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Egregious Hindu Bashing or Genuine Mistake?

*** CAUTION: Not Suitable for Children and May Not be Suitable for Workplace Viewing ***

About 10 hours ago, late afternoon yesterday, Times of India published an article headlined, “Incest: Haryana’s shameful social heritage” by Sukhbir Siwach.

ToI Haryana Incest Headline

Most of you probably missed it…I did too…until I was alerted to it by centerofright. The article talked about disturbing incidents and reports of incest in Haryana and appeared to suggest that this practice was widespread in rural Haryana:

These are not isolated incidents: incest is reportedly a real part of life in rural Haryana

It had comments and quotes from about half-a-dozen different people – ranging from students and social activists to Khap leaders and bureaucrats highlighting the problem. If true, this is very worrying and the incidents and the reports need to be seriously probed…I wish the National Commission of Women takes cognizance of some of these reports to initiate an inquiry and take appropriate action.

But it is not incest I wish to discuss in this post…What had caught centerofright (and others) attention was this last paragraph in the report:

ToI Haryana Incest Reference to Mythology

..and no it was not just the fact that it was a needless insertion…More surprisingly, it was lifted straight from a Pakistani forum:

Paklinks Forum Post Haryana Incest

I suspect most of you are pretty upset and angry at this point…But rage and anger will not get us very far.  We need to react – but in a coordinated, organised and civil way – i.e. by writing a complaint to the Editor of  Times of India – and making others aware of this.

So my humble request to everyone who has been offended by this piece is: Pl share this article amongst your friends and acquaintances and – MORE IMPORTANTLY – please ask them to send in a complaint to the Editor.

I intend to follow-up on my complaint with the Press Council if there is no response. I suggest all of you do the same. Below is the text of my complaint to the Editor:

Dear Sir/Madam, I am appalled by the gratuitous reference to “details of incest, (in) our own epics and mythological texts” in your article titled “Incest: Haryana’s shameful social heritage” by Sukhbir Siwach, published Aug 28 ’10, 0205pm IST.

Not only are the references grossly offensive, misleading and inaccurate, they also seem to have been copied and pasted from an online anti-India discussion forum.

I would be grateful if you could issue an erratum and an apology for needlessly hurting your readers sentiments and beliefs. Thank you.

Please feel free to modify/alter the above text to share your own anguish with the folks at ToI. At some point soon, I hope to draft a proper response to the references in the last paragraph…In the meantime, please do read Sandeep’s excellent commentary on “Symbolism and Literalism” that talks about Brahma and Saraswathi (briefly referred to here as well).

Thanks to Panchjanya for documenting this incident and bringing this to our attention.

P.S. The procedure for making a complaint to the Press Council is documented here. It clearly mentions that:

It is a requirement of the Inquiry Regulations that the complainant should initially write to the editor of the newspaper drawing his attention to what the complainant considers to be a breach of journalistic ethics or an offence against public taste.

So please do write to the Editor at Times of India first – and please share any replies/response you receive on this thread. Thank you.

August 29th, 2010 Posted by | Distortions, Misrepresentation about Hinduism, Indian Media | 32 comments


  1. I was wondering where did that ToI(let) times journalist get such indepth knowledge of Indian scriptures. now i know :).

    Comment by Apollo | August 29, 2010

  2. i just visited that forum and saw that the rest of the commenters below that post seem to be challenging the author to provide his source for that post.the author ofcourse provides none. so the conclusion is that he might just have made it all up.

    maybe the TOI journalist simply didn’t think it worth his while to read the comments below that post atleast. we can least expect that the reporters of that tabloid to be scholars in scriptures to go check on their own.

    this should be highlighted in the complaint. TOI needs to apologise for trying to pass off someone’s uninformed rant as authentic information to its readers.

    Comment by Apollo | August 29, 2010

  3. Done. Sent a grievance. I doubt they’ll fix it though. We may have to complain to PCI.

    Comment by Satyabhashnam | August 29, 2010

  4. Dear Shantanu,

    It only takes a little bit of thinking to reveal that the Abrahamic creation story is FULL of incest.

    Adam and Eve were created by God as the first couple. They gave birth to a generation of children (the second generation).

