News Without Principle

Journalism is not the only broken institution in India—but restoring its moral values is an urgently necessary step toward ending a national culture of corruption

01 January 2011
The practice of public figures demanding pre-publication approval will cripple press freedom in India. Above is a slide run by Karan Thapar before the broadcast of an interview with P Chidambaram in 2008.

THIS-SCAM BLESSED YEAR has become an imperative to bring back higher moral principles in our public life—from journalism to politics to corporate governance.

“Journalism has not been this much fun for a long time,” a newspaper vendor named Ashok told me earlier this week. In this misty, sleepy Delhi winter, more and more people are stopping by the carpet of periodicals Ashok sells on a footpath outside one of the city’s nicer residential colonies. “Outlook, Mail Today and Open have been in demand for the last couple of weeks. And more people buy Times of India too,” Ashok said, rubbing a glass of hot tea in his palms.

It’s no wonder Ashok’s business is booming—the shock and masala on display in the headlines over the last several months has been unprecedented: CWG officials appropriating government funds; top army officers and politicians taking possession of apartments meant for the families of war martyrs; and a smart policy-pimp facilitating the loss of billions of rupees from the exchequer in the course of helping her clients exert influence in Delhi.

Vinod K Jose is the Executive Editor of The Caravan.

Keywords: corruption CAG Vinod K Jose Chidambaram Outlook scam Times of India Niira Radia Karan Thapar journalism