SARCAJC

SOUTH ASIAN RESEARCH CENTRE FOR ADVERTISEMENT, JOURNALISM & CARTOONS

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

29 February 2008

Concern of the Day

Indian Democracy in in trouble, if Lok Sabha Speaker is to be believed. According to him the members of Indian parliament are working overtime to finish democracy in this country. He was visibly unhappy on seeing proceedings disrupted in parliament for the third consecutive day (Tribune. Front page).

Cartoon of the Day

Many newspapers have carried cartoon on the proposed debt relief to farmers. But the cartoon in Hindu stands out on this issue. One look at the cartoon, makes one understand the pathos and state of the Indian farmer who is under wraps of the moneylender. But why policy makers don’t understand? A must to view.

Point to Ponder- what are lead economists upto, sitting in air-conditioned swanky officers? Ever seen a marginal rural farmer?

Surrogate Ads

Despite displeasure expressed by the Health Minister over surrogate advertisements of alcohol, they continue to appear in leading newspapers, magazines and roadside hoardings. Today, one such ad has appeared in in Hindustan Times (Delhi Edition) page -21, another has appeared in Times of India (Delhi Edition), page 29. On the same page in Times of India, an ad -“the Chivas Life” is present in the middle of article by Vinay Nayudu on cricket in Sydney.

Point to Ponder- Was the Health Minister really serious in curbing surrogate alcohol ads or was it just a harmless threat anyway?

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28 February 2008

Innovative

The most imaginative suggestions about the railway budget & caricature of the Railway Minister has appeared in MidDay on its front page & Page five by Hemal Ashar & Satish Acharya. Take a clue- installation of special deodorant fountains at all railway stations, special vitamin drink to give commuters strength for the journey, installation of eject seats so that commuters can fly out of the bogie, over the crowds and land on platform without inconvenience…(Are you listening Lauji? MidDay). A must to read & enjoy!

Cartoon Watch

Though most newspapers are carrying cartoons on the railway budget, the cartoon of the Day has been carried by National Herald on Uncle Sam & his desire to solve problems. Very few cartoons appear in Indian newspapers on international problems that does not involve South Asia, especially India. Here Turkish army & PKK rebels are shown as dogs fighting, while Iraqi Kunds & Turkey are unable to control them. Not surprising, Uncle Sam is shown shouting -”It’s messy already. Disengage quickly”. But would they listen is the real issue!

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27 February 2008

Post Graduates Begging

The survey conducted by Department of Social Welfare of the Delhi University reveals that even graduates and post graduates are begging due to lack of employment opportunities. By begging, they are earning between Rs. 200 and Rs. 500 daily, depending on where they pick conduct their business (Pioneer). It seems the tall claims of employment opportunity is at loss here.

Cartoon Watch

It’s a treat for cartoon today- courtesy the presentation of railway budget. The railway Minister - Lalu Prasad Yadav & his budget is the theme. The cartoon of the day has been carried by Hindustan. What make the series of cartoons stand out in Hindustan is the dialect of Hindi language- closer to the Railway Minister.

Letter to Editor

The letter to editor of the day has been carried by Hindu on “Indirect Child Labour” by C.R. Srinivasa Rao from Chennai. According to him, “ We find many commercials using young children to promote or endorses different products…this is an indirect forum of child labour that deprives children of time to concentrate on education….will the government look into this issue….the media can do their bit by rejecting ads that have children advertising products irrelevant to them”.

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26 February 2008

Attack

A newspaper reports abut extravagant wedding of a political leader and the result- faces a ban in largest democracy of the world! Surprised, but its true. An Assamese newspaper - Asomiya Pratidin -is the newspaper which reported about the extravagant wedding of chief executive member of Bodoland Territorial Council, on which around Rs. 40 million were spent. The supporters of the big leader snatched away newspapers packets and even set fire on the newspaper van. According to the editor of the newspaper- “It is not merely an undemocratic attack on the freedom of the press but also a dangerous trend. It is nothing short of fascism” (Indian Express).


Laughing away Crisis

Delegation of farmers from Punjab met Prime Minister of India & Congress Chief and demanded debt relief package for small & marginal farmers in the forthcoming annual budget. The Prime Minister assured them- “I understand the agony of the people of Punjab, especially farmers”. But why were the Prime minister and Congress Chief so happy meeting Punjabi farmers? Take a clue from their beaming, laughing photograph during this gathering, which has appeared in major newspapers. The Times of India has carried it on the front page- “Ever seen her so happy?" Is it possible that allocation of Rs 300 billion for debt relief package in the forthcoming budget is the secret of their happiness?

