The Economist attacks India in censorship row

Published: May 24, 2011
Officials prevent distribution of latest edition because of a map showing the disputed borders of Kashmir.

Officials prevent distribution of latest edition because of a map showing the disputed borders of Kashmir.

NEW DEHLI: The Economist magazine has accused India of hostile censorship after officials prevented the distribution of the latest edition because of a map showing the disputed borders of Kashmir.

Customs officers ordered that 28,000 copies of the weekly magazine should have stickers placed over a diagram showing how control of Kashmir is split between India, Pakistan and China.

Both India and Pakistan claim the whole of the Himalayan region and have gone to war twice over its control since 1947.

New Delhi imposes tight restrictions on all maps, insisting they show all of Kashmir as being part of India.

“India is meant to be a democracy that approves of freedom of speech,” John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of The Economist, told AFP. “But they take a much more hostile attitude on this matter than either Pakistan or China.”

He added: “This is an act of censorship, and many wise and sensible voices in India see it has no point.”

The map appears next to the front-page story of the latest edition of the magazine on “The world’s most dangerous border” between India and Pakistan.

The Economist still hoped to distribute the edition once the stickers had been added.

Kashmir is divided between the two nuclear-armed neighbours along a de facto border known as the Line of Control. It closely matches the frontline of fighting at the end of the first India-Pakistan war over Kashmir in 1947.

“The map is impartial, accurate and fair. We show everyone’s claims, and it is also realistic as it shows where the unofficial border actually falls,” Micklethwait said.

The magazine has clashed in the past with Indian authorities.

In December an entire issue of the Economist was pulped on the censors’ orders over a map of the region, and its publishers predicted the May 21 edition was likely to hit trouble.

“As a point of principle we are against changing our articles,” said Micklethwait, speaking by telephone from London on Monday. “So we mentioned the problem in a piece pointing out how touchy India is on this.”

The magazine also printed a warning saying the map was likely to be censored. “Unlike their government, we think our Indian readers can face political reality,” it said.


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Reader Comments (31)

  • VGM
    May 24, 2011 - 12:49PM

    Our Indian government needs to show the accurate ground map to the people…not what they consider the ideal map of J&K …. Recommend

  • muhammad arshad
    May 24, 2011 - 12:51PM

    both the indians & us have the same problem.We can’t face the truth.They pretend kashmire is not disputed,we pretend that islamic terrorism doesn’t exist in our land.we have to realise that the ones killing us shout ‘allah ho akbar’ when they blow themselves up.For how long will we remain in denial?

    it is our fellow muslims who are killing our children.We have to take action against those mosques & madrassas where religious hate & bigotry is being brainwashed into our next generation.We have to take the blinkers off our eyes & realise that just having a beard doesn’t make a person good nor not having a beard make a person bad.Recommend

  • Bhupinder Chhibber
    May 24, 2011 - 1:10PM

    As John Haword once said and the bottom line is John Micklethwait must learn to respect the laws of the country, where they are conducting business. Can anyone sell porn material in muslim countries like Iran? can they use same gutts in China to deface its map? Why the people like John Micklethwait use brain doing these kinds of act. It is funny to see him justifying his blundermistake.Recommend

  • May 24, 2011 - 1:53PM

    So, do I understand this right? The Economist wants India to uphold its customer base in India against India’s own interests? Nice. Keep expecting. Good for business.

    There is absolutely nothing in the constitution about it being required to allow every foreign publication that wants a dig at the customer base. As for attack on freedom of speech, India has done absolutely nothing to prevent the Economist from being published or read. The Economist is able to say its piece unhindered. The fight here is for India wanting its perspective acknowledged clearly in its borders, and the Economist not wanting to lose business. Let’s not mince words.

    India does censor and there are people fighting it, but this is not it. But frankly, after the Wikileaks saga, its a little hypocritical for a US magazine to criticize anyone for not upholding freedom of speech. remember, the 10th amendment is in the US constitution, not UN.Recommend

  • rajesh
    May 24, 2011 - 2:13PM

    Mr. John Micklethwait, if you don’t like what we like, then we wud like you to get out of India.Recommend

  • CP
    May 24, 2011 - 2:26PM

    The Princely state of Kashmir acceded to India legally by signing the Accession and so legally the whole of Kashmir is India’s.

    De-facto positions doesnt mean de-jure positions and the Constitution of India mandates that the whole of Kashmir is Indian territory, of course some of which is under the illegal occupation of China and Pakistan.

    If some one does not want to follow Indian rules in India they are free to get out, of course before the door hits them on the way out.

