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March 2010 Newspaper Watch

Newspaper watch for the month March 2010, for recent newspaper watch view Homepage.

31 March 2010

Advertisement Watch

Advertisement by Municipal Corporation (MCD) in Times of India shouts- "Public Notice" & comes with punch line- " Sale of sugarcane juice and cut fruits etc". Is MCD selling these items? Nope, read on- "whereas, undersigned is satisfied that in summer & rainy reason of the year 2010, city of Delhi is threatened with an outbreak of cholera....". Hang on, how did the commissioner of MCD get "satisfied"! Not a word in this ad! Nevertheless, the ad prohibits sale of cut fruits ... & sale of sugarcane through unlicensed shops/units. Yes, the licence raj still exists! Another advertisement that has appeared in Amar Ujala reflects on the state of affairs in public funded institution of higher education. Imagine parents are being called for parents- teachers meeting. Why- "In an endeavour to appraise in respect to various issued being raised by the agitating students". Further parents have been asked to accompany their child to examination centre to "avoid any intimidation by the agitating students"! Two days back too an advertisement had appeared by same university, highlighting its achievements. What a manner to resolve grievances of students (who are no kids!) by Delhi Technology University (formerly known as Delhi College of Engineering)! More to come, a full page advertisement has appeared in Asian Age & its punch line reads- " 15 open questions to Hon. Minister Kapil Sibal, Human resource ministers Department, from an educationist & life-time Congressman". What kind of questions? Take a clue- "Is the MHRD wants to fulfill the demand of the Nation in the domain of Higher education, by allowing foreign universities only? Is it not reflecting the arguments of British Rulers during the Freedom Movement of India that, if the Britishers left India, then Indians wont be able to rule India by themselves?"

Cartoon of Day

Cartoon in Rashtriya Sahara by Madav features two well dressed men (wearing business suit), the one carrying a briefcase asks the other- "How was your financial year?" The other responds smiling- "not much special, only scam of 10-20 crore". Yes, corruption is rampant but one hardly finds investigative reports in newspapers exposing them- regularly. Is it because there is no stringent law to protect the whistle blower or it’s more to do with apathy? Nevertheless, few people are caught. Take a clue from some of news items in newspaper:

Liquor- hologram both fake, factory caught

Two caught with fake currency

Three arrested for illegal liquor

Manager himself cheats banks of Rs 55 lakhs

Project started in 1982 yet to be completed

PNB employee siphons off Rs. 48 lakhs

18,000 bogus PDS cards caught


30 March 2010

To Morgan with Love

Shantilal Jain has penned down a letter – "Foreign Vice Chancellor, desi requirement" in Nai Duniya. He writes this letter to David Morgan, his American friend, who is enthusiastic about the permission granted to foreign universities to set up campus in India. A must to read. Take a clue- " Dear Morgan, you are coming as Vice Chancellor, congratulations. First you learn how to ride a donkey. Students leader’s favourite hobby is to make vice chancellor ride a donkey....they break glass...they break table...Morgan, also bring along with you your Bhanja-Bhateja. Here in University, there is tradition of giving jobs to Bhanja-Bhateja...You better learn how to touch feet...It will be better if you can get your spine out. If not, get it extremely flexible so that you can bend it towards chief minister of whichever party...I am sending along with this letter a copy of CVC guidelines. The best part is not to violate guidelines & also make money...Your smartness lies that you embezzle but are not caught...". Point to ponder- what will Morgan Do?

Aim of Day

Tribune News Service has highlighted that Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission has stated that India will aim at 10% GDP rate under XII five-year plan. He also pointed out that the only problem in the Indian context is that Indians are not competing in labour intensive activities. Yes, a job in organized sector is indeed a prized commodity and unlike in developed countries, statistics on unemployment are not updated in India. Is ignorance of ground level unemployment situation- bliss?
News Service has highlighted that Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission has stated that India will aim at 10% GDP rate under XII five-year plan. He also pointed out that the only problem in the Indian context is that Indians are not competing in labour intensive activities. Yes, a job in organized sector is indeed a prized commodity and unlike in developed countries, statistics on unemployment are not updated in India. Is ignorance of ground level unemployment situation- bliss?

