Sunday, July 30, 2006

An outrage comes to an end

It is atrocious that our media even dared to 'announce' -- without any evidence whatsoever -- that Prof. V.S. Arunachalam (former Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister) was the 'mole' mentioned by Jaswant Singh in his recent book; such an outrage could never have happened in a country with strong libel laws. This episode must surely count as among our media's darkest.

Do read this HT column by Arunachalam to get a feel for what he and his family went through:

... [T]he front gate had to be locked to prevent people invading our privacy. That didn’t stop a few overzealous cameramen and reporters from squatting outside hoping for some sensational developments. What then followed could only be described as pure nightmare. I was left scrambling with all the phones at home ringing incessantly and all asking the same questions about my alleged betrayal. My factual denials didn’t satisfy. With nothing to hide, I decided to stay at home, despite a few well meaning friends advising me otherwise. In hindsight, I wish I had done that at least for the sake of my family members. On seeing all the calls and people waiting outside, my sister, a heart patient had a few episodes of pain and all I could pray was that the tablets stashed under the tongue would work their magic. My son who took all the calls in the night, refusing to even think that his father was a traitor, was a broken young man in the morning after hearing numerous summary judgments from speculators and sensationalist media-men.

The ordeal ended only after Jaswant Singh 'clarified' that "it was irresponsible to accuse me." Here's the concluding paragraph from Arunachalam's piece:

Many years ago, I stood before President Venkataraman in the hallowed hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan receiving one of the nation’s highest honours. Yet a few days ago, because of a whodunit gone awry, I was being accused by zealots of unspeakable crimes against my country. I now know the transience of such recognitions: “We are all naked when faced with the absurd”.


  1. Anonymous said...

    The channel which first named Arunachalam must indeed apologise. However, i think what Arunchalam should have done is call a press conference. i can empathise with his disgust, but when stuff like this happens you don't hide yourself in the house. if you don't speak, others speak for you.

    btw, must read what shekhar gupta had to say about arunachalam in the indian express!

  2. Anonymous said...

    It is disgusting Abi. It is a shame that our impotent Media has done this to him. They didn't have the balls to criticize the way Jaswant Singh is twisting this issue to sell his books but they went about talking crap about an innocent helpless scientist. If a country treats a scientist like this, there will be no scientific advancement in that country. It is high time the blogosphere condemn this issue vehemently (like how they did it when the access to their blogs were blocked). Let the blogosphere teach the media how to report news. I am going to write my protest post later in the day. Let us show the politicians and media that they cannot play around with scientists who shape up this country (and for that matter world).

  3. Anonymous said...
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  4. Anonymous said...

    Simply sick. Scary, sick.

  5. Abi said...

    Shivam, Krish, Dilip: Thanks for your comments.

    This sort of stuff is a terrible thing to happen to anyone. I agree with Shivam that an apology from the TV Channel that broke this story is in order. Some of the stories put out by several other media outlets were also equally outrageous; they tried so hard to 'confirm' the original 'revelation' that they got a lot of it wrong. Yet, they went ahead and published all that rubbish. They should apologize too.

  6. Anonymous said...

    Why can't this media do the same thing to Jaswant Singh.... He is a confirmed Traitor, who cheated his nation for 5 years (atleast) paving way for the mole to escape away.

    Why do they pound a person without any proof....

    (I have mailed the answer)

    Any how, I feel that this episode is to divert the attention from the "ACTUAL" mole.

  7. Anonymous said...

    A related question though, without condoning slander: does anyone else find it at least discomforting that a top defence scientist of the country chooses to relocate to or work in another country??! Is there anything to be double-checked in such cases?

    Should there be passport restrictions on folks who are privy to the nation's defence secrets?

    - Benami