Newspaper Watch (India) for the month of August 2009. For latest newspaper watch, view homepage 

31 August 2009

Concern of Day

Aarthi Ramachandran informs that the government is planning to involve citizens to track progress/report on implementation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). And who are these citizens- “100 persons of eminence…drawn from judiciary, civil service and society”. (Economic Times). Hang on, will only 100 people be able to monitor NREGA on the ground level in the entire country? Second, will all these ‘persons of eminence’ have the ground level experience, similar to that of P. Sainth? It is not uncommon to come across Page three personalities in much sought- Page Three in newspapers, hosting & attending parties for so called ‘social cause/responsibility’. Further, it is common for leading social scientists to hold/attend conferences, workshops on poverty/corruption eradication in air-conditioned rooms. Have they ever allowed their hands to be dirty on the ground level to resist/curb corruption? Neverthless, 100 ‘eminent persons’ cannot curb corruption in NREGA, unless the main street is not directly involved. But why only focus on NREGA, corruption is deep rooted all around and the net sufferer is the common man, who struggles alone with the ‘system’ everyday, that too without protection to him/her as whistleblower. The main problem that needs to be tackled is revamp of existing public grievance mechanism that has miserably failed to perform its function and has led to massive leakages & lone suffering common man. Accountability for its failure must be fixed. Media has a major role in this regard & SARCAJC is committed to it.

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30 August 2009

Overview: Quantitative

The Sunday edition of newspapers are heavier in terms of pages. Majority newspapers (dominated by newspapers in Hindi) are priced at Rs.3.50 followed by newspapers that are priced - Rs.5. Times of India and Hindustan Times remain among the bulkiest. However, Nai Duniya, was on top in terms of price and number of pages. Not to forget, maximum cartoons have been carried by Aaj Samaj.

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29 August 2009

Newsmakers of Day

Julian Rodrigo has brought into light J Saranya’s poverty tale on the front page of New Indian Express. J Saranya is no ordinary girl, she was national under-13 champion last year and won gold medal in the under-14 Asian Youth Chess Championship held in New Delhi earlier this month. Not everyone is as luck as Vishwanathan Anand. As her family is barely making enough money for hand-to-mouth survival, she helps her mother sell items made of plastic and mud on the pavement in front of the Vadivudai Amman Temple in Thiruvottiyur. (New Indian Express). Anyone listening?

New way to protest the lack of any work- make officials eat what you eat, even if it is a meal made of bitter plants? When an official of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) came to a Barauchi village in Uttar Pradesh's Chandauli district to check on the progress of projects, villagers forced him to eat lunch, made of bitter plants. "We offered him a meal prepared from wild weeds, known as `Chakor' and `Karemuha' that grow during the rainy season. Even animals do not graze on it due to bitter taste," Further- The irate villagers also piled over e a thousand NREGS job cards on - Singh's table when he was having - his `lunch'. "We have heard about We have heard about the scheme but have not got even a day's employment till now," Rakesh, another village resident, said. (New Indian Express).

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28 August 2009

Drought Watch

The finance minister has informed that there will be a 15-20% shortfall in country’s kharif crop due to deficient rainfall (Asian Age). While on the other hand, Jangveer Singh reports of gross wastage of wheat by Food Corporation of India (FCI).

Take a look- “wheat virtually rotted in the open this monsoon but FCI chose to lift food grain from covered godowns rather than attending to stock piles lying in ‘kutcha”, plinths and “mandi” yards….Meanwhile, sources said a bigger danger lurked ahead for the state due to accumulation of the highest-ever wheat stockpile in the history of the state….”. (Tribune). For this colossal waste, will heads roll at FCI, a government undertaking? More price rise is waiting to happen? P. Sainath has revealed that across the State of Andhra Pradesh, myriad little businesses have gone bust, people eating less, spending less. Even mid-day meal of school kids has been hit hard by inflation. Is this all because of drought? Take a clue from M. Krishnamuthy- “Drought? Our drought came before your drought. Weavers have been suffering for years with no sales, no bank loans, captured by dalals (middlemen). Our drought is more than a drought of rain. The latter only made it worse” (Hindu).

Newsmaker of Day

As a gurudakshina, paid 42 years late, 50 alumni of a village school have decided to gift to Venkatraman alias Pulavar Venkatraman , their former teacher, now aged 85 years, living in rented house with minimal amenities - a new house! Why a house? "I least expected that I will get a house to own at this ripe age," says the Pulavar. "It was a sheer melodrama twist to the long years of monotonous grind of my life," he adds.(New Indian Express).

Statistics Watch

Smita Aggrawal informs that three months after setting a five-year time frame for a slum-free India, the UPA government has pushed the deadline to seven years. It will cost nearly Rs 4 lakh crore (Rs. 4000 billion).

In response to RTI, it has been revealed that PMO has 28,685 secret files; but hasn’t opened even one to public this year. (Times of India)

The government has approved to provide 50% reservation for women in all three tiers of panchayat across the country (Asian Age).

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August 27, 2009

Concern of Day

The main street encounters corruption everyday. Lone fight against corruption is never easy, especially when public grievance redressal system fails. Yes, here, Right to Information Act comes to rescue to some extent. After a long time, prime Minister has expressed this concern, in detail, over corruption. Take a clue- “..Corruption distorts the rule of law and weakens institutions of governance. It hurts our economic growth in a variety of ways, apart from hindering our efforts to build a just, fair and equitable society…The poor are disproportionately hurt because of corruption. We have some of the most ambitious and wide ranging programmes in place today to help the poor and the marginalised sections of our society. But, there is a constant refrain in public discourse that much of what the government provides never reaches the intended beneficiaries – whether it is subsidized foodgrains for the poor, loans, fertilizers or seeds on concessional terms for small and marginal farmers or the benefit of employment programmes for the under employed and unemployed. This should be a matter of serious concern for all of us collectively… pervasive corruption in our country tarnishes our image to an important extent…There is a pervasive feeling today in our country that while petty cases get tackled quickly, the big fish often escape punishment. This has to change. Rapid, fair and accurate investigation of allegations of corruption in high places should remain your (CBI’s) utmost priority. (PM's address at the XVII biennial conference of CBI and State Anti-Corruption Bureaux. 26 August 2009)

Many newspapers have carried extracts from the Prime Minister’s address with stress on ‘Big Fish’- Catch Big fish (Aaj Samaj), PM tells CBI to catch the ‘big fish’(Asian Age), Also catch corrupt big fish: Manmohan (Nai Duniya). Aaj Samaj has carried a large photograph of fishes on its front page, along with a write-up, which begins- “What time has come! Appeal to do their work. That too from Prime Minister…Rajiv too appealed. For freedom from middlemen. Many years have passed…Everything is like before…Strict implementation should be seen on appeal”. Surprisingly, a very few editorial have focused on this all pervasive problem in light of Prime Minister’s concern. The editorial of Dainik Bhaskar points out that corruption will end by political will & not by scolding CBI. Further- “…PM has set aside thousands of crores of rupees for the development of villages, but if corruption is not controlled, a very small amount will reach the poor”. The cartoon on the front page of Financial Chronicle shows a man in black oversized overcoat, black hat carrying a newspaper with news- “Fight aggressively against corruption: PM to CBI”. That’s no ordinary man- it represents CBI, and guess what he says- “If only politicians get off our back”. Yes, the good news is that government is ready with a draft of a much awaited law to protect whistleblowers. However, the Union Ministers, are proposed to be kept out of the purview of the proposed law! (Indian Express). But what about take of Indian newspapers on corruption. Take a clue from a pick from Newspaper Watch Archives:

28 November 2007

Tale of Two Cs:

‘One of the most important functions of good journalism is to keep watch on the abuse of public office and public money. And this is one of things that journalists most enjoy doing’. (Larry Kilman. World Association of Newspapers.8/6/05). Indian newspapers are also taking part in the fight against corruption. For a sample, let's view extracts of two Editorial of Tribune on corruption:

"....Where can the common man, particularly the poor who suffers the most because of corruption, should go when the administration is distant and indifferent. The remedy for corruption has to come from honest citizens who have to shut the door against the corrupt and the criminal and the political parties who harbour them. This will require considerable courage and may be some sacrifice in personal terms. The effort will be worth it - for the survival of democracy in the country and good".(Editor-in-chief of Tribune-H.K. Dua. 16/10/04. Tribune)

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

Notice the change? A Newspaper legitimising a type of corruption? Has corruption become an accepted part of life by the common man in India? Nope! The common man is still fighting against corruption and is not taking the ‘easy’ route. Point to ponder- How far are newspapers playing a proactive role in supporting the common man in his fight against this menace and discouraging those who feed any kind of corruption? How many news reports do they carry on efforts by whistle blowers vis-à-vis news reports on ‘page three’ celebrities?

