Thou Shalt Not Comment : The Dictatorship of scroll.in

Scroll.in does not allow its users to comment on the articles. There is no comments policy.

In January 2013, a small obscure web portal was started; a digital daily in the scroll format, where new posts are just stacked over one another and one has to scroll down to get to older posts. Not many knew about it in the first few months, but gradually, as its tone became clear, it started becoming popular among a fringe group in India – the Hinduphobic left. The site was scroll.in. It sported articles which exhibited most naked and unabashed hatred of Hindu culture yet seen on the web.

Changing Political Scenario in India

In the political arena it was becoming clear that Congress would be decimated in the ensuing General Elections. The UPA would not get a third term and an emboldened BJP would come to power led by Narendra Modi. A weak, corrupt and sclerotic government would be replaced by a determined conservative government with a great leader at its helm.

For a decade India’s enemies were having a field day. Indian government, led by the UPA, was at best unconcerned and often actively working against Indian interests both at home and abroad.

There was no foreign policy. Defense was so neglected that Indian Navy was literally rusting. Small and weak nations like Bangladesh were boldly violating Indian borders. Terrorists were walking in and out of the country with an unprecedented ease. Pakistan was waging a relentless proxy war through its religious appeal in Kashmir. China was encircling India with navy ports and violating Indian territorial sovereignty.

And during this time, all that the UPA was worried about, was to keep its Muslim vote-bank intact. As the global scenario was turning public opinion more and more against Islam, it increasingly became hard to support and defend the act of the Islamists, whom most of the Muslim population supported. As a result, Congress was bending over backwards to appease the Muslim community, bringing about an even worse turnabout in its political fortunes. In the aftermath of the Muzaffarpur riots, by visiting only Muslim families in the riot affected areas, Congress virtually declared that it was a Muslim-only party. Not surprisingly, the public shifted its allegiance to the BJP and Modi.

Sensing this tectonic shift in Indian politics, the lunatic fringe on the left with vested interests in denigration of Hindu culture and society, regrouped and with a hitherto unseen ferocity, renewed their attacks. Many new media ventures were opened. Millions of dollars were funneled into this activity. Scores of scholars, media persons, journalists and academicians were employed to this purpose. Scroll.in was one such venture by the left fringe.

Scaling up the Popularity Ladder

Within a few months of the launching of scroll.in in January 2013, a million viewers had visited the site, thanks to targeted advertising. It started receiving many ‘awards’, the most famous being, the ‘News Start-up of the Year’ at the 2015 RedInk journalism awards instituted by the Press Club Mumbai, a group which felicitates the journalists of the ilk of Tehelka and the Caravan magazine. The reason stated by the awarding committee in choosing scroll.in was for “scaling up its influence rapidly as an alternative source of news and features.” How this ‘scaling up’ was achieved ‘rapidly’, is suspicious.

The CEO of scroll.in is Samir Patil, who has also founded ACK Media. In an infamous bid, ACK Media acquired the famous nationalist comic books of India, Amar Chitra Katha in 2007. Amar Chitra Katha was created by the great artist Anant Pai and was published by India Book House. During the terrible tenure of UPA-1, it was acquired by Samir Patil. Since he took over, Amar Chitra Katha, the Hindi versions of the books was stopped and the English books came under the process of ‘secularization’. It is another story of take-over and destruction of a Hindu publication, which warrants an article in its own right.

ack

It was this Samir Patil, who started the news daily scroll.in. A businessman and venture capitalist goes on and opens a digital daily with Hinduphobic agenda and which quickly becomes popular among the ultra-left in India. The site claims to focus on ‘the most important political and cultural stories that are shaping contemporary India’.

Another co-founder and editor of the magazine is Naresh Fernandez. He writes on various subjects; particularly on music and urban culture. But like other left-liberals of his ilk, he is also worried about the looming ‘Hindutva terror’, the ‘condition of Muslims under Modi’s Hindus’ and the related Hindu-bashing topics, as is evident from his twitter handle. He is also worried about the economy that will be ‘hurt’ because of cow protection laws.