Point to Ponder- Not so long ago, debt relief package was announced for the Vidharba farmers in the State of Maharashtra. But happened on the ground, is no mystery. Now a massive package without overhauling the delivery mechanism, net result?

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25 February 2008

Media Management

The spokespersons of the Congress party have completed a crash course on media management- how to talk before media, make an impression in 60 second and ABC of vital issues facing the country. The veteran journalist- Vinod Mehta poured words of wisdom- “Go easy on drinking. You never know what you could reveal under the influence of alcohol”.

But hang on, why Mahatma Gandhi - icon of the Congress party did not figure here? It seems Mahatma Gandhi has been reduced only to a ritual symbol and his principles forgotten by the majority. A quick recap- Gandhi was against alcohol and had even declared that if he was made the dictator of India even for a day he would ban alcohol.

Media Bias?

Raj Thackeray, politician from the State of Maharashtra whose statements against North Indians created a big stir has accused the entire media in Hindi & English for assaulting him, his party and Maharashtra and claims that not a single worker of his party has not hurt anyone in media either verbally or physically. “.. leaders from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and north Indian journalists have decided to tag what we are doing under the label of goondagiri”- he said. (Mail Today).

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24 February 2008

At Last

SARCACJ has been continuously reporting on propagation of liquor in all forms in the land of Mahatma Gandhi. Finally, the Union Health Minister has woken up and has asked the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to take action against liquor & tobacco companies indulging in surrogate advertising in print, electronic and outdoor media (Hindu).

Point to ponder- what about the news reports/features faithfully advertising various brands of liquor in print media? Why did they escape the attention of the Union Health Minister?

Investigation of the Week

Can one fight a war with two mobiles, one phone and no drinking water? Definitely not. Despite all glorious display of military might at the Republic Day celebrations parade, the state of security personnel expected to fight Naxalites is pathetic- reveals investigation by Indian Express. A must to read to find out why security personnel at the frontline of war against Naxalites are little more than sitting ducks.

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23 February 2008

Restoration of Democracy

The results of elections in Pakistan has seen mixed reaction from the Press of the largest democracy of the world. Take a look at three viewpoints appearing in Pioneer today:

“…In sum the elections have not significantly altered the fundamental power in Pakistan. The core of the problem is the infirmity of civilian institutions and politics in the country. There is urgent need for both the new regime to establish a grip over both the administration and the army….It would be ironic indeed, but not inconceivable, in the midst of rising chaos, political corruption and misadministration, if the people of Pakistan two or three years down the line, begin to think of the ‘Musharraf years’ with a sense of yearning and nostalgia.” (KPS Gill).

“…it’s a long and arduous road ahead for Pakistan’s new government. But the election and its results have rekindled hope or a better dispensation among the people of Pakistan, and that is a good for its neighbours.” (Radha Kumar).

“…Amid the euphoria of ‘democracy’ one must not overlook the fact that virtually the entire terrorist leadership in Pakistan, including the leadership of all the ‘banned’ terrorists groups, operates freely in the country. And given the uncertainty accompanying the transition and the overall chaos across the country, the new government will find it extremely difficult to neutralise the terrorist infrastructure or reverse the trends of anarchy”. (Kanchan Lakshman).

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22 February 2008

Rare Species

Will investigative journalists become a rare species? Yes, according to Schmid, Brussels correspondent for the Financial Times. While according to Bonse, correspondent for Handelsblatt, the reason lies in the fact that the government and legislative bodies in Europe have largely become transparent. Coming back to India, this is not the case. The President of Press Guilt of India felt that media solely lacks people with sufficient skill and expertise to practice investigative journalism (Indian Express). Is this true? Take a clue from the Editorial of Mail Today regarding the recent observations of the Supreme Court of India over sting operation. “…Instead of punishing the lawyers and the magistrate, the learned judges of the Supreme Court want to punish the journalist for alleging tarnishing the reputation of lower judiciary…”.

Advertisement of the Day

The ad by Delhi Police warns citizens not to fall in the Trap for enticing, deceptive claims in emails or letters that “you have won lottery or prize etc. in a bid or competition in which you never participated …It is a fraud”.

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21 February 2008

Monitoring

Four years ago, Zee TV had carried a sting operation purportedly to expose corruption in lower judiciary by showing how fake bailable warrants could be arranged even against President of India, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court judge. The Supreme Court of India has expressed its annoyance towards the expose and demanded unconditional & proper apology from the reporter. That’s not all. The Information & Broadcasting Ministry has issued guidelines to ‘define’ the role of state and district monitoring committees for keeping watch on private television channels’ content. (Indian Express).

