Two top journalists, T.N. Ninan of Business Standard, and Harish Khare, formerly of The Hindu and The Times of India, have been awarded the Jawaharlal Nehru fellowships this year.
Posts Tagged ‘Harish Khare’
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 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.
The postman always rings twice? Harish Khare, the former Hindu chief of bureau in Delhi who became prime minister Manmohan Singh‘s media advisor, has been robbed. Again.
Image: courtesy The Times of India
Former NDTV Hindi anchor Pankaj Pachauri took over from Harish Khare as prime minister Manmohan Singh‘s media Man Friday barely six months ago. It was seen as a scam- and scandal-tainted UPA’s desperate attempt to reshape the prime minister’s image in the eyes of the media and its consumers.
Now, as the economy goes into a tailspin and the PM himself gets sucked into the turbulence of “Coal Gate”, the following item appears in Glass House, the gossip column of India Today magazine in its upcoming issue.
OFF THE AIR
The prime minister’s communications adviser, Pankaj Pachauri, chose to remain, quote inexplicably, incommuncado for the press delegation accompanying Manmohan Singh on his historic trip to Myanmar capital Nay Pyi Taw, the first visit by the Indian prime minister in 25 years.
Pachauri did not intereact with the media on the PM’s special flight. He missed the foreign secretary’s press conference at the conclusion of the prime minister’s talks with his Myanmarese counterpart. He was not even seen in the hotel at which the media was staying.
Little wonder that the Prime Minister’s media image is taking a battering.
Photograph: courtesy India Today
In what is perhaps the first acknowledgement of the fact that the UPA government could do with slightly better media schmoozing, Pankaj Pachauri, the host of NDTV Profit’s magazine show, Money Mantra, has been roped in as communications advisor at the prime minister’s office.
Pachauri, 48, has previously worked at The Sunday Observer, India Today and the BBC Hindi service in London. He will report to the PM’s principal secretary Pulok Chatterji.
An official press release reads:
“Pachauri, who will report to the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, will advise on communicating the Governments programmes, policies and achievements to the media and the public at large, particularly using the electronic, print and new and social media.”
Pachauri’s first two tweets to his nearly 26,500 followers since taking over reads:
# “Prime minister starts discussions on skill development with a dozen cabinet colleagues. Most important issue for this decade.”
# “Adviser to PM on skill development S. Ramadorai presenting roadmap to train and skill millions of youth in India.”
Image: courtesy Mail Today
The prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, with the five newspaper editors he met for an interaction in New Delhi yesterday. Seated from left, clockwise, are the national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, Divya Marathi editor Kumar Ketkar, Nayi Duniya editor Alok Mehta, the PM’s media advisor Harish Khare, The Tribune editor Raj Chengappa, PTI editor M.K. Razdan, Business Standard director and the president of the editors guild of India, T.N. Ninan, and PM’s secretary T.K.A. Nair.
Photographs: courtesy Press Trust of India
Like a bad host, who abuses his guests after calling them home, the prime minister of India launched into the media today after calling a bunch of five editors for a much-delayed interaction. It took Manmohan Singh just 25 words in his 1,884-word opening remarks to stick it into the editors.
“An atmosphere has been created in the country—and I say this with all humility—the role of the media in many cases has become that of the accuser, the prosecutor and the judge… . We take decisions in a world of uncertainty and that’s the perspective I think Parliament, our CAG and our media must adopt if this nation is to move forward,” Singh said.
As if the media was responsible for the 2G, CWG or KG basin scams that has seen his ministers resign or prepare to. As if the media was responsible for the thuggish behaviour of his ministers (like Kapil Sibal) in undermining “civil society”, in other words the people of India. As if the media was responsible for runaway prices or inflation.
Or, as if the media was responsible for hurling a question mark over his tenure. Etcetera.
So, what do you think? Has the media overstepped its brief? Has it become accuser, prosecutor and judge? Has the media done its job in unravelling scams and keeping the pressuer on the government? Is the media wrong in clamouring for a cleaner, less corrupt system?
Or is Manmohan Singh barking up the wrong tree by shooting the messenger?
PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: Three weeks ago, Tehelka magazine ran a profile on the father and son lawyer-pair, Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan, who are on the Lokpal drafting committee.
