A few weeks ago, during the JNU anti-India street demonstrations, prominent BJP member Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of State for the Environment, Forests and Climate Change in the Government of India, submitted himself, for reasons best known to himself, to a grilling interview by anchor Nizdhi Razdhan on NDTV on some subject or other. My health prevented me from reacting earlier. I vaguely remember that around the time NDTV had erupted like a volcano about the arrest of their new-found idol, Kanhaiya Kumar, JNU student leader and a boiling communist, and about the doctored tapes allegedly “reporting” those protests.
Kanhaiya Kumar is invariably described as young — too young to be arrested; actually he is above twenty-five. This is a bit rich, coming from a station that is thirsting for the blood of 16-year old rapists. They never mention the root cause of the presumably higher than average incidence of rape in India – female feticide and the falling number of girl children in the country. It is my personal observation that the incidence of rape is lower in countries where the number of women exceeds the number of men. In India the situation is the other way around, and is getting steadily worse.
Coming back to the interview with Minister Javadekar, the tone used by the interviewer was absolutely intolerable – and yet the Minister kept on smiling and replying calmly. If I were to use such a tone with my maid in this country, she would immediately rush to the Labour Office and the Police Station and lodge complaints against me for ill-treatment.
Dear Minister Javadekar, it does not become you to submit yourself to that sort of treatment in a TV interview. That diminishes you in the eye of the public, diminishes the standing of your party and your government in eyes of India, and diminishes India in the eyes of the world. It would have been quite easy for you to say: “Stop a minute, Miss Razdhan. Take a deep breath, and lower your tone. Then we can continue as civilised people.” Alternatively, you could have thrown off your earpiece and walked away, as Mr Faroukh Abdullah did not so long ago when he was being asked questions he considered impertinent by Barkha Dutt on the same channel. Get somebody to replay a recorded version that interview for you.
The same NDTV anchor played a recording of a recent parliament speech by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. I was quite surprised, to say the least, given the habitual stance of the anchors of that station towards the BJP and towards matters relating to Hinduism in general. I had actually followed the Prime Minister’s speech live on my computer. The bit replayed concerned the matter of alleged intolerance of dissent by the government.
In the speech, the Prime Minister related how, in Russia, after the death of Joseph Stalin, Mr Nikita Krushchev went around the country criticizing the policies of his predecessor. In one such event, said the Prime Minister, a heckler had shouted that while Stalin was alive, he, Krushchev, had worked closely and cooperated with him. Thereupon, Krushchev said let the one who had spoken stand up. Somebody did stand up towards the back end of the audience. Upon which Kruschev said: You have your answer. In the days of Stalin, few of his co-workers agreed with everything he did, but none dared express any disagreement openly. Any who did so did not live long.
The parallel with the prevailing situation is obvious. All and sundry heap tons of abuse and insults on the BJP and their allies, the RSS, every single day and every single minute thereof, with absolutely complete impunity, and then they talk of intolerance and award-vapasi.
The point about Razdhan’s replay of the Prime Minister’s speech was that the bit I have italicised above, concerning Krushchev’s request to the heckler to stand up, was missing. And they have the cheek to talk about doctored tapes.
* Published in print edition on 18 March 2016
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