Tag Archives: Aveek Sarkar

Operation Rajnikant: starring Samir & Vineet Jain

480

There are 12 media personalities in the Indian Express list of the most powerful Indians in 2014—“ie 100″—for 2014, but 10 of them are proprietors, only one is a journalist and the other is a former journalist.

As usual, the most interesting part of the prospective list are the factoids accompanying the profiles.

# 19, Mukesh Ambani, Network 18: Mumbai Indians player Dwayne Bravo calls him ‘Madam Boss’s husband’ (after Nita Ambani)

# 21, Jagan Mohan Reddy, Sakshi TV: He has a personal videographer who records every moment of his public life

# 38, Anil Ambani, Bloomberg TV: He has been a teetotaller except for one swig of champange at his wedding to Tina.

# 51, Samir Jain and Vineet Jain, The Times group: Last year, as part of their cost-cutting initiatives, they launched what they called Operation Rajnikant and Operation Dark Knight in which they set such impossible targets for employees that only a Rajnikant or a Dark Knight was likely to achieve them.

# 52, Mahendra Mohan Gupta and Sanjay Gupta, Dainik Jagran: Their annual chaat parties are a hit, something to look forward to.

# 56, Kumar Mangalam Birla, India Today group: He quit from the RBI central board to avoid conflict of interest with his banking license application.

# 68, Shobhana Bhartia, chairperson, Hindustan Times group: She speaks fluent Bengali and also reads the language. Every morning, a Bengali newspaper comes to her for her to read.

# 72, Aveek Sarkar, editor-in-chief, Ananda Bazaar Patrika group: Sarkar is a regular at the Wimbledon every year

# 80, Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief, Times Now: He is India’s most famous Assamese by a long way

# 87, Uday Shankar, CEO, Star TV: A JNU alumnus, he started as a journalist with Down to Earth magazine from CSE

Among the 27 exiting from the 2013 list are press council chairman Markandey Katju and Sun TV boss Kalanidhi Maran.

***

The Indian Express power list

2012: N. Ram, Arnab Goswami crash out of power list

2011: Arnab Goswami edges out Barkha Dutt

2010: Arun Shourie more powerful than media pros

2009: 11 habits of highly successful media people

***

Also read: 12 media barons worth 2,962, 530,000,000

10 media barons in India Today 2010 power list

26% of India’s most powerful are media barons

An A-list most A-listers don’t want to be a part of

Blogger breaks into Businessweek most powerful list

 

Shekhar Gupta storms into India Today power list

Advertisements

Nude picture that landed Sports World in trouble

SPORTSWORLD

The cover image of the now-defunct Sports World magazine, from the Ananda Bazaar Patrika group,  which landed the Calcutta-based media house in a protracted 21-year legal case that ended this week.

The image of tennis star Boris Becker covering the breasts of his then fiancee Barbara Feltus with his hands, had been reproduced from the German magazine Stern along with an accompanying article on the racist abuse they were facing over their relationship.

The intro on the cover clearly said:

“Posing nude, dropping out of tournaments, battling racism in Germany, Boris Becker explains his recent approach to life”

But a Calcutta advocate filed a case of obscenity against Aveek Sarkar, chief editor of ABP, under section 292 of the Indian penal code and indecent representation of women (prohibition) act.

Sarkar moved the Supreme Court in 2004 after the Calcutta decline to interfere.

A two-judge bench ruled this week that a picture or article can be deemed obscene only if it lascivious, appeals to prurient interests and tends to deprave and corrupt those likely to read, see or hear it.

“A picture of a nude/semi-nude woman… cannot per se be called obscene….

“Only those sex-related materials which have a tendency of ‘exciting lustful thoughts’ can be held to be obscene, but the obscenity has to be judged from the point of view of an average person, by applying contemporary community standard(s).

“Applying the community tolerance test, we are not prepared to say such a photograph is suggestive of depraved minds and designed to excite sexual passion… which would depend upon the particular posture and background.

“Further, the photograph, in our view, has no tendency to deprave or corrupt the minds of people in whose hands the magazine… would fall.

