April 2008 Newspaper Watch

SARCAJC

SOUTH ASIAN RESEARCH CENTRE FOR ADVERTISEMENT, JOURNALISM & CARTOONS

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Sarcajc Research in Journalism Advertisement & Cartoon 

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


30 April 2008

Corruption Crisis

The US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice has pointed out that improvements in the diets of people in India and China is forcing governments to keep food ‘inside‘, and this is one of the four causes for the current global shortage. The World Bank and UN agencies have also called on countries not to restrict export of food to secure supplies at home (Indian Express). Is it a coincidence that today, many newspapers have carried a photograph of members of Indian Parliament from all parties, participating in candlelight procession. Reason- awareness creation against the growing malnutrition deaths in the country.

In the Indian context, more than any other reason, corruption is the main reason for malnutrition and shortages.

Nevertheless, no procession has been held by members of Indian Parliament against prevailing corruption in Public Distribution System (PDS) which is supposed to supply food grains to the poor at subsidized rates. What is the scale of leakage (read corruption)? The latest Lok Sabha Sabha Public Accounts Committee Report for 2003-04 has revealed glaring corruption in the PDS- for instance, 39 percent of rice and 53 percent of wheat meant for PDS went missing due to illegal diversions. With no concrete action taken to curb this leakage, this figure must be higher now.

Point to Ponder- Why no accountability is fixed for this rampant corruption and action taken against the corrupt officials? Instead, the system is being rewarded by steep hike in their pay packages, courtesy sixth pay commission. Surely, the task does not end for the Lok Sabha Sabha Public Accounts Committee, in fact, it should be the beginning to revamp the sinking system.

Woken Up, Now?

According to Indian law, Liquor companies are not allowed to sponsor any event in India, even surrogate advertising is banned. However, in most astonishing manner liquor is being advertised, courtesy ongoing IPL matches. The Bangalore cricket team in Indian Premier league (IPL) is named after a whiskey brand owned by liquor group. Not surprising, the owner of this team is liquor baron, also member of Indian parliament. And more to come- for the first time, liquor is being served in the stadium during these matches . What more is left for propagation of liquor?

Now, after so many days, the Union Health Minister has eventually woken up to the fact that Bangalore team in Indian Premier league (IPL) is named after a whiskey brand owned by liquor group (Economic Times). And he intends to take up this issue with the Information & Broadcasting Ministry. But what liqour flowing during these matches? What would Mahatma Gandhi say on this?

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29 April 2009

Corruption Watch

The headline of today’s editorial on the front page of Tribune reads - “The Stink of Corruption”. The editorial dwells about prevailing corruption among bureaucracy, politics and judiciary. “ Corruption like cancer, has spread far and deep into the body politic and no one in power knows about how to tackle it…Too much familiarity , or expediency, has tended to create a sort of atmosphere of resignation, possibly acceptance. …Corruption helps the rich and the enterprising, not the weak, who have to daily go through the cruelty of an iniquitous and unjust order it breeds….” . Yeah we know this all. However, surprisingly, there is not a word about usage of Right to Information Act as a tool to fight corruption.

Point to Ponder- millions of Indians are resisting the easy way of corruption everyday. However the editorial totally failed to suggest how Media can help this ‘weak common man‘ to resist corruption. Wonder why?

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28 April 2008

We don’t care

Is the world of advertising mad? Yes, Narinder Jit Kaur, a lecturer in Government Girls College in Punjab feels that most dangerous today is the television, particularly advertisements. Why, take clue from one sample- “If you have jumped traffic light then so what? Simply use this mobile line and you ill turn the cop into emotional fool and get away…”. Therefore she concludes - “ ..The efforts of the teachers who have been given responsibility of character building are being thwarted by this mad ad world.” (letter to the editor. Tribune).

Point to ponder- It seems that the negative spill over effect of ads on the younger ones is not a concern for the advertisers as fot them, Money is honey. Hang on, don’t start off with Freedom of expression and all that or many would go off with social responsibility. Give the young mind a break!

Cartoon of the Day

According to Economic Times, car companies are set to increase prices and even banks and finance companies are all set to increase interest rates. In a way, it’s good news for environmentalists. But will this reduce the demand for cars?

Take a clue from the cartoon of the day, carried by Asian Age where a common man is seen at the background of a doghouse kind of dwelling, telling the banker-” Plan deviation? I could only build this with the loan you gave me for my duplex house!”. Effect of inflation?

Point to Ponder- Why cut throat competition for interest reduction is non-existent amongst the banks & financial institutions. Is this not an obvious strategy for expansion of customer base in a country like India? What to talk of public, the same is valid for private banks too. No wonder, bankers carry home hefty pay cheques.

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27 April 2008

Advertisement Watch

The Delhi government has published two advertisements for general public in Times of India. The first one, features animals suffering cruelty, courtesy humans with the punch line- ‘Live & Let live. Stop cruelty against animals”. The second one questions- “Do you want Chandani Chowk (market in Old Delhi) to become Chandani Choke. Do not pollute with garbage and smoke”.

Just a recap, not long ago, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi had thought about getting rid of stray dogs by sending them to East Asia. No wonder they would have landed on plates. And now the controversial piecemeal dedicated bus corridor plan is coming under severe attack due to increase in pollution levels, apart from inconvenience to commuters.

