Posts Tagged ‘Ramachandra Guha’

How to pass IAS: read newspapers & magazines

17 May 2013

banik

It is not often these days that news consumers have something good to say about newspapers.

And magazines.

And TV stations.

And blogs.

And websites.

Individual and institutional transgressions—paid news, private treaties, medianet, Radia tapes, shrieking anchors, sensationalism, jingoism, corruption, etc—have all contributed enormously to the cynicism of the media among the consuming classes.

How heartening therefore to hear Debasweta Banik.

At 22, one of youngest to pass the civil services examinations this year, the NOIDA girl tells the Wall Street Journal‘s India Realtime, that she didn’t reach out for textbooks or attend coaching classes. Instead, she dipped into newspapers to keep abreast with current affairs and frame her essays better.

Yes, newspapers.

WSJ reporter Preetika Rana writes:

“A typical day, Banik says, would begin by studying three out of seven English-language news dailies her father – an engineer at a Noida-based state-run firm – subscribes to. Her staples were The Indian Express, Hindustan Times and The Hindu, but she would also dip into others.

“‘I made cuttings out of articles – commentaries and news stories – which interested me,’ said Ms. Banik, who ranked 14th in the exam. ‘These were my notes.’

“Opinion pieces written by political analyst Ramachandra Guha and economist Abhijit Banerjee helped her better frame long answers in the exam, she added….

“‘People underestimate the knowledge in newspapers,’ said Ms. Banik, who is from Noida. ‘I don’t know how I would have done this without them. They were my lifeline,’ she said.

Image: via Facebook

Link: courtesy Nikhil Kanekal

Read the full article: How I aced India’s toughest exam

Also read: Shekhar Gupta on Express and the Hindu

The Hindu: the most readable daily in the world?

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

Interesting if true: 172 ads over 80 pages costs…

20 December 2011

Rajiv Gandhi‘s 2011 birth anniversary: 108 ads across 48 pages in 12 newspapers surveyed by sans serif.

Indira Gandhi‘s 2011 birth anniversary: 64 ads across 32 pages in the same 12 newspapers.

Now, the Union information minister of information and broadcasting has put a figure to the advertising blitz: Rs 7 crore in all; Rs 4.79 crore on Rajiv’s and Rs 2.46 crore on Indira’s.

The I&B ministry’s computation, which obviously includes other non-Delhi and non-English papers, does not take into account the death anniversaries of the two, or the birth and death anniversaries of Jawaharlal Nehru. In all, 393 pages of advertising were published on the six anniversaries, on the pages of 12 newspapers this year.

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Image: courtesy Mail Today

Also read: Nehru birthday: 58 ads amounting to 26¼ pages

Nehru death anniversary: 24 ads over 11 pages

Rajiv birthday: 108 ads across 48 pages

Rajiv death anniversary: 69 ads, 41 pages in 12 papers

Indira Gandhi birthday: 64 ads, 32 pages

Times, Express groups get most anniversary ads

6 pages for Ambedkar; 393 pages for The Family

6 pages for Ambedkar; 393 pages for ‘The Family’

6 December 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: For all the lip service it pays “dalits and the downtrodden”, for all the tokenism of a Dalit as speaker of Lok Sabha, and for all the buzz about a possible Dalit replacement for Manmohan Singh as prime minister, the Congress-led UPA government has issued a measly six pages of ads in 12 newspapers to mark the death anniversary of the father of the Indian Constitution—and the icon of Dalits—Dr B.R. Ambedkar.

In contrast, the State government of Uttar Pradesh, headed by Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj Party, has issued seven pages in the same 12 newspapers surveyed by sans serif.

The Centre’s six pages of ads for Ambedkar is in stark contrast to the 393 pages of ads issued by various ministries and departments of the Union government and Congress-run State governments to mark the three birth and three death anniversaries of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi in 2011.

While various ministries were falling over each other to sing hosannas for the three ex-PMs, only the ministry of social justice and empowerment is in evidence for Dr Ambedkar. The only State government advertiser is the Delhi commission for safai karmacharis.

***

The breakup of the Ambedkar ads today are as under:

Hindustan Times: 24-page main issue; 2 Ambedkar ads amounting to 1½ broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 26-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 broadsheet page

Indian Express: 20-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 broadsheet page

Mail Today (compact): 36-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 compact page

The Hindu: 20-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 broadsheet page

The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 broadsheet page

The Statesman: 16-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 broadsheet page

The Telegraph: 24-page issue; 0 ads amounting to 0 broadsheet pages

***

The Economic Times: 24-page main issue; 0 ads

Business Standard: 14-page issue; 0 ads

Financial Express: 18-page issue; 0 ads

Mint (Berliner): 24-page issue; 0 ads

***

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Photograph: courtesy Sepia Mutiny

Also read: Nehru birthday: 58 ads amounting to 26¼ pages

Nehru death anniversary: 24 ads over 11 pages

Rajiv birthday: 108 ads across 48 pages

Rajiv death anniversary: 69 ads, 41 pages in 12 papers

Indira Gandhi birthday: 64 ads, 32 pages

Times, Express groups get most anniversary ads

Rajiv Gandhi birthday: 108 ads across 48 pages

20 August 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: There is yet another advertising blitzkrieg by Union ministries and Congress-led State governments and departments in today’s newspapers on the former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi‘s birthday.