Editorial of Day

Only three lines inform in Hindustan Times that 6 die of malnutrition in Malda (West Bengal) in last 10 days. However this news has not appeared in any other leading newspaper in the capital. The editorial of the same paper take stock of the problem- " ...Even as parliament gets to ready to discuss the food security bill, the lawmakers must keep in mind that legislations, funds and programmes are just one part of the solution of the hunger problem. Along with laws, its own foot soldiers need to me made accountable for a time bound implementation of the programmes. At the last count, five ministries run 17 anti –poverty and health programmes in India that is supported to ensure a cradle-to-grave safety net. But when it comes to delivering them to the targeted category, every step is fraught with corrupt arms of government....This must end because only human capital can sustain India’s growth story". (Hindustan Times)


29 March 2010

Report of Day

The Chief Economic Advisor has been quoted by Economic Times – "If some people sell off the coupons (read food coupons), don’t try to set up elaborate bureaucratic machinery to stop this. Even if the coupon gets sold, someone somewhere will use it to buy food and the poor household that sold it off at least got money in exchange". But what will they eat & survive; given the fact food prices have hit the roof? Why not improve the delivery system of well intended development schemes instead? It is not often that a leading newspaper tracks ‘unglamorous’ hunger, on its front page & also devotes inner one full page. Priya Ranjan Sahu reports on the front page of Hindustan Times- "Safety net collapses in Balangir". HT visited 55 families where people (mostly below the age of 40 years) had died in Balangir in the state of Orissa. Indeed, eye-opening findings for all those obsessed with only growth figures – malnutrition is sparking a lifelong cycle of fatal weaknesses, disease & death. Every day, 4 children below the age of 6 years die across the district. What could be the reason? The much acclaimed rural employment scheme does not come to aid here as though many earn less than Rs. 365 per month, they are not considered (officially) to be below poverty line. HT found out that with no support of any income, the distressed families resold half of subsidized food grains to buy other essential items including medicines. Such is the official apathy, when HT contacted Planning & Coordination minister of the State, his response -"I am in Chandigarh" & disconnected the phone! Vibha Sharma is spot on when she points-"One third of the worlds’ hungry live in the country where food grains often rot due to lack of coordination between the Centre and States..." (Tribune). No wonder why India ranks so high in Global Hunger Index.


28 March 2010

Solution of Day

Ela Bhatt, leading Social activist of SEWA fame has advocated a 100 mile principle to tackle the present food crisis. She has called upon people to take a pledge to consume only those products and services that are produced within 100 miles around them. "This should begin from the food we consume everyday". (Times of India)

27 March 2010

Advertisement Watch:

The classified advertisements in Hindi newspapers cover almost all areas. Today’s focus is- loan in two leading newspapers in Hindi- Amar Ujala and Hindustan. Are these advertisements more than just luring? Take a look:

…Loan 100% guarantee in only 100 minutes (educational loan free) 100000-3500000 discount35% interest 0% (return 20 years)…

No guarantee no bank statement cash loan…30 lakhs on ration car. Marriage card5 lakh, mark sheet 25 lakh…

People worried for not getting loan, get loan in 5 minutes …

,…get all kinds of loans in 24-48 hrs by sitting at home, no guarantee, no commission, no file charge…..

Without guarantee get all kinds of loans in only 2 hours. Less paper work. Attractive concession….

Cash all credit cards, get money immediately. Only cash…

No advance, no file charge, 8th, 10th, 12th pass men& women get 5-12 lakhs loans=. 35% discount. Return in 7 years. Agents invited….


26 March 2010

Media Watch

The front page of Hindu reports that N. Ram, Editor-in-chief of Hindu and group publications & director of Kasturi & Sons has decided to launch defamatory proceedings against Archna Shukla, Senior Editor, Indian Express and Editor-in-chief & Publisher of Indian Express & Financial Express & other. Reason- ‘publication of highly defamatory material’. Yesterday, these two newspapers had published news stories on N Ram’s role and actions in relation to development within the newspaper group and company. Archna Shukla’s report came up on front page of Indian Express- Battle for control breaks out in The Hindu very divided family”. It did not mince words- “A bitter battle has broken out among family members for control of one of the country's oldest and most respected media companies, Kasturi & Sons Ltd, the publisher of the 132-year-old English newspaper The Hindu and business daily The Hindu Business Line. At the heart of this battle is the proposed retirement of publisher and the group Editor-in-Chief N Ram and his decision to dig his heels in…” Read on her report.


25 March 2010

Taxing Toll

Dipak Kumar Dash informs on the front page of Times of India that users of Delhi- Gurgaon Expressway will have to Rs. 2 more. Reason- rates are being revised on the basic of wholesale price index. Dipak follows-up by asking commuters and officials on page 8. It appears that there is no rationale for this hike. According to insiders, toll charges should not be hikes considering the current revenue generation from the stretch had reached the level projected for 20100-12. Friends of SARCAJC reveal that user service is extremely poor at toll plaza. The tag user’s line is full of non tag users- causing long queues and delays to tag users. Moreover, most vehicles who give cash in tag lines are mostly not given a receipt! Unless, non tag vehicles are penalized heavily (Rs.1000) for coming in the tag line, state of affairs doesn’t seen very bright.


