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

31 January 2008

Woes of poverty: Organ Racket

The Editorial and cartoon of the Day definitely belongs to Asian Age. The cartoon has updated the Age Old story of Panchtantra. The monkey is shown sitting on crocodile’s back in a water body when the cunning crocodile asks for monkey’s kidney for his wife but the clever monkey responds- “You should’ve told me earlier dear! I left my kidney on the tree!”.

Alas, in real life this is not the case. The Editorial of the same paper rightly points out- “Illegal trade in kidneys in India is nothing new...It is the all pervasive grinding poverty in the country which compels people to sell their organs. Poor fishermen in costal Tamil Nadu whose lives were torn as under by the tsumani sold their kidneys to feed their hungry children…It is matter of shame for a country which is regarded as a booming economy that some of its citizens are so improvised that they are forced to sell one part of their body to fill another part”.

Misleading Advertisement

Many clean up attempts have been made in the past costing billions of rupees but pollution level in river Yamuna, the lifeline of Delhi, is bad as ever- Yamuna is more or less a sewage canal. The affidavit filed in the Supreme Court of India by the government states that Yamuna clean up task would not be completed before 2012. This is contrary to the claim made by the government in advertisements, according to which Yamuna would be cleaned by 2010.

The Supreme Court of India has pulled up the Delhi government for placing advertisements that claimed that the river would be cleaned by 2010- “Let DJB (Delhi Water Board) and the Delhi government not mislead the public and the Supreme Court while spending thousands of rupees of public money” (Times of India).

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30 January 2008

Ritual Remembrance

Most newspapers have carried governmental advertisements reminding the readers regarding significance of today- Day of martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi. Some of Gandhi’s message can be viewed in some advertisements.

The Directorate of Prohibition, Social Welfare Department of Delhi Government has carried a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi and has urged people to Quit Alcohol by saying no to alcohol from 30 January- “once for all, on this solemn occasion” (Hindustan Times). However the ad by same government department in Hindi also urges to start movement like ‘Quit India Movement’ - Indians Quit Liquor along with a pledge to quit liquor on 30 January. Further on this occasion Directorate of Prohibition, Social Welfare Department requests you that not once but every time decline from liquor” (Amar Ujala).

Point to Ponder- What about the role of the government in spread of liquor? Government Liquor shops, governmental permission for sale of liquor in Malls, retail…liquor baron becoming a member of parliament …. Not to forget the surrogate liquor advertisements, liquor features appearing in leading newspapers and magazines and even roadside hoardings, top of malls- - no research needed here- unrestricted flowing cheers. Are principles of Mahatma Gandhi remembered only occasionally?

Least we forget:

“ I am told by friends that it is possible to drink temperately. My experience is contrary... what is the result? He forgets the distinction between mother and daughter….For God’s sake give up your drinking habits, your gambling…Liquor is Satan‘s progeny. The workmen drinks and forgets the distinction between mother and sister and wife. He uses filthy language. Save yourself from that Satan‘s imp….Millionaires are not slow to brag that they drink temperately, but I have seem them lose their senses, become blind to the presence of their mothers and sisters and roll on the floor...”(Mahatma Gandhi. 1925)

Advertisement Watch

While India is trying to combat the spread of Bird Flu, a cinema theater has placed an advertisement in Hindustan Times that features a filmy chick & “ The WHO has described the bird flu as “serious”. Real life is BORING.”. This is followed by propagation of four films showing in this cinema hall. (HT City, Delhi Edition, Page 5).

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29 January 2008

Cartoon Watch

While the unearthing of Kidney transplant racket has made it to front page of all newspapers, the Indian Health Minister is busy appealing to the top Bollywood Star to detest from smoking in their films as it encourages people to smoke. The topic of Health Minister, No Smoking & Bollywood Stars has been taken up in cartoons appearing in Hindustan Times, Asian Age, Hindustan, Deccan Chronicle, followed by topic of bird flu in Pioneer, Mumbai Mirror & Times of India. The rest have focused on variety of topics- Bharat Ratna (Veer Arjun), honouring sportsmen (Dainik Tribune), Poison & Expiry Date (Mid Day), Mercury Dips & Dalal Street (Mid-Day), Return of Indian Ambassador to US (Indian Express), Merit of BJP Candidate for becoming PM (Jansatta), Memorial for freedom fighter (Times of India), Rahul Gandhi’s night out (Hindu), politics, corruption & illiteracy (Dainik Jagran), kidney transplant racket (Punjab Kesari), News from global market (DNA), growing up aspiration & Miss World (DNA), falling of US spy satellite (Rajasthan Patrika), astrologer & go ahead (Economic Times)

The cartoon of the Day is carried by Virat Vaibhav on racket of kidney transplant & poverty with the doctor telling a poor man- “ You are not poor brother…You are carrying kidney worth lakh-lakh rupees”. (I lakh=100,000).