How about devising concrete fiscal measures to protect the environment, instead of mere preaching. Start from a congestion tax on big cars? Remember, Indian Express has reported that the promoter of BRT corridor- Prof. Dinesh Mohan moved along the corridor in Mercedes Benz!

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26 April 2008

Thanks Collins

Thanks to Collins couple from United Kingdom, a dilapidated ancestral home of renewed British author - George Orwell in Motihari, Bihar is likely to get a facelift. Orwell was born on 25 June 1903 in Motihar. His father was a sub deputy agent in the opium department of the Indian Civil Service. At the age of one, Orwell moved to Britain and returned as an adult to serve the Imperial Police in Burma for five years that resulted in a novel -Burmese Days and life long hatred of imperialism. The Collins have now put forward a proposal to develop Motihari into a tourist spot (Hindustan Times).

Point to ponder- Is there anything for the Indians to learn here? Have we taken adequate care of the birth place of our achievers? Why go any further, the 150th anniversary of revolt of 1857 is just about to pass, but what concrete steps have been taken to renovate/restore the birth places of the heroes of the revolt? Apart from a the ritual functions, seminars & books with repetition of already know facts, stale dances, loud songs & soul-less plays…. Not much. Even the last wish of the King of Delhi lies unfulfilled- his remains have still not come to his homeland……High time to learn from the Collins Couple.


Showing Skin

People across the board are debating about cheerleaders in IPL showing skin & obscenity. For instance:

- “ The controversy over cheerleaders in the IPL matches is amusing. It is typical of the hypocrisy that is the bane of contemporary society. Page 3 of newspapers splash photographs of décolletages and movies channel and television channels are spiced up with images pf skimpily dressed girls. The only thing that can be objected to is the import of cheerleaders when there is abundant local talent….” (A. Seshan from Mumbai Letter to editor. Hindu).

“…Girls are harassed on the roads everyday and hardly any action is taken againt the accused. Womne are hired to dance in late night parties to add more flavour. Do all these not fall in ambit of vulgarity and obscenity?…” (Ritu Sejwal from New Delhi. Letter to editor. Hindu).

Today, two advertisements have come up, that have no problem in featuring women showing skin. First one is a laptop ad which has appeared in Tribune with punch line- “Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to show some skin”. Not surprisingly, a woman is doing exactly the same. The same is true for a advertisement of an air conditioner which has appeared in Times of India.

Point to ponder- Why should women be displayed as commodities ( & also cheerleaders)? The only way to break this mindset is boycott such products & shows.


Corruption Watch:

When team from Delhi’s State Civil Supplies Corporation conducted surprise check on a godown of Food Corporation of India, they found substandard wheat (read rotten wheat) on its way to public distribution system (PDS). This discovery by the inspection team made workers at FCI hostile and they chased away the inspection team. “When we refused to leave the samples behind, hundreds of labourers tried to chase us away. We shut ourselves in an office and called in the police…” (Times of India). This is rather shocking as both- Delhi’s State Civil Supplies Corporation & Food Corporation of India belong to the government. Surely, this incident should be dealt with extreme strictness and the top shot of Food Corporation of India should be sacked - a clear warning for others.

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25 April 2008

Protect the child

The members of Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) have woken up to the fact that obscenity is increasing on private television channels. They have now demanded strict regulatory control. One woman member stated- “… these shows (fashion shows) are about displaying cloths, which are hardly seen on the models. And whatever little they wear slips!..” .(Statesman). But is this true only for fashion shows, what about Hindi Bollywood movies, page three events, IPL matches with ever-luring cheerleaders? Unless, some kind of regulation comes into force, hide your small kid away from all this! But where?

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24 April 2008

The editorials in newspaper in English are keeping track of the upcoming Presidential elections in the Unites States. It seems they are a bit apprehensive about Hillary vis-à-vis Obama. Take a look at few editorial in the newspapers in English from New Delhi:

“The Pennsylvania primary produced just the sort of result that the US democratic party leadership dreaded…While Hillary Clinton’s victory was expected, by being able to defeat Barack Obama by nine percentage points she made an ironclad case for continuing her run to the final party convention…..The Clinton Mail is far behind but the Obama Express is no longer powering along. (‘Penn ultimate’. Hindustan Times).

“Hillary Clinton won the April 23 Pennsylvania primary by a handsome 10 percentage point margin over Barack Obama. Ms. Clinton’s win of her third big state in a row has not helped her reduce significantly Mr. Obama’s overall lead in terms of both popular vote and pledged delegates…(‘Keeping the race alive’. Hindu).

“Hillary Clinton’s win in the primary has given her a new justification for the long -shot effort to win back a nomination that was once considered a done deal….The irony is that the Harvard educated black lawyer is seen as being somewhat elite and liberal, as compared to another Harvard educated lawyer who is a white woman….she will have to prove to the Democratic party grandees that an Obama candidacy is flawed and that she alone can deliver for the party in November. Given Obama’s strong showing and obvious political skills, that will not be easy”. (‘Democrat slug-fest likely to continue’. Mail Today)

“You can’t count her out. Not yet. She’s quite the comeback kid, surviving against odds and defying write-offs by political pundits and critics. …Hillary trails Obama on delegate count and popular vote. But she has won big states, and if she can build on the momentum of this victory and win a couple more primaries, she could well fight till the Democratic Convention in August….This year offers a great opportunity for the Democrats for regain control of the white House….It is crucial then that they put their best candidate forward for the battle…” (‘The rate is on’. Times of India).

