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Newspaper Watch (India) for the month of December 2007. For latest newspaper watch,view the homepage

31 December 2007

Power-less in Gurgaon

The residential areas and the industrial units in Gurgaon, the much proclaimed cyber city near power capital of India, have been under the spell of electricity cuts of 10-14 hours every day for quite a while. Imagine this power-less life in the twenty first century in the State which charges one of the highest power tariff in the country. But Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) are holy cows as the Haryana Electricity Body has decided to provide them uninterrupted supply of electricity by including them under essential service category, at par with defense, posts, hospitals, telegraphs, water, railway establishments (Pioneer). What is the rationale for this decision? Has the Essential Services Maintenance Act amended in this regard? And why this news did not make it to the front page of newspapers? Keep guessing!

Nevertheless, the BPO employees with split identities (day & night) seem to be having a ball. Take a look at a typical 25 year old lad, who has starting working in a BPO since last 6 months, earns only Rs. 9,000 per month but will spurge Rs. 10,000 for welcoming the new year (MetroNow). Hence it’s not surprising that advertisements in most newspapers are revolving around party, drinks, dance, shopping & enjoying life. Features are not far behind too. But how long will these BPO employees sustain such a lifestyle in the long run? They too will run power-less, sometime!


30 December 2007

Year End Bonanza

Caricature & cartoon bonanza - courtesy the last Sunday of year- 2007. Economic Times has carried 17 Indian caricatures of men & women (ten of them are from the corporate pack, three sportsmen, one actor, three politicians), who the paper believes will matter and play a decisive role in shaping India’s Growth story in coming year. However the name of the illustrator - Zahid Ali- is given in small font at an insignificant place on the page. The supplement of Asian Age has focused on 2008 Eye on Elections with caricatures & toons. The Future Tense on page V contains 7 caricatures of Indian politicians who predict what lies in store for their opponents. Again, here too, the name of the illustrator -Srinivas Patnaik- has been placed at an insignificant place. Punjab Kesari has carried 12 leading cartoons of 2007 from pen of cartoonist Shekhar. Pioneer has also carried some of them on a smaller scale in its supplement. Hindustan has carried 12 caricatures of political leaders, actors and a cricketer by Durga Dutt Pande and Arjan with interesting accompanying text.Times of India has carried 8 international & 2 Indian cartoons (paper claims they are best cartoons of 2007). They have been distributed by the New York Times Syndicate. The supplementary magazine of Eenadu, the largest circulated Daily in Andhra Pradesh has carried ten caricatures of political leaders, actress and cricketer of year- 2007 on its cover page, and the toon fest continues inside too! A treat indeed!


29 December 2007

Cartoon Watch

Not surprisingly, maximum number of cartoons have focused on the state of Democracy in Pakistan (DNA, Indian Express, Hindustan, Asian Age, Deccan Chronicle, Mail Today, Tribune, Amar Ujala and National Herald). Asian Age has carried a cartoon on its editorial page which features a flag with Swastika symbol, with text in caps at the bottom left “ Assassination of Benazir”. The Election results of the recent held assembly elections in two States and the Congress Party is the next favourite topic (Punjab Kesai, Rajasthan Patrika, Mid Day, Asian Age, Hindustan Times,Deccan Chronicle, Nav Shakti). While other have focused on a variety of topics- engraving monuments (HT), tour of Goa (Dainik Bhaskar), statement of winning elections (Haribhoomi), scandals (Rajasthan Patrika), ashes of Hussain’s painting, exclusive calendar (DNA), New year, new year resolution, caricature of Manmohan Singh & Karat (Times of India), gratitude & vote (Times of India, Maharashtra Times), polygraph test (Times of India, Mumbai Mirror). Tribune has devoted front page of its supplement to seven cartoons that look 'back at the year that was' for India.

The sharing of cartoons continues- Times of India (Delhi & Mumbai edition) & Maharashtra Times), Asian Age & Deccan Chronicle, Times of India (Delhi edition) & Mumbai Mirror, Navshakti & Free Press Journal.

However no Indian cartoon has been carried by Pioneer, Dainik Jagran, Virat Vaibhav, Telegraph, Statesman, Rashtriya Sahara, Financial Express, Munsif Daily, MetroNow, Mint.


28 December 2007

The Leading News

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is the top leading news carried by all scanned newspapers across India today. Take look at the headlines-

“ Benazir Bhutto assassinated” - Assam Tribune, Sakal, Daily Excelsior, Kashmir Times, Jammu Prabhat, Virat Vaibhav, Rajasthan Patrika, Punjab Kesari, Swatantra Bharat, Hindu, Dainik Bhaskar, Tribune.

“Benazir assassinated “ - Central Chronicle, Decaan Herald, Pioneer.

“Benazir assassinated in election rally”- Jansatta.

Benazir assassinated in Rawalpindi rally”- Sentinel.

“Benazir killed, Pak on edge” - Indian Express.

“ A Hope is lost” - Asian age.

“Benazir shot dead”- Hindustan Times.

“Returned, only to be killed”-Times of India.

“ Daughter of the East dead” - Mail Today.

“Daughter of the East killed”- Hindustan.

“Benazir Bhutto(1953-2007)- MetroNow.

“Demoncracy! Benazir killed”- Economic Times.

“For democracy Benazir sacrifices”- Dainik Jagran.

“Benazir too sacrificed for democracy”- Amar Ujala.

Most papers have relied on News agencies. However, Hindu has carried a first person account its correspondent- Nirupama who was present Benazir’s election rally- “….Ms. Bhutto’s car has apparently sped away from the scene, and the PPP workers at the spot believed that she had got away…But people had doubts. As I moved here and there talking to eyewitnesses , may asked me: “Is bibi okay?…It was only later that I found out that she died of bullet wounds from the gunfire that I had heard….”.