And it beats the number of ads on Rajiv’s death anniversary hollow.

While there were 69 ads amounting to 41 published pages in 12 newspapers on May 21, there are 108 ads amounting to 48¼ published pages in the same 12 newspapers today.

Hindustan Times: 24-page issue; 14 RG ads amounting to 7 broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 32-page issue; 21 ads amounting to 9 broadsheet pages

Indian Express: 28-page issue; 15 ads amounting to 6½ broadsheet pages

Mail Today (compact): 36-page issue; 11 ads amounting to 6½ compact pages

The Hindu: 24-page issue; 13 ads amounting to 5 broadsheet pages

The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 11 ads amounting to 3¾ broadsheet pages

The Statesman: 16-page isuse; 7 ads amounting to 3 broadsheet pages

The Telegraph: 26-page issue; 9 ads amounting to 3¾ broadsheet pages

***

The Economic Times: 16-page issue; 2 ads amounting to ¾ of a page

Business Standard: 18-page issue; 2 ads amouning to ¾ of a page

Financial Express: 22-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1¼ pages

Mint (Berliner): 16-page issue; 0 ads

This computation is only for 12 English newspapers; many other English papers have been left, as indeed has the entire language media which are more numerous than the English ones, several times over.

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Among the 21 advertisers wishing the dear departed leader happy birthday this year are the ministries of information and broadcasting, micro small and medium enterprises, power, health and family welfare, tourism, housing and urban poverty alleviation, new and renewable energy, women and child development, commerce and industry, steel, and social justice and empowerment.

The state governments advertising their love are those of Rajasthan, Haryana, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, all Congress-ruled States. And the departments putting their money where their mouth is are the Rajiv Gandhi centre for biotechnology, Navodaya vidyalaya samiti, national small industries corporation, national commission for women, and the coir board.

And, of course, the Indian National Congress.

Also read: Rajiv Gandhi: 69 ads over 41 pages in 12 newspapers

Jawaharlal Nehru: 24 ads over 11 pages in 12 newspapers

‘Editors are lobbying on behalf of corporations’

19 July 2011

Corruption in the media is as old as, well, Malabar Hill, except that stories of individual transgressions—journalists and editors seeking cars, houses, laptops etc—have now been supplanted by stories of institutional transgressions.

Writing in the Financial Times, London, the historian Ramachandra Guha puts his finger on a newer and more insidious form of media corruption:

“The Republic of India today faces challenges that are as much moral as social or political…. These (corruption scandals) have revealed that manner in which our politicians have abused the State’s power of eminent domain, its control of infrastructural contracts, and its monopoly of natural resources, to enrich themselves…. This activity cuts across political parties—small and large, regional and national.

It has tainted the media too, with influential editors now commonly lobbying pliant politicians to bend the law to favour particular corporations….

“[The] current wave of corruption scandals will put at least a temporary halt to premature talk of India’s rise to superstardom. Such fancies are characteristic of editors in New Delhi and businessmen in Mumbai, who dream often of catching up with and even surpassing China.”

Also read: Bangalore journos named in site allotment scam

Only in India: 90% off for journalists!

Cash transfer scheme is already here for journalists

Media houses are sitting on plots leased at one rupee!

Anti-corruption campaigner’s “error of judgement”

The WikiLeak cable on the journalist who…

‘Editors, senior journalists must declare assets’

The sad and pathetic decline of Arun Shourie

16 February 2009

SHARANYA KANVILKAR writes from Bombay: Arun Shourie is one of the strangest cases on the Indian intellectual landscape if not its most disappointing. A living, walking, moving advertisement of how rabid ideology can addle even the most riveting of minds, stripping it of all its nuance and pretence; its very soul and humanity.

***

Once a fiery critic of Reliance Industries as editor of the Indian Express, he was happy to deliver a eulogy at Dhirubhai Ambani‘s first death anniversary; even changing the law as minister to benefit Reliance Industries, as alleged by the son of Girilal Jain, the former Times of India editor who held shares in the company, no less.

Once a symbol of middle-class integrity and probity for various scams unearthed his watch, his stint as disinvestment minister was pockmarked with allegation after allegation (although an unattributed Wikipedia entry claims he was ranked “the most outstanding minister of the Atal Behari Vajpayee government” by 100 CEOs).