Point to Ponder- why editorials in the leading Hindi newspapers are not showing such an interest in the upcoming elections in United States?

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23 April 2008

Advertisement Watch

Who says that there is curb on propagation of liquor via advertisements in India? Take a look at page14-15 of ‘Smart buy’, a supplement of Hindu Business Line. These pages carry a feature, where the reader is faithfully educated about Sisly’s wines including brands, price, flavour and food pairing. And this is not all, page 15 contains detail list of 65 brands & their duty free prices. Not what more is required for advertising? This is not all, even a IPL cricket team is named after a liquor brand, supported by liquor company & its baron. Does the ban on liquor surrogate ad hold good here? Wonder why?

Another ad that needs a special mention appears on Page 12 of Asian Age. It contains write up & photographs of a book store. It appears to be a full length feature on the book store. But hang on, after searching high & low for the name of the author, we discovered at the end of the page in very fine print-”A consumer connect initiative”. Why not just write- an advertisement instead?

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22 April 2008

Advertisement Watch

Today’s paper under ad-scan is Economic Times. The paper has taken out a special supplement on Planet Earth, that contains many ads that aim to cash on the Earth Day to propagate their products. Indian’s largest Automobile Air Conditioning Company has also placed its ad in this supplement, highlighting its landmark achievement of ½ million AC sales in 2007-08. A “ journey of excellence”? What would Planet Earth say on this?

The ongoing inflation has put the high retail price of agricultural products under scrutiny. But what’s going on the ground level- how much does the farmer get from zooming retail prices? The Indian Dairy Association has placed an ad in Economic Times with heading-” Abundant milk availability and stabilized prices”. The ad also highlights the low returns to farmers. Take a look-” In the case of vegetables and fruits, farmer gets hardly 15% of the value, what consumer pays while in milk he gets anything between 65-75% of what the consumer pays…”.

Who actually reaps the fruits of ever rising inflation- not difficult to guess!

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21 April 2008

Cartoon Watch

Many newspaper have carried cartoons on the handling of Tibetan protests, context - Olympics torch‘s world wide tour. The best cartoon of the day has been carried by DNA (Mumbai Edition). It features Manmohan Singh receiving a medal for the second position in Beijing 2008 “for keeping Tibetans in line..”. And who gets the first position & the gold medal- no surprises here!

A positive reckoning- With no serious visible preparation for winning any medal in the upcoming Olympics, thanks to this cartoon, at least one Indian did manage to get a medal, ending the medal drought!

All for Awards

The advertisements for which an advertising agency was hoping to win international awards have landed the agency in an international controversy. The ad appeared in Free Press Journal (Mumbai) and featured offensive images and racist words.

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20 April 2008

The other side

With almost all leading newspapers going gaga over the IPL matches, Nadu Kulkarni reports its other unsporting side- Illegal betting syndicates are simply ecstatic over IPL matches as they feel that it will give them bigger opportunity to make money during next 40 days, more than the world cup. Even international betting firm is reported to making brisk business. Infact, the informal estimates suggests that total turnover of mobile bookies has already surpassed Rs. 100 billion (Statesman. Kolkota edition).

Kashmir round-up:

Nature & VVIP

The tulip garden was in news recently, courtesy VVIP visits. How important are VVIPs to nature? Take a clue from Arjimand Hussain Talib -“ …we have seen grass being laid on soiled portion of roads overnight in Srinagar for visiting Indian politicians for creating optical illusion and an aura of pleasantness. We have seen how such spaces have been abandoned the next day without any single taking care of maintenance…”.(Greater Kashmir. Srinagar)

Zojilla Pass is the only link between Srinagar & Leh, it closed down in winter and re-opens in summer. But is the re-opening of this pass, call for a VVIP inauguration? Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal is critical that the chief Minister chose to “blow the trumpet pf his achievement of re-opening the Zojilla Pass earlier than the usual schedule…If politicians have to be thanked, for what God and nature did, why is it that the chief minister should not take credit for the flood like situation in the valley or the drought in the Kandi belt of the Jammu region…There is no dearth of politicians who would not only love to brag about what is being bestowed by nature, but also put the blame of any man made disaster on nature too…When anything goes wrong, it is the weather gods and nature playing tricks for which every administration and every individual sitting at the top would be eternally helpless. Interestingly this position lasts only as the person is in power. In opposition, he always has the ruling establishment to blame for even the wrings he may have himself committed…. The public is often constrained to witness a multiple foundation stone laying ceremonies of projects that are never ultimately completed…Thankfully, corruption and conflict are never blames on the nature, though politicians would soon find a way to do that as well… ”(Kashmir Times. Jammu)