Point to Ponder- How many correspondents of Indian Newspapers are stationed in Pakistan?


27 December 2007

Simply Barbaric

The Commonwealth Games 2010 has taken over all policy matters and development work in Delhi. Now, the focus is how to get rid of the stray dogs from streets of Delhi. However, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has refused Municipal Corporation of Delhi’s (MCD) request to grant 5 acres of land for dog shelter (Indian Express). But what is the reason for the refusal? Don’t know. For construction of Commonwealth Games Village land measuring 100 acres has been identified and the conceptual design has been developed. For controversial Special Economic Zones, the total land acquired is 33,807 hectares. But why no land for poor stray dogs of Delhi? In fact, they have been living as community dogs since long. In all traditional households, the last chapatti is always kept aside for the stray dog after every meal and they in turn act as guard dogs at night.

Are all stray dogs really a menace? How many are they in number? Don’t know as till date, MCD has not conducted any census on stray dogs (Pioneer).

Instead of perusing the case with DDA for land for a dog shelter and carrying sterilization of dogs with priority, the Standing Committee of MCD is considering sending stray dogs of Delhi to South Korea, where they will land up in soup & plates (Pioneer. Front Page). This news has not been reported by Indian Express & Asian Age though they have carried news about MCD & stray dogs.

In other words - Indian dogs will be exported to Korea as live food products since the Supreme Court of India has banned killing of dogs and asked MCD to take up sterilization of dogs. In reality, the sterilization drive by MCD is a sham.

The state of public bodies in Delhi is well known - “..feature implicit in the situation is the all-pervasive corruption in Delhi's administration generally and the MCD and DDA in particular. This corruption exists despite the rare exposures and prosecutions and involves the Delhi Police for whom it provides a very fertile ground for bribery and extortion…The whole edifice is corruption-ridden and frequently the Vigilance Department is both ineffective and perhaps involved….(Common Cause Journal. Oct-Dec 2006).

Point to ponder- Will export of stray dogs enhance India’s image internationally?


26 December 2007

Iconic Tribute?

Brand Equity supplement of Economic Times recaps past 12 months & also pays tribute to the “most iconic cartoons and comic strips ever-for giving us all the reasons to open up the newspapers every morning with hope and a smile”. The supplement, in one & half pages carries international comic stripes - Archies, Snoopy, Garfield, Tom & Jerry, Tintin, sans Dennis the Menace and others. The criteria for their selection has not been spelled out. The text accompanying them is related to the events/persons associated with Brand in India during 2007. However, these comic stripes are far too iconic to be a part of such experiment. Hang on, but where are the editorial cartoons that give readers yet another reason to open up the newspapers every morning with hope and a smile? Searching high & low in the supplement, but Absent! Popular Indian comic stripes and cartoons? Asian Age has devoted one full page to some interesting Christmas cartoons (arrangement with the spectator). But what about Christmas cartoons by Indian cartoonists or by Asian cartoonists? Still searching- Absent!


25 December 2007

Christmas Mis-Fire

Most newspapers have wished their readers Merry Christmas on their front page. The Times of India is correct to point out -“..Christmas a day of significance for Christians and non Christians alike..”. But hang on, Times of India (Delhi edition) has invited Margaret Alva (leading politician) and John Abraham (Hot Bollywood Actor) to be Guest Editors of the newspaper today as “Christian Leaders”.

Alva and Abraham are themselves popular leaders in their own fields on merit in India and to brand them as ‘Christian Leader’ is quite obscure. Earlier too, the paper had invited famous people as Guest Editor, but had never branded them leaders of any religion.

Point to Ponder- Do you expect a leading newspaper to play the religion card on Christmas?

Economics : A Dismal Science?

Not long ago, an Editorial in Times of India had pointed that “…Economics, on the other hand can be a dismal science. One of the drawbacks is that it doesn’t have the capacity to disaggregate. It picks on averages, grey and abstract entities that don’t tell the whole story..” (30/11/2007).

Is Economics a dismal Science? Take a clue from analysis that has appeared in Times of India, today :

“ Among the Christians the extent of unemployed has increased from 4 to 4.4% in rural areas, and from 7% to 9% in urban areas between 1999-2000 and 2004-05. For other communities, it has remained broadly the same, or it has slightly decreased…”.

It is said that data for the above is based on NSS Report No 521. But Times of India report doesn't reveal the full picture. First, the report itself cautions- “The unemployment rate at the all-Indian level is associated with high relative standard error. Therefore, its interpretation at disaggregated levels of religious groups, needs to be undertaken with due caution”. Second, look deeper- unemployment rate for Christian males in both rural and urban areas has declined, specially for urban male -7.2% (1993-94) to 6.9% (1999-2000) to 5.6% (2004-05). However the unemployment rate for Christian females in urban areas during the same period is higher, 10.9%, 7.9%, 14.1%. The unemployment rate for Hindu urban women has also gone up, though it has declined for Muslim women. It would be worth to note that Christians have the lowest illiteracy rates, highest monthly per capita expenditure and highest sex ratio compared to Hindus & Muslims.

What could be reason for high unemployment rates among more literate (than rest two) Christian urban women? Take a clue from findings of NSS report No 515, Employment & Unemployment situation in Indian 2004-05:“..The general feature that Unemployment rate increases with level of education is observed for all categories of persons indicating that job seekers become gradually more and more choosers as their educational levels increases. It is lowest among illiterate and highest among the educated”.

Point to ponder- survey on religious criteria, a colonial hangover ?


Wrong Again

24 December 2007

Quite unlike the Western countries, Exit polls in India are far from being accurate. This observation has been reinforced yet again from the results of Gujarat Election. None of the exit polls conducted by the television channels predicted the outcome of the result accurately- NDTV, CNN-IBN, Zee News, Star News, Aaj Tak.

