It’s not unusual for unflattering profiles to garner vociferous feedback, but Simon Denyer’s recent article on the failed leadership of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in a league of its own. The story received more than 600 comments online, earned a slew of tweets from both defenders and detractors and sparked several articles in Indian newspapers.
To recap, Denyer wrote that “under Singh, economic reforms have stalled, growth has slowed sharply and the rupee has collapsed. Just as damaging to his reputation is the accusation that he looked the other way and remained silent as his cabinet colleagues filled their own pockets.” He quoted sources who described a man “fatally handicapped by his timidity, complacency and intellectual dishonesty.”
On our site:
Many Post readers agreed with the depiction of Singh as ineffectual and presiding over a deeply corrupt government.
“Prime Minister Singh is too old to govern, the party does not have a good leadership and there is no one to replace him. India needs good leaders (free of corruption) at this time. When that happens India will be really ‘incredible,’” wrote cs9243.
And some who were less positive, suggesting that The Post should have taken India’s immense social and economic challenges into account when appraising Singh’s performance.
“Wow. This article is a hit job. Anonymous sources, people 5 degrees removed from those in power. If a WaPo writer did this piece on a domestic political issue the editors would throw it out. I think bottom line for all indians who seem outraged on this board: US press sucks! They will only kick you when you are down,” Skippy21 wrote.
There were also some who wondered whether The Post had apologized for the piece (it hasn’t):
“Is it true that the Washington Post has apologised? If so, then it is indeed a great disservice done to the Indian public. Why should any media organization apologise for telling the truth? It will only embolden the corrupt,” nelsontdsilva wrote.
*Spelling and punctuation errors have been corrected, and postings have been shortened for space
In Indian papers:
A Hindustan times article, headlined ‘Washington Post calls Manmohan 'tragic figure', govt wants apology,’ quotes Denyer as reiterating on Twitter that no apology had been issued: “@KabirTaneja Its not true. No threats were issued from their side, no apology was offered from mine.”
The article quoted Sanjay Raut, leader of India’s right-wing Shiv Sena party, as saying the article represented a majority view in the country.
“Not just the Washington Post, but every post says so. We are also saying that the Prime Minister and his whole government are inefficient. Everyday a new scam comes to light, the government is not functioning and the common man is suffering,” Raut told the paper.
Reactions on the Twitterverse were largely supportive of Denyer’s thesis, with some arguing that the article might hasten Singh’s resignation:
Thank you Washington Post for speaking out the truth about Manmohan Singh. He will go down in history as the most corrupt n dishonest PM.— Devinder Sharma (@Devinder_Sharma) September 5, 2012
POST calls MMS a dithering ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government. Clock starts ticking now.— Shishir Gupta (@sisir_gupta) September 5, 2012
Dear @pmoindia. What the Washington Post did is called "doing its job". Try it sometime.— Rohan Joshi (@mojorojo) September 5, 2012