Archive for April, 2011

Mint Money editor among Yale world fellows

30 April 2011

Monika Halan, editor of Mint Money, the personal finance section of the business newspaper Mint, is one of two Indians who have been selected by Yale University for its has ‘signature global leadership development initiative’.

The official announcement from Yale reads:

Monika Halan (India)
Editor, Mint Money

Halan is editor of India’s second-largest business newspaper, Mint Money, which has an exclusive partnership with the Wall Street Journal. She is a media personality who is well known for her financial expertise.

Monika, former editor of Outlook Money, co-hosts a peronal finance show on NDTV.

The Yale World Fellows Program has at its core three main goals: to provide advanced training to emerging leaders from diverse disciplines and countries, to link this network of world leaders to each other and to Yale, and to expand and deepen international understanding at Yale.

Follow Monika Halan on Twitter: @monikahalan

Also read: Chameli Devi prize for hounded Tehelka scribe, K.K. Shahina

Pallava Bagla bags ‘Oscar’ of science journalism

Saikat Datta bags prize for using RTI for story

India-China friendship award for Pallavi Aiyar

Knight fellowship for Frontline’s Dionne Bunsha

The WikiLeak cable on the journalist who…

29 April 2011

M.D. Nalapat, former resident of The Times of India in Bangalore and Delhi, in the Pakistan Observer:

“While some NGOs are run by sincere individuals interested not in personal but in social gain, many of the organisations active in India act as milch cows for those controlling them.

“For example, a top journalist got formed an NGO headed by his son, and then used his contacts in foreign embassies to ensure a huge flow of grants to the organisation, enough to ensure that Junior could leave India and live in Europe.”

Read the full article: Running a country, NGO-style

Also read: Bangalore journos named in site allotment scam

Only in India: 90% off for journalists!

Cash transfer scheme is already here for journalists

Media houses are sitting on plots leased at one rupee!

Anti-corruption campaigner’s “error of judgement”

What Niira Radia told PAC on Barkha Dutt chat

28 April 2011

The 21-member public accounts committee (PAC), which probed the 2G spectrum allocation scam and finalised its draft report in a hurry, has gone into a tailspin with the draft report being rejected 11-10 and the Congress members charging the chairman, Murli Manohar Joshi, of leaking the report.

Tehelka magazine has put up the PAC draft report and its recommendations on its website.

Chapter 13 of the draft report deals with the Niira Radia tapes that singed many a journalist and media house. Here’s what the Tata lobbyist, the central figure of the tapes, told the PAC about the tapes and her conversations with NDTV anchor Barkha Dutt, among other topics:

***

13.16    The Committee asked Ms Nira Radia whether the transcriptions of her conversation with various people,  as published in the Outlook* and Open magazines were correct and authentic. Ms. Radia replied:

“We have not accepted any of these conversations”.

13.17    The Committee asked whether any notice had been served to the Editors of the two magazines.  In reply, Mr. Radia stated:

“We have served  a legal notice at the time they published the conversations, because, I believe, there is a tremendous amount of distortion in what they published and in the context in which they published the conversations and the real conversations.  I believe that there is a tremendous amount of editing that has taken place in the conversations”.

13.18    The Committee then retorted that they were informed that nobody had legally contests or contradicted what was published in the magazines.  In reply, Ms. Radia stated:

“If I can say, there are two aspects to this.  When the conversations were made public, we did what we had to.  We had to do it in terms of making at least protesting it as far as the magazine is concerned.  As far as legal recourse available to us is concerned, we have time for the legal recourse”.

She further stated:

“……. Our  priority at that time was to cooperate with the agencies because that was what was required of us to do.  That is what we have done.  As far as the magazines are concerned, I would imagine you are aware that my clients, who are the Tatas, have taken action and they moved the court on the larger issue of privacy in which the court itself has served notices to these magazines”.

13.19    Asked to state specifically whether any legal notice was served or not, Ms. Radia at last admitted:

“We served only a protest.  We have not taken legal action”.

She further stated that she was intending to take legal action.

13.20    When the Committee pointed out several of her exact conversations on payment of bride for spectrum allocation of portfolio in the Union Cabinet, she simply replied that she did not recollect any thing.

