Is Indian Express now a pro-establishment paper?

21 April 2011


PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: The Indian Express of Ramnath Goenka is an unputdownable chapter in the book of Indian journalism. Unlike many of its English counterparts—whose grammar was constricted by Wren & Martin, and the Raj—Express was the archetypal desi bully.

“Anti-establishment,” was the Express‘ calling card.

Its reputation was built on stones pelted at the power elite: taking on dictatorial prime ministers (Indira Gandhi for the Emergency, Rajiv Gandhi for the anti-defamation Bill), slimy corporate chiefs (Dhirubhai Ambani of Reliance industries) and corrupt chief ministers (A.R. Antulay of Maharashtra, R. Gundu Rao of Karnataka).

“Pro-people,” was the Express‘ middlename.

Unlike its servile peers who crawled when asked to bend, Express‘ founder himself took part in Gandhi‘s march from Champaran and led the protest against the anti-defamation Bill. The paper backed Jayaprakash Narayan‘s Bihar movement, and battled for civil liberties and human rights, some times at the risk of closure of the company.

Whatever its other motives and motivations (and there were a few), the Indian Express sent the unambiguous signal to Indians that the Express was theirs; a paper that would speak truth to power, a paper they could bank on in taking on the bold-faced names of the establishment.

An Encyclopaedia Britannica entry on Goenka accurately calls him a “crusader against government corruption”.

On his birth centenary seven years ago, Express launched a website on the “man who had the courage to stand up for truth.”

So, how would Ramnath Goenka look at his baby today, as its editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta leads an extraordinary ad hominem attack on the Anna Hazare-led “people’s movement” against corruption, pillorying NGOs, the middle-class and “civil society”—and allowing itself to be become the weapon of first choice in what Express columnist Soli J. Sorabjee calls the “crude and disgusting character assassination” of its lead players, the lawyers Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan?

***

Since the day Anna Hazare sat on the fast-unto-death at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on April 5, demanding the constitution of a joint government-civil society committee for the drafting of the Lokpal bill—and especially after he succeeded in his mission—The Indian Express has bared its fangs in a manner that few would expect any independent newspaper to do.

At least, few would have expected an “anti-establishment”, “pro-people” paper whose tagline is “Journalism of Courage” to do.

Over a 16-day period (April 6 to 21), through 21 news reports, seven editorials, 15 opinion articles, three cartoons and one illustration, almost all of them variations of the same theme, the northern and western editions of the Express (the southern editions are under a different editorial management after the Goenka family split) has left no one in doubt on whose side—and which—side of the debate it is.

Against the sentiment on the street and in the homes and offices of its readers—and with the political-business-bureacuratic-fixer-operator cabal in whose interest it is to spike the bill in whatever form it may emerge, by tarnishing its movers and shakers.

The only place there has been any space for the other side in the Express since the protest began and ended, has been in its letters’ column, with one letter (from a former Express staffer) getting pride of place on the op-ed page as an article.

Otherwise, it has been a relentless torrent of scepticism, cynicism, criticism, distortion, inneundo, insinuation and plain abuse in The Indian Express. Words like “illiberal”, “fascist”, “dangerous”, “self-righteous”, “self-appointed”, “authoritarian”, “dictators”, “Maoist” and—pinch yourself—“missing foreskins” have spewed forth from the paper’s news and views pages to convince the world why the movement is the worst thing to have happened for Indian democracy.

Here’s a sampling of the headlines, introductions and blurbs over the 16-day period:

***

# April 6, news report, by Maneesh Chibber, headline “Activists’ Bill calls for Lokpal as supercop, superjudge”, text “The Jan Lokpal Bill…. includes a set of highly unusual provisions….”

# April 7, news report, by Maneesh Chibber and Seema Chisti, headline “Cracks appear in Anna’s team”, intro “Justice Santosh Hegde objects to ‘certain’ clauses’, Aruna Roy warns: can’t bypass democratic principles”

# April 7, news feature, by Vandita Mishra, headline “Anna’s fast, main course: feed politicians to vultures & dogs”

# April 7, editorial headline “They, the people”, intro “Illiberal, self-righteous sound and fury isn’t quite the weapon against corruption.”

