Thursday, August 30, 2007


Three columns by Vir Sanghvi on the Indo-US nuclear deal in 10 days in the Hindustan Times, Aug 19, 26 and 29!

Sanghvi has once again beaten his own record of sycophancy and exposed to the world the pathetic levels of mediocrity and the complete lack of integrity that define some of our supposedly top-notch journalists. In fact it appears that Sanghvi and others of his ilk are actually on the hidden payroll of the Congress and other political parties, receiving large sums of money to write for them in the garb of journalists whose words have more credibility than the official spokespersons of these parties.

Sample these few nuggets of Sanghvi: “I don’t claim to be an expert on the nuclear deal. In fact I’m not sure I understand it completely”. “None of us knows how our lives will be better if India agrees to America’s terms”. ‘I have no cohesive thesis to offer – just a few random thoughts”. Finally, he betrays himself completely saying “But at a time when the survival of the government of India seems at stake because of the attitude of the Communist parties, it is hard to write about anything else” and “How bizarre that our future depends on something we neither understand nor care about”! Whose ‘future’ Sanghvi?

So, Mr Sanghvi does not have either the intelligence of an Arun Shourie to analyse the nuclear deal (or any other subject) on merits, or the integrity to keep shut about a subject that he does not understand. The only thing that concerns him is that the government may fall. Thus we have three columns of junk, woman - like gossip, and vituperative condemnation of both the communists and the BJP, only because they might overthrow the government Sanghvi loves. These columns can be a cut-and-paste job for any other column to defend the Congress, the subject being incidental. The nuclear deal is not the issue at all; saving the government is. And the only way to do that for a journalist on hire is to abuse the principal opposition parties.

Sanghvi is so blatant and unashamed in his support of the Congress and condemnation of its opponents that it is demeaning even to read such trash. The columns have to be read in full to grasp the low levels to which Indian journalism can sink. Yet, a few gems can be highlighted here. “After several years of NDA rule, epitomized by crony capitalism and a desire to impress with the West with the successes of the Indian middle class (India Shining, for example), the UPA represented an attempt to forge a new path: one that harnessed the entrepreneurial spirit of India and the technological expertise of the educated middle class but combined it with a sense of compassion for those at the fringes of our society who were to be benefited with rural employment guarantee schemes and the like”. Wow, isn’t he fit to be Mrs Gandhi’s overt speech writer, without understanding what was that all about?!

Another one: “The CPM and the CPI have emerged as the parties of stubborn, unsmiling, unelected commissars, drunk on their own power, bereft of any ideological consistency, hungry for publicity and eager to blackmail the legally-elected government of India”. “They seem like little people, puffed up by a sense of their own importance, ready to threaten and bully only because they can” Sanghvi, naturally does not want the readers to remember that this government was not elected by the people but was cobbled up only with the critical support of the Left. The democratic legitimacy of the government is not from the people but from electoral opponents who sided with one group simply to keep the contending group out. Howsoever one may disagree with the views of the Left, they can only be accused in such words and spirit by a man of purchased integrity and zero respect for true democracy. In fact Sanghvi himself has attempted nothing else through these columns but to bully and ‘threaten’ the Left and the BJP to toe the Congress line.

Sanghvi’s tirade against the BJP is so sweeping that it better that the column is read in its entirety (HT Aug 29). Not satisfied with material directly related to the deal in question, he went back to the Presidential campaign where the BJP had gone berserk after Pratibha Patil, accusing the party of”dragging the Presidency through the mud”. Sanghvi has obviously forgotten about his own column against President Kalam, HT June 24, about which I had written earlier. I have posted the same seperately here for the benefit of my readers under the title "Journalists or Political Prostitutes?"

Sanghvi says of the Communists, “Never before in the history of Indian politics have political featherweights talked so big on the basis of so little.” Unknowingly, Sanghvi has actually described the common thread through most of his own writings: talking too big on the basis of too little. The shallowness of Sanghvi’s knowledge of India whose ‘length and breadth he has traveled for over 30 years’, is transparent in all his writings. A small example epitomizes the dreadfulness of it. In a programme on Tandoori chicken on the Discovery Travel and Living channel, Sanghvi gave a peek into his vast understanding and awareness of contemporary geopolitics and history by placing Baluchistan and NWFP in Central Asia and classifying Pathans as Central Asians! Perhaps Sanghvi had momentarily forgotten that these provinces were part of undivided India till 1947.

Incompetance up to a point is excusable, though Sanghvi disproved Peters Principle many, many levels back. What is galling is the complete absence of integrity, typical of a hanger-on whose sole qualification is his manipulated proximity to the corrupt and powerful, which he uses to exploit them through the dishonest use of his pen, thereby becoming powerful himself; even more powerful than those from whom he derives that power. Intoxicating vortex. Is that what Indian Power Journalism is all about?