Monthly Archives: January 2011

Padma awards: Homai Vyarawala, T.J.S. George

Last Friday, many journalists received an SMS that contained the list of names that had apparently been forwarded to the Union home ministry for consideration for the Padma awards this year.

The names: Manini Chatterjee (The Telegraph), Raj Chengappa (The Tribune), Vijay Darda (Lokmat), Arnab Goswami (Times Now), Aarti Jerath (The Times of India), Alok Mehta (Nai Dunia), Vinod Mehta (Outlook), K.S. Sachidananda Murthy (The Week), Dileep Padgaonkar (ex-Times of India), Sanjay Pugaliya (CNBC-Awaaz) and M.K. Razdan (PTI).

M.J. Akbar‘s Sunday Guardian even gave the SMS some oxygen by putting it out and a few more of its own: Barun Ganguli, Pandit Dinesh Kumar Dube and Dr Chandra Dev Pandey.

But when the Padma list came out this evening, on the eve of the 61st Republic Day, it contained none of the names that was allegedly being scrutinised by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Instead, there was India’s first woman news photographer, Homai Vyarawala, with the nation’s second highest honour, decorated with the Padma Vibhushan.

There was T.J. S. George, founder-editor of Asiaweek magazine and editorial advisor of The New Indian Express, and a best-selling author, with the Padma Bhushan.

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Homai Vyarawala: Lucky with 13, will ‘Dalda’ get lucky at 96?

T.J.S. George: Lessons for Vir and Barkha from Nikhilda

A deep mind with a straight spine who stands tall

What K.M. Mathew could teach today’s tykes

When an editor makes way for editor gracefully

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Also read: Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria gets Padma Bhushan

Third highest civilian honour for Shekhar Gupta

Padma Shri VD, Padma Shri RDS and Padma Shri BD

Why Rajdeep and Barkha must decline the Padma Sri

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To err is human, to cc and bcc is divine

A correction and retraction appearing in The Hindu, issued by the editor-in-chief, N.Ram, appearing in today’s paper:

“It was wrongly stated in the report by our Special Correspondent published in The Hindu of January 23, 2011 titled “Expunge remarks against Graham Staines: Supreme Court’s remarks ‘gratuitous,’ say editors, civil society members” that the statement was signed by N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, Chandan Mitra, Editor-in-Chief of The Pioneer, and editorial representatives from The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, The Hindu, The Pioneer, and The Telegraph. It was not signed by any of them.

“The statement reported in the news item (published on the back page) was actually signed by Anand Patwardhan, Fr. Dominic Emanuel, Harsh Mander, John Dayal, Navaid Hamid, H.L. Hardenia, Praful Bidwai, Ram Puniyani, Shabnam Hashmi, Shahid Siddiqui, and Seema Mustafa.

“We apologise for the serious blunder by our Special Correspondent, who inexplicably mistook the persons to whom the statement was emailed for publication for the list of signatories.”

Note to directors: It was Shammy not Barkha

No One Killed Jessica?

Well, someone ‘killed’ Harinder Baweja.

Raj Kumar Gupta, the director of last weekend’s multiplex marvel—in which Rani Mukherji essays the role of a single, bitchy, aggressive, passionate, foul-mouthed, investigative journalist probing the murder of the model Jessica Lal at a Delhi bar—may have made the world believe that his ‘wet dream’ was NDTV’s Barkha Dutt.

But, writes Priya Ramani, the editor of Lounge, the Saturday section of Mint, the sting operation that was key to the reopening of the Jessica Lal murder case was not Dutt’s (or NDTV’s) handiwork, but of Harinder Baweja’s (and Tehelka‘s). And, Baweja gets no credit in the movie whatsoever.

Writes Ramani:

“What a guy, I thought when I read Harinder Baweja’s riveting post-Babri Masjid expose in India Today magazine in 1993.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party was then claiming the demolition of the mosque was nothing compared to the 40 temples that had been razed in Kashmir. Ask them for a list, editor Aroon Purie told Baweja, and go see if the temples have actually been destroyed.

“It was January and snowing in a turbulent Kashmir as Baweja and a photographer trudged from one temple to another—and found all of them intact. They were nearly kidnapped by AK-47 wielding men; at another temple they had to face a mob and firing.

“When I met Baweja a few years later, he turned out to be a she. A 5ft, 1-inch she who prefers to be called Shammy and always wears saris with sexy, sleeveless blouses in summer and winter. When the Taliban captured Kabul, Shammy almost travelled there with her sleeveless blouses.

“Shammy is also the perfect host and believes her parties are a hit only if dinner is served after midnight.”