    These children then had to reproduce to create the next generation (the third generation).

    Now, who could they reproduce with? The only people on Earth at this time were the children and their parents (Adam and Eve). The only options they had were to reproduce with each other or their parents.

    Therefore, according to the Abrahamic religions, the whole world is the product of incestuous relationships.

    Comment by TTCUSM | August 29, 2010

  5. Hi……

    Indian Newspaper journalism is practically DEAD AND WORTHLESS…..

    This is shameless journalism at its best!

    There was no need to provide that portion in the news item.

    Shame on them.

    Comment by Indian Pundit | August 29, 2010

  6. Ofcourse Indian media is a pathetic joke. Their main job is to be the stenographer of Congress Party.

    I am not sure if complaint to the editor will help. What will help is if you stop reading their paper and boycott their businesses and sponsers. Make sure you write to TOI advertizer and tell them why you will NOT buy their product.

    Comment by Malavika | August 29, 2010

  7. Toilet Paper of India , TOI. That’s it. Times of India

    Comment by Suhas | August 29, 2010

  8. Not to stir up anything, but I’m not sure what the problem is exactly. Arjun did marry his cousin and Yama’s consort is Yami. I personally see nothing embarrassing in this – they’re just stories! What’s the problem here?

    Comment by Bhagwad Jal Park | August 29, 2010

  9. Once a Slime always a Slime.
    Most appropriately, this TOI-let newspaper is the prime supporter of the Congress Toilet Party: One produces s*** and the other processes it!!

    Comment by seadog4227 | August 29, 2010

  10. Dear Shantanu-ji,

    Thank you for bringing attention to this. I have also filed an online complaint with TOI.

    I think besides the obvious (and no doubt, bigger) matter of hurting the readers’ faith and sentiments, it is also very much an issue of journalistic ethics. And I think this transcends such incidents. That is,

    1. there is no attempt at even citing the original source (whether deliberately or plain carelessness or oversight),

    2. Even more importantly, there is no attempt to *verify* the authenticity of the source!

    What that results in is trial-by-media and of course, the media itself is not impartial and grossly mis-reports things!

    And I think we see this increasingly in the media today. Just create a frenzy and whip up sentiment without bothering about the real issue. I have also mentioned this (the 2 points above) in my plaint to TOI.

    Comment by Amit Prabhudesai | August 29, 2010

  11. This is yet another attempt at ‘demonising” haryana.

    Comment by Sandeep S | August 29, 2010

  12. “…More surprisingly, it was lifted straight from a Pakistani forum:”-
    Why surprisingly? The Times of India frequently gives more weightage to Pakistani opinions.

    Comment by manju | August 29, 2010

  13. Shantanu da,

    Thanks for your timely article. I have submitted a feedback to TOI. it goes as follows:

    Dear Sir,

    Your article titled: “Incest, Haryana’s shameful heritage” is extremely hurtful of Hindu sentiments because of its unverified and baseless claims. The link to your article is:

    I am deeply hurt by your insensitivity. I request you to kindly make amends by issuing an unconditional apology.

    People who don’t have any formal grounding in Hinduism have written the offensive tracts in the article. It will be good if you can have a panel of Hindu experts to verify such articles henceforth.

    Shrivathsa. B.
    (Also gave my address for authenticity)

    Comment by Shrivathsa | August 29, 2010

  14. Done already. Have sent the complain to TOI. Thanks for bringing this to our notice.

    Comment by Mohan Ramchandani | August 29, 2010

  15. So what they r saying is our scriptures provide proof of incest and hence our methods are wrong? Well, I think according to the books of Abrahamic religions, its been clearly stated that mankind is the descendants of Adam and Eve, where both were created by God and hence is the first sign of incest! Why dont they ask anything about it?

    Also in many parts of southern India, marrying the daughter of one’s father’s elder sister is not considered incest. There are specific guide lines to follow when marrying one’s relative. We cannot marry a daughter of any sister of our mother. If thats done then its incest.

    Unfortunately, the reporter doesnt seem to have enough knowledge about our scriptures and practices.

    Comment by Vishnu | August 29, 2010

  16. Thank you and some tweeters who brought the blasphemous article to the notice of all. I left the following comment on the Times of India website. I suggest everyone post similar comments.

