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Friday, August 28, 2009

When The Going Gets Tough Our Prime Minister's Media Advisers Appear To Go Nuts !

This was to the good folks at The Economist.

Ladies And Gentlemen,

I am shocked and disappointed by the admonishment administered to me by your Comments Moderator.

Only an hour before I received your email, I had spoken to Shri Harish Khare regarding the widely reported speech of the Hon'ble Prime Minister to the Central Bureau of Investigation, in which he has, once again shared his deep concern and understanding regarding the stultifying problem of "pervasive corruption".

Since our Prime Minister had spoken similarly to the CBI just three years ago, I confided with Shri Khare, who according to Wikipedia possesses a Phd in Political Science from Yale University on the subject of Perception In Decision Making, that it would have such a Gandhian act to have come clean on the matters that I have placed before the esteemed readers of your eminent publication and which I have extensively supported with documented evidence in my blog.

Shri Khare appears to have taken the easy road and appears to have bare knuckled you into removing my comment.

Shri Khare was of course," just doing his job."

But I am deeply saddened that, just one hour after my call to Shri Khare, your esteemed publication has buckled under and removed a serious, factual and well documented comment, that had been on your site since five days and had received its fair share of approvals from your readers.

Please consider this.

About twenty years ago, alarmed and offended by a section of my co religionists "profiling" Muslims in the most derogatory manner, I conceived, researched, scripted, directed, edited and presented a documentary in Urdu, "Hyderabad. August 1948".

In this documentary, I had the opportunity to narrate the events leading to the tragic saga of Shoebullah Khan, the 28 year old editor of Imroose who had his right palm chopped off and who was shot dead because his writing had offended the Razakars of pre Independence Hyderabad. His second daughter was born a fortnight after his assasination.

This documentary was commissioned by Doordarshan, but it was only exhibited after nearly two years of wrangling.

This, despite the, or come to think of it, because of the encomiums that were heaped on it.

To get a sense of how my documentary was received, please read the review by Dr Sanjaya Baru, Dr Harish Khare's predecessor Media Adviser to Dr Manmohan Singh, then an editor of The Economic Times in my blog post Divakar S Natarajan And Varun Gandhi Cannot Both Be Wrong.

Responding to my signature campaign, in which Dr Baru was a participant and Dr Abid Hussain, former Ambassador to the United States the main resource person, the then Prime Minister of India, Shri P V Narasimha Rao, officially recognised Shoeb's sacrifice by granting a Freedom Fighter's pension to the widow of Shoebullah Khan , more than 40 years after his martyrdom.

Unfortunately, the Doordarshan authorities chose to take deep offense to my outspoken ( published in the editor's page of The Hindustan Times) resistance to what I perceived to be the "kickback raj" at Doordarshan.

The then Director General of Doordarshan, responded by vowing, "Your article in the Hindustan Times has defamed Doordarshan. As long as I am there, I will see to it that your work will not get done."

The former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Shri Chandrababu Naidu, made a representation to the Government of India, that I be commissioned as " a film maker of acknowledged eminence" to make films to celebrate the 50th year of Indian Independence.

His representation on my behalf was probably, the most popular he made.

It was supported in writing by the Centre, Left and Right.

Nothing happened.

To get a sense of how I was treated, please read the letter of the former Minister of Home Affairs Indrajit Gupta to the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

In my blogpost De freezing Com Gupta I have documented how Shri Indrajit Gupta, a University of Cambridge Tripos, who was elected by Parliament as its first "Most Outstanding Parliamentarian" decided to most kindly befriend me after watching my documentary and the role played by Shri Harish Khare in publishing my impressions of the veteran communist leader in The Hindu.

The wise and pleasing liberality of the Bharatiya Janata Party in supporting the former Chief Minister's representation was a welcome surprise.

Incidentally, Doordarshan's conduct of the 50th Anniversary Celebrations were described as the "50th Year Racket" by the media columnist of Dr Harish Khare's former newspaper, The Hindu.

Despite the earnest views repeatedly and eloquently expressed by this Prime Minister and most of his illustrious predecessors, the unstated attitude of the Indian elite regarding "the scourge of corruption" is like the one expressed by Prabhu Chawla, Editor, India Today, India's leading newsmagazine and flagship of a most influential media conglomerate.

He says, " I think people have accepted it as a reality as they have lost hope in the political leadership." (Emphasis mine. Quoted in my blogpost
Why Prabhu Chavla, His Esteemed Publication And India's Editorial Class Have Decayed And Are Dangerous
Saturday, June 13, 2009.)
Given this infantile "it is you, it is them, it is most certainly not us" dissembling by a large section of India's intellectual elite, one that clearly questions their very reason for existence, I should probably not be surprised by the fact that India's editorial class and others have ridiculed my sathyagraha and made me a "non person".

The Prime Minister's Office has had months to refute my allegations. It has kept quiet.

Now it is trying to corrupt your esteemed publication and put the quietus on the uncomfortable truths that I seek answers for.

In the meanwhile, two significant pronouncements by other Chief Information Commissioners have validated my allegation that Shri Wajahat Habibullah has colluded in the violation of the RTI Act 2005 by the PMO and has punished me for standing up for its proper implementation.

You may also probably know that the respected security expert and writer B Raman had castigated Shri Khare's predecessor Dr Baru for allegedly indulging in" character assasination" of persons like him who had views contrary to that of the PMO and for running the Media like the "Gestapo" ( Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle "Is Dr Sanjaya Baru Running The Gestapo ? September 22, 2006)

When the going gets tough, our Prime Minister's Media Advisers appear to go nuts.

The rest of us recognise the imperative of endeavouring to exercise our imaginations constructively however arduous and futile it might seem at this moment.

I know this is a little longish, but I shall be grateful if you would kindly publish this letter.

In the best traditions of journalism, please let Shri Harish Khare know, in no uncertain terms, that he must throw his weight in the right

Do feel free to call me, if you need any more information.
My cell number is.......


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