Saturday, September 21, 2013

Yellow Journalism at its Best--
Chapter XXI, Section 500, 501, and 502 of the IPC deals with the punishment for defamation along with Section 499 of the Indian Penal CodeThe Indian Express



(Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code defines defamation as, ‘whoever, by words either spoken or intended to be read, or by signs or by visible, representations makes or publishes any imputation concerning any person intending to harm, or having reason to believe that such imputation will harm the reputation of such person, is said except in cases here in after expected, to defame that person)
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        1        The Indian Express has done it again. From being a widely

 circulated and trusted daily, the transition of this  popular 

Newspaper to a rag has been remarkable in that it has been done 

solely by one individual  alone . The garbage being spewed out  to 

get its circulation soaring is an insult to the intelligence of  any 

Indian—and now a personal animus between the erstwhile Army 

Chief and Shekhar Gupta , the man hell bent on vilifying Gen VK

 Singh and destroying his own paper, the Indian Express , is out in 

the open.
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           2            First we had the Chief Editor printing in big  bold (Yellow) letters , a mandatory requirement for this kind of of journalism, that the Army Chief was about to stage a coup and probably had it not been the early warning given by Indian Express  the Indian Army  at the behest of its Chief, would have taken over Parliament House, freed the prisoners in Tihar, stationed Battle Tanks outside the Supreme Court and arrested the Chief Justice of India. All  because his  date of birth  problem was not  being resolved and he was refusing to ‘’o with the wind’. This had most of the Army , Air Force and the Navy smiling in awe and a few morons from the IB, Raisana Hill, MoD and the Home Ministry scurrying for cover under their  dusty desks .
                   3             In continuation , we had Indian Express then telling us in a journalistic coup of sorts , that the Army Chief had raised a hush hush intelligence unit , directly under his command (the rest of the Army  being under the Pentagon) with the sole function to eves-drop on the conversations of Cabinet Ministers and the PMO—good God!! And to top it all a princely sum of Rs 8 Crores is ‘‘missing’’ from the books of the Technical Support Division , the  controversial Military Intelligence (MI) unit set up by former Chief in May 2010. Shades of MOSSAD, CIA, KGB ,MI 5 and our very own IB!!! One man with 4 middle level officers, 30 jawans and some supposedly state of art equipment (which was  pretty obsolete) could manage to by-pass the complete chain of command to organise a coup in Delhi, topple a state govt, spy on the PM and others and change the line of succession!!! Lets make VK the PM  , all our troubles will finish.One more thing-- if there had even been a whiff of financial impropriety pertaining to three public figures ,   Manmohan Singh , Gen VK and Modi , the media and the political masters  would have crucified them long ago.
                   4               I am not overly fond of the ex Chief . I too agree with so many other Indians that being in the exalted position of leading one of the finest and largest armies of the world , he could have been more discrete in his spat with the Govt. But now when I see the antics of a doddering and terminally sick establishment along with reports of “published paid news’’ (read INDIAN EXPRESS) and an unethical Editor , combining forces to destroy a man , who rightly or wrongly  stood up to what he felt was right –I think it is time for a suitable riposte in the same genre.  What Shekhar does not under stand is that an Army Chief is the most powerless man in a military hierarchy. For every thing , including his own guard and ability to have a stable and professionally satisfying tenure,  the poor man is totally dependant on the six Army Commanders. It is the Army Commanders who have the guns, missiles , tanks , helicopters and the troops.Excepting for a few men standing with rifles outside his house the Chief is more of a ceremonial head. Try and get these six Army Commanders and the dozen plus Corps Commanders  for a flag waving session outside Raisana Hill or the Supreme Court of India and you will understand why this talk of some sort of coup or power play invites psychiatric examination of the person who initiated this canard.
                  5           I give credit to the paper and its Editor for perfect timing. His masters would not have been more pleased for getting this ‘breaking news’ just when Modi and the General had shared a dais and had managed to attract the attention of that vast  body of Indian ex-servicemen  , a potential vote bank so blatantly ignored by the current political masters. So invent a reason where there is none , pass the word around that the General is a dis-honourable man , identify a paper which publishes little or no legitimate well researched news and join forces with an Editor who habitually  uses eye-catching headlines to  increase sales -----.

                  6      Notice how the Indian Express has mastered the art of scurrilous and inflammatory attacks on individuals. ‘Credibility and high intergrity,’ in addition to a persistent sense of inquiry, fairness and professionalism  were  supposed to be the hallmarks of  its editorial leadership.  Shekhar , a good editor should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.  It is the job of the editor to test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. The duty of the journalists and editors is also to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Deliberate distortion mixed with half truths is the way of mediocre editors hankering for personal gains , recognition and two bits of fame . Shekhar, for the Army Chief to over throw the J & K Govt, the Northern Army Commander , the entire Indian Military intelligence apparatus and most of the 'Integerated HQs of the MoD (Army), would have to be involved.And we are not including the Marshals and the Admirals of the IAF and the Navy.
              7     There is a wonderful book  (Editorial Ethics & Logical Fallacies Project) by Michael Roberts, a licensed private investigator and "Internet truth hunter"   which details some of the more common fallacious arguments employed by Editors when publishing inaccurate attack pieces.        Shekhar , I strongly recommend you go through this piece , it will make you a better man if not a better Editor.

‘’…it is amazing how many times lives have been ruined by inaccurate attack articles in newspapers where readers have assumed the assertions to be true simply because they are in black-and-white’’