The uproar over the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated magazine Panchajanya accusing IT company Infosys of working with “anti-national forces” and may be “providing assistance to Naxals, Leftists and Tukde Tukde Gang”, prompted several business dailies to write editorials today denouncing the “attack”.
The Indian Express’s editorial titled pointed out that a software glitch is “not a conspiracy”. It said: “The Panchjanya cover story...cites as reason for these entirely unsubstantiated accusations the alleged problems in the functioning of the Income Tax Portal that Infosys has been developing. It is no one’s case that the tech giant should not be held accountable for glitches in a system that is crucial to filing tax returns...But a technical software glitch is not a conspiracy.”
Highlighting how over the last few years people such as Umar Khalid, Sudha Bharadwaj and democratic institutions have been labelled “anti-national” and accused of belonging to the “tukde tukde gang”, it said that this “name calling” has had “disturbing consequences”. “These labels also act as dog whistles to the mob, which often hounds those so targeted in both digital and real-world spaces. Now, the “tukde tukde gang” has been expanded by the Panchjanya...to include Infosys.The RSS has distanced itself from the Panchjanya piece, but this is a step down a very slippery slope.”
It also pointed out that except for a few, corporate and industry leaders have maintained a “studied” — and perhaps strategic — silence about the attack, but now it may be the time for India Inc to speak up.
The Panchajanya article accused the IT company of working with “anti-national forces”. On Sunday, the RSS distanced itself from the said article, with its publicity head Sunil Ambekar tweeting that Panchajanya is not an RSS mouthpiece and that the opinions expressed in the article should not be linked to the organization.
Noting the “double standards” of free speech, today underlined how members of the wider Sangh Parivar appear to “get away with impunity for insulting statements that they make against people or institutions in the crosshairs of their disapproval”.
It also noted that despite the “scurrilous and unfounded nature of the article”, the only rejoinder from the RSS was a “disingenuous” claim that Panchjanya “is not its mouthpiece”, though it has been publishing the journal since 1948.
It pointed out that these “double standards” were on full display when BJP spokesman Ram Kadam demanded that poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar’s films be banned and when Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal’s attack on Indian businesses in mid-August singled out the Tata group for opposing his ministry’s draft e-commerce policy.
“This trend of criticism without consequences is not new,” it said. “Early in the Modi government’s first tenure, then food processing minister Niranjan Jyoti thought nothing of abusing Muslims in the crudest of terms in a public speech. Besides a grudging apology, she faced no other consequence, even retaining her ministry...None of this enhances the Sangh Parivar’s democratic credentials.”
The Economic Times’s editorial titled ‘Badmouthing Business Kills Prosperity’ noted that the culture of viewing business as “intrinsically unethical” must change. “The RSS spokesman said Infosys has made seminal contributions to the nation’s progress. Stoking hostility towards business comes easy to many Indian political parties, because it is part of the culture to see those engaged in business as people who look out for themselves at the expense of the community at large. It is not enough to refute the specific calumny against Infosys.”
Pointing out how “cultural stereotypes” has its uses, the article noted that the culture of envy and resentment leads to such “attacks on industry draw on, and hit bullseye”. “The temptation must strongly be resisted,” it said.