Straight Angle™: The Hindu and Editorial Balance
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
There seem to be a fair amount of heat generated by the observation of Justice B.N.Agarwal while hearing the petition by AIADMK on the recent Bandh-against-Ram Sedhu by DMK and its allies. While it does appear that the Judge had indeed stepped off the line by his remarks, the editorial by "The Hindu" is even more off the line.
Out of no where does this paragraph appears:
For example, in recent years the Bharatiya Janata Party and the saffron brigade have called for, conducted, and got away with several attempted bandhs. A case in point is the August 27, 2007 Hyderabad bandh protesting against the terror strike at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat. And what about other forms of protest actions? Will the Supreme Court rule on what kind of constitutional animal is a ‘rail roko,’ of the kind the BJP State unit staged in Hyderabad in September 2007 against the Sethusamudram project? Does it fall under the definition of a general strike or a hartal or a bandh? Is it constitutional? As political leaders have observed, the logical consequence of the Supreme Court’s unevenly implemented ban on bandhs will be a ban on all protest actions and the right to strike. If that happens, the highest court in the land will itself be responsible for the trampling on fundamental rights that its 1998 judgment warns against.I mean what is the need for the editorial to name any one party, when the entire political spectrum- including the Commies indulge in these activities. This is very typically childish attempt at scoring brownie points with the ruling establishment in TN.
All said and done, we need to ask ourselves a question, if a Judge makes such remarks, and we feel that Judiciary is overstepping its reach, why are they doing so? How had the executive and the legislature been delivering their duties for the past 60 years- what is the confidence we have over the other two arms of the constitution? Can we, in any earnest thought, think highly on the Legislature or the Executive?- What is our experience with them- are judges any different from the common man living in this country?- they too have to face the same executive and the legislature day in and day out- may be in a bad light than the worser light that millions get to face them daily.
Had they been delivering their duties properly, may be we wouldn't be going to the judiciary for everything -from stopping disruption of normal life, because the executive that is supposed to guarantee the normal life is the only trampling on it, deciding on the affirmative action that the executive is supposed to deliver without harming everyone else in the process, clearing of garbage and restricting pollution in big cities- we need not just Judicial overview- but Judicial direction for our own duties! The executive sights Judicial direction to deliver on the rightful work that it is supposed to be made for. In these conditions, it would be impractical not to expect anything unpleasant about us to be told by the Judiciary.
In a recent "Reader's Editor" section, the same points were raised by the readers, who have been pained by the blatant partisanship of "The Hindu" editorials, news reporting and coverage in general. The Editor's response is as usual the wishy washy stuff, which gives you a yawn as you read it and say, shut up!
It is not our practice to reproduce “indecent remarks” (as one reader described it) by anyone. Often it is best to allude to them. We don’t reproduce all the remarks made by Narendra Modi or Uma Bharati against Muslims or Christians or the unrestrained attacks on individual political leaders by Subramanian Swamy.While not publishing the wounding remarks made my anyone against Christians or Muslims and thus being the ever decent newspaper, The Hindu would definitely have published an editorial the first thing next morning condemning in the strongest possible terms the trampling on- "Oh-So-Sacred-Secularism" by the Saffron Brigade- but not so surprisingly, this time there was not even a mention of the remarks made by the Chief Minister in very specific and pointed terms to the religious beliefs of the Hindus. Oh- trampling on Hindu sensibilities is secularism- as it had always been practiced by the Secularists! This was succintly pointed out in the same page, with these words by the Reader's Editor!
The policy of not publishing abusive or wounding comments is laudable. But it needs to be followed uniformly, whether it is a Chief Minister or an unknown BJP ex-MP (whose remarks were published with the Hindi words and English translation). The clarification makes it clear that some of Mr. Karunanidhi’s remarks on the Ramayana were highly sensitive. The editorial was an opportunity to make this point. Readers noted that there was no disapprobation. On the other hand, the editorial said the remarks were “wildly misrepresented.” Mr. Karunanidhi had not said so but had made further comments.After a long time, I did feel good about reading The Hindu- and this time, none of it came from the people who matter in there!
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