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26 August 2009

Statistics of Day

Financial Chronicle informs that Indians spend Rs. 300 billion every year to deal with outrages. This news is sourced from Press Trust of India. Times of India informs that power outrages nationwide cost Indians Rs. 1000 billion (power back up equipment) in addition to Rs. 300 billion as running cost every year. This amount could have used to set up power plant to generate 25,000MW of electricity.

Sandeep Ashar reports that the downturn and price rise seem to be pushing more people towards poverty in urban areas, especially in Maharashtra, compared to the last financial year. The number of urban poor in the state is expected to go up from 1.31 crore to 1.46 crore by March-end next year, a rise of nearly 15 lakh, or 11.3%, in 2009-10, according to estimates of the Union ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation….Home to the highest number of urban poor, the state is followed by Uttar Pradesh (1.17 crore), Madhya Pradesh (74.03 lakh), and Tamil Nadu (69.13 lakh). The ministry has projected an 18% growth in urban poverty across India in 2009-10 (DNA).

Climate change

The Indian Solar Mission aims to produce 20,000 MW of solar energy by 2020, was given an in-principle nod in a meeting chaired by the PM on August 3.However, Neha Sihna reports that despite the fact that Prime Minister had announced on Independence Day that India's Solar Mission, under the National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC), will be ready by November 14, the mission itself is facing hard scrutiny. Reason- some members of the Prime Minister's Advisory Council on Climate Change are differing on a fundamental point: the financing of the mission, with suggestions that expensive solar energy under the mission should be paid for by the developed world as part of "common but differentiated responsibility on climate change" (Indian Express).

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25 August 2009

Justice Watch

Manoj Mitta informs on the front page of Times of India - “CJI goes slow on judicial accountability”. The large cartoon in Mail Today features Chief Justice of India with heading ‘single bench’, which is modified as ‘Lonely bench’. Why? Take a clue from the editorial of DNA - “Justice K Kannan of the Punjab and Haryana court has made a voluntary declaration of his assets even though there is no compulsion of any kind…The pity is that chief justice K Balakrishnan has come out against Kannan's move, calling it a publicity stunt. This is a churlish response….Ever since the debate on declaration of assets by public officials began, the judiciary has resisted this demand. Seen in the context of the rising perception that there could be corruption in the judicial ranks, especially at lower levels, this stand has troubling implications. ..Justice Kannan's example is worthy of emulation, notwithstanding what the highest judicial authority in the country has to say.”. The editorial of Nai Duniya answers the questions -why only judges?

Concern of Day

An elephant with decorated trunk, a man on its top, carrying an equally decorated small umbrella has appeared in an advertisement by a Private Bank. The punchline reads- “Now at Karnal. The 633rd branch of Federal Bank”. What has an elephant, decorated by humans to with inauguration of a branch of a private sector bank in a city in State of Haryana? True, recently, RBI committee has asked the private sector banks to take active role in taking banking services to rural areas and furthering the cause of financial inclusion. (Free Press Journal). But give the poor elephant a break!

The front page of Dainik Bhaskar carries three photographs that narrate heartbreaking news. Amar is known for elephant rides for tourists in Jaipur, capital of Rajasthan. In the morning, Munni, a female elephant, ran toward the jungle. No one tried to find out the reason for gentle giant’s behaviour, instead cruel humans gave her shot of heavy does of injection to doze her and then was forced to come down (even tied her legs). Result- Munni, brought from state of Uttar Pradesh in 2005, could not stand this treatment and died. Reason- she had not eaten or drank any water for last 20 hours. Due to which, the thirsty & hungry elephant died of high dose of injection. This is the third death of elephant in last five months. Elephants can also be seem walking long distances on hot roads in capital of India. Point to ponder- why should the gentle giant be forced to leave his/her natural surroundings to work for ‘cruel’ humans? Need -Right to Natural Habitat for Animals? Anyone listening?

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24 August 2009

Climate Watch

The Editorial of Hindustan Times has not revealed anything new- “India’s growth is increasingly taking place at the cost of its environment. This is no longer in doubt. Even so, when the man in charge of the highest office in the land says that the environment situation is ‘alarming’, you know that there is really cause for worry….While India gears up for the climate change battle in Copenhagen at the end of this year, it definitely needs to put its house in order before we are left with very little to save. …”. The question remains- Will India abandon quest for high economic growth in favour of sustainable development? Unless, this happens no concrete steps can really be taken to save river like Sutlej, which is fast becoming into a deathtrap for human & aquatic life. Tushar Ratttan in Time of India informs about pathetic condition of Sutlej, for which hazardous industrial effluents from leading industries are culprit. However, Punjab Pollution Control Board member secretary, Babu Ram, appeared oblivious to any threat in his backyard!

Shame: No one comes to rescue

Delhi is getting more unsafe. The news that no one came to the rescue of an aged women who was beaten up by a hooligan on road, shook most women today. Why this mad violence, was the assailant mad? Take a clue from news that has appeared on the front page of Times of India- “Told to drive slowly, man thrashes cancer patient”. All Kiran Anand, 58 year old women, did was to asked the driver of a car, who was rash driving, to drive slowly. Guess, what he did, he slapped, beat & dragged the elderly women on the road. This is no simple road rage. It reflects how Delhi is becoming more unsafe for women. It is extremely shameful as well as shocking that despite raising an alarm no one came forward to their rescue. Police can't be everywhere for security. Anyone listening loud?

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23 August 2009

Concern of Day

The President of India, during her address to the parliament two months ago, had promised "to make every woman literate in the next five years”. This is not the first time that the Hon. President has stressed on women literacy. Last year too she had stressed on women literacy- “Our special efforts should be directed towards extending the power of literacy to women who currently constitute two-thirds of the illiterates in the world….call upon the Central Government and State Governments to give high attention to literacy as a vital instrument for achieving inclusive growth and sustainable development.(8th September 2008. International Literacy Day).

However, Human Resources Development Minister- Kapil Sibal doesn’t share President of India’s commitment towards full women literacy. Result- Government has chopped it off from 224 districts and continue it in the remaining 376 districts where female literacy is less than 50 per cent. Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal has set the target of the restructured mission to achieve 80 per cent overall literacy by 2017" (Free Press Journal). Point to ponder- why eradication of female illiteracy is not a top most priority for Human Resources Development Minister? Rather Sibal seems to be obsessed with higher education, which, ideally should have been left to market forces.

Drought Watch

Tavleen Singh in her weekly column has not minced words - “It is beyond shameful that after 62 years of Independence, the vast majority of our farmers continue to be so dependant on the monsoon….A drought year is a mirror in which we see the face of the Indian state. How sad that in that mirror we see only broken promises, failed anti-poverty schemes and an absence of investment in agriculture that amounts to criminal neglect….Unlike when there was that last bad drought in the eighties, there is plenty of money available today. It must be spent on more than just temporary drought relief”(Indian Express).

But allocation of money & initiation new schemes for drought relief is not an end. Rather, there is an urgent need to root out corruption. Take clue from Asha Menon who reports that farmers have reached their wits' end in the state of Jharkhand, where only 12 per cent of the land is under irrigation. Thousands of farmers of have decided to hold a fast till Republic Day (26 January). And, if their demands are still not met, they will commit mass suicide. Their demands are basic-“The government must give rice to all families. They must make check dams to increase ground water level and provide cattle feed…The farm yield has fallen, there are locusts in the fields and there is little care for cattle. The government veterinary clinic is closed most of the time and there are no vaccines for seasonal diseases, Development works too have not come to much. Crores of rupees meant for irrigation projects and also deny farmers BPL cards and work or pay under the NREGA. Even medical aid comes only with a bribe”.(New Indian Express. Front Page). Investigation into five hunger deaths in Bihar last week, reveals corrupt delivery system. Since June 2008, no family has received any food grains in Rattu Bigha at subsidized government scheme rates as the shop was closed for most of the time on pretext of ‘shortage’. And whenever they got rice/wheat they were asked to pay in addition to the designated price. Further, no entries were made in job cards (if issued), under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (Hindu. Page 9). Apart from rotting of food grain, they are also getting exported. Ruchika Khanna reports despite ban on export of non basmati rice in Andhra Pradesh, two exporters mislead the Central government by giving false information that they were procuring rice from other states. Further, instead of exporting non-basmati rice, they exported superfine rice procured from Andhra Pradesh (Tribune). No wonder why occasional eating of superfine rice by honest main street during festivals too has gone with the wind.