However no Indian cartoon has appeared in Tribune, Mint, Amar Ujala, MetroNow, Haribhoomi, Telegraph, NavBharat Times, Rastriya Sahara, Statesman.

A Cool Million

The heading of the top news in Deccan Chronicle by special correspondent reads- “DC crosses 1 million”. Now does DC refer to DC associated with Washington? Nope, it’s the circulation figure for Deccan Chronicle. The paper is justified for taking time out for ‘ self congratulatory indulgence ..and celebration.’. And for the announcement for growth- launch of a business paper. And how will it be different from the rest of the existing Business papers? ‘The paper will give the south a voice in the world of business’. Last not the least, DC doesn’t forget its readers- ‘All this, dear reader, is as much a tribute to you as it is to our newspapers, our team and our advertisers. Thank You.’

Point to ponder- Are existing business papers not giving South India a voice in the business world?

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28 January 2008

Race

Shatrughan Sinha, Rajya Sabha Member belonging to the main opposition party - Bhartiya Janta Party wearing a suit, red tie, long black overcoat & a hat has appeared in one full page advertisement of a brand in Hindustan Times with a punch line- “Is here to entertain India….defining European standards….”.Indeed, Sinha is endorsing a brand after a long time.

The actor with a deep baritone had last endorsed Bagpiper soda in the 1980s,only to face criticism when he became health minister in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. (Hindu. 5/8/2002). But he disown his past—as an en-dorser for Bagpiper soda, a surrogate for the eponymous whisky—when he was made the nation’s health minister. (Indian Express. 28 May 2006).

Take a look what he said when asked why he took such a long time before endorsing again- 'I must have realised my responsibility that I would leave a bad impact on the country's youth. Hence, I didn't take up any advertisements… But why endorse a brand now - 'Today, celebrities are selling products ranging from digestive tablets to hair oils and what not. I thought if I do not do it now, then I would be left behind in the race,' said Sinha

Point to Ponder- Race for money? Will he pass on money earned from endorsing brand to farmers of Vidharba? Remember not long ago he made special mention in parliament -Demand to abolish political corruption in the country and Suicide by farmers in the country.

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27 January 2008

Revolt of 1857

Akhilesh Mithal has reminded the nation regarding the significance of today - 150 years ago on this date, the last Emperor of India , Bahadur Shah Zafar was placed on trial for ‘rebellion‘, ‘treason‘, and ‘murder’. The Accuser was East Indian company which was operating under permission to trade granted by an ancestor of Zafar. Akhilesh does not mince words about the strength of the British- “..Fabrication, misrepresentation ,twisting of facts and obscuring the truth in a miasma of iridescent lies constitutes one of the great strength of the British and earned them the title, “Perfidious Albion” from Napoleon…”.

On the other hand, one can sense a feeling of deep regret when he points out-“…The lasting success of the British lies in the way the Indians themselves look at 1857/58. For most the event is of no importance while some deem it a Sepoy mutiny. …Bahadur Shah Zafar continues to lie in exile as no one in power is prepared to give him the two yards of earth he pined for in his beloved city” (Asian Age).

Point to Ponder- Another great strength of the British is Patriotism and respect for their heroes. A positive learning point?

Salt special

Salt has been instrumental in attainment of Indian Independence- Who can forget the famous Dandi March by Mahatma Gandhi on 12 March 1930. The majority of Indian salt still comes from the State of Gujarat, home of Mahatma Gandhi. But Sunday special by Dainik Jagran reveals that this salt is getting polluted by the new industries that have come up during last five years.

Point to Ponder- Another Gandhian Salt March?

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26 January 2008

Awarded

On the occasion of Republic Day, the President of India, approved conferment of 13 Padam Vibhushan, 35 Padam Bhushan and 71 Padam Shri awards to People for their outstanding work in various areas - Art, Public Affairs, Science & Engineering, Social work, Commentary & Broadcasting, Civil Service, Trade & Industry, Journalism, Medicine, Sports. The announcement of these prestigious awards was given due importance in most newspapers.

Hang on, how many journalists were in the award list for their contribution to journalism? Only three. But none are presently associated full-time to the print media. Does it suggest something more substantial?

Taking Stock

Many articles/features/Editorials have appeared on 59th Republic Day. What should be our thoughts for today? Take a clue from Hindustan Times- ‘..let the Republic Day be one of rejoicing where people can let their spirits run free….The tryst with destiny that our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru envisaged at the birth of nation is still a way off. But the good news is that we are getting there” (Editorial. Hindustan Times). But Barkha Dutta, right next to the editorial cautions- “ the middle class is in serious danger of slipping into an illusionary world of well-being: a world in which growth is measures only by a soaring Sensex and poverty, inequality and caste prejudices are otherworldly infringements on our ability to dream”.

