The Indian armed forces are among the most professional and humanitarian of armed forces across the world. The officers and military bosses carry themselves with a lot of discipline and complete focus on safeguarding national security. The Pakistan military, on the other hand, is a terror outfit masquerading as armed forces. It exports terror to other countries while harassing and looting its own citizens for personal enrichment. Now, I know, you all will say, ‘we already know all this. It’s common knowledge!’ So, what’s new?
Well, the story is that not everyone in this country thinks the same way. There are people holding the Indian passport, having Indian names, and making a whole career writing for Indian audiences. So you’d expect that their loyalties would lie with the Indian Army. But that’s not the case. Not for The Hindu. Instead, this old Indian newspaper is struggling to hide its affection for the Pakistani Army and its hatred for India.
At a time when the whole nation was mourning, an Indian Newspaper, The Hindu insulted my first CDS General Bipin Rawat and it did so with impunity. Zero Shame.
So here’s what happened. On the 8th of December, General Bipin Rawat, with his wife Mrs Madhulika Rawat, Brigadier Lidder and 11 other Armed Forces personnel, got on a VVIP chopper from Sulur Airbase to reach Wellington station in Coonoor, where General Rawat was scheduled to deliver a lecture to the staff college.
And then, we all know what happened. The chopper crashed under unknown circumstances and most of the passengers died on the spot, including General Rawat. Our first Chief of Defence Staff.
The whole nation was weeping. It was mourning. I for one, could not eat or sleep, or even focus on my work for days. And the same goes for my colleagues, my family and friends. Every patriotic Indian had been shaken to the core in the same way that I had.
So when I saw The Hindu’s first-page headline the next day, my head started spinning. I was furious. Not only was the headline insensitive, but you see, when it came to addressing late Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, The Hindu addressed him as just “Rawat”.
On December 9, a headline appeared on the front page of The Hindu. It stated, “Rawat, 12 others killed in T.N. chopper crash”. This instantly raised a serious question- should a daily newspaper have addressed the top military officer of the country by his name, without prefixing his rank- “General”?
The rank of an Army Officer stays with him forever. And the officer should always be addressed by his or her rank, call it a strict rule or basic decency but it applies to everyone, including journalists.
Naturally, there was outrage all over social media against The Hindu’s shameful conduct. People were already very angry. And then came The Hindu’s explanation. And let’s just say, this explanation did not save this Communist newspaper’s sorry posterior. Instead, it only made things worse! You see, it was not just the common people, but the Army too, raised their objection.
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The Hindu editor justifies the headline
In the letters to the editor column of The Hindu, one of the letters drew attention towards the December 9 headline regarding General Rawat’s demise.
It stated, “We, on behalf of the defence personnel and veterans community, would like to draw the daily’s attention to its edition, dated December 9, 2021, and its Page 1 heading, “Rawat, 12 others killed in T.N. chopper crash”, which has left the defence personnel community disheartened and pained.”
The letter added, “The martyred Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, served more than 40 years in the defence services, having held various high posts and almost in charge of around 20 lakh defence services personnel (combined). More importantly, Gen. Rawat was next to the Armed Forces Supreme Commander, the President of India.” It further Stated, “The reference to “… 12 others”, in the heading, who were martyred as well, were of the rank of Brigadier, Colonel, and other junior officers, and were also in the service of the defence services. They all leave behind grieving family members.”
Now here comes The Hindu’s justification in a note. The editor’s note said, “The Hindu meant no disrespect whatsoever to General Rawat in the headline on December 9, 2021 of the report on his death. As a general rule, The Hindu avoids using honorifics and rank or designation in headlines. Again, as a general rule, The Hindu stylebook allows the use of only commonly recognised abbreviations or acronyms in headlines.”
Now pay attention. Firstly, The Hindu says that it avoids honorifics, ranks and designations in headlines, for everyone! Then what is this?
And their so-called ‘stylebook’ allows only the use of popular acronyms. Is ‘General’ not commonly recognised? And hell, What about CDS. an acronym that defined the role of India’s ultimate Military chief! The highest military office in the country!
In August 2020, this same paper published a web report with the headline, “Gen. Bajwa visits Riyadh after row over Kashmir.”
Aditya Raj Kaul, a noted journalist, also tweeted about this. He said, “The Hindu senior editor tells me that the above screenshot is comparing a newspaper headline with an online/web headline. Web has more space than a newspaper. I agree. Yet I feel if the newspaper has a policy it should be same for newspaper in print and for their web as well.”
Then he also tweeted, “A senior journalist friend shared another recent The Hindu headline on General Bipin Rawat. Just leaving it here. This headline interestingly contradicts the clarification issued by the newspaper after criticism faced on social media.”
So, The Hindu has referred to Pakistan’s Army chief Bajwa as “General Bajwa” in a headline in the past, and has no explanation for it. Even if we go by the clarification that web edition and printed edition have different policies, why did the daily newspaper use “General Rawat” in an earlier headline? And why could it not have written the rank again when reporting that the CDS had passed away? Why did it try to hurt the feelings of the nation and then defended its actions too? Well, that’s the Hindu for you. A newspaper recommended to UPSC civil service aspirants, and the same newspaper that publishes full-page ads praising the Chinese Communist Party in the middle of a military standoff with China. I for one, hope that Karma catches up with this rag soon.