Glory Be, Shekhar Gupta dared to criticise the Indian Army!

09 Apr,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


The one way to annoy the journalistic community (I’m being generous and including TV-wallahs in this) is to write something uncomplimentary about the armed forces. As Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of Indian Express, has discovered, ever since he wrote a front page story about inexplicable troop movements towards New Delhi on January 16.


The story suggested that some in the government were worried about the army chief’s intentions especially since that was the day that VK Singh moved the Supreme Court over his age issue. There were questions raised about why the two divisions were abruptly sent back on ministry of defence instructions and why several protocols about moving towards the national capital had not been followed.


Outrage and condemnation burst out across the media. What, the Indian armed forces, the most glorious institution in the world had been accused of maybe, perhaps attempting a coup or at best acting in a suspicious manner or at the least not following the rules? Impossible. For 7 lakh years (I’m using the BJP’s Saraswati civilisation timeline here because jingoism always reminds me of the right wing) the Indian armed forces have been perfect, never set a foot wrong.


And now, to be accused of this, blah blah blah. I wonder what today’s media would have done to Emperor Ashoka when he decided to abjure violence after the Kalinga war. Can you imagine Ashoka being raked over the coals by Arnab Goswami, for daring to suggest that there had been too much bloodshed thanks to his soldiers?


Anyway, Gupta has now become the whipping boy of the media. In Mumbai, there’s a term for this media anger: “khunnas”. Hmmm, that is, a teeny bit of jealousy that no one else had interpreted the facts quite like that. But there’s also all that patriotic anger – when it comes to the armed forces, objectivity flies out the window. Meanwhile gossip is flying around – Gupta is a Congress stooge, he is not in the VK Singh camp, he wanted to make hay out of an old story, he never thought it would boomerang like this and so on.


Goswami on Times Now told us over and over again that some journalists with an “over-active imagination” had concocted this story. (Something TV can never be accused of possessing, oh no!) Several retired generals with large moustaches bristled with anger (how come we have so many of them, retired generals I mean, not moustaches?).


Newspapers wrote editorials against the Express story. Some pointed out that half the information had first appeared on Others said that the conclusions were a bit far-fetched. Not a single journalist bothered to investigate the two questions raised: one, if the troop movement was innocent, why did the divisions turn back and two, why were the protocols not followed and tangentially, is VK Singh as angelic as he is being made out to be?


Whatever it is, Gupta has learned one lesson. You can question God, you can tear down old and revered institutions and you can gossip about anyone you please but you cannot, cannot, cannot ever say anything negative about the Indian armed forces. Be warned, because otherwise, the wrath of Indian TV will fall on your head. Add all the anchors together and that’s quite a heavy burden to bear.


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One response to “Glory Be, Shekhar Gupta dared to criticise the Indian Army!”

  1. Rahul says:

    Your article just says that glory be to shekhar gupta caused he dared to criticize. Well this sounds a bit sad. Criticism should be on some facts. His was not. By your logic you will glorify someone who criticized x,y,z but was his criticism just for the sake of criticism or it had some matter …that you wont consider.

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