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Newspaper Watch (India) for the month of March 2008.
For latest newspaper watch, view homepage

31 March 2008

Social Cause

Leander Peas, the Indian Tennis star and non-playing captain of the recent Indian Davis team will soon be seen in a cartoon series. The story will revolve around a school with three to six central characters aged between 6-10 years, while Leander will play his own age. And what will be all about? Take a clue -“It pains me when I see kids today spending a lot of time in front of TV sets and on healthy diets. As a father and national sports figure, I feel it is my duty to impart love for sports and an active lifestyle so the next generation can development can develop the mindsets of champions, both on and off the field.” (Indian Express).

Not bad at all! But the question is whether kids will take heed from the non-playing captain of Indian Davis team, who has not been in good books of the young Indian tennis players! Infact they have refused to play under his leadership!

Inflationary Cartoons

Most newspaper have reported that the Central Government is getting worried over rising inflation, specially when the elections are not very far. specially Indeed inflation has reached dangerous levels. Take a clue from the cartoon in Times of India where robbers are seen looting provisional store & not the bank! In Asian Age, a common man is seen most uncomfortable during his upward ride in a inflation rocket. However the finance minister is seen assuring his weeping wife- “don’t worry It will come down As soon as the fuel gets over”. Hey, won’t that be crash landing ! And the good old Finance minister is seen beating a busting drum- boom, boom, boom in the cartoon that has appeared in Hindu. Surprisingly, cartoonists have spared the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India as well the Prime Minister, a scholarly economist!

Half-baked Journalists

The Chief Justice of India has pointed to the danger of mushrooming journalism colleges producing “half baked” journalists and has asked the Editors Guilt to introduce some mechanism to check them on the lines of All India Council for Technical Education. (Pioneer).


30 March 2008

Advertisement & Health

International experts form the World Health Organization (WHO) and its members will meet in New Delhi tomorrow to establish global protocols in its framework Convention for Tobacco Control to stop all forms of cross border tobacco advertisement, promotion and sponsorship in the world. Remember, tobacco kills one billion people in India alone (Hindustan Times).

Point to Ponder- Many international conventions have been drawn out with lot of fanfare, but do all countries ratify them? And if they do, are they implemented in letter & spirit? Moreover, why no such convention on liquor control?

Statement of Day

The Congress General Secretary, Rahul Gandhi feels that unless one is poor, it is virtually impossible to understand the poverty of Indians. “ I am not a poor man. It would be arrogance to say that I understand the poor in the country…Unless one is poor, it is impossible to understand the poverty of Indians…”(Asian Age).

Eternal Truth

Never-ending match -Media Vs. Judiciary. Result- Draw! Recently, the venue was the workshop on “ reporting on court proceeding by media and administration of justice”. Justice Sirpurkar asked the media to report accurately rather than scandalize the courts….public has the right to know. But not what you (media) want them to know…”. The editor-in-chief of Tribune reacted forcefully to the daylong media bashing by sitting judges of the Supreme Court and eminent orators in a workshop. He defended the role of media as watchdog and held a mirror to the much talked corruption in lower judiciary. He also asserted that the job of media was to fault faults- “ I would like to be advised by the judges, when fault is the truth, what do we do?” (Tribune, Indian Express).


29 March 2008


India is indeed a trillion dollar economy, however is still suffering from the age old superstition about existence of Witchcraft. Most newspaper have carried the shocking news about a forty five year old women who was first tied to a tree, tonsured & then beaten with brooms and sticks. The reason- villagers suspected that she was practicing witchcraft on another woman.

A large sized ‘focused’ photograph showing her tied to a tree, while a villager cuts off her hair has appeared in Asian Age with the caption-” Human cost of superstition”. This photograph has been sourced from an agency. The same photograph has been published by Times of India with the caption- “Warding off evil spirits”.

Point to ponder- Will this photojournalism add on to her humiliation?

US Media: Outside view

Ramesh Thakur is quite critical regarding Iraq war and has not spared media- “The credibility of the Anglo-U.S media suffered a slow but steady erosion on their Iraq coverage. Media critics were held accountable for minor flaws and gaps in stories but officials whose spin, dissembling and incompetence caused large scale deaths and killings in an unnecessary war got medals of freedom..” (Hindu. Editorial page).

Yesterday, in the same newspaper, Vidya Subrahmaniam had pointed out that commentators in US media have slandered Hillary Clinton and questioned Barack Obama’s Muslim connection. While on the other hand the Indian record shines by comparison.” From the perspective of the Indian media. All this must appear a puzzling paradox and not only because it is the land of “freedom and opportunity” that is unceasingly exclaiming over Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton. A bigger reason is India’s own history of easy, unsung accommodation of plurality of political identities…”.

Point to ponder- How about detailed rational self evaluation of Indian media before pointing pointers at others!


28 March 2008


Kanchan Vasdev reports that the Ludhiana administration is taking action against dairy farmers for polluting the Budda Nullah (by throwing cow dung) but has spared the major polluter- the dying & electroplating industry, which discharges toxic effluents carrying lead, nickel, chromium in this Nallah. This Nullah empties into Sutlej river - a source of water supply for many towns in the Malwa region. However, Kanchan failed to investigate the probable reason for sparing the major polluter. Without the possible reason for this discrimination, the report- “Ludhiana admn barks up the wrong tree” does not fully justify its presence on the front page of Tribute.

American Elections: Outside view

Indian Newspapers have been carrying a variety of views on the ongoing campaign for the Presidential Elections in United States. But the views have not been very extensive. And only occasionally, an editorial appears on this hot topic.

Take a look a the Editorial of Hindustan Times: “Looks like the race for the Democratic presidential nominations in the US is all about race, lies and videotapes…..Throughout the campaign the wannabe presidential candidates have traded allegations of each one fabricating episodes from other’s life…One thing’s for sure. Americans will have a tough time ‘misremembering’ who said what, and why”. How about comparing the election campaign in Unites States vis-à-vis in India!


27 March 2008

Colonial Hangover

An Indian Automobile Corporate has acquired auto brands from an American Automobile corporate, of course with whooping price of $2.3 billion. Nothing unusual in a globalised world. But some Indian newspapers have gone overboard over this acquisition. Take a look-

“Tatas rule Britannia…. So, what if the Kohinoor diamond - once the ultimate symbol of Indian wealth- now resides with the Queen of England? On Wednesday evening, icons of British luxury Jaguar and Land Rover, passed into Indian hands for pounds 1.15 billion…It took a company from a former colony to come to the rescue of a beleaguered British brand..” (Lead story. Times of India).

Is the newspaper correct to draw parallel with the forced acquisition of Kohi--noor diamond? Nope, take a clue from history. Here, parallels cannot be drawn between the forced acquisition of Koh-i-noor by the imperial British & the recently acquired two loss making former British brands of cars by an Indian corporate, that too from an American Corporate.

