N Ram | Photo: Mathrubhumi
''The raids are atrocious, brazen and over the top,'' says N Ram, the former Editor in Chief of the Hindu in an interview with Mathrubhumi.com.
Excerpts from the interview:
The income tax officials have raided the BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai amid the Modi documentary fall out. How do you look at this development?
It is a 'comedy of errors'. They call it a tax survey. It comes soon after the blocking of the first part of the BBC documentary titled 'India: the Modi Question'. So it is not going to fool anyone. Why are they doing this? They say that there are concerns about tax evasion and irregularities. Having attacked the BBC openly- you know the senior advisor to the I & B and the spokesperson of the external affairs ministry accused the BBC of demeaning the Supreme Court and having a colonial mindset- this is not going to fool anyone. Why they are doing this at a time when India is holding the presidency of G20 is a little incomprehensible. BBC is a transparent organisation. It is mainly funded by the licence fee provided by the UK citizens. This is nothing but atrocious.
It seems that neither the Union Government nor the law enforcing agencies have any concerns over the bad publicity or image issues this raid will bring in. They are not at all worried about how their brazen act will be perceived by the world media.
Exactly!It is described as 'Akrasia ' in Greek philosophy. You do something which is not in your interest. You do something which is going to backlash. Still you are doing it. Why? This problem has occupied the attention of philosophers from the time of Socrates. It is also very current and relevant in contemporary societies.This is a real case of akratic behaviour.
They seem to fear no one and nothing. It looks like they simply want to teach a lesson. They want to hunt down any dissenting voice brazenly. Is it so?
Absolutely. But what lesson are they thinking of? The BBC is not afraid of these forces. If BBC offices are shut down, what will happen to India's relationship with the UK? What will happen to the bilateral relations? BBC is an autonomous corporation funded by the public. If the authorities think that they can teach the BBC any lessons with these raids, they are thoroughly mistaken. Of course, the IT authorities wouldn't have moved without the consent from the top.
The Congress has termed it 'Vinash Kale Viprit Buddhi''
Have they? It is a good comment. The ' raid' is so brazen, so outrageous and over the top, hard to credit. Mukul Keshavan wrote an article in the Guardian a few days ago. An excellent article where he says that you do something for your domestic audience and you do something entirely different for the international image not realising that what you are doing here is going to reflect on your international image. It is beyond comprehension, so foolish.
The raids come at a time when the opposition is demanding a JPC probe into the Hindenburg allegations. But the government is going after the BBC?
Yeah. The enforcement authorities must be looking into the Hindenburg exposure. They must have gone after the shell companies which are alleged to be involved in this scam. Someone was suggesting that the raids are meant to divert attention from the Adani fiasco. I don't think so. It can't divert attention from that big issue. It is the elephant in the room.
It also exposes the sorry state of affairs institutions like IT have fallen into.
Yes. They have been consistently used against Institutions like NDTV, Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation and the Centre for Policy Research.
Do you think that this incident will force the world media to look at Modi's India more seriously?
Certainly. There have been a number of articles in the world media recently on the Indian situation. The New York Times published an editorial on India's authoritarian approaches to various issues including the BBC documentary, the killings and arrests of journalists. And to borrow the Congress terminology, it is nothing but “Vinash Kale Viprit Buddhi.”