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22 August 2009

Report of Day

Gokul Vannan reports that thousands of people in the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder in Madurai, Virudhu nagar, Dindigul and Theni districts have been forced into bonded labour due to poverty and unemployment. “…The trafficked people, mostly children and young adults, put in almost 20 hours a day in shops and factories in other States. Physical torture like branding with hot iron rods is also common…The trafficking has been going on for the past two decades with local agents paying impoverished parents some money initially and taking away the children. The kids are forced into hard labour for long hours in different types of sweetmeat shops, savoury making units and other factories…”. But why do they accept to become bonded labour? “Lack of employment locally and a desire to escape the clutches of poverty have driven thousands of people from the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder in four southern districts of Tamil Nadu into the trap of human traffickers, who take children and young adults to other States, where they are forced into bonded labour”. (New Indian Express). Point to ponder- any concrete action to eradicate poverty?

Drought Watch

According to Union Agriculture Minister as on August 18th August, rainfall was deficient by 26 per cent resulting in substantial loss of sown areas. The central government has planned a series of measures -- import of food items, seeds for fodder, a scheme for loan to farmers for a shallow tube wells programme and rescheduled farm loans -- to fight the drought in the country. The plans were formulated at a state agriculture ministers' meeting, convened to discuss the drought in about 246 out of the 626 districts. However, yesterday there was no drought in power centre for the country- Delhi, just one heavy downpour resulted in flooding inside the new Airport terminal, as the ceiling leaked in several places; a part of the roof collapsed, water went in lifts and air-conditioners, security equipment were also not working! Take a clue from Asian Age- “A Huff, a puff & airport roof blown away”. The airport officials blamed 'unprecedented & abnormal' rainfall for the mess. Hang on, this is definitely a lame excuse as the old terminal building of the airport stood firm and none of the newspapers reported that roof of houses of common man, nearby the airport collapsed during this downpour. Why was the new airport terminal not designed to withstand the heaviest of all downpours, which may occur in future (read during time of Commonwealth Games in 2010)? Not to forget traffic jams, roads caving in. The screaming headline of Times of India says it all- “As heavens open up, it’s hell on city roads”. Is this not a High time for fixing accountability for the mess at airport & roads.

Advertisement Watch

Finally, the government has responded to series of advertisements by Anil Ambani group appearing on front page of all major newspapers in the country. The government has dubbed it as “most unfortunate”. Countering the claims made by Advertisement that the government stood to lose because of the Petroleum Ministry's connivance with Mukesh Ambani-led RIL on the gas issue, an official statement said the Centre would earn Rs 84,000 crore from KG-D6 gas fields and not just Rs 500 crore as projected in the campaign. Further, words of wisdom- “Parties to a dispute would be well advised to reserve restraint in the matter of projection of facts as well as inferences,” the statement said, adding that the government had issued the “limited clarification so that there is no element of public misinformation” (Tribune)

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21 August 2009

Drought Watch

Despite the fact that half of India is reeling under drought, Nistula Hebbar & Rajesh Sinha assure that India need not fear as the country had sufficient quantity of food grains. They take the word of the agriculture minister that during this reason, Centre had procured record 32.6 million tonnes of rice and 23.5 tonnes of wheat. (DNA). The Home minister has also assured on the same account- “Large food grain stocks which the government has, would help it tide over drought” (Financial Chronicle). But is this stock in best of health? There is more to rotting imported wheat on ports. Priya Yadav reports in Times of India that Punjab is losing a staggering 1.8 million tonnes of wheat to wastage as mountains of wheat are rotting in the fields as government agency are either unable or unwilling to move it our of the state. It does not mention if any accountability has been fixed for this shameful wastage of food grains.Surprisingly this news report appears on page 15, that too, not prominently. Look further, with price of rice hitting the roof, smugglers have taken fancy for rice meant for public distributions system (PDS). Rice smugglers operating on Kerala-bound trains used to outsmart the police, as it was difficult for them to nab the culprits and produce them before courts. In the past two weeks alone, Railway Protection Force (RPF) haa seized around 1,400 kg from the Chennai-Egmore-Mangalore and Tiruchy-Palakkad passenger trains, but none was arrested. Reason- They say that nobody knew who loaded the rice, where it was loaded and who guarded the rice bags on the train. (New Indian Express). The editorial of Aaj Samaj -”..people have faith in the assurance of the government, but the greatest problem is of inflation which is not coming down. For common man water content is increasing in dal and sugar is getting bitter. With approaching festive season here is apprehension regarding price hike in consumer goods…Main issue is to streamline distribution, get rid of middlemen- which till now has not been accomplished. How many poor are there is the country who need food gain through public distribution system? Take a clue from Editorial of Nai Duniya- “How many poor are in this county, this even the Central government doesn’t know, though it is very important to know…The playing around with statistics has revealed that the statistics of poor provided by the Planning Commission, a premium institution, were totally incorrect…”. Financial Express feels- “…The latest estimate comes from Suresh Tendulkar, the former chief of the PMs economic advisory council. This says that 38% of India’s population is below the poverty line. Still, it seems more conservative than the Arjun Sengupta Commission’s 77% estimate or the NC Sexena Committee’s 50% estimate. If any of these numbers are true, we should expect a huge rise in welfare payments and subsidies, not to mention worrying about our real progress on the ground. However, there are reasons to believe that some of these measures may be over-estimates…”. Over-estimates, really? Main street not visible for the growth cheerleaders? Even if one knew, the exact number of poor in the country, will the food grain reach the most vulnerable - children? Take a clue from Chitleen Sethi who reports that it is nothing short of shame that 80% of infants in the state of Punjab & Haryana (also know as granary of India) are anemic, every 2nd child is stunted & every 3rd child undernourished.(Tribune. Front page). The editorial of DNA points out -“At the best of times, we are unable to ensure equitable spread of food grains to the needy. In times of crisis, the situation worsens…”. Point to ponder- anyone listening?

Editorial of Day

How can a rigorous security procedure that is acceptable for Al Gore and Edward Kennedy qualify as an ‘insult’ for Shah Rukh Khan? The song and dance made in India over the Bollywood hero being held up for questioning at Newark airport in the United States is an insult to our collective intelligence….VIP privileges in India are increasingly becoming a way of flaunting status...These Very Inconvenient Persons routinely jump queues, hold up plane departures, delay trains, skirt security measures, and drive rashly in proliferating red beacon cars. Fortunately, as several letters published in this newspaper indicate, the Indian public tends to apply robust common sense to disapprove of such VIP behaviour at home. So what is the sense of protesting when a foreign country or airline puts them through a security drill, as the law, rules, or standard procedure require them to do? (Hindu).

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20 August 2009

Environment Watch

According to the editorial of Tribune - “people in general and policymakers in particular need to consider: are we over-exploiting our natural resources in our greed for a higher and higher GDP growth? We have to live with water scarcity. This year the country is faced with a drought and this should make everyone introspect how efficiently we manage our water resources…States must use Central schemes like NAREGA and Bharat Nirman to build water infrastructure. Green taxes can be levied to save water and discourage its wastage.” Cut it short, focus should indeed be on sustainable development. But does one really care on the ground level, leave aside few passing reference in some documents and reports or odd speeches in conferences. Indeed, sustainable development has been a lost word in the quest for higher and higher economic growth. New Indian Express informs that the Union Minister of Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh has admitted that country's record on environment is pathetic. According to him-"…Since our laws are not that strong and laughable, a Bollywood actor and a famous cricketer were let off with few thousands rupees of fine for poaching endangered species…I am against the construction of five star hotels and beach resorts in coastal regulation zones and if needed already constructed buildings will be demolished.". Great, but will he be able to translate his good intentions for protecting environment into concrete action? Take a clue from the cartoon on the front page of Financial Chronicle. The toon features two well dressed (laughing) men, they appear to have read Prime Minister’s recent statement in a newspaper- ‘Green Clearance source of corruption‘. But why are these men so happy? The accompanying caption reads- “On the brighter side, we would have many millionaires by the time we are fully green”.

Statistics of Day

Half of India in drought grip, rice output falls (Hindustan Times)

38% Indians are poor: Report (Hindustan Times)

24 suicides in 40 days in Andhra Pradesh due to monsoon failure (Tribune)

To show solidarity with drought hit people, austerity measures by Congress include 20% salary cut in pay of minister’s and leaders (Economic Times)

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19 August 2009

Media Watch

Way back in 2005, two journalists, Aniruddha Bahal and Suhasini Raj, had conducted a sting operation to prove that some Members of Parliament had accepted bribes for posing questions to the Government, while they are expected to ask questions only in public interest. This resulted in the expulsion of 11 MPs from Parliament which was upheld by the Supreme Court. Now, they are back in news. The Delhi police have now filed corruption charges against the MPs, but it has decided to shoot the messenger saying that the two journalists have abetted the crime of corruption. The Editors Guild of India has condemned the move (New India Express).