Authored by Rohini Mohan, the piece inter alia repeated the canard that had been artfully spread about the Bhushans: that they had been allotted two prime farm-house plots by Mayawati “for a song”; that they had evaded paying stamp duty on a mansion purchased in Allahabad; that a CD involving Amar Singh hinted at their dark dealings, and so on.
The following week, Tehelka set the record straight, running a two-page clarification by the author of the original article, acknowledging that the magazine had got “some things wrong” on three key counts (see the Bhushans’ 11-page, point-by-point rebuttal here).
The Tehelka clarification has elicited a response from prime minister Manmohan Singh‘s media advisor, Harish Khare, in the latest issue of the magazine:
“Please permit me to put on record my appreciation of your decision to print a detailed clarification about the excellent cover story on the Bhushans. The clarification in no way distracts from Tehelka‘s commitment to responsible and rigorous journalism but it certainly is a welcome departure from the self-serving arrogance that has regrettably become the preferred style among many media practitioners.”
Tehelka is not alone in the course correction.
# The Times of India which first carried a page one story stating that the CD was genuine—a day after the Hindustan Times‘ Vinod Sharma had dished out the same line on the basis of some unknown laboratory report—soon carried a story stating that the central forensic science laboratory (CFSL) had concluded that the CD was doctored.
# NDTV 24×7, which played no small part in the Bhushan smear campaign, asking repeatedly if the Bhushans should stay on the Lokpal panel despite the “evidence” against them, too, did an about-turn this week.
After the Supreme Court lifted a gag order on an earlier Amar Singh CD, correspondent Vishnu Som used the occasion to join the dots and show the verbatim lines in the two CDs to establish the point that the new CD had been cut and pasted from the old one, a point the Bhushans had been making from day one.
However, the key players in the “crude and disgusting character assassination” of the Bhushans (as Express columnist Soli Sorabjee termed the orchestrated campaign) continue to pretend as if nothing happened.
There has not been so much as a squeak from the Hindustan Times‘after the Chandigarh CFSL report showed the CD was doctored unlike its own prognosis.
For his part, Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta uses the assembly victories of Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalitha in today’s paper, to explain his paper’s visceral opposition to what he calls the “Armani-Jimmy Choo “Revolution” of Jantar Mantar”, which resulted in the formation of the Lokpal panel with the Bhushans on it.
Gupta’s piece has a Freudian line in the first paragraph:
“Your best friends would catch you in five-star hotel lobbies and chide: ‘You defending the system? What’s wrong with you, you were such a nice guy?’”
Notwithstanding his Tehelka letter, let the record state that Harish Khare, a deputy editor at The Hindu before he joined Team Manmohan, has been at the receiving end of Express‘ barbs (here and here).
Also read: Because when dog bites dog, it’s news—I
The state of Indian newspapers and news channels (and magazines*) can be judged by the condition of their toilets. And so, it seems, can the state of the most important address in the country—that of the prime minister of the democratic, socialist, secular republic of India.
A correspondent for an English news channel forwards a picture of what passes off as a toilet for the media scrum waiting outside the prime minister’s office at 7, Race Course Road in New Delhi.
The correspondent writes:
“Till 2006, the media was allowed to wait for visitors to the PM’s house at a media stand built during the prime ministership of Atal Behari Vajpayee and located inside the сompound of the PM’s residence.
“”It had a covered roof to give protection to reporters and cameramen against sun and rain, and given its location some amount of care was taken for its upkeep and maintenance.
“In 2006, the special protection group (SPG) guarding the PM ejected the media from the precincts of the PMO after some TV channels made the trespassing of two girls and a boy a breach-of-security issue.
“The media gaggle now waits on the other side of the road (near Race Course). Visitors to the PMO now have to walk across the road and talk to them. Needless to say, many media people spend the whole day here.
“The PMO has erected a temporary toilet for the media, facing the exit gate of 7, RCR. The media and police share the toilet and more often than not, it is dirty and stinking.”
Was the information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni invited to the prime minister’s inquisition on television? Or not?
Depends on which paper you read.
If you read The Indian Express (top) on Monday, for instance, she was informed by the PMO about the interaction but then told about the space crunch and asked to stay away. If you read the Hindustan Times (below) on Tuesday, it was all the handiwork of the PM’s media advisor Harish Khare.