Posts Tagged ‘Manmohan Singh’

Why NaMo shouldn’t take media on foreign trips

14 August 2014

20131001-093101-pm

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addresses the media on the way back home from the United States in October 2013. There were 34 journalists on that junket.

As Indian journalists come to terms with a Narendra Modi dispensation that doesn’t want to court them or take them on foreign junkets, K.P. Nayar, the former Washington correspondent of The Telegraph, Calcutta, writes that the US administration is no better.

Each correspondent who accompanied US president Barack Obama on his trip to India had to shell out $8,400 (approximately Rs 500,000) in air fare, plus an additional $2,500 (Rs 150,000) for a hop-across to Amritsar, plus $1,000 (Rs 60,000) for renting the hotel hall where administration officials briefed the media, plus “filing charges”, plus coffee, plus tea, etc.

All in stark contrast to the pampering and molly-coddling of India media bigwigs by Indian administrations, who not only misuse taxpayer’s money on foreign trips but also throw their weights around in ways that embarrass the tricolour.

To illustrate the point, Nayar, quotes three incidents:

# The most appalling incident of media highhandedness that I was witness to was at Cairo airport, some 20 years ago, when a very senior journalist flung his boarding pass in the face of an Air India ground hostess because his seat had been changed for the next leg of the prime minister’s flight. He then walked off and had to be pacified by having his chosen seat restored before the Egyptian police physically restrained him for breach of security because he was on the tarmac.

The fault-lines go beyond the fourth estate and intersect the government’s media management because this gentleman is a former media adviser to a prime minister: for the record, not one of any recent appointees.

# Accompanying P.V. Narasimha Rao to the UN general assembly one year, we were alighting at the media hotel, the Lexington, once owned by the Tatas.

Two senior colleagues urged me to follow them if I wanted to watch some fun. An owner-editor, who was the first to reach the media centre, was already on the phone to his news desk.

Mein pahoonch gaya hoon [I have reached],” he blared into the phone, “Pradhan mantri bhi pahoonch gaya hai. Baaki sab agency lena. [The prime minister has also reached. All the rest you take from the agencies].”

He put down the phone, then called his office again as an afterthought, “Oh, mera byline dal dena [Oh, put my byline in).” That was his professional contribution for the day. He was soon out in jeans and walking shoes enjoying the Big Apple.

# Visiting Bhutan, Indira Gandhi once strolled into the quarters of the accompanying media. An agency correspondent then, the late A.N. Prabhu’s door was open and she peeped in to find a carton prominently labelled “Bhutan Rum” on the floor.

“What is it, Prabhu?” she asked. “Apples,” Prabhu replied, unfazed.

“I would like some of those apples too,” she smiled. 

Read the full article: Big egos and bylines

Also read: A mile-high experience for the hack pack

How Pakistan helped The Hindu save $800

I couldn’t go to the US, my name’s Zia Haq

The quasquicentennial of ‘Malayala Manorama’

13 March 2014

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Malayala Manorama, once India’s largest selling newspaper before being overtaken by Dainik Jagran and The Times of India, has just completed the valedictory of its quasquicentennial celebrations.

Above is the first issue of the paper, which began as a weekly, published on March 22, 1888.

Below is the March 13, 2014 issue, which captures prime minister Manmohan Singh lighting the ceremonial lamp at the valedictory of the 125th anniversary in Delhi, with the paper’s chief editor Mammen Mathew at extreme right and executive editor Jacob Mathew, second from left.

Below is Ajit Ninan‘s magnificent cartoon of INS Manorama, with all the group’s (mostly bespectacled) captains, stewards, boatswains, navigators, and satellite systems, in position.

Also read: K.M. Mathew, chief editor of Malayala Manorama, RIP

A Spanish hand behind a Malayalam newspaper

The dodransbicentennial of The Times of India

A ‘mile-high experience’ for the hack-pack

1 October 2013

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A picture tweeted by the prime minister’s office (PMO) of the media scrum accompanying Manmohan Singh, as he answers questions in mid-air on his way back home after a five-day visit to the United States.

Among those identifiable, Raj Chengappa, editor-in-chief of The Tribune, Chandigarh (in suit, ahead of mikes); Jayanta Ghosal of Ananda Bazaar Patrika (behind him); Vijay Kumar Chopra, editor, Punjab Kesari (front row, aisle); and Mihir S. Sharma of Business Standard (third row, window seat).

In all, there were 34 newspaper, magazine and TV journalists on board.

How seven cartoonists drew one TOI cartoon

27 August 2013

cartoon

As part of its dodransbicentennial celebrations, The Times of India has published “a cavalcade of cartoons over 175 years”. Titled “Jest in Time“, it is put together by Ajit Ninan, Neelabh Banerjee and Jug Suraiya.

At its launch in New Delhi on Monday, seven well-known cartoonists—Sudhir Tailang from Deccan Chronicle, Manjul from Daily News and Analysis, Keshav from The Hindu, Jayanto from Hindustan Times and R. Prasad from Mail Today—joined hands to produce a cartoon (in picture, above) on the spot.

