Archive for June, 2012

Media advisor is second highest-paid in PMO

29 June 2012

Life isn’t easy for a public servant in the age of transparency, when every little detail is open to scrutiny under the right to information (RTI).

Mail Today, the tabloid newspaper owned by the India Today group, carries a two-page story today on what the prime minister and his key men earn, and it turns out that the PM’s media advisor, Pankaj Pachauri, gets Rs 30,000 less than his master, Manmohan Singh (Rs 1.6 lakh per month).

In fact, with a monthly cheque for Rs 1.3 lakh, Pachauri is the second highest-paid employee in the 404-person PMO.

Even the man Pachauri reports to, principal secretary Pulok Chatterji (Rs 92,000), and the national advisor Shiv Shankar Menon (Rs 1.13 lakh per month), earn less than the PM’s media advisor.

(Update: Sanjay Kapoor, editor of Hard News, points out on Twitter that Muthu Kumar who reports to Pachauri gets more than his boss.)

The salaries of all the employees in the PMO, their total salary bill, the PMO’s budget for 2012-13, the travel details of officials besides the PM’s own salary have been posted on the PMO’s website, under section 4 of the RTI Act.

Image: courtesy Mail Today

Read the full article: What the PM and his men earn

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Also read: At 7, Race Course road, this is Pankaj Pachauri

Is the PM’s media advisor missing in action?

‘The exclusive Indian political news delicacy’

26 June 2012

The Indian bureaucracy is a major journalistic niche, especially in Delhi where a number of magazines (Governance Now, Bureaucracy Today, etc) and websites (Gfiles, Whispers in the Corridor, etc) have sprouted to help readers navigate their way through the thickets of redtape.

A display ad for the website Sarkari Mirror appears in Mail Today.

Samir Jain’s son-in-law rises on TOI horizon

25 June 2012

Six days after the internet chief of the Times group, Rishi Khiani, quit to start his own venture, the new CEO Satyan Gajwani—son-in-law of Times bossman Samir Jain—has made his appearance in the newspaper.

A business page story in the paper today announces that the Times’ online music platform will be available on Microsoft’s Surface.

Says Satyan Gajwani, CEO of Times Internet Ltd, “We want gaana.com to be as accessible to users as possible. The Windows8 Surface tablet is an exciting innovation, and a fantastic new way for users to experience music on demand. The Gaana app is now available in the Surface store for users globally to listen, compile, and share the music they love.”

Miami-born Gajwani is married to Samir Jain’s painter-daughter Trishla Jain. The two met while they were at Stanford.

Gajwani did a spell as executive assistant to Times group CEO Ravi Dhariwal before moving to the internet operations of the group.

Photograph: courtesy Tech Circle

Read the full story: Gaana on Surface

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Also read: Power of the press belongs to those who own one!

The name is Gajwani. Satyan Suresh Gajwani

And Asia’s second oldest newspaper is…

25 June 2012

Asia’s second oldest newspaper, the Bombay-based Parsi daily, Jam-e-Jamshed, turns 180 years old this year. Its editor Shernaaz Engineer, a former journalist with the Afternoon Despatch & Courier, in conversation with Prabhat Sharan of Deccan Herald:

What does Jam-e-Jamshed mean? And is the origin of newspaper connected to the growth ofMumbai as a trade post in the early 19th century?

Jam-e-Jamshed is the second oldest newspaper in Asia; the first being Mumbai Samachar, which interestingly still comes out from the same place where it was started. Jam-e-Jamshed also had its own iconic red brick building at Ballard Pier near Mumbai Docks before shifting out.

In Persian language, Jam-e-Jamshed means the goblet in which you can see the future. The paper was started by the extremely influential Marzban family of Mumbai. This was the time when Gujaratis, Parsis and Bohras—the three key trading communities—were slowly establishing themselves in and around Mumbai port.

And with the trade bourse coming up, the emergence of  a newspaper was bound to be there. And the first newspapers carried reports primarily revolving around businesses in Europe as well as events that affected the Indian sub-continent then.

But has the newspaper always been catering to Parsis? Did it have a spectrum of diverse readership from other communities?

The newspaper primarily had a readership from the trading communities. And Parsis, of course, comprised a major chunk. But then other huge chunk of readership came from the Bohra community. Both are  business communities. And since Parsis are the original “argumentative Indians” the newspaper also had moorings in carrying extreme views and debates on every topic on the earth.

