“I did not study too much, just read The Hindu newspaper word to word. I loved it.
“I read the newspaper, I wrote the exam.
“I did not shut myself in to study for hours. I continued reading the papers,” he said, adding that his mother, who also loves newspapers and reading was his main inspiration.”
Posts Tagged ‘Sans Serif’
Even as the takeover of Network18 by India’s biggest corporate house, Reliance Industries Limited, receives scant scrutiny in the mainstream media on what it portends in the long term, the journalist and educator Paranjoy Guha Thakurta weighs in, in the Economic & Political Weekly:
“The consequence of RIL strengthening its association with Network18 is a clear loss of heterogeneity in the dissemination of information and opinions. Media plurality in a multicultural country like India will diminish.
“In particular, the space for providing factual information as well as expressing views that are not in favour of (or even against the interests of) India’s biggest corporate conglomerate will shrink, not just in the traditional mainstream media (print, television and radio) but in the new media (internet and mobile telephony).
“There is growing concentration of ownership in the country’s already-oligopolistic media markets. In the absence of restrictions on cross-media ownership, these trends will inexorably lead to the continuing privatisation and “commodification” of information instead of making it more of a “public good” that could benefit larger sections of society, in particular the underprivileged.”
Read the full article: What future for the media in India?
File photograph: RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani holds a jar containing the first crude oil produced from the KG-D6 block in 2009 (Punit Paranjpe/Reuters)
Although integrity is not exactly rocketing skywards in the Indian media, declaration of assets is anathema to most journalists. The Editors Guild of India (EGI) has periodically tried to bring up the issue but in vain. So, honesty and accountability is a largely voluntary affair.
How heartwarming, therefore, that the maverick business journalist Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar should open his family books to make the point that it is not just Gujarat-based Adani alone that has benefitted most from Narendra Modi‘s rise but midcap stocks like those held by his family members, too (see graphic).
Let the record show that Aiyar’s grandfather and the grandfather of veteran Bihar Congressman Rameshwar Thakur ran a chartered accountancy firm in Karachi in the early 20th century under the masthead “Thakur, Aiyar & Associates”, which paid 97 per cent in income tax.
Infographic: courtesy The Economic Times
Read the full article: Market boom not led by Modi‘s cronies
The point has been made before but bears repetition. If Britain can have a BBC, if America can have CNN, if Qatar can have Al Jazeera, if China can have CCTV, if Russia can have Russia Today, why cannot India?
Why do Indian broadcasters, public, private or autonomous, not have the vision or the resources or both to establish a global news brand?
“The media’s critical faculty has been so numbed over a century of colonial experience that it cannot, on occasion, separate news from propaganda….
“Not having our own means of covering world affairs, our media ends up using stuff which is part of someone else’s agenda. It is sometimes inimical to our interests.
“Public opinion in India gets manipulated whenever the US throws a tantrum with, say Bashar al Assad. On Egyptian or Syrian elections we have only western versions.
“We do not have a single news bureau in SAARC countries, China, Japan, anywhere. For the world’s largest democracy, this is something of a shame.
“If we had a news bureau in Kabul, we would have been much better informed about the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat or the circumstances in which Alexis Prem Kumar was kidnapped. Must we depend on western journalists to inform us about Kabul, Jaffna or Kathmandu?
“This is a disgraceful state of affairs….
“New Delhi gives away billions in assistance to SAARC neighbours. It must take a leap of faith and concurrently invest a billion dollars in its own media which must also cover world affairs as comprehensively as CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera.
“The returns in power, prestige, influence and business will be astronomical.”
Read the full article: Colonial mindset
The national gallery of modern art (NGMA) in the capital is playing host to an exhibition by the architect Raj Rewal. And among the many works on display is Rewal’s design for the residence of the former editor of The Times of India, Sham Lal in New Delhi’s Gulmohar Park area.
A true man of letters, Mr Sham Lal wrote a weekly editorial-page column titled “Life and Letters”.
