Express’s excellent expose of Kiran Bedi’s inflated bills

20 Oct,2011

By Ranjona Banerji

 

The prize for the day must go to the Indian Express and its expose of accounting fiddles by former IPS officer Kiran Bedi. This prominent member of Team Anna, according to the Express report, regularly overcharged NGOs and other organisations for her airfare by travelling cheap and submitting inflated bills.

TV channels soon picked up and the story and it must be remembered that they have been at the vanguard of the cheerleading squad for Anna Hazare and his movement. By mid-day, Bedi was on air offering a plaintively-voiced explanation and claiming she had done no wrong. Bedi’s answer to the Indian Express follows, without comment as it speaks for itself: “We follow transparent methods of functioning and volunteer to be questioned or audited. Every penny in our work is accounted for and is for the facilitation of causes we espouse… We have been very conscientious of trust and responsibility… And hence punctual and meticulous in our systems.”

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The media, it has to be remembered, flatters to deceive. Too much expectation should not be placed on endless support for any person or movement, no matter how glamorous or well-meaning. The Anna Hazare movement thought it was good PR to go out of its way to thank the media for its “support” – mainly the non-stop TV coverage of Hazare’s fast at Ramlila Maidan in August.

Unfortunately for Hazare’s team – and unfortunately for the principles of journalism! – the positive one-sided coverage given to Team Anna could only last so long.

Cynicism and scepticism will usually triumph over adulation – one must remember that the so-called adulation of celebrities is usually PR and marketing driven and will also go the way of all things one day. One suspects that the internet will push that change faster than our little media darlings realise.

As for the rest of the world, some disgruntlement soon emerges. Poor Rahul Gandhi, who a few months ago was seen as a worthy heir apparent, is now pilloried all over the place and is often portrayed as the font of all problems. Extreme perhaps but inevitable.

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One which note, I was quite happy that the baby shower party for Aishwariya and Abhishek Bachchan completely passed me by. I only got to hear of it through Twitter and haven’t stopped congratulating myself on my escape!

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