24 March 2010

Castle in Air

Swaha Sahoo informs that Human resource Development Ministry has set the ball rolling for India to have its “Ivy League” Universities. These Ivy League universities will get more autonomy and more funds. How? The Ministry has asked Vice Chancellors of 20 central universities to set up a team to formulate the benchmarks and among them best will be selected. (Hindustan Times). Hang on, the central question that has cropped up is - why more public investment in higher education? What is the logic that above poverty line students (read affluent) should reap the benefits of highly subsidized higher education? For reasons best known, public funded higher education has remained a holy cow and has not seen any transformational reforms. Why not utilize tax-payer’s money to fund primary and secondary education, vocational training instead? Is this not a matter of grave concern that that more than sixty years have passed but still adult literacy is rampant and so is the drop-put rates in schools? Further, it’s not surprising that none of the public funded universities were able to make it to the list of top 100 universities of the world. Where is the incentive for excellence? Remember the faculty in higher education doesn’t’t get performance based pay. Also, there is no real incentive for innovative interdisciplinary research. Take a clue- a teacher from a college in Delhi University avails leave (without pay) to pursue independent interdisciplinary research, her work gets appreciation from leading scholars from aboard & home. But the college authorities for reasons best known arbitrarily convert her leave from academic into personal. This occurred despite her fulfilling all conditions of leave. More to come, Vice Chancellor of Delhi University was approached for intervention, but no response. And when information is asked under Right to Information Act (05), all related correspondence disappears from University records as well from the college! Point to ponder- how many will excel in this kind of ‘facilitating’ environment - is anyone’s guess!


23 March 2010

Food Security

Amiti Sen’s reports on the front page of Economic Times shouts- “Montek calls for sweeping reforms to boost Farmville”. The base is midyear plan that will be ratified tomorrow by full plan panel. The suggestions include- doing way with ban on exports and future trading. But not so long ago, the parliamentary panel had suggested that futures trading should be banned in case of wheat, rice, sugar and some pulses till the country becomes self sufficient in these food items. (Financial Express. 25/11/09). Point to ponder- has the country reached comfortable zone of food security for the speculators and exporters to take the centre stage?

Top news of day

The cartoon in Hindu features President Obama & an elephant (marked Healthcare reform bill). Must view to see know why Obama is seen smiling here! Many newspapers have highlighted that US Congress has approved healthcare bill. Editorial of Hindu feels that Obama’s success with this bill amounts to a notable political triumph. The editorial of Mail Today starts off- “The United States has, arguably, the finest medical centres and doctors in the world. But it happens to be a country, the only one in the developed world, which does not provide for the health care of all or most of its citizens. The health care bill passed by the US House of Representatives on Sunday night should begin the process of remedying the situation…President Barack Obama’s determination to seek the passage of the bill and his success in doing so should still the doubts that have been raised about his staying power…For the moment Mr. Obama and the Democrats should be allowed to savour their victory” (Mail Today). Point to ponder- When will Indians celebrate passing & implementation of similar kind of healthcare bill in India? Keep guessing, but till then, remain healthy!


22 March 2010

RTI Stonewalled

Ashutosh Shukla reports in DNA that almost six months after the state chief Information commissioner (SCIC) passed an order stating that the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa come under the purview of the RTI Act, applicants say the council is stonewalling their applications on one pretext or the other. In his July 31 order, Dr Suresh Joshi stated, “The preamble of the Advocates Act 1961, under which the council is created, itself is clear that bar council is constituted by law made by parliament….” However, applicants state that Bar Council has either not bothered responding or not giving information though not stating the same directly.


21 March 2010

Report of Day

The media is going gaga over the ongoing IPL cricket matches and the government going all out to support the (organization of) forthcoming Commonwealth Games in the capital. But what is the state of affairs of retired sportsmen (excluding high profile cricketers and tennis stars) in India? Take a clue from Pratik Chaudhuri who reports on front page of Statesman that things are so desperate that Jayant Roy, an ex-footballer is thinking of selling his kidneys. Today, Jayant is working in a courier company & earning mere Rs. 2,500 a month. Is this the way to treat a sportsman who gave best part of his life to sports before forced for early retirement due to spiral cord injury? He represented a State as well as Railways in national tournaments but no one has given any job/assistance. “My father used to say football built nobody’s future in this country and he was correct. I was so passionate about the game I completely ignored his advice. It’s been my life’s biggest mistake”. It really is Will someone come forward to help Jayant Roy, if not just for his sake but for sports?

Morning in Kerala

Nimi Kurian points “…The picture of pattu and appam, with the Malayalam Manorama and a pair of spectacles tells the story of a morning in Kerala”. (Hindu Magazine. Supplement of Hindu). Large advertisement of Malayalam Manorama made an appearance in leading newspapers in Delhi on 11th of this month. Does the story connect? Take a clue from video.


20 March 2010

The ad Goof Up

Most leading newspapers carry advertisement by Eastern Railways announcing inauguration of a super luxury train - Maharaja Express. The ad claims- “Introducing Maharajas’ Express. A unique travel experience that shows you India like never before…”! Yes indeed, the map (showing the route of this train) in this ad has got fundamentals of geography all wrong! According to this map, cities like Kolkota (where the trains starts off), Gaya, Bandhavgarh are seen in ocean of Bay of Bengal! And Delhi in Pakistan!


