Friday, December 17, 2010

Sorry for what?

In one of the Radia tapes, Mr Tarun Das, ex-CII, is heard accusing Mr Kamal Nath of corruption. The Hindu reports

Mr. Das says Mr. Nath can still make his “15 per cent” on this. “You can do national service and also make money… and do really something worthwhile here,” Mr. Das says, to which Ms. Radia's responds: “This is still an ATM [automated teller machine] for Kamal Nath.” “Absolutely,” says Mr. Das.

Asked by The Hindu how he could speak of a Minister doing national service if he was “also making money” and why he pushed for Mr. Nath's candidature despite harbouring apprehensions about corruption under his watch, Mr. Das said his “15 per cent” remark was “irresponsible and unfortunate.”

I regret that, he said. “Loose talk. My public apologies to Mr. Nath.”

Should Mr Tarun Das have apologised?

All of us have some private conversations which we, under normal circumstances, don’t allow to get into the public domain. Talking to my wife in the privacy of my home, I might use the choicest expletives while describing my boss, secure in the knowledge that he is not going to hear about it. But, if my phone had been kept on by mistake and my curious boss- the crook- at the other end manages to eavesdrop on the sensitive dialogue, am I supposed to apologise to him?

Taking the argument one step further, suppose there is a device invented that can read my mind, will I be arrested on charges of harbouring an intention to molest a woman, when I am just fantasising about her?

The rules of civilised behaviour do not apply under all conditions. Digging my nose in public may be gross, but it is perfectly alright when I am alone. If someone catches me doing it, using a secretly-embedded camera, am I supposed to feel bad?

Bug anybody’s phone or room, several dark secrets and skeletons will tumble down. It would be stupid of that person to apologise for something he or she had said during a private and exclusive conversation with another person. Such conversations are like the noise created by a crashing tree deep inside a forest. No one else is supposed to hear it.

5 comments:

hari said...

Well, so long as private conversations are just that: dealing with private issues I have no problems with your arguments.

Fact is, when national interests are being brokered behind closed doors and in secrecy and when 1000s of crores of rupees are being swindled through such means I find it hard to agree with your point that private conversations need to remain private.

And yes, I don't mind saying that I care about national interest.

I think nobody can argue with your point on privacy but then there are always exceptional situations no matter how much the general rule is prevalent.

Raj said...

Hari, I haven't argued against tapping per se. If criminal intent is unearthed thru the tapping, then it can be acted upon. I am on the same page with you,.

Here, I am talking about defamation. If I mention in a private conversation that the "Minister can take his 15%", and this is recorded without my knowledge and brought into public domain, why should I apologise. It may cause some awkwardness all right, but I can't be accused of defaming a person.

Blog Barfer said...

while your logic is spot on but if my boss overheard me abusing him, i would probably grovel and he would probably forgive me .. such is human nature .. this can be extended onto these public figures too

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