Archive for May 24th, 2011

The curious case of N.Ram, DMK and Jayalalitha

24 May 2011

N.Ram, editor in chief of The Hindu, calling on Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha, in Madras, on Tuesday, 24 May 2011

ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: If a picture conveys a thousand words, the picture above should convey a couple of them, and then some more.

At left is N. Ram, the editor-in-chief of The Hindu, currently embroiled in a major row with his brothers N.Murali and N. Ravi (and their cousins Malini Parthasarathy, Nirmala Lakshman and Nalini Krishnan), over who should succeed him at the family-owned newspaper.

At right is Jayalalitha Jayaram, the newly elected chief minister of Tamil Nadu, whose AIADMK government in 2003, ordered the arrest of then editor N.Ravi and executive editor Malini Parthasarathy, chief of bureau V. Jayanth, and special correspondent Radha Venkatesan for alleged contempt of the legislative assembly.

Then freshly installed at the helm, Ram turned the arrest order into a cause celebre.

Meeting Jayalalitha today may appear to be an entirely appropriate courtesy call, one which most editors think they are entitled to in the call of duty.

But is it too early to forget that Jayalalitha came to power on the back of the 2G spectrum allocation scam which has the who’s who of the DMK involved in it, and on which N. Ram has been under a targetted attack from his brothers and cousins of, a) being an apologist for the main accused in the scam, A. Raja, and b) of practising a strange kind of “paid news” by running softball interviews in return for ads in the paper.

The additional edge in the Ram-Jayalalitha picture is provided by WikiLeaks.

The Hindu, which scooped the American diplomatic cables pertaining to India from WikiLeaks, gladly ran a cable showed Trinamul Congress in poor light at the height of the election campaign in bengal. The insinuation that Washington wanted to cultivate Mamata Banerjee‘s party quickly became ammunition for the Left, with Ram’s Loyola Collegemate Prakash Karat even addressing a press conference on the issue.

The Bengal cable was published on 21 April; Bengal went to the hustings on April 18, 23, 27, May 3, 7, and 10.

However, the WikiLeaks cable that showed the fissures in the DMK between the Karunanidhi family and the Maran family were published only on Monday, 23 May 2011, a month and 10 days after Tamil Nadu went to the polls and ten days after the DMK had lost the election lock, stock and 2G to Jayalalitha’s AIADMK.

The best-case scenario is that The Hindu staff chanced upon the Dayanidhi Maran cable only after results day, 13 May. The worst-case scenario is not to difficult to imagine.

Amen.

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

How The Hindu got hold of the WikiLeaks cables

External reading: Save The Hindu

Why a unique newspaper isn’t covering the IPL

24 May 2011

Parimala Bhat reads Sparshdnyan, one of the world’s few newspapers to cater to the visually impaired.

This week’s Sunday Guardian carries a story on Sparshdnyan, a newspaper in Braille for the visually impaired. Published out of Bombay twice a month, the 48-page paper is sent out to some 400 subscribers in Maharashtra.

The paper’s editor Swagat Thorat estimates readership at 24,000 copies per issue, most of them in the 18-35 segment  that advertisers love, but not surprisingly the paper gets no ads.

The editor tells correspondent Rick Westhead that he receives 600-700 letters each issue, and covers his Rs 30,000 per month administrative costs by selling wildlife pictures.

“We cover almost everything,” Thorat says, “but there are a few topics we don’t like.”

One, surprisingly, is India’s national passion: cricket.

“The paper we use is very expensive because it’s so thick for the Braille and I just don’t want to waste it on a topic that is covered in so many other places,” he says.

“I want to make sure we have more on things like science technologies, missions to Mars, and maybe more on India’s foreign policy.”

Photograph: courtesy The Sunday Guardian

Read the full article: Braille newspaper shows blind new world

Contact Sparshdnyan: sprshdnyan [at] gmail [dot] com

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Also read: The Musalman: world’s oldest calligraphed paper

Sudharma, India’s only Sanskrit newspaper turns 38

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