Environment Watch

Sarita Singh reports on the front page of Financial Chronicle that Prime minister Manmohan Singh has acknowledged that the process of granting environmental clearances was `corrupt' and a `licence raj' in another form- "I wish to draw your attention to the view that environmental clearances have become a new form of licence raj and a source of corruption.".However according to Sarita, this brought forth a quick defense from the Union minister of state for environment and forests, Jairam Ramesh. Speaking to the media at the end of the conference, he denied that the prime minister had called the process corrupt. Ramesh said that what the prime minister meant was that there was a `perception' that environment clearances were licenses to control. "He did not say it is being done."

Report of Day

After its series on Unsporting India, Hindustan Times has taken on mistreatment in private hospitals in Delhi. The third of a five part series, by Rhythma Kaul puts forward the cases of mistreatment by leading private hospitals of the capital. Page number 4 is exclusively devoted to this cause, it also carries a few views, concerns of readers. The possible solution- take a clue from an anonymous- “There is an urgent need to strengthen our consumer protection system…”. But how to deal with a doctor who appears in a cartoon on the front page of Asian Age, telling an ill looking patient- “BP, giddiness, shivering? It’s not swine flu. It’s an overdose of flu news on TV channel!” Yes, swine flu news is not making prominent appearance on the front page of most leading newspapers.

Newsmaker of Day

Kerala’s Industries Minister’s sarcastic comments earlier, that industries cannot be started on top of coconut trees had landed him in trouble for a while and made way for numerous caricatures. Now he has come up with a novel idea- Design a coconut-plucking machine and win a million rupees. The novel idea of conducting a competition to select the most user-friendly equipment for plucking coconuts is to solve the dearth of trained people to pluck coconuts. When pointed out that some equipment for plucking coconuts have already been developed and in use, the senior official said many of these were of little use. “We want an equipment that could be useful even for women so that they could pluck coconut without depending on men”. Point to ponder- men will be jobless! (New Indian Express)

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18 August 2009

Advertisement Watch

Unique advertisement has appeared in almost all leading newspapers by Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group on behalf of its 8 million shareholders in “public interest and national interest”. Settling stinking rich brotherly differences through advertisements? Today's ad claims that petroleum ministry has granted undue favour to Reliance Industry (KG D6 gas fields) which could cause loss to the government of India - whooping Rs. 300 billion. Further, the ad informs that retail power tariffs may also go up by 50%. Point to ponder- Anil Ambani Vs. Mukesh Ambani must carry on- in national interest & indeed in the interest of newspapers for lucrative front page ads!

Opps!

The heading of news report on page 17 in Times of India reads “Ranjit Singh’s wife was forbidden to have kids by Queen Victoria”. Opps, hang on, this is not true! Read on- “..Queen Victoria forbade the wife of the only married grandson of Maharaja Ranjit Singh from having children so that the British Raj could tighten its grip on Punjab…”. The news has been sourced from an agency- IANS. Was the erring headline outsourced too?

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17 August 09

Media Watch

Indian Express informs that Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry has issued an informal advisory to all broadcasters asking them to ensure that their coverage of the spread of H1N1 virus does not create panic in the public. It is learnt the government is keeping a watch on channels to ensure their coverage remains focused on awareness instead of creating panic. "Though there's no formal advisory from the ministry, their officials telephonically asked the News Broadcasters' Association (NBA) to convey to all member channels to focus on preventive measures and to refrain from any coverage that could cause panic in the public," said an NBA member. "The NBA duly conveyed the same to all channels a week back," he added. Yeap, there is no panic! Take a clue from same newspaper which informs that Union Health Secretary, who proceeded on leave to the US last week, will be returning back in India only on August 25.

Photograph of Day
informs that Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry has issued an informal advisory to all broadcasters asking them to ensure that their coverage of the spread of H1N1 virus does not create panic in the public. It is learnt the government is keeping a watch on channels to ensure their coverage remains focused on awareness instead of creating panic. "Though there's no formal advisory from the ministry, their officials telephonically asked the News Broadcasters' Association (NBA) to convey to all member channels to focus on preventive measures and to refrain from any coverage that could cause panic in the public," said an NBA member. "The NBA duly conveyed the same to all channels a week back," he added. Yeap, there is no panic! Take a clue from same newspaper which informs that Union Health Secretary, who proceeded on leave to the US last week, will be returning back in India only on August 25.Photograph of Day

It seems that drought was not a priority for the Agriculture Minister of Maharashtra , Balasaheb Thorat, when he entered the cage of a tiger in Maharaja Bag Zoo in Nagpur (in Vidharbh region), with gunner in tow, and got self photographed in the presence of forest officials who stood outside the cage. He also patted on the head the injured young tiger Is entering the cage of an animal in a zoo is not prohibited for a non zoo-personnel? The minister justified his action asserting that he was the pro-vice chancellor of the local Agriculture University and hence it was his duty to look after the animals, too (Free Press Journal). Point to ponder- what about his duty towards the farmers of Vidharbh?

Statistics of Day

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has urged the Judiciary "to wipe every tear of every waiting litigant" by eliminating backlog of cases, the largest in the world. Official figures of pending cases as on June 30, 2009, are mind boggling -- fifty-two thousand five hundred and ninety-two before the Supreme Court, forty lakh seventeen thousand nine hundred and fifty-six before High Courts and two crore seventy-one lakh nineteen thousand and ninety-two before the subordinate courts (New Indian Express).

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16 August 2009

Report of Day

Most newspapers have carried coloured photographs of the independence day celebrations in the country. One photograph focuses on the cultural programme by school kids, here an image of India Gate is formed. But hang on, why highlight the image of India Gate, India Gate was never a symbol of Indian Independence? Roznama Rashtriya Sahara, Urdu newspaper from Delhi and Aaj Samaj has devoted one full page to celebration photographs. Photograph of security forces with latest gadgets in many newspapers, reflects the strict security arrangements. Dainik Tribune remembers the time when first prime minister of India used to travel to Red Fort in an open car to deliver his speech, stopping at many places to greet common man. Now, its simply archival.

However, the report by Sandeep Dubey comes with heading - “In independent India the common man is still slaved”. Take a clue- “62 years have passed since we got independence, but it feels that we are forgetting our independence, along with freedom fighters, who laid their lives…today there is lawlessness, terror..”. Sandeep traces a few freedom fighters, who seem to be totally disillusioned. While Ekta Sinha has raised the problem of child labour in free country. (Nai Duniya). But not all is lost. The Government of Haryana has raised pension of Freedom Fighters & their widows from Rs. 1525 to Rs. 6000. Further the Governor of the State has acknowledged that the country will always be indebted to the patriots. More to come-the chief minister of Haryana honored freedom fighters and their widows in Sonipat district. The Government of Tamil Nadu too has raised pension from Rs. 4000 to Rs. 5000 & family pension from Rs. 2000 to Rs. 2500 (Hindu). What about the main street? Take a clue from Rashtriya Sahara which reports that in Loharo, due to non-hosting of the national flag in Government School on the occasion of Indian Independence, the villagers got really angry. Result- they locked the school and jammed the main road. While, Loksatta, has devoted nearly full page to contribution of revolutionary freedom fighter Madanlal Dhingra. Classic example of national integration- Loksatta is Marathi newspaper, while Madanlal Dhingra originated from state of Punjab. He was hanged on 17 August 1909 in England.

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15 August 2009

Concern of Day

Today, India is celebrating its Independence Day. The newspapers are full of advertisements conveying best wishes on this occasion, radio stations are airing patriotic songs for a change! But what about surviving freedom fighters? Maitreyee Boruah informs that then teenagers, who fought for Indian Independence, are now waging a lonely battles against poverty in the state of Karnataka. Still, the 88-year old freedom fighter feels proud of his part in the freedom movement. Guess, he gets mere Rs 3,000 as a freedom fighter's pension from the state government which is peanuts. At this age, he is selling newspapers and tea in a stall. "If state MLAs (members of the legislative assembly) can get a hike in their monthly salary from Rs.22,000 to Rs.44,000, why have the freedom fighters been ignored?" asks Sreenivasaiah, who is also president of Gandhi Bhavan in Bangalore and worked as an underground activist here, during the Quit India movement in 1942. (New Indian Express). Point to ponder- what is the value of independence for us?

