At the outset let me clarify this post has primarily nothing to do with AOL or Sri Sri Ravishankar or Francois Gautier (though 90% of the post is a reproduction of an Op-Ed column by FG in DNA). All concerned material is reproduced in this post just for reference of those who haven’t read the events that triggered this post (Money power and Colonial Hangover of our Main Stream Media has ensured that these materials are taken off their official Websites). However if you dont wish to browse through that, you can stop at the place I have marked as Techically End of Blog.
This post is purely about the Media role – (Read DNA’s role) in the entire episode. An article that appears in print (which is still available as I write this) but taken off from its online version due to some extraneous reasons that baffles everyone (the only reason and justification that seem to come out for taking it down comes from from the supposedly aggrieved party, the Frech Journalist Pierre Monegier who has taken it upon himself to reply to questions posed to DNA).
An Op-Ed by Francois Gautier which was published in the Print Edition of The DNA, “How Modern-Day Gurus Are Crucified” took serious objection to projection of some contents on this Video report (Updated the video link on 15/07/2012) by Pierre Monegier telecast by France 2 Television Channel on 4th July 2012.
My understanding of an Op-Ed in any Media house (worth its salt, that is) is an opinion of an approved Panelist, on which there could be divergent views and possibly someone may feel aggrieved too. The ethical and professional approach in case of any such objection is to allow an aggrieved party a platform to mount their defence or counter the objectionable viewpoint. But what does DNA do? Take down the original Column with not so much of an information or explanation to the readers atleast. And then let loose the aggrieved party Mr. Pierre Monegier on the Social Media to cry from roof top that he has HAD his way.
Please read his tweets to me and other tweeples on this issue below. Was the author, Francois Gautier explained or his view point taken before taking this decision of taking down the columns. Where is the justification for us readers who expect that the Media house explains its action. Or just because a “Foreign” journalist feels aggrieved is a good enough reason to take it down and DNA doesn’t think it owes us any explanation. Going by the tweets that was sent out by the Journalist, it is obvious that decision was unilatera. If his claims are to be believed, the foreign journo also has got the Long time Columnist banned. Also now he gets to write a counter in DNA to a “column that never exist” (As on 14th July – 10:30, nothing claimed by Pierre has happened) SO ON EVERY QUESTION THAT IS DIRECTED TO DNA PIERRE HAD TAKEN UPON HIMSELF TO CLARIFY – says a lot on DNA!!!
Way to Go, Indian media and DNA. Who said we are independent nation? Nation may be, but media still has a lot of colonial hangover. Read some exchanges here
(Tweet No 1 of the day – Someone barges in uninvited)
(Tries to Threaten but still fails to answer me)
(Open Threat to another Tweeple)
(Condescending Fails again – Someone who never knew staking claim to be the Doer )
(Taking a Swipe from my Shoulder – He says I am not the aim, shooting at someone)
(Someone who had no clue, suddenly tries to become a hero here and sarcasm that did not work )
Clarification sought from DNA and it is not them who Answers 🙂
(And a small confession from the aggrieved Frenchman that he was bad) – Important to Note my reply too
(Kiss and Make up? Yes. But not on this issue as yet – I still await DNA’s response)
Pierre can be adorable friend, but not Pierre’isms
This is the French style. On a straightforward question to DNA, this guy barges in and tries to clarify, tries to threaten and fails. On posing a few more question clarifies that he is using my shoulder to shoot (Zidanne style), then tried sarcasm (you know the results when a French tries English sarcasm) And then Self-Certifies finally in a moment of remorse that one day we will know he was not the bad guy. Wah! But right now, Let me reserve the judgement. I wouldn’t say he is a bad guy. I only suspect that he did a bad/unethical job as a journalist colluding with another media house (we will expose what was the carrots dangled as a deal). My concern as a media watcher, starts and ends there.
A few questions to DNA
- Would same alacrity and speed in bringing down the column on your online edition be shown if the objecting party was an Indian.
