Category Archives: Blogosphere

Larry Summers, YSR, the Ambanis & Mark Ames

Mark Ames, the expat American editor of eXiled (“Mankind’s only alternative since 1997”), whose blog speculation on an Ambani hand in the helicopter crash that killed Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy caused rioters to attack Reliance properties in that State last wek, is baffled by the “class war” that has broken out in India.

“This has to be the single weirdest episode in my journalism career–and that’s saying a lot, considering all the strange and scary shit I’ve been through over the past decade-plus. I caused a mass riot in India, leaving 185 people arrested so far, and about 100 business owned by Larry Summers’ oligarch-friends smoldering in ruins.

“The class war is on–but not in the supposedly free-spirited United States of America, where you can rape Americans of everything they’re worth and never worry about so much as a broken window… instead my article sparked an uprising on the other side of the globe. Go figure.”

Ames’ article, published on 3 September 2009, was carried by the Telugu channel TV5, leading to attacks on malls, hypertores, petrol pumps and other property owned by Mukesh Ambani across Andhra Pradesh. Reliance Industries denied any role and threatened legal recourse. The Andhra government arrested the editors of the TV station, sparking protests by journalists.

Read the full article: Exiled site under attack

Read the original article: Larry Summers‘ ex-boss dies in crash

Larry Summers‘ ex-boss: a bilionaire with a blood feud

Also read: Why Indian media doesn’t take on the Ambanis

Sorry, brother, we got a few million $$$ wrong

His Master’s Voice varies from his Man Friday’s

Minister of state for external affairs, Shashi Tharoor, is a) the son of a journalist of The Statesman, Calcutta, b) a longtime columnist with The Illustrated Weekly of India, The Hindu and The Times of India, and c) a career diplomat who spent a good part of his life at the United Nations writing books and press notes.

But in his first 100 days in office, Tharoor’s core competency is what has deserted him as he puts both his feet in his mouth with increasing regularity.

First came the cattle-class comment on his Twitter feed, and now this. A comment on Mail Today, the tabloid newspaper owned by the India Today group, at sharp variance with his own officer on special duty Jacob Joseph‘s surmise of the paper a few days earlier.

Jug Suraiya takes on the mighty Big B

jug-suraiya amitabh_bachchan

The reverberations of Amitabh Bachchan‘s blog comments on the Academy Award-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire are now being felt in the “cesspool” of Indian journalism.

In his reaction to the movie, Bachchan wrote in January:

“If SM projects India as [a] third-world, dirty, underbelly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots, let it be known that a murky underbelly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations.”

That prompted a column in The Times of India by its in-house satirist Jug Suraiya on March 2.

Suraiya wrote that the reason people like Bachchan were angry with SM was not because it showed the world how pitifully poor India was, but because it revealed how culpable all of us were in the “continuance of poverty”.

“The real Slumdog divide is not between the haves and the have-nots; it’s between the hopers and the hope-nots: those who hope to cure the disease of poverty by first of all recognising its reality, and those who, dismissing it as a hopeless case, would bury it alive by pretending it didn’t exist.”

All very harmless, boilerplate stuff, but a month later, on April 3, Bachchan chose to respond to Suraiya with a long rejoinder that attacked the journalist.

I accuse the journalist Jug Suraiya of failing his professional ethical code of conduct by means of wilful error in the collection of facts…. He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself, not only as a professional journalist, but as a human being too. Mere opinion and ill-supported prejudice are contemptible in both species.

“My blog did not ‘spark off the current round of controversy on India’s poverty’… Nor am I ashamed of anything about my country. I may be highly critical in judgement, as any citizen of any nation should be, of the society to which I hold allegiance. In this light, I do not find that material poverty in India is ‘a terrible family secret’ as Jug Suraiya alleges.”

Now, Suriaya has hit back in the latest issue of Magna Carta, the in-house newsletter of the Magna group of publications, which had carried Bachchan’s rejoinder.

(Magna owns the movie magazine Stardust, which led a 15-year-long boycott of Bachchan at the prime of his career.)

In a letter addressed to the Magna group’s proprietor Nari Hira, Jug Suraiya writes:

“The newsletter said there was an ‘eerie silence’ from the press to Bachchan’s rejoinder. This is not quite true. The Guardian newspaper, which Bachchan had cited along with my column, has I am told done a detialed rejoinder to his rejoinder.

“In my case, I did not choose so much to maintain an ‘eerie silence’ as to exercise my option of fastidious disdain: I hold Bachchan beneath my contempt and shall not dignify him with an answer to his rantings (which, I am told, are written for him by an ex-journalist hack).”

Suraiya recounts meeting Bachchan years ago in Calcutta. He says he greatly enjoyed his performances and complimented him on them.

“Since then, of course, he has become an international celebrity who uses his iconic status to endose any and all products from gutka paan masala to cement, cars to suiting. There is a word for such indiscriminate commercial promiscuity. I leave it to you to figure out what it is.

“This together with his much-publicised ritualised religiosity makes him an object of scorn for me, all the more so in that he is, regettably, a role model for so many people of all ages, in India and elsewhere.”

Photograph: courtesy The Times of India

Also read: How Big B has pushed India to a regressive low

Before the slumdogs, the mahout millionaire

Every journalist’s essential guide to Twitter

Twitter, twitter everywhere.

Journalists are signing up to the micro-blog site. News organisations are launching Twitter feeds. Events are being covered live on Twitter.

But what precisely can journalists achieve with Twitter?

What are other journalists reading, writing and following on Twitter? Who are the journalists who are using Twitter around the world? How can you hook up with them? Need some help with a story? How can you keep track of the torrent of Tweets? Can you receive an alert if something of your liking is Twittered?

And WTF is hastag?

Read The journalist’s guide to Twitter

‘Stifling speech is a losing strategy with bloggers’

Salil Tripathi in the Far Eastern Economic Review:

“Most Indian businesses are growing accustomed to criticism from bloggers. Yet there are still some that, instead of mounting a PR offensive, send in their lawyers and try to stifle speech on the Internet. What they’re finding is that this approach is counterproductive—they may succeed in silencing an individual blogger, but a hundred more then take up the cause. Like Western companies before them, Indian companies must learn that trying to stifle speech instead of winning debates is a losing strategy.”

Read the full article: Learning to live with bloggers

Also read: Will NDTV and Barkha Dutt sue Facebook next?