Tag Archives: The Sunday Times of India

Are journalists already poised to ride Modi wave?


M.J. Akbar (extreme left) and Swapan Dasgupta (second from right) at the release of the book on Moditva

As the 2014 general election campaign gathers steam, the masks are beginning to come off, as journalists who make no pretence of their political and ideological inclinations (without disclosing it publicly) walk over to the other side, just as they did in previous elections.

Ashutosh of IBN-7 is officially the Aam Aadmi Party’s candidate from Chandni Chowk; Manish Sisodia of ex-Zee News has already done a stint as Delhi education minister; Shazia Ilmi of ex-Star News could stand against one or the other Congress or BJP heavyweight.

The buzz is a number of scribes are being tapped by AAP to make the switch.

Both in the 2004 and 2009 elections the BJP had no shortage of journalists, columnists and editors advising it from inside and outside. And 2013 is proving to be no different.

At a recent event in New Delhi to release a book titled Moditva, former Telegraph editor M.J. Akbar and former India Today managing editor Swapan Dasgupta  (both columnists for The Sunday Times of India) were helpfully at hand, making no bones about where they stand.

The Telegraph, Calcutta, reported the BJP president Rajnath Singh‘s address thus:

“When I first heard of the book, I was certain it was authored by a politician or someone wanting to get to the Rajya Sabha or acquire a post when our government is formed….

“I was amazed to know that this young man [Siddharth Mazumdar of Columbia] was not a politician or a political aspirant” added Rajnath, before looking long and hard at a group of panellists who had taken their seats for a discussion.

For the record, the other members at the book-release panel were economist Bibek Debroy, former Delhi police chief Kiran Bedi (a likely BJP Lok Sabha candidate), the BJP’s stormy petrel Subramanian Swamy, and BJP treasurer Piyush Goyal (who is already a Rajya sabha member).

Also for the record, M.J. Akbar is a former Congress member of Parliament from Kishanganj, Bihar. His name was mentioned in 2008 as a potential BJP member of the upper house along with former India Today editor Prabhu Chawla.

Photograph: courtesy The Pioneer

Also read: Who are the journalists running, ruining BJP?

Don’t laugh, do journalists make good politicians?

Why the BJP (perhaps) sent Chandan Mitra to RS

Kanchan Gupta versus Swapan Dasgupta on Twitter

For the BJP, is the pen mightier than the trishul?

Ex-Star News, TOI journalists behind ‘Arnab Spring’

When the gang of four meets at IIC, it’s news


An ad? An edit? Advertorial? Edvertisement?

The front page of The Sunday Times of India on January 15, with the anchor story at the bottom headlined”Get 110% out of your body with Functional Manual Therapy”.

Credited to “TNN” (Times News Network) and printed in the same body font as the rest of the paper, the article touts an “effective evaluation and treatment system that promotes optimum human performance by enhancing body mobility.”

It also mentinos where the therapy is available. At VARDAN, a wellness center in New Delhi, which is “an initiative of The Times Group in collaboration with The Institute of Physical Art (IPA), USA.”

An identical front-page article in The Economic Times on Monday, has led to a Wall Street Journal article. The article quotes Times CEO Ravi Dhariwal as saying that the VARDAN articl…

“is a news report, not an advt/advertorial. No money has been charged for it. We do cover our in-house activities/events/launches in a similar manner.”

Image: courtesy The Sunday Times of India

Read the full article: Is this a news story or an ad?

Prabhu Chawla out, M.J. Akbar in at India Today

There is change at the top of the totempole of India’s largest English newsmagazine, India Today.

After several false rumours of his impending mortality as helmsman, editor Prabhu Chawla has been sent off to look after the language editions of the magazine.

Author-editor-columnist M.J. Akbar has been named editorial director of India Today and the English news channel owned by the group, Headlines Today.

The appointments were made public in an email sent by group editor-in-chief Aroon Purie to staff last night. The changes will take effect from Friday, September 24.

Below is the full text of Purie’s circular flagging the changes:


“It gives me great pleasure in announcing the formation of a brand new SBU (strategic business unit) within Living Media, which will become an independent company very soon, that will address the burgeoning opportunity of Indian language publishing and all related extensions in the Indian language domain. To begin with, all current India Today language brands will be assigned to this new SBU.

