Why foreign media broke news of Sonia illness

Few things have exposed the state of political reporting in India than the news that Sonia Gandhi is unwell.

Dozens of reporters, most of whom claim more “access” to 10, Janpath than all the rest, cover the Congress party.

Yet, in a throwback to the Cold War days, none knew or none told the world what was wrong, although there had been strong whispers for nearly a year.


Neelam Deo and Manjeet Kripalani of the Bombay-based Indian council of global relations, Gateway House:

As TV channels fell over each other [on August 4] to cover in minute detail, the unseemly succession drama of the chief minister of Karnataka, and the CAG’s naming of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit in the graft and corruption surrounding CWG, by 2.30 pm foreign TV agencies, the BBC and Agence France-Presse reported that Sonia Gandhi, had undergone surgery in the United States.

The foreign news reports named Gandhi’s spokesperson, Janardhan Dwivedi, as the source of the information….

The news of Sonia Gandhi’s undisclosed illness and secret departure came as a shock to Indians… Democratic institutions like the media and the Parliament, which should have disclosed Gandhi’s condition as a matter of public knowledge, had kept silent.

The Congress Party carried no notice of its leader’s illness on its website, and it is significant that its spokesperson confirmed the news first to the foreign press.

If it felt it could not trust the Indian media with responsible reportage, the Indian media as a collective, has given it good reason. It is, increasingly part of the cozy nexus of politicians and bureaucrats in Delhi, and is often partisan in its coverage, scoffing at the public’s right to know important events.

For the record, Manjeet Kripalani is former India bureau chief of BusinessWeek magazine.

Illustration: courtesy Thomas Antony

Read the full article: Gandhi dynasty, politics as usual

Also read: How come no one spotted Satyam fraud?

How come no one saw the IPL cookie crumbling?

How come no one in the media saw the worm turn?

Aakar Patel: Indian journalism is regularly second-rate

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12 Responses to “Why foreign media broke news of Sonia illness”

  1. Ulta Pultu Says:

    Noteworthy that things haven’t changed much since 1984 when Rajiv Gandhi relied not on Indian media but BBC to get the latest news about Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

  2. Pushkar Raghuvanshi Says:

    Indian media is slave media how an they dare to published thatSonia Gandhi is suffering from cancer and went to U.S. opertion?Why shoud forign media afraid to Indian politicans?What is wrong to speak truth?Sonia Gandhi is human being ahe may suffer from cronice disease,but Indian by nature slave community so Indian media kept mum.

  3. Law of Omerta Says:

    This post makes me think of the theory of Black Holes which lie at the center of most galaxies and whose gravitational pull is so large that not even a ray of light can escape.

    Is there a political black hole in the country – from which not even a ray of light (in this case new story) can escape? Also, is it healthy for Indian democracy to have its entire politics revolving around one single entity of super-natural gravitational pull!

    So much secrecy is bad not only for the nation, but also for the elite who are obsessed with secrecy.

  4. Pulikeshi the Last Says:

    We have some of the best doctors and best medical facilities capable of treating any known illness here in India. Why did the Empress have to go to the US for medical care?

  5. S D Krisna Says:

    Queen mother came here to the US, and to a trusted medical treatment center because patient – doctor confidentiality and data is governed by the HIPAA regulations. There can be much greater control over information, and patient’s privacy. A violation of HIPAA and federal privacy / information guidelines can result in really big trouble for the doctor and the reputation of the hospital.

    My guess is that she’s had a malignant tumor removed as was long being speculated. Cancer can happen to anyone. She and the Congee stooges just want to show a brave face pretending nothing’s wrong.

  6. Vijay Says:

    “We have some of the best doctors and best medical facilities capable of treating any known illness here in India. Why did the Empress have to go to the US for medical care?”

    They are for lesser mortals!

  7. Thyampanna Shettru Says:

    We have some of the best doctors and best medical facilities capable of treating any known illness here in India. Why did the Empress have to go to the US for medical care?

    Pulikeshi, Can you list a few such facilities

    Remember, like all Indians, Doctors can be bought for a price

  8. balasubrahmanyan Says:

    No scoop on real illness. what are our investigative journalists like Tehelka doing?

  9. Vijay Says:

    @Thyampanna Shettru

    “Remember, like all Indians, Doctors can be bought for a price”
    The rumour is that the treatment is arranged by an Indian doctor- part of the diaspora in NY.

  10. Indian Says:

    sonia mafia has everthing to hide…..

  11. Faldo Says:

    The question should not be why the foreign media broke this news but whether the Indian media wanted to break this news at all. With most of the newsgroups being friendly to the government and in some cases having a possible vested interest in seeing that inconvenient news to the government or the ruling party is not leaked, it is likely that they were not too eager to leak this before the party spokesmen had confirmed it.
    Right from the days of the Emergency a sizeable section of the press has appeared unwilling to ask inconvenient questions of the government no matter how aggressively they posturize themselves. The 2G scam story too was not actively pursued as some eminent media persons themselves were in the middle of it.

    To answer the other question about why treatment was taken abroad, it might not be due to competency of Indian doctors or medical facilities but for reasons of privacy.

  12. Mayyur Says:

    This is related to anna’s fast as this time things are going to be full out war and she does not want to take chances

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