The whore who couldn’t dance blames the floor

T.J.S. GEORGE writes: Does the media distort facts? The Prime Minister thinks so. By “focussing excessively” on scam after scam, does the media spoil India’s image? The Prime Minister thinks so.

For the leader of a government that is neck-deep in scams, it is natural to think as the Prime Minister does. But that does not make it right.

In fact the Prime Minister is hopelessly wrong.

Manmohan Singh was in conversation with television editors. A great deal can be said in criticism of news channels. Generally speaking, they are amateurish, childish in their “me first” claims, irritating in their competitive sensationalism, more irritating in their loudness, superficial, repetitive and often plain unprofessional. But, like newspapers, they are essentially mirrors.

News journalism may have its weaknesses, but functionally it merely reflects the reality around it. It does not generate governmental corruption, it only reports it. If scams demoralise the nation and spoil the image of the country, the blame lies squarely with politicians and officials and fixers who produce the scams and benefit from them.

The Prime Minister must attack the scamsters, not the mirrors.

Actually, the media is doing an incomparably valuable national service by bringing corruption to public attention. After all, if the media had resolved not to do anything that would “spoil India’s image,” what would have happened?

The shame of India would have spread anyway as the world would have known that India was a country where a roll of toilet paper could be sold for Rs 4000, and where decisions on spectrum allocations were made in Chennai’s Gopalpuram area, and where there were billionaires with more illegal funds in Swiss banks than billionaires in the top five countries put together. It is the people of India who would have remained in the dark about the extent of their rulers’ criminalities.

Worse, India would have sunk deeper and deeper into corruption since the corrupt would have been emboldened by the fact that they would never be exposed. The media, for all its excesses, has put the fear of god into the hearts of the criminally inclined politician, bureaucrat and “crony capitalist”. That even their private conversations may someday become public property is one of the best disincentives we have against corruption. The Prime Minister would have been smart to acknowledge this instead of suggesting that the media was negative in its attitude.

It is true that the media also has developed a taste for corruption. It has a long way to go before it can be called mature and creative. But even in its present three-fourth-baked state, it performs the function of a conscientious opposition. Without the media playing this role, Indian democracy would lose much of its substance especially since the formal opposition in Parliament is playing a petty obstructionist’s role.

Both in Delhi and in the various states, the Opposition’s role is to oppose – oppose for the sake of opposing. If the Government says the sun rises in the West, the Opposition will say: No, it rises in the North. In no other democracy is Parliament’s functioning completely blocked as a form of Opposition politics. Even on urgently needed social and electoral reforms, they never show the unanimity they readily bring out when their salary increase bills come up for passing. When corruption cases come up, different parties take different positions as all are entrenched in corruption in different ways.

In such an environment the media becomes the only reliable forum for actionable information and democratic mobilisation. Even those who get the wrong end of the stick really have no reason to grumble. As Ram Mohan Roy explained: “A government conscious of rectitude of intention cannot be afraid of public scrutiny by the Press since this instrument can be equally well employed as a weapon of defence”.

Those who are beyond defence cannot of course use the weapon. But Manmohan Singh should have known that the real scoundrels who spoil India’s image are outside the media.

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12 Responses to “The whore who couldn’t dance blames the floor”

  1. twistleton Says:

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

  2. Balaji Says:

    That reminds of the movie Il Divio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Il_Divo_%28film%29). The movie is about one of the corrupt prime ministers of Italy, Giulio Andreotti. He would be seen telling an inquiry commission that since he was the face of Italy in many international agreements, corruption charges against him would damage reputation of Italy in international level!

  3. Nanu Nane Says:

    Whore is a very apt word describe our PM. Afterall he has gone ahead whored himself to the Gandhi family. Must’ve got a good price, afterall he was a virgin as far corruption was concerned.

  4. maisuru Says:

    Man Maun Singh !

  5. Bhamy V Shenoy Says:

    This interview would have confirmed him as the weakest PM in India’s history (even weaker than mannina maga H D Deve Gowda). While George looked at the interview from the journalist prism, Wall Street Journal anaylsed from a different angle and concluded that the “buck does not stop” with him. This is another proof to show that he is a PM only in name. Of course no one needed a proof since it us a universally known fact.

  6. RJ Says:

    @Nanu Nane:

    Nitin Gadkari has also whored himself to the Sangh Parivar. The inevitability of whoring in current politics… sigh!

  7. Not Simple Says:

    If my guess is right, this will find a post on this blog:

    Hard questions about soft questions – P. Sainath

    Yet, even a doting corporate media find that the Professor (Manmohan Singh) did not come out looking good from his interaction with a few favoured students. That is, electronic media chiefs and editors who have mostly adored Dr. Singh for nearly two decades. If even the largely free ride they gave him left him unnerved and defensive, it’s a measure of how much things have changed. Not that the editors emerged looking better. If asking the right questions is at the heart of journalism, then somebody had a bypass.

    The only serious question on food inflation, linking that to its impact on the poor in a country with 8.5 per cent growth came from a foreigner. Now our editors present knew this to be a burning issue, even for their middle class audiences. Yet Sara Sidner of CNN was the only one to raise it.

  8. twistleton Says:

    @NS

    As usual P. Sainath hits the nail on its ugly head. Thanks for that.

  9. Simple Says:

    Manmohan Singh is not exactly a leader who can set you on fire with his speeches. His single tone, single expression, single emotion speech induces yawndom. You can hardly make out any expression, on his face, hidden as it is by the beard, the spectacles and the turban.

    This can be frustrating to journalists who are always looking out for some kind of a ‘drama value’ to enhance their TRPs.

    Sonia Gandhi herself being a reluctant speaker, chose MMS, because he has no political base and will never overshadow the Gandhis. The same lamentable pattern is repeated in state after state. Mrs Gandhi chooses weak leaders – a lameduck Dharam Singh, a soft Suresh Pachori, a meek Chavan.

    Since I am not a Congress Chamcha I can say that:
    The party should realise it got lucky last time. It came to power in 2009 not because of any sterling performance of the UPA I or because of any charisma of any family. It came to power through opposition vote spoilers like Vijayakant’s DMDK, Chiru’s PRP and Raj Thackeray’s MNS – thanks to these three chaps, Congress got at least 40 extra seats in its kitty. Which means NDA would have got 40 extra seats – and NDA would have actually been marginally ahead of UPA!

    Cong needs an urgent overhaul. The cabinet should be cleared of non performing geriatrics including SM Krishna because his performance has been less than spectacular (and certainly not because of his portugal galti). Get in younger faces who have shown the guts and gumption to deliver the goods.

  10. Nastika Says:

    Maybe MMS is a good bureaucrat. But he has proved to be a lousy administrator. He doesn’t seem to have a hold on whats happening around him.
    As @BVS put it, the root cause is, the buck doesn’t stop at PM’s office.. Maybe INC might have dropped the next elections.

  11. Ventripotent Says:

    Wonder what made RJ comment on NG????? Makes one doubt as to who got whored to whom?

    Otherwise a relatively unremarkable article.

  12. Balu Says:

    Nice article indeed!
    Mr Manmohan Singh is speaking like one who is frustrated by the media. Why can’t he understand that the recent scams and corruptions are the ones which will stand prominent compared to India’s progress. I admired him as PM in the begining, Now I am increasingly getting concerned about his credibility as our PM. It definitlely appears that he is working for Sonia and Rahul than for us!

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