Intro: Does Brig. Thapar regard as impermissible that an alert be sounded about the ISI and the Narcotics syndicates operating in India?
A very interesting development took place recently that invites attention. On June 14, 2014, the Delhi-based The Sunday Guardian carried a report that said the Pakistan’s ISI through the Narcotics Lobby was seeking to create pools of influence within the ‘uniformed service’.
The Armed Forces took exception to this article written by one of India’s most knowledgeable commentators, MD Nalapat. In a response to that article, Brig. Thapar, Director General of Public Information of the Army sent a warning to the paper’s Managing Director saying that Nalapat’s article was ‘highly damaging’ to the Army and contravened “recognised ethical canons of journalistic ethics and conventions”.
Nalapat’s reply to the Army’s accusation calls for commendation. Said Nalapat: “Does Brig. Thapar regard as impertinent the suggestion that although the Indian Army overall is magnificent, there could exist elements within it who are susceptible to temptation? Or is he displaying the same complacency that in 1999 resulted in the Pakistan Army stealthily taking over key Indian posts at Kargil under the nose of the Army?” Further Nalapat said: “What about those armymen in the Assam Rifles who werr found guilty of narcotics smuggling during past years? And not just garden variety stuff but methamphetamines from Laos, Thailand and Myanmar smuggled into India in sizeable quantities? What about the senior officers cashiered for scandals such as Sukna? Are they all victims of a smear campaign? The assumption that there is zero corruption in the Army betrays a level of credulity that is dangerous in a force that needs to be ever vigilant to the possibilities of subversion.”
Now to go back to Narendra Modi even if it may sound dated. Referring to Modi’s visit to Nepal, The Hindustan Times (August 3) said “as a piece of public diplomacy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Nepal could not have gone better.” On his own part, said the paper, Modi “did just about everything to reassure Nepal about India’s intention and his own resolve to push relations in a new direction. It added: “The PM’s sensitive messaging on Nepal, including his comments on non-interference, must cascade through the Indian establishment and be reflected in the changed tenor of Indo-Nepal exchange hereon. “It is practically the same view that other newspaper expressed.
Thus The Times of India ( August 3) also said that Modi’s focus on India’s neighbours is welcome but warned that he must not ignore the West. It would be imprudent said the paper for New Delhi to focus solely on relations with its neighbours or other emerging economics at the cost of ties with the West” reminding Modi of “the collapse of WTO discussions which hurt India’s reputation. It added: “New Delhi must strive for a golden mean and maintain a balance between its relationship with the West and greater South-South cooperation.” That, it said “will raise India’s profile at the international high table”.
Equally importantly has the media dealt with the subject of the role of English in Indian Civil Service examinations. Economic Times (August 7) told the government not to put English out of reach “For the government to make concessions to the populist demand to scrap the English comprehension portion of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) preliminary examination is doubly unfortunate” said the paper. It pointed out that English is a link language that connects not every Indian but every opinion-making, decision-taking Indian and “to disregard this Is to disregard reality”. Further the current understanding will drive the English-non-English wedge even deeper”.
The Asian Age (August 6) made the point that in India English is the readily available tool to link people who don’t speak each other’s language. It said: “We must understand that the context has changed and English is no longer the language of British colonialism.”
The Telegraph (August 6 ) put things in more strongly. It said: “English is an essential medium of communication that unifies far more than Hindi does, the whole of a linguistically chaotic country; besides civil servants often have to work on behalf of their country in different parts of the world. This combination of anti-English chauvinism and risk-averse politics in the government’s position could result in a lowering of standards in a field where excellence and merit are particularly to be desired. Removing English comprehension from the selection criteria cannot be the right way to address the problems that the protestors want the government’s attention to.”
(The writer is a senior journalist and former editor of Illustrated Weekly)