    “Does Sukhbir Siwach call himself an honest journalist?

    In the last section of the article where he invokes sanction of incest from Hindu mythology his comments are not only erroneous and willfully mischievous but he simply plagiarized the material from a Pakistani website. For the benefit of your readers, I provide the relevant link here:

    Incest – Hinduism Exposed

    Sukhbir Siwach is undoubtedly an “investigative journalist”, of the “Cntrl C Cntrl V” variety!

    If he has any decency and honesty left in him he should immediately apologize to the Hindu community for his blasphemous comments.”

    The newspaper published only the first line of my comment and omitted the rest!

    Comment by VOXINDICA | August 29, 2010

  17. Here is my letter to the Editor of Times of India. Thanks for bringing it to our notice.

    Dinesh Chanchalani


    Dear Editor,

    You must have read this post by now: http://satyameva-jayate.org/2010/08/29/hindu-bashing-or-mistake/

    It is indeed a shocking eye-opener to the standards of journalism apparently prevalent at the Times of India – Reporters picking up bullshit without verification and publishing it straight off in a national daily!

    This probably is extremely shameful and now that the reporter has been caught red-handed, I guess, if you hold even an iota of responsibility (as an editor) and accountability (to your readers), Mr Sukhbir Siwach should be heading to your TimesJobs website!

    Dinesh Chanchalani

    Comment by Dinesh Chanchalani | August 29, 2010

  18. someone please send me the email of toi editor.i can’t find it on their website and even on google.

    Comment by gaurav | August 29, 2010

  19. *** COMMENT EDITED ***

    Apart from the rubbish written about incest being a part of Hindu heritage, I don’t see anything wrong in the article. As a Delhi resident for the last 30 years, I have come across several hundred people of Haryana…

    Most of the taxi, tempo, autorickshaw and truck drivers in Delhi are from Haryana and I have heard them talking. I also have friends in Gurgaon whose neighbours (although living in lavish apartments) earned the money by selling of their ancestral land. It is a part of their culture to:
    …Dictate to their women and tie them up in their homes. A woman in Haryana does not have the right to even decide whom she should marry ..

    *** NOTE by MODERATOR ***

    Simranjeet: Your comment had several sweeping generalisations which have been taken out. Pl be careful in your choice of words. Pl also read the comments policy under “Disclaimer”.

    Comment by Simranjeet Singh | August 29, 2010

  20. Dear Shantanu,
    While writing to the Editor and getting upset because the ref to Hindu mythology were lifted from a Paki site, I think it would be far more effective if one countered the wrongful and inaccurate references with relevant data.

    Comment by Sanjay | August 29, 2010

  21. *** COMMENT COMBINED ***

    I clicked the ‘feedback” link that Shantanu gave but the TOI page displays WITHOUT the feedback form! Hmm….

    Wonder how the form has suddenly disappeared, seeing that many of you have seem to have accessed it and written to the editor today itself.

    Correction: I was using ‘Epic’ browser when I wrote the previous post. Now I have used firefox and I saw the form and posted my feedback.:p

    Comment by mighty_friend | August 29, 2010

  22. Hey guys. Did you see the posts which immediately followed this Pak guy’s (“Paki Prince’16”) post on that Pak forum. (BTW the post is > than 9 yrs old(!))

    Salaam bro
    What does this prove? Bro, you mustn’t attack other religions because they will do the same to you. What’s true is true, but who are we to expose darker corners, I think it’s better that we look at ourselves before others, no? – Mushi, 9 Apr, 2001.

    Allah unkau naik hidayat ata karey….BUT!what have you done recently to make yourself a better person?……..besides being oh sooooooo critical of others?………..: sarcasm :

    :grrrrrrrrrrrrrrh: – isloo_ki_anarkali, 9 Apr 2001.

    Be it politics or not, you should provide a link to back up what you say.
    As i can say you are just making all of this up.
    Plus i agree with mushi, there is no reason to insult a religion here.
    What is the religion forum for???? http://www3.pak.org/gupshup/smilies/smile.gif – CM, 10th Apr, 2001.

    and so on..

    Honestly that post was only 1 of 2 that were such.

