Posts Tagged ‘B.S. Yeddyurappa’

A photographer’s delight strikes again (and again)

5 August 2011

There is no other way to say this: the media will miss B.S. Yediyurappa. For three years and two months, the Karnataka chief minister was a photographer’s (and front page editor’s) dream come true, striking poses with his hands, legs, eyes, clothes and general demeanour.

(Thankfully, he has reassured us that he will be back in six months.)

There is also no other way to say this: still photography, especially news photography, is an absolute nightmare these days with television (and outsized advertisements) wrecking the scene. Rare is the photographer who manages to capture the present in a manner that might surprise posterity.

This superb frame, published by Kannada Prabha, in which Yediyurappa is adroitly pushing a laddoo into his successor D.V. Sadananda Gowda‘s mouth while simultaneously reining in his left hand and glowering at his arch-rival H.N. Ananth Kumar, is an exception.

It captures almost everything that has happened in the Karnataka BJP over the past week (and indeed in the past three years and two months, if not more), and it shows the tenuous relationships within the BJP, like perhaps no TV camera can. Or will.

Photograph: K.Ravi, courtesy Kannada Prabha

Also read: The best photos of Yediyurappa on planet earth

The hard life and tough times of beat journalists

1 August 2011

Despite the exponential growth of media in recent years, few facilities have been created for mediapersons to cover public events of note, with their shirts intact.

Exhibit A, above, is the Raj Bhavan in Bangalore.

For years now, the governor’s house has been a beehive of political activity. Yet, journalists assigned to cover Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa‘s resignation from office following a Lok Ayukta report that indicted him in the Rs 16,000 crore illegal mining scam, had to operate in utterly chaotic conditions on Sunday.

Print and TV reporters had to elbow each other just to stand comfortably to hear the chief minister’s remarks, and camerapersons stood dangerously on traffic barricades and other perches to capture the action, while outside broadcasting (OB) vans were parked haphazardly on the busy road.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

In Bangalore, 14 parties for media in 36 months

12 June 2011

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: Although the size of the Karnataka market is smaller than Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Bangalore probably has the largest news media presence than the other three southern capitals and perhaps most other cities, barring Bombay and Delhi.

At last count, there were 14 major morning brands (eight English, six Kannada), five English business dailies, four 24×7 news channels (three Kannada, one English), and at least a dozen dailies in Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and even Hindi, besides a few evening newspapers.

On top of that, there are the correspondents of the various district  and “up-country” papers, magazines, and TV stations, and over a hundred photographers and videographers, plus publishers, proprietors and a handful of “resident editors” from the Press Club of Bangalore (PCB).

Even so, how big could the media contingent in Bangalore be?

One-thousand five hundred?

Yes, 1,500: That’s the number of “media-friends” that the B.S. Yediyurappa government would like to believe attended a party thrown by it on 27 June 2010 at a local hotel.

Numbers obtained by Vinayak Bhat Mooroor, a correspondent of Kannada Prabha, under the right to information (RTI) act and published by the paper on Saturday, show that the BJP government has thrown at least 27 parties (14 of them for the media) since coming to power in 2008.

While a bash for the IT-BT crowd at the Oberoi cost the government Rs 7,03,099 (75 pax), and a party in honour of an outgoing  chief justice of the high court cost Rs 5,58,000 (pax 120), the get-together for journalists last June at the Nalapad Pavilion hotel was the most expensive do, at Rs 11,04,775 (pax 1,500).

Keeping the journalists in good humour at these 14 parties has cost the BJP government Rs 20,21,924 since it came to power three years ago.

Incidentally, Kannada Prabha reports, tongue firmly in cheek, that Nalapad Pavilion does not have sitting space for the 1,500 people that are alleged to have attended the grand fete.

File photograph: A samosa, a slice of plum cake, a piece of badam burfi, half a dozen cashewnuts, and a paper napkin is laid out for media folk at a May 2011 event at the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore (Karnataka Photo News)

Also read: Why you didn’t see this picture in the papers today

A blank editorial, a black editorial & a footnote

12 October 2010

When Indira Gandhi introduced media censorship as part of the Emergency in 1975, Indian newspapers ran blank editorials as a form of protest.

