Posts Tagged ‘Sangh Parivar’

‘For cash-stuck TV, Modi is cost-effective TRP’

11 April 2013

Shailaja Bajpai in the Indian Express:

“If it’s Saturday, it must be Narendra Modi. If it’s Sunday, it must be Modi. If it’s Monday, it must be Modi and even if it’s Tuesday, it must be Modi. You get the general drift?

“Every day is Modi-day on television news. One morning, they telecast his speech live from Ahmedabad, then it’s Delhi, followed by Kolkata. Boy, does the chief minister of Gujarat get around. Looks like he’s on a Bharat darshan and TV news is on Modi darshan.

“The media is, quite literally, the medium for his message….

“It suits the media to promote Modi, and not only because he’s the front-runner in BJP’s prime ministerial race. At a time when advertising is becoming a serious concern for many news channels and TRAI is trying to restrict advertising to 12-minutes per hour on TV, they need to keep costs down.

“And like every other malaise that afflicts the country, Modi seems to offer a cure: he’s charismatic but contentious and therefore generates conflict and strong reactions — ideal for TV. He offers high viewership at low cost for cash-strapped TV news.”

Read the full article: Much ado about Modi

 

‘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

***

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’

Brajesh Mishra, Outlook, Indian Express and DD

8 October 2012

The passing away of the former national security advisor and former foreign service officer Brajesh Mishra last week has resulted in a welter of tributes, many very mushy, a few critical, but almost all of them throwing light on the uncomfortable influence that the Vajpayee aide held over the media—and the chummy friendship that some in the media shared with the high official in the PMO.

***

In his diary in Outlook*, Vinod Mehta recounts the role played by Mishra in ordering raids on the magazine’s proprietor after Outlook had exposed the wheeleing-dealing of Vajpayee’s “son-in-law” Ranjan Bhattacharya:

“I know one does not speak ill of the dead but try as hard as I might, I cannot think of anything nice or complimentary to say about Brajesh Mishra. All my exchanges with him were thoroughly unpleasant. Once after a few whiskies at vice-president Hamid Ansari’s house, he asked me why I had turned against Atal Behari Vajpayee.

“I responded by asking him why he had ordered the I-T raids on my proprietor’s residence in Mumbai and why he threatened me over the phone, denying a story given to us by the Vajpayee household, of how much Vajpayee disliked Arun Jaitley.”

In his National Interest column in the Indian Express, editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta writes:

“There was, however, one time when I saw him ruffled. And let me make a clean breast of it, even if it concerned The Indian Express. This was when the paper had carried a series of exposes embarrassing the Vajpayee government: the petrol pump scam, the scam on allotment of institutional lands to Sangh Parivar front organisations, and the Satyendra Dubey (the IIT engineer murdered while working for the NHAI by the mafia in Bihar) case.

“A top official in the State Bank of India, for decades this company’s bankers, told me — with a great deal of surprise and dismay — that he had got a call from “somebody” in the PMO to give the Express trouble. He said when he told the person the Express Group had “impeccably” clean accounts he was asked if he could somehow still give it grief. The banker was an old Express reader, loved the paper, and was aghast.

“I sought time with Vajpayee, and the tea had just been served when I said to him, “Suna hai, aajkal aap ne PMO se dadagiri shuru kar di hai.” I told him the story. And I must say Vajpayee looked genuinely shocked and swore he had not given any such instructions.

“Next day I was invited to Mishra’s office. “Arrey bhai, aisi baat thi toh… why didn’t you tell me first? Where was the need to go to boss? He has never pulled me up like this, and I am not used to it,” he said, now more rattled than annoyed. He promised that it was all “freelance” activity by a Sangh Parivar “busybody” who hung around in the PMO, “misusing” people’s phones, and that the “mischief” had been nipped.”

In his Sunday Sentiments column in the Hindustan Times, the TV anchor Karan Thapar writes of an interview he did with the Pakistani president Parvez Musharraf for Doordarshan six months after the Kargil war and three months after he had staged a coup, in the year 2000:

“When I got back from Islamabad I sent him a VHS of the interview. When I rang the next morning to ask what he thought of it he said he hadn’t seen it but his tone and manner suggested he had. What followed convinced me I was right.

“‘Have you told the press about this interview?’ he asked. The question surprised me because broadcast had not been cleared and I had no assurance it would be. Doordarshan, after all, is government controlled. ‘Yes, yes, I know that,’ Mr Mishra interrupted. ‘If I were you I’d let people know.’ Then, after a pause, he added sotto voce: ‘And tell them when it will be shown.’

“Now I was certain Mr Mishra was steering me. He was suggesting a strategy that would make it awkward, even difficult, to deny broadcast but without in anyway saying it would be cleared.

