Monthly Archives: January 2010

Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria gets Padma Bhushan

Fareed Zakaria, the Bombay-born editor of Newsweek International and the host of CNN’s GPS, has been decorated with India’s third highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan.

Zakaria’s name finds mention in the annual Republic Day honours’ list released by the ministry of home affairs.

Zakaria, whose mother Fatma Zakaria was one of the stellar names of the now-defunct Illustrated Weekly of India under Khushwant Singh, is the only journalist on this year’s list of 130 names, in this the 60th year of the founding of the Indian republic.

“I am deeply honoured and humbled. I am absolutely delighted to be in the company of people with extraordinary achievements,” Zakaria told Press Trust of India.

“I believe India and the US are moving on a path of inevitable partnership. (There are) so many broad forces pushing these two countries together — from strategic forces to cultural forces to intellectual force. I believe that we would see the 21st century in which the US and India ideas, interest, values and increasingly cooperate on the global stage.”

Also read: Will this man be the next US secretary of state?

Who, why, when, how, where, what, what the…

Third highest civilian honour for Shekhar Gupta

Why Rajdeep, Barkha must decline Padma Shri


Was this man the Father of Advertising?

Charles Babbage is seen as the father of computers. Vinton G. Cerf is seen as the father of the internet. Norman Borlaug is seen as the father of the green revolution.

Who is the Father of Advertising?

Emperor Ashoka who lived 2,200 years ago, says Prof A.V. Narasimha Murthy, former professor of ancient history and archaeology at the University of Mysore.

Reason: the emperor who lorded over a vast kingdom practically consisting the whole of undivided India, parts of the north-west frontier province and Kandahar, Afghanistan between 272-232 BC, used inscriptions to get the message across to his subjects.

And the inscriptions, the professor says, were akin to modern-day advertisements.

Over 100 have been found on polished pillars which were set up on what would now be considered highways, which were used by elite travellers and tourists. The rural masses were targetted through inscriptions on boulders.

Tellingly, emperor Ashoka used the language that the target group would understand in different parts of his vast, far-flung empire: Northern Brahmi, Southern Brahmi, Aramaic, Greek, Kharosthi.

Typical examples of Ashoka’s “advertisements”:

“Dharma is not the prerogative of the rich; even a poor man can achieve dharma.”

“All men are my children; Just as in regard to my own children, I desire that they may be provided with all welfare and happiness in this world and in the next; the same I desire of all men.”

“King Priyadarshi wishes that all religious sects should live harmoniously in all parts of his dominions. They should perform their duty.”

When even God couldn’t save religion reporters

A grand total of 14,845 journalists lost their jobs in the United States in 2009, according to Paper Cuts. According to Freaknomics, four religion reporters have moved out in just the last month.

Read the full article: 2009 layoffs and buyouts

Link via Freakonomics

What Kerala journos do at Arundhati Roy presser

“God’s Own Country”—copywriters’ Kerala—has become out of bounds for lovers at the hands of stentorian moral policemen. Rightwing mobs prevent (adult) Hindu women from going out with (adult) Muslim men. Leftwing mobs pull out (adult) Congress men having a good time with (adult) women.

Paul Zacharia who has written and spoken against those he considers communal, regressive or reactionary was recently attacked by activists of the communist Democratic Youth Federation of India. In an interview with Shobha Warrier of, Zacharia holds the troika of Hindu feudalism, sinful Christianity, and Left conservatism for the love jihad.

That, and the media.

Do you consider the media also as intellectual dwarfs?

The media is mediocrity! The best example for mediocrity is the media in Kerala now. It is the media that promoted this new conservatism that is based on sexual jealousy, as if it is the right thing to do. This is what is happening in the last 25-30 years. Most of the newspapers grew in circulation by blowing up the sex stories of many men and women, out of proportion. It was all because of the segregation and sex starvation in society.

On the one side, the media constantly showcased man-woman relationship as prostitution and now, the pseudo-morality of the media is being shared by Left youth organisations like the DYFI, Kerala Students Union… by everybody in Kerala. I am not exaggerating. It is the media that made people look at man-woman relationship with jealousy and perversion.