Priority

“…For the coming Budget, the government is believed to have lined up a 320 billion relief package for them (farmers) that would allow writing off bad debts, but statistics have revealed that three out of four farmers in the country do not have access to institutional sources like banks and cooperatives when they need….” This Hindustan Times special -‘Three of four farmers don’t go to banks’ is on page 13.

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20 February 2008

Other reasons

The average pay cheque for employees in India is getting fatter- informs a survey (Economic Times). But what does it tell about their skill level/talent? Take a clue from a news report which informs enthusiastically in Pioneer that Rs. 7,20,000 per annum package has been offered to Sanskrit student from a college in Delhi to work on trade commodity section of a infrastructure industrial conglomerate in India. She would be trading in fixed income foreign exchange and stock index markets. How will her Sanskrit language get ulitised here?

This brings to a larger issue- Does Human Resource Management exist here? Given the high unemployment level among the educated youth, specially females, surely this hefty package was not given to her for Sanskrit language. It seems what the reporter failed to investigate was her family background!

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19 February 2008

Preaching Again

Of course people know important is the role of media in safeguarding the democratic institution in any country. Nevertheless, H.K Dua, The Editor-in-chief of Tribune made a point to remind again and stress “…Instead of rushing towards covering activities merely of shining India, the press has to focus on the reality that 33 crore (330 million) people in the country still live below the poverty line….” (Tribune).

With decades of experience with newspapers, Dua did not pinpoint the exact reasons why the Indian media was not focusing on fundamental areas as poverty, developmental & environmental issues. Moreover, whether the newspaper, he heads, focuses on them or not?

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18 February 2008

Remembering Bapu

The New Delhi Municipal Corporation of Delhi (NDMC) has suddenly woken up and remembered Mahatma Gandhi. Good! But not by taking any pledge to follow his principles of simple living & high thinking!

Instead the NDMC has decided to spurge Rs 76.3 million for makeover of street (tees January Marg) on which Gandhi Smriti (Memorial of Gandhi) is located. The project includes development of Gandhi Smriti’s frontage as a Memorial Plaza, parking. Result- the entrance to Gandhi Smriti will shifted to another road (Auranzeb Road)! (Hindu).

Point to Ponder- Would Mahatma Gandhi have approved such an extravagant expenditure, all in his name?

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17 February 2008

Media Fallout

The media is not at its best. Take a look- “…How long before a movie like Wag the Dog becomes reality in out own drawing rooms? And how far before political spin specialists become more important than our policy makers? The most noticeable fallout of this entire episode though, say, media watchers like Ketkar, is that the Indian viewer has began to distrust the media…” (Raj ka media raaz. Hindustan Times. pg 14)

Liquor propagation

Since legally, liquor advertisements cannot appear in Indian media, but nevertheless, news reports are propagating liquor. Take a look at the one that has appeared on Page three ( & rightly so!) “Blending work and fun” in Delhi Times, supplement of Times of India. The report does not waste space as its starts off- “Hic, Hic, Hurray!”. And yes, you guessed it right, the event was a liquor tasting session with brands mentioned and explained.

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16 February 2008

Why Now?

Damodaran, the outgoing head of the Securities Exchange Board of India has expressed serious concern about Television anchors, media professionals “recommending hot stocks” to investors. He raised serious question about media’s role in taking up or taking down a stock (Indian Express).

Point to Ponder- Why did Damodaran wait for an outgoing interview to express his serious concern about the role of media. Why small investors are not taken seriously by the big shots?

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15 February 2008

Ad Revenue

The Indian railways will be printing advertisements on passenger tickets and mint money. Even reservation charts will too carry colorful advertisements.

Point to ponder- advertisements of low cost airlines on railways tickets will not be far behind! What will be the net effect?

Ban

The Uttar Pradesh Government has decided to ban a book based on Queen of Jhansi for reference to fictional love affair with political agent of the East India Company.

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14 February 2008

Higher

Office space in Delhi & Mumbai has gone beyond the common man. Should the common man rejoice on this news- The Central district of Delhi- Connaught Place has been ranked the 10th most expensive office space in the world, more expensive than most post areas in New York, Washington, Rome, Dubai, Frankfurt. Hang on, Mumbai is further, taking up 5th place in terms of most expensive office space in the world. (Times of India).

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13 February 2008

Loss

The tiger population in India is at all-time low with only 1411 tigers left in the wild. More bad news. The country has lost about 728 sq Km of forests to dam construction, tsunami. And the moderate forest have suffered maximum loss of 1409 sq Km

Point to ponder- what about fertile land lost due to SEZs?

