Monthly Archives: June 2012

So which newspaper wants ‘growth at all costs’?

Ramachandra Guha in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

Jairam Ramesh’s judicious, sensible recommendations attracted hysterical condemnation from a New Delhi newspaper wedded to the doctrine of “growth at all costs”.

“The newspaper ran an editorial accusing India’s excellent and extremely well-qualified environment minister of “gadding about looking for more fashionable causes to sponsor”. It charged him with seeking to “destabilize an entire region’s development”.

“A few days later, the newspaper ran another editorial demanding quick clearance of all dam projects in Arunachal Pradesh. It claimed the “environment ministry has been careless and unwise in its approach to the various relatively small (sic) projects that have been planned for Arunachal in an attempt to increase the region’s prosperity and integration into the rest of the economy”. Warming to the theme, the editorial insinuated that by keeping Arunachal “backward”, Ramesh was merely playing into the hands of the Chinese.”

Read the full article: Dams and the damned

Link via S.D. Gal

When Shekhar Gupta met Abdul Kalam

As the prospect of a “contest” for the President looms between the UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee and the former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta writes of the latter in his weekly column:

“I wrote two National Interest articles more critical of Abdul Kalam than any you have seen anywhere…. The second was published when he had been named candidate for president. That Saturday morning I got a call from Brajesh Mishra, then the national security advisor (NSA).

Arrey bhai kya likhte rehte hain aap, Kalam sahib pareshan hain,” he said and asked if I’d go and have coffee with Kalam on Monday at 11 am in his Vigyan Bhavan office.

“I walked in dutifully, a little bit apprehensive, rehearsing my usual defence. Kalam greeted me most warmly. Inquired after my wife’s health. They were both regular evening walkers in South Delhi’s Siri Fort Sports Complex.

“Then he gave me coffee and asked if I had read his India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium. He gave me a copy and fondly signed it. I was still waiting to hear his complaints. But he instead asked if I would be inclined to know more about his vision, even participate in his project.

“I need brilliant, patriotic minds like you,” he said.

“I made some embarrassed thanks-you-are-so-kind-but-how-can-I type of noises. He refilled my coffee and said more nice things about me, my writing and my views. Then he topped it with: “Shekharji, I have never found anything on which I disagree with you.”

Now this is not the script I had come rehearsed for. But I was now figuring the man had a politician’s tact, thick skin and magnanimity. He would make a pretty solid politician, I said to myself. I was never wrong on that one.”

Read the full article: National Interest

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: What’s so sacrosanct about Abdul Kalam?

Sacrilege! Mihir Sharma takes on P.Sainath

As he exited the Indian Express last year as its most acerbic pen, the Harvard-educated economist Mihir S. Sharma launched into “adman” Suhel Seth in a long review of the latter’s book in The Caravan.

Now, at the Business Standard as the editor of its opinion pages, Sharma trains his guns at the Magsaysay award winning rural affairs editor of The Hindu, P. Sainath, mocking his selective use of internet search engines.

The provocation: Sainath’s recent piece attacking the profligacy of the deputy chairman of the planning commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia while expecting India’s poor to subsist on subhuman amounts of money:

“The government will get away with it, because of our perennial confusion between public and personal austerity, and our jaw-dropping incompetence with simple mathematics. Consider, for example, the recent attack on Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia by one Palagummi Sainath, famously the favourite journalist of Press Council Chairman Markandey Katju.

“For a widely-read column in The Hindu, Sainath Googled previous newspaper reports that Ahluwalia had spent Rs 2 lakh a day on some of his foreign trips, and that he had spent 274 days outside the country in his seven-year tenure. (He did not mention that Mr Ahluwalia was the point-man in India’s interaction with the G-20 in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Odd, I’m sure that’s Googleable.)

“Let’s assume that that’s excessive; and that Mr Ahluwalia and his delegation should have spent half that. That comes to an excess spending of Rs 40 lakh a year. This year’s fiscal deficit is more than a million times that sum. The folly of such ‘analysis’ is matched only by the cynicism of the UPA, which thinks that responding to laughable smears with its unpersuasive attempts at ‘austerity’ will answer genuine complaints about its profligacy with public funds.”

Read the full article: Austerity abuse

Also read: Suhel Seth shows why he is such a cute tweetiya

Montek Singh Ahluwalia gets a Padma for what?

Brother, sister spar over seat on PM junket

From Delhi Confidential, the gossip column of the Indian Express:

FAMILY FRACAS

The inclusion of Team Anna member, former TV anchor Shazia Ilmi, in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s media team for his trip to the Rio+20 summit in Brazil, has been the cause of much fuss in the PMO and in the MEA over the last few days.

Shazia was included in the entourage as a representative of her family-run Urdu newspaper Siasat Jadid.

But her elder brother, Aijaz Ilmi, who identifies himself as editor of the Lucknow edition, wrote to the MEA saying Shazia was now a “full-time activist” and “doesn’t represent the paper” though she was “part of the family”. He said Shazia’s nomination for the trip was done without his knowledge and must be treated as “invalid and infructuous”.

Shazia, however, counters this saying Aizaz isn’t the editor who, in turn, says: “Now it’s for the MEA to decide.”

Some decision.

Also read: Ex-Star News, ToI journos behind Team Anna

The ex-Zee News journo on Anna Hazare team

How a letter-writer entered the Guinness Book

In The Hindu, Aman Sethi profiles Subhash Chandra Agrawal, the tetile merchant whose use of the right to infomration (RTI ) Act unceasingly shapes the news agenda.

Before he donned his current role, Agrawal had entered the Guinness book of records for the most number of letters to the editor of newspapers and magazines:

“His first letter, published in Dainik Hindustan in 1967, was about a bus conductor who pocketed his money without issuing a ticket. Officials of the Delhi Transport Corporation apologised. Emboldened, Agrawal wrote another letter, then another, then another till 3,699 of his letters were published, a feat that won him a place in the Guinness World Records in 2006.

“I sat in my shop and composed letters during lean hours,” he says. “I bought the Indian Newspaper Society’s address book and printed stickers with the newspaper names and addresses.” Each week, he typed out letters, stuck the addresses on envelopes and mailed them. When a letter was published, he made clippings and dispatched them to the authorities concerned.

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

Read the full profile: A very special correspondent

Also read: Letter-writer secures win against top judge

What your settop box says abour your newspaper

The perils of cross-media ownership are obvious and the Bombay daily DNA demonstrates it in ample measure today on its business pages.

The news-you-can-use story is ostensibly aimed at empowering TV viewers on the various options before them as the country’s four metros go digital from July 1. It lists the comparative advantages of Tata Sky, Airtel and Videocon D2H settop boxes.

But the “news” item carries what amounts to an advertisement for Dish TV, which costs the least, which allows unlimited recording, and which of course is owned by Subhash Chandra, who started DNA in collaboration with Dainik Bhaskar but is now said to be inching closer to taking complete charge.

Link via M.V.J. Kar

Also read: Good morning! Your paper is free of paid news!

Put your money where your mouth is: Rs 500

“India’s first professionally run rural newspaper” is being crowd-sourced!

After trying to raise funds, the brains behind the venture want you to give up your coffee and sandwich—or that lipstick—and donate Rs 500 that will enable a village reporter to write a story or two.

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