Glen Laing, football coach at St Jago High School, says good student-athletes are easier to coach. Laing, who guided St Jago to the Super Cup and Walker Cup semi-finals last season, is challenging his colleagues to emphasise academics with their charges. Speaking days before St Jago started their 2016 campaign with a 3-0 away win over Campion College, Laing lamented the current state of Jamaican football. “What’s happening in Jamaican football is just a travesty right now,” he said. “If we have more coaches who are serious about the youngsters not only playing, but learning, because if they are learning in the schools, it’s easier to coach them.” Continuing on the education theme, he explained: “So we are emphasising on them learning, so when they come to the football, it’s easier for them to understand the tactical play that we want them to put out on the field.” In a reflection of the recent success of Germany at the World Cup and the Olympics, he concluded: “You’re just hoping that our guys can learn good in the schools, so when we have them on the field and show them some of those plays, it will just be automatic.” St Jago will be back in action against Calabar High School tomorrow. The match will be played at the Spanish Town Prison Oval, Spanish Town, with kick off set for 3.30 p.m.
*Update: The original story below generated so much attention on social media that we followed up with another article that noted reactions, a fuller explanation of the story and why certain people were not included, and an expanded list of most followed practicing research scientists on Twitter.Genomicist Neil Hall sparked an online tempest this summer by proposing a “Kardashian Index,” or K-index—a comparison of a scientist’s number of Twitter followers with their citations. Scientists with a high score on the index, named after the reality TV star Kim Kardashian, one of the most popular celebrities on the social media platform, should “get off Twitter” and write more papers, suggested Hall, who works at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom.Though Hall says he meant his K-index lightheartedly, his article in Genome Biology sparked a Twitter storm of criticism. So just who are the Kardashians of science, and is Hall’s criticism justified? Hall tactfully declined to provide a K-index for anyone specific, but Science was curious about the names and the numbers. We have compiled a list of the 50 most followed scientists on the social media platform and their academic citation counts—and calculated their K-index by drawing on citation data from Google Scholar (A fuller explanation of how we compiled the list is below, at the end of the full story).The top three science stars of Twitter:(Based on followers)1. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist 2,400,000 followers @neiltyson Citations: 151 K-index: 11129 Total number of tweets: 3,962Hayden Planetarium, United States2. Brian Cox, Physicist 1,440,000 followers @ProfBrianCox Citations: 33,301 K-index: 1188 Total number of tweets: 10,300University of Manchester, United Kingdom3. Richard Dawkins, Biologist 1,020,000 followers @RichardDawkins Citations: 49,631 K-index: 740 Total number of tweets: 19,000University of Oxford, United KingdomSee the full top 50 list.Rather than identifying “Science Kardashians”—those who are, as Hall put it, “famous for being famous”—the top 50 list reveals that a majority of the science Twitter stars spend much, if not all, of their time on science communication. For them, Twitter popularity can amplify their efforts in public outreach. A case in point is Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City and host of the science TV show Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. With more than 2.4 million followers and fewer than 200 citations, the astrophysicist is undoubtedly the top-ranking celebrity scientist on Twitter—and has the highest K-index of anyone on the list. Yet few would consider his Twitter fame unwarranted.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Although the index is named for a woman, Science’s survey highlights the poor representation of female scientists on Twitter, which Hall hinted at in his commentary. Of the 50 most followed scientists, only four are women. Astronomer Pamela Gay of Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, whose more than 17,000 Twitter followers put her 33rd on the list, says the result doesn’t surprise her because society still struggles to recognize women as leaders in science. Female scientists are also more likely to face sexist attacks online that can discourage their participation, she adds. “At some point, you just get fed up with all the ‘why you are ugly’ or ‘why you are hot’ comments.”Twitter stardom need not exclude research achievements, as