21.7.08

Sorry, Mr. Sainath…

…but what were you doing with Rahul Gandhi?

There are few people one can respect for holding on to values. P Sainath has been one of them. He deservedly won the Magsaysay Award for his relentless indepth writings on rural India that culminated in the book Everyone Loves a Good Drought.

It was, therefore, surprising to see him walking behind Rahul Gandhi, when the latter decided to tour the districts of Vidarbha to look into the cases of farmers’ suicides. It is laudable that the local administrations were not informed but then there was no need to highlight Mr. Sainath’s role.

Besides planning an itinerary, what else did he do – provide inputs, mention specific cases, give a detailed report on misuse of funds? From what I gather these are, if the journalist knows about them, to be part of the public domain and Mr Sainath is the sort who would do so. Therefore, are the reports true that he left with Margaret Alva and Rahul from Delhi together?

I am afraid I find the idea of journalists becoming advisers to politicians dangerous. People like Mr. Sainath have worked to earn their stripes and this association with any political party could lead to questions.

Of course, you may agree with the ideology of a political party and write about your ideology. That is different.

It takes very little for politicians to look for media groups to promote their viewpoints. Many of our heroes were clearly nursed in such factories because of the owner’s beliefs.

P Sainath is not tied up with any such group and one hopes his role has ended and Rahul Gandhi can do his own fact-finding.

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I have become so disillusioned. Discovering that the people I held in high esteem as grassroots journalists were in fact helping grassroots politicians. Most of them got their sources on the telephone and did not walk anywhere, forget on grass.

At least now we can grudgingly applaud arm-chair opinionated critics. They use their own arm-chairs and their own opinions at least!

2 comments:

  1. FV:

    Not with P Sainath, at least. I am certain he looked at it as an opportunity to help out the farmers. It might not be strictly as per journalistic mores, but more for operating in a wider humanitarian role.

    If Sainath gets co-opted by a political party, I'd be terribly disappointed. Another one of the fallen heroes :-(

    ReplyDelete
  2. PS:

    Arun Shourie comes to mind...

    I suppose Sainath is not into exposing scams, so we shall hope...

    ReplyDelete

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