False narratives about India being created in West, says Indian-American community leader Dr Bharat Barai

Misinformation and false narratives are being created about the Indian democracy in the West in the middle of a general election, according to a prominent Indian-American community leader.

Dr Bharat Barai
Dr Bharat Barai, noted oncologist and Indian-American community leader. Photo credit: www.hua.edu

India could not be deterred by the criticism of some people with a “colonial mentality”, said Dr Bharat Barai, a noted Chicago-based oncologist, who is at present Medical Director of the Cancer Institute, Methodist Hospitals, in the bordering state of Indiana.  He also serves on medical advisory panels for US Senators and Congressmen, and has been Chairperson of the US Indian Community Foundation.

Referring to the number of news articles and commentaries appearing in the Western press, including that of the United States of America, raising questions about democracy, freedom of expression, and human rights in India, Dr Barai told the Press Trust of India, “Think of it. People [in India] have been abusing [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi and so many [other politicians]. If there was no democracy, if there was dictatorship, how would they be able to do it?”

He asked, “How has the election passed peacefully and how have more people exercised their franchise — almost 66 per cent — in India than even in the US? How can you say that democracy does not work?”

Asserting that India had a “very vibrant” democracy, the Indian-American community leader said, “I think there’s total misinformation, [a] total false narrative, whether it’s deliberate or because of poor information or misinformation.”

The doctor added, “My feeling is that some of the people in the West still have a colonial mentality. They still think that they are the supreme judges of the world. They are the ones who are going to judge what happens in any other country in the world, and they are going to be the Ayatollah (top leader) who will give the ultimate word.”

“But”, he added, “this is a different India”.

India had progressed a lot in the past 10 years, said Dr Barai. “It has become the 5th largest economy in the world. It is also progressing militarily. It is staying truly non-aligned,” he said.

“[India] is friends with the United States, with the United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany. But it is also friends with Russia. So, India cannot be deterred by this kind of criticism,” he said.

“Fortunately, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a fairly confident and fairly strong personality to ward off this kind of unnecessary, unwarranted advice…,” added the doctor.

Talking about the anti-India false narrative being peddled in the West, Dr Barai also hit out at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for not taking action against Sikh separatists, who were “openly planning and supporting violence inside India and [against] Indian leaders”.

“There are guys like [Gurpatwant Singh] Pannun who openly give threats that they are going to put a bomb, they’re going to blow up [an aircraft]… [and are] telling Hindus to get out of Canada. Nothing happens to them. What kind of law and order is Mr Trudeau talking about, when not one person has been arrested?” he questioned. Pannun reportedly has US-Canadian dual citizenship.

The Khalistan problem was only in Canada, and maybe a little bit in the United States, said Dr Barai. “If the US government wants to give them a piece of land, let them be happy. After all, they’re foreign citizens. They’re either citizens of the US or citizens of Canada. What right do they have to interfere in what is happening in India?” he said.

“If they want a separate land for themselves, let [Justin] Trudeau give it to them. If the US thinks that’s a good idea [let them give land to the Khalistan supporters],” said the doctor.

“[The Khalistan issue] is not a problem of India. Indian Sikhs don’t want to have anything to do with it. It’s [stirred up by] the foreign-born or foreign-living Sikhs and only a very tiny fraction of them,” said Dr Barai.