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12 February 2007

Media Bashing

The Indian media is not in best of health. Take a clue- “…And then there is what has become the nature of the media: the obsession with the next breaking news on the other side. Issues like Kashmir, the nuclear deal, the way China is translating its economic strength into military might - these require more than a sound bite. The media has no time for that…Even more than partisanship, and the obsessions of the current media with the next breaking news, the problem is superciliousness- this has become the reigning ideology today….” (Arun Shorie. Shilpa Shetty trumps Arunachal again. Indian Express).

Women Periodical

Can farm women run a periodical? You must be joking. Nope, they are taking out a monthly periodical from Andhra Pradesh with a print run of 15,000 copies. Quite popular and why not, they have covered topics that affect common man like corruption. And remarkable thing is that this periodical has been running since last seven & half years. (Asian Age).

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11 February 2008

Remembering 1857

Yesterday, Municipal Corporation of Delhi installed a statue of Rani Lakshmi Bai (Queen of Jhansi. Uttar Pradesh who fought valiantly during the revolt of 1857) in Delhi on the occasion of 150th anniversary of Revolt of 1857. Of the 26 newspaper scanned today, this news has been carried by only handful of newspapers that too in brief- Hindustan Times. Pg 2, Hindu. Pg 4, Indian Express Newsline. Pg 2, Rastriya Sahara. Pg 9, Navbharat Times. Pg 5. But none carried any photograph of the first statue of Rani Lakshmi Bai in the capital of India.

Surprisingly, no Union minister/leading national political leader is reported to have made it to the programme. Further, no ads appeared in leading newspaper which informed the public about the installation of statue of Rani Lakshmi Bai. Moreover, her statue has not installed in a prominent place like India Gate or Red Fort. This apathy is very sad as even during her lifetime, Rani Lakshmi Bai was not given due respect for her military leadership- she was not given the total command of the operations, though General Hugh Rose (the enemy), did not hesitate in praising her as ‘bravest and best military leader of the rebels’. Even today, a popular folksong continues to remain in the memory of a majority of Indians:

“ How valiantly like a man she fought
The Rani of Jhansi!
On every parapet she set a gun
Raining fire of hell….”

Advertisement of the Day

The feature looking advertisement is seen today on page 9 in Amar Ujala. Though it is not uncommon to view such ads in other papers too, but this one is by Delhi Government on progress filled nine years in power with revealing punch line- “what we said we did” . But there is no mention of the fact that it is an ad, not even in fine prints. However, page nine also carries a regular advertisement by the Delhi Government (here name of advertiser is mentioned), featuring a photograph of two happy young girls with the punch line-”Our life will now be enlightened”. Indeed, the financial incentive by the Delhi Government for sending girl child to school is praiseworthy.

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10 February 2008

Highlighting Preference

Not long ago, the violent events in Nandigram, West Bengal made it to headline of all newspapers. Now, the National Human Rights Commission has submitted its report. What was the main verdict of the report? Take a clue from a few leading newspapers in English.

“The National Human Rights Commission has said neither the CPM nor the Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee can escape their share of responsibility for the events in Nandigram. …..(On Nandigram, both sides to blame: NHRC. Times of India. Pg 9)

“ The National Human Rights Commission has slammed the West Bengal government’s “totally Partisan’s approach” that led to the “recapture” of Nandigram by CPI(M) cadres…..”(Partisan’s Bengal gets Nandigram rap. Hindustan Times, Pg 8).

“The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has severely criticized the Left Front government in West Bengal for failing to prevent violent attacks by CPI (M) cadres in Nandigram and has held it responsible for loss of life and property….”(Nandigram Violence: NHRC indicts Bengal Govt. Indian Express).

“The Left front government in West Bengal “failed” to prevent violence in Nandigram and the State Government should bear the responsibility for the loss of life and property, the National Human Rights Commission has said….” (State should bear responsibility for Nandigram villainous: NHRC. Hindu. Pg 8).

Pointer: Apart from Times of India, rest have highlighted in the same direction.

Government & Lottery

Now targeting devoted Indian wives, the colorful, attractive advertisement by Punjab State Lotteries features a women thinking- ‘I will make my pati (husband) into lakhpati’ (1 lakhs =100,000) (Tribune). A poor taste of humour indeed as Lakhpati could have double meaning- owner of lakhs of rupees & husband (pati) of lakhs.

Point to Ponder-Why should the Government encourage people to buy lottery tickets. Further why should the Government be running lottery business anyway?