When T.N. Shanbag the owner of Strand Book Stall in Bombay passed away, Namita Devidayal wrote in The Times of India:
“There was a time when the senior editors of The Times of India would go to Strand after lunch, browse and catch up with Shanbhag, and then stroll back through the arched arcades of Dadabhoy Naoroji Road, as part of their daily constitutional.
“‘Sham Lal’s wife hated me because he spent all his time and money on books,’ Mr Shanbhag used to joke about the former Times editor.
In her book on The Times, Bachi Karkaria wrote:
When Sham Lal retired, the newsroom (which he had never stepped into) gave him a farewell. It was held in the 6th floor canteen where the aam janata, not ‘invited’ to the august directors’ lunch room, ate.
Sham Lal was seldom seen in the latter, so he probably did not even known of the existence of the former. He was escorted up in the lift and into the huge hall. News editor, chief reporter, subs, peons, all sung his fulsome (sic) praises. The quiet but universally admired editor was presented ‘floral tributes’ and a salver.
Then the master of ceremonies grandly announced, ‘Now Mr Sham Lal will give a speech.’ Sham Lal slowly shuffled to his feet, cleared his throat, and as the packed hall waited in anticipation for an outpouring of enlightenment from the man who had attained intellectual nirvana, he merely said, ‘Thank you’. Then he went back to his chair and sat down….
At a party in Mumbai, Sham Lal was cornered by a large, garrulous American woman. After a 15-minute monologue, she stopped mid-flow and asked, “Am I boring you?” and Sham Lal replied with extreme and genuine courtesy, “Yes I am afraid you are.”
An epitome of an ivory-tower editor, Mr Sham Lal was once famously accosted in the ToI corridors by a studious looking young man as he stepped out.
“Who are you?” he is said to have asked the young man.
“Sir, I am your assistant editor.”
Also read: Man who educated Bombay journalists is dead
As India’s biggest business house Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) goes through the motions of formally taking complete control of one of India’s biggest TV networks, Network 18, the veteran journalist and commentator Kuldip Nayar writes in Deccan Herald:
“Most channels — roughly around 300 — are owned by property dealers who can afford to spend Rs 1 crore, an average monthly expenditure, through money laundering. Every one of them wants to be the Reliance one day.
“What has taken me aback is that the press has reported the deal but has preferred to keep quiet.
“Even though journalism has ceased to be a profession and has become an industry, I was expecting some reactions, at least from the Editors’ Guild of India. But then it is understandable when it has rejected my proposal that editors should also declare their assets public, the demand which they voice for politicians.
“Double standards make a mockery of the high pedestal on which the media sit.”
Read the full column: Where’s free media?
Also read: Will RIL-TV18-ETV deal win CCI approval?
The takeover of Network 18 group with its myriad news, business and entertainment channels has received scant review in the Indian media, but the author Pankaj Mishra bells the cat in Bloomberg View:
“There is no denying that the future of media freedom in India looks even bleaker than ever after Mukesh Ambani’s Silvio Berlusconi-style domination of both news and entertainment content and delivery mechanisms.
“At the very least, such violation of the rules of the free market should be exposed to intense public scrutiny, even criticism, of the kind the deal between Comcast and Time Warner has provoked in the U.S.
“But a near-total silence from politicians and the mainstream media greeted the extraordinary doubling of gas prices in India.
“When Reliance attempted to throttle the book [by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta] about it, those columnists who had denounced Penguin for agreeing to withdraw Wendy Doniger’s “The Hindus: An Alternative History” went oddly quiet.
“And given the “toadification” of large parts of the Indian media, to paraphrase Salman Rushdie, it may even croak out some malicious joy as more independent-minded journalists depart what does look increasingly like a toad-breeding swamp.”
Infographic: courtesy Outlook*
Read the full article: India’s newest media baron embraces censorship
* Disclosures apply
Also read: Will RIL-TV18-ETV deal win CCI approval?