In the decisive year of 1849, the terms for ‘hostile’ takeover of Koh-i-noor were straight forward- “ The gem called the Koh-i-noor, which was taken from Shah Sooja-ool-moolk by Maharaja Runjeet Singh, shall be surrendered by the Maharajah of Lahore (Duleep Singh, then a child) to the Queen of England”. Naturally no price was paid for the forced surrender of this diamond!

Not to forget that during 1889, Maharaja Duleep Singh protested and demanded restoration of his jewel and sovereign rights. Why? - "I was defrauded by the perfidious representative of England".

But till date Koh-i-noor is still in England-representative of the jewel in the Crown?


26 March 2008


Newspapers are carrying reports about water & electricity shortages in the country. Two State governments- Delhi & Rajasthan have published large advertisements regarding water conservation. The ad by Rajasthan Government informs about one day "water fair" that will be held in every block area, village. The punch line matches- "Let's start a drive in every village, every home to save water". Indeed," Save water, save life!"(Hindustan Times. page 20). While the ad by Delhi government starts off-" Water water ____ where?. Before this becomes a reality, let's together save water"(Indian Express. page 3). It goes on to make seven illustrated suggestions to save water. Indeed, this ad will be able to hold attention of readers who are suffering from shortages, which is best reflected in the cartoon in Hindustan Times. Indeed. Here a common man is holding an empty bucket of water & a lantern & is telling his small son-" Son, I inherited these from my father and you'll from me!"


25 March 2008

Elephant learns to Dance

The sixth pay commission has recommended a steep pay hike for government employees, guess what, upto 52 percent. It is presumed that higher tax revenues in the coming years and strong financials will help most of the state governments meet the enhanced pay bill as and when they implement the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations (DNA. Mumbai). In other words, increased tax receipts will be financing unproductive expenditure. The experience of the last pay commission & its impact on the State government is well known. Hang on what do newspapers feel?

“….The salary hike should be approved only after taking steps to improve organizational competence. If not, the pay hike will be another affliction on the economy, which is already slowing down ”(Editorial. Times of India).

“ If experience is any indicator, it is unlikely that the whooping 40 per cent increase that has been proposed will bring about a qualitative change in the manner in which this bureaucracy functions…it is not surprising that the quality of governance continues to decline…” (Editorial. Pioneer)

“…A four million-strong government work force - and that is just the Central component - is difficult to shake up for attuning personnel to administrative targets. The carrot of hiked pay hike makes the circumstances of doing so somewhat easier…” (Editorial. Indian Express).

".. the 6th Pay Commission award is a good opportunity to bring in some dramatic improvement in the performance of government employees. The government had an opportunity to do it when the earlier 5th Pay Commission tagged some very well-meaning reforms to its pay scale revision. But the then United Front government lost the plot and instead only succeeded in pushing the Centre and even the states into financial crisis. The current award of the Commission seems unlikely to do so…." (Editorial. Financial Express).

Least we forget-

Many people have pitched for income parity with the high paying organised private sector. But why only make a comparison with the organised private sector, which is insignificantly small against the universe of informal workers, who are engaged in private sector and constitute 92 per cent of the total workforce. These people have no regular income and what to talk about social security and fringe benefits. Not to forget the recent Arjun Sengupta Report, which had underlined that 77 percent of India's population is poor & vulnerable. And the number of people in this category did increase from 811 million in 1999-00 to 836 million in 2004-05. And if this hike is for inflation, what will be the effect on these 'poor & vulnerable'? Why not raise the poverty line too? Naturally, the number of people under the poverty line will multiply by millions! But then what will happen to poverty statistics!


24 March 2008

Debt Trap

Yes, there is a huge Urban-Rural divide in the country. But on one account, there is none, and that is- debt. Take a look at the two reports in tabloids, both beginning with ‘M’:

“ 7 out of every 10 young professionals in Delhi-NCR are in credit card trap…With credit card defaults on a all time high, banks have jacked up interest rates on EMIs to 40 per cent per annum. From personal loans, jewellery to even mortgaging assets, these young consumers are trying every possible way to get out of the debt trap…”” (Young & Trapped. Metro Now. New Delhi Front page).

“Farmer Vishnu Baburao Sarode from Vidharba came to Mumbai last Wednesday to sell his kidney to pay off a steep debt and to ensure his children’s future; he fortunately met the right people who gave him Rs. 5,000 and sent him back home..” (I came to sell by kidney so that my two children could have a future…Mumbai Mirror. Mumbai. Page 4).

Point to ponder- Is everyone as fortunate as Vishnu Baburao Sarode who eventually met the ‘right people’ with heart of ‘real’ gold?

Anti TB Campaign

Today is World TB Day. Yes, Sinha is right - Tuberculosis has become one of India’s worst enemies (Times of India. Page 18). Many advertisements have appeared on account of World TB Day. However, they seem to be quite unattractive, quite similar to so called educational documentaries. Would the target audience bother to read them? No prize for the right answer!

But can educative ads be interesting? Yes, indeed. Take a clue from an advertisement that has appeared today. Here, a leading Indian Insurance company has adapted a popular nursery rhyme and not to forget the accompanying cartoon! Did someone ask for our expert services here! Again, keep guessing!

23 March 2008

Holi-day in Delhi?

Holi is a Big Festival for Delhites! True! Guess what, no newspapers came out today from Delhi, except Hindu & Statesman. And they too didn’t reach most readers as the good old newspaper distributor also decided to also celebrate the Holiday! Nevertheless, the leading English newspapers- Times of India did come hit the stands in Mumbai, despite holiday celebrated by its counterpart in Delhi. But it makes no sense to travel from Delhi to Mumbai, only to read a newspaper!

Holi for them?

A bumper potato crop- good news for the farmer! Unfortunately, not good at all- Lalan Mullick Sheikh, debt ridden farmer who killed himself as he was forced to sell his potatoes at about a third of the cost of growing them in Burdwan village in West Bengal. (Telegraph. Calcutta, Front page)

“At least nine farmers have ended their lives in Vidharba in the past two days, raising the toll since P.Chidambaram’s “historic” loan waiver to 50.…”(Telegraph. Calcutta, page 5).

“Holi, the festival of colour celebrated to hail the new harvesting season, has failed to halt suicide by farmers in Maharashtra. Four farmers took their lives in Vidharba and three ended their lives in north Maharashtra….” (Hindu. Delhi. Front page).

Media Bias Alleged

The President of People’s Democratic Party and member of parliament has accused the Central Government controlled electronic media of being brazenly biased against her party. She said that she would take up the issue with Prasar Bharti and the All India Radio authorities in Delhi and if necessary raise the matter in the Parliament as well. Ashe made it clear that despite these ‘cheap tricks’ the PDP’s message travels fast enough to the nook & corner of the State as people have become its voice. (Greater Kashmir. Srinagar. Page 1 &10).


22 March 2008

Fun & Holi Fest

On the occasion occasion of Holi- the festival of fun & colours, most newspaper are closed today. However most newspapers in English (from the capital) have displayed restrained in celebrating Holi though cartoons, humour & satire vis-à-vis their counterparts in Hindi. Wonder why?