Point to Ponder- The Trillion dollar economy powered by 300 million middle class is too busy chasing the ever illusive dream of self-welfare, who cares about public welfare here- today or tomorrow? Hot Topic for the next book!

Corruption

In an address to the Nation, on the eve of Republic Day, the President of India questioned the effectiveness of delivery mechanism and called for people’s involvement as a key to effective implementation of programmes and projects. Acknowledging that corruption is an evil that afflicts our system and we have to eliminate it, the President called for “greater transparency” in government’s functioning (Hindu).

Yesterday, Ramesh Thakur was clear that “Corruption is first and foremost a governance issue…the war on corruption cannot be left to governments. The role of civil society and the press is vital in lobbying for better laws and law enforcement, highlighting corruption, reshaping attitudes and revising public apathy towards corruption….(Fighting the cancer of corruption. Hindu).Today, in response, ten letters to editor have appeared in Hindu. Take a look at extracts of a few:

“..Media should take upon themselves the task of exposing corrupt officials, enlisting the services of civil society, without sensationalising news” (Varadarajan).

“Corruption thrives in many governmental departments mainly due to lack of accountability..” (Viswanaathan. Coimbatore).

“ ..war against corruption can be wages by some committed and patriotic youngsters in anticipation of large-scale support from the people. The question is: who will bell the cat?” (Krishnan. Udhagamandalam)

“..Administrative corruption is routed, where spoils are shared at all levels. ‘Exemplary’ punishment to the higher ups is a myth. The protest against the RTI Act from almost all government departments is a classic case of bureaucrats using the system to insulate themselves…” (Chandrasekar. Chennai)

“ …To my mind, the root cause of all that ails our country is the decline in moral standards resulting from erosion of national character…” (Menon. Mukkatukara).

“… Till such time as an electoral system makes responsibility a practical invariability for the people’s representative, is evolved, we have to bear the brunt of corruption bravely” (Divakara. Bangalore)

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25 January 2008

Statement of the Day

“ The poor themselves have to come forward for eradication of poverty, as it cannot be eliminated by others. And they have to get their children educated, only then their backwardness can be tackled” (Governor of Haryana. quoted in Aaj Samaj).

Advertisement of the Day

What do you make of this-“We offer you a zero” against the backdrop of a big numerical 0! Yes, this eye catching punch line belongs to the Ad of IDBI Bank on front page of Asian Age. But offer of Zero-no worries- its ‘smart current account with Zero balance’!

Arrangements

Apart from the Editorial (Red torpor: Bird Flu spreads in Bengal), rest of matter on ‘PDB Edit’ Page 6 of The Political & Business Daily is sourced from agencies-’Hasty Decision: Fed’s panicked rate cut puts spotlight on Bank of Japan’ (William Pesek), Israel want to cut its Gaza links, says official (Adam Entous), US moves closer towards economic stimulus plan (Gene Sperling). But no analysis from any Indian Financial wizard/ economist! Should one take a clue from the article -“ It’s not fair to compare with American Farmer” by Devendra Sharma that has appeared on page 16, below the editorial, in the Hindi Daily- Amar Ujala?

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24 January 2008

Shame

The open secret is that Indian armed forces is facing shortages but why? Take a clue from Hindustan Times exclusive regarding demotion of Rifleman Sanjay Kumar who was awarded the highest military decoration for showing highest degree of valour in the Kargil war. Obvious Result -“..the disillusioned Kumar plans to quit the army”.

Is this the way to reward a hero? Why merit is shown the door? Ask already disillusioned first woman IPS Kiran Bedi. Must to read-‘This is how we treat our heroes’ in Hindustan Times.

Mysterious Precious Jewel of India

Yesterday, the Nation paid tribute to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose- a legendary leader who fought for Indian Independence. However, even after 60 years of Indian Independence, mystery still surrounds his disappearance, with the Indian Government not revealing full information even under Act of Right to Information. Take a clue from the advertisement by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting in Hindu that claims to pay tribute to the “this precious jewel of India on his birth anniversary” with a quotation of Mahatma Gandhi, only a day late!

Point to Ponder- Why should history be kept in dark closet in an independent nation anyway?

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23 January 2008

Credibility of Media

Pratab Bhanu Mehta did not mince words about credibility crisis facing the Indian media today.“ ..On the surface, there is a simple story about accountability in Indian media. On this view, there is competition; and competition, we assume produces accountability.…But the really important place competition has failed us in accountability of the media itself.…It is a measure of the declining credibility of the media that almost no paper is widely regarded as a journal of record….In some ways, politicians at leave have a go at each other. But when was the last time when the media had a competition over holding each accountable?…Couple of newspapers have been reporting on an open secret of the media, the existence of private treaties. Under these, media houses invest in companies, which then receive favorable media treatment in turn….Bennett & Coleman pioneered this, but many other major institutions have followed…Not to put too fine a point on it, the Indian media has crossed into deeply murky ethical territory without even minimal public debate, self reflection and media outrage…”.
Any response from the print media? A must to read- ‘People’s media’ in Indian Express.