13.21    The Committee then desired to know that after she was made witness by the CBI, the investigating agency must have played the tapes to her and whether she agreed with the conversation or contradicted it.  In response Ms. Radia stated:

“Sir, the matter is sub-judice”.

She further stated:

“I am glad that the investigating agencies went into the details.  I am glad that they heard my conversations in the context that they needed to be heard.  I am glad that they looked at documents and papers that were submitted in the context that had to be given and not taken out of context just because a magazine chose to carry something in a particular way.  The magazine would have chosen to carry something in a particular way because we may not entertain the magazine.  Today, the media is driven in a completely different way.  It is driven bottom-line.  It is sensationalist.  So, we have taken a view to approach things slightly differently”.

13.22    The Committee then querried as to whether she meant to say that both the magazines were driven by some extraneous consideration.  In reply, Ms. Radia submitted:

“I think, there is a conspiracy.  I believe, there is a corporate conspiracy and I have seen it”.

Asked to point out the conspirators, she replied:

“Anybody who would not want competition”.

13.23    The Committee then desired to know whether she was performing a public relation service or actually lobbying for her client to get them certain advantages.  The Committee also categorically asked whether carrying Tata’s personal had written letter to Mr. Karunanidhi was to part of her job, according to the mandate.  In reply, Ms. Radia submitted:

“We are not lobbyists.  It is not our job to lobby.  Yes, it is our job to talk to various stakeholders, but that does not necessarily mean that we are lobbying for our client.  We are simply communicating a point of view”.

On the issue of carrying Mr. Tata’s personal letter, she clarified:

“…our role, as defined in our mandate, is to communicate our client’s point of view.  Carrying the letter was to hand over the letter to  Shri Karunanidhi on behalf of Shri Tata…”

13.24    Asked to state whether her conversation with Ms. Barkha Dutt did not give an impression that she was lobbying.  In response, Ms. Radia stated:

“I think if you listen to the conversation in the context that they need to be listened to, everybody is discussing who is becoming what cabinet minister and what they are doing at that time.  I do not think it was anything different from watching TV channels or watching new reports.  Giving a particular point of view, we were simply asking information from journalists who were in touch with political people, who were on the political beat, who had information or who may know things because they have been reporting certain things in a particular manner that they seem to know things.  All we were doing was just asking information from them”.

13.25    The Committee then asked whether the conversation did not indicate that Ms. Dutt was leading her up the garden path.  Ms. Radia replied:

“I do not think that anyone was leading anyone up the garden path.  I think, we were just having a conversation about who is becoming the Cabinet Minister and I was relaying to her the anxiety of what our client had lived through in the previous years, prior to that.  I think all I was giving her was information as I knew it about a particular person and the chemistry that existed between my client…”.

13.26    On being asked to state categorically and truthfully as to whether the tapes were genuine or not, Ms. Radia submitted:

“At least the tapes that I have heard from the investigating agencies are genuine tapes”.

13.27    Asked to furnish the list of the conversations that were played to her by the CBI, Ms. Radia deposed:

“Sir, we will write to the concerned agency and we will ask  them, if this is permissible under law.  We will also make a reference of the PAC”.

13.28    The Committee then asked Shri Ratan N. Tata whether he had heard the Radia Tapes.  Shri Tata submitted in evidence in the affirmative.  Asked to authenticate whether it was his voice in the conversation with Ms. Neira Radia, Shri Tata replied in the affirmative.  He also submitted that it was absolutely the voice of Ms. Radia too.  When asked to state whether the tapes were manipulated or doctored, Shri Tata replied in the negative….

13.35    When the Committee asked Shri Vir Sanghvi and Ms. Barkha Dutt, who also figured in the Radia tapes, about the authenticity of their conversation as published in the magazines, both of them in separate written communication stated that they had challenged, objected and protested against etc.  But none of them had so far initiated any legal proceedings.

***

On the role of media and whistleblowers, the PAC says:

“The Committee note that the  brazen  irregularities in the allotment of 2G spectrum and UAS  licences were unravelled  by some investigative journalists much before the Radia tapes  came into the public domain.

“A journalist who played a stellar role in exposing the irregularities, on being asked about  the sources of his information,  replied that the information was collected through the RTIs and from some public-spirited insiders.

“The publishers  of the news magazines who first published the  tapes,  testified  that they were  actuated  by their journalistic duty to reveal the truth and the irrepressible urge of public  interest.

