Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Much Ado About Nothing

I have been unsure as to whether I should comment on this Time Magazine controversey regarding the story on Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee. Despite not wanting to ad to the ranting, I will anyway.

So a Time Magazine columnist wrote a negative story on Vajpayee, I think we all should get over it. Vajpayee is a public figure, and if Alex Perry wants to report that Vajpayee is Asleep at the Wheel, then, as a journalist, he should be allowed. Organized burning of the magazine, I think, is a bit over the top.

"He drank heavily in his prime and still enjoys a nightly whiskey or two at 74. India's leader takes painkillers for his knees (which were replaced due to arthritis) and has trouble with his bladder, liver and his one remaining kidney. A taste for fried food and fatty sweets plays havoc with his cholesterol. He takes a three-hour snooze every afternoon on doctor's orders and is given to interminable silences, indecipherable ramblings and, not infrequently, falling asleep in meetings. Atal Behari Vajpayee, then, would be an unusual candidate to control a nuclear arsenal. But for four years the Indian Prime Minister's grandfatherly hands have held the subcontinent back from tumbling into war."

Sure, I think Perry's language is sensational, maybe even alarmist, but if he and his fact checkers believe the story is accurate, than, the whole tussle that the BJP, LK Advani, and anyone else who is wasting print on it is absurd.In fact, by paying the story so much attention, all the people who are outraged are actually helping Time out. I personally used to be a subscriber of the magazine, but realized that I would never renew my subscription after they chose Rudolph Guiliani as the person of the year, more for political reasons, than journalistic. Sure Guiliani influenced New York, and even America at some level, but the man, who for good or bad (that is Time's supposed criteria), affected the world the most was obviously Osama Bin Laden. I did end up seeing India Today'sperson of the year, and even they didn't sell out...they chose Osama.

Back to my point, Perry can write whatever he wants, if Vajpayee or anyone else doesn't like it, sure write about it like the editor of the Indian Pioneer Chandan Mitra, complain to the magazine, but to make such a "to do" about it at high levels of the Indian government, just increases its relevance.


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