Saira Kurup reports on the jugal bandi:

“Keshav set the tone by drawing the new common man forced to tighten his belt in difficult times. Tailang followed with an illustration showing P.V. Narasimha Rao giving his ‘student’ PM Manmohan Singh a poor report card. Manjul’s version of the common man was one who doesn’t speak but tweets instead!

“Jayanta then drew the laughs by drawing a neta with a loudspeaker as his head “because netas are not doing what they are supposed to; they just keep shouting!” To audience applause, Ninan put the artwork in context by sketching Parliament, and Banerjee gave the final touch by showing the common man holding up the House on his shoulders.”

Image: courtesy The Times of India

‘Modi’s backers, media owners have converged’

4 April 2013

Harish Khare, former media advisor to prime minister Manmohan Singh, in The Hindu:

“During a recent three-week stay in the United States, I was often asked to explain the Indian media’s current obsession with Narendra Modi. The only reasonably cogent answer to give was the convergence between the corporate ownership of the electronic media and Modi’s corporate bank-rollers.

“The Gujarat chief minister’s induction in the Bharatiya Janata Party central set-up has been celebrated as if he has already been invited by the Rashtrapati to form the next government at the Centre.”

Photograph: courtesy Financial Express

Read the full article: Modi, the man and the message

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Also read: Modi has punctured vanity of corporate media’

How Narendra Modi has bred media cynicism

‘For Modi, like Bush, you are with us or against us’

New health cards for PIB accreditated journos

14 January 2013

Good news for journalists with bad hearts, lungs and kidneys, from the gossip columns of the Sunday papers.

From The Telegraph diary:

Manmohan Singh has decided to extend a helping hand to journalists. The Centre has accepted a long-standing demand by scribes that new health cards be issued to accreditated journalsits.

These health cards will help ailing journos get treatment at leading hospitals in the Delhi and national capital region at heavily subsidised rates.

Congressmen must be hoping that the noble gesture would help tame the torrent of scathing comments about the government’s performance.

Nora Chopra in The Sunday Guardian:

The Manmohan Singh government has accepted the demand of accreditated journalists for health cards. The cards will ensure that they get heavy discounts at leading hospitals such as Fortis, Medanta and Escorts in Delhi and the national capital region.

Whether this ensures good press to the government remains to be seen.

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.

Brother, sister spar over seat on PM junket

9 June 2012

From Delhi Confidential, the gossip column of the Indian Express:

FAMILY FRACAS

The inclusion of Team Anna member, former TV anchor Shazia Ilmi, in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s media team for his trip to the Rio+20 summit in Brazil, has been the cause of much fuss in the PMO and in the MEA over the last few days.

Shazia was included in the entourage as a representative of her family-run Urdu newspaper Siasat Jadid.

But her elder brother, Aijaz Ilmi, who identifies himself as editor of the Lucknow edition, wrote to the MEA saying Shazia was now a “full-time activist” and “doesn’t represent the paper” though she was “part of the family”. He said Shazia’s nomination for the trip was done without his knowledge and must be treated as “invalid and infructuous”.

Shazia, however, counters this saying Aizaz isn’t the editor who, in turn, says: “Now it’s for the MEA to decide.”

Some decision.

Also read: Ex-Star News, ToI journos behind Team Anna

The ex-Zee News journo on Anna Hazare team

‘The Indian Express’ stands by its ‘C’ report

4 April 2012

Everybody from the prime minister to the defence minister have dismissed the Indian Express front-page story on the coup that wasn’t in Delhi on the night of January 16-17. Now, the paper has published a formal statement standing by the story on its website.

Below is the full text:

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“The Indian Express report “The January night Raisina Hill was spooked: Two key Army units moved towards Delhi without notifying Govt” has, as expected, prompted widespread reaction.

“The report is a meticulous reconstruction and a very sober interpretation of the movement of two key Army units towards New Delhi on the night of January 16-17.

“Investigated over six weeks and written by editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta; chief of investigative bureau Ritu Sarin and deputy editor and chief of the national bureau Pranab Dhal Samanta (with help from assistant editor in the investigative bureau Ajmer Singh), the report draws on highly credible sources.

“They have chosen to be anonymous and the newspaper is committed to protecting their identity.

“The Indian Express sent a detailed questionnaire to the army and the ministry of defence and accurately reported their responses in the report. These responses were reiterated by them on Wednesday.

“Neither side explained why the Ministry of Defence wasn’t notified, why the troops were suddenly asked to go back and what explanation was offered, if any, by the army to the Government.

“There are some in the government and outside who have questioned the report, even calling it “disturbing” and “baseless”. All this, even those comments that attribute false motives, are, we believe, part of a necessary debate.

“The Indian Express stands by the report.

“And in the tradition of its commitment to journalism of courage and the readers’ right to know, it will continue its investigation into the events of January 16-17 and the questions these raise.”

