IN the aftermath of the broken communication with Vikram, the lander from Chandrayaan-2, one of the scientists, Deviprasad Karnik (Director of Public Relations) came out to inform everyone of the situation.
What happened at that time was the most atrocious thing one can witness. The Science and technology lead reporter from NDTV, Pallava Bagla started shouting at ISRO’s Director of Public Relations demanding that the Chairman of ISRO be called to address the press and not a “junior scientist”!
The face of the ISRO scientist has to be seen to be believed. He had no answer and did not know how to address this brute.
Let us get a few things clear:
- It is NOT the prerogative of the press as to who from the organization will address a certain issue in front of them. It is the organization’s prerogative. Press can ASK questions and demand answers, which can be address there or offline.
- When a crisis happens, the top brass of a space agency is involved in more – yes, some jobs are MORE important than address bullies from press – important tasks like taking stock of the situation. In such moments, Director of Public Relations is the RIGHT person to handle the press meetings, NOT the Chairman of the organization!
- In moments of crisis, it is important to have some decorum. Even press – and specifically the press – needs to learn this lesson! Freedom of press is does NOT include freedom to bully!
And, this man Pallava Bagla is not a one time offender. He is a clueless idiot who poses as a “Science Reporter”. If you don’t believe me, watch him ask the most outrageous question, that even a 1st grader wont – from the Chief of ISRO. It shows his level of knowledge and his preparation when he is talking to a man of the level of accomplishments that ISRO Chief Sivan has. I mean, if you are going to interview the Chief of the best Space organization on the planet with an amazing record, won’t you at the very least prepare a bit?
Everyone knows that Chandrayaan-2 was an unmanned mission. To ask such a question shows that (1) he was wasting the audience’s time and attention, and (2) ISRO Chief’s time and work.
As expected the so-called journalists from NDTV closed ranks to save Bagla’s backside. Of course, the level of the “finest, most experienced journalists in the field (Science)” of NDTV shows in his own performance. He might as well have been the “Gulli Danda” expert. The level of questions and “expertise” wouldn’t have been much off.
A rare breed of science journalism, indeed!
Of course, to save the day for himself, Bagla gave a sham apology on Twitter. The idea was to show contrition and take the blame.
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But he is not a man who has any basic decency or proper conduct. He is a lout who uses his press card to humiliate whoever he can and has a history of being a brutish bully.
This series of tweets from Rakesh Kumar Simha, who had accompanied Pallava Bagla to a Konkan Railway junket in Goa shows the character of Bagla clearly.
What Bagla did to Deviprasad Bagla was no different from what he did to the attendants from Konkan Railway! His indecency and lout behavior was just the same.
So excuse me if I take his apology with a pinch of salt. For it means nothing. ISRO community and, specifically Mr Karnik are not the only ones whom he needs to apologize to. He has a whole lot of people who cannot shout back at him because he has a press card and can, therefore, have the power to create a narrative that can – very often – even destroy careers!
What Rakesh says about Bagla is not only restricted to Bagla. Simha suggests that this is a systemic problem. And it is. I remember very well in my stint as a Corporate Communications lead for an IPO of a Delhi company on how some press people would behave. One guy came up to me to inform me that he was ready to write a damaging piece unless our company pays him Rs 50,000. This was in 1994!
Press is a bully. And this sociopathic behavior of its members needs to be addressed! Freedom of press is not absolute. It cannot be and should NEVER be!
Anything that is absolute is damaging!
Bagla shows what is so pathetic about the entire press corp in India. He is not a one-off incident. Bagla is the real face of Indian Press! And it needs a deep surgery! Not a superficial make-up!