Priority

The UNICEF report on State of Children Report 2008 was released in the capital on Tuesday with extremely worrying & disturbing facts about the state of Children in India. But did the policy makers expressed this emotion? Take a clue from the photograph of the release function in Hindu- they appear far from being distressed! After all we are being clicked- say cheese!

Incidentally, the dismal statistics of infant mortality and malnutrition and all that worrying news did not make it to the front page of most newspapers which were faithfully carrying the state of the Indian stock market. Take a clue about the ‘development’ priority from the page number on which this child health news appeared- Page 15 (Hindu), Page 13 (Hindustan Times), Page 3 (Asian age, Pioneer). That is not all, most Hindi newspaper and many established English newspapers preferred to give this ‘depressing’ news amiss! Wonder why! Of the 24 newspapers scanned today, only one newspaper gave space to this news on its front page. And that is Dainik Jagran. No wonder it’s world’s most read newspaper.
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22 January 2008

Cashing on Brown

The British Prime Minister is here in India, so how can some advertisers forget to cash him! First, obvious cash point is the English language! So, the look at the punch line of such ad- “Who ever you are teacher or student, doctor or engineer, lawyer or businessmen, journalist or author…..This advertisement is for you…..don’t ignore this advertisement because this ad will benefit you in some way or other….This advertisement is that of a real book….book that will teach you to write & speak English very fast….This book will be available only for three days from today at the following addresses…”.(Amar Ujala). Arvind Chaturvedi, in the same paper analyses the official date of schools in Britain about the dismal state of English in the mother country. New business opportunity for enterprising Indians: export English learning books to Britain?!

Second obvious advertiser is the five star hotel where the British Prime Minister stayed in during this visit in Delhi. A totally Gordon Brown centric advertisement, featured his passport sized photograph with much too obvious facts about his staying at particular hotel. Take a look at a sample-” We are humbled that he chose …as his home for two days and had a pleasant stay in Lutyens’s Delhi” (Hindustan Times). Brown was indeed lucky during his stay in this hotel as the cover story of MetroNow reveals that Brown missed by seconds a battle between two police forces armed with assault rifles at the porch of this prestigious hotels as an Indian MP put up resistance against moving his Prado out of hotel porch, saying he too is a VVIP!

 

Advertiser’s Feature

Page 15 of Times of India seems to have two parts: bottom half looks like regular advertisement of a Bank and upper half appears to be a feature regarding the same Bank - ‘..launching its representative office in Abu Dhabi today..’. Who is behind this Bank centric feature? Hang on, answer lies on page 9 of Hindu where the same has being repeated in black & white but with a big difference- on top of the page is mentioned- “Advertiser’s Feature”. Now clear!

Point to ponder- Why “Advertiser’s Feature” did not appear anywhere on page 15 in Times of India? Hindu, one up?

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21 January 2008

Revolt of 1857

The weekly column by noted journalist- Akhilesh Mittal appeared in its usual place in Asian Age, yesterday. But was unique was his letter to the editor in the same paper with heading -“Apology Needed”. The context- British PM’s visit to India on the occasion of 150th year of Great Revolt of 1857. Content-"….should not the Indian Government and media ask Britain’s Prime Minister to make a gesture of remorse for the brutal killing of some ten million Indians…..”.

In response, today a letter to editor has appeared by Arun Malankar, who reminds that apologizing by nations is not out of the world- “….Japan has officially apologized, that too in writing for their heinous crimes indulged in by their soldiers against that country during the first half of the twentieth century.” (Asian Age).

In the context of what Gordon Brown feels about Indo-British relations-…“What I would like to see is greater contact between our two countries in winning battles of hearts and minds..”(Asian Age), it seems, he might apologize and also grant sizable compensation for colonizing the Indian Subcontinent! Surely, this is the best way to win the battles of hearts and minds of a billion people.

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20 January 2008

Health Care Anyone

To be Celebrity is a fad now- star power, awards etc, too good! But is mere ‘celebrity’ status sufficiency to assume the well-being of an area?