This new company will be placed under the leadership of Prabhu Chawla, who will be designated Editor (Languages) and CEO. Prabhu Chawla will report into a Board. Given the tremendous opportunity of this space and in view of his new responsibilities, Chawla will give up the editorship of India Today – English edition and India Today – international and all their related extensions.

“As editor of the magazine for the last 14 years he has done great work in turning it into a weekly from fortnightly and maintaining its position as India’s leading newsmagazine. He will also be consulting editor to Business Today.

“Prabhu’s new mandate will be to address the business and editorial opportunity of Indian language publishing in an aggressive and focused manner. His efforts will be directed towards growing the existing language publications and to launch many more new language publications in the future. In collaboration with ITGD (India Today Group Digital) he will be addressing digital opportunities in the language space as well.

“Prabhu will continue to be associated with Seedhi Baat in Aaj Tak and will spearhead the group’s initiative in setting up a media/journalism institute. He will also continue to lead the group’s content archival project and the library resources. This comes into effect from September 24th, 2010.

“It also gives me immense pleasure in announcing the appointment of  M. J. Akbar as editorial director of India Today (English) and India Today (international) and their related extensions.

“He will also have the additional charge as Editorial Director of Headlines Today.

“MJ, as he is popularly known in the industry needs no introduction, given his rich and long experience in launching, managing and leading several top print publications in the country. MJ comes on board effective September 24th, 2010 and will report to me.

“As you can see, these are significant changes in the editorial leadership of our group’s flagship brands, which I am sure will be transformed by them to meet the challenges of the fast changing world that we live in. They will explore new opportunities too.

“Please join me in wishing Prabhu and MJ the very best and I also seek your active support in making this a smooth and successful transition.”


Till The Week was launched in the early 1980s (and Outlook* in the mid-1990s), Akbar’s Sunday magazine, published by the Ananda Bazaar Patrika (ABP) group, was fortnightly India Today‘s main competitor. Akbar currently has a stake in the weekly newspaper The Sunday Guardian and writes a column for The Sunday Times of India.

Under Chawla, a former ABVP volunteer who used to cycle to the offices of India Today delivering press releases, India Today took a shine for the BJP and the magazine’s  anti-Congress vibe reportedly earned the displeasure of the ruling dispensation.

Akbar, a former Congress MP, too has been vehemently anti-Congress and anti-UPA. Dislodged in 2008 as editor-in-chief of The Asian Age which he helped found, Akbar has gone so far as to accuse prime minister Manmohan Singh of “sabotage” by signing the civilian nuclear deal with the United States.

Ironically, both Akbar and Chawla were in the running for a Rajya Sabha seat on the BJP ticket in 2008, but their ambitions were nixed with the nomination of another journalist turned politician, Balbir K. Punj. Chawla who figured in the Indian Express 2009 power list at No. 71, didn’t figure in the 2010 edition.

* Disclosures apply


Also read: Don’t laugh: do journalists make good politicians?

Why ToI was right to use The Last Supper motif

The Times of India printed this 8-column illustration by Neelabh in late July, to accompany a story on galloping food prices in India, and, following complaints from Christians, published an apology three days later.

Allwyn Fernandes, the Times of India‘s former chief reporter in Bombay and now director of media practice and social engagement practice at R&PM: Edelman, joins issue with the protestors.



I know this is going to upset many, but I must raise it.

Ancy D’Souza has written a letter to Jaideep Bose, editor of The Sunday Times of India, protesting against the cartoon titled “The Lost Supper” in the issue dated July 25, 2010.

You can see the cartoon here.

Ancy (and many others who share his sentiments on Facebook) says that the cartoon has hurt the religious sentiments of Christians deeply by projecting R.K. Laxman’s Common Man as the centre of The Lost Supper, with politicians of all hues sitting around him.

The cartoon symbolises the situation in India today, especially over the past year, as food prices spiral upwards and politicians serve up empty promises, the common man is left empty-handed and with an empty stomach.

But Ancy sees it differently: “You have made mockery of our religious beliefs. Kindly apologize for the blunder you have created or else we may have to plan a very stringent course of action,” says his letter to Jaideep Bose.

But is the cartoon really offensive and has it made a mockery of our religious beliefs?

If Ancy visits my home, above my dining table is a painting from the Philippines titled “Table of Hope.” It depicts Jesus at the table, with a lot of ragged and dirty street urchins around him instead of the apostles. There is also a cute little urchin hiding under the table!

