Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Twitting things without actually twitting them

India's Junior minister for external affairs at present, or Minister of State (MoS) as it is called if official jargon, is an ex-army officer, who has entered into active politics after retirement. General V.K.Singh (Retd.) has a reputation of being a forthright officer, who is not afraid to call spade a spade. In his otherwise successful army career, he created two controversies, which were loved by the media. Towards the end of his career there was a dispute regarding his date of birth, causing him to become the first serving officer of the Indian Army to take the government to court. In March 2012 he caused a political row., when he said that over a year earlier he had reported to the defence minister, that he had been offered a bribe of US$2.7 million if the army bought several hundred sub-standard vehicles.

When new Government of India took over in 2014, he was made Junior minister form external affairs and as per general trend, has been keeping aloof and silent from the mainstream media. He suddenly found himself in the limelight this week. One of India's neighbours, celebrated their republic day on 23rd March 2015. As is customary, the high commission of that nation organised a private reception in New Delhi and invitation was sent to Government of India.

The Government ordered General Singh to attend this function, which he did as a matter of duty. He went there, was welcomed by the high commissioner and then sat with him for few minutes and left. From the photographs released by the media, the minister did not appear to be comfortable at the function at all.

There is a famous phrase that is attributed to Queen Victoria of England by courtier Caroline Holland in her book, Notebooks of a Spinster Lady, 1919, in which she has claimed the Queen remarking "We are not amused." This phrase perhaps rightly describes what the general felt after attending the reception, because afterward he published 5 tweets on twitter, one after another, in span of next 4 minutes.

In his first three tweets sent at 10:01, 10:02 and 10:03 PM he defined the meaning of word DUTY as “A task or action that a person is bound to perform for moral or legal reasons,” followed by “The force that binds one morally or legally to one's obligations,” and later as “ A job or service allocated.” This was followed by two more tweets sent at 10:04 PM in which General defined the meaning of word DISGUEST. In the first tweet he defines the word as “To sicken or fill with loathing,” followed by “To offend the moral sense, principles, or taste of .”

On the face of it, General's tweets only give dictionary meanings of two words in English language, yet they say a lot, about state of his mind at that hour. The General, when approached by media later, gave very matter of fact answers to them. When asked about a reporter about his presence at the reception, he replied "The government of India had to sent an MoS. They sent me and I went there and came back." When another reporter asked him specifically whether Prime Minister had asked him to attend the event, he said, "The government of India asked me to go there."

That was the end of it. However there was lot of speculation on twitter about General's tweets. So he finally ended the matter putting the ball is opponent's court by sending a tweet at 11:06 PM, which said, “ Disgust'ed to see how certain sections of the media are twisting this issue.”

What perfect way to say something on twitter, without actually saying it.

25th March 2015

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