Nope, reveals Geetanjali Gayatri in ground level report focusing on Governance (or rather lack of it), in a far off village, situated at Haryana- Rajasthan border. This village is distinct due to all women panchayat. But -”…it’s a village in constant mourning now. …thirteen infants, mostly girls and seven still born have died in last six months…few mother have also lost their lives before they reached the delivery table…despite pumping of funds and availability of services, nothing has reached here…nearest sub centre is located …about 12 Kms from village…..which most women in labour usually fail to make and die or deliver enroute inmost unhygienic condition…”. The report ends with a harshest suffering of humankind in a high growth economy- “Each time a women goes into labour, the villages have their fingers crossed, hoping earth will not have to be dug up for a new cemetery”. A must to read -” Celebrity village in mourning: Govt apathy proves fatal for infants, expectant mothers” (Tribune).

Point to Ponder- Why do international & national Bodies recruit Sports/Cinema Celebrities for health awareness programmes, how about taking gound level suffering rural women on board for a change?

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19 January 2008

Image Building

According to front page news report in Times of India, “Alarm bells have began to ring over the tardy pace of Delhi‘s Commonwealth Games are progressing. …Prime Minister’s office has stepped in and summoned all stakeholders for a review of the Games related project next week…Fearing that the Games might give India a bad name have led to the event being accorded a higher priority ”. But this delay has not discouraged the nodal agency for the Games- Delhi Development Authority from publishing series of advertisements, boosting its achievements with statement-” Delhi has the infrastructure for event of international stature.” (Hindustan Times). If so, there is no need to build more for Commonwealth Games!

Hang on, all along it was publicized that the Commonwealth Games will boost Indian image abroad! Now the fear of the opposite? Nevertheless, if only this urgency was seen on the social front like tackling rampant corruption, cleaning up polluted rivers, improving dismal public health care…, surely India’s image would have improved drastically, much more that associated with hosting of a ten day extravagant Sports Event.

Investigative Report of the Day

Once upon a time, Mubarak Begum was the leading singer in Bollywood, famous for the depth and range in her voice. Her eternal song- ‘Kabhi tanhaiyon mein hamari yaad aayegi’ still haunts. Where is she now and in what state? Deeptiman Tiwary has tracked her in a small house in Mumbai and revealed her dismal state- living hand to mouth existence. Cash rich Bollywood is indeed heartless. Take a clue what Lala Mangeshkar (rich veteran singer) had to say-” ..We have sung many duets together, but I haven’t been in touch for her for the past few years”. A must to read- “ Begum’s Despair” in MetroNow to know why Mubarak Begum stopped getting work .. & more.

Cartoon of the Day

Of the 24 newspapers scanned today, none carried cartoon on their front page with prominence as new kid on the block - Aaj Samaj. More to come- this cartoon is the best one in terms of illustration, topic and …almost perfect with a lot of punch on the current race for grabbing the most prestigious award (Bharat Ratna) in India by politicians and dilemma of the government. Cartoon Ratna for this one?

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18 January 2008

Credit worry

Many policy makers believe inadequate credit is major problem in Indian Agriculture. But official data points otherwise. Though the amount of credit to farmers has gone up but the number of farmers has seen a dip during 2007-08 (April-Oct). Indian express believes that this might be an indication that sharp fall in farmers accounts may be hurting small and marginal farmers. The finance minister asked the nodal agency for agriculture credit- National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to conduct a “ground level” study and analyze reasons for mi-match between number of farmers accounts financed and the credit disbursed”. Is only credit the problem for small & marginal farmers? But hang on, one doesn’t need to go far for an immediate check-up of the problem, check out page 15 of the same newspaper.-”Little Relief: one package, two plans” which starts off-” Debt-ridden farmers can expect some relief in the budget this year….” .

Point to ponder:- why shouldn’t noted journalist- P Sainth head this “ground level” study rather than a regular seasoned retired bureaucrat/financial guru expert, who spends more time in an air-conditioned office than on the “Ground Level”?

 

Chemistry

The Editorial of the Day has appeared in Hindustan Times on the ongoing demand of setting up of Smaller States in India, it ends- “…. A small state emerges in India only when a big stone is broken into small pieces but the chemistry remains the same. So, while it is true that smaller states are easier to mange and govern, they also crucially need a new chemistry of development and a much better quality of governance. Otherwise, it will be the same old story all over again” .

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17 January 2008

Fighting Corruption

Corruption has caste a dark spell over much a hyped trillion dollar economy. The ineffective governance, accountability was recently exposed by the CAG in the most publicized developmental scheme- Employment Rural Guarantee Scheme. The recent findings of rampant corruption by the World Bank in the Health programmes in India is not surprising. It’s not just to do with money misuse, but health- “ ..the fear is inferior diagnostics kits may have resulted in the spread of HIV” (Mail Today). So what is the solution- hire more bureaucrats for supervision?Sources in nodal ministry for appointing babus told Pioneer that the old thesis of slim and trim administration was not working (Pioneer).

Is increasing the maze of bureaucracy a solution? Take a clue from all powerful former Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Akhand Pratap Singh who was arrested for corruption. And without prompt accountability and penal action, such cases will be repeated, no matter how big is the maze of bureaucrats.