Read the full interview: Providing a platform to Parsis

TOI reports first Indian sub’s death after 22 days

22 June 2012

The Times of India doesn’t usually run obituaries of its staffers. But the paper makes an exception today, June 22, to mark the demise of its first Indian employee who passed away on June 1:

“Veteran journalist, historian and author Alfred D’Cruz died in Bandra after a brief illness. He is believed to be the first Indian to have been employed by the editorial department of The Times of India way back in 1947. D’Cruz was 91. D’Cruz is survived by his son and three daughters, one of whom was also employed at TOI.

“D’Cruz was handpicked for the job by the then British editor, Sir Francis Low. “There were no Indians as part of the editorial team at the time. My father often recalled working till 4am, struggling with the hot metal press to prepare the blocks for photographs because computers were yet to arrive on the scene,” his son Sunil said from Muscat.

“In 1982, D’Cruz retired as editor of TOI‘s ‘Who’s Who’ yearbook but remained active for years after that. At the age of 69, he joined a newspaper in the Gulf and worked there until the Gulf War.”

Let the record state that the news of D’Cruz’s death was reported by the Bombay-based Afternoon Despatch & Courier on June 7 and the Oman Observer on June 14 and The Times of India on June 22.

The obituary in the Oman Observer records:

Writing under the pseudonym Afie, Alfred D’Cruz was the only scribe to write the Round & About column in the Evening News of India [the now-defunct evening newspaper from The Times of India group] for some time when the late ‘Busybee’ [Behram Contractor] was on leave.

Also read: Tarun Sehrwat, 22 and killed in the line of duty

Chari, a lens legend at The Hindu

Harishchandra Lachke: A pioneering cartoonist

T.N. Shanbag: Man who educated Bombay journos

Rajan Bala: cricket writer of cricket writers

Jyoti Sanyal: The language terrorist and teacher

Russy Karanjia: The bulldog of an editor

Sabina Sehgal Saikia: The resident food writer

M.G. Moinuddin: The self-taught newspaper designer

Naresh Chandra Rajkhowa: Journo who broke Dalai Lama story

J. Dey: When eagles are silent, parrots jabber

E. Raghavan: Ex-ET, TOI, Vijaya Karnataka editor

Prakash Kardaley: When god cries when the best arrive

Pratima Puri: India’s first TV news reader passes away

Tejeshwar Singh: A baritone falls silent watching the cacophony

N.S. Jagannathan: Ex-editor of Indian Express

K.M. Mathew: chief of editor of Malayala Manorama

Amita Malik: the ‘first lady of Indian media’

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K.R. Prahlad: In the end, death becomes a one-liner

M.R. Shivanna: A 24×7 journalist is no more

C.P. Chinnappa: A song for an unsung hero

The angst of the editor searching for his roots

20 June 2012

On world refugee day, Mail Today editor Sandeep Bamzai writes:

“Displaced in your own country, willy nilly ignored by different political parties and in many ways expunged from the national discourse. That in many ways sums up the plight of Kashmiri Pandits in India. One of the greatest human tragedies since partition, a lost community and perhaps at one level a lost generation….

“I must confess that I am not a refugee, though I was born in the land of my ancestors, very much in the Vale of Kashmir. Against that, I would like to believe that I am an Indian first, having lived and worked in three of the biggest metropolitan cities of this wonderful country — Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and now once again in the rajdhani . But at another level, I am also a Kashmiri, my roots call out to me constantly.

“They ask me searching questions, they probe, they irritate my sub conscious wanting to know what I have done about my heritage, legacy, call it what you will. This Wednesday, the World Refugee day is to be celebrated, though I wonder how a refugee can celebrate his displacement.”

For the record, Sandeep Bamzai’s sister Kaveree Bamzai is editor of India Today.

Read the full article: Refugees in their own country

Tarun Sehrawat: 22, and killed in the line of duty

18 June 2012

sans serif records with regret the passing away of Tehelka photographer Tarun Sehrawat after contracting malaria while working on a story in the Maoist-controlled areas of Chhattisgarh. He was 22 years old.

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The Hindu‘s Aman Sethi pays tribute:

“Today, when one of our own has been irrevocably lost, I feel we — as reporters, photographers and editors — must turn our gaze inwards and ask ourselves why a 22-year-old photographer with access to the best health care in the country, was claimed by a disease that was demystified in 1897….

“India’s journalists tend to nurse a healthy disregard for institutionalised frameworks, arguing that it is impossible to take all risks into account. But a few basic measures could help eliminate entirely predictable and avoidable tragedies like the one that claimed Tarun.

“It is the responsibility of senior editors to assess the risks that junior, inexperienced journalists take in search of a story. It isn’t enough to tell a 22-year- old like Tarun to ‘Be Careful.’ An organisation should be in a position to direct its journalists to information on possible health hazards and the corresponding vaccinations, inoculations and precautions.