# April 7, opinion, by Pratap Bhanu Mehta, headline “Of the few, by the few”, intro “Lokpal Bill agitation has a contempt for politics and democracy”, blurb “The claim that people are not represented by elected representatives, but are represented by their self-appointed guardians is disturbing. Anyone who claims to be the ‘authentic’ voice of the people is treading on very thin ice indeed”

# April 8, news report, headline “First political voices speak: cause just, method fascist”, intro “Self-selected can’t dictate terms, says SP; who will choose 50% civil society, asks Raghuvansh [Prasad]“

# April 8, news report, by D.K. Singh, headline “UPA problem: NAC shoe is on the other (NGO) foot”, text: “…the anti-corruption legislation looks set to land in the turf war between competing gorups of civil rights activists.”

# April 8, gossip item, headline “Lady in hiding?”, text “When the fiesty retired IPS officer (Kiran Bedi) was not seen, it naturally set off talk, with people wondering whether she had quietly withdrawn from the campaign.”

# April 8, editorial, headline “Carnival society”, intro “There is nothing representative about the ‘civil society’ gathering at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar”

#April 9, news report, by Seema Chisti, headline “Jantar Mantar core group lost out last year, struck back with Anna”

# April 9, editorial, headline “Make it better”, intro “This anti-politics juggernaut is both contentless and dangerous”

# April 9, opinion, by BaijayantJayPanda MP, headline “Cynicism vs hope”, intro “How odd that we should undermine democracy in this year of pro-democracy movements”, blurb “The Jantar Mantar movement is now poised at a crucial juncture. It could get irretrievably hijacked by those of Hazare’s supporters who have scant respect for politics. If wiser heads prevail—those who respect the institutions of democracy like parliament and the courts—then we could well be at the cusp of a magical moment.”

# April 10, news report, headline “[Baba] Ramdev attacks ‘nepotism’ in bill drafting committee: pita mukhiya, beta sadasya?”

# April 10, news report pointer, headline “Ally NCP speaks out: joint committee will be joint pain for constitution and democracy”

# April 11, opinion, by Mihir S. Sharma, headline “Not a very civil coup”, intro “Snuff out those candles: democratic society should trump civil society, every time”,  blurb “Let us not glorify middle-class anger when it is expressed as an antipathy to where democracy’s gotten us, as fury at not having more power than is gifted by the vote you share with a villager. That way lies the pain and disillusionment of a dozen cuddly dictators”

# April 12, editorial, headline “Rs 100, a sari, a bottle”, intro “That’s all Hazare says a vote means. Who gains from such disdain for democracy?”

# April 12, opinion, by Neera Chandhoke, headline “The seeds of authoritarianism”, intro “Democracy needs civil society. But not Anna Hazare’s version, contemputous of ordinary voters”

# April 12, opinion, by Madhu Purnima Kishwar, headline “Why tar all politicians with the same brush?”, intro “We need to reboot corrupt systems, instead of demonising our political class”, blurb “Politicians can be removed through elections, whereas we self-appointed representatives cannot be voted out when we exceed our brief”

# April 13, news clipping quoting New Age, view from the left, “Anna Hazare afterthought”

# April 13, opinion, by Seema Chisti, headline “We the bullied”, intro “Can our basic democratic procedures be so easily dispensed with?”, blurb “The quick and easy path in this case is also the more dangerous road, and it is one on which we have already embarked—all because there are some people around who talk loud enough to make claims about representing ‘the people’. We, the electors and those we elected, have just given them a walkover.”

# April 13, opinion, by Ashwini Kulkarni, “Governance comes before a Lokpal”, intro “For a Lokpal bill to work, you would need systems that create the paper trails necessary for prosecution”

# April 13, opinion, by Nityanand Jayaraman, headline “The halfway revolution”, intro “Am I wrong in suggesting that the candle-holding middle-class Indian is not very different from the Maoist in ideology?”

# April 14, editorial, headline “Over to the MPs”, intro “On the Lokpal bill, Veerappa Moily is falling all over himself—and could trip Parliament too”

# April 14, opinion, by Javed Anand, headline “Why I didn’t join Anna Hazare,” intro “In his post-corrupt utopia, we should look forward to leaders like Narendra Modi“, blurb “I do not wish to spoil the show for those celebrating the ‘second movement for Independence’ that Anna has won for us. But I cannot hide the fact that I, with my missing foreskin, continue to feel uneasy about the Anna revolution—for more reasons than one.”

