Posts Tagged ‘Coomi Kapoor’

Who wrote the Prime Minister’s TV address?

30 September 2012

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh‘s televised address to the nation on 21 September, the day the Trinamul Congress withdrew support to his Congress-led UPA government over the hike in diesel prices and FDI in retail, has set tongues wagging about its authorship.

In her column in the Indian Express, Coomi Kapoor suggests that the media advisor to the PM, Pankaj Pachauri, perhaps had little to do with it:

Outside support

In the drafting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent broadcast to the nation, where he defended his new set of economic reforms, a former media adviser seems to have played a bigger role than the incumbent, Pankaj Pachauri.

In fact, many see the hand of both senior journalist Sanjaya Baru and Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia in the text, especially the references to SUV vehicles, the PM’s role in saving the economy from bankruptcy in 1991 and the comment that money does not grow on trees.

Baru, who was the PM’s media advisor in the UPA’s first term, was briefly the editor of Business Standard. He is now with the British thinktank International Institute of Strategic Studies and writes an occasional column for the Indian Express. He was succeeded as media advisor by Harish Khare of The Hindu, who quit earlier this year to make way for Pachauri.

Swamy and his media friends (and enemies)

25 December 2011

In the latest issue of Tehelka magazine, Ashok Malik has a profile of the “irrepressible” Subramanian Swamy, the maverick economist-politician behind the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

The profile is occasioned by Harvard University’s recent decision to not renew Swamy’s teaching contract for a venomous column in DNA in July on “How to wipe out Islamic terror“:

“There’s an old story about Subramanian Swamy that even if apocryphal and probably untrue still merits retelling simply because it’s part of urban folklore in Lutyens’ Delhi.

“One day, a powerful editor with a blackmailing tendency walked into Swamy’s basement office in his south Delhi residence, and threw a sheaf of papers on the table.

“‘Dr Swamy,’ he thundered, ‘I have a file on you.’

“Unperturbed, Swamy reached out for a folder in his bottom drawer, placed them on the desk and said, calmly, with the chilling certitude so typical of his voice, ‘Mr Editor, I have a file on you’.”

Swamy, who is currently seeking to re-enter Parliament through the BJP, brought down the Atal Behari Vajpayee government in 1998 by getting arch-rivals Sonia Gandhi and Jayalalitha to drink tea together; another matter of course that Sonia is now a prime target of Swamy and Jayalalitha’s recent court appearances are based on a Swamy plea.

“At the end of the day, Swamy is trusted by few but ignored by even fewer. He can plug into extremely diverse social groups — serious economists, the loony right, the Janata parivar, the TamBrahm fraternity. He can hold both Ram Setu and N. Ram [the Marxist editor-in-chief of The Hindu] close to his heart (or profess to).

“For all his right-wing politics, the Hindu has been a loyal platform and publisher. His dogs have come from N. Ram’s litter, as indeed have Sonia Gandhi’s dogs — but that’s another contradiction, for Swamy to spin another day.”

Elsewhere, Swamy becoming persona non grata for Harvard thanks to his newspaper columns provides occasion for James Fallows, the national correspondent of The Atlantic Monthly, to recount the role played by Swamy in his getting into journalism:

“In the late 1960s, I had been a freshman at Harvard, ready to study around the clock in preparation for medical school. To earn extra money I had signed up as an ad salesman for the Crimson, and during the unbelievably bleak and frigid January “reading period” of my sophomore year, I was in the newspaper’s office one night, laying out an ad dummy for the next day’s paper.

“All the regular writers and editors were gone, cramming before final exams to make up for the courses they had skipped through the semester. So when a variety of fire alarms and sirens started going off, for what proved to be a big fire at the Economics Department building, I was the one on hand to run out after grabbing a camera and a reporter’s notebook.

“I had seen snow only once in my life before going to college; and in my high school jobs, manning smudge pots in the local Southern California orange groves on “cold” nights, we would trade tales about whether human beings could actually survive exposure to temperatures that dipped below 32F. But at the Economics Department, it was so cold — well below 0 F back in those pre-warming days — that the Cambridge Fire Department had trouble putting out the fire: water from the hoses would freeze in the air.

“I saw an upset-looking gentleman alongside me watching the fire. I asked why he was there. He said that all the notes and research for his current book, inside that building, was literally going up in smoke. That was Subramanian Swamy, then a young economics instructor. I wrote up his story in the paper — my first story for the Crimson, and the beginning of my shift from the ad staff (and pre-med) to the news staff.”

