Monday, January 2, 2012

When Power Triumphs Conscience

Late night on December 29 when Chandan Mitra was speaking in the Rajya Sabha he was interrupted quite a number of times. He couldn’t finish his say and was cut off by the Chairman of the house. Following which Kripal Yadav talked for quite a while. And when SoreThroat Narayanasamy started his prolonged reply it was pretty clear to observers where events were heading. The drama that followed was predicted by some TV news channels and they were in the know. A couple of minutes past midnight when Hamid Ansari got up from his chair it was clear he was about to adjourn the house. Since that act he has been defending his action in the media, even stating he “was helpless as govt wanted house adjourned”. Doesn’t matter! One way or other the government’s Lokpal Bill didn’t deserve to be passed for many reasons. What happened is just power triumphing conscience and justice. It is usually a situation that comes about when there is absence of leadership. Leadership? We’ll get to that a bit later.

On the morning or afternoon of December 30, Barkha Dutt had even hurriedly recorded another debate on the lines of her ‘We The Poodles’ to discuss the drama in the Rajya Sabha. Yes, the general idea with such useless debates is ‘make brownies while darkness abounds’. And Rajdeep Sardesai and Arnab Goswami were well into their panel debates too. Political parties will blame each other but why should news channels indulge in blame games? Especially when all these three channels claimed to have known RS would be disrupted in a pre-planned drama? So instead of lambasting the govt for cheap games our news keepers were busy finding ways to confuse viewers. It’s their job! They’re paid for it!

While the Congress keeps complaining about the media they’re actually deluded because this is the most govt-friendly media anywhere in any democracy in the world. A few days ago they were busy tarnishing Anna Hazare, the main cause of all this Lokpal drama in parliament. If P. Chidambaram attempted to spread the lie that the opposition wanted 187 amendments, the media should have pointed out that many of these were by the govt allies and not opposition. And in propaganda for the govt reaches heights that can give you vertigo the media, although claiming prior knowledge of the choreographed drama, turned it all into ‘theatre’ instead of putting the govt on the mat. It is indeed dangerous to have a media that has its sympathies firmly with the govt.

Let’s take another program that aired on NDTV late night on December 31: NDTV Special; 2011 People Power (Video). This was Prannoy Roy with his guests N.R. Narayanamurthy, Shekhar Gupta and Arvind Kejriwal. The topic? Lokpal and the fight against corruption! If you watch the video closely it’s the three wise men sermonising Kejriwal on tempering the IAC’s movement against corruption. Some lines are interesting to say the least:

Prannoy Roy ( @ 9.40) Shekhar Gupta – Perhaps the most respected journalist in India today and hard hitting.. and Arvind Kejriwal – ‘the brain beind Anna’ and personally, I have the greatest respect for him.

Right, the same Shekhar Gupta who has more or less been a mouthpiece for the govt. and dealing dirt against Kiran Bedi through his newspaper (perhaps fed by the govt itself) and the very same Shekhar Gupta whose newspaper has called the Team Anna “fascists and anarchists”. The very same Shekhar Gupta who quotes fake twitter accounts in his editorials in a losing newspaper – the most respected journalist in India today.

Shekhar Gupta (@ 22.00): The Radia tapes had been a big reality check for all of some of us got caught..Only 5 journalists got caught in different degrees of indiscretion…It was also a source of a satisfaction for many of us who were on the phone with her all the time..but she was calling hundreds of journalists...only five journalists got caught in varying degrees of indiscretion..3 of the 5 could not be accused of any quid pro quo..but at least a hundred were honest..

Prannoy Roy (Interrupting Gupta @22.28): And then media was unfair in tarring them with the same brush

Once again, you have Shekhar Gupta dismissing the conduct of Radiagate participants as ‘indiscretion’. Well, that’s what lack of leadership and clinging to power does to everyone. Not one corrupt media celeb involved in Radiagate has been fired. Where does this inspiration to retain corrupt people come from?  Then you have the venerable Narayanamurthy sermonising Kejriwal on the good, bad and evil and what statements are right or wrong. Gupta goes on to say “three of the five could not be accused of any quid pro quo”. Oh yeah, which are those three and which are the others? And since when is every quid pro quo written out in cheques? The tone and language used by journalists to defend wrong doings is not very different from politicians and the govt. When the media is busy defending its own wrong doings it gives abundant ammunition to corrupt politicians to whack them with. If the govt has possibly fed the media with dirt on Kiran Bedi and others you can imagine how much dirt they must have in the closet against the media.

As for Narayanamurthy who gently chastised Kejriwal, this little buzz by Nora Chopra in The Sunday Guardian sounds interesting: “Anna Hazare was not the first choice of Arvind Kejriwal and company as the man to lead the anti-corruption movement. They had approached former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and when he refused, N.R. Narayana Murthy of Infosys fame. It was after Murthy refused to accept the offer, they approached Hazare”. So, this little blast tells us that it is easier for celebs and anchors to poke holes into the Anna movement than it is to actually lead the movement against corruption. It is right for former president Kalam to not get involved in agitations but I have to wonder what stopped Narayanamurthy.