Way out- bring the honest common man on board for fixing accountability, remember, it’s the same person who everyday fights his/her small battles with corrupt officials, without any bureaucratic support!

Hot News

Politics is part & parcel of democracy. But news on Hindi TV Channels has reduced the coverage on politics from 23 % to 10% during 2005-2007. While on the upswing is entertainment, crime and sports!

What has remained dismally low is focus on main development areas- education, health, environment with less than one percent coverage. More to come, agriculture (occupation of majority of Indians) plagued with controversies and suicides received only 0.19% of time in news (Mint)

Point to Ponder- Are existing news channels really news channel anyway or mere extension of entertainment and sports channels? Ask the advertisers!
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16 January 2008

Treat for Eyes

Yes, harvesting season has began in India and other parts of South Asia, marked with various festivals. Mail Today is celebrating this occasion with seven photos spread over two pages, rejoicing the harvest in different cities -Amritsar, Hyderabad, Mathura, Delhi, 24-Parganas and even Colombo- “ For India the beginning of the harvest season is a festival of colours, be it lohri or Makar Sakranti or Pongal in other parts of the country. The festivals signal the end of the farming and a time for the farmers to enjoy a well-deserved break…”(Season begins for a harvesting India. Mail Today)

Spelling

Place- Gurgaon Railway Station. Error- spelling of ‘Station’ in Hindi on the Main Board. Two days ago, Gurgaon Bhaskar, the supplement of Dainik Bhaskar reported it. And good news is that spelling 'err' board has been removed. The supplement of Gurgaon Bhaskar has taken the credit of removal of this mis-spelled Board. Very true, power of the press worked. But what to do with spelling errors in newspapers! For instance, take a look at Madhurima, another supplement of Dainik Bhaskar, page three- smadhan (solution in Hindi) is ‘mis-spelled‘!

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15 January 2008

Cricket Scars

Calling names should not be part of any game. True, but equally true is the obvious fact - that game should be played in sporting spirit, by all teams and the umpires. The recent test match between India & Australia was far from an ideal one.

“..India & Australia may have kissed & made up in public over the post -Sydney spat, but obviously the mistrust created by what transpired particularly on the last day of the acrimonious last test has left its scars..." feels Rahul (Asian Age).

Cricket, like any other sports, should be played in the right spirit, without inflicting any scars on any player or followers of the game. What exactly is going on there? But baring a few newspapers, others have not gone deeper on this crucial issue & have hailed the so called peace between the two teams. Take a look at some sporty headlines:

Team India displays ‘Gandhigiri’(Dainik Jagran)

Hogg forgiven, hearing on Bhajji on 29-30 (Amar Ujala)

Indian team drops charge against Hogg (Hindu)

Hogg let off by India (Pioneer)

Peace breaks out, Indian withdraw Hogg charge (Hindustan Times)

India forgives Brad (Times of India)

Forgetting old issues fight on (Dainik Bhaskar)

Seize fire between Kumble-Porting (Hindustan)

Indians let Hogg off the hook (Mail Today)

The Right choice? (MetroNow)

Circus goes on: Brad out of pits (Tribune)

Point to ponder- why no comments from the cricketing veterans on this so called Scary Truce?

 

Wishful Thinking

Many Political leaders never grow up and continue to celebrate their birthdays with pump & show. Today, full page advertisements informs readers about birthday of Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh- Mayawati. Apart from the usual birthday wishes, greeting, one advertisement in Amar Ujala went far ahead and hailed her as ‘Iron Land of the World’. Now, what would call this?

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14 January 2008

Historically Yours

Fifty years ago, Hindu brought News on its sacred front page on a daily basis. The front page was previously reserved only for advertisements- informs N. Ram in Hindu -”Our leap to front page news, half a century old”. Accompanying the write-up is a catchy advertisement of a popular Steel company , existing even today, that greeted the change-“ To the grand old lady of Mount Road, greetings on her new makeup. May she continue to render outstanding service for many, many years to come!“. Definitely a must to read.

Point to ponder- Though today, news features on front page of all newspapers, but are editors playing the shots? Or is it advertisers /marketing guys, guided by pure corporate profits who are taking the lead? Take a clue from veteran journalists, who have nothing to gain or lose from revealing the truth!

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13 January 2008

Another Commodity

The focus is more on women models (flashing flesh) than cars in the 9th AutoExpo -2008. Take a look at the front page of Times of India- “Major draws at Auto Expo”, carries five shots of the Expo, where focus seems to be more on female models than cars with an explanation-“ Automobiles are vying to show of their products, But as usual, its models of the human kind who are pulling in eyeballs and footfalls”. Also on the front page of Times Special Report on 9th AutoExpo -2008, the story is the same. Why should these women models (dressed in skimpy tops and short skirts in winters) accompany cars in an Car Expo? Are only female models with revealing cloths- ‘models of the human kind’ to promote cars? ‘Women: a enticing commodity for sales promotion of cars‘- Is this view not reinforced by popular media too?