Media Watch

"..No one doubts that TV news is here to stay, and no one doubts that at some momentous point, Internet penetration of India will reach critical mass (it is now only five per cent of our population) and online news will become the main source of breaking news. But what will happen to newspapers?…Newspapers that stubbornly resist this change find their circulation stagnant; and like sharks or intimate relationships, newspaper circulation has to keep moving forward in order to stay alive.…managers thus speak of "monetizing". So the space in a newspaper is marketed; editors are asked to avoid muck-raking and instead focus on news that "supports" marketers' efforts; and news content shifts from politics and society towards lifestyle, in order to create a "milieu" around each advertiser's product. You would reasonably think that the path to the truth would be simple: just ask readers what they want. Yet no newspaper does that..The sad fact is that most newspapers leave decisions not to the editors, but to the people who bring in the revenue. So if you have a complaint about newspapers lacking courage nowadays, you know whom to blame….I don't know how this struggle between the editorial idealists and the marketing peddlers will end in India…But India is a society that can't live without its arguments (it's in fact a society that has matured because of its arguments)…And our media will play a big, even central, part in all of this. Business managers will of course play a role in how our media evolve, but so should each of you. I don't yet know how. But I know that you will, for only then will each August 15 continue to be a day of meaning and celebration."(Aditya Sinha, Editor-in-Chief of `New Indian Express'. New Indian Express)

Speech of Day

….At the same time, the expectations of the people are rising as they are becoming more aware of their rights and seek better opportunities. Facilities, amenities and services meant for them whether they are living in rural or urban areas can be delivered smoothly only is there is an effective governance system that is less cumbersome but more transparent and accountable. There is outrage when money meant for welfare schemes is pilfered out by corrupt practices. The flagship programmes of the Government are comprehensive ranging from health to education, employment to expanding social and economic infrastructure. Their implementation will have to be at optimal levels for an impact to be made on the lives of the people. Hence, the emphasis on reform of governance for effective delivery of public services is critical to change the lives of the people. The administrators must be responsive to the needs of the people. Their work is a public service - commitment, dedication and honesty should be the hallmarks of their work…. (President of India. On eve of Independence Day).

Health Watch

Despite swine flu scare in Mumbai, the festival of Janmashtami was celebrated with the traditional pomp. It also included the breaking of the `dahi handi', an earthen pot full of curd by a human pyramid which can rise up to 30 feet and even higher. Aam aadmi (common man) lined the streets and jostled to catch a glimpse of the human pyramids. The city's streets remained jammed with trucks, its balconies clogged with `Govindas' clad in bright yellow T-shirts and black shorts. (Free Press Journal). The cartoon on the front page of Aaj Samaj shows young Krishna, without mask, reaching for dahi handi' while the rest of lot (including aeroplane & bird) are all wearing mask to protect themselves from Swine Flu. Apart from traditional festival zeal, what would be possible reason for ignoring health scare caused by Swine Flue? Take a clue from Delhi’s slum dwellers. "What swine flu? We face greater problems of health and livelihood!…Every third day someone in our neighbourhood is down with high fever. Stomach ailments and diarrhoea are common and so many of us women are anaemic - a flu is the last on our list of worries”. says Anisha, 35, a resident of south Delhi's Rangpuri slum. (New Indian Express).

Economic Watch

The front page of Times of India has carried a smiling photograph & quote of D. Subbarao, Governor of Reserve bank of India (RBI), in a block. The heading is “Come Again?”. Why, take a clue from the quote of D. Subbarao “..Financial Stability is like pornography. You can’t define it but when you see it, you know it”. Further - “..It is still too early to be concerned about inflationary pressures…I am unable to say how the drought situation will translate into crisis and what action will have to be taken at what point to time” (Financial Express).

Is financial stability not a fundamental objective of central banks, many central banks were established with the explicit task to promote financial stability and to reduce the adverse macroeconomic consequences of episodes with financial instability? Take a clue from the Department of the Treasury. Government of United States, which has in place Financial Stability Plan- “…Today, our nation faces a severe financial crisis. It is a crisis of confidence, of capital, of credit and of consumer and business demand...To address the financial crisis, the Financial Stability plan is designed to attack our credit crisis on all fronts with our full arsenal of financial tools and the resources commensurate to the depth of the problem.…To protect taxpayers and ensure that every dollar is directed toward lending and economic revitalization, the Financial Stability Plan will institute a new era of accountability, transparency and conditions on the financial institutions receiving funds...The Financial Stability Plan is a full force, comprehensive approach that seeks to stabilize the financial system and get lending flowing again..…“(http://www.financialstability.gov/about/index.html). Point to ponder- anyone listening?

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14 August 2009

Media Watch

Amandeep Shukla reports that journalists in the largest democracy of the world are hounded for exposing corruption. Take a look -”It is difficult to imagine a graver threat to journalism as a watchdog of democracy than the prosecution of journalist for abetting’ the very crimes they expose. Yet, that is precisely what is happening in a nation that often takes price in the tag of ‘world’s largest democracy..”. Gyanant Singh informs that there is no law to shield investigative scribers. The paper also reporters courts the wrong way (Mail Today). This is not all. Hindustan Times informs that eve-teasers have thrashed Pankaj Doval- a journalist, in Delhi. Imagine- He was chased and beaten in power capital of India. Why- he only protested against passing of lewd remarks by some drunk men at a group of women in different cars. Now, that’s not a crime but a duty of every citizen of planet earth. Times of India has carried Pankaj Doval’s first person account, which is alarming for women and ‘real men’ those who stand up to protect women from eve-teasers. Worst, Pankaj Doval is still waiting for action. Keep going Pankaj, you’re on right track!

Child Watch

Is production of BT cotton hazardous for children? Teena Thacker informs that Union Labour Ministry, which till date has listed 16 occupations and 65 processes as "hazardous", is mulling over including Bt cotton fields in the list, following suggestions from various NGOs and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. "While agriculture as a whole cannot be put on the list, as there might be some children working in their own fields, it has now been decided to see if Bt cotton fields fall in the category as majority of children find it lucrative to work in these fields," said an official (Indian Express).

Environment Watch

Bombay High Court has lifted its stay on land acquisition for the new nuclear power plant in the Konkan region and dismissed a petition opposing it. The project was opposed as it was alleged it would harm the Konkan ecology and could lead to accidents as the area falls under seismic zone 4. But the two judge bench ruled-The Jaitapur nuclear power project cannot be stalled on any grounds... the present nuclear power project stands on the same footing or perhaps on a higher footing as it is going to supply power to millions of people. The project brooks no further delay (Indian Express). Point to ponder- any nuclear spill will endanger ecosystem & lives of billions of people. Renewal clear energy gone with the wind?
Statistics of Day

Inflation continues free fall, at 33-yr low (Economic Times).

Stock prices of companies associated with food have risen up to 40% in 4 days (Economic Times)

North India is losing groundwater at rate of one foot (33cm) per year: NASA (Times of India).

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13 August 2009

Media Watch

What is the relationship between Media & swine flu? Sure to lose peace of mind? According to Mohamed Thaver, anxious Mumbaikars, who are being bombarded with swine flu related news 24 X 7 on electronic and print media, are turning into virtual hypochondriacs and wondering whether they are suffering from swine flu, even if they have merely contracted a common cold…The common man, who panics after reading reams and reams of news on swine flu, may actually end up aggravating the situation by putting greater pressure on the existing health infrastructure and holding up genuine patients who need urgent attention (Free Press Journal). But hang on, the same newspaper reports that even as the government ordered multiplexes and schools to shut down, shopaholic Mumbaikars made a beeline for malls, unmindful of the swine flu scare. And the Supreme Court has refused to give an urgent hearing to a PIL accusing the government of failing to take effective steps to combat the situation arising out of swine flu in the country and demanding a ban on 'Ganesh Utsav' and 'dahi handi' in Maharashtra. However the editorial of the same newspaper acknowledges-”…half-literate television reporters thrusting microphones in front of equally ignorant lay persons to elicit their views on the `pandemic' have only helped to spread mass hysteria”. Take a look at its conclusion- “… so long as the Health Ministry is considered a low priority for our politicians, so long as adequate allocations are not made for Health, the poor and the weak will continue to be at the mercy of recurrent viruses”. Point to ponder- This kind of media concern (forget hysteria) is absent when tragedy strikes rural India. How many news 24 X 7 electronic and print media focus on rampant malnutrition, poverty, non-existent working public health care system, corruption faced by the main street everyday?The cartoon on the front page of Nai Duniya features a politician addressing a public meeting - “There is no need to get scared of this foreign disease. …For getting scared we have local reasons”. And is holding a newspaper in his hand at back, which is carrying news of inflation, drought in 16 districts.

