A doosra is a particular type of delivery by an off-spin bowler and it was invented by Pakistani cricketer Saqlain Mushtaq and popularized by Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan whose doosras roused much controversy although after many tests, all doosras were deemed legal. A similar thing happened when The Washington Post delivered such a doosra against Indian Prime Minister in its front page article published on Sept. 5, 2012 depicted an image of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as ‘an inefficient bureaucrat’ turned to ‘ineffectual leader’. The doosra was terrible as it describes the transformation of Dr. Manmohan Singh into “a dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government.”
The report clearly focused on the fact: “But the image of the scrupulously honorable, humble and intellectual technocrat has slowly given way to a completely different one: a dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government.” (Sept 5, 2012, The Washington Post).
This infuriated the PMO office and they wanted to whitewash everything and wanted to establish that the doosras were illegal which happened in the cricket world also. Murli’s doosras were deemed at first illegal. But later the scenario changed. In a similar way, the PMO office raised the question of journalistic ethics and recently on Anup Kaphie has given a detailed account how in a letter from the Prime Minister’s office the Communications Adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office, Pankaj Pachauri had objected to the unethical and unprofessional conduct on the part of the newspaper and the journalist. This is nothing but calling the doosra of The Washington Post illegal and unethical. It is a journalist’s right to complain and criticize the government, but the Indian bureau Chief Simon Denyer of The Washington Post never got in touch with the government or PMO office for their side of the story. It is objected strongly that it was a one-sided article published in the Washington Post. The government could not give a rejoinder in time.
In their defense they said that the website where the rejoinder could have been posted was not working till date. The PMO office tried to save their face by arguing that the interview was postponed till the Monsoon session of the Parliament which got over only in two days. But the newspaper told the media that the request for an interview was declined much earlier. As early as July 30, the requests were turned down. They did not apologize for this even later.
The PMO office strongly objected that that the quote used for describing Dr. Manmohan Singh in The Washington Post was an eight month old quote from an Indian magazine as alleged by the former Media Adviser to PM Dr. Sanjay Baru. Pressure was created over the journalist to apologize for the article arguing that the Government of India expected a fair and unbiased reporting from the correspondent of the Washington Post. The one-sided assessment of the Indian Prime Minister, it is argued in the letter of the PMO office, goes against journalistic ethics in spite of the facts in the article.
It is really an unfortunate development because The Washington Post never projected any Indian Prime Minister in such a poor light earlier, not even the pro-Soviet Indira Gandhi after the Emergency. Today we all know that there is an outstanding relationship between Obama and Dr. Manmohan Singh even at the personal level and in his tenure, not even his staunch enemy will say that the present Premier is not anti-American. What then can be the mysterious reason for Simon Denyer, author of the article; and the bureau chief of India chapter of The Washington Post to suddenly launch their attack against Dr. Singh? Another surprise to be noted is that Simon was not allowed an interview by the PMO office. He had requested an interview with the PM on three occasions and also with T.K.A. Nair, Adviser to the Prime Minister, and with Pulok Chatterji, Principal Secretary in the PMO office. The requests were either ignored or declined.
The excuse given on July 30 for declining the requests was the monsoon session of the Parliament which had not even begun that time. So the monsoon session is not a tenable excuse. It does not hold much water either. Quite necessarily the question remains, why the PMO office played hide and seek over the interview? Was it out of fear or lack of confidence that the cat might be out the bag?
Another newspaper, The New York Times earlier published one such article on the Coalgate Scam and Jim Yardley on August 27 described how legislators jeer Indian Premier on coal deals. This news report highlighted the audit released by India’s comptroller and auditor general “estimating that government policies on the sale of coal concessions had cost the country nearly $34 billion in royalties. The report found that rather than putting each untapped coal block up for public auction, the government had sold the blocks to private and public power companies on favorable terms, a process that the report criticized as lacking transparency and effectively offering significant discounts for private companies.” (Aug 27, 2012, NY Times).
The news report showed how the Indian Prime Minister offered a poor defense. “Mr. Singh’s written statement to Parliament was made public on government Web sites. In it, he said he assumed “full responsibility” for the actions of the Coal Ministry and declared that “any allegations of impropriety are without basis and unsupported by the facts.”
Ironically, Nearly two months have elapsed since then and the working of the Parliament has come to a halt because of the fierce opposition by BJP and other NDA Allies alongwith the Communist Parties who at one time had been the allies of the UPA I and supported the UPA II on the issue of Presidential and Vice Presidential elections. No satisfactory statement has come from the really ‘ineffectual’ Prime Minister which may once again prove the accusations in the report of The Washington Post. The doosras were deemed legal.
Legislators Jeer India Premier on Coal Deals
India’s ‘silent’ prime minister becomes a tragic figure
Indian prime minister’s office responds to Washington Post’s profile on Manmohan Singh