Cartoon of the Day

The cartoon on the front page of Asian Age is certainly the cartoon of the Day. It features many farmers holding cricket bats & one telling a journalist the reason- “ We are holding the rally with bats instead of ploughs to get the attention of Pawar!” (Sharad Pawar is the agriculture minister of India and also the in-change of the Indian cricket Board. He is perceived taking more interest in the latter).

The Newspaper of the Day

Do take a look at the Indian Express to know why it is the Newspaper of the Day. From breaking news about the Great Indian Museum Scam in Kolkotta, ill fitted jackets for thousands of army jawans along Line of Control & Kashmir Valley, threat to rhinos in Kaziranga National Park to reporting on assimilation of Maharashtrian families in city of Varanasi, two full page photographs of North Indians at work in Mumbai, views, analysis…

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9 February 2008

Social Responsibility

The controversial remarks of a regional politician of Maharashtra against North Indians has inspired many cartoonists, writers and reports to catch this topic across all newspapers. According to DNA (English daily from Mumbai, capital of Maharashtra), the strength of Mumbai, compared to its counterparts in the rest of India, has always been its heterogeneous and cosmopolitan nature. But how far is this Mumbai daily conscious of its social responsibilities? Take clue-

The advertisement on page two features a man & women carrying a shopping bag each with the punch line- “Sweating through 40 aisles of merchandise for the perfect recliner?”. Doesn’t tell much about what’s store here! About. Nevertheless, go ahead & read the fine lines -“ The DNA Mumbai Shopping Festival is here. Avail fabulous discounts on brands across categories….”. The complete list of participating outlets covers page 12 & 13.

Point to Ponder- Why not even a small no token amount has been kept aside from Sales proceeds from the DNA Mumbai Shopping Festival for Sons of Soil in crisis (suicide prone Vidharba farmers in the State of Maharashtra)?

Propagation Tips

Generally speaking, advertisements are used as propagation tools but for Liquor, the existing rules in India don’t permit the same. So, what? Features/reports are faithfully educating readers about various brands of liquor! Guess, what would a sommelier write in under the heading- ‘Fine wines & Valentine‘s’. No prizes for getting this one right - “…if you are planning for that special dinner here are tips for wine…Go fizzy: Nothing works like good bubby champagne (brands mentioned here)…Go Pink: Try out (brands here)….Go sweet: Chose a wine which is lightly sweet like….(brands mentioned here)…. (DNA).

Load Shedding

No electricity for hours together is not uncommon in India. However, what is uncommon is to find an advertisement explaining the reason for the same. The Power Department of West Bengal has placed an advertising on the front page of Telegraph (English Daily from Calcutta) with punch line-“ Why so much load shedding….”.

Probably more ads need to be placed to explain why the West Bengal failed to utilize rural development funds. According to Editorial of the same paper- “ …..The fact that Bengal has been able to spend less than eight percent of funds available for the scheme last year speaks of the Marxist‘s incapacity to handle the business of governance even after three decades in power…In Bengal a more serious problem of the absence of delivery mechanism. It is a problem that afflicts all aspects of governance in the State… Other States too have problems in properly utilizing rural development funds. The malaise in Bengal seems to be primarily systemic. But here is a larger message in these cases of failure…”.

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8 February 2008

Eating Planets

Delhi Police has placed advertisements regarding the requirement to apply for license to run eating houses located at bus terminal, hospitals, airports, railway station beyond 1:00 am. The ad in English starts off with a direct punch line- ‘Attention: Eating Houses’ making the reader immediately know to whom it is addressed to. But hang on, take a look at the same ad in Hindi which starts off with punch line: ‘Attention: Eating Planets’! What -‘Eating Planets’!

US Presidential Campaign

Who will be the next President of United States of America? What is the take of the Indian newspapers? Majority are carrying reports/features sourced from international agencies, while a few have carried the Indian opinion. “It is true that the campaign for the Presidential polls in the United States has attracted more world attention than perhaps ever before. This is largely because the world is fed up of the two term Presidency of George W. Bush as the Americans appear to be……(Editorial. Asian Age). The cartoon in Hindu, features a race in which Obama is leading, closely followed by Hillary, while McCain a distant third. But the race is not over as yet, with more distance to the white house!

According to Vijay Prashad, the problem with the three leading candidate in the U.S Presidential race is not that they do not follow the electorate’s will. It is that they have misconstrued what is happening in Iraq…Mr. Obama is trapped less by the call for victory than by fear that he would be seen to be backing defeat (Hindu). “Should Ms Clinton and Mr. McCain eventually get to contest for the white house, it would reflect an unusual election…With less to lose, the younger Obama has made dramatic change his calling card…In any case, Mr, Obama could well be seen as the winner who finished second. Either way, Mr. McCain is likely to face a Democrat rival who either lacks unqualified grassroots legitimacy or doesn’t the party machine behind him…” (Editorial. Pioneer).

