When I finished reading the excerpts from the interview with Mr. N. Ram, the illustrious former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, the pleasure I derived was something akin to what one would normally get after perusing an excellent thriller (“Bofors was a game-changer, both for Indian politics and journalism,” April 13). Among the numerous praiseworthy contributions made by him to journalism, the Bofors exposé was a feather in his cap. Undaunted and always wedded to the truth, he has never hesitated to call a spade a spade.
Mr. Ram's answers in the interview (April 13) are sound advice to any journalist in this age and time when the profession faces a serious lack of credibility. Bofors was the first biggest scam of that day.
It also proved that investigative journalism can be done by respecting ethics and principles. What would have been interesting, but not revealed, was how political pressure was used to hit back at The Hindu.
Unmasking Bofors effectively set the standards for investigative journalism to expose corruption in high places. It was such a bold and courageous effort against the odds. It changed the course of history by strengthening the democratic structures of our country.
It is a bit odd that even after Bofors, no one in the political and defence establishments has learnt his lesson. It's still a case of crores of rupees being paid in bribes. One only has to see the drama unfolding in the Army today.
After Bofors, the next big thing I can think of is WikiLeaks which The Hindu took great pains to present to its readers.
By today's standards, the Bofors corruption may be minuscule. But it paved the way for investigative journalism and made the corrupt realise that they could no longer escape. There is no doubt that Mr. Ram's Bofors exposé and in the list of “50 great stories” by Columbia J- school alumni is a credit for both.
The manner and the right dose of tenor of reporting Bofors made the powers that be tongue-tied and simmer in rage. Who can forget those days.