The Hindu has an office of Readers Editor. To summarize their long list of “terms of reference”, this office is responsible for publishing relevant corrections and clarifications and the Readers Editor (RE) will write a regular column “addressing one or several aspects of readers’ concerns, suggestions, and complaints, the content to be determined independently…”
The current Readers Editor writes a weekly column that seldom addresses the concerns of the readers. His articles are a bore and have no relevance to the “terms of reference”. I don’t even have to dig into older articles about him because he begins his latest article mentioning the same – “Some readers ask how my columns about the larger information ecology and about social media are linked to the journalism of this newspaper.”
He gives some random explanation for this query and proceeds to cite two examples – “A few recent complaints regarding this newspaper’s reportage on renewed militancy in Kashmir and border skirmishes with China clearly fall into this category”.
What follows is pure poison.
There was an “analysis” written by Ananth Krishnan in the newspaper on May 20, 2020. The Readers Editor informs us that those who read the article wrote back to him saying that since the erstwhile state of J&K has now been split into two union territories, the report should have mentioned Ladakh, especially given that the report was about “a changed dynamic along India-China border” and Ladakh infact borders China.
The error seems inadvertent and the feedback seems very genuine right? Somehow this feedback riled up the Readers Editor. It riled him up so much inexplicably that he started an unbelievable rant questioning the very split of J&K. RE writes in response – “They (readers) failed to recognize that J&K includes not just Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, but also a huge swathe of territory across the Line of Control.”
Really, “they failed to recognize” that J&K includes Ladakh? Where does this arrogance stem from? How does J&K include Ladakh now? The Parliament of India has decided that J&K and Ladakh will be two different UTs. The editor is free to propagate his lies and illusions on his own time without getting riled up at readers who took the pain the read the article and write back to him on an obvious glaring error.
He also tells us that J&K includes “a huge swathe of territory across the Line of Control.”. We now come to his next shocking line – “The Indian state calls the region “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir”. Really? Here is the latest political map released by the government of India. Can the editor point out Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in this map? Can the editor point out which part of Jammu and Kashmir has borders with China? Can the editor point out how Ladakh is a part of J&K. The Indian state has often said that it doesn’t recognize PoK so where from does he get the gall to write a lie like this and blame the reader for being correct? It is still mind boggling how he thinks that Ladakh is still a part of J&K and the readers (who took the pain of reading) are wrong!
He doesn’t show any signs of ending – he drops his next bombshell. “A newspaper has to take a holistic view instead of shoehorning its analysis into the official narrative.” Holistic view? Official narrative? That J&K and Ladakh are two different entities now is an “official narrative”? Denying their existence in now called a “holistic view”? J&K has no border with China. That’s a plain simple fact. Insulting the people of Ladakh by claiming to take a “holistic view” is journalism?
Instead of accepting an extremely well-meaning and legally correct clarification, the unwarranted rant by The Hindu’s Readers Editor is yet again exposes the poison that is groomed in the offices of The Hindu. Does he end there? No. He moves onto his next rant of not wanting to call soldiers killed in line of duty as “martyrs”. In May 2020, he quotes his own article on March 2019, in which he says “Ethical journalism will report the killing of a soldier as the killing of a soldier and refrain from using loaded propagandist words like martyr”.
This clear lack of respect for both the lives of the brave soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice and for simple acts that define our own country is really painful to read. By using heavy words in long sentences such as – “To be a megaphone for governmental propaganda and keeping people in the dark is the role of the fifth column.”– these people may live under the illusion that they wrote something intelligent but simply fail to understand that these words merely expose their arrogance, ignorance and incompetence.
Speaking of “propaganda”, The Readers Editor is supposed to be correcting the newspaper and taking the side of the readers. He is not supposed to be the propaganda mouthpiece of the newspaper. How he misses this irony while lecturing readers who are correct, is a big mystery!