Spot Sonia

A colored photograph has appeared on page 14 in Amar Ujala with a caption-” Meeting: The Prime Minister of Norway with Sonia Gandhi at Programme held at Sector 3 situated SN Power”. But the only problem with this photograph is that Sonia Gandhi is no where to be seen in the picture!

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7 February 2008

Just Preaching

Dig at the media continues. Now, the former top bureaucrat’s take- “….In the present scheme of things, the media hardly reports on the success or failure in attaining health and family planning goals which are vital for improving overall health indices…On a wider scale, media should provide the lay reader an independent State wise update on the final destination of thousands of rupees spent on improving condition of health care. Instead of recounting what World Bank, and CAG enquires reveal many years later, State Health Ministers and their battery of professionals should be made to respond to much larger current issues….”. (Pioneer).

Other ways

Direct liquor advertising is not permitted in India, so what? The role of advertising & propagation is being taken by over by articles/features/reports in newspapers. Take a clue from one appearing in Asian Age on page 23- which faithfully informs about to be held launch of a fine wine brand in India by legendary Australian cricketer. And this legendary Australian cricketer is talking about that particular wine, his wine schedule…And not to forget the bottle that stands on the left hand side- can’t be of mineral water!

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6 February 2008

Dig at Media

The Rural Affairs editor of Hindu- P. Sainath did not hesitate in criticizing the media for the growing disconnect between the reality in the country and the media’s functioning (Hindu).

What’s the way out? Take a clue from the Editor-in-Chief of India news channel-"media is growing at a tremendous pace as is evident from ratings. However, blaming media for trivializing news is not the solution. If you find something wrong then it is your duty to point out the mistake”. But what happens after that? What about the duty of the media ? (apart from earning handsome revenue for owners).

Hang on, according to the associate editor of Pioneer-"big media is held hostage by advertisers…there are 20 families in India which own more wealth than what is earned by 30 crore (I crore=10million) people. These 20 families also have major influence over media because of their businesses. This is how manipulation of media takes place”. (Pioneer).

While the Lok Sabha speaker has other worries. According to him, media always gives prominence to unruly behaviors of lawmakers on the floor of the house and this encourages members to indulge in disturbance as it gets them media coverage. He advised the media to inform the people about laws passed so that they could take advantage of them (Hindu).

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5 February 2008

Toxic Waste

Developed countries are dumping toxic waste in India by buying a ‘flag of convenience’ for their discarded ship. But how? Simple- The ship is registered in a small poor country & then sent here. This way they get around the international convention which bans any movement of hazardous waste from developed country to developing country without prior consent but allows poor countries. The latest in the list is ‘Al Arabia’ that beached at India in October 2007 despite warnings from the UN Environmental Programme that the ship was being illegally taken to India. The ship came carrying the flag of obscure Comoros island (Times of India).

Point to Ponder- Do environmental protection organizations in India exist only on paper?

US Presidential Elections

The majority of reports/news/articles in Indian newspapers regarding the Presidential Campaign in United States are being sourced from agencies. And relatively fewer editorials appear on this foreign campaign. Take a look one, which points out -“..what is intriguing , however is that neither the international not the US media has highlighted the fact that Bobby Kennedy’s daughter has endorsed Hillary….Neither is mention made of the fact that when Edward Kennedy challenged President Carter for the Democratic nomination in 1980, the Clintons backed the incumbent…Obama’s advantage is that he has been in national politics for not too long …..” (Economic Times).

Advertisement of the Day

The Urban Estate Department of Haryana has issued an ad covering more than two third of page 6 in Indian Express with heading in bold- “land acquisition notice”. This involves more than 600 acres of land in 14 villages. Reason- development & utilisation for 150 meter wide peripheral road. But the billion dollar question is would villagers of Haryana be able to read this ad in English, that too in an English newspaper?

Truth of the Day

…Being successful is like a crime for many women in India.. (MetroNow).

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4 February 2008

Clean Energy

The External Minister of India is spot on- “ We cannot depend upon coal reserves alone for our energy security. In view of environmental concerns, we must think of future generations” (Hindu). “Therefore, clean energy is needed” (Indian Express). In other words, he is referring to long lost concept - sustainable development.

But is nuclear energy, which he is advocating - ‘clean’ energy? Nope, nuclear power does produce dangerous radioactive waste which can last for a thousand years and has the potential to hurt not only the people but the whole eco-system. Now, that’s certainly not a legacy we want to leave for our future generations. And don’t forget the risk of radioactive leak.