“The Committee appreciate the exemplary professional job done by these journalists who despite the imminent possibility of the serious hazards both physical and financial undertook the venture they embarked upon.

“When the Committee sought the response of a senior journalist about these taped conversations he candidly deposed that what they did was utterly unprofessional.  He  conceded  that  the journalists do  speak  to various sources as it is their job  to   fathom out and reveal  the truth but  they ought not  get involved in lobbying for any one and certainly  the taped conversations show that they transgressed   the line of propriety – the ‘lakshman rekha’.  More so, senior journalists as they were, they knew when they made such a transgression….”

***

Text: courtesy Tehelka

Also read: Scribe says tribe crossed line in Niira Radia tapes

External reading: “Indian media’s conspiracy of silence”

* Dislcosures apply

Scribe says tribe crossed line in Niira Radia tapes

28 April 2011

Several print and television journalists found their voices on the Niira Radia tapes. Some expressed remorse at such a cosy relationship with the lobbyist; some like you-know-who brazened it out.

Now, The Hindu reports that one senior unnamed scribe who was caught on tape lobbying has candidly admitted that what they did was “utterly unprofessional”.

The paper reports that the draft report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which went into the 2G spectrum allocation deal, has this paragraph under the heading “role of media and whistleblowers”:

“When the committee sought the response of a senior journalist about these taped conversations, he candidly deposed that what they [journalists] did was utterly unprofessional. He conceded that journalists do speak to various sources as it is their job to fathom out and reveal the truth but they ought not to get involved in lobbying for anyone and certainly the taped conversations show that they transgressed the line of propriety – the ‘Lakshman rekha.’”

Here’s brief list of the journalists who were on Radia tapes: Barkha Dutt (NDTV), Vir Sanghvi (Hindustan Times), Prabhu Chawla (then India Today), K. Venugopal (Hindu Business Line), Rahul Joshi (Economic Times), M.K. Venu (then Economic Times), Jaideep Bose (The Times of India), Surajeet Das Gupta (Business Standard), G. Ganapathy Subramaniam (Economic Times), Navika Kumar (Times Now), Jehangir Pocha (NewsX), V. Shankkar Aiyar (then India Today)….

Read the full article: Scribe admits ‘unprofessional’ work

***

Also read: Vir Sanghvi & Barkha Dutt: ‘We were targetted’

Did Radia tapes imapct journos’ Padma awards?

Radia effect on PM’s invitees for TV pow-wow?

Barkha Dutt tarred by pure malice: Khushwant Singh

When Rajdeep Sardesai got it left, right and centre

Is it really so difficult to say, sorry, maaf karo?

YSR gets a much-needed “off” on Sakshi TV

28 April 2011

KEERTHI PRATIPATI writes from Hyderabad: Ever since he died in a helicopter crash in September 2009, the smiling visage of Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy has been a permanent logo on the screen of Sakshi TV, the 24×7 Telugu news channel launched by his son, Y. Jaganmohan Reddy.

It took the funeral of Sai Baba on Wednesday for YSR to make way for the dead godman. But only for a day. YSR is back at work today, a shower of photo-shopped petals raining from the right-hand top, even as the Election Commission asks why the “one-sided” reports being carried by the channel and its eponymous newspaper, Sakshi, should not be considered paid news.

Newspaper facsimile: courtesy Mail Today

Indian Express, NDTV & the “scoop” that wasn’t

27 April 2011

***

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: There has been a brief hiatus to the “crude and disgusting character assassination” of the father-son lawyer-pair of Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan, after the Union government made it clear the insinuations would not sway the composition or functioning of the committee to draft the Lokpal bill.

Now, as if to show the world that they are no wimps, the Bhushans have hit back—and how.

A week after Shekhar Gupta‘s Indian Express front-paged two reports (Part I, Part II) in what Common Cause, the organisation founded by Arun Shourie‘s father, calls “an orchestrated campaign of calumny, slander and insinuation”, the Bhushans have issued a four-page clarification on the allotment of two 10,000 square metre plots that so riled the paper and—no surprise—NDTV 24×7, which repeatedly asked “Should Bhushans Quit?

The point-by-point rejoinder punches big, gaping holes in every single claim imputed by the Express lead story on April 20, authored by the paper’s Noida correspondent Pragya Kaushika and investigative reporter Ritu Sarin, and a follow-up story on April 21 authored by Krishnadas Rajagopal and Tanu Sharma.