“Exit polls get it wrong, again“ (Hindustan Times).

“Exit pollsters just lost another elections!” (Times of India).

“Exit polls get it wrong again” (Mail Today).

Has subjectivity taken the roots here?

Point to Ponder- Should Election Commission impose an outright ban on such inaccurate Exit Polls for the next Elections ?


23 December 2007

Great Uprising

The column by Akhilesh Mittal in Asian Age focuses on the revolt of 1857. Mittal stresses that there was no Hindu-Muslim problem and the defeat of 1857 meant a great culture fracture which continues to separate our people into mutually antagonistic shrapnel like fragment. A must to read piece.

However its heading (mis) reads- “To do away with amnesia of 1847”. More to come- “More than one student of the Great Uprising of 1957/8 is now estimating the death toll at over ten millions”.

Media & Polls

The results of the Gujarat Election polls are out with Modi holding ground. The debate about the role of media still continues in Pioneer:

“ ..Till the morning of final polling, the media was lambasting Modi and how he would find it difficult to come back to power…I am trying to point out how irreverent the Delhi media is in State elections. No one at the grassroot level, either watches it or is influenced by it. …With due respect to the media, time and again their polls have gone wrong. Why do they do it, I do not understand..” (Devi Cherian)


22 December 2007

Gujarat 2007

Saturday special, Pioneer has devoted full page on views of Indian media. Udayan Namboodiri has minced no words in the introspection of liberal media elite in India: focus Gujarat Elections:

“ The Gujarat elections of over and the results keenly awaited. We don’t know who will emerge winner in one of the most bitterly fought elections in recent memory. But we already know already who lost. The liberal media elite. In the eyes of its consumers.…the common man, whether in Porbandar or Nagaland, now has a fair idea of what “media subjectivity” is all about.. Gujarat 2007 will be recalled for years as a disaster for the image of the Indian fourth estate as a whole…”.

Advertisement of the Day

According to the Indian Readership Survey 2007 Round Two, Dainik Bhaskar (Hindi in newspaper) with an average issue readership of 12.8 million, is the second most-read newspaper in India. An advertisement in Dainik Bhaskar announces that Dainik Bhaskar is launching a Magazine for women, Great! But the magazine is in English!

Catch in today’s Advertisement- very fine prints at the end of the Ad inform that IPO of the Group in the wings!


21 December 2007

Media Impact

According to Chandan Mitra, the chairman and the editor of Pioneer-“ political bashing, media bashing has also become a fashion these days. But it is wrong, as media is playing an important role in building and mounting public opinion when India is in churning process. Media not only gives access to people but has also become an important intermediary between the ruler and the ruled…”(Pioneer). Hang on, do Ruler & the ruled exist in a democracy? A hangover of the Empire for the Pioneer sahib?

Nevertheless, Mr. Mitra has not touched on the crucial role of advertisements in media- an intermediary between products and consumers. All is not well here.

Take a clue from the latest research study which establishes that exposure to tobacco advertising and promotion is associated with abuse of tobacco products. Furthermore, the study reveals that individuals who are more receptive to tobacco advertising and promotion are likely to use tobacco. According to the President, Public Health Foundation of India -“ Surrogate advertisement to tobacco products has serious implications for India, with young people forming about half of its population… the result of study highlight that protecting the youth from the influence of tobacco advertising and promotion becomes an urgent public health concern..” (Hindu).

Point to Ponder- Isn’t surrogate liquor advertisements in newspapers and increasing appearances of newspaper features about liquor (including in Pioneer) also an urgent public health concern. Many would say- Cheers, if not direct liquor ads, newspaper features will do! But the crucial question is at what cost?


20 December 2007

Cartoon Watch

Today, the favorite topic for the cartoonists is riots that took place way back in 1984 & the role of politician Tytler (Hindustan, Dainik Bhaskar, Mail Today, Deccan Herald) as the court has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to re-examine Tytler’s role in riots. Next favourite is the insecurity in police after the recent jail break by Naxalites (DNA, National Herald). Other cartoonists have focused on a variety: re-employment (Veer Arjun), Vastu (Free Press Journal), Tata’s small car & Suzuki (Financial Express), stir beneficiaries (Deccan Chronicle),PSU disinvestments (Indian Express), traffic jam, cards (Hindustan Times), let off (Times of India), fat bonus (Economic Times), Putin & PM (Hindu), clinical research (Hindu), domestic violence (Navbaharat Times). The maximum number of Indian cartoons has been carried by Rajasthan Patrika (Jaipur edition)- lure of employment in cities, joining BJP, corruption, threat, unity.

As usual sharing of cartoons continues- quit leaders & policies of Bush (Times of India & Mumbai Mirror), Gujjar stir (Deccan Chronicle & Asian Age), shooting in Gurgaon (Punjab Kesai & Pioneer). The best cartoon of the day has been published in Mail Today on pathetic state of delivery system, featuring a politician saying to PM Dr. Manmohan Singh- “If out of one rupee only 85 paise reach the middleman, how much should we subsidise so that the poor middleman gets one rupee?”

However no Indian cartoon has appeared in Tribune, Mint, Amar Ujala, MetroNow, Business Standard and Dainik Jagran.

Concern of the Day

The Vice President of India has expressed concern regarding current trend in media, in which the divining line between editorial and advertisements in getting hazy. According to him-” The days of the great editors who had a decisive say in newspaper policy on public issues are, perhaps, a matter of the past. Instead, we have a basket of considerations in which demands of professional journalism are carefully balanced with the interest of the owners” (Free Press Journal).