19 March 2010

Jobless & corruption

The editorial of Tribune shouts- “Jobs for sale!” It starts off- “The expose that one has to pay upwards of Rs. 60,000 even to get employment as an anganwadi worker in Punjab leads to one to several unfortunate conclusions. One that, the employment situation is so alarming that people are willing to shell out that much for a low paid job. Two, that corruption has crossed all limits, and three, that those paying the bribe are confident that they can make good of this investment” after getting the job. …”. But this is nothing new; jobs in the organized sector are few for the majority of applicants. Yes, unemployment is a major problem, but it seldom finds adequate space in media. People are not willing but are forced to pay bribe for a small time job. Remember there is no effective law & process to protect the whistle blower in India. The same newspaper had carried a report by Chitleen K Sethi - “In what may be called as a perfect example of the powered and moneyed people making best use of their influence, the “pre selected” doctors who undertook Punjab Public Service Commission’s test for government jobs reportedly bragged about their positions much before the merit list was out….An investigation by Triune has revealed that several “backdoor channels” were active for ensuring a seat in PPSC’s final list & lakhs were doled out by those desperate to get their wards…”(9 March). Nazia Shafi had dwelt with Eradicating Corruption in Gerater Kashmir. (11 March). “PS: Take a clue from concluding para- “…Stringent laws cannot cleanse the social maladies, which are deep rooted. Every time we make law we are actually running away from the problems. Laws, commissions and amendments are not solution to the problem. But even with lesser punishment, if the surety of punishment is there, it can act as a deterrent”. Point to ponder- unless whistle blowers & their families are provided with full protection, will corruption end by wishful thinking? But who will bell the cat?


18 March 2010
Order of Day
Amita V Ranjan reports on front page of Indian Express that Department of Personnel & Training has asked government officials to return all mobile phones, chauffeur-driven cars, air conditioners, laptops, faxes that have been provided by Central Public Sector Enterprises- by end of this month. DoPT has issued instructions “for not utilizing infrastructure of any CPSEs by government staff“and that “any such use shall attract suitable action against them. Point to ponder- is this order applicable only to bureaucrats?


17 March 2010

Corruption Watch

Last year, planning commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia had mentioned that a Plan panel study on PDS recently found that only 16 paise out of a rupee was reaching the targeted poor, as he went on to suggest that 1% of every scheme money be earmarked for monitoring and evaluation. Last year, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had acknowledged in Rajya Sabha "There are some problems in distribution of foodgrains under the PDS. A committee appointed by the Government and another by the Supreme Court observed flaws in the system. I have conducted many reviews and though there is some improvement, the situation is still serious," (10/7/09. Indian Express). Now the recent findings of supreme court appointed central vigilance committee, should not come as a surprise. It has slammed the Public Distribution System as one of the most corrupt sectors. The report said corruption in the PDS was a cancerous growth. “The Central government gives a whopping Rs. 28,000 crore annually to the States to subsidise food for the poor but till the recommendations of the committee are put in place, the poor will go on suffering at the hands of corrupt officials, dishonest fair price shop [FPS] owners, treacherous transporters and, possibly to a large extent, unscrupulous millers as well.” States with higher poverty indices have higher corruption indices too. It is well know that menace of corruption is rampant. But why not ponder on feasible solution? Is strengthening the existing public grievance redressal system & protecting the whistle blower- too much to ask?


16 March 2010

Media Watch
Tribune informs that Press Club in Delhi has a small computer room for journalists. Earlier an employee was placed to run the computer room & a nominal charge was charged from journalists. However as earnings was not sufficient, employee was taken off and computer room was run with voluntary contribution from journalists, which was collected in a plastic box. Guess what, someone took out all that money with help of toothpicks! Point to ponder- who could it be, Holmes?


15 March 2010

Toothless Tiger

The cabinet secretary has asked civil services to refurbish its image and implement zero tolerance to corruption. Take a clue- “…The issue of corruption needs to be addressed fairly and squarely. Preventive vigilance should be strengthened. Transparency must be introduced in decision making an in all our systems. Stringent action must be taken against officers found guilty. Disciplinary proceedings must be expedited. …We must be respond in full measure to the faith that citizens have reposed in us and meet their hopes and aspirations of good governance…”. This indeed is great news for the honest common man who is still resisting corruption. To begin with how about giving more punitive powers to the Directorate of Public Grievance (DPG)? Asian Age correspondent reports on page 5, that perhaps for the first time, the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) has sought view of the common man through advertisements before undertaking an audit of issues that may impact the common man., which it is now in the process of studying. Great news, but did we miss this advertisement? Nope! When we contacted an official at CAG, he was not aware of any such ad! But pointed that CAG had placed advertisements to seek views of the common man on environment audit! Bhadra Sinha informs- “Govt admits Ganga plan flawed, yet gives Rs, 15000 cr” (Hindustan Times). What happened to earlier spent taxpayer’s money on Ganga Action Plan? Why no accountability for its failure? CAG is a tiger without teeth, so to begin with first why not give the tiger some sharp teeth ?