The Kannada newspaper Vijaya Karnataka, belonging to The Times of India group, runs a blank (and black) editorial today, in protest against what happened in the State legislative assembly on Monday, during the trust vote moved by the chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa.

And in white type set on 60% black, editor Vishweshwar Bhat writes this small footnote at the bottom:

“The unseemly occurrences in the assembly on Monday should make every citizen bow his head in shame. The manner in which our elected representatives behaved is unpardonable. They have dealt a deadly blow to democracy. While criticising this, we symbolically represent the silent outrage of the people in this form.”

Also read: B.G. Verghese on the introduction of Emergency

Kuldeep Nayar: Hindu, HT were the worst offenders in 1975

H.Y. Sharada Prasad: Middle-class won’t understand Indira

People, not the press, are the real fourth estate in India

Survival of tallest when politics hits a new low

11 October 2010

Initially barred from entering the Karnataka legislative assembly to cover proceedings on the day the trust motion moved by the BJP government of B.S. Yediyurappa was coming up, television cameramen compete with each other to capture the chaotic (and shameful) scenes in Bangalore on Monday.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

The Taslima Nasrin “article” that cost two lives

2 March 2010

The front page of Saptahika Prabha, the weekly magazine section of the Kannada daily Kannada Prabha of the New Indian Express group, carrying the controversial piece on the burqa by Taslima Nasrin, which led to protests and riots in Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa‘s hometown, Shimoga, killing two people on Monday.

The story titled Purdah hai purdah begins on page one of the section with the clarion call “Come, let’s discuss the burqa once again” and spills over to page 5, occupying nearly half the broadsheet page. The article states upfront that it has been translated from the original English by “Sindhu” but does not mention the source.

The controversial Bangladeshi author has since clarified that she did not write for the Kannada daily. Meaning: her 2007 essay had been used without permission either from her website or from Outlook magazine where the essay originally appeared, a common even if questionable practice in most language publications.

“The incident that occurred in Karnataka on Monday shocked me. I learned that it was provoked by an article written by me that appeared in a Karnataka newspaper. But I have never written any article for any Karnataka newspaper in my life,” Nasrin said.

“The appearance of the article is atrocious. In any of my writings I have never mentioned that Prophet Muhammad was against burkha. Therefore this is a distorted story.”

The chief minister said an FIR had been filed against the publisher of the newspaper after which the paper expressed regret (below) for publishing the article. Stunningly, the death of two persons in riots caused by the newspaper article found no mention on the front page of Tuesday’s Kannada Prabha; it was perfunctorily buried on page 6.

Initial TV reports said a critique of the Kannada Prabha article, published by Siasat, a Bangalore-based Urdu newspaper run by the Congressman Roshan Baig, had also contributed to the trouble 24 hours after its publication.

In 1986, Bangalore had been rocked by riots and killings after the City’s leading English newspaper Deccan Herald published a short story in its magazine section titled “Muhammad, the Idiot”. The story was about a half-witted boy, had nothing to do with the prophet, and in fact caused no trouble when first published in Kannada.

Newspaper facsimile: courtesy Kannada Prabha

How IIJNM students put the RTI to good effect

1 May 2009

Only 10 per cent of India’s 1.1 billion population is said to be aware of the Right to Information (RTI) Act which grants citizens the right to access government documents.

Nevertheless, its power and potential is unmatched. For a small fee, any Indian, male or female, rich or poor, can step up to “the scariest government agency” and take his or her shot.

For journalists, RTI is a “game-changer“.

Students of the 2008-09 investigative class of the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media (IIJNM) in Bangalore—under the guidance of Prof Ralph Frammolino, a reporter at the Los Angeles Times for 24 years and a Pulitzer Prize finalist—have used the RTI to show how killer local city bus drivers are back at the wheel; how the State government never fires chronically absentee teachers; and how the chances of corrupt officers trapped and raided by the Lok Ayukta getting punished are low.