The special supplement of Dainik Bhaskar on Holi humour- cartoons, caricatures, satire, humour is somewhat interesting. However the best fest of fun, satire & cartoons -soaked in the true spirit of Holi- has been carried by Hindustan, Hindi daily. Take a look at its Holi punch line- “Every news has its own colour and every colour tells something different…“! Very true!

Cartoon Power

On the ‘happy’ occasion of Holi, Hindustan, Hindi daily, has presented the Mahabharata Award to Raj Thackeray. Not surprised?

Raj Thackeray, politician from state of Maharashtra, whose ‘son of soil’ comments had flared violence against migrants from North India had been muted due to gag order from the Government. But not for long! Guess what, he is planning to launch of a cartoon weekly! Accordingly to the report in Indian Express, this weekly will hit the stands in about six months. The publication’s name have also been short listed, aims to ‘spread the party’s word’, which allege its leaders and cadres, was’ twisted our of context’ by the mainstream media, particularly Hindi & English language newspapers and the TV channels.

Point to Ponder- cartoons are the best medium of expression- satire and humour, however what will these toons become in highly charged hands! Keep guessing & happy Holi!


21 March 2008

Propagating Beer

Direct & surrogate advertising of any kind of liquor is banned in India, so what? Take a look at the long write up- “ Asia’s Top Beers” that has appeared in the supplement of Economic Times, Corporate Dossier on page 4. It faithfully educates the readers about best selling brews in Asia. Not to forget, photographs of the beer brands, seen all over the written word! What more is required for an advertisement? Anyone listening?


The month of March has seen numerous full page luring advertisements in leading newspapers by Indian Institute of Management (IIPM), a private educational institution offering MBA & BBA degrees along with freebies like laptops and global tours! Take a look at the punch line- “Why study aboard when IIPM gives you 3 Global advantages!”.This private institution claimed to be ‘committed to cutting edge research and education on economics, entrepreneurship and management”.

But hang on, was IIPM authorized to issue these degrees? Nope! Hence this private institution has been served a show-cause notice by University Grants Commission. Reason, according to law, the right to confer or grant degree shall be exercised only by a University established or incorporated by or under a central act, a provisional Act or State Act or an institution deemed to be a university or an institution specially empowered by Act of Parliament to confer or grant degrees. And since IIPM does not fall in any of above mentioned categories, the institute can only offer diplomas & not MBAs & BBAs. But according to the faculty member of IIPM, the ad does mention that degrees issued by IIPM are in collaboration with a foreign university (Mail Today).

Take a look at what the ad says in very fine print- “ Post graduate/under graduate degree in management, IIPM conducts its own programmes in Planning and & Entrepreneurship (a non professional, non technical course) and does not teach any foreign institutes’ courses. International Management Institute, Europe awards its globally renowned degrees in recognition of excellence of IIPM’s programme. The degrees are conferred by IMI and do not come under the purview of the AICTE, UGC or any other state acts” (Hindu 20/3/2008. Page 4). Now what does this mean! Keep guessing! More to come, according to government officials, there were separate regulations for foreign universities to issue degrees to Indian students and IIPM didn’t adhere to the parameters. (Mail Today).

A case of counting chickens before they hatch? (title of the book by top-gun of IIPM). Probably, he has been devoting more time in producing Bollywood masala movies!

Cartoon of the Day

The Indian government’s take on Tibet seems to be reflected in the cartoon that has appeared in Mail Today. Here, a foreign TV journalist is seen asking a man, seemingly an Indian bureaucrat- “ -your take on Tibet….?” . Guess what he replies- “ Depends on yours.”!


20 March 2008


All-India Debt and Investment Survey (2002) had showed an increase in the share of money lenders in total dues of rural households from 17.5 per cent in 1991 to 29.6 per cent in 2002. The 2003 report of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) had said that 76 per cent of rural households took loans from moneylenders.

Note so long ago, the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had advised the farming community "not to repay loans taken from people who are doing money lending business illegally," and urged state governments to protect farmers from money lenders. Now, a leading Economist is taking the side of the notorious shark- money lender? Yes, take a look what Bibek Debroy has to say:

“…Why do money lenders remain…their products are more flexible than those of the formal credit system. They are available 24/7 and provide doorstop credit…….we have attempted to eliminate the money lenders since 1904 and have not succeeded more than one hundred years down the road. It is far better to recognise that formal mechanism will never be able to supplant money lenders…the first step ….is the recognition that money-lending is not evil. It performs a useful function…”(Indian Express).

What’s going on here? The public sector banks and cooperative rural banks, regional rural banks etc came about only after Indian independence. So why to take credit/discredit for the actions of the British to ‘eliminate’ (read regulate) the money lender- pre 1947! Anyways, what concert steps (at the ground level) have been taken to increase the flow & spread of credit facilities in the rural areas in recent times? Infact, a glance over the recent statistics shows that branches of banks in rural areas have gone down! Take a sample- regional rural banks went down from 196 to 96 during March 2000-2007. And the number of bank offices of non scheduled commercial banks in rural areas went down from 32852 to 30560 during the same period. And what to talk about the pathetic customer service at the rural branches.

Point to ponder-Why have we left the rural folks to be born in debt, live in debt and die in debt? No Financial wizard required here for a honest answer.

FDI in Print

The Indian government has allowed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the print media to overcome the shortage of capital faced by the newspaper industry. However FDI will be subject to maximum of 26 per cent of the paid up equity capital. Further the editorial content will remain in Indian control. and three fourth of the board of directors of the new entity and all the key executives and editorial staff will be resident Indians (Asian Age).

Surrogate Ad

While the big liquor companies have refused to comment on the decision of the government to ban surrogate ads of liquor, the advertising agencies and media planners have raised their voice against government’s decision. According to them, if these brands can be sold, why can’t they be advertised. Indian Broadcasting Federation (IFB) is likely to meet the Information & Broadcasting minister next week on this issue. (Economic Times). It seems that the liquor giants have taken a backseat and let the advertising agencies do the talking ! Smart, diplomatic move!

Who is the target?

Listen to the Punjab State Electricity Board and this Holi save more on electricity bill. Yes, Holi is just around the corner and many ads have taken on board the festival of colours. Take a look at the advertisement of Punjab State Electricity Board in Tribune. The ad features a girl, not in the tradition outfit of Punjab (like in earlier ad) but in top & jeans, soaked in colours of Holi with the punch line- “ Rangela Punjab CFL de naal”. Now, is the girl CFL? Nope! So where does she fit in here?


19 March 2008

Indian Journalism: Bitter Truth

Noted veteran Journalist Khushwant Singh is known for his frank views. And he has not minced words in a write-up that has appeared in the latest Outlook, a weekly magazine about the state of print media in the largest democracy of the world.