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19 April 2008

Money Rocks

The newspapers are full of reports and photographs of the first night and first show of the Indian Premier league. Remember, recently they had a stand-off with IPL over the images! Many newspapers like Asian Age, Amar Ujala, Mail Today have featured scantly dressed female dancers at the inaugural ceremony on their front page. This is all what their news reporters saw during the entire ceremony/match, which was fit to appear on their newspaper’s front page? Why should women be cheerleaders for all male cricketers? Give this age old perception a break, men! Amar Ujala has published result of a survey under heading- ‘This cricket will finish all‘. The survey revealed that majority of the respondents believe that money is dominating the game and that high profile owners of IPL teams like Shahrukh Khan, Preity Zinda etc have associated themselves with cricket only for money. Not surprisingly, the IPL team uniform look like an advertising board! More to come, today, after 75 years, liquor will be served at an IPL march in Delhi. Thought the board objected, but under the pressure of the sponsors, they conceded. Remember India is the land of Mahatma Gandhi, who was dead opposed to liquor. However, almost all newspapers have gone overboard over IPL, take a look at some of their headlines:

Cricket rocks at IPL opener (Times of India)

Cricket’s flat-world cup has begun (Indian Express)

Crickelicious! (Mail Today)

Cricket goes oomph (Pioneer)

Good Boys can come first (Asian Age)

Kotkata Knight Riders outplay Bangalore Royal Challenger (Hindu)

Point to Ponder- The Olympics torch managed so much media attention and now IPL cricket matches, why not Indian sportsmen/sportswomen preparing for the Olympics?

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18 April 2008

Free Riders

An advertisement informs that National School of Drama Repertory Company will present a drama the revolt of 1857 from 18-25th April 08 at Purana Qila in Delhi. And that the invitation cards can be collected from the NSD Reception. Freebies- who will resist?! Not surprisingly, all invitation cards have been given out, while serious viewers have been left out-requesting in vain!

Point to Ponder- Why dole out free passes for Delhites who have the highest per capita income in the country?

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17 April 2008

Reporting Details

Rahul Gandhi, Member of parliament, was in news as the ‘suitable boy’ for the post of Prime Minister of India. He recently spent a night in a tribal village. How well did the newspapers report the ‘correct’ details of this visit? Take a clue from Times of India (news report by Suchandana), Mail Today (news report by Arup Dutta) and Tribune (source from agency- PTI).

Q: who cooked dinner for him?
A : Bhawani Saur (Times of India), Kamala (Mail Today),Bhuvan (Tribune)?

Q: what did he eat for dinner?
A: pooris & vegetable curry (Times of India),pooris, potato & brinjal curry (Mail Today), a chapati with chatni & later puris & potato curry (Tribune)?

Q: where did he sleep?
A: cot at house of Harivallabh Adivasi (Mail Today),Charpoy in the house of Khuman Rajak (Times of India)?

Keep guessing the ‘correct’ details of Rahul’s visit. Unless, Rahul himself clears the air!

Bush Bashing

A relatively new private Management Institute has placed a large advertisement in Amar Ujala, in Hindi. More than half of this ad features lengthy views of this institute’s lead person- Arindam Chaudhuri, entitled- “ How ‘cowboy’ Bush actually won the Iraq war!!” The title is very explicit and the write-up bitterly criticizes President Bush.

But hang on, what has this to do with inviting students to the MBA or BBA programme - which the other half of the ad does?

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16 April 2008

Perception

Image of women sells-this perception can be viewed in many advertisements. Today, even the MTNL (public sector phone company) has featured a woman jumping with the punch line-“Get unlimited download in limited charge” in its ad in Hindu (Delhi edition) on page 5. However, it is rather surprising to view that a serious newspaper like Hindu Business Line too has resorted to the same gimmick. Take a look at the advertisement that has appeared in Hindu (Delhi edition) on page 5. It features a close-up of a foreign looking woman with the punch line in black colour-”buy Smartbuy”, while colour of Smart is pink! Now what is this Smartbuy? A new lifestyle magazine that will feature “automobiles, gadgets, premium brands and more” ! Are these only for women?

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15 April 2008

The Quest

English, once the language of the colonial power, is today perceived to be the language of advancement in India. While the language of the masses like Hindi is perceived as a regional language by the elite. Not surprising, small towns are full of English teaching shops as it makes good money. The sight of youngsters trying to speak in broken English is revealing. And not to forget the fad of sending small kids to ‘English speaking schools’. Yes, ‘English speaking schools’, where often, the English teacher herself is uncertain of the ‘right English’! Yes, welcome to the English learning muddle! More to come-

Take a look at the punch line of an advertisement of a ‘English learning book‘, that has appeared on the front page of Amar Ujala, in Hindi:

“ Save time. Don’t learn English”…The ad goes on-“ ..You would come across many people who have been learning English for the past five, fifteen, twenty years but they haven’t learned English. So, isn’t it correct to stop learning English and save time? Jut think, learning English for ten-ten, twenty-twenty years but still not able to learn it- is indeed a waste of time….But despite our request, you will not stop leaning English, then listen. There is a way- to save time & to learn English as well…“ Superfast English Part I & II”….Now its your decision-” stop learning English or get Superfast English”


Who cares

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was established in April 1935 and was nationalized in January 1949 with a view of ensuring greater co-ordination of the monetary economic and financial polices. What is the role of the Central bank of India, in context of safeguarding the interest of the account holders of various banks? Not much as it has taken decades for the Central Bank to come up with basic banking codes for banks.

