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'Invisible Hands': US and EU Funded Millions to Interfere in Indian Elections - Report

© Photo : DisInfo Lab / The Invisible Hands Foreign Interference in Indian Elections 2024The Invisible Hands Foreign Interference in Indian Elections 2024
The Invisible Hands
Foreign Interference in Indian Elections 2024
 - Sputnik India, 1920, 03.06.2024
A new report has accused Washington and Brussels actors of pouring in millions of dollars to influence Indian voters ahead of the Lok Sabha election to shape the electoral outcome.
Millions of dollars in funding purportedly came from the US and European Union (EU) to interfere in India's recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections, according to DisInfo Lab, a group tracking information warfare and psychological operations, stated on Monday.
Titled 'The Invisible Hands: Foreign Interference in Indian Elections 2024', the report blames three primary actors for peddling a "particular narrative" as part of a financially supported plot: the US-based Henry Luce Foundation (HLF), George Soros' Open Society Foundation (OSF), also the French Indologist and political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot (CJ).

"Unfortunately, as millions of Indians were deciding their future, a section of the global media and academia was planning a sinister plot to influence their decisions through an orchestrated and well-funded plan," the 85-page article states, adding that even Indian "conduits" were possibly part of this plan.

Moreover, according to the article, overbearing criticism of Indian institutions and its human rights track record under Prime Minister Narendra Modi among others "peaked" in the six months in the lead-up to the election which started on 19 April and concluded on 1 June.

The Role of CJ, the Key Source of Anti-India Criticism

Elsewhere, the report highlighted that besides Western English media outlets, criticism of India was particularly visible in French daily Le Monde.

"While analyzing the buzz around Indian elections, it was also observed that Jaffrelot had also been the key source of most of these articles from other Western media and a segment of Indian media platforms especially targeting the Indian elections," it reads.

It is also says that the idea of a "caste census", which figured in the manifesto of the opposition Congress Party, was the brainchild of the Indologist.
"In 2021, Christophe Jaffrelot published a research report on the need for a caste census in India, and subsequently wrote articles in Indian media. And surprisingly, in a country of 1.4 billion, he single-handedly managed to put this topic into public discourse, which was also helped by election season. This was a remarkable feat by any academician," it claims.

It blames the political scientist for spreading a false narrative through "peer-reviewed" publications that "upper-close dominance" had been increasing in the BJP, a theory which risks opening the faultlines of Indian society was spread as part of "deliberate propaganda".

Henry Luce Foundation (HLF)

Meanwhile, the report reveals that Jaffrelot was one of the many academics and think tanks funded by US-based Henry Luce Foundation (HLF), established by one of the Time Magazine's framers Henry Luce, for a three-year period (2021-24).

One of the Indologist's projects, 'Muslims in a Time of Hindu Majoritarianism', purportedly received funding to the tune of $385,000 from HLF.

In fact, the foundation has been revealed to have sponsored these actors to carry out India-specific research in the lead-up to the 2024 election.
It says that HLF was staffed by many ex-US government officials and think tankers known to have connections with other institutions which have a reputation of being close to the US establishment.

Besides financial resources to Jaffrelot, the HLF also funded a project, 'The Hindu Right and India’s Religious Diplomacy', at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs.

Similarly, the foundation also provided sponsorship to the tune of $120,000 to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), under which it wrote such articles as 'Hindu Nationalism: From Ethnic Identity to Authoritarian Repression', 'Religion, Citizenship, and Belonging in India', 'Religion-as-Ethnicity and the Emerging Hindu Vote in India' and others.
In fact, under the article, HLF supported Human Rights Watch (HRW) with a sum of $300,000 for a project to document religious violence in Asia, specifically in Myanmar, Indonesia, and India.
Furthermore, according to the report, HLF funded research of anti-BJP academics in the US – California-based activist Angana P. Chatterji and Audrey Truschke, an academic at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey (SUNY).

George Soros' Role in Spreading Anti-India Sentiment

The DisInfo LAb article mentions the role of Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros and his charity OSF in perpetrating negative views about India and Prime Minister Modi.
Soros not only sponsored Jaffrelot, but also Canadian-Indian activist Ricken Patel.
According to the platform, Patel's Namati Foundation received millions from OSF between 2016 and 2022.
Being behind several anti-India projects funded by OSF, in 2023 Patel began chairing a ‘Friends of Democracy’ group, the stated goal of which was to ‘fight against the ruling party' to save India, the report notes.

It says that ‘Friends of Democracy’, co-chaired by Soros' son Jonathan Soros, spread "propaganda" on topics such as Russian oil purchases by India, with its views closely resembling that of the US government.

Some of the assets received by Patel's group also found their way to Indian think tanks, including the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research (CPR), whose foreign funding license was cancelled in 2020.
Indian Foreign Minister Subramanyam Jaishankar delivers a speech at commemorative lecture of Nikkei Forum Friday, March 8, 2024, in Tokyo. - Sputnik India, 1920, 07.05.2024
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