Editorial Watch

The prominently placed editorial on front page of Tribune by H. K Dua shouts - “A big THANK YOU and all the best”. It informs that he will be demit his responsibilities as editor-in-chief of Tribune. Take a clue- “…Seven years is a speck in the life of an institution like The Tribune, but in the world of journalism these days a long time for an Editor….The Tribune has traveled quite a few miles. But in a newspaper’s life, like that of an individual or a people, it is an endless journey where horizons recede and new goalposts emerge as you go along…”. Yes, this good bye was not unexpected as the Dua has joined the upper house of parliament. Point to ponder- why was he absent from Rajya Sabha when important bill regarding reservation of seats for women was put to vote?


14 March 2010

Child Watch

Aman Sharma informs -”Many of Delhi’s 20,000 missing kids never came back”. He quotes sources that- “They fear the children might have been kidnapped to be inducted into flesh trade, bonded labour or begging cartels, or even smuggled aboard..” (Mail Today). Why are small kids so unsafe in Delhi? SARCAJC went over to posh shopping area in central Delhi, now undergoing a makeover for the forthcoming commonwealth games. Guess what- Kids of labourers, renovating this area, are extremely vulnerable. These poor laboures are migrants from other States who come over to capital for work but cannot leave their kids behind. Take a clue from video.


13 March 2010
Cartoon of Day
DNA has carried Cartoon of Day shows a extremely thin man (seems to be very poor to afford cloths) lying on footpath with newspaper spread on his body like bed sheet. The news in newspaper reads-”Richest Indian’s list”. What could be the reason for his state? Don’t ask , as today the same newspaper informs that one line question that was raise in Madhya Pradesh assembly has received a reply that runs into 8000 pages! The Poor man should learn to appreciate benefits of growth - would Gordon Gekko say this here?


12 March 2010

Insecure Women

Mohamed Thaver asks on the front page of Free Press Journal- “ What happens when a 76-year-old senior citizen with a fractured hand tries to take up cudgels against a shop owner, who continues with his work relentlessly in spite of it being a nuisance to others?”. The problem gets solved? Nope, the 25 year-old, shopkeeper assaulted her on the very hand that was fractured. Result- she was rushed to the hospital and is still recuperating there. This is not a stand-alone incident that occurred in Mumbai. Many friends of SARCAJC have been bringing forward this prevalent shocking hostility towards women (who complain) stand against injustice, corruption, nuisance, eve-teasing, the list seems endless. Yes, the law & its implementation is not stringent in protecting the vulnerable whistle-blowers -women & senior citizens. It is shame that such incidents are taking place and on official records, they either go down as mere statistics or simply unreported. Is anyone listening.

11 March 2010

Media Watch

A. Srivivasa Rao’s report in Mail Today shouts-“Telugu dailies made a killing from paid news. A must to read, to know why, take a clue- “ Some Telugu dailies in Andhra Pradesh allegedly earned a whopping Rs. 350 crore (Rs 3.5 billion) in less than four weeks last year by publishing unaccounted advertisements in the form of ‘paid news’. These advertisement were issued by candidates of various political parties and independent candidates during last year’s general elections. N. Rahul Kumar, executive editor of Eenadu has blamed blames the politicians as they preferred “surrogate advertisements” to avoid accounting of their election expenditure. K. Ramachadra Murthy, former editor of Andhra Jyothy has not minced words- “It appears some newspapers managements are hand-in-glove with politicians to scuttle the democratic process. It is nothing but manipulating the election process. How can the media preach values to the society?”. What is the role of media in largest democracy of the world?


10 March 2010

Test of democracy

The bill for women reservation was eventually passed by Rajya Sabha after a long drama. The cartoon in Nai Duniya features Member of parliaments opposing the reservation addressing the media (near parliament)- “Historic!! Issue was not only raised loud but also quiet high!…we were holding issue and the marshals were holding us”. The toon on the front page of Financial Chronicle features a smiling suspended MP telling a man- “It’s a message to our women, it’s really a bad world out there!”. Sagarika Ghose, Senior Editor CNN-IBN feels that women suffer more from caste and class inequalities than from gender bias. However she does not substantiate her claim. According to her, women reservation bill in present form, may not be the answer-“…gender is the focus of elaborate hypocrisy in our country…” (Hindustan Times). The cartoon on front page of Asian Age shows a (fat) MP briefing (thin) media men- “No problem, I have two wives, six daughter, three daughter-in-laws…!”. It’s celebration time for politicians (in front of labour room) featured in cartoon in DNA. Reason is obvious-birth of girl- “Congratulations! it’s a GIRL!”. Point to ponder- will governance & accountability improve with more women in the parliament? Yes, more women in parliament is good news for gender parity, but what about quality of candidates and their subsequent performance. The real test of largest democracy begins here.