Economic Times reports that the number of complaints received by RBI Banking Ombudsman rose by 22 per cent to 38,638 in 2006-07 compared to 2005-06. Of which, complaints against the private & foreign banks rose by 33 percent and 26 per cent respectively. However, there is not a word on the penalties imposed by RBI Banking Ombudsman on the erring Banks. Why?

Remember, the RBI Banking Ombudsman compensates only on actual loss. So, if a bank is found guilty of a gross deficiency like dishouring of a cheque of a account holder despite healthy balance in his account, this offence will attract no penalty from the RBI, though in law, is a severe offence. Not surprising, debt-ridden farmers from Vidharba did not approach RBI Banking Ombudsman and instead committed suicide.

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14 April 08

Self-Promotion

The proposal of rights issue of equity share and non convertible debentures is on, plus a draft letter of offer has been filed with SEBI. So, how does one promote such an offer? Simple, take up a social cause (that does not involve too much money) and publicize your generosity in advertisements in newspapers!

Taj group of hotels has published such an advertisement in Times of India with a punch line- “ It takes three people to create a Banarasi sari. And one to preserve its legacy”. A five star hotel promoting traditional Banarasi sari? Yes, from today, ‘ladies at our hotel (in Mumbai) will welcome guests in this traditional art form..,the traditional Banarasi sari is a dying art form…preservation of timeless traditions of India is not a luxury. But, in fact, a necessity.”.

Hang on, why is the scope of Banarasi sari promotion limited to only two Taj Hotels in Mumbai? Why exclude other Taj Hotels and resorts in India & aboard from preserving this legacy? And what about male employees, why won’t they wear uniforms crafted from traditional Banarasi silk? Remember, the whole silk industry in Bananas is in doldrums. Further, has the Taj Hotel put up a special retail outlet for sale of Banarasi silk outfits, cloths etc and/or donated a small part of profit to revive the silks of Banaras? Nope! If only such concrete steps were taken for promotion of Banarasi silk… and not this ad gimmick aimed at the success of forthcoming Rights issue- in the name of preserving legecy!
P.S: look at the fine prints at the end of this ad!

Cartoon of the Day

The cartoon of the day has been carried by Asian Age, which features a (politician looking) man telling well dressed men, wearing suits (can’t be government employees, seem to be from the corporate sector)- “ Strictly no agricultural land. Stop power, water, seeds …let it turn barren and then acquire it!” Also seen in the toon frame is the news-”Only barren land for SEZ”.

Point to ponder- what will happen to the availability of food products & inflation then?

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13 April 2008

Simple Request

Is the Indian Print media free from dictates of the government? Take a clue from what Coomi Kapoor has reported in Indian Express:

“…last week he (prime minister’s media advisor) sent an SMS to newspaper editors deploring the lack of front page coverage of the India-Africa Forum Summit. Not many took kindly to his imperious suggestion, “please ensure front page at least tomorrow“. It wasn’t the media alone which didn’t give conference due importance. Of the dozens of seats reserved for ministers during PM‘s speech, more than half remained empty”.

The news of India-Africa Forum was carried on front page by some newspapers like Tribune, Indian Express, Hindustan Times. And Asian Age carried a photograph of the Present of India addressing the dignities of the India-Africa Forum at a banquet hosted by her at the Rastrapati Bhawan, on a prominent position on the front page. Were they all following instructions?

Follow up: Inflation-III

The President of India has expressed her concern about the ongoing inflation (Dainik Jagran). However according to Asian Age, the Delhi government is yet to act on price rise- “The food & Supply Minister of Delhi has threatened the city traders of criminal prosecution if they are caught hoarding food grains but has not ensured raids on private godowns till now as he had done during the shortage of LPG cylinder in the city” (page 13). While on the other hand, Dainik Bhaskar and Amar Ujala have carried the news on their front page about of the raids conducted by the Delhi government on 165 godowns & consequent confiscation of 250,000 quintal food grain, stored illegally. There is no whisper about these raids in the report carried by Asian Age, wonder why?

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12 April 2008

Currency choice

The front page news in brief informs that the all revealing photograph of Carla Bruni, the wife of President of France has been sold in New York for £ 45,000 and also that “full report in Newsmakers”. Now check out the Newsmakers page on page 12. Here the report informs that this particular photograph has been auctioned for $91,000. Even the heading of this page 12 report prefers to say it all in dollars. Hey, why forgot Euros and the good old Rupee?

Follow-up: Inflation- II

Two days after SARCAJC Research Desk proved that the continuous steep hike in the retail prices of food items is definitely not a result of global inflation, the front page of Mail Today reports that Delhi Government will launch a drive to rein in hoarders. The paper also reports that hoarders across the country are stocking essential food items that is pushing up prices to new heights and wreaking havoc on household budgets. While for the rest of the leading newspapers, the hefty price rise has also made it to the front page. However, most revolve around similar lines.

Inflation surges to 7.41 %, Govt says there’s no magic wand, it’s global (Indian Express).