# April 15, news report, headline “CEOs, banks, firms in list of donors put up on website of Hazare movement”

# April 15, news report, “Doubt your role as good lawmaker: SP leader to Shanti Bhushan”

# April 15, opinion, by Farah Baria, headline “See the spirit of Anna’s movement”, intro “Don’t nip our fledgling civic consciousness in the bud”

# April 16, news report, headline “Lokpal talks off to CD start”

# April 16, news report, headline “My view is keep judges out, says Anna, colleagues disagree”

# April 16, news report, headline “The other society: CIC, Aruna Roy, Justice Verma to hold parallel meet”

# April 17, news report, by Swaraj Thapa and Amitabh Sinha, headline “Lokpal should have powers to tap phones, prosecute: non govt reps”

# April 17, news report, by Seema Chisti, headline “Why the hurry, and do we really need more laws, ask legal luminaries, activists”

# April 17, opinion, by Meghnad Desai, headline “Which Hazare?’

# April 17, opinion, by Sudheendra Kulkarni, headline “MODI-fy the Lokpal debate”

# April 17, opinion, by Tavleen Singh, headline “Our sainted NGOs?”

# April 19, editorial, headline “law and lawgivers”, intro “So will Anna Hazare respect Parliament’s supremacy after all?”

# April 20, news report, by Pragya Kaushika and Ritu Sarin, headline “Bhushans get two prime farmhouse plots from Mayawati govt for a song”, intro “No lottery, no auction in allotment of two 10,000 sq m plots to Shanti Bhushan and son Jayant

# April 20, editorial, headline “Case must go on”, intro “The judicial process must remain disconnected from the Bhushans-Amar Singh spat”

# April 20, opinion, by A.P. Shah and Venkatesh Nayak, “A gigantic institution that draws powers from a statute based on questionable principles”, blurb “Clauses 8 and 17 turn the Lokpal into a civil court that will reverse the decisions of the executive such as grant of licences, permits, authorisations and even blacklist companies and contractors. This is not the job of an Ombudsman-type institution.”

# April 21, news report, headline “Mess spreading, Sonia washes her NAC hands of Lokpal Bill”, intro “Reminds Anna Hazare that he knew NAC was at work on Bill until fast forced the issue”

# April 21, news report, by Krishnadas Rajagopal and Tanu Sharma, headline “On plots allotted by govt, the Bhushans have high standards—for others”

# April 21, news report, by Tanu Sharma, headline “Shanti Bhushan may not have been in panel if plot known: Santosh Hegde”

# April 21, opinion, by Sandeep Dikshit, MP, headline “Whose bill is it anyway?”, intro “The fight against corruption cannot be appropriated by a clique”, blurb “The very reason why this committee was formed was because it was argued that we need more opinions and contributions to the Lokpal Bill. Having accepted this, can the protagonists then state that every opinion, every fear expressed by those outside this group is an attempt to sabotage this bill?

# April 21, opinion, by Dilip Bobb, headline “In search of civil society”, intro “Anna Hazare has given ‘civil society’ an identity card, but who qualifies for membership?”, blurb “Is civil society the preserve of groups predefined as democratic, modern and ‘civil’, or is it home to all sorts of associations, including ‘uncivil society’?”

# April 21, news clippings quoting Organiser, view from the right, headlines “Whose Hazare?”, “Check that bill”

***

It is no one’s case that the campaign for the Lokpal bill, or the clauses contained in the draft Jan Lokpal bill, is without its flaws. It is also no one’s case that those behind the movement are angels, who cannot be questioned or scrutinised.

But when viewed through a journalistic prism, the Express campaign raises two questions.

One, can a newspaper—notwithstanding its right to take a stand it likes on any issue—can a newspaper shut out the other side completely as if doesn’t exist? And is such a newspaper a newspaper or a pamphlet?

Example: on April 19, “civil society” representatives led by NAC members Aruna Roy and Harsh Mander, condemned the campaign to malign Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan. The Indian Express ignored the news item that found place in most newspapers.

And two, whose cause is the Express championing in indulging in such a hit job on a campaign that has struck a chord with millions?

Express fires from the safe shoulders of “democracy”—a word that invokes titters among many ex-Express staffers. But is the Express really speaking for the people, or has it become a plaything of the “establishment” which was shamed into acting on a piece of legislation that had been languishing for 43 years?

