Arun Prakash Protests Award for Outlook

Some of us defence correspondents received a very aggrieved e-mail from former Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash a few days ago. Few would be unfamiliar with the expansive and sustained investigative campaign in Outlook over 2005-06 on the Naval war room leak and its alleged links to the Scorpene submarine deal. Admiral Prakash, then the chief in office was at the core of the Outlook series. The e-mail I received had attached Admiral Prakash's letter registering his protest to the International Press Institute against the recent IPI Award for journalism excellence awarded to Outlook for the investigative series. With permission from the Admiral, I reproduce that e-mail here for LiveFist readers:

The letter is addressed to MK Razdan, Editor-in-Chief of the Press Trust of India (PTI) and member of the jury that selected the award. The letter reads is produced verbatim below:

Dear Shri Razdan,

1. I am writing to you in your capacity as a member of the Jury which awarded the IPI Award for journalism to the Outlook magazine last week.

2. Whatever merits the jury may have seen in the kind of journalism practised by this magazine, it has either erred grievously, or been misled into ignoring the scurrilous campaign of vilification that it mounted against me when I was Chief of Naval Staff. There is no doubt in my mind that the magazine used half-truths, as well as concocted and fabricated material in its so-called "investigation". The main purpose of this unprecedented campaign was to mount a vicious personal attack on me; and one can only wonder at the motivationand interests that prompted this unprovoked assault.

3. I enclose a self-explanatory letter which I had addressed to the Editor of Outlook in January 2007, in a feeble attempt to fend off the sustained campaign of character assassination that he had mounted against me for over a year, and revived after my retirement. I was not surprised when the letter remained unpublished because it conformed to the magazine's established policy of resolutely denying a helpless individual's right to defend himself, while using the immense power of the media to destroy his good name, reputation and peace of mind with impunity. The magazine has been questioned repeatedly by courts, but has failed to substantiate any of the wild allegations that it has passed off as "investigative journalism" , and which appear to have now won it "fame".

4. I also enclose a copy of the complaint that I filed, in this context, with the Press Council of India, earlier this year. May I request that even at this late stage, the award jury may kindly read the text of the complaint, and reflect whether their decision to reward journalism of this nature will enhance or erode the credibility of the IPI. I have not been able to obtain the addresses of Justice AS Anand and other members of the jury, but would be happy to provide this material on-line for circulation to them.

Yours sincerely,

Arun Prakash

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