our top 50 Twitter list shows. Many have thousands of citations and seven of the people listed also appear on two recent citation-based rankings of influential scientists, the 2014 Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers list and Scholarometer’s top 100 authors ranking. Even so, most high-performing scientists have not embraced Twitter. Science sampled Twitter usage among 50 randomly chosen living scientists from the Scholarometer list. Only a fifth of the scientists have an identifiable Twitter profile.Even some who do dislike the medium. Chad Mirkin of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, the highest ranking chemist on Scholarometer’s list, considers Twitter a waste of precious time that he’d much prefer spending on reading and writing scientific papers. “A lot of social media is … time spent aggrandizing one’s accomplishment,” says Mirkin, who registered on Twitter just to keep up with his son’s tennis scores. The linguist Noam Chomsky, the most famous living scientist by some measures, has also repeatedly criticized social media for reducing serious public discourse to, well, 140 characters.So why do the highly cited researchers who are also Twitter science stars make the time to engage in social media? Geneticist Eric Topol of the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California (17th place; 44,800 followers), who boasts more than 150,000 citations, says he once thought the social media platform was only for “silly stuff” like celebrity news. Then he tried Twitter during a TEDMED conference in 2009, as a tool to gauge reactions to his talk. Now, he starts his workday browsing through his Twitter feed for news and noteworthy research in his field. During the day, he checks Twitter several times and spends another 10 to 20 minutes on an evening roundup. “It actually may be the most valuable time [I spend] in terms of learning things that are going on in the world of science and medicine,” says Topol, who reciprocates by daily tweeting papers, presentations, and more to his followers.Psychologist Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University (36th; 15,500 followers) views Twitter as a natural extension of his other public outreach efforts, which include hosting the PBS science documentary, This Emotional Life. For him, Twitter is a virtual classroom connecting netizens worldwide who are interested in the psychology of happiness. “It’s another teaching tool,” he says.Like Topol, Jonathan Eisen of the University of California, Davis (25th; 24,900 followers), says he did not start out as a Twitter fan. An enthusiast of open access and exchange, Eisen participated in scientific discussion forums, such as newsgroups, even before the days of the World Wide Web. But Twitter’s 140-character word limit initially seemed both “arbitrary and useless” to him, he says. It was for purely coincidental reasons—checking out details of a visit by famed cyclist Lance Armstrong to Davis, California—that the microbiologist signed up for an account in 2008.But after 20 minutes of perusing news on the social media platform that day, Eisen says, he was hooked. “In a minute, I can skim through a hundred Twitter posts. … It’s pretty amazing for getting a feel of what’s going on,” says Eisen, who now daily spends anywhere from 5 minutes to 8 hours on Twitter, in addition to running a blog. Yet Eisen also has close to 42,000 citations under his belt.Eisen says that consistently tweeting ongoing research at his lab has helped attract graduate students as well as two grants for science communication. He suggests an active social media presence might even aid applications for research funding, as it demonstrates a commitment to public outreach. But the spontaneity of Twitter can backfire, too. Eisen, for one, has live-tweeted brusque criticism at academic conferences that came back to bite him. “You can seem like a jerk, an idiot, or both,” he says.The temporal, attention-grabbing nature of Twitter posts also makes them ill-suited for nuanced, in-depth scientific discussions. Gilbert says he prefers to tweet materials that appeal to a general audience, rather than complex scientific papers. Likewise, Eisen reserves lengthy discussions for old-fashioned phone calls and uses Twitter to instead link to blog posts and other, longer materials.Still, he and others credit Twitter as a crowdsourcing platform for new ideas and research. Topol says he relies on the “army of Web crawlers” on Twitter to bring him the latest, most noteworthy research in medical science. His own tweets, mostly about papers and presentations he finds interesting, also form an archive that can be extracted with a little tech savvy.The social media tool also functions as “another dimension of peer review,” Topol