Everyone who has dined at my table has marveled at the artist’s depiction of what Jesus would do today—round up and invite us to his table not priests, bishops and cardinals in pink fancy wear, not even us Catholics praying in churches.

No, he would round up the urchins, the poor and the hungry at our railway stations and bus stands and in our schools and break bread with them. Yes, there is deep hunger even in Mumbai — thousands come to school hungry even in our Catholic schools because their parents have no jobs or the money to give them a proper meal.

That picture was not given to me by an atheist or agnostic, but by a solid SVD priest, Fr Franz-Josef Eilers, secretary of the office of social communications of the federation of Asian bishops’ conferences.

I believe that the Sunday Times of India cartoon, by using a scene that symbolizes Christianity’s most solemn moment, depicts the picture in India today very powerfully.

What are we protesting against?

Did not Jesus say “whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me”? Did He not say, and have countless artists down the centuries not portrayed good being done to the poor, the hungry, the sick, the tired and the dispossessed as being done to Jesus himself? Then how are our sentiments hurt?

That Common Man in the cartoon, dispossessed of his meal, represents Jesus himself. And around him in the cartoon you see politicians of all hues, fussing around him.

Was everyone around the last Supper pure of heart? Did you not have a Judas whom countless artists have painted with his thirty pieces of silver? And did not Peter refuse to let Jesus wash his feet? And then deny he knew Jesus at all thrice before the sun rose, this same Peter on whose rock He would build His Church?

Didn’t those 12 men that we believe were round the table with Jesus at his last meal not human beings, with all their human failings – just like those depicted in the cartoon?

It is time to take a broader view.

That cartoon is something I would enlarge and put up in every church and use for reflection of the hunger that exists in our country today – hunger of every kind, while the politicians huff and puff without purpose around the hungry Common Man at the centre of it all.

Also read: The newspaper cartoon that offended Christians

Newspaper cartoon that’s offending Israelis

Newspaper cartoon that’s offending Aussies

External reading: A day in the life of The Times of India

How an editor christened a Pierre Cardin model

Dileep Padgaonkar, The Times of India‘s former editor who made the revealing claim that he held the “second-most important job in the country” after the prime minister, is back in the paper, handling the opinion page.

Padgaonkar writes in The Sunday Times of India of the small role he played (as the paper’s Paris correspondent in 1971) in giving France’s first coloured model—the Bombay girl Phyllis Mendes who dazzled Pierre Cardin enough to become his muse and business manager—her stage name.

“The day after dinner [with the Padgaonkars] Phyllis reported for work at Cardin’s plush offices on the elegant rue du Faubourg St Honore. That afternoon she called me to say that her bosses were unhappy with her first name since it did not sound Indian enough.

“Would I suggest one?

“I suggested ‘Geetanjali‘ — Rabindranath Tagore‘s work was known in France thanks to a fine translation by Andre Gide —but Phyllis thought it was too long. Besides, the French might not be able to pronounce it correctly.

“So I shortened ‘Geetanjali’ to ‘Anjali’ and told her that the worst they could do was to call her ‘en jolie‘ and ‘jolie‘, in French, meant ‘lovely’. From then on the world knew her as Anjali Mendes though for me, as for those who had known her in Bombay, she would always be Phyllis.

Anjali Mendes, passed away alone and abadoned in her home in the south of France last week at the age of 64.

Photograph: courtesy Goan Voice

Also read: How Padgaonkar‘s Sakaal Times dream became a nightmare

M.G. Moinuddin: A self-taught genius is dead

sans serif records with regret the passing away of M.G. Moinuddin, the compositor who rose to become one of India’s top newspaper designers, in Bombay on Monday, 21 July 2008.

The Hyderabad-born Moinuddin was a self-taught man who counted a chance encounter with Aurobind Patel, the chief design consultant of India Today who went on to design The Economist, as the turning point in his career.

It pulled him away from advertising into journalism.

Moinuddin then went on to design such publications as Debonair, The Sunday Observer, The Independent, and and The Pioneer for Vinod Mehta; and the The Sunday Times of India, The Illustrated Weekly of India and The New Indian Express, among other publications.

Moinuddin was deaf in both ears and editors had to pass written instructions. But he didn’t let that small handicap cloud his vision. When not at the drawing board, Moinuddin would be devouring Albert Camus and other literary heavies on the side. 

Also read: The man of typography

Vinod Mehta on M.G. Moinuddin

Arun Katiyar on M.G. Moinuddin