The attitude of the section of media and particulary Times of India during the visit of Saudi king raises serious questions. It decided suddenly not to use honorifics for the visitor and dropped even the word King before his name.
Fistly, the stand was faulty because until Jan 26 the paper wasÃ‚Â mentioning him asÃ‚Â King Abdullah. Secondly, the paper does not adhere to what it preaches. Had it been writing the modern spiritual gurus like Sri Sri Ravishankar as just Ravishankar andÃ‚Â other TOI’s own list of dignitaries the recent goof-up wouldn’t haveÃ‚Â caused such embarrassment to paper. Bush becomes President Bush or Just Prez as if he is president of India or world even in headlines and rarely mentioned as US President Bush.
But surprisingly King Abdullah remains just Abdullah. Meanwhile,Ã‚Â let me make clear that if Times decides not to adds any prefixÃ‚Â to Abdullah’s name or even stops mentioning him I don’t care but what it did was really bizarre and ultimately when the paper was exposed, it had to publish a clarification in the form of editorial that further eroded its credibility.Ã‚Â In fact the name of Saudi monarch was publishedÃ‚Â as Abdullah again and again in one story and so casually that it seemed deliberate. It must have evoked reaction so the paper later came out with an editorial on Jan 27 under the title ‘In the republic royal honorifics are out of place’ where it wrote that:::
Ã‚Â ”We had also consciously dropped the honorific for the visiting Saudi king. This is not in any way to slight or to show disrespect to Abdullah. Rather this is to put into perspective the aura surrounding heads of state. There is a need to deconstruct the pomp and splendour around visiting dignitaries. Heads of state are not supernumerary figures of authority. Though Abdullah is a hereditary ruler, from the perspective of a mature democracy he ought to be seen as someone who merely governs his nation. This is as true for Abdullah as for any other visiting head of state. They are guests of the government and entitled to certain privileges as dictated by protocol. But there is no need for the media or the public to do the same. Even in the language that we use, we have fallen into the trap of according superior status to heads of state. When we talk about governments in India and elsewhere, we often say X or Y has come to power. The reality is, however, that the people elect heads of government. And they can be as easily unelected.
Part of the blame can be laid on the media, which is inclined to describe governments as regimes. How often have we heard of the Indira or the Rajiv regime, hence giving it royalist overtones. This is in some waysÃ‚Â emblematic of the awe…..BLAH BLAH”
Now see how the paper ends up with egg on its face. A clarification that is printed in editorial. That’s bad. I don’t want to mention Pioneer that has a history of 130 years and the great institution has been turned into a phamphlet of propaganda. But what I do want to say is that lately there is a tendency to be harsh on Saudis.
Take the recent example of the Jama Masjid renovation. Some newspapers twisted it to hilarious levels. Isn’t it a shame that the country which first opened its doors to Indians for jobs, long before Indians in hordes reached US for software jobs, should be treated in such a shabby manner.
The fact that 25 lakh Indians work in Gulf should not be forgotten so easily and so the fact that we owe the first wave of prosperity in India to the Gulf. In this context it is really bad on part of certain media groups to try to portray the Saudi Arabia as a state that encourages terrorism and fundamentalism etc.