Bangalore, Aug 14: It can't get more embarrassing than this. Yesterday, an anchor of one of India's prime English news channels was seen arguing with a British MP over why Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has been sent an invitation to speak in the House of Commons?
Just take a look at the questions that were posed by the anchor to Barry Gardiner, the British parliamentarian who was speaking from Moscow.
The anchor's first question was: "What made you decide to extend this invitation?" It looked as if she was demanding an explanation from the foreign politician rather than trying to know the reason. Gardiner said it was simply because Modi is one of India's foremost chief ministers, a leader of the Indian opposition party and also the fact that India is nearing its next general elections. He said Modi is very significant for the British politicians and the British-Indian community in terms of the future path the country will take.
The anchor shot her second point at this juncture: "...Modi is an extremely controversial figure in India and also abroad. There has been so much controversy over years even in the UK where there was a essentially a boycott of him in the sense until late last year. He is still not given a visa to go to the United States."
Gardiner straightaway intervened, saying there was never any boycotting of any politician of any party. But the anchor went on imposing her position on Gardiner, saying the UK started to engage with him only recently and wanted to know how would the latter react to those who oppose the invitation to Modi. Was the journalist taking an interview or interrogating the politician? What has the media-created controversy to do with the foreign policy priorities of another country which believes in real interests?
Gardiner raised a very pertinent point. He said the people of Gujarat have re-elected Modi as their chief minister again and again and said Great Britain has done more business with Gujarat in terms of foreign direct investment than it has with the rest of India put together. The British MP was clearly speaking on the lines of Modi's predominance in contemporary Indian politics and that his country has gained from engaging with him. The anchor completely missed the point and went on to raise human rights abuse.
Just take this pathetic question: "Is it only the business interest that will guide the EU and UK when it comes with dealing with Mr Modi? How would you respond to those who will look at his human rights record and bring that up?"
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Gardiner was left disappointed and it was understood from his reply: "... It seems that you have absolutely no respect for your own Supreme Court." He said the apex court had always absolved Modi from those allegations, adding he was very surprised to see these issues are being raised on the Indian media.
The anchor didn't stop exposing her poor observation. She said it is because India is a democracy and it is natural that such issues are brought up here. Indeed, India's unlimited democracy gives us the permit to indulgent in mindless talks. And here the anchor was seen advising a representative of a nation from whom we have actually learnt about democracy. Could she pause for a moment before running on the counter-democracy farce?
The anchor said towards the end that a big moral question still hangs over Modi. Well, if a moral question is hanging over the politician, then certainly an ethical question could be raised against your standard of journalism.
Gardiner said it was quite strange to see that a democracy doesn't speak in favour of observing the judgment of its judiciary. To this, the anchor said in India, everybody has to question everything, including the Supreme Court and all other courts.
Indeed. The questioning part is subject to a convenient conscience.