It was written in a Malayalam magazine that when Arundhati Roy [ Images ] came to Kerala, she refused to attend a press conference. It seems she said, ‘The journalists don’t look at my face but look at my breasts…’

It is very true. She expressed the truth very bluntly. The Kerala society has become very unhealthy in this matter. I don’t know when the people of this state will get sexual maturity.

Read the full interview: ‘There’s a lot of sex starvation in Kerala’

A ‘relook’ at relooking at Jyoti Basu’s Bengal?

Amid the torrent of unctuous praise raining on the communist leader Jyoti Basu, Business Standard had a sharp piece by the former Pioneer journalist Kanchan Gupta on Saturday, 16 January, on its op-ed pages.

“Had it been Jyoti Banerjee lying unattended in a filthy general ward of SSKM Hospital in Kolkata and not Jyoti Basu in the state-of-the-art ICCU of AMRI Hospital, among the swankiest and most expensive super-speciality healthcare facilities in West Bengal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would not have bothered to arrange for a video-conference for top doctors at AIIMS to compare notes with those attending to the former chief minister of West Bengal,” wrote Gupta, who did a brief spell in prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee‘s office.

“The fulsome praise that is heaped on Jyoti Basu today—he is variously described by party loyalists and those enamoured of bhadralok Marxists as a “humane administrator” and “far-sighted leader”—is entirely misleading if not undeserving…. As a Bengali, I grieve for the wasted decades but for which West Bengal, with its huge pool of talent, could have led India from the front. I feel nothing for Jyoti Basu.”

But, post Basu’s death on Sunday afternoon, the piece has disappeared off the Business Standard website. A Google cache exists.

(Update: The same piece had been published on Gupta’s blog on 9 January and by The Pioneer on 10 January.)

For the record, Business Standard is now edited by Sanjaya Baru, former media advisor to prime minister Manmohan Singh in his first term.

Screenshot: courtesy Google cache

Read the original article: Relooking West Bengal

Link via A.R. Hemant


Also read: T.J.S. George: When editor makes way for editor, gracefully

It’s all official about the return of Sanjaya Baru

Sauce for a paper ain’t sauce for a TV station?

Conflict of interest and an interest in conflict

How Jyoti Basu saved a journalist’s job

The veteran Indian communist leader Jyoti Basu has passed away at the age of 95.

In The Telegraph, Calcutta, special correspondent Barun Ghosh recounts how India’s longest serving chief minister helped him keep his job at the newspaper, 25 years ago.

“The rain hadn’t stopped falling that July ’84 morning and I reached Writers’ Buildings a little late. It was past 1pm and I was in a hurry—Jyoti Basu was to hold a news conference. When I reached the secretariat to cover the conference for The Telegraph, I got a shock. It was over.

“Some reporters still around told me Basu had already held a lengthy news conference and was about to leave Writers’ for lunch. Seldom had Basu held a news conference so early in the day, but I couldn’t obviously tell that to my boss. For a minute I stood cursing myself for starting late.

“Then I decided.

“There wasn’t much security those days in the secretariat and I barged into Basu’s chamber. His private secretary tried to stop me, but didn’t seem to mind the intrusion all that much as mine was a familiar face at Writers’. But once inside Basu’s chamber, my courage ran out as the chief minister looked straight at me and asked what I was doing there after the news conference was over.

“I stammered something and then almost broke down at his feet. I would be pulled up, I pleaded, if I didn’t get the details of the news conference.

“Basu looked at me, paused for a moment, then asked me to take a seat.

“I sat on a chair and was about to take out my reporter’s notebook when I heard Basu tell someone to get a cup of tea for me with cashew nuts. ‘I know your editor,’ he smiled at me. ‘Aage ek cup ga-ram cha khao tarpor tomake shob bole debo (First have a cup of hot tea, then I’ll tell you everything).’

“As I sat sipping tea, I saw him go through files lying on his large table. I asked him if I was making him late for lunch, but he just smiled. A while later he asked me to note down the details of the news conference. After I had jotted them down, he asked me to read out what I had written. I was allowed to leave after he was satisfied that there had been no distortion of facts.”

Read the full account: How Jyoti Basu saved my job