“Reporters working out of conflict zones need specific training; all of us in Chhattisgarh operate in the hope that “everything will be okay,” but sometimes that isn’t enough.”

Read the full article: Remembering Tarun

Also read: Salute to a friend and colleague

Hellishness of others’ lives

So which newspaper wants ‘growth at all costs’?

18 June 2012

Ramachandra Guha in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

Jairam Ramesh’s judicious, sensible recommendations attracted hysterical condemnation from a New Delhi newspaper wedded to the doctrine of “growth at all costs”.

“The newspaper ran an editorial accusing India’s excellent and extremely well-qualified environment minister of “gadding about looking for more fashionable causes to sponsor”. It charged him with seeking to “destabilize an entire region’s development”.

“A few days later, the newspaper ran another editorial demanding quick clearance of all dam projects in Arunachal Pradesh. It claimed the “environment ministry has been careless and unwise in its approach to the various relatively small (sic) projects that have been planned for Arunachal in an attempt to increase the region’s prosperity and integration into the rest of the economy”. Warming to the theme, the editorial insinuated that by keeping Arunachal “backward”, Ramesh was merely playing into the hands of the Chinese.”

Read the full article: Dams and the damned

Link via S.D. Gal

When Shekhar Gupta met Abdul Kalam

16 June 2012

As the prospect of a “contest” for the President looms between the UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee and the former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta writes of the latter in his weekly column:

“I wrote two National Interest articles more critical of Abdul Kalam than any you have seen anywhere…. The second was published when he had been named candidate for president. That Saturday morning I got a call from Brajesh Mishra, then the national security advisor (NSA).

Arrey bhai kya likhte rehte hain aap, Kalam sahib pareshan hain,” he said and asked if I’d go and have coffee with Kalam on Monday at 11 am in his Vigyan Bhavan office.

“I walked in dutifully, a little bit apprehensive, rehearsing my usual defence. Kalam greeted me most warmly. Inquired after my wife’s health. They were both regular evening walkers in South Delhi’s Siri Fort Sports Complex.

“Then he gave me coffee and asked if I had read his India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium. He gave me a copy and fondly signed it. I was still waiting to hear his complaints. But he instead asked if I would be inclined to know more about his vision, even participate in his project.

“I need brilliant, patriotic minds like you,” he said.

“I made some embarrassed thanks-you-are-so-kind-but-how-can-I type of noises. He refilled my coffee and said more nice things about me, my writing and my views. Then he topped it with: “Shekharji, I have never found anything on which I disagree with you.”

Now this is not the script I had come rehearsed for. But I was now figuring the man had a politician’s tact, thick skin and magnanimity. He would make a pretty solid politician, I said to myself. I was never wrong on that one.”

Read the full article: National Interest

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: What’s so sacrosanct about Abdul Kalam?

Sacrilege! Mihir Sharma takes on P.Sainath

9 June 2012

As he exited the Indian Express last year as its most acerbic pen, the Harvard-educated economist Mihir S. Sharma launched into “adman” Suhel Seth in a long review of the latter’s book in The Caravan.

Now, at the Business Standard as the editor of its opinion pages, Sharma trains his guns at the Magsaysay award winning rural affairs editor of The Hindu, P. Sainath, mocking his selective use of internet search engines.

The provocation: Sainath’s recent piece attacking the profligacy of the deputy chairman of the planning commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia while expecting India’s poor to subsist on subhuman amounts of money:

“The government will get away with it, because of our perennial confusion between public and personal austerity, and our jaw-dropping incompetence with simple mathematics. Consider, for example, the recent attack on Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia by one Palagummi Sainath, famously the favourite journalist of Press Council Chairman Markandey Katju.

“For a widely-read column in The Hindu, Sainath Googled previous newspaper reports that Ahluwalia had spent Rs 2 lakh a day on some of his foreign trips, and that he had spent 274 days outside the country in his seven-year tenure. (He did not mention that Mr Ahluwalia was the point-man in India’s interaction with the G-20 in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Odd, I’m sure that’s Googleable.)

“Let’s assume that that’s excessive; and that Mr Ahluwalia and his delegation should have spent half that. That comes to an excess spending of Rs 40 lakh a year. This year’s fiscal deficit is more than a million times that sum. The folly of such ‘analysis’ is matched only by the cynicism of the UPA, which thinks that responding to laughable smears with its unpersuasive attempts at ‘austerity’ will answer genuine complaints about its profligacy with public funds.”

Read the full article: Austerity abuse

Also read: Suhel Seth shows why he is such a cute tweetiya

Montek Singh Ahluwalia gets a Padma for what?

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