Men and women in power do not always act according to their conscience. If that were to happen, at least some in the media and political class would be fighting corruption. The media would have been so militant like in criticising the govt. that it would have, at the very least, prosecuted and punished the corrupt quickly instead of dragging its feet. None exemplifies this malaise of defending the corrupt more than our prime minister. Which is the reason his speeches, made with an inborn lack of oratory, do not inspire anyone. The excerpts below (in random order) come from his latest New Year’s eve speech:

First, there is the urgent challenge of eradicating poverty, hunger and illiteracy and providing gainful employment to all. I call this the challenge of Livelihood Security…. Elimination of corruption is critical to support genuine entrepreneurship. It is also the demand of the ordinary citizen who encounters corruption all too often in everyday transactions with those in authority”. Garibi Hatao! Indeed! Forty years ago Indira Gandhi made it an election slogan, her grandson is using the same slogan in his UP election campaigns today and the PM uses it as a punchline in his speeches.

I want to assure you all on this New Year’s day that I personally will work to provide an honest and more efficient government, a more productive, competitive and robust economy and a more equitable and just social and political order….

It will take an extraordinarily gullible person to believe what the PM says. Certainly, his conduct in the Rajya Sabha doesn’t lend credibility. Whoever thought clinging wives are a pain must only watch the corrupt in the media and politics clinging on to their jobs with no moral justification. It was quite apt for the irrepressible Ram Jethmalani to have reminded Abhishek Singhvi and others during the drama in Rajya Sabha that “the amended proverb; that power corrupts but the prospect of losing power corrupts absolutely”. Naturally, power triumphs conscience!


  1. If the media had been doing their job, most of the corrupt politicians would have been facing consequences. As much as crooked politicians, the media have sold the welfare of the nation. When lawyers are caught in malpractices, they they lose their licences. A system needs to be put in place, where, any journalist caught in consistently misrepresenting information such that one specific side benefits must be debarred from the profession.


    NDTV-ICICI loan chicanery saved Roys
    JOYEETA BASU & PRAYAAG AKBAR New Delhi | 4th Dec

    Prayaag Akbar is MJ Akbars son.

    NDTV CEO gives reply and Guardian responds
    New Delhi | 4th Dec
    The Sunday Guardian found these replies to be inadequate at best, particularly since they chose to ignore the truly culpable elements of the story. This is our response to their clarification.See the response to NDTVs reply right below the response of CEO of NDTV.

    NDTV juggles funds, shares abroad, avoids tax
    JOYEETA BASU New Delhi | 5th Dec
    This 5th Dec report

    This seems to be the only newspaper/site which has reported this so well.

  3. "....I personally will work to provide an honest and more efficient government, a more productive, competitive and robust economy and a more equitable and just social and political order…." PM

    And all this time we ignorant citizens thought that this what he was supposed to be doing anyway. So what was he doing till now and why?

    As for Shekar Gupta's 'only five got caught', how does he know there weren't more just because more were not caught? These five were/are well known personalities and his case seems to echo what politicians keep saying about a 'few' black sheep. How many are involved in paid up news? How many are involved in selling party line spin? How many are involved in biased reporting, Shekhar Gupta would probably heads that list. Sometimes I feel Justice Katju has a point.

  4. We have the most corrupt government this country has ever seen and we have a even more corrupt media that stands with its head bowed and hands tied and dancing to the tune of Mrs.Gandhi and her cohorts!!!! Who will bring the media to its knees? they are like whores.... sell to the highest bidder!!

  5. "It is right for former president Kalam to not get involved in agitations but I have to wonder what stopped Narayanamurthy."

    What stopped Narayanamurthy ? Was it his continued ties to NDTV (see also the Sunday Guardian revelations) ? Or apparent indiscretions like this: ? Or the whistle blower troubles Infosys has run into in the USA under Murthy's watch ( ) ? Even if he personally comes out clean after all of this, Murthy may just not want the increased public scrutiny that these anti corruption campaigns bring. The apparent impact on Kiran Bedi's image is a case in point. A clean public image is worth its weight in gold for all corporate biggies. How many corporate animals are there, who think really deeply and broadly for the public good and are willing to accept the denting of their own images for long term public goals (as opposed to private profit) ?

  6. Thx for the sensible post. Shekhar Gupta is reaching new lows every time he speaks. People powers main objective was to trash Anna and discredit him. What whores!! Sold out completely. And Narayanan murthy was displaying his scant wisdom.... sick of this crap media. Your blog is refreshing. Thanks.

  7. Did Murthy leaving NDTV have something to do with NDTV's airing of pro-Murthy stories or feel good interviews of Nilekani ? (Pointed out by HOOT at first, also more details under article Murthy leaves NDTV ). Since this blog is titled "mediacrooks", I thought your readers should know !


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