Friday, November 22, 2013

Tarun Tejpal, Tehelka and sting operation against AAP...

Two breaking news headlines grabbed my attention yesterday, one was sting operation against newly formed political party AAP by some website called Media Sarkar, and other was sexual misconduct or rape charges against Tehlka's editor in chief Mr. Tarun Tejpal. In both the cases integrity and actions of entire organization or party was questioned because of misconduct of few individuals, no doubt the questions raised in both the cases are serious and they need to be addressed but that should not be the reason to target the entire organization and try to bring it down to which these people belong. 

No doubt that Tarun was integral part of Tehelka (I understand that he resigned from his position so he is no more with Tehelka) but Tarun is not Tehelka and Tehelka is not Tarun, people should learn to differentiate the organization from the individual, the magazine has done lot of good work in past and all that work is result of many creative and courageous journalist, whatever Tarun did is wrong and disgusting, it's his own responsibility and he should face the law and whatever punishment comes his way, it is also true that in a way this whole issue was handled by Shoma Choudhary, managing editor of Tehelka raised eyebrows, people expected somewhat better and strict action from them rather than something which looked like an attempt to downplay the incident or a coverup, I hope they don't intend to do this otherwise it will be sad to see one entire organization going down because of action of few people. Sexual harassment at workplace is very serious issue, Indian government as well as private organizations need to do lot of work in this area so that these type of crimes are promptly reported and investigated to punish the culprits, no matter who they are, victims of these crimes (male or female) need all the support and encouragement they need. Tarun Tejpal's case looks pretty black and white as per media reports, it seems he himself accepted his mistake, now law enforcement agencies need to take proper action and deliver the justice. As per reports he showed his willingness to cooperate with investigating agencies, this is also kind of positive reaction (only silver lining in this whole shameful episode) because in past many celebrities or politicians didn't even accept any such incident when similar charges were leveled against them, but this doesn't reduce seriousness and shameful nature of his crime, such behaviour should be condemned and punished. Many times such crimes go unreported because of several reasons, there has to be a proper system and mechanism to detect and monitor such crimes.

Another news was about sting operation against AAP, a newly formed party which is creating big waves in Delhi assembly elections, both Congress and BJP (two biggest national political parties in India, with huge backing and money power) are facing tough competition from them, actually no one (including me) expected AAP to get so much popularity and to create such a impact in their first election. Sting operations are integral part of investigative journalism, this technique is used to expose crimes which are difficult to prove otherwise, by definition sting operation is a deceptive operation used to catch a person committing a crime. This method has been used successfully to expose many bribery scandals, corrupt practices in politics and bureaucracy. At the same time edited versions of video footage of these operations can be used to project certain image  of a person or party (positive or negative) by using technique of selective editing or cut-paste technique, therefore any inquiry paned investigating allegations based on these type of operations likes to see raw (or unedited) footage of any such sting operations, this is very common practice. AAP is demanding the same and I think they are within their rights with this demand, they also promised strict action against anyone who is found guilty after examination by their own panel or any independent constitutional agency (like election commission). Timing of this sting operation is also questionable and looks very motivated to malign image of AAP just before the election. I think their response was fairly positive and they are willing to accept that there might be something which needs immediate attention, but they are in this dirty game of politics where it seems anything is fair as long as it helps you to win power, this is how political games are played in India. This party entered the political arena not only with an intention to win but with intention to change the rules of the game, to make it more transparent and fair for everyone. Today in India politics is considered as dirty game, politicians are assumed to be corrupt and greedy by common people, may be if more good people enter this profession they can change its image and this is what I want AAP to do, they should force other parties to field good, honest candidates with clean records, at least make them not to give tickets to people with serious criminal record, or people who are facing serious cases against them in court, if they can do this, this itself will be a huge improvement according to me.

Time will tell what will be the result of both the investigations (hopefully very soon), but in both cases entire organization should not be blamed for misconduct of few people involved with that organization. I still don't think that it's correct to label all leaders from BJP or Congress as corrupt because many of them seem to be like that, there are many sincere and honest people in all these parties also but as these parties are huge percentage of corrupt people are also more, so I am against gross generalization. But at the same time I am not happy in general with double standards used by these parties and also with their very complacent attitude towards corruption, they are directly or indirectly responsible for institutionalizing the corruption. I hope this situation will change in near future and people of India will get more accountable and clean government which they desperately need and deserve, I hope parties like AAP act as a catalyst to initiate this reaction of cleaning the system on larger scale, the question is not only about AAP or dreams of Arvind Kejriwal, the question is about expectations and hopes of millions of Indians who are waiting for the day when they get really clean and accountable government and I think their hopes deserve chance, their dreams deserve consideration.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Links:
1. Mission Lokpal by Media Sarkar
2. Tehelka's Tarun Tejpal: Sex scandal batters India's top investigative title
3. http://www.tehelka.com/statement/
4. Tehelka case: Tarun Tejpal had totally different version, says Shoma Chaudhury
5. Why Sting Operation on AAP came just before Assembly Elections?

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