“Naturally, I followed his advice. PTI put out a small story that the interview would be broadcast the next day. The Indian Express front paged it. And then the drama began. A battle waged within the government over whether it should be shown. Various ministers — and the Army Chief — asked to see it. I assumed they all had a say in whether it would be cleared.

“At 7 in the evening I rang Mr Mishra. I could tell he was chuckling when he came on the line. ‘I know you’ve rung to ask if I’ve seen the interview. I haven’t but I’ll catch it tonight on TV.’”

* Disclosures apply

Photograph: courtesy Tribhuvan Tiwari/ Outlook

‘Arun Shourie: a Hindu right-wing pamphleteer’

3 October 2011

There are few more polarising figures in Indian journalism than Arun Shourie.

For many of his professional peers, he is everything a journalist should not be: a wonky-eyed, hired gun of the Hindu right, selectively and deviously using facts to push its ideological and political agendas.

Arrogant, intolerant, abusive, dictatorial, .

For multitudes more, he is the proverbial Sancho Panza, tilting at the windmills of political correctness, shining light on the dark corners of Indian political and business life, with his exposes and editorials.

Saying it like it is, without fear or favour.

In his just released memoirs, Ink in my Veins, the veteran editor Surendra Nihal Singh, who was Shourie’s boss at the Indian Express, dismisses Shourie as a pamphleteer who thought “a newspaper was a stepping stone to politics and political office… and used journalism to achieve his political ambitions.”

***

By S. NIHAL SINGH

My experience with Arun Shourie was not happy.

To begin with, he had got used to doing pretty much what he wanted because S. Mulgaonkar [who Nihal Singh replaced as Express editor at his recommendation] had been ailing for long and usually made only a brief morning appearance to do an edit if he felt like it.

To have to work with a hands-on editor who oversaw the news and editorial sections was an irksome burden for Shourie.

Our objectives collided.

My efforts were directed to making the Express a better paper, while he was basically a pamphleteer who was ideologically close to the Hindu right. Even while he oversaw a string of reporters’ stories, which drew national attention (for which he claimed more credit that was his due), his aim was to spread the message.

Goenka himself could be swayed by Hindu ideology. In one instance, he sent me a draft editorial from Madras full of all the cliches of the Hindu right. One of Goenka’s men in the southern city was S. Gurumurthy, a sympathiser of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a pro-Hindu organisation.

The issue was the mass conversion of Harijans to Islam at Meenakshipuram (in Tamil Nadu) in June 1981. I put two and two together and it added up to Gurumurthy’s handiwork. I threw the editorial into the waste-paper basket. And I did not hear a word about it from Goenka.

Shourie exploited his proximity to Goenka to terrorise the reporters and subeditors. As executive editor, he was the No.2 man in the editorial hierarchy but often assumed the airs of a prima donna. His office being twice as large as the editor’s room and far better furnished always puzzled me.

Shourie believe that rules were made for others, and our clash began when he took umbrage over my cutting his extensive opinion piece to conform to the paper’s style. On one occasion, I had to spike a piece he had written on Indira Gandhi, in language unbecoming of any civilised newspaper.

In an underhand move, he quietly sent it to the magazine section, printed in Bombay, without inviting a censure from Goenka.

To a professional journalist, some of Shourie’s arguments sound decidedly odd. He declared, “When an editor stops a story, I go and give it to another newspaper. I am no karamchari [worker] of anybody’s. Whether I work in your organisation or not, I really look upon myself as a citizen or first as a human being, and then as a citizen, and as nothing else. If I happen to work for Facets [a journal in which his extensive piece appeared as its January-February 1983 issue], I will still behave the same way. If you use my happening to work for you as a device to shut my mouth, I’ll certainly shout, scream, and kick you in the shins.”

Shourie told the same journal that he had no compunction in mixing his editorial and managerial function ‘because the Indian Express is in an absolutely chaotic state. Ther is no management worth the name. Anyone wanting to help it must also help solve the management problems.’

To give him his due, Shourie had many good qualities. He was a hard worker and often did his homework before writing. However, we could never agree on the paper’s outlook because, for him, a newspaper was a stepping stone to politics and political office.

For me the integrity of a newspaper was worth fighting for.

Goenka swayed between these points of view. He used to tell me: ‘Not even five per cent readers look at the editorials.’ He called Frank Moraes, a distinguished former editor of the Indian Express, ‘my race horse’. Shourie he once described to me as a ‘two-horse tonga‘ (horse carriage).

Shourie later distinguished himself in the political field under the banner of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP); he even achieved the position of a cabinet minister. In effect, he successfully employed journalism to achieve his political ambition.