Let the record show that Swamy’s daughter Suhasini Haidar is a journalist with CNN-IBN; his sister-in-law Coomi Kapoor is a consulting editor with the Indian Express as is her husband Virendra Kapoor, a former editor of the Free Press Journal.

Let the record also show that James Fallows had narrated this story in 1996 at a commencement address at the Meddill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Photograph: courtesy Shailendra Pandey/ Tehelka

Also read: Does Swamy‘s DNA column amount to incitement?

Is UPA hitting back at TOI, India Today, DNA?

Swamy & friends: a very, very short story

Guess who came to wish Rajdeep ‘good night’?

6 November 2011


Indian Express contributing editor Coomi Kapoor has this item in her diary today:

“Superstar Shah Rukh Khan‘s face is normally a passport which ensures open doors just about anywhere in the country. But the security guard at the house of CNN-IBN’s Rajdeep Sardesai failed to recognise the actor.

“Khan, whose in-laws live in Panchsheel Park [Delhi], decided to take a late night stroll in the colony along with minister of State, Rajiv Shukla. When they passed Sardesai’s house, they thought they would drop in, but the guard barred their entry, claiming it was 11.30 pm and his boss was not answering his phone.

“He suggested they leave their names and contact numbers and come back the next day. Khan left a note urging Sardesai to have a good sleep.”

Moral of the story #1: SRK will go to any lengths to push a film, especially if it is a disaster like Ra.One.

Moral of the story #2: Rajdeep Sardesai does take his “good night” tweets seriously and goes to bed early.

Moral of the story #3: merely because your boss reads the news, it doesn’t mean you need to know the news.

And moral of the story #4: the new Press Council chief Markandey Katju can rest assured that despite the worst designs of TV channels to divert the attention of the nation from poverty by peddling cinema and related movie trivia, at least one prominent security guard hasn’t fallen into the devious trap of the TRPwallahs.

Also read: Rajiv Shukla: from reporter to minister of state

Editors’ Guild takes on Press Council chief

2 November 2011

The Editors’ Guild of India* has responded to the remarks made by the chairman of the Press Council of India, Justice Markandey Katju, in recent interviews and interactions with the media.

Below is the full text of the editors’ guild response:

“The Editors’ Guild of India deplores the ill-considered, sweeping and uninformed comments on the media and on media professionals by the new chairman of the Press Council of India, Justice Markandey Katju. Mr Katju has been making negative statements on the media ever since he assumed office, but his comments in an interview to Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN, broadcast over the week-end, touched a new low.

“The Guild notes that Mr Katju thinks the media divides people on religious lines and is anti-people. He objects to TV channels that focus on cricket and other subjects that he disapproves of. He believes that journalists have not studied economics, politics, literature or philosophy, and he has a poor opinion of the media and media people (some of whom, as it happens, are members of the Press Council that Mr Katju chairs).

“The Guild notes that Mr Katju, after expressing such sweeping negative sentiments, has asked the government for draconian powers to impose fines on the media, to withdraw advertisements and to suspend the licence to publish or broadcast. The Guild strongly opposes such powers being given to the Council, especially a Council led by someone who it would seem wants to invoke “fear” in the media.

“The Guild wishes to draw attention to the fact that its attempt to engage in dialogue with Mr Katju has been rendered futile by Mr Katju, who however continues to express his tendentious and offensive views. The Guild wishes to remind Mr Katju that the Indian media is as diverse as it is vigorous, and that while it has drawbacks and shortcomings, on the whole it contributes to the strength of the Indian system.

“Press freedom is a bulwark for the Indian people against the onslaught of people in authority, and the Guild will firmly oppose the assumption of any draconian powers by a Press Council that was created with an altogether different purpose. Further, as the very name of the Council suggests, only the print media comes within the Council’s ambit. The issues and drivers of the electronic media are such that they call for separate regulation. Therefore the Guild firmly believes that the Press Council should have its brief limited to the print media, as it is at the present.”

T.N. Ninan, editorial director of Business Standard, is the current president of the editors’ guild. Coomi Kapoor, consulting editor of the Indian Express, is the secretary.

* Disclosures apply

Image: courtesy Mail Today

Also read: ‘I have a poor opinion of most media people’

Raju Narisetti: ‘Good journalists, poor journalism, zero standards’

Aakar Patel: Indian journalism is regularly second-rate

What men can do, women journos can do better

28 March 2010


PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: Has the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) in New Delhi completely overshadowed the Press Club of India as the den where the bold-faced names like to meet the capital’s hack-pack?

