In Business Standard today, Rahul Jacob, the former Hong Kong bureau chief of the Financial Times, says the reluctance of the media to cover the Chinese incursions at half-a-dozen places along the border has marked a “dangerous new low” for a deeply rotten media.
“The exception has been this paper’s Ajai Shukla (in picture, right), who has covered the Chinese incursions with the tenacity of The New York Times reporters who published the Pentagon Papers in the 1970s, which eventually forced the United States to withdraw from the Vietnam war.
“Indian Express‘s Sushant Singh (left) has also been admirable in his clarity and conviction.
“Every journalism student is taught about the Pentagon Papers because it is an exemplar of how media and an independent judiciary must hold a government to account—especially in war-time. Instead what we had for weeks from most Indian newspapers and TV was a blackout or insistence that nothing was amiss, and that the Chinese were on their side of the Line of Actual Control.”
In the Indian journalism milieu, domain expertise rarely throws fresh light, but Ajai Shukla and Sushant Singh are happy exceptions. The former used to be a Colonel in the Indian Army, and the latter too is a veteran who served in the Army for 20 years.
Rahul Jacob goes on to add that the media operandi in 2020 is markedly in contrast with 1962 when there were articles aplenty of the growing tensions with China and indeed of the discord between the Army and the defence minister V.K. Krishna Menon.
“In India today, government interventions are often not even needed. We have cheerleaders instead of TV anchors.”
For the record, on Tuesday, after the news came in of Indian fatalities, Manu Pubby of The Economic Times tweeted that he and his colleague Rahul Tripathi had done the first story on the topic on May 12.