***

(Editor of The Statesman, The Indian Express and The Indian Post, Surendra Nihal Singh served in Singapore, Islamabad, Moscow, London, New York, Paris and Dubai. He received the International Editor of the Year award in 1978 for his role as editor of The Statesman during the Emergency)

(Excerpted from Ink in my Veins, A life in Journalism, by S. Nihal Singh, Hay House, 308 pages, price Rs 499)

Also read: Why Khushwant Singh fell out with Arun Shourie

The sad and pathetic decline of Arun Shourie

Arun Shourie: ‘Intolerant, abusive, dictatorial’

How Arun Shourie became Express editor

Arun Shourie: The three lessons of failure

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

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

26/11, the RSS, the Editor & the Rajya Sabha seat

14 February 2011

Last month, Aziz Burney, the influential editor of the Urdu daily Roznama Rashitriya Sahara, owned by Subroto Roy of the Sahara group, published a grovelling front-page apology for linking the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) with the 26 November 2008 siege of Bombay.

In a box titled “Aziz Burney ki taraf se safaai aur maafi)” (A clarification and apology from Burney), Burney wrote that he apologised if he had hurt anyone or any group while discussing events around 26/11. “I am an Indian and stand by my government on all international matters. I will never do anything to compromise its position in the rest of the world.”

In the preceding 27 months, in a series titled “26/11: Biggest attack in India’s history”, Burney had written over 100 editorials and articles in the Urdu paper and its Hindi counterpart, Rashtriya Sahara, offering an “alternative” view of the siege. That it was not the ISI or LeT that was behind the attack, but the RSS with covert support from Mossad and the CIA.

A compilation of the conspiracy theories was also packaged into a book titlted ’26/11: RSS ka shadyantra‘ (26/11: Cosnpiracy of the RSS), which was released by the Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, who is widely suspected to have the ear of Rahul Gandhi, in December 2010.

When asked by Seema Chisti of The Indian Express to explain his turnaround, Burney said last month:

“There is no turnaround, I have just been misinterpreted. I was only pointing to certain circumstantial evidence in the matter, which I would want investigating agencies to look at. I am a journalist, not an investigating agency. I agree with the Indian government’s view on this. All I am saying is consider the circumstantial evidence. It is as a true Muslim that I am happy to apologise if someone is hurt by the allegations.”

Now, the website New Age Islam reports that the there was more to the apology than just that.

Apparently, the RSS first took the editor to court for the defamatory allegations under articles 121, 108, 107, 117, 124 (A), 153 (A), 153 (B), 505 (2) and 506 of the Constittuion and the Maharashtra organised crime control act (MOCCA).

It also filed a complaint before the Press Council of India seeking the cancellation of the registration of Roznama Rashtriya Sahara.

Result: Burney’s attempt to gain entry into the upper house of Parliament got stuck.

“When this case was filed, Burney was trying an entry in Rajya Sabha through the President’s reserved quota. But there was a stay on his entry to Rajya Sabha because of this legal suit. Engrossed with problems all around Burney apologised on the front page of his paper…. Though Burney has apologized to the country and the RSS , the legal battle against him will continue as indicated by the RSS which has said that it has not accepted Burney’s apologies.”

New Age Islam writes further:

“Aziz Burney’s ‘defeat’ does not augur well for the Urdu media. It has vindicated the charge that Urdu media has a paranoid psyche and hallucinates the ghost of conspiracy in every affair and does not have faith in the government, the security agencies and the army. Indeed, even a casual reading of practically any Urdu newspaper creates the impression that Indian Muslims are in a state of jihad against their own country.

Rashtriya Sahara had ostensibly emerged as a strong voice of the minorities as it had seemingly carried extensive research and investigations into stories of the victims of terrorism, riots and social oppression of every kind. However, in its defence and praise of Hemant Karkare and his two colleagues who were killed during the Bombay attack, the daily went much beyond journalistic boundaries and, in the usual way the Urdu press functions, wrote something it could not back with solid evidence and proof, also without bothering if it was damaging national interest.”

Links via D.D. Gupta

Also read: India’s most important businessman meets Obama

Why (perhaps) BJP sent Chandan Mitra to the RS

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

For the BJP, is the pen mightier than the trishul?

13 September 2009

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: Four months after the “nasty jolt” in the 2009 general election (RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat‘s description), the BJP continues to be in a flap over the role of “friendly journalists” in its defeat—and after.

Twice the party’s resident intellectual “for all matters requiring an IQ of 60″, Arun Shourie has trained his guns at the “Gang of Six”, once at the party’s national executive meeting and then in his interview with Shekhar Gupta.

On top of that, the “accused” journalists have been at each other throats unabashedly.