Point to ponder - Where are editors devoted to journalism per se, today? Anyone listening?

Advertisement of the Day

The above mentioned newspaper from Mumbai has carried an half page advertisement of an English learning classes which features a garbage bin with two crows and litter scattered around. But what has this to do with English learning? The inscription on the garbage can is in English- “USE ME”! Hang on, the same newspaper reports that as a part of clean up drive, Mumbai will soon witness display charts of offences and fine structure on all three sides in Marathi, Hindi & English!

Point to ponder- Is litter being scattered around the garbage bin because residents of Mumbai don’t know English! Learn English the Mumbai way?


19 December 2007

Royal Hangover

The ad of Himani showcasing one of edible products exploits the lure of gold and silver. Yes, glittering metal- favourite of Indians. It’s not all, the royal charm of Kings and Maharajas also comes in. But hang on, Kings & Maharajas are history, would people in a democracy care about them anyway? True, but history comes alive if the King is the Bollywood superstar- Shahrukh Khan-“ King & Maharajas are those who have strength of lion and sharp brain as a sword, therefore King Khan has confidence in ….”(Punjab Kesai).

Event Management

Noted journalist - Tavleen Singh has penned down a book -“political and incorrect” and Express group (of Indian Express fame) has announced its launch and the associated panel discussion (including names of the panelist & the chief guest) in an ad, that also carries a photograph of the cover page of the book. Where? At the Royal Ball room at the Imperial, New Delhi. But at what time? The Ad doesn’t educate us about the time! Wonder why? Take a clue from the fine prints at right end of the ad-“ Entry strictly by invitation only” sans any contact number to call for the invite (Indian Express)

Point to ponder- Strictly a closed launch - “political and incorrect”!


18 December 2007

Gender Bias

Advertisement of a car by Maruti Suzuki (leading car manufacturer in India) starts off with a punch line-” Men are back. And they are ruling the roads” (Economic Times).

But are no men in the ad but a black colour car on road in a barren area. So does it imply that men had gone somewhere and are now are back in this black car to rule the roads? Is the featured car a ‘macho car’ meant only for men & not for women drivers? Not a pleasant rendezvous with such a gross gender biased Ad in this liberalized era! Moreover, if men drivers in this car will rule the roads, what will happen to the traffic rules? Take a clue from recent hit-and-run case in post area of New Delhi where a over speeding car (of Maruti make) did not stop at police barricade and instead ran over them. Rulers of the road?

What’s there in no?

Asian Age reports on the front page that the faculty of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is seething with anger over an out-of-turn residential allotment to a friend of Ms. Priyanka Vadra (daughter of big shot- Sonia Gandhi). And specifically mentions-” Full report on Page 3”. Turn to Page 3- there is none! Rather, it has appeared on Page 2! So what’s the hassle if a friend of Ms. Priyanka Vadra has been allocated ‘X’!


17 December 2007

Endless Saga

The Indo-American Nuclear Deal, characterized with high political drama, has been on the front page for quite a time. The latest Nuclear Deal controversy is associated with an exclusive interview of Prakash Karat General Secretary of Communist party of India (Marxist), (known for his opposition to this Deal) by the editor & the principal correspondent of India Today (Cover story. India Today. December 24). Here, he was specifically asked :

“Q- And if they do proceed? Are you prepared for elections?

A (Karat)- If this is the issue they want to break up with us on, all political parties need to be prepared for elections anytime” (India Today. page 49)

However, Prakash Karat has denied having said this and alleges that the statement was attributed to him to create atmosphere of insecurity about the Central government. “It is unfortunate that India Today has resorted to such dubious journalism.” (Hindu. 16 December). On the other hand, a long classification has appeared on the website of India Today that accuses Karat “....By choosing to put on his party website what is at best a selective account of what transpired during our meeting, it is Karat who has indulged in "dubious" practices….and ends as - ‘India Today stands by the interview as published in the issue dated December 24, 2007.

Point to ponder- The Nuclear Deal tug of war seems never ending ….who is the script writer, anyway!

Advertisement of the Day

Ad by the largest public sector bank in India- State Bank of India-has appeared in most leading Hindi & English newspapers on front page as part of its educational campaign, with the punch line:

“ Here’s something Better than the Lottery. Mutual Funds!

Hang on, comparing mutual funds with lottery- what a way to catch the eye of the common man for a financial educational campaign ! Further, there is not a word in the write-up about the criteria for choosing a ‘right’ Mutual Find for investment. Does it imply that like a lottery ticket, chose any mutual fund? Gosh, what a way to educate small retail customer about MFs! Can’t blame the bank ,the Ad (in the end) clearly mentions in small print- “ SBI is not responsible and disclaims any liability for actions/decisions based on the above”.


16 December 2007

Tale of two Editions

It is usually believed that the Delhi edition of a newspaper carries more weight than an edition of any non- metro city. Literally carrying this forward, let's take a look at two editions of Punjab Kesari - Delhi & Panipat. The Panipat edition carries more reading material (total 26 pages) than its capital counterpart(20 pages). Further the Panipat editorial is more updated (lifting of emergency in Pakistan) than the editorial in Delhi edition by chief editor (Congress & BJP). In addition, the editorial in Panipat edition, is spot on - “.. when judiciary is under arrest, media is without freedom, then there is no meaning in restoration in rights of the citizens….”. Even the classified supplement of the Panipat edition is more diversified than its Delhi counterpart. But enticing, dubious advertisements are not few here! Take an look at some:

“…USA 10 business visa stamped to participate in USA poultry Expo 2008 meet actual Poultry farmers…”

“.. 47 visas stamped in last 53 days, processing time 20 months, get 2 years working visa of UK. No IELTS , No CA reports. No need to shown old funds….”