- “The Most villified politician of our times, Sri Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat has been accused of Pogrom. Courts after courts ruled in his favor. Despite legal clearance, every single slanderous article are still on its website.” Why that liberty when it comes to Indians? And kid glove treatment to a white-skinned guy.
- What is that counter column that Pierre gets to Publish? When you allow a counter-point, isn’t it only fair that you have the “point” there in the first place.
- It looks ridiculously silly to read a tirade against something that doesn’t exist
- What about us readers? Are you not taking our intelligence and tolerance for granted.
- Don’t you think you owe an explanation as to why the column has been taken down. If the legal threat that Pierre issued (as per his claims) is what made you chicken out, does it mean it just takes a notice from a lawyer to control contents on your portal?
- What are the norms you follow in allowing publication of an Op-Ed from our long time empanelled columnists?
- Doesn’t it reflect terribly bad on your Editorial capability and competence if something that has to be taken down is already in circulation in print and was available online for ages (yes a few hours amounts to ages in this age)
Hope you show same speed replying to the above questions that you displayed in deleting online contents in. Speed reminds me of that classical French jokes (it was my personal experience – the speed with which I was getting response appeared that every response was calibrated – legally I guess)
French never Barbeque because the snails keep slipping between the grills.
And in the infinite wisdom of Mark Twain (not my quote)
There is nothing lower than the human race…except for the French.
Section that follows is added later in the night, when more confession was forthcoming from the supposedly aggrieved Journalist.
From a mere question of media behaviour, I now see a more sinister design on the role of this Television channel backed by some unknown forces. While during the entire episode, it was maintained that the telecast of that module was about Importance of Spirituality and Religion in India he drops guard and concedes that the purpose was to carry out a “hit-job”, making the agenda more sinister . As I write this, some of my sources in the media (yes, we also maintain our sources that cannot be revealed) say 2 more large Spiritual Organizations has been targeted by this Channel (these are not objectively evidenced yet to me and hence not detailed in this post – will post the link when there is official response from those organizations).
- Was there a systematic agenda to target Indian religious leaders and organizations?
- Who was the sponsor of this attempted hit job?
- What is the true Agenda and deliverables from this hit-job?
These questions needs an answer from France 2 and the “aggrieved” reporter.
(Here we go, at the fag end, the Reporter blurts out that it indeed was an attempted hit job and not what was claimed)
Now that the agenda and maliciousness behind it is confirmed I sign off with my final snapshot which puts the whole episode in to the context.
The role of Indian Media house, DNA in the entire episode and their Absolute Silence is baffling and says more than the words. The initial question was just what is in the above tweet snapshot. “What was the reason for taking down the Column”
Larger questions:Are we seeing a systematic attempt to denigrate India and its traditions by a foreign Channel? Is France 2 indulging in subversive/divisive activities?
Story doesn’t end here. Awaiting blogs and official response from the other two organizations targeted. We will not tolerate a shoot and scoot approach from any Media.
PS: Also happen to receive a lengthy exchange a friend of mine had with Pierre – reveals a lot of insecurity in him. On a nothing, threatened my friend, that he would be sued to. Until it was pointed out, that he could be sued for the rants he launched. Suffice to say, My friend dealt with this kiddo very well.
Too lengthy (and if my friend allows), I would have loved to post it here too. Since it was a personal exchange I think I would be doing a France 2 act if I were to publicise it. Matters rested
The clincher – Nothing that Pierre claimed happened finally calling this guy’s bluff.
- The Article is pretty much on the site.
- His letter that he claims to have got published is not true – When asked he could not give any link and we never found it anywhere on the website of DNA too
- His column that was to appear next day in DNA never appeared even 3 days later.
– No more updates on this Blog- In case more I have something more, we bring out a Part-2 🙂
Technically – The END
The section that follows is only for those who are interested in reading what was in the DNA column earlier, the original video and some links where those are available. Most of them have been taken down from their official websites (but available in various other locations), so bringing in this to clear the context of my post above.
