Conflict of interest is a barely discussed topic in the Indian media, more so in the languages, where media houses operate on the unwritten agreement that if you don’t touch me, I won’t touch you.
Here, in this la-la land, owners, editors, reporters, photographers et al inhabit a strange world where politics, journalism and business intersect and overlap, no questions asked.
Take a bow, The Hindu.
Aman Sethi in today’s paper reports on the stiff resistance building up in Chattisgarh’s Raigarh district, where 693 hectares of land is being sought to be acquired for a thermal power plant.
The company behind the plant?
DB Power, a subsidiary of DB Corp, the stock-market listed entity that owns the Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar, the English newspaper, DNA, the Gujarati daily Divya Bhaskar, and the business daily Business Bhaskar, and has just announced plans to enter the Marathi market.
The project to extract two million tonnes of coal to fuel a 1,320 MW power plant will displace 524 families from six settlements, but Sethi reports that the Raigarh edition of Dainik Bhaskar has been carrying full-page stories in favour of the project.
Although villagers are united in their opposition to the plant, readers are served up feel-good headlines like, “Black diamond to give sparkle to Dharamjaigarh’s destiny”, “Villagers take steps to support DB Power”, without once revealing the paper’s interest in the power plant.
“Company officials have been intimidating the villagers and are pressuring us to give our land, and the police are refusing to register cases against the company,” said Adhir Majhi, a resident of Baisiya Colony who shall lose his land if the power is cleared.
Image: courtesy Kafila