Daily Archives: 16 July 2007

‘For Indian media, farmers’ deaths don’t matter’

SUGGI RAJ writes from Bangalore: As the Indian media shows an almost pornographic interest in the Brothers Ahmed, and their Glasgow plot that went phut, here’s a bomb that should blow a small hole in our skulls.

More farmers have committed suicide in Karnataka in the last 14 months than the number of people who have died due to acts of terrorism in the entire country last year.

# Why isn’ the media talking as much about those deaths?

# Why is all its attention focussed on a failed terror bid?

# And is death worth taking note of only if it is attained at the hands of an unknown, unseen terrorist?

The numbers are revealing:

# As many as 11,500 farmers have ended their lives in India in the last six years. Of these, 5,980 are from Karnataka alone. That means every other farmer who has walked into a death trap was from Karnataka.

# In the last 14 months, around 350 farmers have committed suicide in Karnataka.

# The number of those died due to terror in all of India in 2006 was around 280.

These are not numbers pulled out thin air. These are some of the findings of National Social Watch Coalition, a Delhi-based conglomerate of voluntary groups, released on June 30. Yet while we collectively beat our breasts over what didn’t kill anybody in faraway Glasgow, we think little of what happens in our own backyard.

Equally disturbingly, our media, including churumuri.com, has no inclination to go behind these numbers. In the Glasgow plot which killed nobody, the media is hysterically probing the background of the perpetrators, their motives, etc.

Why isn’t the media expending even an ounce of the same energy on the farmers—in finding out who is dying, why, and how we could stop the flood?

Our political and administrative masters have no time except to mouth the usual cliches and platitudes. The Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar who is also the cricket board chief, is more worried about the form of the Indian cricketers on the field than the farms of the poor farmers.

For the Indian media to join the gang and be so obsessed with sexy Glasgow is deeply disturbing.


Even God cries when the best come to join Him

In what can only be pettiness of an obscene level, India’s biggest English language newspaper group as a matter of policy does not print obituaries of its editors and journalists even if they perish while being on the rolls (although a glorious exception will soon have to be made).

How heartwarming, on the other hand, to see this touching tribute in the Indian Express to Prakash Kardaley, a former editor of the paper who died in Poona on Sunday afternoon, at the age of 65:

From the time he walked into the Express office on January 14, 1967, to the day he left on February 28, 2007 as Senior Editor (Express Initiatives), Kardaley built for himself and the newspaper a formidable reputation based on the finest tenets of journalistic pursuits.

Fearless, frank and blessed with an intrinsic ability to grasp the crux of any issue and adopt the most effective method of tackling it, he blazed a trail of citizen journalism that was unparalleled. The result was a series of campaigns that he undertook for Poona, a city he lived in and loved unconditionally, that propelled many civic changes and improvements that the citizens have witnessed in recent years.

His was a byline that came to be associated with in-depth knowledge, an accurate analysis of issues and most importantly, an impeccable integrity that shone through every issue he raked up and pursued to its logical conclusion. Throughout his relentless fight against road encroachment by mandals during Ganeshotsav, misuse of basements, building activity on hill tops, welfare of the citizens remained not his foremost, but only aim.

Prakash Kardaley was the founder of the Pune Edition of The Indian Express and its Resident Editor from 1989 to 2000 after which he continued to function in the newspaper as Senior Editor (Express Initiatives). Kardaley founded the Express Citizens Forum, a joint initiative with activist citizens. He was also the coordinator of the Express Citizens’ War Memorial, a move that was also a reflection of his unflinching respect for the defence forces of the country.

He spearheaded the initiative for the erection of the War Memorial that today stands as an important landmark in Pune, and bears the names of all post-Independence martyrs from Maharashtra.

Over the past few years it’s been the RTI Act that brought out the best in him who has stood for complete transparency at all levels of functioning.

Elsewhere, the American cartoonist Doug Marlette was buried in a country churchyard on Saturday, and Joe Klein writes that the funeral was both sad and hilarious:

And the very best line was the last one uttered by the last of Doug’s ten–count ’em–eulogists, his best friend, Pat Conroy: “The first person to cry, when he heard about Doug’s death, was God.”

‘The Aussie leopard won’t change its spots’

Richard Branson, whose bid for ITV was derailed just in time by Rupert Murdoch, has weighed in on his old adversary’s bid for the Wall Street Journal.

If Murdoch wins his takeover bid for The Wall Street Journal, would you trust him to keep his hands off the editorial pages?

Why else would he buy it? He’s always gotten involved in the past, and I can’t believe that he would change his spots now.

Just desserts: now an open letter to Moore

Michael Moore‘s open letter to CNN in the Sicko issue accusing it and the rest of the mainstream media of failing in their duty of asking the tough questions they should ask of people in power, has resulted in another open letter.

This time, the letter writer is a blogger, and the addressee is Moore himself. The demand: to make a move on the American mainstream media.

“Make a movie about the media. Extend our reach on the issue. Bring it to light. Name names and cite sources. Make a scene. Start the discussion…

“Do we need media ownership regulation reform? Is ownership regulation itself the problem? Should the media be held accountable for their actions/reporting? Can they be? By whom?”

Read the full letter here: An open letter to Michael Moore

‘Learn to take the rough with the smooth’

“Balance” is a word which keeps repeatedly popping up in Sir Mark Tully‘s new book India’s Unending Journey. And it is a word which again pops up in his interview with Shekhar Gupta on NDTV’s Walk the Talk programme.

As a journalist, you would say, if you keep your balance long enough, then ultimately it evens out. Life is fair.

I am not sure if there is any golden rule for life. But if you keep the balance, you would be much better-abled to take the dips in life as well as the ups.

Read the full interview here: ‘Living in India has changed me radically’