    BUT I agree that TOI contributor is guilty of PLAGIARIZM and that is a cheap thing to do, and, probably illegal, besides being stupid & ignorant.

    Comment by mighty_friend | August 29, 2010

  23. Respected Sir,

    There is an article published in TOI titled: “Incest, Haryana’s shameful heritage”

    part of which has an offensive para that has been been lifted/plagiarised by Sukhbir Siwach.

    The link to your article is:

    The Pak article was written(9yrs ago, BTW) by a guy called ”Paki Prince’16″ in a Pak forum and he has said something without quoting any source at all. And the link is: http://www.paklinks.com/gs/religion-and-scripture/40836-incest-hinduism-exposed.html

    Not only exposes Sukhbir’s deficiency of any journalistic talent, ethics and morality and good sense, but also that the TOI contributor is guilty of PLAGIARISM and that is a cheap thing to do, besides being stupid & ignorant – besides the danger of hurting religious sentiments in this already smoking cauldron of our beloved country called India.

    Comment by mighty_friend | August 29, 2010

  24. Dear All: Thanks for your strong support and for being proactive in sending the emails/feedback…

    I will wait for 48 hours before taking this further to PCI.

    Separately, I hope to write a reasoned and informed rebuttal soon.

    @gaurav: The link to send feedback to is mentioned in my post. Here it is: http://www.indiatimes.com/feedback.cms

    Comment by B Shantanu | August 29, 2010

  25. Wrote a very strong but polite letter to the editor of TOI. I posted it here but it seems to have disappeared..!

    Comment by Anonymous | August 29, 2010

  26. @Anonymous: Nothing should “disappear” from the site. I will check.

    The *most likely* cause for your comment to not appear is that you may not have mentioned a name and/or may not have included an email address.

    If you are not comfortable with sharing your email address, you can always use this: satyacomment@gmail.com

    Comment by Moderator | August 29, 2010

  27. Ok, this is T.O.I., “Chalta hai” yaar!! They have freedom of expression, do they not? Let us hear some pearls of wisdom from Mr. Park and Co along this line.

    Comment by Sid | August 30, 2010

  28. Have sent the email/feedback complaint.

    Comment by Mahesh | August 30, 2010

  29. Done! Thanks for bringing this up! Sharing with friends too!

    Comment by Uma | August 30, 2010

  30. Press sometimes goe over the limit without having anyproof they just publishes such a crap without thinking even once about the peopls’ sentiments

    Comment by Rishi | August 30, 2010

  31. There is not even a single post disputing the accuracy of the contents.
    Practice of a widower marrying age compatible younger sister of his deceased wife is encouraged and not frowned upon, especially if children are involved.

    A younger brother of the deceased is a reasonable husband prospect for the widow of the brother. The practice is recognition of the fact that it is natural for a young female, widow or otherwise, to seek companionship. Better if she is married in the family. Marriage of a widow outside of the family is difficult even now.
    Sex deviates are in all cultures and communities. Why single out Haryana.

    Among Hindus, tradition, still, is to have arranged marriages. Incidences of love marriages in villages are only a few. Probability of love marriages between boy and girl of the same gotra is very small. Wonder, if the same gotra marriage is overblown. Seems, love blooms only among the unmarried adults. Not many boys want to be in love with widows.

    Unholy sex relationship among the close relatives are more akin to adolescent infatuation born out of bottled hormone jumping and finding an easy escape than of real significance. This phenomenon should be across all communities who prohibit all sort of communication between adults of opposite sex unless they are married.

    Comment by sohan | August 30, 2010

  32. *** COMMENT EDITED ***

    Thank you guys at this forum for exposing this…
    Let me tell you all that (the journalist)..has personal agenda to write all these creepy stuff

    He has given this above information in his earlier articles. You can easily browse them. We at http://www.jatland.com has nailed him various times.

    I am grateful to all of you for reporting it PCI. Reporting it to TOI is equal to nill because they don’t even publish opposite opinion. We also have started some campaign against TOI at community forum.

    Much Thanks

    *** NOTE by MODERATOR ***

    No personal abuse and no unsubstantiated allegations please. Thank you for adhering to the comments policy.

    Comment by Samar | September 10, 2010

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