Sunday, October 14, 2012




October 14,2012, was a sad day for Shri Salman Khurshid, India’s Law Minister, and the “India Today” group , which owns a number of print journals and TV channels.

2.A non-governmental humanitarian trust for assisting physically disadvantaged people with which his wife Ms.Louise is reportedly associated has been the target of allegations of wrongful use of funds amounting to about eight million rupees sanctioned by the Government for humanitarian relief.

3.A Hindi TV channel of the “India Today” group and the India Against Corruption (IAC) group headed by Shri Arvind Kejriwal, a non-governmental activist, seeking to enter politics by highlighting instances of political corruption have been spearheading the campaign against Shri Khurshid on these allegations against the humanitarian trust.

4.The two campaigns have been trying to project themselves as separate from each other without any orchestrated co-ordination, but an undeclared, but evident convergence of objective between the two is discernible to any objective observer. That objective is to exploit the suspected misuse of the funds to cause public discomfiture to Shri Khurshid .

5. The agenda of the IAC against Shri Khurshid is obvious. Shri Khurshid as the Law Minister was in the forefront of a group of Ministers of the Dr.Manmohan Singh Government which had mounted a spirited public defence of Shri Robert Vadra, the husband of Ms.Priyanka Gandhi and son-in-law of Mrs.Sobnia Gandhi, the Congress President, who has been accused by  the IAC group of accumulating huge wealth beyond his known sources of income. The IAC group is trying to use the allegations against the humanitarian trust for discrediting Shri Khurshid and disabling him from defending Shri Vadra. The agenda of the “India Today” group in its campaign is not clear to me.

6. A campaign whose objective should have been to ensure that public funds meant for humanitarian relief of the physically disadvantaged are  properly used for their benefit has been submerged in an overall political campaign to weaken the credibility of the Law Minister and add to the public anger against the Congress and the Government of Dr.Manmohan Singh.

7. The allegations against the Trust are very sensitive from the point of view of the likely impact on the public mind. Any allegation or suspicion that the physically disadvantaged were sought to be exploited for individual financial benefit will go to the heart of any right-thinking person.

8. Shri Khurshid is a highly sophisticated Minister and individual with a sophisticated mind. He should have immediately realised the implications of the likely public impact of the allegations and taken action to establish the truth. The proper course of action for him would have been to step aside from the post of Law Minister by either resigning or asking the Prime Minister to transfer the portfolio to another Minister and  to order an impartial enquiry into the allegations.

9. Instead, Shri Khurshid got involved in an unedifying and undignified slanging match with the IAC and “India Today” groups. His Press Conference on October 14, which was totally unnecessary, was a spectacle of outbursts of anger and intimidation unworthy of him.

10.The equally unworthy behaviour of the IAC group is understandable because of the political ambitions of Shri Kejriwal. What is not understandable is the unworthy and unprofessional behaviour of the “India Today” group in this controversy. One had never seen such media viciousness as one saw in the behaviour of this group.

11. A highly reputed and highly admired  journalist member of the “India Today” family kept disseminating gleeful Tweets from the Press Conference about the discomfiture being caused to Shri Khurshid and about the way he was making a spectacle of himself through his self-righteous outpourings.

12. In a brilliant article in the “Hindustan Times” of October 13,2012, Ms.Barkha Dutt, Group Editor of NDTV, who is presently on a three-month fellowship to the Brown University of the US to write a book, has drawn attention to the phenomenon and perceptions of bias in the conventional media and the counter-bias in Net-based new media and social media networks. …

13. Bias has always been there in Indian journalism since we became independent in 1947. This has become aggravated due to the growing polarisation of the Indian society. What is new is the growing viciousness in the Indian media. We saw an example of such viciousness directed against Shri Khurshid on October 14,2012.

14. There is a need for an introspection by the Indian media over the direction in which it has been going.

( 15-10-12)

(The  writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail:  Twitter @SORBONNE75)


பத்மநாபன் said...

I think Mr Shalman has the rights to defend and save his political career. The funny thing here is whole MMS ministry was arguing for Vadra. But they didn't do the same in law minister's case!

I support IAC's mission... but they should be more careful on these types charges. Country should not suffer due to these types of worthless allegation. Something wrong in Delhi politics. Media is out of control. Country is missing leaders like Indira...!!!

everestpeak said...

The author had forgotten that the UP Govt had ordered an enquiry in this matter and had concluded that the signatures were indeed forged. This was done a year ago.

In addition to this the CAG is looking into this matter and is ready with a draft report. I agree the report is not final...but nevertheless the draft report reportedly has the same conclusions.

What Mr. Kejrival doing is re-hashing the old stuff.

I agree Mr. Salman behaved almost in a childish nature. It appears to have a raw nerve somewhere...else nothing can explain his press conference drama.

Pax Brutalis said...

Just because a person is the son an illustrious president and has been educated at some foreign university does not make him "sophisticated" or immune from media scrutiny when public money is involved. People in public offices are answerable to ordinary citizens and media. Arrogant people like Khurshid forget this basic tenet of democracy. Anyway he has been blatantly exposed in front of the entire country.

Behavior of Kejriwal cannot be termed as unworthy merely because he has political ambitions. By that logic all political parties display unworthy behavior. He is doing what the opposition should have done long ago.

Also the conduct of India today is not at all unprofessional. They wanted to prove wrongful embezzlement of public money and they succeeded. This brings more accountability to the to this country - totally part of the democratic discourse. Anyways usage of public money has to be scrutinized.

But all said, since you are blinded by unfailing love for congress and stooges. Maybe you see PG as the next IG. What a shame.

Pax Brutalis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saradha Vishwanath said...

The episode has hurt several people,- Salman Kurshid, Congress and Mr Raman.
I am surprised by his strong bias and leanings while he talks of unbiased media.. His column and his views are themselves part of media.
Now, everybody accuses Kejriwal for harbouring political ambitions. On one hand we keep crying that honest and well educated people take to politics and on the other hand the best of scholars and mature people like B Raman take offence when Kejrwal comes to the limelight citing political ambitions. Even if he has one, what is the problem. I am not sure what his real intent is at this point in time just as much as when every politician campaigns and speaks of the good intent he has before any election.
Give people a chance. Dont keep criticizing them. I know these are not constitutional ways to fight graft. Many have tried in the past that way and it has not been working as graft seems to be everywhere. Well, to ask if this is the way to go forever. Answer clearly is NO. We cannot have accusation, trial and judgement by media. It will be anarchy. But only when you have several exposures, people will be shamed and the executive and judiciary who have education and reputation to bother will remember and keep away from graft, start helping graft busters and law will begin to work as it should. Till such time, saying that these are unconstitutional ways will help none. You cannot prove corruption, you cannot prosecute but you should not expose in the media also. What the hell are people expected to do.. Revolution? that will be worser than the route Kejriwal is perhaps doing at the moment..Stop the bias Mr Raman. If it were not India Today and Barkha dutt and NDTV, would things be better for you. These are media channels, all of them are in the business and creation sensation gives readers.. Of course ethical lines are important to avoid collateral damage, but in this case there does not appear to be any breach of ethical lines. Just that India today perhaps is not what you had wanted to read... Get objective and focus in your colum what is the actual point you are driving at? Is kejriwal doing wrong, India today doing wrong, Kurshid doing wrong, or Is Kejriwal the wrong person, India today the wrong person etc..