Netizens slam Reuters for playing up obscure ‘cow dung’ story to fuel Western stereotypes about Hindus

The most common anti-Hindu slur used by Hindupbhobes is ‘cow-piss drinker’. Whether it is an Islamist suicide-bomber, evangelical missionary, Khalistani, or just your garden-variety Lutyens’ left-liberal, the ‘gaumutra‘ (cow urine) or ‘gobar‘ (cow-dung) jibe doesn’t take long to appear in an argument with a Hindu-hater.

A corollary of this phenomenon is the ‘caste, cows and curry’ stereotype regarding Hindus and Bharat,  popular in the West. The European aversion towards ‘heathen/pagan’ (pre-Christian) religions combined with Orientalist and racist attitudes promoted to justify colonialism, still shape the Western perception of Hindus.

And even if the ordinary Westerner wants to develop a more nuanced understanding of Hindus, their media periodically runs some story to reinforce bizarre stereotypes. So it was no surprise that Reuters chose to play up a story about some group of people in Gujarat who are reportedly applying a mixture of cow dung and urine to boost their immunity against Covid-19.

The article penned by a journalist named Amit Dave starts off by saying , “Doctors in India are warning against the practice of using cow dung in the belief it will ward off Covid-19, saying there is no scientific evidence for its effectiveness and that it risks spreading other diseases.” Any reader who knows little about Bharat would get the impression from this line alone that such a practice is wide-spread in Bharat, which is simply not true.

And from the article itself, it is clear that even those who practice it are using it in the hope of ‘boosting immunity’, i.e. as a supplement on top of mainstream preventive measures like masking up, avoiding crowds, or isolating oneself if infected and getting admitted to hospital for serious Covid-19 symptoms.

Many netizens instantly recognized the Reuters story’s thinly-veiled Hinduphobia and racism, and called it out –

From Amit Dave’s profile on MuckRack.com, we can see that this Reuters story has proven very popular with media in USA, Australia and  Canada where many sites have carried it. It has also been picked up by one outlet each in Ireland, Singapore and Malaysia. In Bharat, it has been carried by The Wire and Business Standard.

Other articles penned by Dave give us a clue into exactly the sort of self-alienated ‘journalists’ that Western outlets prefer to hire to perpetuate their narrative on Hindus and Bharat.

Interestingly, Dave’s story quotes Dr. JA Jayalal, national president at the Indian Medical Association as well. But he doesn’t mention that the same Dr. Johnrose Jayalal believes in using his IMA platform to ‘share the love of Jesus Christ’, he believes a Christian doctor’s primary job is to provide ‘spiritual healing’ and he has no qualms in misusing trust patients and medical students have in a senior doctor, to preach Christianity to them.

Unsurprisingly, the Reuters story is also being picked up by Congress politicians like Shashi Tharoor to peddle their political agenda, trying to engender feeling of shame amongst ordinary Hindus over a click-bait article designed to fuel Western supremacist tropes regarding Hindus and expecting people to believe that such Hinduphobic coverage has started only after 2014.

Tharoor

Now, let’s compare Reuters misleading and condescending cow-dung story with how they cover the story of a US pastor who is inciting his Christian followers to avoid masks and disregard all Covid-19 protocols like social distancing.

ReutersNo bizarre-looking or shocking images, and the headlines all report the news in a matter-of-fact way making it clear that it is one specific Church or ‘some defiant’ Churches that are asking their faithful to ignore medical advice around Covid-19 and flock to churches. Actually, these evangelical Churches are nothing but cults where charismatic preachers pretend to be messiahs and carry out fraudulent faith/divine healing prayer sessions from which they earn millions. But you will never find Western media using the ‘cult’ word for them – that is reserved for Hindu sects and non-Abrahamic religions.

And guess what, the same Tony Spell is now claiming to be a prophet and asking his congregation to avoid the Covid vaccine! How many English-language outlets in Bharat report stories about such Christian nut-jobs who are far more common in US, especially in the Bible Belt, than we would imagine?

Ask yourself, who is a more serious danger to public health – someone like Pastor Tony Spell who said ‘Satan and a virus will not stop us’ while asking people to flock in their thousands to his megachurch last year for Easter as Covid-19 was first sweeping through USA; or a group of Hindus trying alternative options to boost immunity? Actually, there is no difference between likea of Tony Spell and Maulana S’aad of Tablighi Jamaat!

There is an audience in the West for stories which reinforce the usual Western stereotypes about ‘heathen’ Hindus and Bharat – a mixture of poverty, disease, weird ‘cults’, and of course ‘caste, cows, curry’. Desi sepoys are just fulfilling that need. Unfortunately for them, more and more Hindus are catching on to this game.


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