Should a newspaperman tell? This is always a difficult decision to make because, in the process of speaking out, he runs the risk of annoying somebody, somewhere. In the case of the government in India, the tendency to hide and feel horrified once the truth is uncovered is greater than in an individual. This is apparently so because, in official jargon, “repercussions” are wider. But what are these “repercussions”, and who assesses them? Such questions are never answered.
Somehow, those who occupy high positions labour under the belief that they—and they alone—know what the nation should be told and when. And they get annoyed if news they do not like appears in print. Their first reaction is to contradict it and dub it mischievous. Later, when they realise that a mere denial will not convince even the most gullible, a lame explanation is offered: things have not been put “in proper perspective”. Sometimes, the government gets away with its version of the story. More often, it loses credibility. Governments cannot afford to have even an iota of doubt raised about what they say or do. Somehow, New Delhi is not conscious of this fact.