***

None of this is to downplay the first-rate journalism that the Indian Express still delivers on most days of the week.  Even in as messy a story as the Amar Singh-Shanti Bhushan CD in the current anti-Hazare campaign, Express demonstrated far greater rigour than its compatriots Hindustan Times and Times of India, which fell hook, line and sinker for the “establishment” story.

Nevertheless, there is no denying that Express has begun to play a meeker role in exposing corruption in high places.

In the last three years, Express has been wrongfooted by its compatriots on all the big corruption stories that have gripped the nation’s attention and spurred the campaign for the Lokpal bill: the 2G spectrum allocation (The Pioneer) and S-band (The Hindu) scams; the CWG, IPL and Adarsh housing scams (The Times of India); the black money and Swiss bank accounts story (Tehelka); Wikileaks (The Hindu); and the Niira Radia tapes (Outlook and Open).

Simultaneously, Express, which increasingly shares a strange symbiosis with Indian and American thinktanks, has veered disturbingly closer to the government, be it in reflecting the UPA government’s thrust for the Indo-US nuclear bill; its muscular approach to tackling the Maoist threat in mine-rich tribal areas; in demonising the Chinese, or in plumping for road, airport, dams, infrastructure and nuclear projects, overriding environmental and social concerns.

Indeed, from being a paper deeply suspicious of big business, it has become the go-to newspaper for corporate honchos seeking to put out their story. Ratan Tata‘s first interview after the Radia tapes hit the ceiling was with Shekhar Gupta for NDTV‘s Walk the Talk show. And for a paper deeply suspicious of power, the paper now publishes arbitrary “power lists”, without ever revealing the jury or the methodology behind the rankings. (Shekhar Gupta was decorated with the nation’s third highest civilian honour, the Padma Bhushan, by the UPA government in 2009.)

The question that arises is: are all these concentric circles somehow linked in the Express‘ astonishingly one-sided campaign against the anti-corruption movement and the people behind it?

***

Historically, in India, large publications (think Times of India and The Hindu), have tended to play along with the establishment because of the kind of business and other interests involved. But a small-circulation paper bending backwards to stroke the crooked and the corrupt doesn’t present a pleasant sight.

It doesn’t sound civil, but it is a question that must be courageously asked: has Ramnath Goenka’s bulldog of a paper become a lapdog of the power elite, luxuriating among the rich and famous, while peeing at the feet of the people it was supposed to defend?

In other words, has The Indian Express become a pro-establishment newspaper?

Illustration: courtesy C.R. Sasikumar/ The Indian Express, April 20

***

Also read: Arnab edges out Barkha on Express power list

The curious case of Zakir Naik and Shekhar Gupta

A columnist more powerful than all media pros

‘Editors and senior journos must declare assets’

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46 Responses to “Is Indian Express now a pro-establishment paper?”

  1. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    Some of those articles, e.g., A. P. Shah & Venkatesh Nayak’s, were insightful….

    • Mayank Says:

      How does a 25000 circulation and meagre ad revenue have such expensive properties? Did the NOIDA office come up on discretionary quota land?

    • Not A Witty Nick Says:

      Rename yourselves as “wearethecensor”

      grr!

  2. Ex-Ex Says:

    Think of this… a daily with a niggardly revenue source (known) and an equally niggardly circulation, pays princely salaries to its staff, shows off a lavish office, spends lavishly on other amenities, travel and etc. How does The Indian Express sustain this? Where does the money come from?

    • Satish P Says:

      Shekar Gupta was broke a few months ago – remember the belt tightening letter. Now they are surfin’!

  3. Shiva Says:

    What can you expect from Shekhar Gupta, or his minions? Vivek Goenka set the tone for the present Express when he abandoned it a couple of decades back. We grieve for the expired spirit of the Express, as we grieve for so many other things in life.

  4. shruti Says:

    “And two, whose cause is the Express championing in indulging in such a hit job on a campaign that has struck a chord with millions?”

    What millions? hardly a couple of people turned up in support of the movement in the urban centres. The show was for the media. We cannot say that the movement struck a chord with millions. the millions in the country hardly knew about it. !!!!

