You are either with us or against us

Posted: September 30, 2014 in journalist
Tags: , , , ,

In defence of Rajdeep Sardesai, if some American Indian starts to question me on my patriotism or my right as a journalist to ask uncomfortable questions, my answer would have been pretty much the same. Pretty much, because while I would not have got into a fistfight, I might have said a lot more in lot less polite language. I don’t need anyone living outside my country pushing me around, questioning my patriotism or telling me how I should do my job.

But, I agree that it was foolish of Rajdeep to have reacted the way he did to even the most extreme provocation and more so when there were TV cameras around. I also believe one doesn’t get into a fist fight with people when you’re in their country. It’s very easy for those guys to press charges and for you to land in jail. However, if you tell an Indian, and one whose father represented India at the highest level in cricket, that he is not patriotic and to take his wife and kids to move to Pakistan, you can’t really blame the guy for his reaction. And all this just because he questioned their beloved leader’s past!

So, while I may poke fun at Rajdeep or others on twitter or Facebook because I agree, even they can get a little tiresome at times, I understand where they come from. It’s the most natural thing for a journalist to be anti-establishment because if you aren’t then you’re not being true to the profession. In fact, I am happy, unlike some of the others, he has not quietly switched sides. I know there is an editorial policy in all media houses that decides their views on every new government for the next few years. But I am appalled to see senior journalists, no doubt after some persuasion from their managements, coolly sucking up to a new government – whether this one or any other. I have a very low opinion of such people.

A good example is a well known newspaper which made its name during the Emergency for standing up to the Indira government and rode on that sentiment ever since. A couple of years ago it carried an absurd story about a certain event which looked a plant. I remember reading some very stinging rebukes against the newspaper for the ‘plant’. How quickly the mood changed!

Before some of you protest and think I am a Modi-hater, let me say that I believe, unlike a lot of my friends who can’t stand the man, that unless and until proven in a court of law, Modi is innocent. I am also one of those who believe in giving someone the benefit of doubt. I was as happy as the next guy to hear Modi speaking at the MSG. It was a brilliant speech to the Indian population there.

I also understand that every government has a honeymoon period and after 10 years of UPA rule, it will take time for the new government to undo the mess left behind. Even I was delighted that, finally, we had a non-UPA government in power. So now that Modi is here, let’s give him the chance to govern, but that does not mean we stop asking questions. Then we might as well turn PR professionals.

Post Script

Never mind how the American Gujjus and the bhakts fawn over Narendrabhai in the US, or do the garba at Madison Square Garden, or on the White House lawns, let’s be honest, this was not a State visit by an Indian prime minister. For all the talk about the ‘red carpet’, I did not see a ceremonial guard that is normally given to a visiting head of state either at the airport or at the White House. Normally the prime minister would have been given a ceremonial welcome at the White House by the President. Nothing of that sort happened. Modi fans might not want to see it that way but that’s ok, they anyway only want to see what they want to see.

Please note what the news channels are calling it – summit level talks, not summit talks. This wasn’t even like the “accidental” meeting between George Bush and Manmohan Singh at the White House. So take a reality check, people. Something tells me the Madison Square Garden event was organised by friends of Modi in the US to send a message to the US administration that they can’t afford to ignore or snub Modi anymore. His officials must have realised by now that the Americans have very subtly put them in their place. When, where and how Modi decides to return that favour to the Americans would be interesting to see. He also needs to understand he is dealing with the USA not Nepal. You don’t thumb your nose at the most powerful man in the world and expect him to forget that easily.

  1. Shyama Dutta says:

    This is truly well put

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