Now, the BJP’s official party mouthpiece Kamal Sandesh, edited by Prabhat Jha, a former journalist, has weighed in on “‘friendly journalists’, who cannot remain ‘insider’ for too long”, adding that the access and respect the journalists enjoy with senior leaders of the party causes envy among party workers.

An editorial in the journal makes the following points, according to The Pioneer, the Delhi daily edited and owned by Chandan Mitra, a Rajya Sabha member nominated by the BJP:

“There are journalists who wish that BJP should run as per their whims. Any person — journalist included — has a right to offer advice and opinion but how can it be that a political party should follow, without exception, the diktats of some journalists. If that doesn’t happen, the political organisation turns bad in their considered opinion….

“A scenario in which journalists should turn a tool in the hands of an individual politician does not augur well for either of the two. Our effort should be to create a healthy balance in which neither the journalist is a weapon in the hands of a politician nor should the latter have to act as a shield for journalists….

“It is true that it is their duty to report but the questions remains: how, when and where. This is a matter that these wielders of the pen should ponder over. They have to ensure that in the process of the performance this onerous duty to present the ideology to the nation, mutual confidence, faith and respect does not fall a casualty.

“We do understand that journalism cannot be a synonym for bosom friendship between a journalist and a politician. Yet, we have to stand firm at our respective post of duty.”

Read the full article: BJP laments stab by ‘insider journalists’

Also read: Who are the journalists running, ruining BJP?

Don’t laugh: do journalists make good politicians?

The sad and pathetic decline of Arun Shourie

How come no one saw the worm turn?

How Chandan Mitra has his halwa and hogs it too

Advani: Prime minister maybe, but not a good sub

Arun Shourie: ‘Intolerant. Abusive. Dictatorial.’

7 September 2009

Shoma Chaudhury, the executive editor of Tehelka, does a much-required re-examination of Arun Shourie, the former editor of the Indian Express, who occupies an “adumbral position between liberal knight, self-righteous crusader and unselfconscious fascist”, in the context of a recent interview with his protege, Shekhar Gupta.

“Shourie joined the Indian Express as executive editor in January 1979 and over four blistering years of journalism, passed into media legend. Shourie rarely did the groundwork himself; his gift lay in creating moral frameworks and meticulous backgrounds–building stories into campaigns.

“The infamous Bhagalpur blinding case; the advocacy for the rights of undertrials; the buying of Kamala; the Antulay cement scam; the infamous Gundu Rao interview; the defeat of the Defamation Bill; and finally, the Kuo Oil scam. The Congress had come to symbolise corruption and anti-democratic practices: The Indian Express—and its most public face, the Goenka- Shourie duo—became the epitome of the fight against these mutilations.

“In 1982, with hundreds of cases against the paper, and allegedly under severe pressure from Indira Gandhi, Ramnath Goenka suddenly sacked Shourie. In 1987, with all his old warhorses gone or fading, he suddenly wanted him back and used Suman Dubey, Shourie’s brother-in-law, then editor of the paper and a friend of Rajiv Gandhi, to woo him back. A few months later, the Bofors scandal broke.

“More actinic years of journalism followed: the Bofors campaign and the campaign against Dhirubhai Ambani’s corruptions being the most high-profile. In 1990, Shourie was sacked again – unceremoniously, via teleprinter. There were cascading reasons: disagreements on reservations, the Mandal Commission, V.P. Singh’s handling of the Ayodhya movement and Goenka’s sense that Shourie was no longer in his control.

“At any rate, Shourie’s years as an editor shone with inspiration: he was a lighthouse in a dark time. As his Magasaysay Award citation says, “He used his pen as an effective adversary of corruption, inequality and injustice.” He fought for civil liberties and the rule of law; he had an appetite for the big battles.

“Yet, even at the height of his defence of liberal values in public life, disappointingly, Shourie’s professional peers and juniors say that in person, he was an intolerant, abusive and dictatorial man, incapable of democratic dialogue. The archetypal god with clay feet. Stories—unfortunately all of them off-the-record—abound: how he fought and slighted co-editors, S. Mulgaonkar, B.G. Verghese, Nihal Singh, Kuldip Nayar; how he ousted Suman Dubey; how he ravaged juniors.

“The ill-will is disconcerting. Yet, urged to come on record, all his detractors refuse: “He’s dynamite”; “He’s vicious”; “He’s paranoid.” These allegations can perhaps be discounted – temperamental shortcomings that pale before the staggering body of work. Personal animosities that cannot be substantiated.”

Photograph: courtesy Outlook

Read the full article: Acid dreams on dharma nights

Also read: The sad and pathetic decline of Arun Shourie

Arun Shourie: autocratic, time-server, climber’

Who are the journalists running and ruining the BJP?

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