They have also used RTI to show how chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa uses public money for his temple visits. It wasn’t easy. The students had to go to the CM’s office 12 times and file an appeal before obtaining the list.

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PAVAN KUMAR H. and P. KRISHNAMURTHY write: During his first five months in office, Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa spent more than Rs 11 lakh in government funds to make eight trips to Hindu temples—including one to Tirupathi to take part in the Bramhotsava.

Records obtained by IIJNM Investigations under the Right To Information (RTI) Act show that Yediyurappa charged the eight trips to taxpayers as “official” business.

In five out of eight instances, he used government funds to rent a helicopter or an airplane to carry himself and several top ministers to Hindu shrines, where he offered pujas and, in one case, inaugurated a food serving hall.

Interviews and records also show that during the same period, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader made no official visits to other houses of worship even after being invited by Christian and Muslim leaders.

And in one case, Yediyurappa was visiting a Mangalore temple at government expense the day after pro-Hindutva vandals ransacked two nearby Christian sanctuaries.

Despite heavy media coverage of the church incidents, Yediyurappa didn’t show up at the churches, although he denounced the attacks on prayer halls and met Christian leaders. Still, his failure to visit the sanctuaries prompted accusations that he and his pro-Hindu BJP tacitly condoned the attacks—a charge he vigorously denies.

A BJP spokesman defended the chief minister’s temple visits, saying the reason he didn’t go to mosques and churches in the first few months of his tenure was because “he was not invited.” Yeddyurappa has since gone to at least one dargah and one church, according to press reports.

“Yediyurappa is not against any religion,” said A.L. Shivkumar, media manager of the State BJP. “He treats all religions equally.”

Kumar said Yediyurappa has gone to more temples because Hindu priests continually ask him to.

“He visits many places and people invite him to the temples nearby, so he goes there,” he said. “He is a ‘pakka‘ (devout) Hindu and he goes to a temple as every traditional Hindu does. It would be wrong if he does not go there.”

But Christian and Muslim leaders have another account.

Adolf Washington, public relations officer for the Catholic Archbishop’s office in Bangalore, said church officials had called Yediyurappa “many times but he did not come. He is a Chief Minister so we cannot force him to come.”

Salim Babu, secretary of the Karnataka Wakf Board, which manages mosques for the government, said both Yediyurappa and his Wakf Board Minister, Mumtaz Ali Khan, have spurned requests from the Muslim community to attend events and meetings.

“He is not interested in attending mosques,” Salim said about Yeddyurappa, adding that the chief minister showed favoritism to the religious majority. “He should not discriminate between a tall son and a dwarf son.”

Records show that Yediyurappa’s State-paid temple visits began shortly after he was sworn in on 30 May 2008.

His first was on June 17, a trip that cost taxpayers Rs 2,440, to the Ghati Subramanya Temple in Doddabalapur. That was followed 12 days later by a Rs 854 car ride to the Sri Keshtra Siddhara Betta temple in Tumkur. There, the chief minister participated in a Guru Vadana, or tribute ceremony, in honor of Shiva Kumar Swamiji of Siddaganga Mutt.

The most expensive trips were to Tirupathi, India’s most famous Hindu shrine. His trips on July 17 and October 1 each cost taxpayers Rs 3.6 lakh for a “special aircraft” and Rs 9,500 for the taxi.

The official purpose given for the trips was “local visit,” although the latter was during the Bramhotsava. The nine-day festival is the busiest time for the temple.

Twice he flew in state-paid helicopters to temples. A September 8 trip to the Banavasi temple in Hassan cost Rs 1.4 lakh for the helicopter ride. The other, on October 10, cost taxpayers nearly Rs 1.9 lakh for transportation to the Sri Krishna Mutt in Udupi, where he inaugurated  the food hall.

According to the CM’s office, a temple visit is “official” and paid by the government if Yediyurappa is invited by a local official, such as a district commissioner (DC), to attend a public ceremony, function or make an inspection.

Also read: How to use RTI and be the change you want to see

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