Pay heed to the Bard, Minister Irani

Irani too is in danger of being branded in history as a spiteful enemy of the free press.

Irani ought to take the bard seriously: the evil that people, especially politicians, do lives after them.

Information & Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani, a former actress, might have read William Shakespeare’s, Julius Caesar. If not she must, especially as theatre plays a critical role in her, and her party’s, politics. In the play, Marc Antony says, “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” Irani—indeed all politicians—should not ignore such pearls of wisdom. The lady Minister, who is busy these days trying to tame the media, should also learn from the fate of Dev Kant Barooah, the Congress president during the Emergency whose name has become synonymous with a political flatterer.

There is no contemporary writer, journalist, and politician who mentions Barooah’s name and doesn’t mention his infamous statement he made in 1976, “Indira is India and India is Indira.” Nobody says anything else about him. It was not that he never did anything credible. According to the official website of the Congress, “He schooled at Gauhati and Nowgong and graduated from the Benaras Hindu University. Soon after he was absorbed into the freedom struggle and underwent imprisonment in 1930, 1941 and 1942. He wielded the pen as editor of Dainik Assamiya and Natun Assamiya, and played an important role in molding public opinion.”

He began his political career as a member of the Constituent Assembly in 1949-51, the site says. “He was also a member of the Provisional Parliament and elected to the Lok Sabha in 1952 and 1977. In 1957 he was elected to the Assam Legislative Assembly. He became the Speaker in 1962 and subsequently the Minister for Education and Co-operation.” He also served as Chairman, Oil India Limited, and Governor of Bihar.

The Press Information Bureau is reportedly contemplating to issue RFID cards to the journalists.

In short, Barooah was not an absolutely worthless fellow, and yet posterity has reduced him to the personification of sycophancy.

Evidently, Barooah’s forays into public life and politics were far more substantive than those of Irani and other politicians; if nothing else, he deserves some respect for being a freedom fighter. But a remark he made in a frenzy of hero-worship has cost him all credit and earned him eternal notoriety.

If Barooah’s past achievements were washed away by his one statement, Irani’s meager pre-politics feats too will surely be eliminated because of her jihad against the free press. She tried to cow down reporters by threatening to rescind their accreditation if they were found to be filing fake news. On May 2, she issued a notification to this effect.

Journalists refused to take the assault lying down; the media reaction was scathing and loud. The government was forced to rollback the illiberal decision; the order was withdrawn within 24 hours after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi directly intervened. “A fuming Prime Minister told his office to direct the I&B Ministry to withdraw the directive with immediate effect,” The Indian Express reported quoting PMO sources.

Questions have been raised about this version. How could a Prime Minister so clued in about his administration be in the dark? But this is beside the point. The point here is that Irani has learned no lessons; she is unrelenting in her war against the media. Now she plans to track journalists’ movements inside government buildings and offices. The Press Information Bureau is reportedly contemplating to issue radio-frequency identification (RFID) cards instead of the standard press accreditation cards to the journalists. The ostensible purpose? Augmented security.

At a meeting at the Press Club of India journalists pointed out that Union ministers and BJP leaders have been promoting fake news.

The PIB, under the I&B Ministry, is said to have sought the views of the Union Home Ministry in January about this move. The Home Ministry has reportedly found the move impractical. Irani would be sanguine to assume that the RFID proposal would be accepted by the media without protest.

At a meeting at the Press Club of India in New Delhi, which I attended, journalists condemned Irani’s decision on the fake news in no uncertain terms. It was on the day when the Prime Minister torpedoed her fatwa against fake news. Journalists pointed out that Union ministers and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders themselves have been promoting fake news.

Irani ought to take the bard seriously: the evil that people, especially politicians, do lives after them. V.K. Krishna Menon, despite his erudition, would always be known as the bungling minister, if not the traitor, primarily responsible for the debacle in the India-China War in 1962. Kapil Sibal will be remembered for the reprehensible zero-loss theory on 2G spectrum allocation that he propounded, his legal acumen notwithstanding. Likewise, Irani too is in danger of being branded in history as a spiteful enemy of the free press.

1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Ravi Shanker Kapoor
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  1. 1) People who could not perform in studies end up as journalists
    2) Journalists are NOT saints
    3) Journalists get their paid breakfast, paid lunch, paid dinner stories & publish them according
    to the fancies of their masters
    4) Integrity of journalists is so low nowadays, that people tend to refuse to give a free glass
    of water even if they are dying of thirst
    5) Hardly know any journalist for his/her integrity
    6) Many journalists are either spies of political parties or enemy nations like China, Pakistan
    7) The film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro released in Year 1983 is still relevant today even after 34
    years – infact more relevant.
    8) Print news & Media news, both are rotten & nauseating to the point that people are
    asking channel providers to either stop its subscription or remove those channels
    9) The news channels have only one agenda – to speak against nation – i.e. daily dose of
    20 hrs of political coverage, 4 hrs of rape, occasional 4 hrs a month on dalits, 4 hrs on
    hospital expense or treatments
    10) So find Smriti Irani’s idea of RFID tag for all visitors to govt offices thought provoking
    infact NONE should be allowed to enter govt office unless they register themselves in
    the visitors log & the person whom they want to meet. The entry & exit time should
    be monitored.
    11) it is different case, that the directive was stopped by PMO office, think it is temporary
    one till elections are held, it would return back thereon.