“…All it needed was to fill their pages with pictures of scantily-clad starlets or models, recipes for exotic foods, vintage wines and gossip. The formula could be summed up in four Fs: films, fashion, food and fuck editors…Today if you ask who is the editor of the Times of India, the Hindustan Times, the Telegraph and the Statesman, nine out of ten will plead ignorance….The hard truth about Indian journalism is that proprietors matter, editors do not; money counts, talent does not. The latest instance of money trashing ability and experience is the unceremonious sacking of M.J. Akbar, founder-editor of the Asian Age. He is perhaps the most distinguished living member of his tribe….So without a word of warning, on the morning of March 1 while he was on his way to office, Akbar learned that his name was no longer on the Asian Age masthead as its editor-in-chief. It was an unpardonable act of discourtesy committed by someone with less breeding and more money…” (F*** All Editors. Outlook. Dated 24/3/08 Page 34). A piece not to be missed.

Point to note: No editorial in any leading newspapers has raised the issue of sacking of M.J. Akbar, forget about commenting on the standard of Indian journalism.

Cartoon of the Day

The newspaper reports suggest that Economy of United States has or will soon enter into a recession. Bad news for Indian stock market etc? Mail Today has carried a cartoon featuring a man praying -” Give the US its daily bread and medicines.”. And this praying man resembles Obama!

Advertisement of the Day

A modern Indian girl, wearing T shirt & jeans in a mobile phone ad, will this make you want to buy this mobile? Nope, on the other hand, this ad makes one repulsive (Hindustan Time, Dainik Jagran). Why? Here this girl is wearing light T shirt will an invitation- “call me” (in bold ) 09250362436”. And mind you, this mobile ad is for -Virgin Mobile.

Substitute for surrogate Ads

Though the government has acted tough on surrogate ads of liquor and tobacco, advertising of these products will not end. Take a clue from the report in Economic Times that suggests that soon a Media company will start off with Future TV lounge, that would put up television screens for advertising the same in hotel lounges, restaurants, bars and pubs as the Indian law allows this at the point of consumption.


18 March 2008

Surrogate Ads

SARCAJC has been regularly highlighting that in the country of Mahatma Gandhi, who was dead opposed to liquor, various surrogate ads of liquor still appear in media- newspapers, roadside hoarding , reports etc. Not long ago, the Union Minister of Health had expressed his displeasure over surrogate ads. Now, the government has amended the Cable Television Networks Rules. According to which -” no advertisement shall be permitted which promotes directly or indirectly production, sale, of consumption of cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants.” (Hindu. Delhi).

Hang on, what about surrogate ads of liquor appearing in print, roadside hoardings and indirectly via newspaper reports? No mention here. Wonder why?

Education Appraisal

Education is the key to sustaining growth of any economy. Exams season is on. Guess what, to reduce stress, Indian students are eating sandwiches containing Iodex and even lizard, while some students have committed suicide too (Amar Ujala. Delhi). Does this helps in getting good grades? Nope, so the rich kids are hiring brilliant students as ‘writers’ for their exam for cost of Rs. 2.5 million. Surprised? Yes, they do this by faking a fracture & get their writers in! Not all, the stinking rich parents are even ready to ‘invest’ Rs. 10 million for good marks in Gujarat (Deccan Chronicle. Hyderabad 17/3/2008). And what’s the story in competitive exams? The cut-off is down ! Take a clue- IIT-JEE entrance exam is believed to one of the toughest in the world, but even this has exam has seen drastic fall in standard. In 2006, the cutoff marks in maths, physics and chemistry were 37,48,55, which fell to 1,4 and 3 in 2007! (Times of India. Delhi. 17/3/2008). No prize for guessing who must be getting accommodated here. Remember, over 90 percent of the students appearing for IIT & IIM entrance exams are rejected due to capacity constrains, of which the top 40 percent pay to get admission abroad. It amounts to 450,000 students go aboard & spend whopping $13 billion for studies (Asian Age).

Why merit is so helpless here? Why no transformational reforms in education, why does it remain a holy cow?


All the newspapers have faithfully carried the news about Tibet crackdown, courtesy agencies. But what is the range of views, carried by the newspapers of the largest democracy of the world? For a sample, take a look at Pioneer (Delhi) which has devoted one full page as well as editorial on this & editorial of Asian Age (Delhi).

“…this is not to suggest that China should retreat from Tibet or accept the demand for Tibet’s independence; these are issues that belong to the realm of China’s internal affairs.…At the same time, repressive measures are bound to elicit adverse comments abroad, especially in this age of instant communications when events cannot be kept hidden from the world….” (Editorial. Pioneer).

“……public opinion in India is never detached and indifferent where human rights are trampled upon anywhere. One of the merits of India’s democracy is that the country’s political class usually sinks its differences & unites to condemn the violation of human rights and civil liberties…The Left has chosen to dismiss the Lhasa uprising as “an internal mater of China”. One can’t find a better example of Left hypocrisy…” (Editorial. Asian Age).

“…the problem is that China prefers to ignore the aspirations of the Tibetans and the need for a larger say in their own affairs…” (Claude Apri. Pioneer)

“….The revolt in Tibet and the incidents in Lhasa underline the total failure of Chinese intelligence agencies…” (B.Raman. Pioneer)


17 March 2007


The editorial of Telegraph is extremely critical of the Governor of Reserve Bank of India. Take a look- “…Underlying the sinking fortunes of the industries are the anti-growth polices of the RBI. The governor has heard too many fellow-governors in too many swanky conference rooms inveighing against the evils of inflation. As the result, the RBI has developed a phobia about inflation. It has forgotten that the economy has to grow….As monopoly buyer of major food grains, it (Central Government) increases purchase prices every year.. It is impossible to force food prices year after year and keep other prices down….” (Fading India. Telegraph. Calcutta. Page 8). Hang on, never knew that the problem of inflation & growth was so simplistic! Wait, consult the Economic Surveys too!

Interview of the Day

For a change, no interview of ‘page three’ glamorous personality or a politician or high profile politician but a team of small town women journalists! Yes, this team of eight women, predominately from the dalit caste is making waves in Chitrakoot district of Uttar Pradesh. Their product- an eight page fortnightly in Bundeli. The staff reporter of Free Press Journal (Mumbai) has interviewed this unique team. & the paper has also carried their beaming photograph. The interview reveals that thought these small town women have not received much education, them seem to be more professional than some of sensational freak urban journalists.

Take a look what they had to say about reporting on women related issues- “ is not easy to forget the bad times we have faced when we report on atrocities on women. Taking editorial decisions regarding the placement of such stories is very difficult…We have decided not to sensationalise women’s issues”. (Free Press Journal Mumbai). Lessons for many to learn?

The newspaper of the Day:

No doubt that the DNA (Mumbai) is the newspaper of the Day. Take a feel-“VIP homes big burden on taxpayers” (DNA exclusive), “56 NGOs raising cadres for nasals in state”,“ Big bucks in preying on poor” , “how to win battle against junk food”, “ More women now raise voice against dowry”, “ Residents pay for developer’s folly” and much more.

However, the same paper carries an ad of a travel agency on its front page which looks like a news report about success of this travel agency in the ‘stormy tour industry‘! More to come- the crucial word- “advt” is carried in an extremely small font, that surely will not be easily visible! Now what to read fist - this advt or DNA Exclusive?