says. Instead of waiting for the old letters to the editor, scientists can go to Twitter for rapid critique of their research. “Authors who are not willing to get engaged on social media are missing out on a significant opportunity,” he says.The K-index gets it wrong by suggesting that science communication and research productivity are incompatible, says Albert-László Barabási, a network theorist at Northeastern University in Boston who studies social media. Research on altmetrics—alternative metrics for measuring scientific impact—has found no link between social media metrics such as number of tweets and traditional impact metrics such as citations, he says. “We should really not mix the two … because they really probe different aspects of a scientist’s personality.”For his part, Hall says others have read too much into his satire, which originated after seeing conference organizers factor Twitter follower numbers into speaker considerations. “I don’t mean to criticize anyone for having a lot of Twitter followers,” he says. “My criticism is only of using it as a metric on research scientists.”It might be premature, in any case, for the scientific community to worry about “Science Kardashians” when it faces a more pressing challenge of staying relevant in public discussions. Even Tyson’s Twitter popularity is dwarfed by that of the real Kim Kardashian, who boasts 10 times as many followers.*SURVEY METHODSThe list of most followed scientists compiled here is far from scientific. To identify Twitter science stars, we began with celebrity scientists such as Tyson and checked out which scientists they followed. We also referenced online lists of scientists to follow on Twitter, such as this one by The Huffington Post. If we’ve missed someone who belongs on the top 50 list, do let us know in the comment section. Follower number is, of course, a very crude proxy of influence on Twitter, but it’s the most accessible metric for the purpose of this story.The question of who counts as a scientist is itself a matter of debate. As a general guideline, we included only those who have completed a Ph.D. degree and published at least one peer-reviewed paper in a peer-reviewed journal. As an exception to this rule, we excluded professional journalists who fit the above criteria.We recorded the number of Twitter followers for our list on 15 September. To tally the number of citations for each scientist, we over the past month looked up their Google Scholar profiles or, for those without a profile, used estimates produced by the Publish or Perish software, developed by business professor Anne-Wil Harzing of ESCP Europe. Due to limitations of both methods, the citation numbers are only rough estimates. For example, there’s no easy way to distinguish physicist Brian Cox of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom from physiologist Brian Cox of the University of Toronto in Canada in calculating the former’s citation count. Seven on our top 50 list appear on either the 2014 Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers list (*) or the Scholarometer’s top 100 authors (+) ranking, and each is noted with a symbol.The Kardashian Index is calculated as follows: In his commentary, using data gathered on 40 scientists, Hall derived a formula for calculating the number of Twitter followers a scientist should have given one’s citation count. The K-index is the ratio of the scientist’s actual follower number to the follower number “warranted” by the citation count.An Excel document with all the data collected is here.The top 50 science stars of TwitterRead the full story on this list.1. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist 2,400,000 followers @neiltyson Citations: 151 K-index: 11129 Total number of tweets: 3,962Hayden Planetarium, United States2. Brian Cox, Physicist 1,440,000 followers @ProfBrianCox Citations: 33,301 K-index: 1188 Total number of tweets: 10,300University of Manchester, United Kingdom3. Richard Dawkins, Biologist 1,020,000 followers @RichardDawkins Citations: 49,631 K-index: 740 Total number of tweets: 19,000University of Oxford, United Kingdom4. Ben Goldacre, Physician 341,000 followers @bengoldacre Citations: 1,086 K-index: 841 Total number of tweets: 47,300London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom5. Phil Plait, Astronomer 320,000 followers @BadAstronomer Citations: 254 K-index: 1256 Total number of tweets: 47,000Bad Astronomy, United States6. Michio Kaku, Theoretical physicist 310,000 followers @michiokaku Citations: 5,281 K-index: 461 Total number of tweets: 1,130The City College of New York, United States7. Sam Harris, Neuroscientist 224,000 followers @SamHarrisOrg Citations: 2,416 K-index: 428 Total number of tweets: 2,600Project Reason, United States8. Hans Rosling, Global