The state of Indian newspapers and news channels (and magazines*) can be judged by the condition of their toilets. And so, it seems, can the state of the most important address in the country—that of the prime minister of the democratic, socialist, secular republic of India.
A correspondent for an English news channel forwards a picture of what passes off as a toilet for the media scrum waiting outside the prime minister’s office at 7, Race Course Road in New Delhi.
The correspondent writes:
“Till 2006, the media was allowed to wait for visitors to the PM’s house at a media stand built during the prime ministership of Atal Behari Vajpayee and located inside the сompound of the PM’s residence.
“”It had a covered roof to give protection to reporters and cameramen against sun and rain, and given its location some amount of care was taken for its upkeep and maintenance.
“In 2006, the special protection group (SPG) guarding the PM ejected the media from the precincts of the PMO after some TV channels made the trespassing of two girls and a boy a breach-of-security issue.
“The media gaggle now waits on the other side of the road (near Race Course). Visitors to the PMO now have to walk across the road and talk to them. Needless to say, many media people spend the whole day here.
“The PMO has erected a temporary toilet for the media, facing the exit gate of 7, RCR. The media and police share the toilet and more often than not, it is dirty and stinking.”
Dileep Padgaonkar, The Times of India’s former editor who once said he held the second-most important job in the country, has been named one of three interlocutors in Kashmir by the UPA government.
However, the usually softspoken Francophile has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons in his new job, even as he offers a quote to anybody who sticks out a mike before him.
And in M.J. Akbar‘s Sunday Guardian, diarist Nora Chopra sticks it in:
“Dileep Padgaonkar, a non-working journalist, is [J&K chief minister] Omar Abdullah‘s choice. He was a part of prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee‘s Kashmir committee, which was a non-starter. Omar was with the NDA at the time. After the UPA came to power, Padgaonkar became the lone Hindu member in the National Minority Commission (sic) with a salary of around Rs 2 lakh per month.”
For the record, Padgaonkar is not a non-working journalist; he returned to the Times as editor of the edit page after the exit of another Times‘ loyalist, Gautam Adhikari. And at Akbar’s former abode, The Asian Age, Padgaonkar, an acknowledged foodie, most famously wrote a letter to the editor on the recipe for Egg Benedict.
Also read: How Padgaonkar christened a Pierre Cardin model
How the Sakaal Times dream became a nightmare
Chandan Mitra, the editor-in-chief of The Pioneer, has been elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha for a second term, this time as a nominee of the BJP. In a piece in his paper, Mitra once again addresses the conflict of interest in being the editor of a paper and an active politician.
“While it is true that strict separation of news and views is a tall order, in recent years I have confined myself to giving broad directions to my editorial colleagues rather than working on reports hands-on. I love journalism, my profession for over 26 years and it still remains my first instinct.
“But politics has driven me throughout; it holds a charm that I find irresistible. After my election as MP this time, I don’t know if time will permit me to keep wearing two hats both of which I love, but I hope to continue doing so as long as I can….
“In 1980 I went to Oxford University to pursue a doctoral degree in history, returning in 1984 to join The Statesman and embark on a career in journalism. Taking a break from political involvement, I delved deep into my new profession resuming my interest in current affairs and amateur psephology.
“Although I got drawn towards the BJP, away from my earlier Leftist beliefs, in the early-1990s, I never thought of plunging into active politics for many years.
“Probably my ability to save The Pioneer from certain closure in 1998 and the robust nationalist tinge I lent to the paper’s editorial policy impressed then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani sufficiently to recommend my name to the President of India for nomination to the Rajya Sabha in 2003. Thus I became an MP without contesting an election.”
Photograph: courtesy visfot.com
Read the full article: A confessional tale of elusive elections
Also read: How Chandan Mitra has his halwa and hogs it too
The best editor The Pioneer never had?