Friday, November 26, 2010



In the 1950s, in the beginning of the Cold War, an American Senator called Joseph McCarthy became notorious for his public witch-hunt of suspected communists and other leftists in the US, who were accused by him of being unpatriotic and unAmerican on the basis of allegations of their communist sympathies.His witch-hunt, which came to be known as McCarthyism, was viewed by right-thinking people as nothing but a publicity-hungry campaign of "reckless, unsubstantiated accusations and demagogic attacks" on the reputation of many persons, who were subjected to Hyde Park style pubic hearings on the basis of flimsy evidence, before such evidence was evaluated by an investigation agency and a court of law.

2.Wikipedia writes of McCarthyism as follows: "Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence". It is this phenomenon of rousing public anger against persons on the basis of inconclusive or questionable evidence that came to be known as a witch-hunt.

3. In India, for the last one year, we are going through a period of a vicious McCarthyism by Arnab Goswami, a well-known TV anchor, who has been using his prime-time news programme every evening to level serious allegations of corruption, wrong-doing and sedition against Indian citizens on the basis of suspicions and evidence still under evaluation by the investigative agencies and on the basis of the public activities and statements of reputed persons such as Arudhati Roy, the Mirwaiz etc, who are accused by him of indulging in sedition for expressing their sympathy with the Maoists, the separatists in Kashmir and the insurgents in the North-East.

4. Many Government servants and retired Government servants let themselves be used by McCarthy in his Congressional hearings in order to demonise innocent persons and project them before the public as unAmerican and unpatriotic. Similarly, Arnab has been using some retired persons and others of dubious background to demonise dozens of people in his programme and to create an impression in the minds of the public that corruption is everywhere, that anti-nationalism and sedition are everywhere and that barring perhaps Arnab himself, most others are either corrupt or guilty of sedition. Anybody, who expresses his understanding of the anger of the Kashmiri youth, is projected as unIndian and unpatriotic.

5. Many persons, against whom McCarthy carried on his witch-hunt, were subsequently found to be innocent. The evidence on the basis of which McCarthy demonised them was subsequently found to have been unreliable. Unable to bear this demonisation campaign day in and day out, some of the persons accused by McCarthy of being unAmerican and unpatriotic committed suicide. It was only much later that the American public, which applauded the demagogic witch-hunt of McCarthy every day, realised how it had been misled by him. He was a hero to sections of the American public at the height of his witch-hunt----just as Arnab is now---- but when the real motive of his allegations and accusations came to be known, he became a hated figure in the US.

6. Noone can deny that there is widespread corruption in India. Noone can deny that people such as Arundhati Roy, the Mirwaiz etc are being unwise in unwittingly providing oxygen to those indulging in violence amounting to terrorism. To deal with this requires a mature, objective, non-hysterical approach based on constant evaluation and analysis of the evidence. It demands that our TV anchors observe self-restraint, fairness and decency in having these issues discussed. Demagogy and the reckless levelling of allegations in a hysterical, over-dramatised and over-sensationalised manner is not the way to do it. ( 27-11-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi. E-mail: )


Amit Kumar said...


I must admit that I am not a fan of Arnab, or for that matter any of the newcasters (if you can call them newscasters) today. However I do not agree with your analysis. Comparison with Joseph McCarthy is too far fetched. Reason being: Arnab is very low on investigative dimension. All he does is get few facts in the public domain and uses the same to get 3-4 simple headlines that keep on rolling every 5 mins on his channel. Second, his articulation of the problem and analysis is always high on decibels and low on logic. Joseph McCarthy would atleast substantiate the findings so that masses (or atleast not so clever masses) can understand. Arnab is just an entertainer. A contrarian newscaster who is not polite to his guests (just like Karan Thapar) but without the latter's oratory skills. I ll give you an example of his stupidity - one of shows had Mani Shankar Aiyer, Swapan Dasgupta and Sajjad Lone. Arnab was debating the issue (or atleast a perceived issue) of Indian govt treating Kashmir as a special case and in his argument he went on to equate situation in Assam (he is an Assamese) with that of Kashmir, asking why didnt Indian govt surrender to ULFA's demand of discussing independence from Indian state. As of today, he is a joke. Or at the most our version of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh - a newscaster who only appeals to small section of ignorant news watchers who would not care to check facts and would like to reinforce their beliefs.


Peter Koelliker said...

You will laugh, McCarthy is making a comeback in America. McCarthy's star fell in direct proportion to the rise of the left. Now, the pendulum is swinging the other way.

abhijeet said...

arnab's hypernationalistic attitude is causing more damage than it is useful.. as instead of helping to develop any consensus.. it increases the gulf between thinking of those who are on opposite side of the debate.. and i think .. that consensus development is the primary job of a NATIONAL tv anchor..