9 March 2010

Historic watch

The introduction of bill for reservation of 33% seats in the Indian parliament for women has made lead news on front page of all newspapers. Cartoon in DNA features a female TV journalist asking a politician (near parliament) -”Do you think women will be safe here with these men?” The toon in Dainik Bhaskar shows a man reading newspaper (containing news of prices, terrorism, law & order, corruption, injustice). He asks his wife- “ where is the government Maoists want to overthrow?”. Three cartoons in Punjab Kesari (Panipat edition) have taken on women reservation bill. While a politician is seen touching feet of a women (looks like Sonia Gandhi) & saying- “we everyday celebrate women’s Day”(Haribhoomi). While the cartoon in Asian Age features male politicians in corridor of Indian parliament (on floor are torn pages of women reservation bill). One of them shows off his muscles- “All the remaining days are men’s days!”. While others stand thinking! The most bold cartoon is carried in Mail Today. It features backside of naked man, with his hands touching pillars (in parliament?)- Women’s bill…Over my manhood!“. The cartoon in Rajasthan Patrika (Jaipur edition) points to the policy of divide and rule (now issue of inflation is on the backburner). The parrot is telling the obvious in Dainik Jagran! Must view. The state of Prime Minister due to uproar is shown in cartoons in Deshbandhu & Deccan Herald.

Delhi Safest City: Survey

Most newspapers carry finding of yet another survey (without critical comment), according to which -Delhi is the most liveable city in India. Sandeep Joshi points in Hindu- “ puts Delhi as the safest city followed by Bhopal and Bangalore…”. He points - “..prepared after a rigorous study conducted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Institute for Competitiveness, India, the index is based on several benchmarks for urban development and prosperity. The reports points out -“On Safety, contrary to negative press against Delhi, it turns out be the safest..” . Really, Delhi is the safest of 37 cities taken on by report! Hang on, what was the methodology? The newspaper reports don’t throw any light. Checked the contents of the survey report- “Secondary data from reliable government sources was utilized in developing the skeleton of the competitiveness model…”. Point to ponder- ‘Does the so called ‘Secondary data from reliable government sources’ reflect the incidents of eve teasing and unsafe conditions faced by women in Delhi (national capital region)? How many of them go to the local police station and report? And even if they do, how helpful is the law in conviction of the culprit? The insensitivity towards the worst crime against women was recently reflected in the statement by the Chief Justice of India. Yes, lack of safety for women go unreported in government statistics but women face them everyday. Without a systematic primary survey based on perception of safety, the finding of this survey cannot be taken seriously.


8 March 2010

Ranking Rational

Shillong Times has carried two Photograph of women on occasion of Women’s Day- women climbing with firewood on their backs at Mawkarah village in West Hill district & another photograph of a women street vendor selling eatables at a roadside stall in Patna .Yes, this day has no special meaning for them as well as majority of women in India. However most leading newspapers seem to be obsessed with Woman’s Day along with advertisements going ga-ga! DNA has devoted full four pages to ‘top 50 India’s power women’- their colored photograph is accompanied by small write-up about them. However DNA does not give any rationale for their ranking. Why Kiran Bedi is ranked low- 37, first women speaker of Lok Sabha ranked mere- 29, Ela Bhatt ranked low 45 while wife of a leading Bollywood actor is ranked 26, socialite ranked 34! The same newspaper has invited Priyanka Chopra, glamorous bollywood actress, as guest editor of its supplement- “After hrs”. However, her white short dress is total disconnect with concerns of main street women. Take a clue- “I am a women in process. I’m trying like everyone else…Life is never dull”. This was in contrast to the another bollywood actress, Vidya Balan, who was invited by Times of India as guest editor of its supplement- Delhi Times. Her plain black salwar-kameez with traditional ikat duppata connected well with her intelligence as well with main street women. Take a clue- “Women’s Day doesn’t mean too much to me. It shouldn’t be a one-off thing over which we make a lot of hoo-ha. As women, if we don’t celebrate our womanhood throughout the year, what’s the point? ..why don’t we celebrate Men’s Day too? Is it because every other day is men’s day?...”.Vidya over scores Priyanka here, right?
has carried two Photograph of women on occasion of Women’s Day- women climbing with firewood on their backs at Mawkarah village in West Hill district & another photograph of a women street vendor selling eatables at a roadside stall in Patna .Yes, this day has no special meaning for them as well as majority of women in India. However most leading newspapers seem to be obsessed with Woman’s Day along with advertisements going ga-ga! DNA has devoted full four pages to ‘top 50 India’s power women’- their colored photograph is accompanied by small write-up about them. However DNA does not give any rationale for their ranking. Why Kiran Bedi is ranked low- 37, first women speaker of Lok Sabha ranked mere- 29, Ela Bhatt ranked low 45 while wife of a leading Bollywood actor is ranked 26, socialite ranked 34! The same newspaper has invited Priyanka Chopra, glamorous bollywood actress, as guest editor of its supplement- “After hrs”. However, her white short dress is total disconnect with concerns of main street women. Take a clue- “I am a women in process. I’m trying like everyone else…Life is never dull”. This was in contrast to the another bollywood actress, Vidya Balan, who was invited by Times of India as guest editor of its supplement- Delhi Times. Her plain black salwar-kameez with traditional ikat duppata connected well with her intelligence as well with main street women. Take a clue- “Women’s Day doesn’t mean too much to me. It shouldn’t be a one-off thing over which we make a lot of hoo-ha. As women, if we don’t celebrate our womanhood throughout the year, what’s the point? ..why don’t we celebrate Men’s Day too? Is it because every other day is men’s day?...”.Vidya over scores Priyanka here, right?


