Former army chief, Gen VK Singh (Retd) continues to have a love-hate relationship with the media. The combative soldier, now a minister of state in the external affairs ministry, came home last week after a hugely successful mission to evacuate Indians from a war-torn Yemen.
Irrespective of how the national media treated the evacuation mission done under his leadership, by all available bits, Gen Singh did a remarkable job. Then what explains this strange relationship with the media, some of who he referred to as 'presstitutes'?
We all know that the general wears his emotions on his sleeves, which is not a bad thing, but for someone in a position that he is, it can prove to be a disadvantage, especially if there are those who want to misinterpret what he says. But, has the media really been fair to him?
Let us look at the time he attended the reception at the Pakistan High Commission last month for their national day celebrations, the one which started this newest bout of acrimony with the media. First of all, I think it was a wrong call on part of the government to send him, so what if he is a minister and was duty bound to go, for THAT function. He is after all an army man, and all know the relationship we have with Pakistan, especially the fact that their army is openly hostile, foments trouble in India, even as our politically controlled response is invariably a measured one. At a time like that, when the general reacts, the media's response should've borne in mind the sensitivity, but we chose to sensationalize instead.
Then came the incident in Yemen, where he said that evacuating Indians from Yemen was less exciting than going to the Pak embassy. Let's be fair, it was a sarcastic comment, perhaps a dig at some of us too, but it was just that, and no more. I am sure he was still smarting under the undue chatter that accompanied his Pakistan High Commission visit. But our media raked it up, totally unnecessarily. Should the general, now that he is a minister, have been mindful of what he said, and to make it worse, followed it up by calling some in the media 'presstitutes'? He shouldn't have! It appeared flippant' Having said that though, we too perhaps need to accept things in the spirit that they are said and not latch on to every word just because we may have a score to settle.
We are proud how the general marshaled the evacuation process in Yemen. It demanded precision and planning that only a top notch army man could have managed. Full marks to the government for deputing him for the job.
And before I end, do take a look at how the foreign media covered India's operation Rahat (rescue). It's almost gushing in praise. Let us give the man, and the team he marshaled, their due too.
How BBC saw operation Rahat
How CNN saw operation Rahat
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.