Inflation races to 7.41%, Govt says can’t help Aam Admi (common man) left gasping (Pioneer)

Rate of Inflation 7.41% Prices touch 3-yr high: no magic wand, says the govt (Hindustan Times)

Inflation reaches 40-month high (Hindu)

This week, inflation rises further (Amar Ujala)

Inflation does not obey (Hindustan)

RBI mulls interest rate hike as inflation soars (Times of India)

Inflation on high (Dainik Bhaskar)

Deflated by Inflation 7.41%, highest in 40 months (Tribune)

Killed by price rise (Dainik Jagaran)

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11 April 2008

Settlement

Can an advertisement-jingle composer prevail over a top Bollywood producer? Yes. An advertisement-jingle composer (Ram Sampath) and the producer (Rakesh Roshan) of the movie ‘Krazzy4’ reached a “settlement” on Thursday, after the Mumbai High Court ordered the deletion of two songs from the movie on plagiarism charges and came in the ‘settlement’. The judge had earlier noted that Roshan had indirectly admitted to using a small part of Sampath’s tunes in a song. Apart from this, Sampath had proved prima facie that the music of the two songs was a copy of the work in an advertisement for Sony Ericsson (Hindustan Times, Mail Today).

Yes, the Bollywood movie ‘Krazzy4’ has been released today with all songs sequences intact.. But what were the terms of the settlement?

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10 April 2008

Self-Promotion

The ad in the Indian Express informs its readers that from tomorrow, a Brand New -’The New Indian Express’ will appear. Good news! However, take a look at the punch line of this ad- “don’t give me Bullshit I get enough on TV”. Was the use of this eight letter abusive word necessary for getting the word across? Remember, Indian Express carries a good reputation (Journalism of Courage), so why feature this abuse against TV?

Inflation: Follow Up

The Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee has placed again placed advertisement in many newspapers, listing the sale rates of fruits, vegetables, food grain and pulses in the regulated wholesale market in Delhi. Is the rise in price hike under control now? Nope, even the so called regulated wholesale market, the many vegetables and fruits are experiencing a unbelievable rise of 17 to 5 percent within 24 hours in maximum price per Kg.

This ad by Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee, which claims to be the market of national importance, lists only a few vegetable, fruits and pulses that are sold in Azadpur Mandi & Narela Mandi. Why daily prices of all vegetable, fruits and pulses are not displayed on a website, for daily viewing? Surely, this is not too much to expect in IT-savvy India?

Yesterday, SARCAJC research desk brought into light that retail prices range between 21 to 87 per cent of the whole sale rate. Today, the SARCAJC research desk again checked out the retail prices. And guess what, capsicum is selling at 278 percent of the whole sale price, tomato is at 136 percent at a leading retail store! And often the advertisement of this outlet claims to be the best & cheapest! On thing is sure- this price hike is definitely not a result of global inflation!

According to latest Economic Survey, the department of Consumer Affairs monitors the prices of 16 essential commodities at selected centres though out the country. Then, why no intervention by the State for the welfare of the majority?

Point to ponder- The Plight of the common man with fixed honest income, who is faced with inelastic expenditure with this price hike.

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9 April 2008

Hole in Budget

The Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee has placed an advertisement in many newspapers, listing the sale rates of fruits, vegetables, food grain and pulses in the regulated wholesale market in Delhi. But are these rates reflective of retail prices that the consumer pays? Nope! Today, publicity leaflets of two major retail stores, placed in between the fold of leading newspapers have made an appearance. Along with other products, they also carry pictures of the vegetables & fruit prices along with their market price. Their prices range between 21 to 87 per cent of the whole sale rate. So who is benefiting from so called ‘global’ inflation, which is burning the pocket of a honest income earning consumer? No prizes for getting it right!

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8 April 2008

Global Crisis

“Food grain crisis in whole world”- cries the lead report on the front page in Dainik Jagran. Where as the front page of Hindu carries a report with the heading - ‘Import of wheat if necessary’. According to this news report, the Union Minister of Agriculture has categorically mentioned that if the demand was not met at the domestic level, the government could import wheat. He has promised to discuss the demand for bonus made by both Mr. Badal (chief minister of Punjab) and Mr. Hooda (chief minister of Haryana) in the Union Cabinet. Tribune on the front page has also carried a report with inputs from the agriculture minister with the heading- “Pawar rules out bonus on wheat”- “Union Minister Sharad Pawar here today virtually ruled out the possibility of bonus for wheat. According to which though Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal and his counterpart from Haryana Bhupinder Singh Hooda pressed Pawar hard for announcing bonus for wheat, he refused to yield….”

Least we forget:

India was self sufficient in foodgains and hence required no imports of food grains for decades altogether. According to latest available figures on the net availability of food grains in Economic Survey 2007-08, the net availability of food grains increased from 158.6 to 181.7 (1991- 2006). While procurement of food grain nearly doubled from 19.6 to 41.1 million tonnes (1991-2004). Even the production of food grains during 2006-07 was 215 million tonnes, largely due to higher production of wheat and pulses. However, is there really a foodgrain shortage (read crisis) in India as the newspapers are crying out? One could crib about the lower rate of growth of agriculture sector, but the net availability has not declined to trigger any alarm of shortage. Still, unresolved issue relates to the procurement price of domestic food grains, especially wheat and whether to import wheat?

