The Washington Post feels that India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a tragic failure, someone who after riding back to power in 2009 now leads a deeply corrupt government.
''Image of the scrupulously honourable, humble and intellectual technocrat has slowly given way to a completely different one: a dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government".
WASHINGTON POST BEING DEROGATORY ABOUT OUT OUR PM, OMG!! We can’t allow them to get away with this, was the common refrain that seeped out of the corridors of power in the aftermath of the terrible ‘tragedy’.
Phones were worked on right and left of Raisina Hill and in ministries on both sides of the Rajpath. Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni hurriedly asked for an apology from the paper for lowering the dignity of the office of the Prime Minister, others in government condemned it.
"How can a US daily take the matter so lightly a
nd publish something about the Prime Minister of another country? I will speak to the Ministry of External Affairs and the government will seek an apology from the daily," she said.
By day fall, the Firefighting Express had chugged across the town, TV studios, the web, high tea get-togethers and the cocktail circuit.
A Gora Sahib had done it again and that’s news… like it was when Time magazine dubbed the PM as an underachiever.
Post’s India bureau chief Simon Denyer rubbed the government the wrong way at its most sensitive spot - India and the PM’s image in the West. Manmohan Singh is an economist of repute and commands high regard in the global circuit, any wrong press coverage is a strict no no, and if coming from the Washington Post it patently alludes to bad news.
The merits of Denyer’s frontal attack on the Prime Minister may be debatable but what has predictably come out of the entire episode is the jittery reaction of the establishment to any bad news coverage from the West, especially from Uncle Sam.
While the PMO claims Denyer had apologized, The Washington Post correspondent has refuted all such claims and continues to stand by his report, further angering the mandarins in the South Block.
The latest episode has once again exposed the morbid fear of the Gora Sahib that runs deep within the Indian consciousness.
The Prime Minister’s Office will not take notice – in this magnitude – to the criticism from the Indian press, like it does with the foreign press.
Why is that we can’t take their criticism face on or even better just ignore it?
How much value does a Washington Post report on Manmohan Singh’s weak spots hold for the aam janta of this country and more importantly do we need a certificate from the US of A for everything we do?
Instead of crying hoarse over what the Washington Post feels about the PM, the government would do itself good by focusing on clearing the haze that seems to have engulfed its functioning.
Indeed the government has developed the image of being a den of corruption. But, certainly, the PMO doesn’t need the Washington Post to show them the mirror.
Rather than hyperventilating on a foreigner putting a value to the PM’s worth, it is time the government starts looking inwards.
And, it is also time to stop worrying about the Gora Sahibs, the people who will vote you back to power are all brown.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)