    • Kapil Bolisetti Says:

      Shruti, Do you live in India or some other part of the world…. For people like you the movement has taken pictures and posted on facebook.. The movement has reached 2nd and 3rd tier cities

      • Kaustav Says:

        … and villages too.

        I’ve spent hours stating facts and changing minds of these Facebook-Armchair Critics about the movement. Almost all of them have opinions based on what they read and saw in the media … needless to say highly biased in most cases (with the exception of a couple of channels that showed live telecasts from Ramlila). None of them actually took part in a rally, or visited Ramlila.

        I was there, I can tell you this is a grassroots movement, because I saw it with my own eyes.

        Please get out of your armchairs and get down on the road for the country, at least now, Shruti my friend.

    • setu Says:

      either u another political leader or u r not aware of the fact it not ur fault…come on road during these and if possible visit every city u’ll find minimum thousand people on raod in smaller towns m not talkin about big cities…go for it u’ll find the strength of people


  5. [...] Also read this post: Is Indian Express now pro-establishment paper [...]

  6. PRS Says:

    Is it ignorance or amnesia that prevents Mr Sengupta from naming Mukesh Ambani and Reliance Industries, and their increasing proximity to Shekhar Gupta’s Indian Express, given Ramnath Goenka’s much-chronicled antipathy towards Dhirubhai Ambani’s company?

  7. Sam Says:

    Wear this glass and think –

    Pro-establishment my ass. The IE is being anti-establishment, and in fact helping to bring the BJP back into the anti-corruption movement by trying to derail the current committee.

    If the lokapal / janpal bill passes, who gets the credits? Anna Hazare and the Congress. (And the bill will surely pass before UPA-2 completes its term – Sonia Gandhi and the NAC has been working on it for 2+ years now).

    So who has the most to lose? The BJP!

    After the JPC, and the action of the Congress against the 2G draft, and Anna hijacking the corruption movement from the BJP, the BJP is really a worried lot today.

    If they try to walk out of the Lok Sabha to hold up the bill on some flimsy ground, they stink in the eye of the public. If they don’t block the bill somehow, the Congress wins. Even if Anna Hazare gets all the credit, he is known as Anna Hazare, the gandhian not Anna Hazare the sangh member – again the congress benefits.

    ——————–

    Another perspective –
    I actually welcome such ‘biases’. When everybody is yelling black, its sometimes nice to hear somebody yelling white and putting forth a different point of view. It takes ball to go against the wave – when everyone has been pro-hazare, IE’s stand has to be commended, not criticized.

    Similarly, when every body was parroting the western anti-china perspective, it was actually refreshing to read The Hindu’s pro-china articles. It gave me a different perspective.

    —————

    So please give us readers too some credit. We know the biases of the news source we turn to. We also know where to find the shades of greys.

    Just like you are the best, we too are not dumb.

  8. mauja Says:

    Ha! Stooges of the first order!!! Gone are the days when IE paved the way for courageous journalism. As someone rightfully pointed out, the paper does not sell anymore but IE staffers couldn’t be bothered ’cause they are on the private payroll of the people in power. Tch Tch how the mighty have fallen

  9. kaangeya Says:

    Writing about The Indian Express is OK. But what about that other Congress stooge, employed by Congress contributor RP Goenka? I mean Manu Joseph editor of Open Magazine who has been making an ass of himself pooh-poohing the Anna Hazare led movement.

  10. Ex-Ex Says:

    This is getting curioser and curioser… Guess what the great daily’s circulation was, about three years back, when it was riding a publicity peak, launching new offices and Sekhar Gupta was getting ready to receive a great Honour from the government? This daily, which purports to ‘protect’ the masses from the ‘evil’ of big society, was selling (and these are authentic print-run figures of that time), 17,500 copies a day in Delhi!! Yes that was the figure, and there is no reason to believe that it has grown to any respectable figure today.

    And what about ad revenue? The argument at the top offices was – and an argument carried forward to the minister at that time – was that the IE should receive higher-rated DAVP ads, instead of the garbage the government rightly doles out to the daily. The situation was that bad… Yet, the salaries spiked – they were obscene, and beyond standard industry levels – the offices were redecorated and one should have seen the swagger of people there (including the great Sekhar Gupta), to believe that it wasn’t really something straight out of the movies!!!