““Boris Becker himself puts it, as quoted in the said article: ‘The nude photos were supposed to shock, no doubt about it…. What I am saying with these photos is that an inter-racial relationship is okay’.

“We should, therefore, appreciate the photograph and the article in the light of the message it wants to convey, that is to eradicate the evil of racism and apartheid… and to promote love and marriage between a white-skinned man and a black-skinned woman.”

Image: courtesy The Telegraph

Read the full article: Message rider to ‘smut’

Also read: Poonam Pandey, Sachin Tendulkar & The Telegraph

TOI, Narendra Modi, and balls for Swami Vivekananda 

The newspaper cartoon that offended Christians

Newspaper cartoon that’s offending Israelis

Newspaper cartoon that’s offending Aussies

Kuldip Nayar on Shekhar Gupta, N. Ram & Co

Kuldip Nayar, 89, the grand old lion of Indian journalism—former editor of the Statesman in Delhi, former managing editor of the United News of India news agency, former correspondent of the London Times, former media advisor to the late prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, former high commissioner of India to the United Kingdom, and above all a secular, liberal peace monger—has just published his memoirs.

Titled Beyond the Lines (Roli Books, Rs 495), the book brings home a man who can legitimately claim to have seen Mahatma Gandhi at prayer, quizzed Jawaharlal Nehru, watched Mohammed Ali Jinnah closely, worked with Shastri and Govind Ballabh Pant, all figures who are part of history books to whole generations.

The book also throws light on Nayar, the lionhearted journalist who opposed the Emergency and rubbed shoulders with generations of journalists and proprietors:

***

SHANTI PRASAD JAIN, The Times of India: T.T. Krishmachari was still in the cabinet when Shastri assigned to me the task of findings out from Shanti Prasad Jain whether he would be willing to sell Bennett Coleman, which published the Times of India, Nav Bharat Times and other publications. They were being run by a board that the government had appointed when TTK told Nehru that the owners had been found indulging in malpractices.

Shanti Prasad and his talented wife, Rama Jain, were known to me as we played bridge together. Shanti Prasad had told me to start a Hindi UNI service which he promised to subsidize. I was embarrassed to have to carry Shastri’s message to him. He was upset. He told me that even if he had to sell all his business, including the house in which he was living, he would never sell the Times of India. Shastri returned Bennett Coleman to him.

***

C.R. IRANI, The Statesman: I was unhappy in the Statesman. Irani had reduced me to the position of consulting editor from resident editor. He then wanted me to vacate my room as well, and asked me to sit somewhere else. Subsequently, he withdrew my peon and telephone too.

What hurt me most was that a colleague and a friend S. Nihal Singh, tried to effect the changes. It was in fact he who conveyed Irani’s decision to me. Nihal’s attitude exuded authority which was humiliating. I could understand Irani’s action but not those of Nihal who himself subsequently suffered at Irani’s hands and had to leave the Statesman.

The only person who stood by me during those days was my secretary, G. Barret. She refused to work with Nihal and preferred to stay on with me. I was reduced to writing only my weekly column, ‘Between the Lines’. Irani tried to stop that too but did not succeed because the editor N.J. Nanporia refused to permit that.

***

SHEKHAR GUPTA, The Indian Express: I hired many journalists but two of the recruits, Shekhar Gupta and Madhu Kishwar, became celebrities. Shekhar Gupta called me his ‘guru’ but showed no respect when he stopped my fortnightly column. By then he had become all in all in the Express, circumstances having helped him to occupy the position of editor-in-chief. He also became abnormally affluent as well as arrogant.

I liked him when he was a simple straightforward journalist at Chandigarh. Now, Shekhar Gupta was infatuated with himself. His personal views and other considerations shaped the Indian Express which was once India’s most anti-establishment newspaper.

(Update: On its website, Roli Books has issued this clarification: “The new edition of Kuldip Nayar’s widely popular autobiography, Beyond the Lines, now comes with several changes including his remarks relating to Shekhar Gupta, Editor, the Express Group, and his reference to a former president of Sikh Student’s Union, both of which he retracted and regretted for at the launch. All subsequent editions of the book come with these changes.”)

