Who runs & funds Hinduphobic, Bharat-bashing media like ‘The Wire’?

In this series of articles, we will attempt to probe the backers and funders of new & established media organizations with a decidedly Hinduphobic editorial bent. And where Hinduphobia lurks, anti-Bharat sentiment is not far behind, especially derision for the ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ saying citizen.

One of the bigger names in the rapidly mushrooming Hinduphobic digital media space is The Wire (www.thewire.in). Founded in 2015 by editors Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, and MK Venu, The Wire is published by the Foundation for Independent Journalism (FIJ), a non-profit company.

Who runs The Wire

First, lets look at the founders of The Wire 

Siddharth Varadarajan,  an American citizen of Indian descent, was earlier editor of The Hindu newspaper, a publication known for its Marxist/Maoist ideology anti-Hindu slant. Varadarajan is a known Modi-baiter in the Lutyens’ Delhi media ecosystem. His brother Tunku Varadarajan, a US-based writer and journalist, has also been called out for his vitriolic Hindu-bashing. His wife Nandini Sundar is a DU professor who has been accused of deep links with Maoist terrorists.

Sidharth Bhatia is a journalist and writer based in Mumbai. He frequently disses the ‘Sanghi mind’ on twitter and cheers when history textbooks in California denigrate Hindu Dharma, or when our ex-colonial masters in UK plan to introduce a dangerous law against ‘caste discrimination’ that would pit Dharmic communities against one another.

M.K. Venu is another ex-The Hindu journalist who shot to national fame in the infamous Radia Tapes episode that exposed the corrupt journalist-corporate-politician-bureaucrat nexus that was UPA’s gift to the country. Venu is also believed to have a role in the dubious infusion of funds to NDTV that is related to the ongoing bank fraud investigation against NDTV promoters.

Is The Wire unbiased?

Next, let us take an objective look at The Wire‘s claim to practice free and independent journalism. We have analyzed 24 Bharat-specific articles which have appeared on The Wire on 26 & 27 July – the list does not include aggregated articles published by news agencies like PTI.

Our findings can be seen in the graph below –

For detailed comments on each of the articles analyzed, refer to the analysis sheet. For any questions, email us at [email protected]

Other standouts of The Wire‘s coverage – near total lack of positive or balanced reporting of any act by the Modi Government, silence over Mamta Banerjee’s pandering to her Islamist votebank (on the contrary articles blame BJP for ‘communalizing’ the state), air-brushing CPM’s violent tactics to silent political opposition in Kerala (one article terms it as ‘Majoritarian Violence’ and absolves communist ideology chillingly stated by CM Pinari Vijayan), equivocation of the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits with the civilian deaths in J&K during the 27-year battle against terrorism.

Who funds The Wire?

It is reported that the 3 founders initially put in about Rs. 2 lakh each in the venture.  Subsequently FIJ (the non-profit company that publishes The Wire) applied for a grant from the Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation (ipsmf.org), a public charitable trust registered on July 1, 2015 in Bengaluru. FIJ received Rs 1.95 crore from IPSMF as a grant commencing August 2016. A second tranche of Rs 1.75 crore was received  in March 2017, bringing the total funding from the IPSMF to Rs 3.7 crore.

The Wire’s Science coverage is fully funded by specifically earmarked contributions from Rohan Murty, who made a first grant of Rs 50 lakh in December 2015 and a follow-up grant of the same amount in May 2017.

The site also claims to receive donations from individual readers and unnamed well-wishers.

IPSMF claims to support ‘public-spirited and socially impactful narrative in Indian journalism’. Its trustees are –

1.) Ashish Dhawan – private equity investor and philanthropist. He is a Harvard and Yale alumnus. Founder of Central Square Foundation, a grant-making organization and policy think tank focused on transforming the quality of school education in Bharat. Spearheaded the launch of liberal arts university, Ashoka University. Serves on the board of several non-profits including Akanksha Foundation, 3.2.1 Education Foundation, Teach For India, Centre for Civil Society, Janaagraha (has links to Omidyar Network), India School Leadership Institute and Bharti Foundation.

2.) CB Bhave – Chairperson of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), former Chairman of SEBI and NSDL

3.) Dr. Ramachandra Guha – historian & writer. Widely known for his fiercely anti-RSS and pro-Nehru views.

4.) TN Ninan –  Chairman & Editorial Director of Business Standard, a business newspaper known for a fair share of Modi/Sangh baiting articles.

IPSMF claims to have received donations from over a dozen individuals and charitable organizations. They claims that Donors wish to have no say in funding decisions taken by the Foundation, and have entrusted the Trustees to run IPSMF as an independent entity. Further, The Wire has put out a disclaimer that IPSMF does not take any legal or moral responsibility whatsoever for the content published by FIJ on their website thewire.in or on any of its other platforms. IPSMF donors, listed in alphabetical order are –

1. Mr. Aamir Khan

2. Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives Private Limited (Wipro’s philanthropic arm)

3. Mr. Cyrus Guzder (logistics, courier business tycoon)

4. Ms. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (Chairwoman of Biocon) 

5. Lal Family Foundation 

6. Manipal Education and Medical Group India Pvt Ltd (headed by CEO & MD Ranjan Pai, also has Mohandas Pai as Chairman of Board of one of the group companies)

7. Piramal Enterprises Limited (large pharmaceutical company)

8. Pirojsha Godrej Foundation (charitable trust of the Godrej group)

9. Quality Investment Pvt. Ltd. (Mumbai based investment company)

10. Ms. Rohini Nilekani (wife of Infosys founder Nandan Nilekani who is also a member of  member of Indian National Congress)

11. Rohinton and Anu Aga Family Discretionary No. 2 Trust (charity arm of Thermax Ltd., the energy and environment engineering business)

12. Sri Nataraja Trust (Chennai based NGO started by Lakshmi Narayanan, ex-CEO of Cognizant Technologies. This NGO also donates to ISKCON)

13. Tejaskiran Pharmachem Ind. P. Ltd. (Mumbai-based chemical manufacturing company. Apparently has same registered address as Quality Investment Pvt. Ltd.)

14. Unimed Technologies Ltd. (Gujarat-based pharma company)

15. Viditi Investment Pvt. Ltd. (another investment company with same address as Quality Investment Pvt. Ltd.)

So, apart from Aamir Khan, IPSMF is chiefly funded by a mix of big business & industrialists from sectors as diverse as technology, pharma, finance, manufacturing, education. Do these people know about the type of anti-business, pro-communist, Hinduphobic and lopsided journalism that The Wire propagates?

Does big business in Bharat have no responsibility to ensure fair representation of Hindus in media? Or is it that the intellectual facade of IPSMF trustees such as Guha who has strong Hinduphobic views and socialist leanings, overpowers the better sense of our industrialists who are mindlessly funding a media outlet like The Wire which is actually pushing for a roll back to the disastrous Nehru/Indira/Sonia era of a statist, socialist, entitlement economy?

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