Anant Goenka: WaPo, Amazon, HT and the Reliance-TV18 deal
To say that the Indian media is in a tizzy of seismic proportions would qualify as the understatement of the year. So far.
Editors are quitting, being sacked, or finding ever new ways of being quietly eased out. Promoters are exiting their dream projects after acquiescing to giant business houses. Reporters are making discreet enquiries. Etcetera.
Still, in the midst of all the bloodbath, there has been a palpable sense of grace in the manner in which Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of the Indian Express has been sent off by his organisation, and the manner in which he has been welcomed to his new port of calling, the India Today group.
Despite Gupta’s exit being in the air for nearly a year, the Express went out of its way to promote his new book, and Express chairman Viveck Goenka (to whom Gupta dedicated his collection of columns) was at hand at the book’s launch. Gupta’s last columns for the paper have been given pride of place on page one.
Goenka’s graceful letter below announcing Gupta’s exit—and Aroon Purie‘s dignified letter welcoming him back into the fold—are a lesson, in an era when even the supposedly great New York Times removed the name of its first woman editor Jill Abramson in a matter of hours.
EXHIBIT A: VIVECK GOENKA, Chairman, The Indian Express
My dear colleagues
With much regret, I accept Shekhar Gupta’s resignation as Editor-in-Chief of The Indian Express. I truly appreciate his letter to all of us and I wish him the very best.
Shekhar leaves on June 15, just a year short of his 20 years here — another moment of transition in the long history of this great institution.
When I chose him for the position of Editor in 1995, I was taking no leap in the dark. I was absolutely convinced that Shekhar, then 38, was the best person to guide this newspaper into the future. And I feel more than vindicated today.
So many news breaks (I have happily lost count) delivered by the finest reporters, editors, sub editors, designers and photographers, a team I am very proud of, team which is the envy of every newspaper publisher: three International Press Institute Awards for Excellence in Journalism; the most questioning opinion section in the business and the most generous, too, given how it welcomes dissenting voices; a renewal of talent each year by the youngest and the brightest from our campuses – Shekhar leaves the newspaper stronger than ever.
Key to each one of these achievements has been the consistently stellar work of the Express team under the leadership of Editor Raj Kamal Jha.
Raj’s leadership is grounded in his commitment to professional excellence and uncompromising integrity. He brings to the newsroom creativity, clarity and depth, three qualities increasingly rare in our business. This not only inspires his colleagues, it powers them to realize their best potential.
Raj could not have a stronger partner in the newsroom than Managing Editor Unni Rajen Shanker.
Unni has been a reporter, an Editor, a Resident Editor (Mumbai) and Editor of the Express News Service. He brings to his leadership a deep understanding of all the different roles in the changing newsroom and an unrivalled sense of fairness and empathy. It’s this that enables him attract the finest talent and then nurture them. Unni is one of the pillars of the Express.
Since they joined in 1996, both have steered change and are, therefore, ideally placed to help guide the paper into the future. That is why, to facilitate a seamless transition, I am proud to repose my faith in them and redesignate them for their new roles.
Raj will be Chief Editor and will report to me. Unni will be Editor.
I look forward to working closely with them. They will find me every bit as supportive as all their predecessors, including Shekhar did, as we plan and implement exciting new upgrades to all our news brands.
There is work to do.
We have witnessed a remarkable election and an even more remarkable victory that bring with it challenges for all of us in the news business whose mission is to question, to report, to interpret and to analyse.
I firmly believe and, more so, given the changes in the media landscape, that these are challenges best suited for The Indian Express given how strongly independence and courage are wired in our genes.
I believe that the present news media environment in India offers us an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to what we do best: faithful and courageous journalism.
With all the shrill voices on TV, the paid news in print and the corporate funded or politician backed news organizations, The Indian Express must be the voice India can turn to and trust.
Speaking truth to power is hard wired in the genes of our editorial teams. The “Express” commitment to this legacy, mine and that of the future generation, will certainly endure. The newsroom is and will be the most sacred space in our institution.