***

RAMNATH GOENKA, The Indian Express: What shocked me was that RNG removed V.K. Narasimhan, who as editor-in-chief had kept the defiant stance of the Indian Express intact, a couple of days after Indira Gandhi lost power. His name was removed from the print line and substituted by S. Mulgaonkar’s, without Narasimhan’s knowledge.

He resigned to register his protest. The entire senior editorial staff signed a petition against Goenka’s action. I was approached to sign it. I told them that I would not do so but after speaking to Goenka who was in the guest-house. I asked if the news about Narasimhan’s removal was correct.

He said he had to restore Mulgaonkar to his position to correct the wrong done to him. ‘Was it necessary to do so in the manner you have,’ I asked. He said that he should have reverted Narasimha to his original position at the Financial Express and seemed regretful.

When I told him about the revolt in the office he said they should not forget what he has gone through during the Emergency. I could see repentance on his face. He wanted me to go to Narasimhan’s house and bring him back. I went there and found him sitting in the floor having a cup of coffee his wife had prepared. I requested him to rejoin as editor of the Financial Express and assured him that RNG was apologetic.

For Narasimhan, the question of joining the Express group again did not arise. He asked me how long had I known RNG. Before I could reply, he said: ‘Kuldeep, I have known him for 30 years. Goenka has not changed. He is as selfish as ever.’

How courageous and noble a man was Narasimhan, I thought. He had no job to go to and yet took a stand whenever there was attack on his dignity. I had close relations with the Deccan Herald family and got him posted as editor-in-chief of the newspaper.

***

AVEEK SARKAR, Ananda Bazaar Patrika: I resumed my syndicated weekly column, ‘Between the Lines’ after my return from the UK. Even within the brief period of a year when I was in London, Indian journalism had changed dramatically and become owner-driven.

For instance, Anand Bazar Patrika reflected Aveek Sarkar’s views. His father, Asok Sarkar, was a friend of mine so I treated Aveek like a member of the family. He once told me that he was the second most important person in West Bengal after Jyoti Basu, who was then alive.

Much earlier the Rajasthan Patrika had stopped publishing my column. The owner, R.C. Kulish, was a personal friend but could not tolerate my criticism of the BJP position. ‘I am not against Muslims and I have one servant from the community but they have to be kept in their place,’ he told me once. Never did I suspect that he would go so far as to stop the publication of the column. I vainly tried to meet him in Jaipur. Once when in the city, I learnt he was critically ill, so I went to his house and waited to see him but he refused to meet me.

In the case of Dainik Bhaskar, I stopped my columns because it refused to publish my piece on ‘paid news’. Although I did not name anyone the newspaper still refused to publish the column. I wrote a letter of protest to the owner and received no response.

***

N. RAM, The Hindu: My experience with N. Ram, the editor of the Hindu was disappointing. I used to write an opinion piece for the newspaper twice a week and a human rights column once a month. He stopped them because I was a friend of Malini Parthasarthy who, along with N. Ravi, was pushed out of editorial control when they were reduced to a minority in the public limited company that the Hindu is.

Ram joined G. Kasturi and a few others to constitute a majority. Ravi, modest and unassuming, and Malini, a talented journalist, suffered the most but stoically bore the humiliation. When newspapers turn themselves into companies and the majority begins to prevail, the newspaper becomes a purely commercial proposition like any corporate house.

***

SAMIR JAIN, The Times of India: Sham Lal once told me that he as the editor of the Times of India, was never rung up by Shanti Prasad Jain, the then owner of the newspaper, and that the latter did not even remotely suggest to him which line he should adopt on any particular subject. Throughout Shamlal’s long tenure, Shanti Prasad never expressed his disapproval of anything the editor wrote.

By contrast, the attitude of his son, Ashok Jain, who inherited Bennett Coleman & Co, was quite different. He was committed to commercial success and would ensure that the newspaper did not come into conflict with his business interests or those he promoted.

Girilal Jain, the then editor of the Times of India, rang me up one day to ask whether I could speak to Ashokj Jain, whom I knew well, to get Samir Jain, his son, off his back. Giri said that Ashok Jain, whatever his preferences, treated him well but Samir’s attitude was humiliating.

