Sunday, April 19, 2009
Debunking The New Indian Express article on Rahul Gandhi's education controvesy
In the last week or so there The New Indian Express has carried out couple of articles carried hitting out on Rahul Gandhi saying his educational qualification given to EC in his nomination affidavit as wrong and also making insinuations against his potential qualities as a political leader and potential future PM of India. The same story has been carried by various blogs (Youthcurry and Offstumped are a couple to name).
I am surprised and shocked by the nature of the article appeared in The New Indian Express, may be it has served its purpose of hyping issues and a gimmick to attain instant celebrity status.
Fundamentally there are many loopholes in the article and the assertions made by the bloggers and the journalist from The New Indian Express. When I contacted one of the blogger, she had clearly not done her homework, she replied to me saying "in her judgment she felt it was factually correct and hence carried the article" in pursuit of truth.
Some of the glaring omissions in the article and the post are as follows:
1. Firstly how did this journalist get hold of the marks sheet of Rahul Gandhi. Under the UK data protection act it can’t be accessed by 3rd party unless there is a formal consent from the candidate in question. This immediately puts a suspicion on the credibility of the cited document.
2. Level and grade of education is not a criterion for serving the people, but what is more important is the intent to serve the people, and I don’t see any wrong in Rahul Gandhi's approach to it. There is no correlation between quality of education and type of leadership. Also there is no academic research which can throw any light regards to such an assertion.
3. India is much more than the cozy confines of our offices where we sit out and belt out such articles. Different regions of India have different issues. Rahul Gandhi is rightly traveling across the country to understand these problems. Like many big names in Indian politics he is treading in their path to understand the issues first hand. Again I don’t see any fault in his approach of traveling across India to understand the problems - this is single most important agenda for any politician to come face to face with ground realities.
4. Political leadership is all about making decisions - education is helpful, but clearly how much one scores in a subject is not a yardstick for ones performance as a political leadership. If all top rank holders in India in various fields would have been half as successful in understanding the complex problems of India and doing something for it then i am sure we could have seen a more mature political leadership. I am afraid there is no proof or can be no correlation between the education qualification and intent to serve. Hence the argument on Rahul scoring less marks in a subject and hence your assertion he cant be good politician is absurd.
5. Casting doubts and slagging a famous surname of India politics, and in doing so you are misleading the youth of the current generation who lap up even things which are untrue. Hence I would suggest exercising some caution. Being a journalist one is vested with enormous power to shape the thought process of countless readers of the newspaper - hence with great power there should also be a sense of responsibility. Which I am afraid I have not seen in the article. At the least you could have put a disclaimer at the end of your article.
6. Why is that all these articles appear only during election time - I do suspect a malicious intent!!!
Either he is in a hurry to make name and draw attention by making insinuations on Rahul Gandhi or plainly want to increase his newspaper circulation - either way not ethical.
I have been over the last few days trying to address this issue on various blogs who have lapped up your article as true. The amount of damage that the article has caused Rahul Gandhi is enormous. The least the journalist in question and the new paper group could do is make an unconditional apology to Rahul Gandhi.
I have now spoken to the communications office of Cambridge University and they have confirmed to me that Rahul Gandhi did indeed pass in the year 1994 -1995 as claimed in his affidavit to Election Commission.
The real issue here which I want to draw attention to is about ethical reporting be it in the mainstream print and digital medium or the blogspace. I am all for accountability in politics and the need to ask some Str8 and hard questions to our politicians, but the issue I have is in the pretext of asking Str8 questions, one should not make insinuations and character assassination. Person in question is immaterial.
Internet as a medium is very powerful in this age and day of technology and increasingly the urban population have taken to off stream media like blogs as a source of information based on which they shape and frame their opinions. Hence give this great power, it is at least reasonable to exercise some caution and responsibility before we write or in this case make insinuations.