda at times of conflict. Everybody were saying here that Putin's nose will be trampled in the dust, that Russia would fall apart, that the West will force Ukraine to win. That was the Western media buildup here in India. I was the only one who said the things that are happening now. I interviewed people in the Kremlin. Russian ambassadors asked me to interview Lavrov. However, you do not have a regular system to sustain these promises. I was the only voice who said that the war in Ukraine was going against ht West, because the US did not want to lose its hegemony. Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq — the Americans have lost everywhere.

Ukraine is their last hold. They put all their stakes on Ukraine.

They put their stakes on Gaza too. Ukraine is more or less gone. Putin has made it very clear: If Russia's national security is threatened, all options are open, including nuclear. I don't think the West will be going there. Some kind of peace will have to be established in which the Russians will keep what they have now.

Do you think there will be another Yalta Conference when the conflict is finished?

Something like that will happen, yes. They have been able to reach an agreement in Minsk and then in Istanbul. However, the Americans and Boris Johnson trashed it, they wanted to fight because the West is coming down. They had to save their face after the debacle in Afghanistan. Yet, they are losing the fight in Ukraine. Now they are digging their heels in Gaza — the Israeli lobby in America — the White House, the Pentagon, the CIA, the State Department. This is a very powerful lobby. Every congressman will lose if they do not have the support of the Israeli lobby. The BRICS is a winning bloc. The G7 is shrinking. BRICS currently accounts fo 29 percent of GDP. That is why Saudi Arabia and China are cooperating closely. Yet, the Western media do not cover that, you see.

As far as I can understand, the Indian elite send their children to the USA and the UK. It just so happens that you have the fifth column in power.

Indeed, every bureaucrat wants their children to live in America.

We had the same problem in Russia. Our officials would also send their children to America and Britain. As a result, there is no loyal elite.

The global world order is changing, and the hegemony of the Western world and America in particular is declining abysmally. It is the Global South, the BRICS that is rising now. The West knows it and is hedging its back against Russia for two reasons. First off, Russia is a source of oil and gas. Secondly, they know that as long as the West is declining, Russia and the East is rising.

BRICS appeared 20 years ago, but it still serves largely as a political, rather than an economic platform. This is a disappointment for Russia as the trade turnover with India is declining. Indian exports to Russia account for as much as 3.3 billion dollars, which is very little. India is such a huge country that can offer so much, but it's just not happening. India buys a lot of Russian oil, but sells only pharma products in return.

What would you want?

Well, India is a leader in IT technology, for example. The Indian car industry is also very good, I was surprised to know that. However, Indian businesses are being very cautious now. They are afraid of sanctions and it's so difficult to push them.

As for the car industry, which is electric cars now, Europe suddenly decided that the world's best electric cars come from China. They started buying them, but India is way behind China in this area. The difference between India and China is huge.

What do you mean?

Their economy is much bigger, their GDP is much higher. They have a huge trade surplus.

125 billion dollars.

There you are. The Economist has had two covers dedicated to India lately. The Indian economy is growing. It is the fifth economy in the world, but China is huge competition.

An Indian economist told me that India has an advantage before China because the Indian population is much younger. Indian young people speak English too. Does it mean that India will beat China very soon?

I hope so, but I don't see it happening. There is a lot of hype and propaganda about it, but little substance. In India, a millionaire has recently spent 100 million dollars on a wedding in Gujarat. The gap between the rich and the poor is huge. Many people sleep in the street under the bridges here.

China is a one-party power, but India is one of the biggest democracies in the world. Democracy is India's strength and weakness at the same time.

Liberal democracy is in crisis everywhere — in America, in Europe. Capitalism has to be contained and regulated. For example, if I were a multi millionaire, I would own the media and bargain with the government. My media would only support one side as I would tell them. The government would give them contracts in return. For example, as we are talking here, the Supreme Court of India asked the government to reveal the electoral bond issue. For example, imagine I am a big businessman and I can donate money to a party and no one will know anything about it. The Supreme Court now wants this information revealed. They are discovering it, but newspapers are not going to cover it, because newspapers are controlled. The media have to cover the issues that do not affect their masters' business. This is what affects democracies everywhere.

The relations between India and Russia count so many years of history. Everybody knows that Russia and India are friends, that their friendship is stable. However, a dead person is stable too. The current relations between India and Russia look like stagnation. We do not have common currency at BRICS. We can not make payments to each other.

People are moving away from the dollar. The de-dollarisation process is on.

But some experts believe that this is not going to happen in the upcoming 20-30 years.

It depends who you're talking to. I am completely independent and as free as a person can be. I've been proven right on Gaza, Ukraine and Afghanistan, but there are very few like us, the very few madmen.

When do you think we can have our common currency so that we could do business with each other smoothly?

Look what happened in the beginning of the war in Ukraine. The world presumed that Russia had lost it already. It's because Russia does not have the media that the West has. They have a long tradition of established media like CNN, the BBC and so on. I put forward an idea to create the BRICS media. It would be independent of two things: of the government and the market. So if a war break out in Ukraine, there will be one group of people that will tell you the truth, and the source of that truth will be BRICS. Otherwise, if another conflict happens, the Western media will do it again. At the moment, they are shrinking, and the old hegemony is going.

Two hundred years of British colonialism gave India two things: a highly developed railway network and one common language — English. If you look at a 100-rupee note you will see that it has the national language on it — Hindi, and the link language — English. Without the link language, an Indian person from the north would not be able to speak to the person from the south. Without the British, India would have been a culturally fractured subcontinent. This is a contribution that the British made. Before the British came India used to be made of thousands of princely kingdoms, until 1947. Every currency note in India has inscriptions in 17 languages — all local Indian languages. Against all this background, the Indian elite has not been able to free itself from the Western mindset. They all want to go to Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, etc. They also incorporate Western education into the Indian system. This is also an advantage, because my English is as good as that of a native speaker. Many Indians can speak like that too, which is definitely an advantage. English is a global language. I once spoke to Jacques Chirac and told him that France must have global media to avoid the massive impact of USA's Murdoch media empire. Chirac told me that they would not be able to do it because they would need to use English for it, but the French are too proud of their own national language. If they do it in French, they will not be able to reach so many people.

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Author`s name Daria Aslamova
Editor Dmitry Sudakov