I am committed to raising the bar and instilling a fresh new energy in our editorial teams. In addition to revamped content, I look forward to closely integrating all our news operating systems because our growth is now across platforms. This was evident last month, during Verdict 2014.
We had print editions that were reported and produced to the finest standards and a digital edition that broke all our records with over 52 million page views, more than 100,000 active users for eight hours, a live video news stream from the Express newsroom, all of this making us among the five most visited news sites in the country.
Looking ahead, that’s the road we take. Not only reporting the news first but also being the first to understand it and question its assumptions. This means better stories, better analyses, better pictures, better everything and ensuring that The Indian Express journalism of courage reaches the reader wherever she is, whenever she wants it, whichever device she wants to receive it on.
Shekhar, whether he is at the Express or not, will always be a part of this journey. For, he leaves us with a sense of determination and purpose. And a wonderful tool-kit of ideas and values that we will use and keep adding to.
Please join me in wishing him, once again, the best of luck as he scales what I am sure will be a new professional summit.
And, Raj and Unni, let us get to work. I wish you and your teams my very best.
EXHIBIT B: AROON PURIE, Chairman, India Today group
I am delighted to announce the appointment of Shekhar Gupta as Vice Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of all news properties of the India Today Group. It includes all our news and business publications, news TV brands and all related news and business digital brands. This comes into effect July 1, 2014.
This is a homecoming for Shekhar. He joined India Today in 1983 and was here for 12 eventful years during which he was an outstanding journalist. He broke many exclusive stories and covered world changing international events like the fall of the Soviet Union, the first Gulf War, Afghan Jehad and the Tiananmen Square uprising.
In 1995, he took charge of The Indian Express group steering it into a position of editorial leadership and financial strength.
Shekhar is a reporter’s Editor, thinker, author, mentor and active on the international speaking circuit. He typically is an “all sleeves rolled up” hands-on professional who not only leads from the front but works collaboratively and believes in action.
He literally “Walks the Talk”! He is highly regarded in the profession for his integrity independence and knowledge. That’s why he attracts, inspires and builds fine talent.
As I mentioned in my Founders Day speech I would like us to be the best media group in every which way by our 40th birthday which is two years from now. I believe Shekhar joining us would be a force multiplier in achieving this goal.
He will report to me and will be responsible for the editorial quality of all our news and business brands, and our overall expansion and profitability. He will work closely with Ashish Bagga, Group CEO, and enable him to effectively grow the readership and viewership of our brands, profitably.
Anil Mehra will step down as Vice-Chairman but will continue as consultant to advise the Group on matters of strategic importance.
At a personal level, Shekhar’s return is a moment of deep satisfaction and vindication of my belief, our shared belief, in the power of good journalism to reveal and to inform, to question the unquestioned, to help make sense of the noise rather than to add to it.
We need to work relentlessly to prove our essential belief that there is no contradiction between good journalism and the marketplace.
I have always believed: create good content and money will follow. That will be the principle behind another project that I greatly look forward to with Shekhar’s arrival: the launch of some new editorial offerings that will uniquely blend the best of reporting and analysis.
In his new role, Shekhar has promised to liberate me from day-to-day operations so that I can work to guiding the group into a future of great promise, growth and excitement.
Shekhar, welcome back.
Also read: An Aroon Purie tribute worthy of emulation
The cover of former Outlook* editor Vinod Mehta‘s upcoming book, Editor Unplugged. Published by Penguin, the 500-page book, priced at Rs 599, will be out in December 2014, three years after his memoir Lucknow Boy.
The photograph on the book jacket is by Briana Blasko.
Gupta’s resignation as editor comes 10 months after he relinquished his corporate duties as CEO at the paper—and a week after the Narendra Modi-led BJP government came to power in the 2014 general elections.
Gupta’s no.2 Raj Kamal Jha had been elevated as editor of Express in the middle of 2013.
