Why publish ministers who can’t write for third graders: Shourie 

Stalwarts of Indian media tear into the government of ‘two and a half persons’

NH Photo
NH Photo

Ashutosh Sharma

A totalitarian government which seeks to dominate every sphere and every fora also seeks to muzzle the voice of others by forcing even newspapers like The Indian Express to publish articles by ministers like Venkaiah Naidu, who cannot write a notebook for even third graders in school, said author, editor and journalist Arun Shourie on Thursday.

He was speaking at a meeting at the Press Club of India to voice concern at the increasing attacks on the media by the Government. The meeting was also addressed by veteran editors including Kuldip Nayar, H.K. Dua, Om Thanvi, S. Nihal Singh, Shekhar Gupta and Raj Chengappa among others. Meessages from Aroon Purie and Karan Thapar were also read out.

Prannoy Roy of NDTV was preceded by eminent jurist Fali Nariman, who tore into CBI’s case against NDTV and pointed out the legal infirmities in the case.

But it was Shourie who was at his provocative best, making scathing comments about the BJP Government at the Centre, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the totalitarian government which seeks ‘total domination’ in every sphere, every state, every fora.

Thanking the Prime Minister for bringing journalists and ‘ old friends’ together, Shourie recited a couplet written by Pakistani poet Habib Jalib.

“Tum se pehle woh jo ek shakhs yahan takht-nasheen tha,

uss ko bhi apne khuda hone pe itna hi yaqeen tha !”

(The one who preceded you on the throne/ He too had similar delusions of being God)

Shourie brought down the house with his forthright and witty comments. He warned that attacks on the media would increase in the coming months as people increasingly see through the gaps between the Government’s advertisements and the reality.

Some of the more telling points Shourie made are as follows :

  • The government was till now using two instruments to control the media: One, bribe of advertisement. A dog with a bone in its mouth can’t bark. They were converting the media into a dog with the bones of advertisements in its mouth.
  • Second, they were controlling and managing the media by the subterranean spread of fear: Don’t you know, they have a team that has been monitoring you? Amit Shah controls CBI...
  • But now they are using the third instrument which is overt pressure and they have made NDTV an example.
  • They (government) will divide the media and use one section of it to defame the rest of the media.
  • Recently I came to know about the persecution of Rajasthan Patrika and financial losses inflicted on it. But this was not reported by the New Delhi-based newspapers at all.
  • We have not reacted collectively to the way RTI has been choked. Raj Kamal Jha of Indian Express told me that government is giving partial information in response to RTIs and that too at the level of first or second appeal.
  • The government is using social media to spread lies and abuse against anybody it doesn’t like. We need to counter that on social media because Modi has an entire team in his PMO headed by Heran Joshi. His only job is to keep PM informed as to what is happening on social media.
  • Just like terrorists, publicity is also the oxygen of bonded ministers. Boycott their meetings, functions and conferences of the people who are not worth being ministers. This is a government of two and a half persons.
  • ·There is no country in the world in which official pronouncements are given as much prominence and space as they get here. These items should get published in the classified page in the form of advertisements. And in fact, you should republish what Alt News and other such sites are excavating instead of republishing tweets and use the techniques of these new websites.
  • Redouble the work which is annoying the government. News is what the government wants to hide; everything else is propaganda.
  • Within a year, it is going to become impossible to acquire and disseminate information through mainstream channel or media. We must turn to youngsters and experts who have the mastery of hacking and defying censorship and use the Internet creatively to acquire information and disseminate information.
  • And if finally, they (State) are able to control everything, don’t despair. This government that worships cows will be left holding dead cows.

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Published: 9 Jun 2017, 9:23 PM