India, the Republic, is now on sale. Participating in the auction is a group of powerful individuals, corporate houses, lobbyists, bureaucrats and journalists — Outlookindia.com.
Some magazines have reproduced telephone conversations between lobbyists and media persons that besmirch the fair name of journalism. To redress the balance, here are transcripts of conversations that show us hacks in a considerably brighter moral light.
Lobbyist: Hi, this is Ms X.
Hack: Begone, wicked Jezebel.
Lobbyist: I want you to tell some of the people you know in the political party that they should talk to Z if they want to form a government.
Hack: Have you no shame, evil one. How can you ask me to do this dark, satanic deed?
Lobbyist: Because I am a power-broker.
Hack: Depraved woman, do you think I am a repulsive creature who will do favours for my sources so that I can get exclusive stories from them? I will do nothing of the sort.
Lobbyist: Hullo, this is Ms X. Would you be interested in doing a story about the dispute between my very big shot client and his equally high profile rival?
Lobbyist: My client wants to present his side of the story.
Scribbler: Why should I listen to his biased account? Or to the other side’s biased account? I am a journalist who knows everything about everything under the sun. I don’t need to talk to anybody. Get thee hence, thou repugnant harpy.
Lobbyist: Hi, this is Ms X. I just wanted to confirm all those appointments you wanted set up with my clients.
Editor: Oh yeah?
Lobbyist: The meeting with A, head honcho of Huge Co. is tomorrow, the meeting with B, big shot of Gigantic Inc, is day after and C, boss of Superstar Co, will meet you today.
Lobbyist: Also, I wanted to say how hurt my client was by the story your reporter broke about him. It would be great if you could publish an apology.
Editor: Do you think I will do such a mean thing merely to get appointments with these big shots so that my TV channel can break news stories and get more TRPs, so that I get kudos and earn more money? How low can you stoop, thou fallen woman? Get lost, vile one.
(Editor immediately promotes the reporter.)
Lobbyist: Hi, this is Ms X. I wanted to tell you why my client M is so much better than his rival A. Presswallah: Are you a lobbyist?
Presswallah: How have you plumbed these depths Ms X? Do you not have a shred of dignity? Repent, woman, before you are laid low by righteous wrath.
Lobbyist: Bless you, you have opened my eyes, I was sinful and now am I born again. The Lord is my shepherd and He, rather than M, will be my guide in future. I am on my way.
Lobbyist: To a solitary cave on a remote mountainside, where I shall meditate on Truth. (Presswallah rushes out to go with her).
Lobbyist: Hi, this is Ms X, I wanted to give you an exclusive story.
Reporter: My mother has told me never to speak to strange women.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint The views expressed by the author are personal