Inder Malhotra once recounted to me how senior journalists were made by Samir to sit on the floor in his room to write out the names of invitees on cards sent by the organization.

I flew to Bombay and spoke to Ashok who frankly said he would have no hesitation in supporting his son because the latter had increased the revenue tenfold, from Rs 8 lakhs to 80 lakhs. ‘I can hire many Giri Lal Jains if I pay more but not a Samir,’ said Ashok. I conveyed this to Giri who did not last long with the newspaper.

Photograph: courtesy Jitender Gupta/ Outlook

N. Ram, Arnab Goswami crash out of power list

Despite stitching up one of the biggest media deals in recent times, TV18’s Raghav Bahl is among four  media persons who have crashed out of the Indian Express list of the 100 most powerful people in the year of the lord 2012.

N. Ram, the former editor-in-chief of The Hindu (No. 73 in last year’s list) finds himself in the doghouse having remitted office recently, as does Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami (No. 90), who had edged out NDTV’s Barkha Dutt in the  2011 ranking. Also out is Sun TV boss Kalanidhi Maran (No. 38).

One media figure makes a lateral entry: the new press council chairman, Justice Markandey Katju.

The number of media people in the Express list of India’s most powerful continues to drop. There are seven media people in the 2012 power list, as opposed to 11 in 200912 in 2010, and 10 in 2011.

As in the past, the list contains a bit of trivia.

#No. 67, Samir Jain and Vineet Jain, The Times of India group: “The elder brother is an ardent follower of a Bombay-based guruji, whom he calls ‘bhagwaan’.”

# No. 69, Sanjay Gupta and Mahendra Mohan Gupta, Dainik Jagran: “Sanjay loves watching Hollywood films while M.M. Gupta likes Hindi film songs of the sixties.”

# No. 71, Shobhana Bhartia, Hindustan Times: “She is a fitness freak.”

# No. 72, Uday Shankar, Star India: “He enjoys cooking Indian food. He loves experimenting so much that he never repeats a dish.”

# No. 73, Arun Shourie: “The prolific writer’s next book is an ‘expanded’ edition of Falling over backwards, which he had written in 2006, arguing against the reservation policy and judicial populism.”

# No. 80, Aveek Sarkar, Ananda Bazaar Patrika group: “He is passionate about art and has a large collection of works from the Bengal school of art and the Raj era.”

# No. 83, Justice Markandey Katju, press council chairman: “It’s not just Urdu poet Ghalib whom Katju likes, he is equally fond of Sanskrit poet Kalidas.”

As in previous years, Indian Express does not reveal how the list was arrived at or who the jury members were, although it asks readers to write to the jury (ie100@expressindia.com) “if you disagree with our jury”.

The tabloid supplement carrying the 2012 list has been “presented” by Central Park, a developer, and Campus shoes.  The lead sponsor like last year is IRB infrastructure developers.

Among the advertisers is Nobel Hygiene which makes adult diapers.

***

2011 list: Arnab Goswami edges out Barkha Dutt

2010 list: Arun Shourie more powerful than media pros

2009 list: 11 habits of highly successful media people

‘Business journos deserve credit for reforms’

India’s second oldest business magazine, BusinessWorld, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month. A special issue to mark the occasion features all the  editors of the fortnightly turned weekly magazine from the Ananda Bazaar Patrika (ABP) stable talking about their respective tenures:

Dilip Thakore (now editor, Education World): I served as editor of BusinessWorld for seven years (1981-87) during which — together with a strong and reliable country-wide team — I produced 166 issues of this then fortnightly magazine, and wrote over 100 cover stories which I believe transformed the national mindset about the character and potential of private sector business and industry.

Looking back in retrospect, I believe it was the missionaries of BusinessWorld (and Business India) who deserve a greater share of the credit for the 1991 liberalisation and deregulation of the Indian economy — than Dr Manmohan Singh and his over-hyped lieutenant Montek Singh Ahluwalia who were enthusiastic executives, if not architects, of licence-permit-quota raj for several decades and who were at the time earning unmerited dollar fortunes in the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

***

R. Jagannathan (now editor, First Post): My predecessor Dilip Thakore had made the magazine a hit with big business by pioneering personality-oriented writing…. Thakore reported on personalities, accompanied by large, professionally shot pictures. Critics sometimes rubbished this approach as soft PR, but I believe it was an important stage in the development of business journalism in India. He humanised business writing…. Thakore helped businessmen get comfortable with the camera, and coaxed them to bare their souls to the media….