Proloy Bagchi said...

One may not like Arnab's ways or one may not like his high decibels but one cannot deny that he has exposed many of the vicious failures of the Indian administrative and judicial systems. One can recall the case of Jessica Lall,and the rape and murder of that girl Mattoo. Then, of course, his campaign against SPS Rathore did prove to be successful More recently he exposed the the Queen's Baton Rally scam.
One may not be in agreement with him all the time but he is serving the country well and, I am sure, the government will not commit many acts because of the likes of Arnab.
Raman, your comparison of Arnab with McCarthy is absolutely out of place. While the latter was in a position of power during the peak of Cold War years, Arnab is only a news anchor. I wouldn't mind his hectoring ways as long as he is instrumental in catching the venal and the corrupt

Ajith said...

Agree with you sir. We need to look no further than share of his voice on airtime v/s airtime offered to panelists to validate his tendencies

shaan said...

These people who are called innocent by you, can always approach court seeking action against any inappropriate or libelous remarks against them. But they have already declared that they don't have any belief in the Indian judiciary and state. When respecting Arundhati Roy's freedom of speech, you must respect Arnab Goswami's freedom of speech too.

I don't know what is wrong if Arnab says corruption is everywhere. Of course corruption is everywhere and that is the opinion of most Indians too. We see corruption touching everyone from Union Ministers to former Army Chief to Judges and today public sector banks. Those who are not themselves involved in corruption are complicit through their inaction. Everyone including the media is involved in backstage dealings as the Niira Radia tapes have revealed. We see skeletons tumbling out everyday. Even the CVC is an accused. Is it wrong to question the direction in which the country is going?

American Eagle said...

Fox News host Glenn Beck aired an extraordinary program June 24 explaining how the facts released from the files of the FBI and the World War II-era Office of Strategic Services over the past two decades have vindicated the controversial charges of communism in the U.S. State Department by Senator Joseph McCarthy.

The Wisconsin Republican's name has been transformed into an epithet, “McCarthyism,” by much of the political Left that is intended to mean smearing political opponents with unfounded charges. While the Left and much of the Right accepted as gospel that McCarthy's charges were false, many conservatives (including the late William F. Buckley) have defended McCarthy as essentially correct on the facts and the specific cases he mentioned publicly. But in an interview with author M. Stanton Evans, Beck gave a fair summary of Soviet penetration of U.S. government after the Second World War that has only become known since the mid-1990s with the release of the Venona Papers, FBI files, and other primary source documents.

duvijan said...
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duvijan said...
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duvijan said...

In response to the following

>>Arnab Goswami, a well-known TV anchor, who has been using his prime-time news programme every evening to level serious
>>allegations of corruption, wrong-doing and sedition against Indian citizens on the basis of suspicions and evidence still under >>evaluation by the investigative agencies and on the basis of the public activities and statements of reputed persons such as
>>Arudhati Roy, the Mirwaiz etc, who are accused by him of indulging in sedition for expressing their sympathy with the Maoists,
>>the separatists in Kashmir and the insurgents in the North-East.

i am not worried abt Arnab making hysteric stands on issues. Every news channel is doing the same on very many issues.

1. I am totally disappointed of your judgement in this matter
I totally disagree with your views of a soft stance taken towards
Arundhati and Geelani. Mirwaiz has supported the violent struggle since 1990 I know not how they should be judged by you as reputed persons in the context of AZADI conference.

Jihadist struggle is idelogical in its roots physical violence comes very later in this Project Life cylce.Indoctrination towards Separatist ideology is sufficent for charges of Sedition.

Arundhati Roy is clearly funded from outside for her views are hypocrticial. It is a conspiracy clearly. Geelani is a separatist and fulfilling Pak masters wishes
by instigating violence and keeping the flame of Kashmir fight alive.

The intentions are malicious from the Statements given , as a citizen am Alarmed by their stances
and meek soft response by Centre. I fear for Mother india.

Kashmir is Idelogical fight versus the Wahabist Jihadi Ideology of Mono-Existence (100% Muslim Brotherhood) versus the Unity in Diversity -Secular -"All can co-exist" priniciple , the core idea of India.Since Natural law is Peaceful Co-existence , it is therefore critical stance and India should err towards stronger side rather the softer side if it cant take a balanced stance.
We cannot afford to create Illusions in the name of Freedom of Speech. . This is not a milatory fight but a idealogical one.

Broadway said...

I liked watching arnab in the beginning when timesnow came out but he seems to have gone half loco these days.

For a brief moment, his channel was more popular than NDTV or IBN.

I mean, what the hell happened to him?