Preface

Election interference is likely as old as elections, but the word got full-blown currency when the masters of the game were made to test the taste of their own medicine. Or so they claimed.

Like energy, election interference flows from higher power to lower ones. However, the high and mighty can pretend, and at times, allow some election interference in their empire, if it serves some higher purpose – such as taking care of a rough element that appears as a blink on the horizon, or as they say, ‘a glitch in the matrix’.

It is neither the first and most unlikely the last interference that would have happened. Ney, nor would this story be covering the whole gambit of it. Far from it. This story is limited to whatever could be scratched from the open source and limits itself to one aspect –narrative building during an election. This is an attempt to highlight the important roles narratives play, and how they are manufactured.

An idea is the most resilient thing, especially an idea that is planted in a way to make it appear ‘indigenous.

This report aims to trace the trajectory of the planting of the idea and shed some light on its source. However, it is virtually impossible to put any meaningful light on the source, given that the source is the largest black hole in our galaxy identified so far.  

Yet, try we must.

Introduction

The year 2024 is going to be a landmark year for global democracy, as more than 60 countries are scheduled to go for elections to choose a government. India, the largest democracy in the world also conducted its general elections between April 19 to June 1, 2024. The sheer number of people who were part of this democratic process made it a global spectacle.

Approximately, 968 million people out of the 1.4 billion population eligible to vote had the opportunity to showcase the true essence of democracy and choose their future government. The incumbent, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was vying for its 3rd consecutive term in office while the opposition INDI Alliance tried for a change in the world’s largest democracy.

India’s rise as a regional power and its increasing geo-strategic importance made the elections in India a global event of relevance. From the geopolitical lens, the Indian general elections hold high significance owing to their implications in the global dynamics. With India as an emerging economic and strategic power, the outcome of elections can play a significant role in shaping the global dynamics which starts with India’s foreign policies under the new ruling party in the office. With India maintaining a delicate balance in its bilateral ties with superpowers like the US, China, and Russia, global powers are sometimes left spectacled at the independent stand it takes. Global crises including the Russia-Ukraine War, and the Israel-Hamas conflict showcased India’s unique foreign policy matrix.

Thus, one can easily state that India stands at the center of the new geo-political chess board and that the side India inclines will depend a lot on the outcome of these elections.

As India’s prominence not just as the world’s largest democracy, but also as an emerging economic and strategic power increases, it becomes imperative for the global media and intellectuals that set the narrative in this dynamic digital world of ours to keep a close watch on the largest democratic event in the world.

Media or ‘the Press’ is one of the strongest pillars in any democracy. Thus, a “free press”, which is how most media outlets like to attribute themselves today, has a bigger responsibility during elections.  Maintaining the strongest ethical parameters to avoid any indulgence that could lead to undue influence/ meddling in elections for vested interests is the benchmark of ethical media.

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 extent of this Influence campaign was not restricted to the Western media itself; many Indian conduits were at the forefront and acted like the anvil that was ready to be molded to any shape. The Western media coverage of Indian elections with its tireless attack on everything linked to elections from institutions to climate (one media outlet blamed the ECI for conducting elections in the middle of a punishing summer month) was worth a detailed analysis. Not everything felt as organic as it looked!  The insane number of pages in the form of articles/ Op-Eds/ research papers were dedicated to the Indian elections that peaked in the last six months.

However, there was one surprising pattern that stood apart amidst the colossal number of articles that were published or “commissioned” (Yes! A good number were actually commissioned by institutions with a special love for India) on Indian elections. A pattern, striking enough to give birth to this report.

South Asians are not alien to Western media’s colonial hangover that is reflected in their editorial bias and supremacist literature. However, their commentary on Indian elections had a distinct tone this time around. Although the usual suspects like BBC, Washington Post, and the New York Times have been exposed by Disinfolab and others for being propaganda powerhouses when it came to India, these elections saw a more coordinated effort with new players on board.

While analyzing the global reports on Indian elections, an unusual pattern of media coverage trying to shape a particular narrative and influence voter mindset was observed. Surprisingly for us, it was coming from the French Media, including the country’s most influential and widely circulated newspaper, Le Monde.

But the most striking pattern was that these Op-Eds/ articles and papers were either written or were based on interviews/ statements from one particular French political scientist and researcher Christophe Jaffrelot, who becomes the anchor to this research. 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.

But he was not the only player!

As we scanned through events and activities from outside India in the run up to and during the elections, (well, there were many), we found the most clinching pattern. A pattern that was binding together all these events, individuals, and narratives- COMMON FUNDING.

Through this report, we aim to highlight the pattern behind these activities and the fronts that are linked to each other. Fronts that are directly funded by the Henry Luce Foundation (HLF) and the George Soros’s Open Society Foundation (OSF). Groups and individuals that feature in this report constitute a larger network operating out of France, the USA, and with funding from US-based philanthropic entities with an aim to influence the outcome of the Indian elections.

This report is an effort to map these entities which introduced terms like ‘Declining Democracy in India, ‘Hindu Majoritarianism’ and ‘Fascism’ into the mainstream discourse whenever a mention about India was made until, that became an accepted pattern for the mainstream media. If you remember, the “Democratic revival in India” speech by George Soros in 2023, you will connect to all of this.

Please download the full report Here