7 March 2010

Who Gains

The cartoon on the front page of Rajasthan Patrika (Jaipur edition) features a man standing next to an electric pole -”because polices are copy of American polices. Not on our want ….!”. In the background is newspaper’s report “If stalls inflation, unemployment will go up: PM”. While cartoon on the front page of Viraat Vaibhav shows worried Prime Minister telling bureaucrat- “ Only…once we come to know how inflation went up so high then we will control it”. The accompanying bureaucrat does not look happy! The front page of Assam Tribune (Gowahati) shouts- “Govt fails to control retail market”. R. Dutta Chaudhury reports- “ vast difference between the wholesale and retail prices of potato and onion in the markets of Guwahati and price difference in every day market proves that the Food and Civil Supplies Department has failed to give relief to the consumers. It also contradicts the government’s claim that the prices of essential commodities are increasing because of the increase of prices at source..”. However the affluent class does not care about this inflation. Take a clue from the cartoon carried by the same newspaper. It shows a man telling his friend (sitting on sofa)- “My wife’s regular visits to malls has benefited her a lot. She has lost weight”. His heavy fashionable wife carrying heavy shopping bags is looking back. Yes, the bubble is benefiting the thin cream, for whom price rise is -nothing at all-!


6 March 2010

Women Insecure

The large advertisement by Ministry of Women & Child Development comes with punch line -“Creating pathways for women empowerment”. It informs that today a Women Leadership Summit-2010 will be held in New Delhi. But what is the state at the ground level- will women really get empowered by this summit? Tall talks about empowerment, but at the ground level in Delhi, basic women safety is at stake. High Court of Delhi had to express concern over the rising incidents of eve teasing and molestation in buses in the capital city of India. Harish V Nair reports on page three in Hindustan Times with heading- ‘protect women on buses’. Take a clue from High Court- “The menace of eve-teasing is on rise. Women feel threatened not only by anti-social elements but also the bus crew. Even drivers and conductors are often found themselves indulging in acts of indecency..”. It really is a shame that women in the capital of the largest democracy of the world are not safe even in public transport. Will reservation of 33% seats for women in Indian Parliament make National Capital Region safe for women.


5 March 2010

Up & Up

The cartoon of the day shows the love story (stretching over years) between the common man & the Union agriculture minister in New Indian Express. The last of four shows common man in grave but Pawar is still telling him- “ There you are. Have patience and all problems settle themselves”. The cartoon in DNA shows a minister sternly instructing policemen-“ Arrest anyone causing a law & order problem in such inflationary times by distributing free food”. Most newspaper report on the front page that 25,000 people gathered in a narrow lane for bhandara (community feast) and in jostling to enter the premises, iron gate collapsed & the stampede killed 63 (poor women & children) and injuring 300 others. The front page of Financial Express informs that With wheat production expected to touch about 81 million tonne in 2009-10, the government is planning to export the foodgrain and some varieties of rice -- first time in six years -- to clear its bulging inventories. And that The move could further cool prices in the global markets, where wheat is already down 70% from the year-ago peak. Who will benefit from this move- “major global grain trading companies operational in India, like AWB, Glencore, Adani along with a host of private wheat traders, are expected to benefit from the move”. Hang on, why was this ‘bulging inventories’ not released to cool domestic prices of wheat? Is this rather strange kind of ‘food management’ that too at the cost of the common man. The editorial of Dainik Bhaskar points that issue of inflation got lost during noise and arguments in the parliament. It stresses that government must take concrete steps and not forget the priority of roti in roti, cloth and house. True, the performance of the Union Agriculture minister is far from optimal for long. Is anyone listening?