Must to Read-

“…But they don’t feel ashamed ’ by Pratibha Jyoti, Front Page (Amar Ujala)

“An assault on dignity” by Kalpana Sharma, Supplement. (Hindu)

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12 January 2008

Disparities

The salary of the President of India, Vice President of India has been doubled. Many leading newspapers have appreciated this move as Members of Parliament were drawing more salary than them- so this hike removes pay disparity. However one leading newspaper has compared the salary of the Indian President to that of President of developed countries. But are they actually comparable? Nope! Reason-unequal crucial denominator of per capita income and income disparities among population.

“…In a strange version of how to become a millionaire, we have seem struggling politicos enter the fray with little more than a shirt on their back and miraculously tot up a seriously healthy bank balance within months…our politicians they never fade or retire. They just niftily hang on to their palatial residences …(Editorial. Hindustan Times)

“…It indeed is strange that member of Parliament themselves decide on quantum of their salary and perks. During this, they tend to turn a blind eye towards the state of the common man, but look at the salary structure of the corporate with jealously. Then, they don’t seems to look at report by Arjun Segupta, according to which even today 8.36 crore (83.6 million) Indians are forced to live on less than Rs 20 a day…”(Editorial. Dainik Bhaskar).

True, but its 836 million not 83.6 million people in India, who live on less than Rs 20 a day. Point to ponder- Why do they they attract attention of politicians only before elections, and not otherwise? Take a clue from leakages (read corruption) in implementation of development programmes.

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11 January 2008

Beyond All

“Every profession has certain responsibilities. In the case of mass media, these are multiplied, because they shoulder the responsibility of unfolding the truth…But most newspapers and news channels feel they are beyond all boundaries of responsibility. They are free to publish or broadcast anything or everything. And they have no commitment to society. Such is the situation that the endeavor of most mediapersons is not to express the truth but to campaign for some party, some individual or some institution…"(Indulata Das. Pioneer).

Point to Ponder- Das backs her claim by mentioning some misadventures of electronic media (sans the names!) but where do newspapers fit in here ? Keep Guessing!

Advertisement of the Day

An enticing cartoon advertisement informs that Lottery ‘tickets are also available in the Post offices of the Punjab’ & ‘Hurry Up! 4 Days Left’. That’s not all, ad also assures Free Home Delivery (like Fast Food, bad for health?) (Tribune)

Point to Ponder- Post offices in Punjab are encouraging people to waste their money in lottery tickets. Why?

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10 January 2008

Mislead

Media tends to mislead? Yes, according to Ex. Bureaucrat - Shailaja Chandra- ‘highly placed people often remained cocooned from realities, hearing only what a chosen few tell the,: or worse, depend on TV channels and newspapers that, as we know are propelled by their own internal dynamics… Just look at how 24*7 television channels and newspapers got it all horribly wrong abut the Gujarat Assembly Election. Rather than feel the pulse of the people, media chose to listen to those willing what it wished to hear…’ (Media tends to mislead. Pioneer).

Point to Ponder- What about governmental developmental programme (latest- National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme ) that hardly reach the target recipients? Here too highly placed people often remained cocooned from realities, hearing only what a chosen few tell from the bureaucracy!

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9 January 2008

Whose interest

“…The fundamental role of media is to work in public interest and not for what the people are interested in…News dissemination, no doubt was remained one such sacrosanct exercise till date. If news channels and their leaders choose to jump format, a situation will come when a dance director who trains some “item girls” will seek to become the editor of a news channel on the stock logic that if this is news “I am more professionally more competent than you to do this as I know what pelvis theist with what dress will make the shot extremely sensuous and thereby attract maximum eyeballs“. No wonder the news media then will be run by then and not by journalists…. Today, in India. The question is, “ who are these persons leading the electronic media?” Each of them separately admits degeneration, but they do not agree to change the course for fear that they will lose out to their rivals, What they do not understand is that soon they will become redundant…”(N.K Singh in Tribune).

Point to ponder- what about the print media, a holy cow?

 

Advertisement Assimilated

Many a times the demarcation line between an advertisement and a news items is gone with the wind. Today, news report-”Don’t touch my feet: Himachal CM” is mixed with advertisement of 9th Auto Expo that would be held in Delhi (Times of India. Delhi Edition. page19)

Point to Ponder: What is the similarity between Chief Minister’s wish & Auto Expo? He want to ride a Auto so that people can’t touch his feet!

