After demonetization, many media persons thronged to get on the ground reactions from Indian citizens, politicians and anyone and everyone. Suhasini Haider, the deputy resident editor and diplomatic affairs editor of The Hindu decided to take it a step further by going international with her reporting and interviewed Greece’s alternate foreign minister Mr George Katrougalos of the ruling Syriza party.
Syriza essentially translates into ‘Coalition of the Radical Left’ and whose political ideologies include, Democratic socialism, Left-wing populism, Anti-capitalism and Alter-globalization. It in some ways is a U-turn party, after it came to power promising an end to the stringent austerity measures and ended up heaping even more stringent ones instead. In a report on 26th November co-written by her, in the story headline Mr Katrougalos was portrayed as calling Demonetization as a “Draconian move”.
On face value the Greek Minister calling it a draconian move was hypocritical to say the least as his party itself as part of the austerity measures had imposed a weekly withdrawal cap of 420 Euros or roughly Rs 30,000 which is much less considering the higher cost of living.
Soon after the piece was published many talked about the veracity of a visiting foreign minister criticizing the internal policies of the guest country.
— Rupa Subramanya (@rupasubramanya) November 26, 2016
Some commented about her strange choice for an interview
— Spamnath Bharti (@attomeybharti) November 26, 2016
On 3rd of December, The Hindu published this clarification put out by Panos Kalogeropoulos the Ambassador of the Greek Embassy in New Delhi
With reference to excerpts of the Greek Alternate Foreign Minister’s interview to The Hindu (“‘Demonetization is a draconian move’,” Nov.26), the Embassy of Greece wishes to declare that some comments by the Alternate Minister concerning recent monetary measures by the Indian government have been presented out of context and thus led to an oversimplification of their meaning.
The Minister was referring to European practices and has explicitly stated that he does not want to make judgment on internal affairs of which he does not have in-depth knowledge.
The clarification is nothing but an indictment of the style of reporting of Suhasini Haider and The Hindu. As was made evident by the Greek authorities, they were anguished by the fact that the report misquoted the Minister which led to an extreme oversimplification of what he wanted to actually say and stated that he did not with to make any judgement based on a country’s internal policies of which he has no knowledge of.
The fact that The Hindu, which originally reported the news, had to carry this clarification which in itself slammed The Hindu, gives us a hint as to the amount of criticism and pressure they must have been under, from the Greek embassy and officials. It is very likely that they felt extremely upset that their foreign minister was used as a pawn by Suhasini Haider, to settle domestic scores in India.
After the clarification people were quick to react:
— S. Sudhir Kumar (@ssudhirkumar) December 4, 2016
— Rupa Subramanya (@rupasubramanya) December 4, 2016
as a response Suhasini Haidar tweeted that
@rupasubramanya BTW, hope you were equally outraged by US praising demonetisation, and weighing in on “internal issues”
— Suhasini Haidar (@suhasinih) December 4, 2016
Diplomacy might constitute praising the host country whether one means it or not but it certainly may not constitute criticizing a country and its internal issues especially when one has little or no knowledge of the same.