“ Emperor of Tantra Mantra… stormy solution for dangerous problems….”

“Black magic can cause dealth. Anyone apart from me to prove or astrologers, Tantriks, babas working before me prize of 25 lakhs (2.5 million)…”

“ Strong challenge: what you wish will happen.…”

“..earn thousands of rupees while sitting at home, how, for full information SMS your address…”

Cartoon of the Day

No doubt the new kid on the block (Aaj Samaj) is carrying a though provoking cartoon about the present state of institutions of democracy in India with equally strong sarcastic write up about democracy, politics & the helpless masses. This cartoon has been given due prominence by paper on its front page, rarely found in the leading newspapers!


15 December 2007

Media sting

Compared to the West, sting operations by media is new to India. The Delhi High court has ruled that sting operation can carried out in public interest but for that purpose innocent persons should not be trapped. The Bench believed and trusted that all TV channels/media shall take steps and prohibit their reporter from producing or airing any programme, which is based on entrapment and which is fabricated, intrusive and sensitive (Pioneer). Further, in a controversial observation, the Bench proposed that the government should examine a suggestion that a panel- with members drawn from the government, police and retired judge should clear slings before their broadcast (Indian Express, Pioneer).

Point to ponder- what if the sting operation involves the government or/and police or/and judiciary, will it ever get the broadcast approval from such a committee?


The Gujarat assembly elections have witnessed thousands of Nagrandra Modi (chief minister of the state), thanks to his ‘made in China’ Masks doing rounds. Indeed, ‘a unique campaign tool in the Indian electoral history’ (Hindustan Times). A cartoon on this theme has appeared in Times of India, where an America Doctor is asking these ‘Nagrandra Modi’ masked men of various sizes-” We’ve come to check out this new experiment in stem cell cloning you folks are trying out”. Point to ponder- why only American checking this out!

Advertisement of the Day

Self Ad of Dainik Bhaskar has fully exploited the local flavour of the Punjabi taste while announcing the launch of its Ludhiana edition from Punjab-- “Makke di roti (special chapatti eaten in Punjab) te ‘Bhaskar’ da saath” (with the company of Bhaskar).


14 December 2007

Cartoon Watch

State Elections in Gujarat: an outright winner in terms of catching the fancy of the Indian cartoonists today (Jansatta, Hindustan, Dainik Bhaskar, Pioneer, Punjab Kesari, Asian Age, Hindu, Mail Today, Hindustan Times). Others have focused on a variety- insecurity (Virat Vaibhav), election & price of POL (Dainik Jagran), dream of house (Rajasthan Patrika), projection (Economic Times), protected student to school (Times of India), tears and water shortage (Dainik Tribune), traffic signal (Times of India).

The cartoon of the day has been carried by a relative new kid on the block- Aaj Samaj (Hindi newspaper from Delhi) - ‘Bridegroom is ready’ featuring BJP leader Advani, (at the age of 80!) as bridegroom -” our dulha (groom) is also ready! if only ‘yes’ comes form ‘other’ side..!!!

However no Indian cartoon has appeared in Tribune, MetroNow, Mint, Amar Ujala, Political & Business Daily, National Herald, Rozana Spokesman, Shah Times, Veer Arjun, Statesman, Business Standard.


13 December 2007

Blame Game

With the shooting incident involving students of class eighth in a school in Gurgaon, a blame game has began- Western/American culture, guns, parents, school, teachers, students, stress, frustration, violent tendencies and even the media. Take a look at the what the common man has to say about media, courtesy letters to editor:

“…Teachers and parents together with the media should share the blame for Tuesday’s incident…”(Vijayan, Kizhakkambalam in Hindu).

“…. the media and cinema play no less part by portraying violence at every turn” (Venkatraman. Delhi in Hindustan Times).

“…..Children lack good role models both at home and school. With neither parents not teachers to emulate, they are swayed by the media which project umpteen number of negative role models. We must impart value education and teach students to be critical of the media” (Irudayaraj. Nagapattinam in Hindu).

“…The accused must have surely imbibed the culture from the visual media, especially television….” (Mani. Mysore in Hindu).

“….and what effect our media have on our children. It is unfortunate that the electronic media have done more harm than good to society.” (Rao. Visakhapatnam in Hindu).

“…What people fail to acknowledge is that such incidents also reflect the impact of the high level of violence shown in movies, serials, commercials and computer games… Over the last decade or so, violence in media has increased many-fold. Since ordinary people can do little to influence media content, parents and teachers need to play a pro-active role in overseeing what children watch on television….” (Salahuddin. Mumabu in Indian Express).

Point to ponder- why didn’t people raise their voice against violence in media before, in such a magnitude? Waited for an incident to occur?


12 December 2007

Just Preaching

At the Press Club of Jammu, the Editor-in-Chief of Tribune, Mr H.K Dua stressed on the social responsibility of the media. According to him, newspaper had to be sensitive about the health of the society. Further, media had an important role to play , particularly when other institutions of governance like the legislature, the executive and the judiciary had failed the masses- “ When they seem all door shut, the media is their only hope” (Tribune).

Corruption is affecting the health of the society. So, should the common man fight corruption or accept it as a part of life? Take a clue from Editorial of Tribune that appeared on 28/11/2007:

“..These days one cannot get any work done without greasing the palms of the officials concerned. However, will it be fair to punish a person on the ground that he had given some money to the staff to get his PF, pension or traveling allowance arrears cleared without which he would have gone from pillar to post? What about those giving tips to the postman for having delivered a money order, to the railway ticket collector for a sleeper berth at the last minute or even for securing the expeditious release of a friend’s body from a hospital mortuary? The law should be such that punishment should be given only to those who are really guilty of the crime of offering bribes for seeking undue favours and not otherwise…". (for more on this, ponder the newspaper watch-28/11/2007)

Why should one accept corruption in any form, anyway? The social responsibility that Dua taking about, does it get reflected in the above editorial?

