Never in all my life have I read a more damning – shall I say, vicious? – attack on one single paper than the one I read in The Afternoon Despatch & Courier (October 21). The attack was mounted by Santosh Bharatiya and it was aimed at a paper produced by Ramnath Goenka, and at its editor. Neither is named. According to Bharatiya, “If Ramnath Goenka had been alive today, he would either have dismissed its editor, and, if he could not do that, he would have taken his life.” Powerful words, these.
One supposes Bharatiya is angry with The Indian Express and its editor Prabhu Chawla. Writes Bharatiya: “A mockery is being made of the ideals of journalism in his (Goenka’s) English newspaper… This is not a journalism of courage, but a journalism of corruption, brokerage and anti-nationalism…” The charge is made that “if the person currently perched on the post of mahanayak (great hero) of journalism beings moving towards the post of a criminal and through his friends sitting in power, begins earning money and begins using newspaper to help traitorous forces, it becomes necessary to write about it.”
A point is also made that there is a “despicable nexus between arms dealers, intelligence agencies in China and Pakistan and a newspaper which at some period in time was at the top of Indian journalism.” And so it goes on. Just another charge is that “the newspaper does not report against corruption but reports in favour of those who are corrupt.”
To the best of my knowledge, neither the publisher of the paper nor the editor has so far taken serious note of these charges nor have they sued Bharatiya for damages. Why? The Express has a fine lot of columnists, actually, some thirteen of them none of any mean standard.
These days probably citizens are more interested in reading columnists than editorials that are varied both in form and content. Even The Times of India entertains columnists like MJ Akbar, Vinod Mehta, Shobha De, Swaminathan SA Aiyar, Joeanna Rebello Fernandes, Sameer Arshad, Padmaparna Ghosh and Shailvee Sharda. Are we to think that they are all blind to what’s going on behind their back in the papers they write for?
Time was when editors were held in high respect with even the publishers being chary of clashing with their top employee. One guesses it is not the case any longer. But than I leave it to editors to have their say. But I wish editors give a little more attention to research in their field. Can’t our reporters go beyond that to dwell deeper into the use of technology in a changing world? There is something – or there must be something – that prevents reporters from doing their job to the fullest. For example, when it comes to reporting meetings held by the RSS or addressed by RSS leaders one comes out to a total blackout. If the RSS does a good job, say, in taking care of the distressed – as it happened following tha damage wreaked by a cyclone in Odisha, no credit is given to the RSS whose swayamsevaks did a marvelous job in rushing help. Thus, at places like Pakiabase in Mayurbhanj district, 5,000 people were evacuated by RSS volunteers in time, saving them from a devastating flood. Spread over five districts critically affected, swayamsevaks served cooked food to more than 4,000 people who would have starved but for the Sangh’s intervention. Swayamsevaks also managed to provide shelter to 7,000 people; swayamsevaks also cleared more than 16 roads for traffic to move freely. I don’t remember seeing one word of what the RSS has done, which doesn’t speak too highly of our media, especially the English media. In the entire cyclone-affected zone, some 29 swyamsevak teams got involved in rescue work. Over 1,600 people were rescued. The RSS received little or no credit for their selfless service. There is no reason why, even now, some newspaper should not make a study of RSS activities in the service of the helpless. What I want to know is how much work have our secular parties done in competition with the RSS? Can some one tell? Or is that asking too much?
Shri Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS leader made a passionate speech at Nagpur on Vijayadashami Day. It should have been fully covered not only by all newspapers but also by TV channels and, certainly, by Doordarshan. It is a happening and it is reflective of a viewpoint, which deserves attention. The Sarsanghachalak talked about values, not about politics. But even if he did talked on the Government’s policies, shouldn’t it get due publicity? Think it over, friends and media comrades. Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh alone do not make news. There are others who make even bigger news and they should be covered.