Tag Archives: Andhra Pradesh

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


Free, frank, fearless? No. Grubby, greedy, gutless.

A significant outcome of the 2009 general elections has been the “outing” of the corruption in the Indian news media. What was earlier, usually, seen as an individual transgression has grown and morphed into an institutional malaise with long-term implications for our democracy which the aam admi is still to recognise.

Most cases of corruption in the media have so far involved the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Enter, Karnataka.

M.V. Rajeev Gowda, son of former assembly speaker M.V. Venkatappa and a Wharton PhD who teaches at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, writes of the “perversion of the media’s role in a democracy” while campaigning for a friend (presumably a Congressman) during the recent polls.

“Instead of being a neutral, dispassionate observer of what’s going on, media houses milked the election to make big bucks. Representatives of media houses approached candidates promising them coverage in exchange for money.

“Of course, I advised my friend not to succumb because I was confident that we could get substantial coverage just by coming out with different media-oriented events and activities. And we did manage to do that. For free!

“But overall, other candidates jumped on the opportunity to get coverage. And there lies the problem. If coverage just involved reporting on the candidate’s vision, track record and activities, it wouldn’t be that much of an issue. It becomes a challenge when readers cannot differentiate between unbiased reportage and paid advertorials.

“This time, the difference between the two was very difficult to discern. One had to carefully look for “Special Feature” or some other tell-tale sign, which is generally not prominent enough for readers to separate fact and opinion from mercenary fiction.

“I remember the time Ramnath Goenka used to boldly declare that the Indian Express was Free, Frank and Fearless. I don’t know about that newspaper, but many others during this election were just Grubby, Greedy, and Gutless.”

Read the entire article: Notes from the Campaign Trail-III

How a pioneering journalist became a horologist


Today is Ugadi, the dawn of the new year for people in the South Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

While eating a pinch of bevu-bella (neem and jaggery) is a symbolic way of kicking off the new year, to signify that bitterness and sweetness should be accepted with equanimity, an equally important tradition on Ugadi day is the reading of the Panchang, the Hindu almanac (in picture,above).

Step forward, Chitra Subramaniam.

As India’s best-known investigative journalist, Chitra Subramaniam (in picture, left) was the one-woman army behind the unravelling of the Bofors scandal for both The Indian Express and The Hindu.

As Chitra Subramaniam-Duella, she has morphed into a horologist who makes watches in the land of watches, Switzerland, in the cradle of watches, Neuchâtel.

With her partner Marc Aeschbacher, a former investment banker, Chitra has bought over a 170-year-old defunct Swiss watch brand and set up BorgeauD SA. Their signature product is the Panchang line, bringing “the best of Swiss watch-making to the service of one of the world’s oldest calendars”.

Id est, the panchang watches marry the modern western concept of time with its traditional eastern calculations based on the sun, moon and the various planets, thus giving time a new dimension. So, apart from telling the normal time, the Panchang watches also display the rahu kala, the 90-minute sequence which occurs at different times on different days of the week, and during which nothing happens except “reflection”.

Developed in consultation with S. Ramadorai, the chief of India’s largest software company, Tata Consultancy Services, Chitra is quoted as saying that she sees a market in Europe for the Panchang line:

“I think people like it because this is a completely new idea and we tell people that they can have an appointment with themselves every day for 90 minutes. They love that. This is the only watch that tells you ‘just wait’.”

Photographs: courtesy Vontikoppal Panchanga Mandira, Land of Lime, Outlook

Only in India: 90 per cent off for journalists!

A shower of freebies is the first sign that an election season is around the corner. Three weeks after finance minister P. Chidambaram wrote off farm loans worth Rs 60,000 crore with an eye clearly on the coming general elections, the gravy train is picking up steam across India.

In the southern State of Andhra Pradesh, look who’s at the receiving end of the largesse: Journalists.

Sandhya Ravishankar reports on CNN-IBN that the “Congress is quietly buying out the state media by giving away 70 acres of prime IT land in Gachibowli to over 1,000 journalists”. More than 2,000 journalists have applied for the land. The selected journalists will get 200 square yards for between Rs 1 and 1.5 lakh while the market value is Rs 17 lakh.

The chairman of the state’s press academy Devulapalli Amar contends that the journalists won’t write in favour of the government just because it allots them house plots. But the opposition party leader Devendra Goud pulls no punches:

“The chief minister can give away his own land to whomever he wants. How can he give away state-owned land to journalists? He doesn’t give an inch of land to the poor to build a hut but he gives land to MLAs, MPs, judges and journalists.”

Read the full story: Andhra government doles out sops to journos