Tehelka editor Tarun J. Tejpal‘s 312-word letter to managing editor Shoma Chaudhury, expressing his “offer to step down” and not attend office for six months following a “bad lapse of judgement, an awful misreading of the situation” with a younger female colleague, has received plenty of negative acclaim for its sheer lack of contrition.
Inspired by the high-falutin’ prose of the non-apology apology and non-resignation resigntion, B.V. Rao, former editor of the Indian Express in Bangalore and Bombay, and currently editor of Governance Now, attempts his own apology-cum-resignation to the staff of the apocryphal newspaper, Dhamaka.
It is a sad day when our organs threaten to bring down the organisations we erect. That sad day has visited upon Dhamaka.
I am devastated. I can’t bear to see the painstaking work of more than a decade come unstuck over one instance of bad judgement. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to repent. I don’t even know how to make out with all of you…
Wait, don’t pounce on me; that’s my job. I know I mixed up the phrase there…Normally I’m better than this but today words are failing me.
Luckily, I’m told, Tarun Tejpal of Tehelka is also in a similar situation and has written a fab confessional. So I’m going to borrow liberally from his letter. I’m not separately marking out my debit transactions with Tarun but whenever you see elevated prose cover up lowly misdemeanour, you know it’s not mine.
As all of you are aware, Dhamaka has been born and built, day on day, with my blood, toil, tears, sweat and other semi-fluids.
I have been a conscientious editor and publisher. Through bad, and worse, times I have protected Dhamaka and its journalists from the inevitable demands of power and corporations.
I have always allowed every journalist’s sense of the right to flower and express itself. No one has ever been asked to do what they don’t believe in.
But perhaps I was a bit overzealous. On occasion I might have been guilty of discharging more than my duty required me to.
I have already unconditionally apologised for my misconduct to the concerned journalist, but I feel impelled to atone further. I am therefore offering to recuse myself from the editorship of Dhamaka and from the Dhamaka office, for the next six months.
Some of you might say that I have been very considerate on myself with this light, self-indictment and you might be right. So, to increase the degree of difficulty of my penance, I undertake to move my office to the building elevator for these six months. Maybe at the end of it I will master the trick of keeping it in circuit long enough.
As I bid a temporary goodbye to all of you, let me assure you, I’ll make it up to you (that came out right!). Don’t let this one unfortunate incident bog you down. Always remember we have a lot to be proud of. We are the Dhamaka.
Brace yourselves for the tough times ahead. Lift yourselves up. And if you can’t do that on your own, help is in an elevator close to you.
With thanks to Tarun,