    And talking about land grab, hahahahahaha!!!!!!!! Remember the new swanky office space the Express got at Katwaria Sarai in Qutab Institutional Area? A glass and marble headquarters of the Indian Express? Of course the building illegally belonged to a former Union Minister and it was leased out – the earlier abode of the Express a little distance away was too small for SG’s swollen ego. The problem was that the lease was illegal too. The entire Institutional Area had been developed for, yes, institutes who have no profit motive, and the Indian Express could not be a resident of that area because of that (because the IE is, simply, a profit-driven oprganisation). The IE was thrown out almost overnight!!! What a shame!! But this brings to light another issue. The previous, smallish, place that the Express had at the QIA was also, therefore, illegally held for years.

    Talk of glass houses. The Indian Express is in itself a big scam. Even if the somebody’s paying the salaries of the paper’s staff, how is the money paid? Is this a gentleman’s way of laundering? SG should sit in his Rs 10 crore residence and take another long look at the road ahead. It is coming to an end….


  11. This is what I was wondering. A completely one-sided version. It is trivialising news and abusing the responsibility which a newspaper gets..

  12. Sohini Says:

    Shekhar Gupta has not only thrashed the UPA Govt here, but also thrashed cries of ‘Express has turned into a pro-establishment paper’ – http://is.gd/E7V14P

    • Hitendra Says:

      Fully agree with the author. I used to be among those who love IE, and in past few years IE has let fans like me down.

      ***

      @ Sohini,

      In this “National Interest”, SG has not thrashed UPA, he has only complained that the Gandhis and Manmohan Singh do not speak in public. As if they are shy. He has apparently tried to defend the Top UPA bosses by simply charging a couple of ministers.


  13. It’s shameful and painful to see the other face of Indian express. form the very beginning of campaign against corruption it was appeared that Indian express becomes the tool of establishment…

  14. Bond Says:

    It appears that this blog is by a middle class person who wants to occupy a position held by our elites but is not able to do it so far. In other words a highly frustrated person who is unable to grab the power so far like Anna Hazare’s team members. They feel empowered when they are in television screens, in a same meeting with corrupt politicians and ministers but at the same time pretend to be the real and only genuine people.

    • Kapil Bolisetti Says:

      Mr Bond..seems like you know nothing about the team members.. if any of them cared they would have easily secured positions of high dignity and power..
      Kiran Bedi could be appointed to high power committee if she seeks.
      Prasanth and Shanti Bushan .. they dont even need a position power.. they are leading lawyers in Supreme court..
      hahaha…LOL.. you forgot Mr. Santosh Hegde is Lokayukta of Karnataka..
      Why am I answering an ignorant person.. lets get back to work..


  15. It is an excellent piece in analysing Indian Express’ shenanigans in reporting a truly people’s movement next only to JP’s anti-corruption movement of 1974. Indian Express and its columnists have failed to recognise that SoniaG’s NAC is as much unrepresentative an NGO as they describe Anna’s Indians Against Corruption – and which they never found it necessary to critique.

    However taking all things into consideration and not just the recent Anna Hazare movement, Indian Express is not alone in ‘crawling when merely asked to bend’.

    India has its share of ‘Pravdas’ and ‘Izvestias’ who made it their business to wrap CONgress and more particularly SoniaG in its protective cocoon. If not one wonders why no mainstream media – including television channels – has reported about Dr. Subramanian Swami’s petition to the PM seeking to prosecute the ‘UPA Chairperson’.

    And as an analyst in Wall Street Journal opined, the Indian media seems to treat SoniaG as an icon above criticism to which ordinally mortals are subjected in a democracy of which Indian Express and the Pravdas and Izvestias claim to be champions of!

    ***

    It is true the ‘Indian Express’ has not only veered away from the anti-establishment path set by its feisty founder, Ramnath Goenka but has willy-nilly become a tool to promote the political interests of the Congress party and its current Chief, SoniaG. It was perhaps Goenka’s wish in setting the paper’s course to be reflective of Burke’s dictum of a true ‘fourth estate’, as the fourth pillar of democracy, to provide checks and balances to the political establishment and not reflective of its political ideology. It is true IE and its columnists were dismissive of Anna Hazre’s anti-corruption movement as anti-democratic and even cynical of the nature of ‘civil society’ that was so obviously behind it. They never paused to reflect that they have never commented on the nature of NAC – unarguably the ‘de facto’ ruler of the nation – and which was as unrepresentative an NGO as the coalition of ‘Indians Against Corruption’.