Hang on, the common man has not accepted corruption as a way of life and is still fighting it out. Pioneer reports today that the family members of a policeman who laid down his life fighting the terrorists attack on the Indian Parliament during 2001 are running pillar to post to get compensation, reason- prevalent bribery. They too could have greased the palms of the officials concerned but they didn’t.

Yes, there are brave people out here who are taking on social responsibility. What about the media- The Ultimate hope?


11 December 2007

Off Track

The controversial Union Health Minister has accused the media in Delhi of bias against him as he belongs to the most backward class. During a book function in the city of Chennai, he alleged that “Journalist in New Delhi are especially concentrating on issues relating to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences as I am from MBC” (Asian Age, Hindustan Times). But when journalists approached him for further comment on this issue he declined. Wonder why, were they from Delhi too!

Point to ponder- ‘never learn media management the Health Minister way….’- True or False?

Empire is Back?

T.P Sreenivasan believes that India has nothing to gain from the Commonwealth. And the commonwealth victory (An Indian Secretary General) does not mean that India can win other electoral battles in the future, like a permanent seat in the Security Council. “..though the Commonwealth has one fourth of the member of UN, it does not have one fourth of the prestige of the global organization. With the elimination of colonialism and apartheid, the commonwealth is groping in the dark for an agenda, which suits its genius....” (Tribune).

Taking about Commonwealth, the permanent head is the Queen of England and the member nations are former colonies of the British Empire. Though the British Empire no longer exists, an invitation for building an empire has been published in India! What? Take a look - an advertisement by Hyderabad Urban Development Authority (HUDA) in Hindu:

“ Explore Endless Possibilities The Empire : A HUDA project …Come, bid and built your empire, here. ”

Point to Ponder- A hangover from the British Empire?


10 December 2007

Freedom of Press & Survey Blues

Do Indians prefer stability over freedom of press? Yes, it one goes with the findings of the survey commissioned by BBC World Service to international polling firms GlobeScan and Synovate. Here, India is clubbed with Russia & Singapore and this club of three believe that stability is more important than press freedom. This surprising finding about India has been reported by many Indian newspapers but without any critical comment.

So, what about this survey? Problem area - methodology. No doubt, the sample size is Small- 11,344 people across 14 countries. Now coming to India, the survey was conducted in Chennai, Delhi, Kolkota and Mumbai & involved only 1014 Indians. And there is no mention whether the ‘face to face’ filling of the survey questionnaires was conducted in any regional language of the area, implying that it was an exclusive affair of the few ‘elite’- English speaking people of 4 big cities.Was this a random survey? Surely, this is not a representative sample of a country of a billion people where around 70% live in rural areas.In addition, the selection of sample size across countries in this poll is also strange. Take a look at a small country like Singapore, here the sample size is 1011, for Great Britain is 1003, for Brazil is 1500, for Germany its 1000, Venezuela is 500, United Arab Emirates is 505!

According to GlobeScan President:” While people generally support a free media, the Western view of the necessity of a free press to ensure a fair society is not universally shared across all regions of the world." Yeap, how can Indians share the Western view of a free press, if you don’t get the methodology right! The poll suggests that Britons believe strongly in media freedom. Just to remind, India has a long tradition of fighting for the freedom of Press from the time of the ‘gagging’ British Raj!


9 December 2007

Front page choice

The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal project which requires breaking a portion of Ram Sethu (30 Km bridge that links India to Sri Lanka) is in news for quite some time as Hindus believe that this bridge was built by Lord Rama & his followers and therefore should not be broken. Now, the million rupee question is whether this bridge is man made or is just a natural structure? Take a look at the focus of reports on front page on this controversial project. Indian Express in an exclusive, reports that the expert committee report has recommended that there is no evidence ‘archaeological or scientific of any man made structure’. However Pioneer, Hindustan and Dainik Jagran have reported on their front page that the National Remote Sensing Agency (comes under the department of Space) has stated that that the satellite images have revealed an ‘ancient bridge between India & Sri Lanka in Palk Strait.”.

Point to ponder- which side you are on?

Power of Gandhi

Politicians & Birthdays = good publicity? Yesterday, colorful advertisements in various newspapers informed readers that the Birthday boy was the Chief Minister of Punjab,(81st Birthday) and ads are again on a Birthday greeting mission- today is Sonia Gandhi’s birthday (62nd birthday)! Take a look at one advertisement that has appeared in Hindu.

“We were not fortunate to serve under MAHATMA GANDHIJI. We are fortunate to serve under ANNAI SONIA GANDHIJI….”

Is Gandhi surname so prestigious, then why not promote for all? However, the Supreme Court has rejected a PIL filed by a 81 year old freedom fighter for a direction to the government to chalk out a programme for establishment of a new caste- Gandhi caste- to pave the way for the establishment of a casteless society (Hindu). Hey, forget creation of a new caste, how about following Mahatma Gandhi’s long lost principles instead?

The new Antoinette

The Kerala Food Minister has a solution to high price of rice in Kerala, remember rice is their staple food. Guess what- if people can’t afford to buy rice, let them eat eggs & chicken instead! Not surprisingly, this led to demonstrations with hens & eggs with a legitimate demand-’ Take these and give us rice’ (Asian Age. Front page).

Cartoon of the Day

The cartoon of the day has appeared in Asian Age on its front page. An officer saying to his junior -” Let us take Rs. 2000 from each applicant to celebrate anti-corruption day!”


8 December 2007

Concern of the Day

While talking to Hindustan, the Planning Commission Chief has conceded that the leakages (read corruption) in delivery system in India amount to massive 50 per cent. What next?