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12 August 2009

Report of Day

In the series, unsporting India, Saurabh Duggal brings into light Roshan Lal, once a national level volleyball player, he is today working as a security guard in a factory. Roshan still wants to guard reputation his sports - “I haven’t told my colleagues that I was a national level player. They wont believe me anyway, and even if they do, what impression would they have of my sport? ”. According to Sarurabh, Roshan harbours no regrets about having chosen a career that provided him with no comforts or sense of security. Despite the fact sports has given extremely poor standard of living with no recognition, he does not regret being a sportsperson (Hindustan Times). Point to ponder- how long will he continue to wage battle against poverty and defend unsporting India?

Effect of Day

Finance Ministry has changed its mind to use the proceeds of disinvestment for bridging the fiscal deficit. Instead, now the government will use the proceed for infrastructure development and social sector (Economic Times). SARCAJC had reminded in Newspaper Watch of 2nd July 2009 - “Was the aim of disinvestment only to get rid of public debt? Nope, the disinvestment Commission had clearly spelled out - “The disinvestment process needs to be delinked from the short term budgetary compulsions. Proceeds from disinvestment should be placed separately in a Disinvestment Fund which may be used to (a) restructure PSUs, wherever necessary, prior to disinvestment (b) fund Voluntary retirement scheme for surplus employees in PSUs (c) fund social infrastructure projects (d) retire public debt. This would create greater public awareness of the justification for disinvestment and the perception that the sale of assets of PSUs will lead to tangible social benefits. This would induce understanding and support for the disinterment programme.…”(Disinvestment Commission.1999).

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11 August 2009

Climate Change

Hillary Clinton has acknowledged that India and China have a right to develop fast and eradicate their poverty, but they should try to avoid the pitfalls of the development model of the industrial powers that failed to foresee the adverse impact on climate. “What we want them (India and China) to do is not match us in absolute terms, but have reductions from business as usual; given the technological advances, don't repeat our mistakes," she said conceding that for 150 years, the nations on the vanguard of the industrial revolution didn't understand the connection with climate. (New Indian Express).

Concern of Day

The cartoon in Aaj Samaj has the earth wearing a mask. Yes, “Swine Flue a challenge”. Public health has gone with the wind in India. Take a clue from WHO, according to which India ranks 171 out of 175 in terms of public health spending (Times of India). The cartoon in Hindustan Times features black ghost of H1N1 reading newspaper like paper with heading -Ïndia. Financial Chronicle has carried cartoon with the masked health minister telling the media- “Sorry, this mask prevents me from talking anything about our health care system”. The editorial of Times of India feels that public reaction to swine flue is verging on hysteria. Another cartoon shows virus of H1N1landing on Union Health Minister’s desk (Hindu). Pull up Mail Today, which has carried toon in which the health minister holding a paper -”H1N1 Azad’s remarks media hype”. Not surprising he states- “…go to a government hospital, watch the government news channel…”. While Mid Day has carried a cartoon in which one politician (holding a newspaper with news-“Health minister says sorry for his comments!”) tells another- “Not swine flue precaution. It’s precaution against making irresponsible statements!”. Guess what, they both are looking at marked health minister. The headline of Financial Chronicle screams- India Inc snoozes as pandemic comes home. “…corporate India is yet to fully wake up to the potential disaster that influenza-A H1N1 virus, or swine flu, could pose to companies and workers. The response varies from a few simple measures to a lukewarm `wait and watch' attitude. Most companies are looking at the government for direction and response…”. The best part is that the precautions in this newspaper are depicted through comic strip, which is much better than the dry advertisement published by Department of Health & Family Welfare. Delhi which comes with punch line- “Easy ways to protect from H1N1 flu”. The toon in Asian Age features a bureaucrat asking a masked politician- “You don’t want to come out? What are you scared about- terrorism or swine flu?”
Education Watch

The Human Resource Development Ministry has unveiled a blueprint for world class universities (WCUs) that proposes a free hand and more autonomy to varsities, exempting them from audit systems and placing them outside the UGC-style regulatory system, offering a range of scholarships and a flexible faculty recruitment process. To ensure that quality faculty of foreign nationality join these universities, the government may amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 which does not allow persons of Indian origin, who are citizens of another country, to be appointed to public services and posts. The government also intends to amend the Comptroller and Auditor General's (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Services) Act of 1971 to exempt national universities from the CAG's scrutiny (Indian Express).

Point to ponder- Why should the government invest in Higher education anyway? Why not leave higher education to free market forces and rather focus on eradication of adult illiteracy and primary and secondary education instead? And if this investment does come through, why should these national universities be exempted from the CAG's scrutiny? Why should these national universities be holy cows without any accountability?

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10 August 2009

Concern of Day

Forget image building by India via hosting commonwealth Games next year. Hindustan Times's Nilankur Das has penned down a heartbreaking report of how unsporting India really is. He has managed to trace 38 year old, Tira Samanta, in the narrow bylanes of Baranagar in Kolkata. Once a triple archery champion, the photograph by Subendu Ghose shows her doing household work in her humble home. Not surprising, she chokes when asked what went wrong. She has got nothing from the State sports department, other than mockery. “Not that I had expectations, but deprivation hurt more…I was the country‘s best and the fact that I represented India and Bengal was everything for me. I thought if I did my part well, the rest would follow. It didn‘t”. What is more is to be said - Once a triple champion and toast of Bengal, Tira is now poor, cynical and quite forgotten”. After narrating Tira’s state, the sport desk of Hindustan Times has taken on a proactive approach, involving readers- “Talk to us….Would you like to lend a helping hand to the sportsperson? Feel free to contact us…”. Hopefully, the newspaper will spell out its plan of action for benefit of all readers. Or is it an indication of a covert operation of exposing unsporting India? Point to ponder- Till India continues to ill treat its sportspersons, there is no hope of making any mark in the Olympics. On this front, India never claims to be a global forerunner along with the leaders - America or China, and you know why!

Women Insecure

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Andhra Pradesh has one of the country's highest rates of crimes against women. While the state has been in the news for a series of acid attacks on women, the state commission for women claims that Andhra tops in sexual harassment cases at the workplace, especially in government offices and the IT sector...K Rajalakshmi, project director of the District Women and Child Development Agency in Hyderabad -which deals in all cases related under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 -- says that alcoholism and the depiction of violence against women in the Telugu film industry compound the problem. "We receive at least three cases a day. Reasons such as alcoholism and dowry demands lead to domestic violence, with women ending up abused and battered." (Indian Express)

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9 August 2009

Climate Change

Jeffrey Sachs was at the Indian Express for an Idea Exchange. Tke a look at his view about climate change- “..My view is that the rich countries should be transferring probably one to two per cent of their GNP over time to solving global problems, the problems of the poorest countries, the problems of climate change and some other environmental problems….It is just extraordinary that when it comes to the poor there is no amount so small that we can't fight about endlessly. When it comes to the bankers, there's no amount that doesn't go out of the door immediately. And $33 billion is not a small amount of money. We could actually use that for climate change. …I don't think we can have a detailed agreement by December at the Copenhagen Climate Summit. I think we have run out of time. I don't think we can solve all of these problems of exactly how the mitigation fund will work or how the technology transfers will work, or how an adaptation fund will be designed, and what different countries will put in. The Kyoto model is something I don't find plausible for this problem. So we have to be prepared for the long haul..”(Indian Express).

Newsmakers of Day

Ejaz Kaiser reports that 160 students of local middle school in Abhanpur, 28 Kms from state capital of Raipur locked their school and lay siege to the residence of education minister. Reason for their protest- the middle school did not have any teacher since the beginning of their academic session. Result the minister promised the students that some arrangement of teacher will be made within a week. (Hindustan Times). Point to ponder- Protest by kids is more effective than Right to Education Bill?

Cartoon Watch

The headlines of Tribune shouts-”Finally, drought reality sinks in”. Yes, it has spilled over cartoons too. The full one page in Aaj Samaj carries eight cartoons on drought. The cartoon on the front page of Asian Age shows an aide stopping the minister from receiving an obvious gift from farmers- “Wait sir, this is not a bouquet. It is crop dried up by drought!”.

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8 August 2009

Statistics of Day

A government statement placed in Parliament informs that 60 per cent of investments abroad by Indian companies last fiscal were routed to tax havens. Of the $16 billion invested by Indians in 2008-09, almost $10 billion was routed to countries listed as tax havens. The top three beneficiaries of this investment surge are Singapore, Cyprus and Mauritius (Indian Express). Point to ponder- India is part of the G20 resolve to plug loopholes and prevent funds from being parked in tax havens. Any concrete action coming up?