    However, the IE is not alone in being a pro-establishment newspaper that is wont to ‘crawl when merely asked to bend’ to use Adavani’s pithy phrase. India’s has its fair share of PRAVDAs and IZVESTIAs – from the ToI [whose editor, at one time, supposedly held the second most important office in India, next only to the PM] to the HT. If the AIR of yore was described as ‘All Indira Radio’ the wishes of the common citizen that the advent of private television channels would provide the necessary checks and balances to the power-hungry ruling cliques were dashed. The private news channels have only become the equivalents of ‘Radio MoscowS’ and ‘Radio PekingS’, which day in day out sing paeans to SoniaG’s cabal. And the PRAVDAs and IZVESTIAs have developed an incestuous relationship with the ‘Radio Moscows’ and ‘Radio Pekings’ dashing even the glimmer of hope that the common citizen may have entertained – that the one would provide any checks and balances on the other.

  16. Ram Bansal Says:

    I find the commentators are bypassing the main issue of corruption in the country through mudslinging. The people in power are corrupt, autocrat and subscribers to dynasty rule. So is the Hazare team led by Arvind Kejriwal, who had been behaving as autocrats and ignored the most common tenet of public welfare by nominating father-son on the committee in a huge nation where experts are in plenty. I find them no better than the corrupt politicians, with Anna Hazare as a sacred cow.

  17. Samir Says:

    Among a host of people who’s reporting brought shame to the profession of journalism, Indian Express took the cake. The paper deserves a quiet burial. I am sure readers (who have ensured that it’s circulation remains solidly low), will ensure it gets what it deserves – for such rank sleazy journalism.

  18. Biplab Talapatra Says:

    The Indian express is going the NDTV way, a pro-establishment agency.

  19. Vistasp Hodiwala Says:

    It breaks my heart to read it but I do agree in most parts with the sum and substance of the story. I have been an Express reader for as long as I can remember. I still think that amongst all the broadsheets it is by far the most readable newspaper out there. It possibly has the finest battery of columnists too but its stance on most people-driven stories has been disturbingly suspect for some time now. Quoting their circulation figures is neither here nor there because on the other end of the spectrum is the world’s largest read ‘highly unreadable and avoidable’ English language newspaper.

    In fact even while summing up a whole lot of their record, the writer has yet missed out on the many attacks launched on Jairam Ramesh and a slavish support of the Bt Brinjal brigade (at the time), not to mention its blatant support of large ethically wrong investments such as Posco. For some years now personally, I look upon Tehelka as the new Express. And rightly so. Though I will suspect I will continue to patronise it because I find TOI and now even HT pretty unreadable.

  20. Harsh Chokshi Says:

    It’s for sure that the present government has kept media under it’s influence as news from ndtv and indian express are always pro-government, let it be 2g scandal or adarsh or anticorruption movement….


  21. Please see this Tehelka article which clarifies a lot of misunderstandings about the Bhushans: “The smears. And the facts about the Bhushans” [http://www.tehelka.com/story_main49.asp?filename=Ne070511SMEARS.asp]

    Diggy and Amar Singh splashed a lot mud on them hoping to tarnish the image of the Bhushans and thereby weaken Anna Hazare’s ‘Indians Against Corruption’ movement.

    Most newspapers swallowed the allegations as gospel and spewed them out as ‘investigative journalism’ but did not have the honesty or decency to post a retraction or clarification when every single allegation made by Diggy and Singh made, turned out to be false and motivated.

  22. Layman Says:

    Thanks for this very analytical piece. I have been a subscriber of Indian Express for quite a long time now – and have been supporting them. In general, I’ve been happy about IE, but there are a few instances when the paper seems to be taking a blatant side. Editorializing is one thing, but even reporting seems biased. This was one such instance where the bias was conspicuous. Thanks once again for writing this. Hope this blog gets the visibility it deserves.

  23. Rajiv Nair Says:

    I happened to read up on Shekhar Gupta in Wikipedia. I do not know whether it was unwitting, but the first para states that he was awarded the Padma Bhushan for the year 2009 for his contribution to Sonia’s Congress Party in the field of journalism. Which indeed says it all.