In fact, it turns out, Express based the stories on an aggrieved allottee, whose petition for a better location of the plot than the one alotted to him and the Bhushans, had been thrown out by the Allahabad high court four days earlier, on April 16, a fact which Express artfully hid from readers.

Express also did not disclose to readers that a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the scheme/allotments had been dismissed by a bench of the Allahabad high court in 2010.

# Express: “Bhushans get two prime farmhouse plots from Mayawati government for a song”.

Bhushans: The total price of the property is Rs 3.67 crore, plus additional annual lease rent of Rs 9.18 lakh per year for 90 years, which amounts to more than Rs 75,000 per month. “It seems some people have misunderstood the first instalment as the total cost of the land.”

***

# Express: “The political class may be evil and corrupt but that’s whom the Bhushans turn to when they want a farmhouse each—for a song.”

Bhushans: The allotment of land was not from any discretionary quota but from a regular scheme which was advertised in the newspapers and was open to any person. The Bhushans applied in March 2009, were interviewed in May 2009, and allotted the land in January 2010. They received the land in January 2011. By the time of the allotment, the rate of the land had gone up from Rs 3,100 per square metre to Rs 3,500 per square metre.”

***

# Express: The allotment raises “questions of conflict of interest, as [Shanti Bhushan's son and Prashant Bhushan's brother] Jayant Bhushan has appeared against Mayawati in the Noida statue park case.”

Bhushans: There is no connection between the cases and the plots. The Noida park case was argued by Jayant Bhushan tooth and nail in full media glare right till the end, as can be gauged from the judgement delivered…. “In fact, even now Prashant Bhushan and Shanti Bhushan are appearing against the Mayawati government in the Taj corridor case. The question of favouring the Bhushans by the Mayawati government does not arise.”

***

# Express: “In his declaration of assets, Shanti Bhushan… did not mention the discretionary manner in which Mayawati government allotted this land.”

Bhushans: “This allotment was not made under any discretionary quota. No criterion for allotment was mentioned either in the advertisement or the subsequent brochure of the scheme…. The brochure did not indicate on what basis the allotment would be made in case the number of applicants was more than the number of plots.”

***

# Express: “This allotment of Noida farmland is now the subject matter of case in the Allahabad high court by another allottee, former additional solicitor-general Vikas Singh.”

Bhushans: A PIL filed in the Allahabad high court challenging the scheme/allotments was dismissed last year by a bench of the HC. Another writ petition filed by Vikas Singh was dismissed by the Allahabad high court on 16 April 2011, ie four days before the Express “expose” appeared.

***

# Express: The cost of each farmhouse is Rs 3.5 crore and allottees had to pay just 10%—Rs 35 lakh—at the time of allotment, the rest in 16 instalments. This is less than a quarter of the market rate, according to Vikas Singh’s petition.”

Bhushans: “Allegations that the Bhushans have been charged less than the market price are totally unsubstantiated. No sales have taken place in the open market. No one has explained how the alleged market rate had been arrived at.”

***

# Express: On April 16, the Allahabad High Court heard a bunch of writ petitions, including that of Vikas Singh.

Bhushans: The petitions of Vikas Singh and two other persons who had not as yet been allotted a plot, was dismissed by Allahabad HC on 16 April 2011.

***

# Express: “The manner in which the farmland was allotted has been challenged in court.”

Bhushans: Vikas Singh’s grievance was that the better plots had been allotted to favoured persons and that his plot was in a very bad location. The Bhushans have been given plots in a totally undeveloped area unapproachable by any proper road. The delay in and poor location of the allotted land may be the reason.

***

# Express: “When it comes to individuals getting land allotted from the government much below market rates and without any lottery or auction, the Bhushans have always claimed to hold high standards of probity—for others.”

Bhushans: “No criterion for allotment was mentioned either in the advertisement or in the subsequent brochureof the scheme. Applicants were called for an interview which was supposed to determine their aiblity to pay the requisite amounts for the plot and to determine what the applicants planned to do with their plots…. The brochure did not indicate on what basis the allotment would be made in case the number of applicants was more than the number of plots. Even when the allotment was made, it was unclear as to whether at all the number of applicants was greater than the number of plots or whether a draw of lots should have taken place.”