Whose Brand

The surrogate ads of liquor & tobacco continue to appear unabated. Take a look at this ad- : “Kingfisher’s special summer body massage…specially for executives, hotel and home services….” (Deccan Chronicle. Hyderabad). Who is the advertiser-Liquor baron’s Kingfisher airlines/liquor/soda? Can‘t say, as only a mobile number is mentioned here!


16 March 2008

Sunday Treat

The cartoon & satire treat in Jhankar, the supplement of Dainik Jagran, reminds all that Holi, the festival of colours & fun - is just around the corner. Here no one is spared - leading politicians, actors, industrialists, cricketers and the common man. Indeed in this local holi masti, our neighbour Musharaff also makes a sporting appearance, sans his uniform! And not to forget our dear old Symonds dancing on dictates of Bhajji like a monkey! Its not all, the supplement also contains a humorous Holi forecast! A Must to read & enjoy!

Report of the Day: Sports

Cash rich cricketers (and why forget the Bollywood stars) don’t hesitate for a second for endorsing any product, irrespective of its social impact on the masses. But isn’t that true for all sports-stars? Nope. Take a clue from Gopichand who after winning all England Badminton Companionship was offered Rs. 10 million from Coca Cola. But he refused the offer. And today he doesn’t regret his decision. Read to know why. (No regret for one crore, concern about upcoming generation. Amar Ujala. page 21).

Report of the Day: Rural

Most newspapers have been carrying several articles/views/expert opinions on the probable impact of the loan waiver announced in the Union Budget, however none have gone to the ground level. Tribune is carrying the ground realities from three States- Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Anything new? Take a clue from Jasbir Singh, a farmer- “ Go to a bank and they will make you stand in a queue for hours. Your wait for loan can extend even up to six months….We cannot rely on banks….If we for to the arhtiya (moneylender) it is because we are unable to get loans easily from banks..” Not surprising, a study by Punjab State farmers commission and Punjab Agriculture University observed-” the Punjab peasant is born in debt, lives in debt and dies in debt”.

Point to Ponder- How far can these banks (mostly co-operative banks, mostly in financial doldrums) be trusted with efficient delivery of the loan waiver coming from the government to the farmers in distress?


15 March 2008

Double Vision

There rise & growth of the Indian food in Britain is slowing down. Fair enough, rise & fall is a part of any business cycle. But hang on, is this news so important that it should appear twice in a newspaper? Nope! Take a clue from Virat Vaibhav, here this news report has appeared twice on page 7 & again on page 15- word to word the same, with slight variation in the heading! Keep guessing why!

New Arrivals: Track

The two financial newspapers- Economic Times & Business Standard had not so long ago launched their Editions in Hindi language. However the former is mostly unavailable as it is facing problems of distribution. Result- non-availability!

The other new kid on the block- Business Standard in Hindi has been advertising itself with the punch line - “ I tell the future of Business. I am Hindi”. A Business newspaper claiming to be the Hindi language! Anyways, can readers take decisions based on this newspaper’s future business forecast? Nope! Take a look at the disclaimer- “…Business Standard takes no responsibility regarding investment and business decisions by readers based on reports published in its newspaper… Readers are expected to take decisions themselves“. Hey, what about the punch line of the ad!

The English edition consists of 24 pages (price-Rs. 3) vis-à-vis 16 pages of the Hindi edition (price-Rs. 2). Nothing really outstanding about the Hindi edition. It appears that the Hindi edition mostly relies on translations from its English counterpart. Moreover the matter to read is also less.


14 March 2008

Energy conservation

No doubt that energy conservation is a must in today’s energy starved environment. In this connection an ad by Punjab State Electricity Board has placed an ad in Tribune, which educates the readers about benefits of CFL over the common bulb such as - “gives more light and saves upto 80% electricity..” and also warns that "any consumer found using general bulb at tubewell kothas after 15/3/08 will face immediate disconnection without any further notice”. Fair enough, but why such warning has not been issued to industries and governmental bodies also? (extending the scope for other places, other than tubewell Kothas). Nevertheless, take a look at the visual appeal of this ad- the presence of two young females, wearing Punjabi outfits in this ad is totally misplaced.

Cartoon of the Day

The Reserve Bank of India has appealed to the public “not to use banknotes for making garlands, decorating pandals and places of worship, or for showering on personalities in social events (Hindustan Times). The cartoon of the Day has been carried in Jansatta on this topic. It shows a scene of a ‘welcome function’ where a well dressed man is giving a suitcase to a man who looks like a politician and guess what former tells him-” Sir! Your garland!”. And no prizes for guessing, what must be in that suitcase! But what if they are fake!!

Advertising Liquor

Liquor ads & even surrogate liquor ads are banned in India but who says surrogate advertising of liquor doesn’t exist here? Take a look at page 4 of the leading Financial newspaper - Economic Times. The liquor baron is seen here, at the background is the name of his Indian Premium League cricket team - “ Royal Challengers”. The accompanying write up informs that the team is sponsored by liquor baron’s leading premium whiskies called ‘Royal Challenge’. Got the connection? Hang on, is liquor sponsorship allowed here? Keep guessing! This is not all, the next report has more to offer. It informs readers that a liquor company (name mentioned) has launched its products in tetra packs and in perfume bottles. Even the bottle of perfume containing liquor (name also mentioned) makes an appearance here! Now, what more is required for propagation of liquor through newspapers (read advertising)?


13 March 2008

Double Vision

How would readers react when the same news is reported twice in a leading newspaper? Testing time! Take a look:

Though even the leading Indian Business schools are suffering from faculty crunch, HT Correspondent reports on page 9 in Hindustan Times (18 paras) that a private Indian business school is planning to go global (what ever this means!).
But hang on, turn to page 26, here too HT correspondent reports the same news, but in an abbreviated way (7 paras). How- The first para of report on page 26 contains para- 1 & 2 of report on page 9. The second para of report on page 26 is third para of the news report on page 9. The sixth para of report on page 26 is ten to twelve para of report on page 9. Word to word the same! For the rest, there are slight changes but the basic content is the same. Take a look at one - the fifth para of report on page 26 contains contents of para eight & nine of report on page 9, with the sole difference that IV is four and III is three here!

Point to ponder- what's so special about this private business school that poor readers have to hear about its buiness plans twice?

Liquor Advertising

Curbs in liquor ads, so what? Displeasure expressed by the Union Health Minister over surrogate ads, so what? The propagation (read advertising) of liquor continues unabated in various forms. Take a look at page three of Metro Plus, a supplement of Hindu. It faithfully carries a clear picture of a beer bottle (label clearly visible) and glass filled with beer with write up about the brand, qualities and even the price and availability! Now what more is left for a formal advertisement? Therefore, the news that India is the world’s largest booze market should not come as a surprise (Hindustan Times. Page 25).