    And coming to China – I dare this fool to depict Tibet as disputed (The Tibetans say so) or Taiwan is an independent country and lets see if he lives to see the light of the day.Recommend

  • IWriteURead
    May 24, 2011 - 3:03PM

    Thank God we are in Pakistan where media enjoys the privilege of being tolerably free and so speak honestly.
    Shame on Indian ministry for manipulation!Recommend

  • Bhairav
    May 24, 2011 - 3:03PM

    This sort of censorship is no longer compatible with India’s status as a free-thinking and democratic nation. Our censorship laws have changed little since they were introduced during the Raj. We are doing ourselves a great dis-service in the international community of nations.

    –@ Mr. Bhupinder Chhibber – I must disagree with your sentiments. To compare India to the likes of Iran and China is extremely unfortunate. We are a democracy, we are inclusive and tolerant, we have now reached a stage where we must take a lead in upholding the values of a free society. The world is starting to look to us for guidance, we cannot afford to have childish reactions anymore.

    –@ Mr. Rajesh – Mr. Micklethwait is in London, from where he edits The Economist magazine. Perhaps you should get out of India a bit more. Maybe you can visit Mr. Micklethwait and he could teach you a thing or two about free speech.

    If the borders of Kashmir are disputed (which they most certainly are), it is the duty of any leading news magazine to portray them as disputed. Recommend

  • Ram Babu
    May 24, 2011 - 3:04PM

    India behaves like a residue of the colonial empire. It has not yet come to terms with notions of equality and justice.Recommend

  • Osama hunter
    May 24, 2011 - 3:27PM

    What a joke..!!!@IWriteURead: Recommend

  • jagjit sidhoo
    May 24, 2011 - 4:05PM

    I wish they had gone into such detail on the most wanted list they gave to PakistanRecommend

  • Osama hunter
    May 24, 2011 - 4:09PM

    Kashmir is not a disputed land. Kashmir is an integral part of India and Pakistan had forcefully occupied some part of it. This issue can be better understood with an analogy: If a notorious criminal kidnaps your wife and declare her as his wife then would you accept that your wife is disputed?? Answer is no. Your wife will be indisputably yours. Similarly Kashmir is not a disputed land, so how we can allow any one to portray some part of Kashmir as part of other country. According to Indian law it is illegal and if any Indian supports this then it will be considered as sedition.Recommend

  • Chandu
    May 24, 2011 - 4:19PM

    Free press does not give freedom to distort facts to suit magazine’s publicity. This is also equally true that as per constitution of India the state of Jammu & Kashmir is a territory of India. Write about dispute but do not propagate its disputed map. Abiding to local laws and being touchy to readers sensitivity is also essential for this esteemed publication.

    Perhaps, GOI should provide a copy of Constitution of India to be placed in Mr. Micklethwait’s office in London. This may come handy for Mr. Micklethwait’s future reference as he has tendency to be insensitive in the garb of FREE PRESS.Recommend

  • milonmitra
    May 24, 2011 - 4:40PM

    Britishers divided our motherland between two brothers and now the time has come to break the border line like Berlin wall and live peacefully. Recommend

  • D. Powers
    May 24, 2011 - 4:41PM

    Pick up any Economist article on China and Pakistan and it will show a negative picture. Economist always gives a positive picture of India. This censorship is a poetic justice to Economist. However, business interests will prevail over logic and Economist will do whatever it can to please Indians. Recommend

  • Arsal
    May 24, 2011 - 5:41PM

    I fully support the point of view of Economist…..they haven’t shown all of the disputed territory belonging to any one of the three nations….instead it is an interactive map which shows the current border situation and the claim which every country makes like it should be without going in to any details regarding validity of claims of any country… why make an issue out of thin air when there is none…..people should grow up nowRecommend

  • Waqas
    May 24, 2011 - 5:47PM

    Who gives about Indian constitution??? it was made by men not God!!

    Now we know the so called democracy and freedom of speech is allowed only until one toes the government line and no other views are allowed, accepted or aired. Its like how Reichstag of Nazi Germany operated; like how KGB operated in Soviet Union. One version i.e. the govt version is right, others are all wrong.

    India needs to accept the reality, that is it does not control the entire Kashmir and if anyone shows them the mirror, its the mirror’s fault – break the mirror, down with the mirror, mirror was made by ISI, LeT, JeM…. hahahahaha :-)

    Indians are like a toad in well; Stop living & feeding lies all you Indians, time to grow up, as i say your economy grows by 9% and your mentality regresses by 90% every year…

    Face the facts, Kashmir is not in India’s control; you can eat all the maps you want; you still won’t have kashmir, keep dreaming!Recommend

  • Waqas
    May 24, 2011 - 5:55PM

    @ Cahndu

    The last time I checked; in reality Kashmir is NOT part of India; Even monkeys can make a piece of paper saying India is their country and put it on their map but it doesnt make it theirs just by putting couple of words together, face the reality and stop LYING!!

