The PMO-WaPo Letters: An Updated Summary
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has lodged a formal protest with Washington Post newspaper for an article critical of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, terming it as "unethical and unprofessional" conduct of the journalist.

The PMO, in its reaction posted on the US-based newspaper's website, has said the story was "totally one-sided" as the journalist "never" got in touch with the PMO for its version.

In a separate but related development The Washington Post on its part has offered a correction to the original story:

Correction:

An earlier version of this article failed to

credit the Caravan, an Indian magazine, for two statements that it originally published in 2011. The assertion by Sanjaya Baru, a former media adviser, that Singh had become an object of ridicule and endured the worst period in his life first appeared in the Caravan, as did an assertion by Ramachandra Guha, a political historian, that Singh was handicapped by his “timidity, complacency and intellectual dishonesty.” While both men told The Post that the assertions could accurately be attributed to them, the article should have credited the Caravan when it used or paraphrased the remarks.

The article has been updated.

The full texts of the letter sent by the PMO to the Washington Post and its response are given below, as taken from the daily's website:

Letter from the PMO:

Dear Simon,
We do not complain about criticism of the government which is a journalist’s right. But I am writing this letter for pointing out unethical and unprofessional conduct at your part.
I would like to put on record my complaint about your article which was published today on many counts:
— Despite all lines of conversations open, you never got in touch with us for our side of the story though you regularly talk to me about information from the PMO. This story thus becomes totally one sided.
— You have been telling the media here in India that your request for an interview was declined though the mail below says clearly that the interview was declined “till the Monsoon Session” of the Parliament which gets over in two days.
— When I rang you up to point this out, you said sorry twice though you tell the media here that you never apologised.
— Your website where we could have posted a reply is still not working, 11 hours after you said sorry the third time for its inaccessibility.
— The former Media Adviser to the PM Dr Sanjaya Baru has complained that you “rehashed and used” an 8 month old quote from an Indian Magazine.
We expected better from the correspondent of the Washington Post for fair and unbiased reporting.
Without going into your one sided assessment of the Prime Minister’s performance, as comment is free in journalism, I hope you will carry this communication in full in your paper and your website so your readers can judge for themselves what is the truth.
Sincerely
Pankaj Pachauri
Communications Adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office
New Delhi - India

Response from Simon Denyer, author of the article and WaPo's India bureau chief:

Thanks for your comments. I wanted to respond point-by-point:

— I requested an interview with the PM on three occasions, and also with T.K.A Nair, Advisor to the Prime Minister, and with Pulok Chatterji, Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office. Those requests were either ignored or declined.

— When I made my final request for an interview with the PM in July, I was told on July 30 “The PM has declined all interview requests till the Monsoon session is over.” At that stage the current session of parliament (known as the Monsoon session) of parliament had not even begun. There was no mention of the possibility of an interview afterwards. In any case my story touches on the fact that parliament has been adjourned every day throughout the current session by opposition calls for the PM to resign, which is a story I felt should be told, interview or not.

Indeed, we remain extremely interested in speaking to the prime minister.

— My apology was for the fact that the website was down and the PM’s office could not post a reply directly. As soon as the problem was fixed, I informed them. I stand by the story.

— I spoke to Dr Baru personally on the telephone during the reporting for the story. He confirmed that these sentiments were accurate.

Regards,

Simon Denyer


Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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Digression

21/D-31
Sep 13, 2012
10:24 AM

Now that the matter is going to be faded day by day and ultmately going out of mind and memories of the people ,yet the Washington Post has not in clear worded sought an apology from the PMO . The same should have been rectifing explicitely clear to what the PMO has protested and expressed it`s displeasure. An exclusive publication  in it`s regular issues should have been aired.

Parshuam Gautampurkar, Sawai Madhopur-Rajasthan
20/D-139
Sep 07, 2012
08:05 PM

One learning for me from all this is knowing of a magazine called "Caravan" in India and that it might be a good read. Where does one get this?

Arun,

A few months back Caravan carried one very insightful essay on Dr. Manmohan Singh. It was very detailed - not so very laudatory - critique of Dr. Singh's political legacy , if legacy is the correct word. This monthly can be bought in any largish wayside paper / mag stall. 

MANISH BANERJEE, KOLKATA
19/D-96
Sep 07, 2012
01:15 PM
Comment removed for violation of Website Policy
Anwaar, Dallas
18/D-91
Sep 07, 2012
12:27 PM

Arun,

Here it is. You will like it:

www.caravanmagazine.in/

Anwaar, Dallas
17/D-74
Sep 07, 2012
10:58 AM

The PMO should not get into such offensive/defensive actions. Will Pankaj Pachauri realise that he's not a TV Anchor now to venture into polemics/debates!?

R Raghavan, Chennai
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