12 March 2008

Facts of Day: leakage

The Indian Planning Commission has conceded that majority of the grain to be distributed under public distribution system to the poor below poverty line is lost- as about 42 per cent of the subsidized grains issued by the Central Pool reaches only 57 per cent of the target group in India (Pioneer). And the rest is lost in the leakages (read corruption chain). This front page news, procured from an agency, is carried by Pioneer on page 11 with no critical comment. Remember, next in the pipeline is the distribution of massive Rs. 600 billion as loan waiver, announced for small & marginal farmers though around 75 percent of small & marginal farmers will not benefit from it. (Indian Express. Front page). What will be the magnitude of leakage here, is not a secret!

Facts of Day: fake currency

According to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), fake Indian currency has seen a sudden increase and they are been smuggled into the country from all directions. The CBI has found that Southern and Western India has emerged as big markets for fake currency (Economic Times. Page 2). The political Bureau of this leading financial paper has failed to make any comment on this grave problem. In fact, none of the leading newspapers have carried any detailed first hand investigative report (read sting operation) on this critical problem faced by the country. Why just newspapers, this is true for television channels too. Too busy covering page 3 events & celebrities!

Advertisement of the Day

An ad of invertors/UPS/Batteries is trying to ride on the popularity of women’s Indian hockey, courtesy a super hit Bollywood movie (Amar Ujala). But is the timing right? Remember, the screaming front page headlines regarding humiliating defeat in Men’s Hockey that appeared only yesterday. Probably, the advertiser feels that Indian women are better hockey players than men, so they decided to feature women hockey players from the super hit Bollywood movie!


11 March 2008

Hockey Blame

After the euphoria over cricket matches/auctions, now the latest sports blaze is failure of Indian hockey team to qualify for the Olympics. Its heat can be felt as screaming headlines make an appearance on front page. Take a look at a few:

India’s national shame (Times of India)

Olympian Kick (Tribune)

Hockey cries help (Indian Express)

Humiliation (Hindustan Times)

Glory of 80 years lost (Dainik Bhaskar)

Indian Hockey shamed (Dainik Jagran)

Most newspapers have tried to present the possible reasons for this dismal performance. The most popular target is KPS Gill, the President of Indian Hockey Federation and the rot in this Federation. But hang on, he has been in that position for nearly a decade and Indian performance in Hockey has not been steadily outstanding. Why this rot was not carried & followed by the media earlier?

Anyways, when the hockey team won the prestigious Asia Cup, did they get the same credit as their cricket fellows, who where enjoying best time of their lives after their victory in 20-20? Nope. On the other hand, the Hockey players had even declared to go on a hunger strike over the shabby treatment.

"“After shameful display of “celebrations” (referrers to cricket), the media has now woken up. Post-the media jamboree, it has now woken up to the neglect caused to other sports in the country, what with the news of hunger strike (by Indian hockey team) to protest the step motherly treatment, despite hockey team bring back home the Asia cup..” (Free Press Journal. 27/9/2007).

And even the Sports Ministry of India had decided to downgrade hockey and volleyball from the priority list to general category, because of limited funds (Indian Express. 17/6/2007). Check out our July 07 Newspaper watch for same date for more.

So, why should this defeat come as a surprise? Probably, all were well-soaked while witnessing piles & piles of money been poured on Indian cricketers, so this news came as a shocker? And a scrap goat is must on such odd occasions?

Anyways, the question arises, why only talk about Indian hockey, is this not the state of affairs for all sports (sans cricket)? Mostly, the policy makers love to compare India with China, is Indian performance comparable with Chinese in any Olympics? Nope! That’s why India is not compared with China in Olympics! Many would add on- Indians play sports for fun and not for wining any medals! Nevertheless, Delhi is too busy preparing for the role of a good host for Commonwealth Games 2010. So, why care about winning medals at the Olympics, let others win! And we continue play cricket, the money spinning game!

Revolt of 1857

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi wanted to install portraits of Indian heroes of the first war of independence in its hall. Portraits were indeed put up, but included those who had nothing to do with revolt of 1857, infact they were born way after 1857 like Birsa Munda and Raja Tirot Singh (Indian Express).

Point to ponder- Urgent need for lessons in history?


10 March 2008

Colour change

Many newspapers have carried an ad of a mobile on their front page. The real thrust is - “…the competition’s already seeing red..”. Don’t know about its impact on other mobiles, but its impact is seen on the front page of Dainik Jagran, which has changed its font colour from black to red! By looks, it appears that all news reports on the front page are indeed part of this ad- which is placed in the middle! The same ad is seen on front page of Times of India in the same position, however, here only the headings of newspaper reports have changed their colour from black to brown. However, the exception to this colour change is Hindu, the newspaper that has not changed the font colour though it is carying an ad of the same mobile on page 21.

Point to ponder- why should a newspaper change font colour of their news reports, courtesy the ad it is carrying on that page?


9 March 2008


SARCAJC has been raising issue of portrayal of women as commodities in various ad during Newspaper watch. Now, the Gender Council of the Delhi Union of Journalists has expressed concern over the lot of women and declining standards of their portrayal in various media. “…the image of women being projected is reinforcing commoditisation…”.

Investigation of Day

When most of reporters are busy quoting secondary sources, Durgesh Nandan Jha has taken the trouble to travel to the scorched earth of Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh and rediscovers ‘a tragedy that the budget bonanza is doing little for life’. A must to understand the latest budget & rural dynamics.

Advertisement Watch

The Chairman & Managing Director of a particular public sector bank travels to Amritsar, a city in Punjab. A topic for ads? Why, what’s the big deal anyway? Take a clue from 10 ads that have appeared in Tribune, page 23 (Delhi Edition), welcoming him on his maiden visit to Amritsar. And what’s peculiar about these ads is that they are of the same size and contain similar content, the only change coming in - different industrialist advertisers for each ad!

Point to ponder- Have bankers overtaken the politicians in attracting publicity over their visit to a city?


8 March 2008

Concern of the Day

International Women’s Day has dominated the ad scene today in most newspapers. Tall talks about female empowerment occur time & again in international seminars, which are held in five star hotels, but the ground reality is totally different. Anita Kuswaha, the Unicef poster girl from a poor family is back to square one- fighting for survival and has even dropped out of college as she has no money to pay the fees and bus fare. Why no help? Banks, state government and even the NGOs have not come forward to help her. A Must to read. (Unicef poster girl struggles for survival, Asian Age)

Point to ponder- Is International Women’s Day just another cashing opportunity for enhancing unproductive expenditure propagated through attractive ads?


Despite the fact that the Information & Broadcasting minister has assured that all surrogate ads of liquor and tobacco will soon be barred from appearing in any form of media. (Times of India). However, surrogate ad of liquor has made appearance even today in the leading English newspapers like Hindustan Times (HT City. page 3) & Times of India ( Delhi Times. Page 13). Further Asian Age has propagated brands of wine and champagne that go with seafood, courtesy write-ups (page 26, 27. The Age. Asian Age). Why no self regulation here?