BusinessWorld saw the growing interest in share investment and created a 16-page ‘InvestmentWorld’ section — perhaps the first general business magazine to do so. A bonus: if I recollect right, an amateur technical analyst called Deepak Mohoni also debuted in BusinessWorld, and was the first one to coin the term Sensex for the Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index….

Another change that looked big then, but now appears routine, is colour. For the first time ever, BusinessWorld introduced 32 pages of colour during my watch. It was a bold statement to make to our readers, but we needed that to capture the bright new tapestry of Indian business. The black-and-white dullness of the Indian economy was about to change forever. But we didn’t know it then.

***

T.N. Ninan (now chairman, Business Standard):  My time at BusinessWorld (1993-96) was a productive and satisfying period when we ran some really good stories and profiles, introduced prize columnists like P. Chidambaram and Ashok Desai, and saw the over-all development of the magazine and (if memory is not playing tricks) a trebling of circulation in those four years.

Two other points are sources of satisfaction today: how well some colleagues of the time have done in their subsequent careers, in India and overseas — leading publications and TV channels, and winning awards — here and internationally; and the warmth and mutual regard that members of the team still have and share.

Unfortunately, there are no photographs of the Sarkar brothers doing a gentle jig, along with everyone else including Shobha Subrahmanyan who was the chief executive, around an evening campfire above a Goa beach, where we had gone for an editorial conference but played water-polo. Those pictures might have undermined the staid image of Aveek, Arup and Shobha, back home in Calcutta (as it was then), and were confiscated!

***

Tony Joseph (now heads MindWorks): No sooner had I taken over than the Vajpayee government decided to shake up the sands of Pokhran with a nuclear explosion. We were discussing how to handle that week’s issue and I remember the advice one senior colleague gave me.

“Ask yourself what Ninan would do,” he said, referring to T.N. Ninan, my predecessor, former boss and probably the most influential business journalist in the country. If that comment implied a certain lack of confidence in the new editor, I pretended not to notice! With a novice at its helm, I think we pulled off that issue without disaster, but soon other bombs were to go off.

A few weeks into my editorship, a consultancy firm that ABP had hired was considering what to do with BusinessWorld — let it go, or let it grow…. We started with a staff of about 71 in April 1998 and about a year and a half later, that number was down to 51, made up mainly of new recruits. Of the original staff, barely seven or so remained. I can only say that my communication skills must have been remarkable for it to have produced that dramatic an effect. Talk about inspirational leadership!

I would come into the office every morning wondering who was going to leave that day — and what would be up on the office notice board. Those who thought the magazine was going downhill despite the rising circulation would put up newspaper cartoons depicting clueless bosses making bone-headed decisions. I still wince at the sight of Dilbert cartoons!

However, we managed to retain some senior staff and build a core team of editors and writers who together shaped a new Businessworld, one that captured the zeitgeist of changing India. The change was not just in terms of what stories we covered, but also how they were covered.

***

Jehangir S. Pocha (now co-promoter, NewsX): When I joined BW, my peerless predecessor, Tony Joseph, had already turned it into India’s most sold, most read business magazine…. But the best products re-invent themselves before they are forced to. With India transforming, ABP’s editor-in-chief Aveek Sarkar wanted to refresh and re-think BW.

Given that charter, I felt BW had to transcend the traditional business news weekly formula of summing up the previous seven days. Instead, I wanted BW to become a forward-looking magazine, a kind of soothsayer and sentinel
for business.

Convinced that BW had to be world-class, New York-based designer Francesca Messina was commissioned to redesign the magazine. In-house art director Jyoti Thapa Mani, her team and I spent many hours bringing Francesca’s design to life, giving BW the look and new sections it boasts today. Though a new edit team also formed at the magazine, we remained committed to BW’s inimitable mixture of clever thinking and clear writing.