‘Business journos deserve credit for reforms’

10 December 2011

India’s second oldest business magazine, BusinessWorld, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month. A special issue to mark the occasion features all the  editors of the fortnightly turned weekly magazine from the Ananda Bazaar Patrika (ABP) stable talking about their respective tenures:

Dilip Thakore (now editor, Education World): I served as editor of BusinessWorld for seven years (1981-87) during which — together with a strong and reliable country-wide team — I produced 166 issues of this then fortnightly magazine, and wrote over 100 cover stories which I believe transformed the national mindset about the character and potential of private sector business and industry.

Looking back in retrospect, I believe it was the missionaries of BusinessWorld (and Business India) who deserve a greater share of the credit for the 1991 liberalisation and deregulation of the Indian economy — than Dr Manmohan Singh and his over-hyped lieutenant Montek Singh Ahluwalia who were enthusiastic executives, if not architects, of licence-permit-quota raj for several decades and who were at the time earning unmerited dollar fortunes in the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

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R. Jagannathan (now editor, First Post): My predecessor Dilip Thakore had made the magazine a hit with big business by pioneering personality-oriented writing…. Thakore reported on personalities, accompanied by large, professionally shot pictures. Critics sometimes rubbished this approach as soft PR, but I believe it was an important stage in the development of business journalism in India. He humanised business writing…. Thakore helped businessmen get comfortable with the camera, and coaxed them to bare their souls to the media….

BusinessWorld saw the growing interest in share investment and created a 16-page ‘InvestmentWorld’ section — perhaps the first general business magazine to do so. A bonus: if I recollect right, an amateur technical analyst called Deepak Mohoni also debuted in BusinessWorld, and was the first one to coin the term Sensex for the Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index….

Another change that looked big then, but now appears routine, is colour. For the first time ever, BusinessWorld introduced 32 pages of colour during my watch. It was a bold statement to make to our readers, but we needed that to capture the bright new tapestry of Indian business. The black-and-white dullness of the Indian economy was about to change forever. But we didn’t know it then.

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T.N. Ninan (now chairman, Business Standard):  My time at BusinessWorld (1993-96) was a productive and satisfying period when we ran some really good stories and profiles, introduced prize columnists like P. Chidambaram and Ashok Desai, and saw the over-all development of the magazine and (if memory is not playing tricks) a trebling of circulation in those four years.

Two other points are sources of satisfaction today: how well some colleagues of the time have done in their subsequent careers, in India and overseas — leading publications and TV channels, and winning awards — here and internationally; and the warmth and mutual regard that members of the team still have and share.

Unfortunately, there are no photographs of the Sarkar brothers doing a gentle jig, along with everyone else including Shobha Subrahmanyan who was the chief executive, around an evening campfire above a Goa beach, where we had gone for an editorial conference but played water-polo. Those pictures might have undermined the staid image of Aveek, Arup and Shobha, back home in Calcutta (as it was then), and were confiscated!

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Tony Joseph (now heads MindWorks): No sooner had I taken over than the Vajpayee government decided to shake up the sands of Pokhran with a nuclear explosion. We were discussing how to handle that week’s issue and I remember the advice one senior colleague gave me.

“Ask yourself what Ninan would do,” he said, referring to T.N. Ninan, my predecessor, former boss and probably the most influential business journalist in the country. If that comment implied a certain lack of confidence in the new editor, I pretended not to notice! With a novice at its helm, I think we pulled off that issue without disaster, but soon other bombs were to go off.

A few weeks into my editorship, a consultancy firm that ABP had hired was considering what to do with BusinessWorld — let it go, or let it grow…. We started with a staff of about 71 in April 1998 and about a year and a half later, that number was down to 51, made up mainly of new recruits. Of the original staff, barely seven or so remained. I can only say that my communication skills must have been remarkable for it to have produced that dramatic an effect. Talk about inspirational leadership!

I would come into the office every morning wondering who was going to leave that day — and what would be up on the office notice board. Those who thought the magazine was going downhill despite the rising circulation would put up newspaper cartoons depicting clueless bosses making bone-headed decisions. I still wince at the sight of Dilbert cartoons!

However, we managed to retain some senior staff and build a core team of editors and writers who together shaped a new Businessworld, one that captured the zeitgeist of changing India. The change was not just in terms of what stories we covered, but also how they were covered.

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Jehangir S. Pocha (now co-promoter, NewsX): When I joined BW, my peerless predecessor, Tony Joseph, had already turned it into India’s most sold, most read business magazine…. But the best products re-invent themselves before they are forced to. With India transforming, ABP’s editor-in-chief Aveek Sarkar wanted to refresh and re-think BW.

Given that charter, I felt BW had to transcend the traditional business news weekly formula of summing up the previous seven days. Instead, I wanted BW to become a forward-looking magazine, a kind of soothsayer and sentinel
for business.

Convinced that BW had to be world-class, New York-based designer Francesca Messina was commissioned to redesign the magazine. In-house art director Jyoti Thapa Mani, her team and I spent many hours bringing Francesca’s design to life, giving BW the look and new sections it boasts today. Though a new edit team also formed at the magazine, we remained committed to BW’s inimitable mixture of clever thinking and clear writing.

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