Concern of Day

Nano car by Tata Motors was launched with a lot of fanfare. The media was all praise, with Nano getting the front page lengthy coverage along with photographs in almost all newspapers. But Tata Motors doesn’t care to deliver the car on time to a 96 year old, who is India’s first woman photojournalist. She was assured that it will be done within two months but company has failed to keep its word. Therefore, India’s first women photojournalist, Homi Vyarawalla, has decided to cancel her booking for Nano car. “..I do not know how long I will live…” (Hindu). Point to ponder- If viewed from a business perspective, an excellent advertising for Nano. But hang on, Nano has already received excellent publicity from the media, so Tata Motors don’t bother about the positive publicity if 96 year old Homi drives Nano. If so, why no respect for atleast India’s first woman photojournalist and delivery commitment? Anyone listening?

Climate Change

India has been ranked No.1 by Point Carbon, a research body associated with the Nations for successfully adopting green technologies. After analysing clean development mechanism projects of all developing countries Point Carbon found India’s performance best in four of the five indicators- hydro-power, bio-mass... India’s clean development projects are worth Rs 1,20,000 crore, highest in the world… The Point Carbon report comes just three days before the Bonn conference, where debates on climate change is to begin on August 10. It’s expected that the rich countries may ask the developing world to agree on emission cuts during the conference (Hindustan Times).

Thought of Day

“We are thinking of powering some parts of Chandrayaan II with nuke power and it will power the spacecraft when it goes around the dark side of moon”- Madhavan Nair, Isro Chairman (Asian Age). Point to ponder- Chandrayaan I has developed slag, if Chandrayaan II with nuke power too fails, that too in initial stages, what will be adversarial effects of nuclear material on the earth? Moreover, is it not better to launch ''mission eradication of malnutrition'' instead of ''mission moon''?

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7 August 2009

Report of Day

Dinesh C. Sharma informs that Consumer interests are at risk as the Regulated are Regulators. “In a blatantly anti- consumer move, the newly set up food regulatory authority has appointed representatives of food giants as members of its key scientific panels.The authority is supposed to safeguard food safety and the health of consumers. However, the list of industry men on the scientific panels of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India ( FSSAI) reads like a virtual Who’s Who of the global and Indian food industry — PepsiCo, Coca- Cola, Hindustan Unilever, GSK Healthcare, Britannia, Marico, ITC and Nestle…The heavy industry interest in this panel raises questions of conflict of interest as one of the key plans of the food authority is to enforce nutritional labelling of all food products in the country….The massive industry tilt in all the key panels is not only unethical but also violates the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 under which FSSAI has been established. Section 13 of the Act clearly states that “ the Food Authority shall establish scientific panels, which shall consist of independent scientific experts”. The question is: can industry men and women be called ‘ independent scientific experts’?..”(Mail Today).

Editorial of Day

Recently, all newspapers carried some items on high tides lashing Mumbai's coastline. What only a few noted was a related bit of news on what those waves left behind on the three days in question. The sea threw back into the city's beaches as much as 640 tonnes of nonbiodegradable garbage -- thermocol, polythene bags, plastic, etc…That bit of information should jolt us a bit more than half a minute to at least educate ourselves a bit more on the dangers of our lifestyle, insofar as the way we use the earth and its natural assets are concerned….We need an answer to non-biodegradables and to the pretence that dumping these and other throwaways from our homes and workplaces in one or more places till these fill out and we rush to find others is a policy at all….(New Indian Express).
Statistics of Day

As per employment estimates for the first quarter of this fiscal, direct employment in the organised sector has gone down by a massive 1.71 lakh (1,71,000), a Labour Bureau survey on the effects of the economic slowdown has found. Figures from the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) buttress this finding: EPF withdrawal requests between April and June 2009 have touched a record 31.51 lakh (3.15 million), indicating large scale layoffs and a severe cash crunch for the working classs (Indian Express). Point to ponder- how to counter negative effects of downsizing?

Concern of Day

Price rise is matter of great concern to the pockets of the mainstreet. Check its health via latest statistics- Inflation based on wholesale price Index (WPI) stood at -1.58% for the week ended July 25 against 12.53% a year ago. However inflation for food continued to rise- 9.7% during the same period. At wholesale level, prices are up 19% for pulses, 26% for vegetables and 11.3% for cereals compared to last year. Why? Take a clue from India’s chief statistician, Pronab Sen- “before the harvest, a lot of speculation activity takes place, driving up prices. We cannot say as yet that crops are failing…”.(Economic Times).

Has such degree of speculation taken place every year in India, that too in non-drought year? And this time around, what has facilitated the speculators to take control, making government seem helpless? Another disturbing stats news is that India’s southwest monsoon has dipped to 64% below normal during weak ending August 5. (Financial Express). Point to ponder- Now, will the food price hit the roof, not a pertinent question, right?

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6 August 2009

Advertisement Watch

Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS) to remove the photograph of a woman and child in AIDS awareness advertisements. They have sued the organisation for using the picture without their permission and portraying them as HIV positive displayed all over the State. However so strong is the stigma of HIV positive that the family has now gone into hiding to avoid the media. Their lawyer G Mohanakrishnan said that the family was scared of the media attention and was even considering withdrawing the case. "The other party is now seeking damages from them for talking to the media and maligning their name" (New Indian Express).

Concern of Day

The World bank has stated that robust economic growth and food security will not remove the tag of being ‘one of the most malnourished’. “Whilst Indian celebrates its booming economy and GDP growth, the country remains one of the most malnourished in the world today”. Stating that the level of malnutrition in India is nearly double that reported in Sub Saharan Africa, the Bank said that it is unlikely that the United Nation’s MDG (millennium development goal) targets of halving the incidence of underweight by 2015 will be met. (Financial Express). It is no secret that with ever rising food prices, malnutrition will go up. Hindustan has carried a table with heading ‘Price rise has killed”. It gives details of the price hike of toor dal, sugar, potato, onions in Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkota. Must to view. Take a clue- it’s hard to find a logic for 98% increase in price in Chennai during Oct 08 to July 09.The newspaper reports that the kitchen expenditure has gone up by 20-25 percent in Delhi. According to Prof Arpita Mukherjee, who is being quoted by Financial Express - “All our studies show that of late some artificial shortage of vegetables have been created in the mandis (wholesale market)which is pushing up prices…”. What about the rotting imported pulse on Indian ports? It is not surprising that Indian Express (Chandigarh Edition) has carried photograph of Jaspal Bhatti, leading satirist, giving away vegetables and pulses to his sisters as gift for rakhi. The cartoon by Jug Suraiya & Neelabh in Times of India reveals the coping strategy of price rise of dal- fake currency, fake pulses. “What do I care? “Point to ponder- what about the honest mainstreet and effect on the health of Indian economy? More & more malnourished?

Statistics of Day

From now there will be no Seat number ‘420’ in Lok Sabha as seat number 420 was a source of embarrassment for a honorable Member of Parliament. ( Front page. Asian Age)

5,400 families in Delhi are headed by children, the sole breadwinners (Hindustan Times. Page 2).

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5 August 2009

Media Watch

143 TV channels have sought permission from the information and broadcasting ministry to uplink from India. In addition, applications of 20 TV channels, uplinked from abroad, seeking permission to downlink in India are at various stages of scrutiny, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting C.M. Jatua told parliament Tuesday (Free Press Journal.

Advertisement Watch

A young mother and her four year-old daughter have approached the Madras High Court against the State AIDS Control Society over an awareness advertisement that led to the family being isolated by neighbours and left her marriage on the rocks. The woman has sought a compensation of Rs 1 crore and removal of all hoardings and banners that were put up across the state in the past, apart from an unconditional apology from the authorities (Indian Express).

Newsmaker of Day

The second award of the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize has gone to the NGO Nirantar’s project "Khabar Lahariya" - "news waves" - in Uttar Pradesh, northern India. Reason- “It has created a rural fortnightly newspaper entirely produced and marketed by "low caste" women, distributed to more than 20,000 newly literate readers. Its well-structured method of training newly literate women as journalists and democratizing information production provides an easily replicated model of transformative education”. " (UNESCO). SARCAJC had highlighted 'Khabar Lahariya' in Newspaper watch on 22nd July 2007, take a look-
Spirited Team: Heard of a tribal & dalit women run newspaper? For last five years, eight women are contributing, editing, producing and distributing local fortnightly paper- 'Khabar Lahariya' which now has a print run of about 2,800 in 250 villages of Chitrakoot & Banda (Uttar Pradesh). How is it different from the rest of the papers- “The idea is to give space to local issues in our own languages. The paper is also popular with those who can’t read, but understand visuals. But the job has not been an easy one -- threats, social pressures and gender discrimination- these women journalists have experienced it all. Not surprising, in 2003, the team was given the Chameli Devi award for outstanding media persons. What next-“ We want to turn it into a daily. But village women still can’t handle field work. Somehow it’s eight of us who have kept it going (Hindustan Times).