Nevertheless, Express ran a quarter-page advertisement gloating over the “scoop” that wasn’t on April 21, the day the second story appeared. The Express story also became the cue card for the political class which wanted the Bhushans to subject themselves to the same scrutiny they subject others.

Also read: Is The Indian Express now a pro-establishment paper?

When a film star weds a journalist, it’s news—II

26 April 2011

Indian film stars—like politicians, businessmen, cricketers and others—rarely have anything nice to say about journalists and journalism, except when they have something to sell. Some, like Amitabh Bachchan and Ram Gopal Verma, have built a cottage industry biting the hand that feeds them to the masses.

How nice therefore to find an inhabitant of tinsel world say “I do” to one of our own.

The Malayalam heartthrob Prithviraj Sukumaran tied the knot with Supriya Menon, the BBC’s business correspondent based in Bombay, in the latter’s home town of Palghat, on Monday. A reception has been planned in Ernakulam for May 1.

The two apparently met a year ago while Supriya was reporting on southern cinema, presumably for the BBC weekend programme, India Business Report, of which she was anchor-correspondent for a while.

“My wife was working as a reporter for a TV news channel. Being a South Indian, she was assigned to do a feature on South Indian cinema. When she called me, I was watching a special screening of SRK’s Don and could not talk to her and told her I would call her back. Next day, when I returned her call, coincidentally she was also watching Don. While that feature did not happen, due to this one call, we started talking and we discovered that we had the same view on the film. Also, we were coincidentally both reading The Fountainhead at that time. And then Shantaram happened and I was so fascinated by how Gregory David Roberts painted Mumbai in the book that I wanted to come to Mumbai and see Haji Ali and Leopold cafe. She showed me around and we fell in love through Bombay that later lead to us getting married.”

But Indo-Asian New Service (IANS), quoting the bride’s groom’s mother reports, that the two families knew each other for a long time and the couple were “childhood friends”.

The Times of India, quoting unnamed sources, says what attracted the film star to the journalist was her “intellectual quotient”.

The New Indian Express reports that local photographers and TV channels were not allowed inside the wedding venue. While over a dozen private photographers covered the function, the bride and groom left “without speaking to the journalists waiting outside the gate”.

Deccan Chronicle, which apparently broke the news of the “whirlwind romance” and the impending wedding only for it to be described as “baseless journalism” by the actor, reports that Prithviraj’s wedding to the journalist has broken the hearts of thousands of his female fans.

Photograph: courtesy Deccan Chronicle

Also read: When a politician weds a journalists, it’s news

Watch Supriya Menon reporting: Barter during a downturn

‘Hindu Business Line’ to get a non-family editor

25 April 2011

SHARANYA KANVILKAR writes from Bombay: Less than a week after the board of directors of The Hindu “decided” to appoint a professional from outside the family as the editor of the 132-year-old newspaper, the group’s business daily, The Hindu Business Line, is also slated to go the same way.

The paper’s joint editor, K. Venugopal—son of former Hindu editor G. Kasturi, a key player in the current round of the great HINDU mahayudh—who is in charge of Business Line, told a meeting of the paper’s reporters in Bombay today that Business Line would be getting a professional as editor in the next three months.

Venugopal is also reported to have indicated that, instead of looking for a name from outside the paper, a current staffer could don the role. Among the front-runners are D. Sampath Kumar, senior associate editor, and T.C.A. Srinivasa-Raghavan, associate editor.

Hindu Business Line is in the midst of a management and editorial restructuring exercise being conducted by the global consultancy firm, McKinsey. Code-named “Project Kamadhenu”, the exercise has already seen Venugopal, a director in the company, play less of a role in the daily’s editorial operations.

As per published news reports, it was Venugopal’s brother, K. Balaji, who proposed the move to keep family members away from editorial positions at last week’s board meeting, where the name of The Hindu‘s Delhi bureau chief, Siddharth Varadarajan, was proposed as the next editor of the paper.

Also read: The four great wars of N. Ram on ‘Hindu‘ soil

It isn’t easy to tell tales of even dead Editors

24 April 2011

Outlook* editor-in-chief Vinod Mehta, in the letters’ pages of the weekly newsmagazine:

Clarification

In my Delhi Diary (Mar 21), I made some references to the late R.K. Karanjia, former editor of Blitz and one of India’s most respected journalists, and Col Gaddafi. I withdraw those remarks unreservedly and apologise to Russy’s family for any unintended hurt caused.