Read the full article: Journalism’s real wet dream

Also read: Is abusing politicians the nation’s agenda?

The face behind a famous byline behind an award

Prabhu Chawla: A post-dated announcement

A front-page notice appearing in The New Sunday Express, the Sunday edition of the Madras-based The New Indian Express, on 23 January 2011, announcing the arrival of former India Today editor Prabhu Chawla as the editorial director of the paper.

Chawla, who also hosted the Seedhi Baat show on the Aaj Tak channel, has launched a new show titled Sachchi Baat on the Hyderabad-based ETV owned by Ramoji Rao.

Also read: It’s official: Prabhu Chawla is out of India Today

Should Prabhu Chawla edit The New Indian Express?

Why Aroon Purie ‘elevated’ Prabhu Chawla

Hu, Wen and why China scorns Indian media

When the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao visited India in December 2010, he was critical of the Indian media, saying it repeatedly sensationalised the border situation, causing damage to bilateral ties. He even lectured a group of editors to play a more active role in enhancing friendship between the two countries.

However, when the Chinese president Hu Jintao faced aggressive questioning at a joint press conference with his US counterpart Barack Obama in Washington D.C. last week, he couldn’t muster the courage to castigate the American media. He was defensive, evasive , even conciliatory.

Why did Wen not bother with the diplomatic niceties that his president employed?

The veteran columnist Sunanda K. Datta-Ray in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“One reason is that no Indian publication is any longer taken seriously as an interlocutor like the Post and Journal in the US…..

“National papers of record have become vehicles of private interest. Some are trivial, some project a borrowed ideology, others are obsessed with what are called ‘Page Three people’….

“Wen is dismissive about media freedom and contemptuous about its “sensationalizing” because he knows his diplomats can buy favourable coverage by extending hospitality to leading commentators and doling out what passes for exclusive titbits of information.”

Read the full article: A study in contrasts

Also read: Censorship in the name of ‘national interest’

If a report isn’t ‘wrong’, surely it must be ‘right’?

Chinese hackers break into The Times of India

Never believe anything until it’s officially denied

One paper’s 40% threat is another’s 60% dud

INS: “We reject wage board recommendations”

Justice G.R. Majithia (left), chairman of the wage boards for working journalists and non-journalists and other newspaper employees, submitting the recommendations to labour secretary P.K. Chaturvedi in New Delhi, on January 1, 2011

The following is the full text of the media release issued by the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) in response to the report submitted by the wage board led by former Supreme Court judge, G.R. Majithia, which recommended a 35 per cent hike in salaries for working journalists, and increased the retirement age to 65 years.

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“Members of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) have at an emergency meeting held in Mumbai on 20 January 2011 expressed shock and dismay at the report submitted by the chairman of the wage boards for working journalists and other newspaper employees, and said that this, if accepted by the government, would drive several newspaper establishments out of business. They urged the government to reject the report.

“The president of the INS, Kundan R. Vyas, said that the report was severely flawed and utterly one-sided. The wage boards had been improperly constituted, and the report had been prepared in breach of several rules and time-tested procedures. Further, the wage boards had exceeded their remit under the statute by suggesting measures that were manifestly beyond their scope and terms of reference.

“Echoing the sentiments of the large body of newspapers represented at the emergency meeting, Vyas said that the existence of these wage boards was itself out of tune with the times as even the national commission on labour had in 2002 recommended that there was no need for any wage board, statutory or otherwise, for fixing the wages for workers in any industry. The newspaper industry is the only one which has statutory wage boards, and their presence is aimed at financially compromising the ability of establishments to function in a free and fearless manner, Vyas said.

“The present wage boards had submitted their report without prior consultations among members. The boards had ignored settled principles to assess the capacity to pay, and had made no effort to assess the burden on the newspaper industry, Vyas said. Not just this, the wage boards had not even bothered to publish tentative proposals as was done by earlier wage determining authorities, to respect the principles of fair play and natural justice.”

Cash transfer scheme is already here for journos

A preferential allotment of a house or a house site to a journalist (or media house) can now be ferreted out by an RTI application. A car or a SUV is a moving advertisement. A harmless retainership for the lawyer-son can be cruelly outed by the Niira Radia tapes. A free ride in a Reliance plane can soon be the talk of the town (wink, wink). And you can’t even pick up a stake in an IPL team without somebody noticing.

So, how do you bribe an honest, hardworking Indian journalist in the year of the lord 2011 without being seen to be bribing him/her? Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) shows the way.

Facsimile: courtesy Mail Today