  24. alok bhatt Says:

    In my 25 years of dedicated followng i hv nt seen IE bending so much for govt…..SG has ruined ths paper n i hv tweeted enough abt this asking all its ex columnists this question….sadly no one replied but im sure everyone share this view.

  25. Rajesh Says:

    Shame on u Mr Gupta.Mr Ramnath Goenka must be shaking in his grave having handed over the mantle of his paper to an biased pseudo intellectual like u.Today’s headlines was the height of chaploosi where u say Modi did not accept the topi from minority community. Did u report when Imam says No to Vande Matram.

  26. Animesh Says:

    excerpt from wikipedia

    Financial difficulties and turnaround
    ——————————————————————-
    The newspaper saw falling profits between the years 2000-2002 but did not change its policies and the nature of content it carried. The newspaper, however, appointed franchisees to run some of its loss making editions including the Jammu edition (the model was also adopted to launch the Chandigarh edition of The Financial Express – the business paper of the Express Group). Under the franchisee model, the editorial control of the edition was to be retained by the editorial staff appointed by the Express group. The franchise owner was given the control of with the business side, including circulation and generation of revenues. In return the franchise was expected to provide the operational expenses and a one-time fee to the Express group. The model looked good on paper. However, it led to dilution of the editorial standards as the franchisees sought greater say in the appointment of reporters and selection of content. The conflict between commercial interests and journalistic ethics reached a flashpoint in The Financial Express, Chandigarh edition, when the franchisee threatened to shut down the edition if he was not given the editorial control. The franchisee ultimately emerged as the winner,leading to the resignation of the Resident Editor of the edition. This was followed by fresh appointments to the Editorial team and the franchisee assuming the role of the Managing Editor.The Express Group, subsequently posted profits of Rs 45 crores in 2004. This financial turnaround has been used as a case study in India’s highly regarded Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad.


  27. Can somebody honour Shruti with garlands ? So well informed about happenings ! Mam, wake up and shake your partners to come out of sleep and see the realities. Right from Jammu to Chnnai its Anna movement.From a rickshaw wala to the top businessmen all are supporters and followers. Oh perhaps you have already shifted to Moon ! They say they have found caves on Moon and humans may go to live there.

    Its clearly a well planned and calculated effort to defame and deflate Anna’s influence movement.No one does anything ( other than Anna ) for personal benefits.So who could gain from this defamation of Anna n team ? The awnser is obvious. Manhandling, then chappals, then Digvijay trying to paint negative pictures and now this. For everybody’s information, Anna has entire country on his back.Ofcourse leaving the leaders, perhaps bureaucrats and people like this who are busy milking the occassion.

  28. Jack Jigg Says:

    Well money doesn’t talk it swears

  29. CE Says:

    These reporters use their newspaper to mislead people, Why dont you pay your attention towards the UPA govt. Air India scam, kira bedi is a soft target


  30. THAT’S WHY NOONE READS INDIAN EXPRESS


  31. The Value & preaching of Mr. Ramnath Gonenka has taken a Back seat under the present leadership of IE. It happens when Policticains can make money and keep it in Swis Bank, why and how the leader of fourth estate will prevent temptation of earning money by cajoling the rulling class by making a opinion. It’s not of fault of Mr Shekhar Gupta or Mr Kumar Ketar like persons. After all they are also human being. But people should not be worried for about these sorts of journalistic approach and chamcha giri of Goverment. Kyunki kuch to log kahenge Logon ka kam hai kehena…….

  32. Harjinder Juneja Says:

    shame on Indian Express and their journalism

  33. mayank Says:

    Thank god I don’t subscribe to Indian Express.

  34. Chetan Juneja Says:

    I have been a reader of IE for a long time and respected the newspaper but of late the paper has become very biased and agenda driven

    The tragedy however is Indian readers don’t have the choice of a quality daily

  35. dusane Says:

    Finally someone noticed indian express’s tirade against Anti-Corruption movement….

    Irrespective of what founders or visionaries thought and would do; every media has a responsibility towards people, society. To bring forth the facts and truth and not picture black / white. Sadly i do not see anyone strong enough to do this.

  36. N r Says:

    I h
    ave stopped reading shekhar gupta & IE

  37. Shalu Sharma Says:

    Who knows whats happening in India. There is no freedom of press.


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