Vinod Mehta

There is, however, no “clarification” on the other editor mentioned in the diary, Ayub Syed, the late editor of Current.

Also read: Why an editor took two empty suitcases to Libya

* Disclosures apply

The four great wars of N. Ram on ‘Hindu’ soil

23 April 2011

G. Kasturi (left), with editor-in-chief N. Ram (centre) and his younger brother, managing director N. Murali, at the 125th anniversary celebrations of The Hindu, in September 2003

ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: As if to prove the old adage that blood is thicker than water, there have been four rounds of internecine strife in the last 22 years in the undivided Hindu family that owns and runs India’s “most respected” newspaper.

To no one’s surprise, Narasimhan Ram aka N. Ram, the card-carrying Marxist who drove CPI (M) strongman E.M.S. Namboodiripad around town, and was a college mate of current CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, has been the central figure in all four of them.

Equally unsurprisingly, the warring parties in the first round have found themselves on the same side of the war in the next three skirmishes.

***

The first great HINDU mahayudh of 1989

At war: Editor G. Kasturi and associate editor N. Ram

The issue: Discontinuation of Bofors investigation

The war: Uncharacteristically, The Hindu which prides itself as a “newspaper of record”, goes ballistic about the Bofors scandal, thanks to Chitra Subramaniam, who has hopped over to the paper from The Indian Express, carrying the Bofors legacy. Chitra and N. Ram, then no.2 in the editorial hierarchy, do a number of jointly bylined stories. In October 1989, The Hindu publishes the first part of a three-page article with the promise “To be continued”.

However, Kasturi blocks the second instalment and publishes a front-page note explaining the discontinuation. It reads, “Enough has been written supported by extensive documentation in The Hindu to establish the face of the cover-up and the non-serious pursuit of the investigation by the official agenies and give the lie to the government’s latest assertions.”

Miffed, Ram goes public and issues a statement against his uncle (G.Kasturi is Ram’s father, G. Narasimhan‘s brother) for acting “arbitrarily, capriciously and in a manner highly derogatory of the traditions, norms and values of independent, ethical journalism,” and calling the editor’s note “a conspicuous insult to the traditions of independent, intellectually and socially serious, and ethical journalism.”

At a press conference, Ram also freely distributes the unpublished second-part of the Bofors investigation, with all the relevant documents, and invites newspapers to carry it. Ram also approaches the Press Council of India with a 15-page complaint against G. Kasturi.

The fallout: Ram is divested of his responsibilities at The Hindu, and sinecured to take charge of the group’s fortnightly, Frontline, and the sports weekly, Sportstar. G. Kasturi makes way for N. Ram’s youngest brother N. Ravi, who takes over as editor in 1991. From the other side of the family tree, Ram’s cousin Nirmala Lakshman becomes joint editor, and her sister Malini Parthasarathy becomes executive editor under Ravi. Chitra Subramaniam exits The Hindu and has “many harsh things to say about Ram.”

***

The second great HINDU mahayudh of 2003

At war: Editor N. Ravi and executive editor Malini Parthasarathy, versus N. Ram (backed by G. Kasturi)

The issue: The editorial direction of The Hindu

The war: Against the backdrop of complaints that the paper was veering far too much to the left and alienating “loyal” readers with its anti-Jayalalitha and anti-Hindu stance, the board of directors of Kasturi & Sons passes a resolution appointing whole-time director N. Ram (till then editor of Frontline and Sportstar) as editor-in-chief of The Hindu, placing him over editor N. Ravi.

The change of guard comes just three months before the 125h anniversary celebrations of the “Mount Road Mahavishnu.

“It is true that our readers have been complaining that some of our reports are partial and lack objectivity. But it also depends on reader beliefs,” joint managing director N. Murali, the brother of N. Ram and N. Ravi, is quoted as saying. Ram takes charge, promising to keep news and opinion separate.

The fallout: Ram presides over the 125th anniversary, with neither Ravi nor Malini in the frame. In November 2003, the Tamil Nadu government turns The Hindu into a cause celebre by ordering the arrest of the publisher of The Hindu, S. Rangarajan, journalists V. Jayanth and Radha Venkatesan, and N. Ravi and Malini Parthasarathy for breach of privilege of the assembly for articles that had appeared in April of that year. Although they continued to be editor and executive editor respectively, neither Ravi nor Malini write for several years.