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4 August 2009

RTI Watch

Two prominent ruling Congress members joined the Opposition to force the government to backtrack on introduction of a Bill that would have shielded judges from making their assets public. The Congress MP Jayanthi Natarajan opposed the introduction on the ground that the proposed law could violate the Right to Information Act which had been "so vitally welcomed by the people. The Opposition parties took strong objection to clause 6 of Bill which states that declaration made by a judge to the competent authority shall not be made public or disclosed and shall not be called for or put into question by any citizen, court or authority (Free Press Journal,Indian Express).

Ashutosh Shukla & Surendra Gagan informs that State government of Maharashtra has issued a circular, according to which a senior officer will face action of he or she lets off an employee found guilty of misconduct. This circular particularly benefits the RTI applicants. Even the appellate authority (manned by senior officers) will face action for not taking decisions on time or trying to shield the PIOs...(DNA). Point to ponder- when will Central government & other State government issue & follow such circular?

Climate Change

According to R.K Pachauri, Copenhagen represents an extremely important opportunity for the world to deal with the challenge of climate change, and India must continue with a principle role in the negotiations leading up to Copenhagen. But to ignore the scientific realities of climate change would go against the interests of Indians of this generation and those yet to come. Is that the reason why Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change recently met to discuss the `roadmaps' submitted by some of the `missions' that had been set up under India's National Action Plan on Climate Change last year? Sources said the National Solar Mission, which has set an aggressive target of 20 gigawatts of electricity to be generation from solar energy by2050,occupied most of the time of the meeting (Indian Express)

Newsmakers of Day

Calling Green Sisters- Can you tie a rakshi to a tree & wish for its welfare? Yes, women from villages near this town in Himachal Pradesh's Sirmaur district are tying rakhis -sacred thread symbolising the brother-sister bond on the trees as the dam aimed at providing potable water to New Delhi will inundate them. "It's a noble way to draw the attention of dam authorities to the voluminous damage to biodiversity in the area with its construction," said Rukhmani Devi of Mohtu village, situated on the banks of the Giri river... "Every day, we (nearly 300 women of various villages) are tying more than 1,000 rakhis around the trees that will be finally submerged with the construction of the dam. We will not allow our ` `brothers' to die. We took a pledge that we would prefer a watery grave with them," she said…The villagers have been lodging protests since the project was conceived. Over 400 villagers boycotted the parliamentary polls in May this year as a protest against the construction of the dam. Not even a single vote was cast in six villages," Kapila said.(New Indian Express). Point to ponder- Tomorrow is festival of Rakhi, a thread that symbolising the brother-sister bond, how many women will follow their example?

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3 August 2009

Advertisement Watch

In a first-of-its-kind education satisfaction survey to assess the response to technical education in the country, it has been revealed that almost 45 per cent students zero in on an educational institute purely impressed by its advertisements. Not surprisingly, 33 per cent students later feel dissatisfied with their choice of institute. According to the survey, 38 per cent of the students said they did not get the "value for their money' in their courses and 51 per cent said they felt that the institutes were overstated in the advertisements. (Indian Express).

Media Watch

Virendra Kapoor reports that UP Chief Minister Mayawati hasn't really recovered from the shock of her party’s surprisingly poor showing in the recent parliamentary pool. Now, her minions are keeping a wary eye on the Lucknow-based scribes, monitoring what they write, and should they report something unpalatable, they are immediately penalized. Indeed, most journalists suspect that the press room in the UP Secretariat is bugged….In the last couple of weeks, a couple of journalists writing for Hindi newspapers in the State have had their accreditation withdrawn, though the information department of the State government furnished no cogent reason. Some others were warned that they would face the same action should they not stop writing against the BSP leader (Free Press Journal).
Women Insecure

The front page of Nai Duniya reports that Delhi is number one in the country on account of number of kidnapping of women. The rate of kidnapping in Delhi is 7%, compared to all India figure of 1.8%. It also asserts the Delhi is not all safe for women.

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2 August 2009

Concern of Day

Due to poverty a rickshawpuller has sold his kid for Rs. 20,000 to childless couple in Mathura (Uttar Pradesh). The youngest of five kids, he was unwell, but his parent’s were unable to get him medical aid due to financial difficulties. To save their child for further deterioration, they took this decision(Jansatta.page 5). This news has not appeared in 21 other newspapers scanned today. Point to ponder- a child sold due to acute poverty and lack of public health services, is no a news for the front page? Media watch

..There is great lack of honesty in media as well as in politics. We are living in the difficult times when proprietors are editors and messengers are messing around the massage. Debate like dying of women in Orissa does not have TRP like article 377. Complexity has grown in every sphere of life and so in media- Vinod Sharma, Senior Journalist.(Statesman)

..In politics we always have a debate or confrontation with the opposition on various issues related to the basic needs of the people and often we reach a consensus to some extent…As we all know that media can create an opinion hence can be reconciliatory but it has to be more responsible than what we see today..- Mr. Salman Khurshid, Union Minister of State for corporate affairs and minorities affairs. (Statesman)

…There is a trend growing in this country to suppress the voices. ..Media should be more responsible and pursue those issues which have larger impact. Unfortunately this is not happening…- Mr. Alok Mehta. Editor. Nai Duniya. (Statesman). The lead story on the front page of Nai Duniya reads- “Clouds of leak surround nuclear reactors”- which no other newspapers scanned has covered.
Newsmaker of Day

Nisha Nambiar reports about villagers of Ahupe, who are gatekeepers of village devri (in the State of Maharashtra), six acres of dense groves that are repositories of rare medicinal plants. For the last 15 years these villagers have been involved in documentation of biodiversity and are advocating the Chipko movement to protect these trees from being felled. They mostly tribal paddy farmers, who never been to school but know most of plants by their name. Why, take a clue from Ramesh Lohokar, Sarpanch (village head)- “These jungles are as important as our own lives. We will protect them at any cost” (Indian Express).
Advertisement Watch

The full page colored advertisement on the last page of Rashriya Sahara, by a private educational institution, comes with the punch line- “Admission Open The only institute that gives written job guarantee Rs. 5 lakh per month *”. Now that’s call an luring claim! Hang on, search for *,small print at right hand- “Conditions apply”!

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1 August 2009

Concern of Day

Mahim Pratap Singh reports that State government of Madhya Pradesh is clueless as children die of malnutrition. Malnutrition has caused death of over 450 children. According to National Family Health Survey-III, malnutrition in the state has increased from 54% to 60%.However in response to information sought under Right to information Act, the Women and Child Development Department stated that it did not maintain any such data. While on the other hand food rots at ports. Big deal? Take a clue from two editorials:

There is a joke about a survey in which a respondent, when asked about the state of ignorance and apathy in the country, says he doesn’t know and he doesn’t care. Well, the joke’s on the Indian people while the government prefers not to find out why, as a M ail Today exclusive has revealed, lakhs of tonnes of pulses are rotting in godowns in our ports…Clearly, someone has to answer the public…This amounts to criminal negligence. (Editorial. Mail Today).

…what is agriculture ministry is doing? This question is per becomes more pertinent due to response of the Minister of agriculture Sharad Pawar to the question of rotting of imported pulses at ports, which was- I don’t know anything about this…It is shameful that despite the fact that price of pulses is reaching sky, imported pulses are intentionally left to rot. This is not true only for pulse. Large stock of imported sugar is also left to rot at ports….(Editorial. Dainik Tribune)
Editorial of Day

Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of the Supreme Court’s approval of the Commonwealth Games Village being constructed on the Yamuna bank is the reasoning on which it is based…By buying NEERI’s latest line that an embankment constructed in the area demarcates it from the floodplain, the court has accepted the ridiculous contention that a man- made structure can change the basic geological nature of any area. Two, the court has also leaned on its 2005 judgment clearing the Akshardham project to give its decision. To give a green signal to one project citing the case of another hugely controversial one can hardly be convincing. Three, the court has cited the delay shown by the petitioners in approaching the court as a reason to turn down their plea. Considering that the petitioners were arguing in public interest, the issue of the delay should not have been mixed with the larger question at hand (Mail Today).
Climate watch

India has proposed financial allocation in the range of 0.5-1% of developed countries GDP annually to developing countries for mitigation and adoption of adverse impact of the climate change. The Minister for Environment & Forests said that the developed countries must commit $400-500 billion annually towards green technology transfer and initiatives for various mitigation strategy to be adopted by developing countries. (Financial Express).


August 2009 Newspaper Watch
August 2009 Newspaper Watch

SARCAJC

SOUTH ASIAN RESEARCH CENTRE FOR ADVERTISEMENT, JOURNALISM & CARTOONS

Sarcajc Research in Journalism Advertisement & Cartoon 

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