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Posts Tagged ‘BG Verghese

Leaders. Walk the Talk…

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They say, true leaders are ones who walk-the-talk.

Just happened to read the blog of LK Advani, senior BJP leader, titled ‘Present Political Set Up More Draconian Than Emergency’, dated September 12, 2012.

Advani, a learned, vastly-experienced and wise man, launched through this blog scathing attack on the present day UPA government, stating how this government is acting worse than the Indira regime during the Emergency period of 1975-’77, where the freedom of press was curtailed as brutally as it can get.

As one politician who faced the brunt of the black days of Emergency, Advani wrote rather eloquently:

India has been independent now for sixty-five years. I have always regarded the Emergency period 1975-77 as the worst in so far as suppression of civil liberties and freedom of expression were concerned…

But seeing what has happened to political cartoonist and anti-corruption crusader Aseem Trivedi, I have started wondering: Is today’s political set up worse even than the emergency? …

He ended the blog, saying…

I am sure the annual report of the Registrar of Newspapers for 1975-76 will have a sorry but significant story to tell. When Hitler assumed power, Germany’s tally of newspapers and periodicals was 4,700.  By the time the Nazi nightmare ended, the   number had dwindled to less than a thousand. The same might happen here if the trend persists.

Now, you’d ask, why am I reproducing Advani’s blog? Well, that’s not the intention, dear readers. The intention is to bring to your notice how Advani has changed his thoughts about the freedom of press and independence of expression over last 35 years.

35 years ago, post the electoral defeat of the infamous Indira Gandhi regime after the black years of the Emergency, Advani became the Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the then newly elected Janata government. The bruises on breach of freedom and independence of press were raw and fresh in minds of the public. The new government was determined to bring about autonomy of broadcasting, much opposite to the censorship that ailed the freedom of expression during the Emergency.

Legendary journalist, BG Verghese, in his highly informative book, ‘First Draft: Witness to the Making of Modern India’, writes at length about this episode. He describes how an elite working-group of highly accomplished and respected individuals was formed for the said purpose. This group came up with a brilliant report on the subject, after due deliberation, and advocated the ‘establishment of a National Broadcast Trust named Akash Bharti, responsible for the conduct of public broadcasting. This was to be ‘a citizen of India’…”

Well received within the broadcasting circles, this report was presented to Advani, with a draft bill, in February 1978.

To share with you Advani’s response, I am quoting from Verghese’s book, paragraph two, page 260:

Advani, as information & broadcasting minister, wryly exclaimed, ‘We promised autonomy. But you have recommended independence.’

Surprised to note the original thoughts of Advani? Well, that is what I call not walking the talk!

Needless to say, the above bill never saw the daylight.

Dear Mr. Advani, I do agree that the memory of the otherwise stressed and harassed public is short, and 35 years is pretty long time as it is, so smarter politicians do take advantage of this factor, and become holier than thou, as per their convenience. I don’t know whether you thought this way while loathing the government for ‘suppression of civil liberties and freedom of expression’ in your blog, your arguments surely couldn’t con the informed commoners this one time.

Dear leaders, we commoners sincerely hope that you’d ‘walk-the-talk’ next time…


Photo-credit: sodahead.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are author’s own and not of the organisation he is associated with.

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