Advertisement of the Day

Does a brand sell or a foreign country’s name- Next research topic? Nevertheless, take a look at this advertisement that has appeared in Dainik Bhaskar about a ‘Japanese Oil’ with no mention of its brand or its name with a punch line-

“ Those who really love their wives, how can they refuse Japanese oil….”

Indians are not unfamiliar with Japanese products especially electronics products but ’ Japanese Oil‘? Which one? The ad claims that ‘Japanese Oil’ is an Ayurvedic strength medicine. Really! Moreover, there is no address or name of the manufacturer. Point to ponder- Is this ‘Japanese Oil’ made in Japan? No prizes for getting it right!


7 December 2007

'Poor India'

In the trillion dollar economy, a newspaper in Hindi entitled - Akinchan Bharat -‘Poor Bharat (India)’ comes out from the City of Taj Mahal- Agra. Nope, it’s not communist party’s propaganda paper, but is ‘dedicated to the ideals of late Gopal Prasad Aggrawal” who took up journalism as social service fifty years ago. He belonged to the generation which believed that it was unethical to earn money through journalism as journalism per se was a mission. The special editorial on its front page by his son calls for similar sensitivity and honesty in the field of journalism. Today is his 26th death anniversary, and on this solemn occasion, the paper has devoted one full page to him (page three) and published an advertisement on its front page.

The paper consists of 12 pages and is reasonably priced at Rs 1.50. Any noticeable difference here- absence of any 'page three' event or glamorous celebrity in this newspaper with very few ads.

Top 10

Dainik Jagran publishes several editions from various cities in different States. Apart from the fact that many news, ads and even editorials will be city/state specific, any significant difference in the presentation? To feel the difference, (if any), let’s take a look at the front page of this paper - Gurgaon & Agra Edition. Agra scores over Gurgaon as it’s front page, upper half contains a text block which carries 10 main news along their page numbers, making it more reader friendly.


6 December 2007
publishes several editions from various cities in different States. Apart from the fact that many news, ads and even editorials will be city/state specific, any significant difference in the presentation? To feel the difference, (if any), let’s take a look at the front page of this paper - Gurgaon & Agra Edition. Agra scores over Gurgaon as it’s front page, upper half contains a text block which carries 10 main news along their page numbers, making it more reader friendly.

Double Vision

Yes, Delhi is experiencing winters and is welcoming sunshine. A news report on this has appeared twice on page 7 as well as on page 15 in the Hindi daily - Dainik Jagran (Gurgaon edition). And this news report is word to word the same with the same heading & same photograph! Except for the fact that photograph on page 15 is in colour while the page 7 one is in black & white, it's full double vision!

Advertisement of the Day

Till 2006, Delhi had spent a whopping Rs 12-15 billion on cleaning the river Yamuna . But in spite of this massive investment, Yamuna runs dirtier, claimed a CSE report (Tribune. 19/4/2007).Yamuna is so polluted today that it poses a threat to the world famous monument - Taj Mahal in Agra. According to S. Saha of the Central Pollution Control Board said, "The Yamuna no longer conforms to any known parameters of a river." Recently, hundreds of dead fish and oily layers and big patches of toxic chemical wastes flowing into the river(DNA.18/11/2007).

An Advertisement by Delhi Jal Board (Delhi water Board) has appeared with a directive - Stop pollution the Yamuna NOW accompanied with one photograph. The other photograph accompanies a statement - We will give you a CLEAN Yamuna by 2010 (Times of India).

Point to ponder- is the common man polluting the river Yamnua? Nope, the ad itself lists main sources of pollution in the river but does not include that the common man is responsible for the pollution in Yamuna. Then, who is being addressed by the ad? And why all development work in Delhi is geared up only for the upcoming Commonwealth Games of 2010?


5 December 2007

Ad Power

With the assembly elections around the corner, the ad war is heating up. An advertisement with an appeal by veteran BJP leader Keshubhai Patel that "a change was required" was published in two local dailies in Gujarat. The ad quoted Keshubhai as saying that “a dictator has taken over power in the state and time has come to remove him.” This half-page advertisement carried 10 quotes of Keshubhai and his photo (Business Standard.4/12/2007). And not surprising, this ad adversely effected the bookie rate for the ruling BJP in Gujarat assembly election (Asian Age).

While on the other hand, an advertisement by BJP in Himachal Pradesh has evoked strong protest from the ruling Congress party. The cartoon-ad showed the chief minister and his wife as greedy kind & queen (with sharp teeth) with the slogan in Hindi -“people all-around helpless, King-queen are prosperous” (Indian Express).

Concern of the Day: Employment

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme lacks vision and is suffering from problems. The most neglected area in the implementation of the programme was ensuring accountability and transparency. Sounds familiar! This has been revealed by survey by a NGO & a consultancy firm (Hindustan Times. Pg 10).

The job market in India is its worst state with jobless postgraduates in urban area offering themselves as human bombs to a terrorist organization. Does it not reflect the helplessness of the common man with the ‘system’ which is plagued with corruption and nepotism (called now networking). Must to read- ‘Jobless brothers offer to be human bombs’ in Spotlight, Asian Age. Pg 3)


4 December 2007

Drugs Galore

The Border Security Force (BSF) expects a large-scale smuggling of heroin into India from Afghanistan via Pakistan. The reason, say BSF officers, is the bumper opium crop in that country and huge money being offered by smugglers to Indian farmers, especially rural women, living in border areas in Punjab (DNA, 16/11/07). This is not all. Thousands of Punjab policemen are also in the drug trap. According to a survey conducted by Punjab police, 50 per cent of the total force in the border districts of Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur are addicts, including alcoholics. According to IG (border zone): "Over half the cops here are alcoholics or into drugs like opium. Some even use smack and heroin. They are basically up to the inspector rank." (Times of India. 27/6/2007)

Taking the tradition of London Punch forward, Jaspal Bhatti, an electrical engineer by education but comedian by profession, well known for his hilarious & satirical style has made fun of government’s stand on drugs. He & his friends of Nonsense club have declared- :” If the Punjab government and our leaders are incompetent to deal with the drug menace they should join hands with the Nonsense club & work to immerse the entire population of Punjab in drugs. ..It would be more profitable for government to subsidies the drug trade instead of giving free water and electricity to farmers…”. Along with the declaration was a new parody which pointed to the wide variety of drugs being openly peddled across Punjab (Asian Age). On a serious note, he urged the youth to "take care of your health and save Punjab from self-destruction through the horrifying world of drugs".

