Recently India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was called a ‘poodle’ by The Independent. This was after US based TIME magazine called him an ‘underachiever’. Such negative press is a handiwork of the neoliberal forces as Time is owned by Time warner based out of United States and The Independent has been a loss making enterprise which is now owned by Alexander Lebedev, a rich Russian ex-spy who is buying out media in London. While Time magazine is well known in India, The Independent is a paper distributed for free and calling our Prime Minister a poodle, has proved to be its lucky claim to fame.
I am not a big fan of Manmohan Singh’s statesmanship and in fact I regard him as one the weakest PMs in the history of India. Still I strongly oppose international media’s use of words like ‘poodle’ for a man who is the prime minister of a respectable, sovereign and powerful country like India. A healthy criticism is welcome but the words used by The Independent can’t be regarded as appropriate. I agree with the Time and The Independent on the point of corruption and sluggish economic growth. So many scams under his stewardship point at his own inabilities. While his fellow party men regard Sonia as a super PM, I remember a statement made by him after he was asked to resign; He said that he will hold the PM’s position until Sonia ji has confidence in him. It’s like he is only bothered about how Sonia feels and not about the genuine concerns of people of India.
Still for all the faults that lie with the man in point, I consider this kind of journalism as cheap. It seems, they just make such kind of controversial headlines only to increase their sales. While South Asia is an important market for Time, loss making The Independent also garnered some free publicity with the poodle controversy. In addition to this, the way The Independent changed its headlines, seems like even they are not sure about what they think of Manmohan Singh. The Independent’s website started the day with the headline which asked: “Manmohan Singh: India’s saviour or Sonia’s poodle?” Perhaps someone thought ‘poodle’ is what Tony Blair was to George Bush, so it was replaced with ‘puppet’ and the headline thus stood amended to: “Manmohan Singh: India’s saviour or Sonia’s puppet?” Within a few minutes, however, the headline was back to “poodle” till finally it was edited to the Time magazine formulation, viz: “Manmohan Singh: India’s saviour or just the underachiever.”
What I want to ask these west-based media organizations is don’t they see their own ‘poodles’? Prime Minister David Cameron is ruling at a time when UK is going through the biggest slump in its economy since the 19th century. Why the British media didn’t criticise him like they criticised Manmohan Singh? President Obama has seen 8 trillion US$ shaved off the wealth of Americans during his reign. Why didn’t Time call him underachiever too? British Prime Minister also works under the shelter of Queen, does this means he is also a Queen’s poodle. If the Indian media started calling David Cameron as Queen’s lackey what kind of reaction can we expect?
It’s not right to call him a ‘poodle’ no matter how ineffective he is for the honourable position he is occupying. But blame our media too! After all, they celebrate every time some dumb and clueless Western Journalist calls Narendra Modi a “mass murderer”, “demagogue”, “extremist Hindu fundamentalist”, “modern day Hitler” – and all this on the basis of a mix of hearsay, biases, prejudices with no facts to back them up. I was disappointed with the way Congress party reacted to this whole issue. Congress should understand that they just didn’t call Manmohan Singh a dog, but infact they have insulted Prime Minister of India. This is not just the insult of Mr. Manmohan Singh or the Congress party, it’s an insult to the whole country and I hope everyone registers a strong protest against this.