    If you still believe Kashmir is in India’s control, come and meet me in Muzaffarabad at a time of your choosing! ;-)Recommend

  • Gopal
    May 24, 2011 - 6:30PM

    I think there is nothing wrong with Economist story. I don’t what Indian what to show to their people. Anyone can google this story and read it. They way india behaved, they made story more prominent.Recommend

  • Vicram Singh
    May 24, 2011 - 7:30PM

    “But they take a much more hostile attitude on this matter than either Pakistan or China.”

    There are lines you do not cross in India. Recommend

  • adam
    May 24, 2011 - 10:36PM

    I wouldn’t call it censorship as is suggested. In India, there is a law that any maps which do not depict political boundaries of India as is recognised by the Surveyor General of India have to be marked that the map does not represent the political boundaries as recognised by the Surveyor General of India. Usually there is just a stamp next to such maps stating that. This is hardly censorship. This is normal ever since this law exists. To call this censorship is stretching it too far.Recommend

  • niloo25
    May 24, 2011 - 11:22PM

    I like your sense of humour!!Recommend

  • nunchuk
    May 25, 2011 - 12:48AM

    It’s funny. I never thought India was in so much denial. You can keep saying something but that doesn’t make it true. Let me ask you, if Kashmir isn’t a disputed territory, then why are indians holding talks with us? I’m sure their not discussing the weather.

    @Osama hunter
    Building on your example of Kashmir to a ‘wife’ of India that Pakistan has stolen, lets ask a few questions. Was she stolen or did she ‘elope’ with Pakistan, because she was forced to marry India by her father the ‘Maharaja’. Does the wife (Kashmir) even want to live with India. To find out you’ll have to ask the wife, and to do that you’ll have to hold free and fair peblisite in Kashmir. If your wife doesn’t want to be with you, then it’s time you divorced her and let her be with the man she wants to be (Pakistan) or be unmarried (Independent Kashmir). I hope I broadened your vision a bit.Recommend

  • Dr. Ali Ahmed
    May 25, 2011 - 6:05AM

    The international Map and the one with United Nations does show kashmire as not part of india. the same map was taken by nokia when they started navigation services in india. eventually they had to temper the map due to extreme pressures by the indians.

    Whenever CNN or BBC are in need of money, you would find a border between Kashmire and India too Recommend

  • pritam
    May 25, 2011 - 8:26AM

    line of control is in international court..and if economist magazine can not respect it, then the magazine need to banned in india….i know these are some hard words, but you need to ask an indian and understand their emotions before go on accusing India over India-Pakistan border…Recommend

  • Jayzee
    May 25, 2011 - 10:29AM

    @Bhupinder Chhibber: So you accept India is no different than Iran and China? Thank goodness that’s out of the way at least! :PRecommend

  • Tony Singh
    May 26, 2011 - 12:46PM

    1. We Indians respect our constitution.
    2. We are not here to please “The Economist” or Pakistan. Indian establishment is answerable only to Indians and if we Indians don’t like what is published in there we expect our establishment to take appropriate action.
    3. If “The Economist” does not want to do business in India, its welcome not to do so. If it wants to do business, it has to abide by law of the land. Period.Recommend

  • waseem
    May 26, 2011 - 7:04PM

    India as a country has always been giving preference to sovereignty of state and repressing its people. Kashmir conflict is recognized by UN and India has itself taken it to UN. Knowing this reality India is still pushing on blind side without recognizing the rights of peoplesRecommend

  • Reeba
    May 26, 2011 - 9:54PM

    The problem with Kashmir as the wife analogy is that, it is neither a forced marriage nor elopement. She just doesn’t want to get married, but to live as an independent woman. Kashmir being majority muslims, tshe doesn’t want to be part of India and at the same time don’t want to be part of mullah infested Pakistan either. So leave her alone!Recommend

  • May 27, 2011 - 2:33PM

    The analogy of Kashmir having been married to India is utterly false, baseless as well as a figment of imagination of our Indian brothers. The ex Maharaja of Kashmir was forced into an accession which was not accepted by any other party, community or country except India. Even if we suppose for a second this analogy as plausible, why not then ask the Kashmiris themselves whether they want to live with India or not. Whether they join Pakistan or prefer to remain independent is another matter, the basic issue is: How long can India keep a people “FORCIBLY BETROTHED” it??? Recommend

  • Dr. Ali Ahmed
    May 27, 2011 - 5:54PM

    The official stance of Pakistan is as
    Kashmire is an independent entity having its own president, prime minister and parliament, majority of its land being occupied by India. the same version is of United Nations.Recommend

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