health scientist 180,000 followers @HansRosling Citations: 1,703 K-index: 384 Total number of tweets: 2,708Karolinska Institute, Sweden9. Tim Berners-Lee, Computer scientist 179,000 followers @timberners_lee Citations: 51,204 K-index: 129 Total number of tweets: 542Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States10. P.Z. Myers, Biologist 155,000 followers @pzmyers Citations: 1,364 K-index: 355 Total number of tweets: 25,400University of Minnesota, Morris, United States11. Steven Pinker, Cognitive scientist 142,000 followers @sapinker Citations: 49,933 K-index: 103 Total number of tweets: 1,612Harvard University, United States12. Richard Wiseman, Psychologist 134,000 followers @RichardWiseman Citations: 4,687 K-index: 207 Total number of tweets: 22,400University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom13. Lawrence M. Krauss, Theoretical physicist 99,700 followers @LKrauss1 Citations: 10,155 K-index: 120 Total number of tweets: 1,548Arizona State University, United States14. Atul Gawande, Surgeon/public health scientist 96,800 followers @Atul_Gawande Citations: 13,763 K-index: 106 Total number of tweets: 2,118Harvard University, United States15. Oliver Sacks, Neurologist 76,300 followers @OliverSacks Citations: 13,883 K-index: 83 Total number of tweets: 746New York University, United States16. Dan Ariely*, Psychologist/behavioral economist 73,000 followers @danariely Citations: 16,307 K-index: 76 Total number of tweets: 1,091Duke University, United States17. Eric Topol*, Geneticist 44,800 followers @EricTopol Citations: 151,281 K-index: 23 Total number of tweets: 4,966The Scripps Research Institute, United States18. Brian Greene, Theoretical physicist 38,700 followers @bgreene Citations: 11,133 K-index: 45 Total number of tweets: 191Columbia University, United States19. Marcus du Sautoy, Mathematician 34,200 followers @MarcusduSautoy Citations: 1,461 K-index: 77 Total number of tweets: 3,555University of Oxford, United Kingdom20. Sean Carroll, Theoretical physicist 33,200 followers @seanmcarroll Citations: 14,208 K-index: 36 Total number of tweets: 7,295California Institute of Technology, United States21. Robert Winston, Fertility scientist 31,900 followers @ProfRWinston Citations: 7,324 K-index: 43 Total number of tweets: 445Imperial College London, United Kingdom22. Bruce Betts, Planetary scientist 28,500 followers @RandomSpaceFact Citations: 91 K-index: 155 Total number of tweets: 1,619The Planetary Society, United States23. Carolyn Porco, Planetary scientist 26,100 followers @carolynporco Citations: 2,717 K-index: 48 Total number of tweets: 12,700Space Science Institute, United States24. Sebastian Thrun+, Computer scientist 25,200 followers @SebastianThrun Citations: 57,110 K-index: 17 Total number of tweets: 185Stanford University, United States25. Jonathan Eisen*, Biologist 24,900 followers @phylogenomics Citations: 41,289 K-index: 19 Total number of tweets: 46,100University of California, Davis, United States26. J. Craig Venter, Genomicist 23,500 followers @JCVenter Citations: 75,338 K-index: 15 Total number of tweets: 365J. Craig Venter Institute, United States27. Vaughan Bell, Neuroscientist 23,500 followers @vaughanbell Citations: 821 K-index: 63 Total number of tweets: 10,900King’s College London, United Kingdom28. Robert Simpson, Astronomer 21,500 followers @orbitingfrog Citations: 2,280 K-index: 42 Total number of tweets: 11,500University of Oxford, United Kingdom29. Michael E. Mann*, Meteorologist 20,900 followers @MichaelEMann Citations: 15,049 K-index: 22 Total number of tweets: 20,000Pennsylvania State University, United States30. Jerry Coyne, Biologist 19,500 followers @Evolutionistrue Citations: 16,657 K-index: 20 Total number of tweets: 7,711University of Chicago, United States31. Gary King*, Statistician 19,400 followers @kinggary Citations: 36,311 K-index: 16 Total number of tweets: 3,080Harvard University, United States32. Mike Brown, Astronomer 18,300 followers @plutokiller Citations: 7,870 K-index: 24 Total number of tweets: 9,764California Institute of Technology, United States33. Pamela L. Gay, Astronomer 17,800 followers @starstryder Citations: 238 K-index: 71 Total number of tweets: 12,700Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, United States34. Jean Francois Gariépy, Neuroscientist 17,700 followers @JFGariepy Citations: 153 K-index: 82 Total number of tweets: 3,231Duke University, United States35. Bob Metcalfe, Computer scientist 16,400 followers @BobMetcalfe Citations: 424 K-index: 55 Total number of tweets: 16,100University of Texas, Austin, United States36. Daniel Gilbert+, Psychologist 15,500 followers @DanTGilbert Citations: 26,752 K-index: 14 Total number of tweets: 1,294Harvard University, United States37. Daniel Levitin, Neuroscientist 15,400 followers @danlevitin Citations: 5,688 K-index: 22 Total number of tweets: 3,036McGill University, Canada38. Andrew Maynard, Environmental health scientist 15,300 followers @2020science Citations: 10,411 K-index: 18 Total number of tweets: 16,200University of Michigan Risk Science Center, United States39. Paul Bloom, Psychologist 15,100 followers @paulbloomatyale Citations: 14,135 K-index: 16 Total number of tweets: 1,973Yale University, United States40. Matt Lieberman, Neuroscientist 14,500 followers @social_brains Citations: 12,763 K-index: 16 Total number of tweets: 3,088University of California, Los Angeles, United States41. Seth Shostak, Astronomer 14,500 followers @SethShostak Citations: 424 K-index: 48 Total number of tweets: 294SETI Institute, United States42. Daniel MacArthur, Genomicist 14,100 followers @dgmacarthur Citations: 6,884 K-index: 19 Total number of tweets: 15,600Harvard Medical School, United States43. John Allen Paulos, Mathematician 14,000 followers @JohnAllenPaulos Citations: 1,489 K-index: 31 Total number of tweets: 4,144Temple University, United States44. Ves Dimov, Immunologist 13,900 followers @DrVes Citations: 211 K-index: 58 Total number of tweets: 32,200University of Chicago, United States45. Simon Baron-Cohen, Psychopathologist 13,600 followers @sbaroncohen Citations: 84,132 K-index: 8 Total number of tweets: 119University of Cambridge, United Kingdom46. Amy Mainzer, Astronomer 13,600 followers @AmyMainzer Citations: 1,444 K-index: 31 Total number of tweets: 2,221Jet Propulsion Laboratory, United States47. Brian Krueger, Genomicist 12,500 followers @LabSpaces Citations: 154 K-index: 58 Total number of tweets: 36,700Duke University, United States48. Karen James, Biologist 12,200 followers @kejames Citations: 1,007 K-index: 31 Total number of tweets: 61,800Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, United States49. Michael Eisen, Biologist 11,800 followers @mbeisen Citations: 68,785 K-index: 8 Total number of tweets: 16300University of California, Berkeley, United States50. Micah Allen, Neuroscientist 11,600 followers @neuroconscience Citations: 81 K-index: 66 Total number of tweets: 21,900University College London, United KingdomCorrection, 17 September, 12:22 p.m.: Some affiliations and areas of expertise have been corrected.
Your Excellency, the Honorable Mr. Ronen Sen, Ambassador of India to the United States of America:Phew! That was a mouthful. Sounds rather like a courtier heralding royalty into the big ceremonial durbar. But I know that nothing short of it will do for a person of your exalted rank and position. Of course, I have taken the liberty of abbreviating your first name. But even that bend in protocol is in deference to the official website of the Indian Embassy, although the CIA website (curious isn’t it, that that website comes up first when you search “Indian Ambassador to USA” on Google?) elaborately identifies you as Ranendra. Sorry to report, however, that whether it’s Ranendra, Ronen, or the Americanized Ronnie, your name – as I write this on the evening of August 22 from my home in Mumbai – is plain mud here in India. The country’s financial markets and its investors, already skittish since the Indo-US N-deal crisis threatened to bring down the Manmohan Singh government, haven’t taken kindly to the fallout over your “headless chicken” remarks (see box). The local stock-exchange slumped more than 400 points, even as markets abroad recovered.Both Houses of the Indian Parliament in New Delhi adjourned as the uproar over your remarks made it impossible for any business to be transacted in either House. The clamour for your recall is growing by the hour, and no one is buying your lame “clarification” that the remark was aimed at the media and not at the members of parliament. You fooled nobody, least of all the MPs who, while apparently attacking you for bad-mouthing journalists, are privately convinced it was their fraternity you were really needling. Even the good old Bengali bhadralok among our politicians are unwilling to pull punches for a Sen.Sample this. Your foreign minister-boss Pranab Mukherjee denounced your statement as “totally unwarranted and unacceptable.” Another cabinet minister, Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi in charge of Information and Broadcasting, said: “If a diplomat called journalists headless chicken, then his brain is nothing but a vegetable.”