How modern-day gurus are crucified
One of the greatest and most poignant mysteries of life is how every time man errs and darkness engulfs us, the Supreme, the Divine, or whatever name we give It, sends down upon earth His instruments — the avatars, shaktis, gurus, yogis, saints, vibhutis — to help humanity.
Most of these instruments are vilified in their own time, and only when they die are they deified. In the old days, avatars and gurus were physically tortured: Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross by his own people. Nowadays, there is no need to crucify gurus physically; they are just pilloried by the media. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, one of the most selfless gurus today, whose pranayama techniques have benefited millions, and whose volunteers work tirelessly all over the world to alleviate pain, has been attacked again and again.
Recently, Pierre Monegier, the Delhi-based correspondent of France 2, the French national channel, approached the Art of Living Foundation with an apparently innocuous request for an interview: ‘We are planning to do a story on the importance of religion and spirituality in India.’ The request was granted and Monegier and his reporter, Nida Hasan, were allowed access to every corner of the Bangalore ashram, as well as an interview with SSRS. This is what came out on July 4 in the prime time news of France 2: Sri Sri was introduced by a voice over as the ‘head of a vast flourishing business.’ The Bangalore ashram was described as being ‘a gigantic resort with many hotels and restaurants (absolutely false), and innumerable shops dedicated to Sri Sri Shankar.’
This link taken down http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRJJDojz-G0
Updated on 15/07/2012: For reasons (un)known France 2 takes this Video down from Youtube –Says a lot now about the move
Importance was given to images showing devotees touching SSRS’s feet, or asking him to hug them (with voice), and having tears in their eyes, as Monegier knew it would shock French viewers not used to the Indian ways of devotion. Then, Monegier stated: ‘Most disciples pour into the organisation 10% of their income,’ which is a lie. Finally, of the interview with SSRS, they chose only one quote, which could again shock the French: ‘I am like any other doctor — a specialist who can bring happiness to people… the ultimate goal of money is after all happiness’ and Monegier concluded: ‘Some of these auto-proclaimed popes of Hinduism have a flavor of scandal to them.’
Now this is a serious matter: what if an Indian journalist based in Paris asked for an interview with the Cardinal of Paris, lying about his true intentions, and used the opportunity to defame the Cardinal and French Catholicism in general? His or her visa would not be renewed or could even be revoked at once. Usually, it is very easy to denigrate gurus and Hindus — and probably Monegier and Hasan banked on that. But this time, everybody has reacted: the Art of Living is considering filing a defamation suit against France 2 India; the French embassy in India and the Indian embassy in Paris have been contacted and an Indian government official has said that ‘he was appalled by the France 2 footage.’
The accusation of Gurus being super-rich, running empires, having assets in tax-free countries is nothing new. But what I have seen with my own eyes is that a guru starts with a few disciples, and as the ashram grows, people have to be fed, expenses met. Then he has satsangs, which have to be paid for, departments have to be started to run housing for guests, kitchens, administration… At some point donations are not enough and extra money is sought through sales of DVDs, ayurvedic products, photos… France 2 focused on the shops of the Art of Living ashram in Bangalore, even having a close-up of a cash register in an ayurvedic outlet and a saleswoman with a bundle of rupees in her hands. From the beginning, Sri Sri has tried to revive ayurveda in India, seeing how every third shop here is an allopathic one and that this ancient, wise and unique medical system was slowly dying.
Sri Sri started his own ayurvedic factory under one of his most senior disciples and brought out some pioneering products, which today are marketed under Sri Sri Ayurveda. What’s wrong with that?
True, in the end, a movement like the Art of Living has to be run like a multinational — yet every rupee is poured back into seva projects or into ashrams that are always running into losses.
France 2’s film is highly biased, and is a direct attack on India’s ancient culture. That France is only the 11th biggest investor in India, behind smaller countries like Belgium or Mauritius, is undoubtedly due to the wrong image that is propagated by channels like France 2. Will Pierre Monegier get away with what he has done?