Tamil Nadu police enter the cubicle of editor-in-chief N. Ram at The Hindu offices, in November 2003

***

The third great HINDU mahayudh of 2010

At war: N. Ram (backed by G. Kasturi) versus N. Murali  and N. Ravi

The issues: Retirement norms for family member-directors; entry norms into the business for younger members of the family; overall corporate governance issues

The war: The two aggrieved brothers of N. Ram say he reneged on a September 2009 promise to retire by May 2010 upon turning 65, thus paving the way for N. Ravi to take over as editor-in-chief.

By a 9-3 vote, the Hindu board kicks N. Murali upstairs by making him senior managing director confining his powers to only the circulation department; simultaneously G. Kasturi’s son K. Balaji is made managing director with overarching powers. Ram tells Business Standard that Murali had been redesignated “with his consent at the board meeting” and that Balaji had been appointed MD “as part of succession planning, which has been actively advocated by Murali to his credit.”

But it is the appointment of family members—N. Ram’s daughter Vidya Ram, Nirmala Lakshman’s son Narayan Lakshman, and Nirmala’s (and Malini’s) sister Nalini Krishnan‘s son Ananth Krishnan—as foreign correspondents that has most tongues wagging.

Malini Parthasarathy, who is not married, is most aggrieved by this turn of events. The Indian Express reports that Ravi and Malini objected to the manner in which “Kasturi’s resources, financial as well as editorial, were used to further the interests of some board members.”

The fallout: Ram makes public the decisions taken by the board in a front-page announcement. The issue goes to the company law board (CLB), which in December 2010 orders the reinstatement of N. Murali as managing director but declines to interfere with new appointments made, including that of K. Balaji as managing director, or to implement a retirement age for family members on the company’s board.

Narayan Lakshman, Vidya Ram and Ananth Krishnan

***

The fourth great HINDU mahayudh of 2011

At war: Editor-in-chief N. Ram, versus N. Ravi, Nirmala Lakshman and Malini Parthasarathy

The issue: Separation of management from editorial

The war: Less than a month before he is to demit office upon turning 65, Ram breaks with tradition and announces that the board has decided to appoint a “professional editor” who will be responsible for selection of news under the PRB act. This, he adds, is to happen when N. Ram steps down as editor-in- chief and N. Ravi steps down as editor.

“The other directors working on the editorial side would also step down from their current editorial designations in such time as the board may decide and become part of a committee of the board of directors known as the editorial board,” the board decides in a 7-5 decision.

N. Ravi, who joined the company in 1972 and was waiting to take over as editor-in-chief from Ram, shoots off a mail to all employees against the “shocking display of bad faith” by his brother. “Ram seems bent on taking all the editorial directors — most are in their 50s — into retirement with him, with a scorched earth policy to ensure that no one in the family succeeds him…. In a sudden change of rules and under the specious plea of separating ownership from management, along with my removal as editor, Nirmala Lakshman is to be forced to “step down” as joint editor and Malini Parthasarathy as executive editor.”

Ravi also accuses Ram of going soft on 2G scam accused A. Raja, of hogging the limelight in an “unceasing self-glorification campaign”, and a pronounced pro-China tilt.  Ravi’s contention that there was quid pro quo amounting to paid news in an interview with A. Raja in exchange for an advertisment is shot down by Ram at a press conference in Delhi, where he calls the charge “egregariously defamatory“.

The fallout: The dispute is likely to go to court. Malini Parthasarathy tweets: “After me the deluge”! Real story at The Hindu is the removal of a sitting Editor and continuing backdoor control of editorial by proxies.” N. Murali, who is away in the United States, says that the attempt to alter the basic structure of the business should be passed with a three-fourths majority by the EGM on May 20.

Also read: Indian Express vs The Hindu; N. Ram vs N. Ravi

Now it’s Malini Parthasarathy vs ‘The Stalinists’

N. Ram is stalling Malini Parthasarathy‘s ascent’

Express declares ceasefire, brothers declare war

When it’s all in the family, it is all in the family

Under N. Ram, The Hindu becomes an apology of a paper

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