Rescue Mission

Full page advertisement by controversial Vedanta has again made an appearance in newspapers with photograph of a tribal women (laughing) with a child. The punch line reads- “It’s time we spared a moment and think. Vedanta changing the face of Kalahandhi.”. Smaller fonts reads- “…Vedanta’s 5 million tonne alumina project providing employment & livelihood opportunities to over 20,000 common people”. The ad claims- “Not a single tribal family would be displaced due to mining projects..”. Hang on, are these all claims true? Last month, the Church of England had sold its £3.8m stake in this British giant over concerns about its human rights record. Recently, the Union minister for environment and forests Jairam Ramesh had mentioned- “No project will be allowed in tribal areas without rights of tribals being first settled in forest areas. This has not happened in the Niyamgiri areas,” which are home to the Dongria Kondh tribes. The ministry of forests & environment has issued show cause notice to the Orissa state government asking them to explain the situation on the ground. A similar explanation has been sought from Posco and Vedanta Resources asking for a detailed explanation about how they can kick start operations where the crucial issue of tribal land pattas remains unsettled. (Asian Age. 28/2/2010).


4 March 2010

Banking Woes

The editorial of Economic Times shouts- “India needs new banks”. Take a clue- “The government and the RBI are completely off the track, if they indeed plan, as reported, to restrict new banking licensees to rural areas and no-frills accounts for the first couple of years…. Making new banks waste capital doing things that established banks have not found it worth their while to do, is not the way to make banking inclusive. Rather, the way ahead is to make extensive use of technology and innovative process…The government and the RBI need to show some courage and allow innovative forms of banking….More banks in towns will mean competition driving players, whether old or new, out to rural areas as well….The way out is to lay down objective corporate governance norms for the applicant promoter group of companies….”. Hang on, is the spread of public sector banks satisfactory in rural areas? Is spread of comparatively new private sector banks in rural areas satisfactory? Nope, so how can one expect new private sector banks to fulfill financial inclusion on their own sweet will? Secondly, is extensive use of technology and so called innovative process feasible in rustic setting? Imagine usage of ‘technology and innovative process’ in a village which has no reliable access to electricity, no safe drinking water, no road, illiteracy…! In Economic Times, M Rajshekhar has pondered over the bazaar view of development which also includes misuse of good old microfinance. Wait, why go so far? Though household sector holds majority of saving deposits with scheduled commercial banks, they are not a priority for banks, anymore. Why? Flushed with high liquidity, it seems small depositors are being taken for granted. The largest public sector bank of India- State Bank of India (SBI) does not consider customer satisfaction as a key indicator for judging its performance, what to talk about other banks? A friend of SARCAJC informs that unlike the past, behaviour of Deputy General Manager of Bank of India was now far from courteous to the main street depositor. The reason was overhear- an employee telling another- Big boss (DGM) is willing to consider accounts over crores, don’t disturb him with particulars of small accounts! If this is the state in Delhi, what will be the state of customer service in rural areas? Is customer service directly proportional to quantum of money in bank account? But growth does not trickle down in form of large chunk currency to the bank account of honest common man. Yes, the effects of bubble are showing. With ever rising inflation, the real value of small term deposit of main street is decreasing. The hardest hit are pensioners, who live on the interest earned on term deposits. Point to ponder- Will the apex bank re-launch RBI Tax Relief Bonds (with floating interest rate that covers food inflation in retail & provides decent roi) for senior citizens?


3 March 2010

Cartoon of Day
The ongoing controversy over the usual food inflation can be best judged by a cartoon in Hindu by Keshav. It features middleman (poor rustic man with his hut), farmer (well dressed man along with his car) and winding-up costs. Must to view cartoon to know what is this winding up cost!


2 March 2010


Today, most of the leading newspapers have not appeared on the stand due to holi-day yesterday, so the newspaper venders have decided to take a holi-day!


1 March 2010

Fun Watch

The Hindi newspapers are far ahead of their counterparts in English, in the fun & frolic mood of the holi festival! The front page of Navbharat Times and Hamara Mahanagar are soaked in Holi fun. Take a clue from false news - “Manmohan’s resignation on issue of inflation, Dhoni decides not to marry, Amar returns to SP, Sakhi Sawant will become Rahul’s bridë!..The news of holi has been carried by Navbharat Times- “Barack Obama in refuge of Gobar (cow dung)”. Allo Kathori (!) informs after failure of Copenhagen Climate Change Committee, American President has finally conceded in front of environmental lobby. While advocating revolutionary steps to save the earth, Obama raised the flag of Gandhi, khadi and Gobar….in near future closure of American nuclear power plants will be announced. In its place, clean, green energy gobar gas will be used.. Gobar will be imported from India in large quantity. In addition the jeans making companies have been instructed to learn technique of Khadi. Every day Barack Obama, is himself practicing running charkha.”. In addition, its Holi- cartoon time in most of the Hindi newspapers. Hindustan has carried cartoons on nearly full two pages. Masthead of all Hindi newspapers scanned today, convey the spirit of Holi. Of the newspapers in English, only Times of India’s masthead is carrying on the spirit of Holi. Point to ponder- Why most newspapers in English are reserved in celebrating the fun spirit of Holi?