7 March 2008

Quest for Pass

Piyush Srivastava has brought in light Jabbar Hussain’s determination to clear matriculation exam. What is the catch- this was his 42nd attempt to clear the matriculation exam and not surprising, he was the oldest examinee in the State. This 60 year old vegetable vendor in Uttar Pradesh also encourages Muslim families to sent their children to school. Hats off to his quest for education. A must to read (Grandpa’s 42nd Shot at class X obstacle. Mail Today. Page 15).


Authorities in Jammu & Kashmir have began poisoning 100,000 stray dogs under anti rabies programme. Are all dogs infected with rabies? Nope. Only two deaths occurred from 1,341 dog bites in Srinagar last year. According to Srinagar’s health official, it was more about appeasing the public that seems overwhelmingly support the plan. Moreover along with stray dogs, all other animals will also get killed as the poison is left in garbage dumps.

Point to ponder- while there is so much talk about human rights in Jammu & Kashmir, what about animals rights? Have they no right to live?


6 March 2008

Advertisement Watch

The government has asked the TV channel to withdraw an ad of an international insurance company, which asked parents to provide insurance cover to girl child because thy are a burden for the future (Hindustan Times).

Despite tall claims, women still viewed as commodities/burden, in the trillion dollar economy.

A days after the crackdown by the police of fake friendship club which publicized its services by placing advertisings in newspapers, such dubious looking ads still continue to appear in leading newspapers. Take a look at few:

“Fun@fantasy…..all kind of services…celeb & high society models for who deserve it..” (Times of India).

“5 & 7 star personalities…Russian, Indian & official women over 35.…” (Times of India)

“Page 3 high class earning & enjoy with high profile females…” (Hindustan Times)

Point to ponder- The revenue loss to the newspapers by not publishing such ads will be negligible compared to the goodwill earned from such act. Win-win- then not take on the path of social responsibility via self regulation?


5 March 2008

Concern of the Day

The former big shot of Indian bureaucracy - Shailaja Chandra has not minced words about state of media in India. Take a look- “…Indians are proud of their media for when everyone else has failed this sector, together with the judiciary has displayed exemplary courage in exposing and confronting wrongdoings. But for how long will a trusting public continue to have faith when it is clear that money can buy just about anything? All of us are little Lilliputians living at the mercy of the mightier forces that have the power to sway almost anything, given the clout of money and media on their side. Appointing independent regulators have now become unavoidable….” (Pioneer. Page 7).

Friendship Clubs

The Delhi police has busted fake ‘friendship club’ and nabbed its operators & 11 female associates on charges of cheating & forgery. This fake club placed advertisements in prominent newspapers in and invited people to become its members (Mail Today).

SARCAJC had taken up this topic in Newspaper Watch way back during July 2007, which is again reproduced:

“Friendship via advertisements? Yes, classified advertisements of Friendship messages (clubs/network) make a regular appearance in the Hindi newspapers. Surprisingly most have females names- Sapna, Karina, Mili, Kajol, Ekta, Shahiba, Ruchika, Pinki, Saniya, Ruby…!(Punjab Kesari). Gender bias? Further some carry picture of foreign female with international telephone numbers –“ call 24 hours” with a message in smallest font-“ callers 18+”(Dainik Bhaskar). In addition, some of them carry dubious messages such as “only one recharge”. How to trace their existence and check the activities as majority of them carry only mobile numbers as their contact points. (Amar Ujala, Punjab Kesari) The Press Council of India has formulated norms of Journalistic Code which include:

Newspaper shall not display ads which are vulgar or which, through depiction of a woman in nude or lewd or lewd posture, provoke lecherous attention of males as if she herself was a commercial commodity for sale (Code 29. Press Council of India). Do these friendship ads fall in this code?” (Newspaper watch. SARCAJC. 31/06/2007)

However even today, prominent newspapers continue to carry dubious looking classified ads of so called friendship clubs. For a sample, check out page 11 of the Hindi daily- Amar Ujala.

Point to Ponder- Why do newspapers accept such dubious ads? Why no self regulation/regulation here?

Advertisement of Day

Will one buy a SUV with a split personality? Not sure of the answer! Nevertheless, a full page ad of ‘the family car’ has appeared in Times of India, which features a huge ‘family car’ with the punch line -” Sometimes a spilt personality Isn’t a bad thing….The family car that looks like an SUV”. Any takers!

Despite reservations by the Health Minister over surrogate ads of Liquor, one such ad has appeared in Delhi Times. Times of India. Page 7. No regulation here?


4 March 2008

Farmer Relief

Mixed reactions have come in for the massive debt relief package for the farmers worth Rs. 300 billion, announced in the recently presented annual budget. Why? Among many apprehensions, how to save small & marginal farmers from the tentacles of rural money lender- is out of the scope of this Rs. 300 billion debt relief package. Remember, around 40 per cent of the small farmers fall in this category. Moreover the root cause of ‘farmer in debt & distress’ has yet to be resolved. Right, this can't be resolved by the budget. As its more of a policy matter than a accounting number game!

And now the latest- government has rejected the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers to directly link the Minimum support price it pays for agricultural produce with the cost farmers pays for growing it. Jatin Gandhi is correct to point out -” Farmers have been complaining for years now that one of the main causes of agrarian distress and indebtedness is the rise in input costs” (Hindustan Times). So, is this debt relief sustainable for small & marginal farmers in the long run?

Take a clue from reaction from readers, via letters to editor in various newspapers. It would be worth to note that Hindu has devoted maximum space for farm loan waiver and has published 11 letters on this topic.

Our land has become degraded and lost all productive capacity…Spending Rs. 60,000 crore (Rs. 600 billion) on debt relief is not enough. The beneficiaries should be made self-reliant. (M. Kamal Naidu from Hyderabad. Hindu)

…it is politically dishonest for the opposition to cry foul when the government has actually announced massive relief plan to help farmers overcome their distress….(P. Krishnan from Puttaparthy. Hindu).

The waiver is like providing food to the hungry in the morning who become hungry again in the evening. Does the Finance Minister propose to clean up the accumulated dust year after year? …(Nareah Jain from Bangalore. Hindu)

….To overcome the problem of farmer’s suicides, the FM has advocated economic suicide….(Ganesh K. Sovani from Mumbai. Hindustan Times)

The debt relief does not fully mitigate the farmer’s problems in India…The government should evolve better remunerative prices for agricultural produce. (A. Madan Mohan from Chittor. Hindu)

….The government should have worked out a programme for the second green revolution…(Chandan Puri from Delhi. Hindustan Times)

…The fact that most of the farm borrowing is from moneylenders has been overlooked….The finance minister could have ploughed the funds towards welfare measures which would have assured earnings. The farmers would have then earned enough to repay their loans (C. Jeevitha from Chennai. Hindu)

The waiver announcement has come a little too late, Had it come earlier, some precious lived could have been saved…(A.R.K. Pillai from Mumbai. Hindu)

…Election-eyed loan waivers to one and all will only ruin the economy in the long run. (S. Subramaniam Balaji from Chennai. Hindu)

Who is going to foot the bill for the Rs. 60,000 crore of leans that have been waived….(T.M. Sudararaman from Chennai. Hindu)

Repayment of loan in the agricultural sector has virtually come to a halt. Non-performing assets will only increase in spite of all waivers…(M.V.Suresh Babu from Kochi. Hindu). may set a set a bad precedent. In future, farmers many take loans and wait for the next elections a waiver…(Wg. Cdr. V. Sundaresan (Retd) from Scunderabad. Hindu)

….What farmer need is a fair price for their produce and farm inputs at an affordable level. The truth is that farmer’s suicide will continue while the poll pundits will praise the Finance Minister for his ingenuity. (N.S. Venkataraman. Hindustan Times)

….Loan-waivers will now onwards become yet another vote-catching devise for parties in power apart of course from encouraging borrowers to evade repayment. (M. C. Joshi from Lucknow. Indian Express)

…we should think of setting up credible structures to ensure that our farmers so not get into the debt trap again (Vaibhav Minocha from Ghaziabad. Hindu).