“If journalists are headless chicken, then MPs are boneless chicken and government’s got chikungunya,” fumed Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamul Congress, hreferring to the often-fatal infectious disease (not to be confused with bird-flu) that’s recently hit some Indian cities.The final blow is awaited from the Parliament honcho, Somnath Chatterjee. With both Opposition and Left MPs in no mood to allow the House to function, the Lok Sabha Speaker assured MPs that he would take action. “I assure you, no one can go scot free,” he thundered. “Parliament of India is not powerless.”That last sentence is not insignificant. It in fact holds the key to your not-so-mysterious explanation. It also probably explains why you found the media a convenient soft-target when the going got tough with the MPs. You would certainly have earned my admiration had you held your ground and spoken with the courage of your convictions. After all, you’d worked feverishly, deploying your expertise and experience in nuclear-security matters and your negotiating skills to cobble together the N-deal with your American counterparts. And now it finds itself mired in controversy, thanks to domestic political differences. An off-the-cuff emotional outburst against its critics could have been perceived in that generous light.But you chickened out, resorting instead to a devious escape-route. It was an exercise in shameful duplicity. You figured out soon enough, didn’t you, that while stepping on the Parliament’s tail and taking on its constitutional clout could leave even a top-level diplomat vulnerable to career-threatening consequences, the media could do zilch against you in retaliation.Those irksome desi scribes hardly mattered. The only Indian news correspondents you interact with anyway are those who depend on embassy press-releases for filing their dispatches. And who, you reckon, would dare risk their rozi-roti to stand up against this unprovoked slight.Does this explain your contempt for your Indian “media friends,” Mr.Ambassador? But honestly, what did you expect the media to do when the deal sparked such adverse reactions? Weren’t the journalists just doing their jobs – like all honest-to-goodness professionals -when they reported the dissenting voices of MPs on the bilateral agreement and the resultant N-deal?No one claims infallibility. Journalists are as prone to errors and worldly weaknesses as are your starchy babus and diplomats. If you’ve encountered a fair number of inept or even corrupt reporters, I have seen and known more than my rightful share of the dark underbelly of diplomacy. But in my travels across the globe, I can vouch for one thing: Whereas the Indian media, as a whole, are regarded as among the democratic world’s more vibrant, our diplomatic missions fall short. India ranks as one of the countries with the worst public-relations image overseas.Take your own current posting, Mr. Sen. Despite its obvious links with international terrorist groups and the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, Pakistan consistently scores over India in the minds and hearts of Americans for their political sympathies – and no prizes for guessing whether your wining and dining of the mainstream media has worked. Leave aside the politicians who can be suspected of being influenced by real politik. Even the more independent-minded among American academics view India as the “bully” of the South Asian region and paradoxically, also as a “weak” state when it comes to thwarting terrorist attacks. At least part of the blame for this all-round PR disaster should lie at the door of our diplomatic missions.As your own foreign-service career enters its last lap, we wish you the best. Lounging in an IFS-retiree colony somewhere on the outskirts of Delhi, you might want to forget the silly hullabaloo over decapitated fowl and think of its brighter side: No one has been able to bring the Left Front and the rightist Hindutva brigade together on any issue with a single – albeit ill-considered – statement. No mean feat this, even for a seasoned diplomat!SEN-SATIONAL QUOTES:“It (the Indo-US N-deal) has been approved here (Washington) by the President, and there (New Delhi) it has been approved by the Indian Cabinet. So, why do we have all this running around like headless chicken, looking for a comment here or a comment there, and these little storms in a tea cup? I can understand (such a debate) immediately after independence… but I am really bothered that 60 years after Independence, they are so insecure – that we have not grown up, this lack of confidence and lack of self-respect…”“The comment about running around like headless chicken…was a tactless observation on some of my media friends and most certainly not withreference to any honourable Member of Parliament.”“Many of the comments were either misunderstood or misquoted or quoted out of context. Some were off-the-record conversations in my personal capacity, not hreflecting the positions of the government. I fully recognize that such personal views, even in a private conversation, should have been expressed with better judgment and due decorum.” Related Items