ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Unsavoury Ways

In their recent pieces in EPW on the early years of Economic Weekly (EW), Deena Khatkhate (3 January 2009) and Anand Chandavarkar (10 January 2009) have referred approvingly to the practice of government officials publishing anonymous articles in EW. This practice had innocent beginnings and led to the publication of many knowledgeable, thoughtful and critical articles which, otherwise, would not have seen the light of day.

It was in later years, that the practice of publishing anonymous articles grew and was misused in unsavoury ways by some careerist bureaucrats and their economic advisers. I noticed several such episodes when I was an assistant editor (1970-74) with EPW. Senior officials would secretly publish highly critical pieces in EPW on crucial government policies and then vehemently support these very policies in official meetings and in public fora in order to satisfy their political or bureaucratic superiors. This helped such cynical officers and advisers to further their careers in government service, especially at a time when Indira Gandhi was demanding total servitude from her officials. The very same anonymous articles were later used by their authors to boast about how they had opposed perverse government measures.

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