    The press & journalists in India are to be whipped for all fake news they circulate including incorrect & wilfull wrong reporting that they licenses & right to employment should be banned for life.

  2. I find the author is biased. The entire print and visual media are biased and do spread fake news and biased news. As a citizen without any political affiliation i feel disgusted and have stopped watching TV and reading News paper.

  3. Poorly drafted, Poor comparisons. The matter is of importance. But the way it is penned is not of any meaningful standard that I would expect of Pgurus. News should be precise. Is this any literary class?
    What if she is actress or not? Get to the point and discuss that alone. Never expected this of pgurus. Stooping to a low level like other media.

  4. First there are NO real media in India today except few like pgurus. So when I write reporter please read as “Paid Reporters”
    If she is trying to tame down these reporters that is good. My only request is do it in congress way. they are too good in that. carefully observe what they did in past and implement EXACT same.

  5. RSKapoor exposed his scant regard for women right from the word go. He considers actresses are some worthless ones in the society. The languages he chose to write the articles goes much beyond decency a journalist should adhere to. It appears he has a vengeful mind towards Irani. Aaakhari mein kuya bigadi Irani ne inka?

  6. How dare you call Krishna Menon a traitor. You should call the FM of that time a Traitor as he did not release funds for the Army. The Jawans did not have even boots when suddenly they were called upon to defend the attack. The FM was totally against the DM because of his proximity to Pandit Nehru. There was a Syndicate at that time which comprised of the FM, one strong man each from UP, Bengal, Mahartashtra and other states who were inimical to Nehru and who were derailing Nehru and his policies. Besides I do not know how you in the same breath call a person erudite and traitor!!!! You cannot compare Miss Irani with Krishna Menon and Kapil Sibal they are miles ahead of her. Finally may be people like you BJP Bhakts remember DK Barroah as a sychopant but not others. Here I would like to state what an early Jana Sangh Member who is no more told me when I asked him why are they against VKKM he told me because he was a very honest man and who could never be bought that is why. In any case we hear plenty of stories appearing against VKKM but not one story favouring him does it mean there is only one side of the story and not his side. FYI he ignored everything and never cared to defend or justify his side. Amit Shah and Modi Sychophants are singing paeans in praise of Modi and pray is it not comparable to “India is Indira and Indira is India”, though no one says that but that is what is implied.. What we see today is mere replication of what Congress did and nothing more. BJP is bereft of ideas..

    • Ramachandran appears to be getting everything wrong in his efforts to defend VKK. The pathetic peformance by Indian forces against the Chinese was not because the then FM did not release funds for arming the defense. It was Nehru’s overpowering character that did not allow anyone in his cabinet to act independently. This can be corraborated from the fact that it was Nehru who gave the clarion call “India China Bhai Bhai”. In order to ensure that everyone toes his line, he deliberately did not want to arm and equip the Defense. Doing so, he thought, would have only clipped his reputation of being a “peace dove”.

      VKK had his own personal draw backs like any individual. He was someone very close and intimate to Nehru. During his stint in London, there are allegations of of misuse of funds when he was in charge of the Indian mission and its publicity office. Also there is the “infamous jeep scandal” in the ministry of defense under his guard.

      It seems for Ramachandra the Nehru family remains “hands off” cult family. How dare he compares poeoples love and regard for Modi to DK Barooah’s psycophantic shahri that “Indira is India and India is Indira”.

      Your admiration for Kapil Sibal only shows how shallow is your brain!

  7. I totally disagree with suthors veiws on mrs advising her to read Shakespeare novel…author must know true BJP ,RSS karyaksrtas never eork to remsin in hostory…what is history?who rememders,whst they remembers? how people been portryed ,its their wisdom, Mrs Irani took decision beased on some reports misusing their position and their their pen to influence … PMO reacted timrly they did thrir job…Mrs Irani did her job…she never care for history, they way the author been portrayed Mrs Irani in his 20 sentences as actor turned politician..its BarkhaDutt languague…
    coming to dev kanth bhorua,whats wrong in it Indira is india,..once Atalji also said Indira as Durga….I did not expect this sort of non investigative article in iyer allowed to go for publish…palli batani (telugu….time pass ..worth less )news article…am deeply disappointed


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