Often, the reason for imports is - to maintain buffer stock/food security in the Central pool for meeting commitments under targeted Public Distribution system, and second to curb inflation. Taking on the second, first. Since the international commodity price of food grains is on a higher side, inflation cannot be tacked by imports. The only way the government can manage is by subsidizing imports. But why not raise the procurement price of domestic wheat instead and meet the demand of buffer stock? Hang on, but what about the massive leakages in the delivery system? No drastic remedial steps seem to have been taken on this account in the country. What is the short term remedy? Take a clue from Nimal Sandhu’s article -” Farmers besieged” in Tribune urging the government to pay the farmers the market rate for food grains. A must to read.

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7 April 2008

Inflation Blues

With inflation hitting the lives of the common man rather badly, and most experts blaming the international market for the same, can the Indian government take any corrective measures for the same? Remember, elections are just around the corner! Take a look at the extracts of following editorials:

“….Let farmers enjoy the benefits of high prices. This will encourage them to produce more commodities in short supply. Increased income would help them to clear their debt and meet social commitments. …The government has to do some out-of-box thinking.” (Tribune).

“…With election around the corner, the government may to tempted to do something. But given the limited options it is sure to blunder into doing something stupid. It is time to fasten our seat belts and sit tight” (Economic Times).

“…the most effective response is going to be that which minimizes the risk of adverse outcomes on growth and the damage that can be done to market mechanism and, consequently, on future investment levels in key sectors….” (Business Standard).

“….The government is in a muddle because it is trying to run an open economy without ridding itself on its old command -and-control instincts…” (Financial Express).

“…An unhappy consumer is an unhappy voter…but acting in a controlling big brother will not get long-tem results. …A panicky government send wrong signals to everyone, consumers, voters and investors alike”. (DNA. Mumbai).

It appears that the editorial of Tribune is far from the realities of Indian agriculture and the problems faced by small & marginal farmers who are in deep debt. While the rest are not in favour of any short term measures to control inflation. However, no prizes for guessing what the common man wants!


Punch Claim

Are the following claims carried by advertisements in the same Mumbai newspaper true? Ask vegetarians!

“Eggs makes future Champions. Have you had an Egg today?” (National Egg Co-ordination Committee. DNA. Mumbai)

“A few things the British appreciate about India. Sachin, Butter Chicken. Indian students.” (DNA Academy Future Focus Workshop Series. DNA. Mumbai)

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6 April 2008

Ad Verdict

More on tobacco advertisement- Does the smiling face of a Bollywood actor on cigarette packs sold under the brand name ‘Red & White’ amount to unfair trade practice? Reference- advertisements in newspapers & magazines that featured pack of cigarettes with the brand name, along with an assertion- “red & white smokers are of a kind”, way back during 1999. Now, the Supreme Court of India has set aside the order by the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission which held this ad amounted to unfair trade practice (6 April 2008).

Hang on, according to Cigarette and other Tobacco Products (prohibition of advertisements and regulation of trade and commerce, production, supply and distribution) Act 2003, any kind of tobacco ads are already prohibited for fair as well as unfair trade practice! Why did this court-case drag so long?

New Museum

The new kid on the block of public transport- Delhi Metro has still not reached major parts of Delhi. Nevertheless, the Delhi Metro Rail corporation wants a museum for Delhi Metro to showcase its story of its recent existence. A museum for the new kid? Reason- “there is a transport museum in London and a museum in New York. It is time Delhi had its own metro museum because it has not just achieved a milestone, it has become a landmark in the city”, explained the Chief Publicity Relations Officer. But prior to Delhi, Metro did exist in Calcutta, but there is no such museum there. Does this demand indicate the eagerness of a developing country to display its new possession in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games?

Point to ponder- Why a separate metro museum when a Rail Museum already exits in Delhi? The vast stretch of land of Rail Museum can be ulitised for the same. Nevertheless, if one badly wants to build a new museum, why not a transport museum of India instead?

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5 April 2008

Image Coverage

The Editors Guild of India has condemned the restrictions places on the media for covering the first edition of the Indian Premium League (cricket) by the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI). The Guild is particularly upset with the clause which stipulates that media cannot use any image or photograph in any other publication or website even if it belonged to the same organisation. "Indirectly, it is making a claim on the images taken by the media organisation as a property o the IPL", the Guild said. In a representation, the Guild urged them to remove all unnecessary conditions" so that IPL's inaugural edition "gets the extensive and free coverage that it deserves" (Hindu).

Point to ponder- Editors Guild of India has never shown such concern for the development sector. Not unnecessary conditions here, but how many images have came up in the Indian media highlighting the present agrarian crisis vis-à-vis cricket? No prizes for getting this one right!

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4 April 2008

Gandhi Update

Mahatma Gandhi’s principles seems more popular outside India than back home. Latest- the European Union considers Gandhian non-violence to be the most appropriate means of ensuring that fundamental human rights are enjoyed, upheld, promoted and respected (Hindustan Times. Delhi Edition). But, what about the rest of his principles? Must read Mahatma Gandhi in toto!


SIM & Granny

Ad of a SIM card company has featured sunglasses with the punch line- “Armani (without having to remember your naani”.(MetroNow. Page 13) Now, why does Naani (a hindi word meaning grandmother) come in here? Keep guessing!


Mind your Language

India’s largest read daily is Dainik Jagran. But hang on, why has this Hindi newspaper published its supplement on ‘Post graduate Education in Ireland’ in English? A closer look at this 15 page supplement reveals that the publisher is indeed Dainik Jagran and some kind of collaboration with the Irish Independent is in place.

