For an industry that is supposed to be the eyes and ears of the nation, the Fourth Estate is often found to be doing everything except news! The latest is the involvement of two Editors caught for engaging in transfers and postings of plum positions in the Income Tax Department. One of the Editors, Diwakar Asthana of Times of India, goes on to brag about it on an internal WhatsApp group meant for Times of India (TOI) journalists! This group is meant for the discussion of daily activities of the Delhi Bureau of TOI.
Diwakar posted this message at around 4PM on May 31, for the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) Officer Anupam Suman but by mistake, he posted it on TOI Delhi journalists’ WhatsApp Group.
The message was on for about 15 minutes before someone pointed it out to him and it got deleted. But the damage was done. The message, a copy of which is reproduced at the end of this post, talks about the role of two editors involved in transfers and postings of plum positions in the Income Tax Department! Another Barkha-Niira?!
Times of India’s Executive Editor Diwakar Asthana posted his conversation with the Finance Minister in the North Block in reference to the London posting of IRS Officer Anupam Suman of 2004 Batch. Diwakar posted this message at around 4PM on May 31, for the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) Officer Anupam Suman but by mistake, he posted it on TOI Delhi journalists’ WhatsApp Group. After 15 minutes Diwakar realized his blunder and said “posted in wrong group”. But by this time all TOI journalists had a copy of the screenshot and the debates started in journalists’ circles. To err is human but to completely mess things up, you need a Smartphone!
As per the message Diwakar tells IRS officer Anupam Suman that he and another Editor P R Ramesh met Arun Jaitley and discussed his posting in London. P R Ramesh was the Bureau Chief of Economic Times and is currently holding an Editorial position in Open Magazine and a newly floated website KhabarE. Anupam Suman is on a private funded study leave in London and wanted to be posted in Income Tax Overseas Unit (ITOU) in London. ITOU offices are attached with the Indian Missions and IRS officers are posted in the rank of First Secretary. This post was created to track Black Money operations and this London posting is a plum post.
It is time for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to plug such unpleasant activities by venal journalists and editors.
The message exposes the clout of these two Editors – Diwakar and P R Ramesh – in the Finance Ministry. Arun Jaitley’s Private Secretary Simanchala Dash IRS was also part of the discussion with the Minister when the Editors lobbied for London posting for the junior IRS officer Anupam Suman. As per the message Diwakar claims Arun Jaitley and Simanchala Dash spoke to CBDT Chairman to clear bottlenecks in Anupam Suman’s London posting. CBDT objected to the posting as Anupam was on study leave in London and can’t be posted in the sensitive post to track Black Money operations in London, which is the World Capital of Black Money.
What emerges is an interesting suggestion by Simanchala Dash – he advises the Finance Minister to cancel all foreign postings to accommodate Anupam Suman in London! Diwakar also says the Private Secretary advised Finance Minister that it won’t look nice only to change London post and it is better to change all to get their man posted in London.
Full text of Diwakar Asthana on WhatsApp:
Babu met FM along with Ramesh regarding ITOU. He called Dash and in the presence of FM, the latter agreed that CBDT has wrongly held that you are in deputation when you are actually on study leave. It was also clarified in the presence of FM, that your fellowship has not been funded by the government. Dash told FM that Arun ji had spoken directly with CBDT chief and, therefore, he was not in the loop. He also told FM that the matter is no longer with finance ministry as the CBDT has referred it to the foreign service board under MEA. Upon this, I said that FM, being the competent authority, can overturn the decision of CBDT. Dash said that we can scrap the entire ITOU panel as recalling the name for just London station may not look good. Upon this FM said ok and told us ‘chalo’. What do you think of it.
(Times of India journalists say that Diwakar addresses everyone as Babu).
This is clear proof that two Editors were involved in plum postings in Income Tax. This is a gross abuse of their clout. The silver lining in this story is that many journalists from Times of India gave this screenshot to PGurus, requesting that their identity be kept anonymous. In the interest of the public, we are producing the full screenshot at the end of this post.
The million dollar question is why such malpractices are allowed to happen in the Finance Ministry. It is high time Finance Minister Arun Jaitley plugged such unpleasant activities by venal journalists and editors. Journalists are allowed access to the Ministers for news, not this.
A screenshot of this WhatsApp message is published below:
1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.