A slow, scholarly, Chaplinesque demeanour hides a cold, clinical mind that piles the rhetoric and the stereotypes on the poor, the marginalised and the disenfranchised while taking up high faluting positions on terrorism, governance, internal security and such like, through long, meandering essays whose opacity could put cub journalists to shame.

And, as always, selectively twisting and turning the facts to fit his preconceived conclusion, and hoping no one will notice.

To paraphrase Ramachandra Guha, Shourie has become the Arundhati Roy of the right:

“The super-patriot and the anti-patriot use much the same methods. Both think exclusively in black and white. Both choose to use a 100 words when 10 will do. Both arrogate to themselves the right to hand out moral certificates. Those who criticise Shourie are characterised as anti-national, those who dare take on Roy are made out to be agents of the State. In either case, an excess of emotion and indignation drowns out the facts.”

But what should disappoint even his most ardent fans, and there are many young journalists, is how easily and effortlessly a pacifist penman has regressed from “a concerned citizen employing his pen as an effective adversary of corruption, inequality and injustice” (as his Magsaysay Award citation read) to a hate-spewing ideological warrior with fire blazing through his nostrils.

A son of a Gandhian who now openly advocates “two eyes for an eye and a whole jaw for one tooth” with barely any qualms.

***

At a series of lectures in Ahmedabad on Saturday, Shourie bared his fangs some more:

“India is still a passive country when it comes to taking a stand against terrorism….

It should, in fact, take an extremist stance and must prove that it can also create a Kashmir-like situation in Pakistan.

There are many places like Baluchistan, where a Kashmir-like situation can be created but, “hum abhi bhi Panchsheel ke pujari hain (We still worship the tenets of Panchsheel)”….

“Pakistan has been successfully carrying out destruction in India for the last two decades and has still managed to escape problems, while India on every occasion has failed to present a unified response to terrorism and has suffered as a consequence….”

Really?

An eye for an eye? Two eyes for an eye? A jaw for a tooth?

In the name of Vivekananda, should India do unto Pakistan what Pakistan has done to us? Is this a sign of vision on the part of a man who some believe should be the next prime minister, or tunnel vision?

Is such barely disguised hatred and vengeance, hiding behind vedas and upanishads, going to make the subcontinent a better place to live in? Should the people of Pakistan, the poor, the marginalised, the disenfranchised, pay the price for the sins of the generals?

Should a great, ancient civilisation become a cheap, third-rate, neighbourhood bully?

Has Arun Shourie lost more than his soul and humanity?

Has Arun Shourie just lost it?

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu Business Line

Also read: How Shilpa Shetty halted the Chinese incursions

Crossposted on churumuri

H.Y. SHARADA PRASAD PASSES AWAY IN DELHI

2 September 2008

sans serif announces with deep regret the passing away of Holenarsipur Yoganarasimha Sharada Prasad, aka H.Y. Sharada Prasad, the legendary Mysorean who served as media advisor to three prime ministers of India, in New Delhi, on Tuesday, 2 September 2008. He was 84 years old, and is survived by his wife Kamalamma, and two sons.

Shourie“, as Sharada Prasad was known to relatives and close friends, was born in Bangalore, educated at the University of Mysore and jailed during the Quit India movement. He joined the Indian Express group in Bombay in 1945, and was a Neiman fellow in journalism at Harvard University in 1955-56.

He edited Yojana, the journal of the Planning Commission, after which followed his stints at the prime minister’s office between 1966-78 and 1980-88, under Indira Gandhi and later Rajiv Gandhi. During the Janata government, he worked with Morarji Desai for a few months before being posted as director of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC).

The ultimate exemplar of the “Mysore School of Writing”—not too light, not too heavy—that R.K. Narayan, R.K. Laxman, T.S. Satyan among others exemplify, Sharada Prasad wrote books on Karnataka (Exploring Karnataka with Satyan), on the Rashtrapati Bhavan (The Story of the President’s House), and on Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (Selected Works).

***

M.N. Venkatachallaiah on Sharada Prasad:

“Sharada Prasad is an extraordinary life in our times. He is a 16-annas Mysorean, but he is also a 18-annas Indian. He is a great gift of Mysore to the country, who epitomizes sajjanike, saralate, panditya, humility and simplicity. But concealed behind all this is tremendous learning and the strength of great scholarship.

“In our simple but wonderful culture, connubial felicity used to be the thought behind a husband bringing Mysore mallige to his wife, a little Mysore pak, maybe even some Nanjangud rasabale. To that connubial felicity, we can add the graciousness of Sharada Prasad. Please do not think it as a triviality, it has deep meaning.

“He represents a kind of civilisational culture. A culture of sobriety, dignity, humility and enormous amounts of learning. I request Sharada Prasad to spend more time in Mysore and Bangalore. His presence will have a civilizing effect.”