Freedom of Expression

To write or not to write a column in newspapers is no longer an issue but the money it involves.

According to news reports, the Chairman of selectors of the Indian cricket team - Dilip Vengsarkar had asked the Board of cricket to compensate him for the loss of Rs. 4 million by not writing column in newspapers, which they did not accept. So, he has made up his mind to quit, while the board of control for cricket has told him that he’s free to resign (Asian Age). In an email to the board of cricket, he had demanded that he should be compensated for not writing newspaper columns (Indian Express). Hindustan Times reports that he has expressed an ‘intent to resign’ but he his keen to continue if certain conditions are met… However the other selectors were under the impression that their Chairman had already resigned. The editorial of Amar Ujala is critical towards treatment given to Dilip Vengsarkar by the cricket board and predicts that he can resign anytime. However according to Dainik Jagran, Vengsarkar has sent his resignation to the Board Chief -Sharad Pawar. And finally, the take of Hindu- The seven point diktat and not the restriction on his media work, is the contentious factor that has led Dilip Vengsarkar to offer his resignation as the chairman of the National selection committee.


3 December 2007

Cartoon Watch

The cartoons have revolved around the recent controversy regarding a word (believed to be pointing towards a lower caste) in a song in the recently released Bollywood Hindi movie - Aaja Nachle : come dance (DNA, Mid Day (2 cartoons), New Indian Express, Indian Express, Punjab Kesai.). The rest have focused on a variety- papa in race (Navbharat Times -Delhi), Weirdo (Economic Times), love money (DNA), writer & views- Taslima (Pioneer), anti development (Rajasthan Patrika- Jaipur), no panchayat rally (Mail Today), Manmohan Singh & George Bush (Hindu). The cartoon of the day has been carried by Hindustan Times reflecting the power of advertisements during election campaign.

Sharing of cartoon across cities is not uncommon. Times of India (Delhi) and Mumbai Mirror (Mumbai) have shared a cartoon on pay commission, Deccan Chronicle (Hyderabad) and Asian age (Delhi) have shared the cartoon on Gujarat polls, New Indian Express (Chennai) and Indian Express (Delhi) have also shared a cartoon.

However, no Indian cartoon has appeared in Veer Arjun, Navbaharat Times (Mumbai), Free Press Journal (Mumbai), Rashtriya Sahara, MetroNow, Mint, Statesman, Amar Ujala, Dainik Jagran, Tribune and Dainik Bhaskar.


2 December 2007


According to Satvinder Kaur Mann, Professor in Punjab Agricultural University, the many local land-owners in Punjab, after having sold their land to develop malls, mega cities and SEZ et al have exhausted the money in unproductive expenditure and are now working as guards in front of palatial houses and marriage places built on their lands, with no future beyond. The writer, urges that the Punjabis need to be taught how to make use of their money and compromise on their flashy lifestyle (Tribune). This hold true for all States where land owners have sold their land for SEZ etc. But has the government taken a pro-active role to help them with money management? Nope! Some would argue, why should the State intervene with individual preferences anyway. Hang on, it’s an educative intervention and not a forced one for public good, so what’s the hitch?

Witnessed any governmental money management ads recently? Take a look at an advertisement by Punjab State Lotteries related to ‘money‘- “ If you have missed the millionaires and Billionaires bus in 2007, Don’t miss it 2008!…Total first prize Rs 2 Crore (Rs. 20 million)….Bumper tickets are also available at all post offices of Punjab….” (Tribune). Is this a sustainable solution?

The Facilitator

Even the reputed foreign Universities have not got a green signal from the Indian government for their entry in India. Then why is Haryana government acting as a recruitment facilitator for a College in Cyprus?

Ad of the Day in Tribune - “Government of Haryana, Department of Employment. Overseas Placement Bureau announces an opportunity to study in Cyprus (Europe) at ….Get a foreign degree. Highlights- …no IELTS, …high chances of visa approval…for spot admission for February 2008 seminar…”. Where- nine cites across Haryana in places like Panchayat Bhawan, Bal Bhawan, Govt College, District Employment Office.


1 December 2007


Legally speaking, the Indian newspapers shouldn’t carry any direct or surrogate liquor advisements but still an advertisement by Chivas has been carried by Hindustan Times in ‘Hindustan Times Business’ with an interview with the head of NIS Sparta with the heading- “ There‘s no place quite like Paris”. Indeed Paris is Paris and there is no place like Paris! But what about ‘The Chivas Life’ accompanying the interview? Some would day- it’s not an ad but celebration of Chivas Life! And what is Chivas anyway? Would they also add that there’s no chocolate quite like Chivas!

Advertisement of the Day

The Ad of the Day is by Tata Motors focused on ‘More’- “ More car per car. More dreams per car. More smile per car. More joy per car. More celebrations per car. And now, more thanks per car….celebrate and win big…” (Hindu. Pg 19). And More profits too!

December 2007 Newspaper Watch