Other journalists and authors who write at scroll.in are not different. A random glance across its ‘Inside Politics’ section for the past few months shows that the website is obsessed with Hinduphobia, with special focus on news items critical of Modi and BJP:

“Why is there no pressure on the RSS to clarify its role during Emergency?”, “As terror charges against Sanatan Sanstha grow, why isn’t the government banning it?”, “As election season approaches in UP, BJP moves in to communalise everything it can”, “Could the Modi government’s plans to promote Hindi in South India produce discord? “’Police was definitely involved, but got away’: Survivors and activists rue Gulberg verdict” “Modiji, you need to speak your mind on the future of pluralism: Carnatic singer TM Krishna”, “‘Silence is a form of abetment’:Shashi Deshpande quits Sahitya Akademi governing body”, “Holy cow: Our bovine protectors are milking an old script (with new hypocrisy)”, “Cow protection laws are hurtling India down the path of Pakistan’s blasphemy edicts”, “Ground report: As BJP rushes to capitalise on Dadri lynching, region’s Muslims grow anxious”, “Whatever created the impression that Narendra Modi was a moderate?”, “The Unmaking of India: Why writer Nayantara Sahgal is returning her Sahitya Akademi Award.”

Thou Shalt Not Comment on scroll.in

New start-up magazines and dailies do have a way of becoming famous very soon. It is through social media. For this they have to constantly engage with the audience, making them participants rather than onlookers. This is why the comments section exists. The comments also convey the general mood of the public; whether what the author writes really reflects the public opinion or not. There is no big online newspaper or magazine today which does not have a comments section.

But scroll.in is different. It does NOT allow its users to comment on the articles. There is no comments policy. The readers can e-mail their thoughts to the editors, but there is no guarantee that they will ever be published and they can be manipulated by the website owners just like the news they publish.

This is unprecedented in the history of online news portals. Why would a news website, which has its stated goal of creating an ‘alternative source of media’ to counter ‘seats of power’ will not let the public participate? Isn’t it ridiculous that a ‘people’s daily’, meant for general public, does not let the people comment?

Even in the pre-Internet era, when mass media ruled the day, when a few powerful corporate houses and a few powerful governments controlled all the news that circulated in the public, the newspapers allowed people to write to the editor, and some of these ‘letters to the editor’ would be published in a section dedicated for that particular purpose.

Scroll.in does not allow any type of comment on its news which in ways is even more redundant than the 19th century newspapers and magazines.

Why does it do so? Only those digital newspapers which want to maintain a strict ideological control over their content prevent its readers from commenting. Only those magazines which spread pure propaganda maintain such absolute control over its content. The reason that scroll.in does not let its readers comment is because its agenda is to spread its political ideology which suffers from Hinduphobia and Islamophilia. Public accountability is completely out of question. Scroll.in simply cannot face public opinion.

This is no less than dictatorship. The masters will spew venom against whoever they deem fit as a target and the public has no right to grievance. Scroll.in is medieval, behaving like a feudal lord.

The Overflowing Coffers of scroll.in

Sponsored propagandist websites do not have a budget problem. They are funded by powerful organizations: governments, corporate lobbyists. Scroll.in is also not wanting in that regard. But the amount of money that it offers its authors is ludicrous. It is about ten to twenty times that is generally paid to the authors at other news websites.

Why did scroll.in start with such a determined attack on Hindus and Hindu society? What were its motives? Who was behind it? Who funded it? Who guided it? The next part of the series will examine this.

Disclaimer: The facts and opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.
Pankaj Saxena is a scholar of History, Hindu Architecture and Literature. He has visited more than 400 sites of ancient Hindu temples and photographed the evidence. He has been writing articles, research papers and reviews in various print and online newspapers and magazines. He currently works as the Asst. Professor, Centre for Indic Studies, Indus University, Ahmedabad. He has authored three books so far. He maintains a blog at http://literaryfalcon.wordpress.com/
  • Margaret Buch

    I’m not the biggest fan of Scroll, but the author would do well to at least get his facts right, especially on a site that has the word “facts” in the name. Scroll was started in 2014, not 2013, and it’s Naresh FernandeS, not FernandeZ. More importantly, it requires desk hands to moderate comments. To Scroll’s credit, it at least published a weekly letters to the editor piece, where there is a good deal of criticism.