Goodbye notes can be heartwarming or heartbreaking. On a rare occasion they can be both. This is one such.
It is time for me to say goodbyes at the Express — for the second time. The first was exactly at the same time of the year in 1983 when most of you were not born yet.
I say goodbye now with joy because I leave behind a wonderfully vibrant newsroom with very good hands of home-grown leaders. And a newspaper that defines its value and power in terms of its depth, credibility and respect. There is no higher currency, no fairer denominator of a newspaper’s stature.
And also a wrench precisely because we are such a fun gang, topped by a large-hearted proprietor who pretty much distributes all that the company earns back to us. As generous compensations, great working conditions, never a resource spared in pursuit of a story. No call ever to kill a story once it passes our highest and the most exacting editorial bars and filters.
I can do no better than paraphrase what Gen Krishnaswamy Sundarji, my friend and mentor in an area of journalism that fascinated me, had said at his farewell parade when cameras caught a hint of mist in his ever-smiling eyes.
He said he didn’t know whether to sob or smile. Because he was leaving behind the world’s finest army that God gave any human the gift of leading.
There isn’t a daily newspaper in India greater than the Express. Or a greater gift that a journalist can ask for than to lead it.
I have been doubly blessed. I started at the same paper as a reporter in 1977 and worked here for a full 25 years in two innings.
Leadership is its own teacher. In fact, the finest. It gives you an opportunity to learn from the many brilliant people that you have been given the honour to lead. I know, many of you by now would be tired of my three-example rule in editorial writing. Yet, here are my three leadership lessons.
First, you must have a big heart. You can be a competent manager, a powerful boss, the wealthiest owner. But never a leader without a big heart. Because there is an essential moral dimension to leadership.
Second, always connect with the universe of those you lead. In our case, it is exhilarating as, across our teams, we trawl the worlds of politics, government, economics, science, culture, cinema and sports. Even markets and advertising, our roti-dal and EMIs.
And third, find that instinct to choose the most talented and diligent, give them space, and then trust them. I confess this defies conventional logic. Or advice on your usual leadership manual’s back-flap. But trust with your heart and not merely, clinically with your head. This is the one gift I take away from Viveck through a two-decade professional relationship, and a friendship that endures.
This concludes my farewell sermon. So back to myself.
When life becomes cosy for too long, you need to disrupt it. Smugness is the beginning of old age, even if you are in your teens, which I, regrettably, am not.
I am embarrassed to lean on the wisdom of Neale Donald Walsh, a contemporary pop-spiritualist/philosopher so juvenile that had he been born in India, he would be a star on Aastha channel with his nutty Conversations with God. Life, he said, begins at the end of your comfort zone. I am checking him out.
In any case, I am an incorrigible reporter and thereby a terminal adventure junkie. By the way, even at the risk of being charged with crass tribalism, I shall write something more specifically for my fellow reporters at the Express. But a bit later.
I had said at my book release by Arun Shourie in Mumbai earlier this month that he taught me many things, but never to write anything short, an article, a letter, even a farewell note. So I can continue to indulge myself today as well. But you have to bring out tomorrow’s paper.
And I must write my first in this series — my last at the Express — of First Person/Second Draft — on time. Heard that before?
I so love you all, friends, colleagues, much younger, brighter and with a great future. I am proud of you and cherish the time we spent together. I will be generally in my office until June 15. There is a fair bit of pending writing. So please be forewarned: you will still have to endure the corridor addas on my compulsive breaks from spells of writing, bare feet and all.
Postscript: One antidote to compulsive rambling is to steal a poet’s lines. Let me sign off, therefore, with Gulzar, whom we all so adore…
Din dhale jahan, raat paas ho,
Zindagi ki lau, oonchi kar chalo,
Yaad aaye gar kabhi, jee udaas ho,
Meri awaz hi pehchan hai,
Gar yaad rahe…
We will always be in touch….
Photograph: courtesy K.S.N. Kumar
Also read: Shekhar Gupta gives up his managerial role