…It is confusing that irrigated land non irrigated landholdings have been kept in the same category. It shows that the government in not aware of the fact that atleast 60 per cent land holdings are in the non irrigated areas. (Nitu Pun from Chandigarh Pioneer)

….where do farmers go from here? Has anything being done to improve agricultural infrastructure, institutional banking facilities at their doorsteps, etc?…(M Ratan from New Delhi. Pioneer).


3 March 2008

The advertisement of the Day

Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts has placed an advertisement in Economic Times with eye-catching punch line- “Just like Christopher Columbus You never know what you may discover!”. Where? At Indian Handicrafts & Gifts Fair in NCR of Delhi. However the photographs carried by the ad are rather unattractive compared to the punch line.

Talking of attractive visual, ad by a school carries an attractive caricature of former president of India- Dr, APJ Abdul Kalam with a punch line-“ be what you want to be”. (HT City. Hindustan Times. Delhi Edition. Page 3). The ad tends to ride on the popularity wave of the former President of India, who has nothing to do with that particular school.

Surrogate Ads

A PIL seeking a blanket ban on surrogate advertising of liquor in electronics and print media was withdrawn by an NGO after the Delhi High Court denounced the misuse of the forum and put forth the possibility of a huge penalty on the NGO. The court pulled by the NGO for been ignorant about government’s effort to put in place corrective measures to curb such surrogate commercials. (Times of India. Delhi edition page 8).

Remember, recently, the Health Minister had written to the Information & broadcasting Minister seeking action against surrogate advertisements of liquor & tobacco in electronics and print media (Hindustan Times. 24/2/08. Page 9)

Point to ponder- why do responsible print & electronic media publish these surrogate ads anyway? Why no self-regulation? What would have been Mahatma Gandhi’s take on this?


If Arun Nehru is to be believed, that Barack Obama is the favourite to win the democratic nomination over Hillary Clinton and may well be the next US President as the Republican party is struggling to handle the negative impact of the war in Iraq (Pioneer). Add the report of D.K Singh from Austin, according to which young Indian Americans are adding to Hillary’s problem ahead of key primary (Indian Express). Why? “ The neck to neck rare this time has laid bare the differences between generations…it is his (Obama’s) multi-ethnic background - ironically the object of several smear campaign, allegedly by the Clinton camp- that makes him so attractive for them”. And last not the least, Strobe Tabott in an interview to the Editor-in-chief of the Indian Express, indicates possible prospects of Obama - “ There’s a difference between a boss and a leader, and I think the US in recent years has tended to boss people too much” (Indian Express).

Cartoon Watch

Several newspapers have carried cartoons that concentrate on the recently presented annual budget. However the cartoon of the day has been carried by Mail Today which features a common man reading the budget 2008 with a realistic advice - “ Election manifestoes are subject to implementation risks. Read carefully before voting”.

Enjoy all the way

Shibu Joseph presents humour in the best form- The original, uncut, unabridged budget speech which was ‘scripted by a mischievous member of finance minister’s budget team‘. But some sanity prevailed at the last minute and was not finalized. Take a clue from extracts- “…I want to throw some goodies at our salaried class too. The objective is to silence the baying economists who will otherwise tear apart my budget….Public money is like holy water, everyone helps himself…our government believes in inclusive growth, It is only fitting then that we include out engendered species of tigers in our growth agenda, Hence I propose to open a special fund which will be used to buy back tiger skins. I would have loved to include vulnerable monkeys to the list, but I seem too many jumping around these days, including in the cricket field. …With these worlds, Sir, into thy hands I commend my spirit (opps, Budget).(Economic Times. Page 24).

A must to read & enjoy!


2 March 2007

High Hopes

Swapan Dasgupta is critical of the recent annual budget. However, his suggestion at the end of his piece is extremely simplistic- “….The challenge before India is to organise a humane transfer of people’s dependency on agriculture to other sectors. The priority is to boost the expansion in manufacturing and services to facilitate this transition…” (front page. Pioneer).

Hang on, what about complexities involved out here? First, in which sectors can millions of rural illiterate/semi-literate rustic farmers be absorbed ? Definitely, no matter how much one promotes manufacturing and services, millions of farmers cannot absorbed by them. Take a clue from rising unemployment rate in urban areas. Second, sunrise enterprises/industries are not labour intensive to absorb illiterate/semi-literate farmers. Third, pathetic state of slums in the urban cities is not a secret where rural folk are forced to live when they migrate to the urban areas and land up as a labourer with no bright future. What to talk only of slums, in capital city- Delhi, even affluent residents are suffering from electricity & water shortages. …The points to ponder seem endless!


1 March 2008

Surrogate ads

Despite the fact that the Health Minister of India has expressed displeasure over the appearance of surrogate ads of liquor, they continue to appear unabated in newspapers, television channels and roadside hoarding, Check out page 17 in the leading newspaper in English- Page 17. Delhi Times. Times of India (Delhi Edition) . And also page 2 of Splurge, a supplement of Hindustan Times (Delhi Edition) which claims to celebrate luxury. It contains a detailed interview of export manager of a brand of French Wine, seen seated with a wine glass in his hand. Moreover it also contains two photographs of bottles of two labels of that particular brand of wine. And the interview is centered around wine and even informs reader to various nine labels of the brand and their price. Now what more is required for propagation (read advertising)?

Rice & newspaper

What is the relationship between a newspaper and a rice preparation? Check out two full pages of ad in HT City, supplement of Hindustan Times - “Come and watch history in the making. HT Presents Kohinoor World’s largest Biryani…Today, Kohinoor gears up to cook a sizzling Guinness World Record…3000 Kg of Basmati rice….”.

Point to ponder- why not donate rice to the poor instead …heard of social responsibility?

Cartoon of the Day

Despite the fact that most newspapers are carrying cartoons on the annual budget, the cartoons of the Day has been carried by Hindustan. The reason- innovation- fusion of the miniature paintings with that of the Finance Minister and his budget along with sholaks on budget in Sanskrit.

March 2008 Newspaper Watch