  • Politeindian

    I have said this before, and I am going to say it again.

    Much as I am for FDI, I oppose FDI in two areas.

    There should be no FDI in Media, and there should be no FDI in Religion.

  • SCC

    Hindu is another third rate newspaper which gets shivers if their bias and poor reporting is pointed out by the readers. The communist controlled Hindu gives you an experience on how social life must have been in Communist societies.

  • Anshul Singhal

    Good Job ..but we were aware of it and like wise sites, who are propagating n what, and their covert and overt propaganda, it just clear what they are up to by reading their material, even if they first try to harmonize and start with positive comments on Hindus, Hinduism(Sanatan Dharama),Bharatvarsh(India for them), their ulterior motive becomes evident as we read through, and it became possible because of Social media itself and lot of interfere of intellectuals of Dharmic bend like Rajiv malhotra who are constantly and continuously working for securing Hindus right and giving an insight of correct facts and thus exposing enemies lies which until now was roaming free among us in a “sikular/political correct/FEO/FOS” cover

  • Surya Arunthavanathan

    Thank you for this brilliant expose, Pankaj. This is an excellent piece. Scroll.in is offensive to say the least in its ideological harangue and hatred of Hinduism.

  • satyameva jayate

    Journos reporting news means covering all aspects of a story & then forming a Narrative based on facts. However In this DNA age this has changed drastically. Narratives are formed 1st then to accommodate that cherry pick your facts Ignoring the other side. The only problem is the proliferation of News portals & revolution in Social media. The amount of Misinformation is equally countered by facts now a days. To avoid egg on face websites choose to remove comment section & so called secular & liberal news anchors choose to paint fact based criticism as FringeReaction. When jounos themselves ask for restriction on Social Media you can only imagine Deep rot in the profession…….

  • P. B. Josh

    One of the most anti-Hindu, anti-BJP, anti-Modi Web site. We would love to know who funds them?

  • VeVePe

    ACK Media is now part of Kishore Biyani’s Future Group (Big Bazar). I think they are fairly apolitical these days. Scroll is funded by Omidyar of color revolution fame http://www.medianama.com/2014/07/223-scroll-in-funding-omidyar/

  • Shreevalsan

    Most mediamen are known for their extreme intolerance of different viewpoints. scroll.in is no exception. Even in print media, most editors of English newspapers instruct their staff to select only those letters to the editor which praise their articles. Critical letters are ‘killed’ (journo language)..So much for their love of freedom of expression. When media speaks of FOE, what they mean is freedom to abuse. Mainstream English newspapers like Times of India, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, The Indian Express etc. and English TV channels like NDTV and India Today are known for their profound contempt of FOE which, according to them, is reserved only for secular Lutyens lumpen like them. For India to survive and progress, all media must die. Modi Sarkar must take the initiative to finish off the media. If media is allowed to survive, it could put the nation’s existence in danger. Most media men (and women in particular) are traitorous, dishonest, opinionated quislings ever ready to help enemies of Hindus to destroy our one and only homeland. Mr Modi, please destroy mainstream media before it destroys the nation.

    • Subodh

      How? Scroll is available through Internet. Do you advocate blocking of the website by DoT? Do you realize that Modi haters use FB to propagate scroll articles? Should modi govt block FB too?

      Please provide implementable solutions, not pointless advice to govt.

      The only solution is that nationalist business houses like Essel/Zee should start buying out loss making TV news channels and websites like Scroll.

      • Shreevalsan

        Saving the nation is not for the weak hearted. Modi must realize that media is nation’s public enemy no.1 and then proceed to do it. Modi can easily ask his party men to unleash violence against traitorous journos and provide political protection from police or courts. Scribes, like Muslims, understand only one language: VIOLENCE. Soft option like buying out loss making TV channels, as you suggest, will not work. Please note that while journos pour abuse on Hindus and Modi, they won’t dare utter a word against Muslims or Christians, Therein lies the solution to our media problem.

        • Subodh

          Media has ability to spin any violence against dalits or muslims and blame it directly on Modi govt. Any violence against journos will be amplified hundreds of times at international level and Left liberal media all over the world will project Modi as a dangerous despot who is crushing freedom of speech.

