Archive for December 8th, 2007

In “male” India, an all women news network

8 December 2007

The “India Story” is at once simple and complex. On the one hand, between a third and half of the country survives on less than a dollar a day; on the other hand, it boasts of the third most number of dollar-millionaires.

On the one hand, female foeticide as a result of sex determination is tilting the sex balance. On the other hand, one of the country’s poorest States has now given birth to Aapaan Samachar, an all-women community news network.

Prabhakar Kumar reports on CNN-IBN that the free-to-air network in Bihar’s remote Ramlila Gachi village runs on the barest of bare resources. Reporters, camerawomen, anchors all run around on bicycles.

“We do stories on water and electricity problems, farmers’ woes, and women issues. We then telecast them in the village market so that everyone can watch and think,” says reporter Anita Kumari.

In a part of the world not known for giving equal space to the better sex, it is resulting in the empowerment of women.

“The parents of these girls want their daughters to move ahead in life and venture into such initiatives,” says Santosh Anand, the man behind the initiative.

Read the full story: All women news channel makes headlines

Also read: Freedom of the press belongs to those who iron one

Photo courtesy: CNN-IBN

How Narendra Modi has bred media cynicism

8 December 2007

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi‘s image—whom The Economist this week called a “disgrace”—has been built on the rapid economic development of his State, coupled with his obscene demonisation of the “other” and a distrust of all media that doesn’t support his State-sponsored pogrom of 2002.

Modi walks out of television interviews when questioned about the massacre, terms magazines who point fingers at his human rights record as handmaidens of the rival Congress party, and has generally cultivated the feeling that all journalists who seek to revisit the disgraceful episode are enemies of the State.

Little wonder, cynicism of the media and an incomprehension of its core responsibilities is rampant in the State.

Coomi Kapoor writes in The Indian Express:

“There is an impression in Gujarat that the principal opposition to the chief minister comes, not from his main political rival—the Congress—but from the media. A journalist on an election tour in a village in south Gujarat asked a farmer singing Modi’s praises whom he should speak to get the other point of view.

“‘For that you must go to any TVwallah,’ the farmer responded matter-of-factly. In the media the issue remains the mob barbarism against Muslims in 2002, which was carried out with the active support of government machinery and for which there has been no repentance.”

Illustration: R. Prasad/ Mail Today

Amitabh Bachchan’s advice to a media CEO

8 December 2007

Indian cinema’s biggest star—the BBC’s star of the millennium—Amitabh Bachchan has had a more-hate-than-love relationship with the media, except when the demands of public relations on the eve of a movie release weighed heavy on him.

But in a surprising intervention, Bachchan has spoken out in favour of the beleaguered CEO of Bombay’s Afternoon Despatch & Courier, Farzana Contractor, and commended the way the widow of Behram Contractor conducted herself during her clash with the company’s chairman, Kamal Morarka.

“Despite all the severe criticism and adverse reactions you had to face, you walked with your head held high. One of the most important lessons in life is to just continue walking and do what you have been doing. This puts the opposition and rivals in complete disarray,” Bachchan said, at a food and wine event organised by Upper Crust, the magazine Contractor edits. “Do not get bothered by the questions posed to you. If they are asking questions about you, it is fine. Because it indicates they fear you.”

Sales of ADC, founded 22 years ago by Behram Contractor, who wrote “Round & About”, the paper’s popular column on Bombay life, under the pseudonym Busybee, declined after Behram’s death in 2001. The paper stopped printing on September 27, a few days after Morarka, the larger shareholder, objected to Farzana describing herself as “editor” in a photo caption. Officially, she was chief executive officer of Courier Publications. The company board later removed her.

Also read: Vinod Mehta on the ADC saga

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