Auguste Rodin receives a barb on the IWPC website

While the PCI, open to men and women, has been unable to shake off its notoriety as the watering hole of fixers, flacks, brokers, operators and other wheeler-dealers, the 15-year-old IWPC, whose membership is open only to women (the only permanent ‘male’ in its premises is said to be a date palm from Canary Islands) and doesn’t serve alcohol, has built a reputation as the place to go to if you want to meet, mingle and get your message across.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh downwards, everybody—finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the first lady of Syria Asma Akhras al-Assad—everybody happily troops to the IWPC to meet the interrogators whose mission statement is to “celebrate the past and shape the future”, while their male counterparts up the hill stare into their bloody Marys.

What really has given IWPC the edge over PCI in recent times, though, is the ability of the 2009-10 team of Neerja Chowdhury, T.K. Rajalakshmi & Co to attract newsmakers.

As the Congress-led UPA government launched Operation Green Hunt to meet “India’s gravest internal security threat”, home minister P. Chidambaram appeared at Windsor Place.

When DRDO scientist K. Santhanam levelled questioned India’s claims on the efficacy of its 1998 nuclear tests, he chose the IWPC to clarify his position to the country at large.

And so it was on Saturday, when the actor Jaya Bachchan faced queries, but there was a message in the non-existent bottle for the gathered women who had hoped to corner her on her husband Amitabh Bachchan‘s controversial appearance on a stage with a Congress chief minister.

Jaya, daughter of the late (and legendary) “Special Representative” of The Statesman, Taroon Coomar Bhaduri, also used the opportunity to remind the women of the Indian press corps of their covenant.

Referring to the Bombay tabloid Mumbai Mirror‘s crass coverage of her daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai‘s health, Jaya had several bones to pick with the media:

“Her most recent grievance was that a tabloid refused to print a retraction after publishing false news about the Bachchans, even though the woman editor apologised privately.

“It is not just women MPs who needed to be sensitive on the gender issue, lady journalists should show greater fairness when reporting about other women,” she said.”

Time to consider 33 per cent reservation for men at the IWPC?!

***

Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa meets an IWPC team led by then Indian Express (Delhi) editor Coomi Kapoor in Colombo in July 2006 (courtesy TamilNet)

Cartoon: courtesy Indian Women’s Press Corps

Will M.J. Akbar recreate The Telegraph magic?

2 February 2010

New Delhi has a new Sunday paper, The Sunday Guardian, edited by the veteran editor, author and columnist M.J. Akbar. The 40-page weekly, priced at Rs 3, hit the stands on 31 January with the renowned lawyer Ram Jethmalani as chairman of the board of MJP Media Pvt Ltd.

This is the second weekend paper to be launched in recent weeks after the Crest edition of The Times of India, which is priced at Rs 6 and is published on Saturdays.

The 20-page main section of The Sunday Guardian has one page of city news, two pages of [covert] investigations, three pages of national news, one page of the week in review, a two-page picture essay, four pages of comment and analyses, two pages of business, one page of south Asia, one page of world news,  and one page of offbeat news.

The masthead of the 20-page supplement, Guardian20, is larger than the main masthead. The design, layout and mix of both the main paper and the supplement remind the reader of The Asian Age, the paper Akbar launched after leaving The Telegraph; some of the typography and notches have shades of The Guardian, London.

“Delhi has never had a newspaper created specifially for Sunday,” claims the inaugural editorial, forgetting the existence of The Sunday Mail (which had Sunil Sethi, Coomi Kapoor, et al on the staff) and the Delhi edition of The Sunday Observer of Vinod Mehta more than 15 years ago.

“Creating a newspaper is tricky. The Indian reader is both savvy and demanding. As the tightrope walker says, balane is essential. Sunday is a day of repose and reflection, with time to delve into matters missed in the mad rush of the six working days. Our first rule was simple: a newspaper is news printed on apper. But the horizon of news cannot be limited to the familiar, and must stretch concerns of governance, social change, business to the exciting aesthetic of the unqiue visual and many-coloured kaleidoscope of life outside politics. Lesire is too precious to be downgraded into frivolous.”

Also read: ‘Never let your head stoop as a journalist’

Editor charges prime minister of sabotage

‘Media can’t be in a state of perpetual war’

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