Not so long ago, a poll in United Kingdom revealed 55% of respondents cited waste disposal as a problem with nuclear power, 48% worried about a radiation leak and 46% about a nuclear accident. Only 13% cared about the potential cost. The polls reveal a striking and pervasive public distrust of official information about nuclear power (Economist. 11/10/2007). But here in India, the press is focusing less on these serious concerns about nuclear power & more on political implications.

There is no doubt in the fact that nuclear energy is not clean and carries a security risk to the ecosystem. With commitment for reduction of carbon emissions, what’s the alternative? Take a clue from full page advertisement by Ministry of New & Renewal Energy that has appeared in most leading newspapers.

Advertisement Watch

When demarcation between news reports & advertisement is nil what happens? Take a feel from one such page in Times of India (pg 31) & Amar Ujala (pg 18). The khichdi of advertisement of a two wheeler company & news reports leaves the reader wondering what is what! Further Amar Ujala has even left the last line of a news report incomplete to make space for the ad! Definitely, going by this presentation, the days of bikes will be over very soon!

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3 February 2008

Money Star

Stars self serving in nature? Take a clue from the Bolloywood Superstar. After turning down the request of the Health Minister of India to detest from smoking in public, the Bollywood superstar- Shahrukh Khan did not hesitate in promoting a liquor brand. Money! Further, he recently brought a cricket team, but has done nothing for the promotion of hockey (his film Chek De India was based on hockey -a sport in acute need of funds) which made him much more richer. Why? “…I have chosen cricket because it’s the safest sports in the country. And don’t forget, it’s my money and I have the right to spend it wherever I want”- he declared. Money Again! But hang on, is there no concept of social responsibility for these super rich celebrities?

During the recently held press conference the actor remained adamant that his endorsing an alcohol brand wouldn’t encourage his young fans to take up drinking (Mail Today). But then how would he justify his presence in the advertisement campaign against drinking & driving sponsored by his endorsed liquor brand , if his endorsement has no effect on his fans? And why would the liquor company pay him extravagant fees for endorsement anyway? Remember, laws don’t permit direct advertisement of liquor. But with Shahrukh Khan on board, propagation of the liquor brand will not be a problem! Not surprising, during the press conference-'like a true brand ambassador, Khan kept dropping the brand’s name every now and then.’ (Mail Today). Getting around advertising laws, celebrity style!

Point to ponder- When would the law of diminishing returns with money catch up with Shahrukh Khan?

The Editorial of the Day:

“…Mahatma Gandhi has already been consigned by the nation to the dustbin .Twice a year- on the October 2 and January 30- he is pulled out, dusted and remembered. ….Most political parties think they have done their duty to the country simply by installing a huge Gandhi statue in front of the main entrance to Parliament House. The status attracts attention from only occasional visitors to the public galleries, not from the Members of Parliament, They just pass by” (Tribune).

Cartoon of the Day:

No doubt, seven hard hitting cartoons by three cartoonists of Aaj Samaj on the kidney transplant racket are the best pick of the day. The page 12 of Aaj Samaj is a must to preserve for tracing the history of medical practice in a poor developing country.

However Aaj Samaj, new kid on the block, has been let down by its circulation & marketing department as it is very difficult to procure a copy of the same. The reason is simple- newspaper vendors are not supplying it. And guess what, one has to travel down to a petrol pump to get a free copy of the same. But buying petrol daily for a newspaper costing Rs. 2 is indeed very expensive!

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2 February 2008

Monkey Call

Vivek from Melbourne reports in Indian Express that it’s not easy to be Harbhajan Singh in Australia. He is being referred as bad boy and got booed by the crowd at the MCG, while Andrew Symonds got the biggest cheer. It seems the Monkey call refuses to die down, with Australian Team deciding to protest against the Cricket Australia by writing a letter in Bhajji’s case. (Indian Express). But is this monkey calling racist or the Australians are carrying it too far?

Take a clue from veteran journalist Khushwant Singh -”..When Bhajji called Andy a monkey, it need not have been a racist slur. Come think of it, most white people with pink complexion do resemble the rhesus. ….My late friend Wilburn Lal often called me a chimp (for chimpanzee); I hit him back by calling him a baboon. My children when they were in school in Paris had to suffer for their surname ‘Singh’ pronounced as ‘Singe’ which in French means monkey…Bhajji has been a thorn in the Aussie‘s bottom….” (Hindustan Times).