          Unlike Putin or Chinese leadership who can crush all dissent easily, we have an independent and hostile judiciary which will come down heavily on the govt if it feels that civil liberties are under threat.

          Your silly ideas will work only in a tin pot democracy or in a military dictatorship, not in a country where govt cannot even pass bills without support of opposition.

          • Shreevalsan

            My ideas are certainly not silly. You only need a handful young armed men, with political protection given by Modi, to bring the media to its senses. Journos are cowards and bullies by nature, they only attack peaceful people, never the violent or the influential. With thousands of RSS boys under his command, Modi can and must crush media as easily as Putin or Chinese leadership. Our contemptible judiciary must also be dealt with with an iron hand. A little violence will do wonders for the nation. Let us hope Modi will realize this before it is too late.

          • Subodh

            India is not Russia or China. Unlike these countries, we are full fledged democracies. Indira Gandhi, who after the 71 war, was more popular than Modi ever was, tried to crush judiciary and media by declaring emergency, and lost power in couple of years. Her son, Rajiv, who had a massive majority in LS, and looked invincible with over 400 seats, tried to suppress media by introducing a stringent defamation law but had to roll back his plan, and ended up losing the next elections.

            Modi is more vulnerable than Indira or Rajiv. He enjoys barely 20% of loyal votes. The remaining 10-15% are floating voters who may ditch BJP if the govt doesn’t live up to their expectations. The 60% of the voters who didn’t vote for NDA would get scared if they felt Modi was getting dictatorial and will punish him the same way they punished Indira.

            It is better for Modi to constantly focus on development, anti-corruption, agrarian issues and poverty-alleviation while at the same time projecting himself as a victim of hostile (anti-hindu) media. In India, victim attitude always results in sympathy votes. By constantly making barbs at media, he can destroy the credibility of media, and make their propaganda ineffective and counter-productive. It is stupid to use a hammer when a stick might do the job more effectively.

          • Shreevalsan

            Indira lost power in 1977 only because she held an election. If not, she could have continued as PM till the end of her life. It may be a good idea for Modi to play victim of the media (which he is anyway) but that won’t silence these scumbags. They are already at war with him because they know that Modi, being a Hindu, is liberal, unlike themselves. Also, the Indian media is a serious threat to internal and external security. So long as media is alive, Modi will have to spend much of his time firefighting. If the traitorous media is totally crushed, it will improve security and internal peace. I have been in the media for 25 years and I know that cowardice is the hallmark of a journo. It would be better for India not to have a media at all rather than a traitorous one. The media has zero credibility, there is no public sympathy for them and no one will shed a tear if journos are jailed for life or killed. The public will only congratulate Modi for doing away for presstitutes. People want benevolent dictators or kings, not democratic PMs. India was much better ruled under the maharajas than under democracy after 1947. If India is a full-fledged democracy (which it is not), it is certainly most unfortunate. The military must be given a respectable role in governance which will improve discipline, patriotism and punish anti-Hindu traitors.

      • Kp Sudhakar

        Dear! we live in a ‘democracy’ that too fullllllllfledged (more than balanced) and hence idiots also have place in the society and heard for their crap. Solutions are not applicable to stubborn idiots!!

      • Bharati_shahida

        Democracy depends entirely on you and me to function, not Modi, Sonia, media, whoever.

    • R. Singh

      No.

      Our Dharmic culture has survived by taking on and dealing with such people.

      What we need is to face them down , is discussion and debate, not adopt Abrahamic violence

  • Shreevalsan

    Long, long ago, the TOI-let paper (The Old Hag of Bori Bunder) once wrote an editorial (no less), clarifying that its readers have NO right of reply. That even if they have a locus standi in an article that the wretched rag has printed, TOI can refuse to print the aggrieved person’s letter to the editor!

  • Vidya

    The disappearance of Amar chitra katha was puzzling. It had kept English medium students acquainted with indian history and mythology, therefore must have been a target of the evangelists and leftists. Scroll.in is for propaganda and not for interaction. Though it is dishonest, it need not be boycotted as it can serve as a useful tool for purva paksha.