Prime minister Manmohan Singh‘s much-ballyhooed powwow with newspaper editors last week is now so last week.
The interaction barely has any recall today but for the off-the-record boo-boo over Bangladeshis being anti-Indian that went on the record for a hours and became a diplomatic issue for a few hours.
The official transcript was soon corrected, of course, but the public relations damage on the eve of the external affairs minister’s visit to that nation had been done.
But behind every story there is a juicy back story and Business Standard, whose editorial director T.N. Ninan was one of the five editors who met the PM, has put out this delicious Chinese whisper:
“The government has a large department to disseminate information to the media in the Press Information Bureau (PIB). Yet PIB was unable to find anyone to transcribe tapes of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s interview with editors last week. Instead, the transcription was done by Raj Chengappa, editor-in-chief of the Tribune Group of Publications and one of the editors invited for this first of a series of weekly meetings that the prime minister has planned.”
Incidentally, the PM’s off-the-record gaffe wasn’t the first. The last time he met newspaper editors late last year he spoke off the record on China, only to find it dutifully becoming the lead story in the next day’s Times of India.
Postscript: Business Standard has since clarified on its website that Raj Chengappa did not do the transcribing (see screenshot, above).
Also read: Is the PM right about the Indian media?