A top-down salute to a bottom-up revolution

What is the function of a “masthead”—nameplate, as some call it—in the modern era?

In the eyes of the traditionalists, the masthead is the calling card of the publication, sacrosanct, something that shouldn’t be touched because that is how readers recognise their morning poison.

Yes, if a newspaper is sold largely at the newsstand, but in a country where newspapers are largely delivered home by hawkers, does the reader, really notice the masthead every day? Or does he take it for granted?

The Times of India, like Google, merrily plays around with its masthead, incorporating images into it to celebrate festivals sometimes, and monetising it by selling it to advertisers on other occasions.

In the UK and USA, newspapers sometimes lower their masthead to announce big news. But how low can you go?

Above is the front page of The Telegraph, Calcutta, of 14 May 2011, the day after Mamata Banerjee‘s long march to “liberate” Bengal from the world’s longest democratically elected communist rule ended in her election, with the paper’s masthead at the rank bottom of the page.

Also read: Mastheads are no longer as sacred as they used to be

Selling the soul or sustaining the business?

Arnab Goswami edges out Barkha on power list

NDTV group editor Barkha Dutt is the big media dropout from Indian Express‘s 2011 list of the 100 most powerful Indians. Dutt, who entered the ranking at No. 82 last year, has made way for her former colleague, Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, who enters at No. 90.

Barring Arnab and Star India CEO Uday Shankar, who is ranked No. 85, there are no new media names in the Express list. But there are two sub-surprises.

The Hindu‘s editor-in-chief N. Ram who threatened “criminal and civil defamation proceedings” against the Indian Express last year, remains on the list at No. 73. But the Islamic tele-evangelist Zakir Naik, whose inclusion last year and whose Walk the Talk interview with Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta, attracted plenty of criticism after he was barred entry into Britain, is out.

As in previous years, Indian Express does not reveal how the list was arrived at or who the jury members were, although it proclaims that the jury was excluded from the list. The tabloid supplement carrying the power list—heavily advertised on NDTV—is sponsored by Earth infrastructure company, and all the boxes containing subsidiary lists are powered by IRB infastructure developers.

The list contains a one-line kink/fetish of the powerful.

# No. 38, Kalanidhi Maran, chairman and managing director, Sun group: “While in Chennai, he travels in his fleet of super luxury cars. For longer journeys, he has a private jet.”

# No. 56, Samir and Vineet Jain, VC and MD, Times of India group: “The older brother is highly spiritual and his executives often have to make a trip to Haridwar to discuss important issues with him. The younger one’s Holi bashes are considered the best in town.”

# No. 73, N. Ram, editor-in-chief, The Hindu: “He is quite active on Twitter and is prompt with his replies to questions and comments.”

# No. 77: Shobhana Bhartia, editorial director, HT Media: “She is a fitness freak, works out every day.”

# No. 79, Aveek Sarkar, chief editor, Anand Bazaar Patrika: “He is a good golfer and is captain and convenor of the Royal Calcutta Golf Club.”

# No. 82, Sanjay Gupta and M.M. Gupta, CEO and CMD, Dainik Jagran: “Sanjay loves to dance, and MM loves playing cards.”

# No. 85, Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India: “He can’t be in a room which has no TV. He watches almost all the time.”

# No. 86, Arun Shourie, columnist and author: “Shourie’s most prized possessions are his vast collection of books. He is extremely possessive about his library.”

# No. 90, Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief, Times Now: “He hates socialising and is rarely spotted at a social event.”

# No. 92, Raghav Bahl, editor, Network 18: “He is not too fond of socialising. Consequently, he ends up watching a lot of TV. At times, he watches about five or six channels simultaneously.”

There were 11 mediapersons in the 2009 list: eight of them had a presence in newspapers, three in television and only one was from the magazine sphere. Four of the 11 were from the language press. There were 12 mediapersons in the 2010 list.

Photograph: courtesy Outlook

Also read: The 11 habits of India’s most powerful media pros

A columnist more ‘powerful’ than all media pros

The curious case of Zakir Naik and Shekhar Gupta