Swaminathan Gurumurthy, the noted journalist and economist, has sent a legal notice to The Economist Group for an article published in November last year that he alleges has defamed him.
— S Gurumurthy (@sgurumurthy) January 11, 2019
The article titled, “The person who is doing most to undermine the Reserve Bank of India”, published on November 24, has made Gurumurthy, who is also the current editor of ‘Tughlak’, a popular Tamil weekly, send the libel notice to The Economist.
It is notable here that Gurumurthy was made one of the non-official directors on the central board of the Reserve bank of India in August last year.
Gurumurthy’s defamation notice dated 6th January, states that the stated article brands Gurumurthy as a “fixer” who gets “things done in Delhi” and has caused irreparable damage to his reputation. It also alleges that all information regarding Gurumurthy is available in the public domain and hence cannot be unknown to the media outlet.
The notice also states that The Economist has failed to do due diligence and verification before publishing the article and they have also not made any genuine efforts to cross-check with Gurumurthy to get his version.
The notice reads that Gurumurthy was contacted by one Daniel Knowles, the South Asia correspondent of the media group on November 24 via email, saying that The Economist is very interested in his comments the previous week about import restrictions and had attached a set of questions.
In his reply, as mentioned in the notice, Gurumurthy had clarified that he has not been involved in any government directly. He did support the Demonetisation but to paint him as the brain behind it will be an exaggeration. He had also written that he had conceptualised the ‘Mudra’ scheme and had written about it. He mentions that though he gives inputs to the governments and also had a cordial relationship with even the former FM Pranab Mukherjee, the only exception he made was accepting the directorship of RBI ‘under some pressure’ and that was only because it was an independent board free of government maneuvering. The notice also mentions that an accurate version of Gurumurthy’s profile was sent to the media group.
The notice says, despite all that, Gurumurthy was shocked to find the above-mentioned article in the web edition of The Economist on 17 November 2018. The article also quoted Mohan Guruswamy as saying that Gurumurthy “Is really a fixer who gets things done”. Gurumurthy’s notice states that the said article questions his credentials as an RBI director, his knowledge of economics, and also falsely attributes statements to him on the collapse of economic theories which were actually statements contained in a 2009 issue of the magazine.
The notice states that Gurumurthy had also shared a series of Tweets rebutting the article. It further states that despite all this, the media group published ‘the same libelous article with cosmetic variations of headline and subheadings’ in the print version.
The article had stated about Gurumurthy that he is “doing the most to undermine the RBI”, he represents “everything that India’s liberal economists fear” and also allegedly attributes a series of false statements to him.
The notice asks The Economist to unconditionally apologise for the unverified information and defamatory statements made in the article, issue a corrective statement towards Gurumurthy publicly and prominently displayed in the magazine and also make an express disclaimer that they had no intention or grounds to doubt the integrity or ability of Gurumurthy, either personally or professionally, including the duties to hold a high public office.
Gurumurthy has notified the magazine to undertake the corrective measures within the next two issues of the magazine, failing which, the notice says, the magazine will risk civil and criminal legal proceedings.