There is a joke that it doing around. March referee Mike Proctor asks Harbhajan Singh , “Did you call Andrew Symonds a monkey?” to which Singh replies, “No, I called a monkey Symonds”. KPS Gill has not minced words what he feels about the whole monkey episode-“…The truth is that the Aussies in general and Symonds in particular, broke every rule in the book during this tour. They have cheated they have lied: they sledged and they intimidated: they clearly influenced the umpires into repeatedly giving manifestly incorrect decisions …and they sought to apply standards of conduct and propriety to the Indian side that they were refusing to adhere to themselves…their sportsmanship has spiraled downward from Don Bradman’s day:” (Pioneer). Must to read- Gill & Khushwant Singh ‘s complete take on the monkey call.
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1 February 2008

Rural Preference

With 77 per cent of India’s population living on meager income of Rs. 20 per day, the euphoria over benefits of rate of growth is not shared by the majority Indians. Nevertheless, the Finance Minister exudes optimism on growth, highest in last 18 years (Hindu).

According to the statistics released by National Sample Survey Organisation, the average monthly per capital consumption vis-à-vis rural counterpart was 1.873 times in 2005-06. If decimals means anything significant in comparison across time period, the corresponding figure in 2004-05 was 1.907.

The state of rural folks is no longer a secret.What is pertinent here is- how much of this expenditure was financed by loans from money lenders and banks & what became of them? Newspaper reports don’t throw any light on this. Take a look at extracts from some newspapers on this Survey .


…Food expenditure in monthly per capita expenditure for rural & urban population declined to 53% and 40% in 2005-06 from 54% and 42% respectively a year ago. Data shows an average rural citizen spends more on cereals and milk & milk products (31%) compared to urban citizen (20%). People in urban area spend more on value added products like beverages, refreshments and processed foods...(Consumption spend on rise, finds NSSO. Economic Times. Pg 11)

The total food expenditure in rural India increased marginally in 2005-06 to 53.3 per cent of the total expenditure, up from 53.2 per cent in 2004-05, whereas it declined for an urban Indian to 40 pre cent, as against 40.5 pre cent the year before…(Urban-Rural divide widens. Business Standard. Pg 2).

Health consciousness is catching up with the rural households….an average rural family spends 53 paise of every rupee on buying healthy food such as milk & milk products, eggs, meat, fish and vegetables while its urban counterpart spent 60 paise of every rupee spent on non food items…(Health is wealth for rural folks as consumerism lures urban India. Financial Express. Pg 4)

19 percent of India’s rural population is forced to live on Rs. 12 everyday. The rural household is spending only Rs. 365 per month per person.….(19 per cent rural folks survive on Rs. 12. Hindustan. Pg 11)

Though claims are bring made regarding the increase of income of the people in the country, there are still crores of people who are finding it difficult to eat roti, two times a day. …(crores forced to live on Rs.19. Amar Ujala. Pg 2).

Rural India is matching the promise it has shown with the elusive market showing consumption patterns similar to urban areas…(Rural India matches urban spending pattern: Survey. Times of India. Pg. 14)

Punjab ranked number two in the country for the average monthly per capita expenditure among urban & rural households, behind Kerala, considerably higher than the national average…(Punjab second, Haryana third in rural households. Tribune. Pg 2)

An Individual in rural India on an average spends less tha Rs. 21 a day for survival of which more than half is consumed for food requirements…(Rural Indian spends less than Rs. 21 a day. Hindustan Times. Pg 26).

Point to ponder- Take a clue from leading Financial Newspapers- Has Food expenditure increased for decreased or remained more or less the same? Further, what is the meaning of ‘Health consciousness is catching up with the rural households..’? Can a poor rural folk afford to buy value added products like beverages, refreshments and processed foods like his urban counterpart? How many Junk Food Chain are flourishing in the farmer suicide prone Vidharba region? Suicide watch- Hindustan Times reports that 11 more farmers have committed suicide in last 48 hours in Vidarbha. Just another addition to the funeral expenditure?

In perspective

Prabhakar Kulkarni in his brief article has covered a wide range of interwoven issues related to total development. In the end- “…As a developing country, India is striving hard to achieve develop targets. But development in industry, agriculture, business, education, health and other spheres of activities should commensurate with socio-economic equality. To achieve the target of development with equality, poverty should be completely eradicated. For this process, as the poverty line is demarcated the richness line should be demarcated….(For total development. Decccan Herald. Pg. 10).

Point to Ponder- Inclusive Growth, Socio-Economic Equality has few takers in the trillion dollar economy, how will poverty be eliminated anyway? A Wishful Thought? 

Newspaper Watch- Februrary 2008