OPINION

The Ronen Sen Controversy: Grow Up, India!

August 22, 2007
Sujai

The recent Ronen Sen's controversy has resulted in one day’s loss of proceedings in the Indian Parliament. The Indian Legislators are fuming over the statements made by Ronen Sen (India’s envoy to US) in his interview to Rediff. It’s unbelievable that a diplomat’s opinions to media can fluster Indian Democracy so much that it has actually stalled its proceedings in the Parliament. Ronen Sen has even apologized but that doesn’t seem to satisfy our peevish parliamentarians.

Ronen Sen reportedly said:

“It has been approved here [Washington] by the President, and there [New Delhi] it’s been approved by the Indian Cabinet. So why do you have all this running around like headless chickens, looking for a comment here or comment there, and these little storms in a tea cup?”

He has later clarified that he was referring to his 'media friends' and not the legislators of India. And if you read this quote again, it indeed looks closer to referring to journalists than referring to Indian legislators. Such ambiguity in reference is NOT going to stop our undaunted lawmakers to make a fuss about it – so much so that, they thought it was enough to give themselves a holiday from work for one day. What a waste of time! And what a shame!

A note about media

Politicians, who are quite conversant with how media works, should especially understand how these sentences indeed were misquoted and misinterpreted by the media. They should have known by now how some sentences can convey completely different meaning when put out-of-context.

From my personal experience, I can say that, ‘yes indeed, such things happen on a regular basis in the media reporting’. When Outlook Money interviewed me (my supposed achievement being that I returned from the US to work in India), they completely made up the story. They reported that I was working in Chicago- when, in fact, there was not a single mention of that city in my interview. I had never worked in Chicago, and not anywhere close to that place, and hence the appearance of that city’s name in my context is completely unbelievable. But yet, such unbelievable stuff happens with the media.

In another incident, in an interview to IT magazine I said, ‘In India, when a fresher joins a small startup company, he is considered a loser’. And the IT magazine quoted me saying, ‘In India, a person starting a new company is considered a loser’. There’s a huge difference in these two messages.

We need to live with the fact that media does indeed get the interviewee into such mess. Such errors, misinterpretations, misquotes are quite prevalent. We can be little careful, but cannot avoid them completely. Such guffaws are bound to happen. We need to learn to tolerate them and move on. Not stall the Indian Democracy’s one day proceedings in the Parliament!

Need to grow up

India has to grow up. Its people have to grow up. Its politicians have to grow up. We seem to be ruffled by every sentence a person makes about us. While on the other hand we do indeed participate in rioting in our Parliament and Assembly proceedings, throwing speakers, chappals, chairs at each other, beating up each others, and sometimes even stripping the other, we get offended when someone comments on such behavior. Have a look at this video. Indian Democracy at work!

I maintain most of my blogs at sujai blog. E=mc^2.
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#1
sujith
August 22, 2007
06:51 AM

Dear Sujai,

I disagree. Even if Ronen sen's comments are directed at 'media friends', they are disgraceful and arrogant ramblings. He should be recalled. May he need reminding that Inidan democrasy isn't american democrasy.

#2
uma
URL
August 22, 2007
08:24 AM

I'm not familiar with this controversy but based on what you've written I do think that people in India (politicians, journalists, everyone) make a lot of fuss about nothing. And yes I also know how a person can be misquoted and what is said can be held against him/her for years.

#3
Chandra
August 22, 2007
09:17 AM


Politicians and Media are the same around the world ............last refuge for all scoundrels

Having said that, Ronen Sen is a moron. As a diplomat there are many things he should not have said. His apology confirms that

"Some of the comments attributed to me in this off-the-record conversation were, however, made by me in my personal capacity and do not reflect the positions of the government. I fully recognize that such personal views, even in a private conversation, should have been expressed with better judgement and due decorum. "

http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/aug/21sen.htm



#4
Sujai
URL
August 22, 2007
09:44 AM

Ronen may be a moron. We have so many morons around these days anyway. Do we stall proceedings of our Parliament each time a moron talks some bullshit?

#5
Chandra
August 22, 2007
10:52 AM

Sujai

No we dont. We register as voters, vote on election day and vote against them

rgds

#6
Nitin
URL
August 22, 2007
10:59 AM

Dear Sujith
i totally disagree with you. i'll start with correcting you its democracy not democrasy. well do a person have any kind of freedom of speech in this world or not? i think freedom of speech is a basic human right that most democracies give to its citizens. What Sen said was just his views about the media even if it was for politicians i do not see anything wrong with that. As an indian citizens its our duty to criticize and evaluate the people sitting in the parliament. Thats exactly what Sen did. If anybody should have a problem then that should be foreign ministry because they appointed him not BJP or Left parties and i suppose sen is an educated IAS officer unlike those illiterate politicians. try and find out how much it cost the people of India for the proceedings of the parliament. Stopping work over this issue is just stupid, if anybody had a problem with sen then they should've complained to foreign ministry and ask them to take action and not make a big mess about it. i hope indian democracy learn something from american democracy and do what is right.

#7
Atlantean
URL
August 22, 2007
12:30 PM

Sujith,

I disagree. Mr. Ronen Sen should be congratulated for two things:

First, for getting us a deal which has more in favour of India than against. For all his hardwork and effort, he needs to be congratulated.

Second, for speaking his mind. He was very frank. It doesnt matter if it was directed against the media or our holier-than-thou parliamentarians. It was clear he was venting his frustration at efforts to undo all his work. Was it politically incorrect? Yes, it was. But I dont care. Political correctness is a disease and some frank talk, however hurtful, is always useful. Moreover, our thickskinned parliamentarians care only when some blunt talk is done, as this episode has shown. I really regret that the Dec. 13 2001 attack was a failure.

And btw, why are our parliamentarians so upset about it? Do they think they really command respect among the people and the bureaucracy? No! Onefifth of them are goondas, murderers and criminals. You should read what Remo Fernandes had to say about Goa politicians a few days back. I can imagine and understand the pain of a bureaucrat at seeing his hardwork being undone by political opportunists from the Left and the BJP.

#8
hist
August 22, 2007
02:38 PM

Yes, Ronen Sen, MN Singh must be really frustrated as their hardwork is being wasted by chinese controlled commies.
When will politicians start thinking in interest of nation and not in interest of themselves or their parties?

#9
Chandra
August 23, 2007
02:05 AM

Atlantean


If only the PM and the local bureacracy put in so much effort to fix Indian institutions- Law enforcement and Judiciary for example. We would have

a. Improved quality of governance and resulting benefits
b. better performance as a nation and more international acceptability


rgds

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