Point to ponder- will readers of Dainik Jagran, a Hindi newspaper, understand the contents of this supplement in English and also send their kids to Ireland for post graduation? No prizes for guessing this one right!
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3 April 2008

Critically Yours

The top most democratic powers of the world -United States and India are under the scanner in Asian Age on page 7. Take a look at the extracts:

“..Money power, like muscle power, has been playing an increasing an increasing role in eroding the country’s (India’s) politics. The culprits often cite the soaring costs of elections as an excuse. Yet here was a time when big businessmen were content to make donations to political parties of their choice in the hope of garnering ‘goodwill’, not necessarily to strike specific bargains…today’s generation of politicians seems determined to perpetuate this scandalous state of affairs….”(Inder Malhotra).

“Thanks to the United State’s power and primacy, the world must perforce follow the twists and turns, and plain silliness of the presidential campaigns… American presidential campaigns are billed as the greatest show on earth. They have now assumed Texan proportions in their extravagance, appetite for money and in the game of tripping up candidates on home turf. Indeed the danger is that the gap between one presidential election and the next will disappear entirely…”(S. Nihal Singh).

Point to ponder- Is the situation so bad?

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2 April 2008

Deep Recession in US

Yes, we all know that inflation is on a high. What can be done (on domestic level) to control its steep rise? Not much? Take a clue from the editorial of the leading financial newspaper-“ …All it (government) can do is wait and see how the inflation and growth equations across the developed and developing world pan out in the next few months…as the recession in the US becomes deeper, the pressure on accommodate prices could ease…If you juxtapose the domestic inflation conditions against the global economic scenario, a very complex situation emerges…”(Economic Times). Really! Sit back & pray for a deep recession in the US?

Hang on, before taking these words of wisdom as the last word on inflation control, take a look at the five measures, courtesy Dr. Ashok Desai in Mail Today. And not to forget to glance through the Editorial of the same paper. Yes, economics is indeed a rational science and definitely not pessimistic by nature.

Verdict of the cartoonist

The Bombay High Court has sentenced two leading stock brokers and five others to one year’s rigorous imprisonment in the 1992 Canfina scam which was worth Rs. 475 million. However neither of these rogue leaders will have to spend a night behind the bar as they have been granted bail (Hindustan Times). It is believed that they will appeal against the sentence in the Supreme Court of India.

However, cartoonist of Hindustan Times appears to be certain regarding their vigorous imprisonment.. Here in the cartoon, the mastermind of the scam is seen breaking stones in the jail, while one prisoner tells the other-” He was a stock broker until he broke some codes!”

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1 April 2008

National Herald Shuts Down

Yes, the Indian stock market did boom and coupled with high rate of growth, it made a whole lot of Indians ‘rich and happy’. By looking at the newspaper reports, it seems there is no shortage of any money here. And yet, today a historical newspaper closed down (read temporally suspended) due to financial constraints. And yet, none of these ’rich’ & ’happy’ people came forward for its rescue. They would probable turn around & say- what rescue mission or social responsibility are you taking about, investment decisions are made only on the basis of cost-benefit analysis. No profit possibility, no investment!

Now, how to respond here? Back to very basics- What is journalism anyway, what is the role of a newspaper and the society? Is it just another medium to earn profits, acquire glamour through advertising & luring packaging? And not to forget, a pass to the all powerful political corridors? Hang on, how would one account for the countless proprietors who despite running huge losses & wrath of the British, continued publication of their magazines/newspapers? Their reward- bankruptcy & imprisonment. Yes, it was long time ago -pre-independence and now the times have changed and so has the aim of Journalism. To earn profit, and more profits through advertisements?

Nevertheless, National Herald, the newspaper founded by Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India, has carried the suspension notice and a touching editorial on its front page with a pinch of hope:

“ With its glorious traditions, will National Herald be made to remain only a part of history? Or will it continue to function to herald change and progress in time with the positive basic values for which Indian has always stood?…The reorganisation of National Herald through implementation of a beneficial voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) to prune excess staff has thrown the newspaper into a state of uncertainty….The hope of the editor and the staff is that the newspaper will be revived in all its glory to perform this historic responsibility…The hope is that suspension of the newspaper will be only a temporary phenomenon….”

SARCAJC also joins the Editor & staff of National Herald in the hope that newspaper will be revived in all its glory to perform this historic responsibility…


Journalists on the Firing Line

Today, Statesman (Kolkata Edition, pg 4) reports that young female Indian Services officer in Bihar has branded journalists as dalals (brokers) “…they would write eulogies after getting even minor contracts or helps but would start writing absurd things once their requests has been turned down..” Naturally, these comments have not gone well with the local journalists, who have demanded her ouster as District Magistrate.

While on the other hand the Supreme Court of India has issued a notice to a television commentator for allegedly advising investors through television channel and its website to buy certain scripts, while he himself was selling those stocks. Remember barely a month ago, the Chief of SEBI had ticked off the media personalities for “talking up” and “taking down” stocks. (Deccan Herald. Bangalore Edition. Page 12). Sure, earning money is not a sin but a necessity for survival of a journalist, but at who’s cost?