Photograph: Saibal Das via Flickr

Also read: RAMACHANDRA GUHA on Sharada Prasad

T.S. SATYAN: Once upon a time, during the Quit India movement

The finest English passage on Karnataka

What your mango says about you

It ain’t so cute when hunters are hunted, is it?

17 July 2008

“This is Sunidhi reporting! It’s Dr Prannoy Roy. He just got down from his Merc close to Khan Market. I can’t believe my luck. The aging ‘Father of Indian television’ is still so handsome! He has started walking towards Khan Market. Prannoy’s car is driving past the market. Wait! What do I see? A sweet little thing wearing a scarf and goggles has just got down around 100 metres past the market, crossed over to the other side, and is now walking  back. My God! Wait till you hear this! The curvaceious beauty waved to Prannoy who is already there waiting for her. They have gone inside. This is exciting stuff. A story is breaking right here! Over to you.”

Studio anchor: “It definitely is! Who is this mystery girl? Can you describe her to our viewers?”

Reporter:”It is already dark here and you know how the streetlights near Khan Market are!! She is wearing a pair of Levi‘s Jeans and a Versace blue top. She looks like the Delhi socialite who was seen with the Roys last New Year Party. I am not sure. It’s possible she could be the Bengali Bollywood heroine. Only she has the guts to wave from a distance in public.”

Studio anchor: “Keep a watch and get back if you see anything interesting.”

After a few hours…

“Sunidhi again from the Sheraton parking lot. They have just entered the coffee shop. Still I can’t make out who she is. She is wearing a cashmere shawl now. She also looks like Maharani Gayatri Devi’s grand daughter- I am not sure though.”

Studio anchor: “Get the dope on all the three girls and check them out. Must beat other channels and splash it at 9 pm headlines.”

Reporter:”Okay. Meanwhile you can go ahead and splash it along. You can interpose some of Dr. PR ‘s earlier shots with coffee shop pictures and run it.”

Studio anchor:”We are already on air with Breaking News. Get us juicy stuff and some close-up shots.”

***

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: How will this “juicy story” be if it is run, say on CNN-IBN and Times Now all day with headlines screaming ‘Father of Indian TV sowing wild oats’, interspersed with shots of his residence and family?

How will it sound if Vinod Mehta, Suhel Seth and Ramachandra Guha sit around in their Sunday best discussing it threadbare with Rajdeep Sardesai in ’Face the Nation’?

Will Roy & Co at least now understand how Rajesh Talwar and family felt when supposedly juicy details of the Aarushi-Hemraj murder were tapped by every half hour, for days and nights on end, with a scurrilous mixture of news, innuendo and insinuation?

Prannoy Roy’s name here is only for effect, and no offence is meant. Change it to Rajdeep Sardesai and run it on NDTV and Headlines Today. Or change it to Arnab Goswami walk and splash it on NDTV and Zee TV. The basic thrust of this fictitious story remains the same.

How will Radhika Roy or Sagarika Ghose feel if their husbands are tailed and ‘Breaking News’ stories made up and splashed in a hurry? Real and mostly imaginary tidbits discussed by a ‘panel of studio experts’?

Get the picture, gentlemen?

That is what is happening every hour by the hour for days and weeks at a stretch on Indian TV channels. You wear your TRPs on your sleeve and to get the magic numbers a combination of sex, sleaze, innuendo, trespassing, concoction is being whipped up.

When you are caught in the act of hurting innocent citizens, there’s not even an apology. There is just more discussion when the buck is passed on to the police bungling the case.

Is this journalism?

Why are the most prominent TV journalists in the country involved mostly in scoops and sensation-mongering? Have our TV whiz kids not heard of Darfur and Zimbabwe? Why are we always talking cinema, cricket and crime?

Can’t they come out with a couple of solutions for the Kashmir problem or the Maoist problem to solve it once and for all? Can’t they take up weightier issues of inflation and price rise that is affecting the common man? Etcetera.

Indian television are mostly busy with froth-in–mouth journalism chasing stars while the ordinary people are facing destiny’s cruel fate. Hunting has become a vicarious national game transgressing all borders of decency.

How would it be if the channel heads were the Hunted instead of being the Hunter? If their family members were hounded everywhere and life made impossible for them to live?

***

The real story behind the juicy story:

When the rookie correspondent finally got the juicy stuff, it wasn’t even overnight sadaa hua dal. Prannoy Roy was going to Khan Market to buy some household stuff. The new slipper of his cousin, , who was with him, was rubbing against her toe-nail causing discomfort and she drove past to see if it could be mended temporarily. Unfortunately the mochi who sits near Khan Market had packed off for the day and she walked back to Khan Market to meet Prannoy! They went to coffee shop for a bite. End of story.

Also read: Should the media apologise?

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