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8 January 2008

Unfair Play

Many newspapers have carried advertisement displaying the Logo of Commonwealth Games 2010 with punch line- ‘Come out And Play’. Australia is also a member of Commonwealth but do they know how to play? All newspapers have expressed their unhappiness regarding the un-sporty happenings at recently concluded match between India-Australia. Take a look at some letter to editors that have expressed strong feeling:

“ We had always been victims of racism in the past, especially during the pre-independence days. But what surprises me to see is that it’s happening again…If the Indian team doesn’t abandon the tour, it will cost BCCI very dearly….We are not willing to get humiliated any further” (Dr. Atul Gupta. Mail Today)

“ In cricketing circles, January 6 will forever be observed as a Black Sunday. Australia has won the match, there’s no doubt about it, but the game has lost its flavour.” (Tarlok Singh. Mail Today).

“….The game was never played, it was framed….” (Shanti Bhushan. Hindustan Times)

“…Mahatma Gandhi was thrown out of a train in apartheid South Africa. Times have changed, but not the mindset….” (Manmohan Bhatia. Hindustan Times)

“ …The Australians can go to any extent to win a match. They are masters at sledging…” (S.N Kabra. Indian Express)

“ …This is not cricket and there is no reason why we should put up with such humiliation..” (Kedarnath R Aiyer. Pioneer)

“ …Winning is not important. What is important is to fight well. Hats off to India for fighting well” (K. Azar Mohammed. Hindu)

“…The Australians team should learn more than cricket from Kumble and his boys” (B. Ramakishore. Hindu)

“ …India would also do well to return home by abandoning the series” (Raghubir Singh. Asian Age).

“ Shame on Kangaroos, you could not win by playing, so you included the umpires in your team ” (SMS. Madhavi. Hindustan)

“ Team India has come to know how Australia maintains itself as champion” (SMS. Priyanka. Hindustan).

“..Now shame on you Kangaroos! If the thief scolds the police, then even the police will not spare him. First thrift, and that too in aggressive way “ (Abhay Mishra. Amar Ujala)

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7 January 2008

Exclusively Yours: Corruption

Do development projects actually reach target recipients? Take a look at much acclaimed National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme which promised employment of 100 days to rural folks in 200 poorest districts. According to the first official Audit, only 3.2 per cent of the registered households could avail of 100 days employment in one year. Further the average employment provided under this scheme was just 18 days (Indian Express).

Point to Ponder: The Comptroller & Auditor General of India has conducted numerous Audits and tried to assist the state and central institutions on their accounts & accountability. But in how many cases action was taken against corruption? What’s the point of this audit as no accountability is ever fixed & no concrete action taken!

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6 January 2008

Run

The Indian Sports Ministry wants a cess on income tax & corporate tax for sports. Remember this would be in addition to cess already present for education & road. (Hindustan Times. 5/01/08) But hang on what is the meaning of Sporty cess anyway? Why no cess for more immediate problems facing the country today- poverty, hunger & malnutrition? Nevertheless, the country is celebrating 1000 days to go for Commonwealth Games in Delhi by Running! Wish to celebrate any event -Run! The half a page advertisement in most English newspapers informs readers about this run & unveiling of Games Logo but the name of the advertiser is not mentioned anywhere. Wonder why many Hindi newspapers were left out for this runny advertisement.

Point to Ponder- No news is coming in papers about the Indian preparation for the Olympics. Another out of place Run for Medals in the offering?

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5 January 2008

Escalation

Perhaps every person’s dream is to buy a house/flat within his/her budget. Can one buy a livable flat in Rs. 3 Lakhs (Rs. 3,00,000) in Delhi or Mumbai? No, given the sky rocketing property prices. But yes, according to headlines of a property options write up - “my budget Rs. 3 lakh: 2 bedroom flats of 500 sq ft to 2,000 sq ft“, courtesy the supplement of Indian Express - Express Estates, page 2! But hang on, in the write up the price of flat increases to 30 lakhs! Now that’s call realistic hike!

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4 January 2008

Advertisement Oasis

Guess what, a reigning superstar of Bollywood is all set to invest Rs. 5 billon into a dream project of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD)- advertisement park which would serve as launching pad for all kinds of commercial products. “ Grapevine has it that a top Bollywood star would be running the park….” (Pioneer). But how can the top Bollywood Star run an ad park in Delhi as he/she would be busy with acting careers ! So who is that (struggling !) Top Bollywood Star ! Sorry, the newspaper failed to enlighten on the crucial part of the ’dream project‘!

Acute Distrust

Most Indian newspapers, magazine, TV channels have reported extensively and aired various views on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Take a look at one- The opinion of Ashok Malik carried by Pioneer on it editorial page -“Must we mourn for Benazir?” reflects his deep rooted suspicion of Pakistan. He ends-..” Why did Bhutto back Taliban? She wanted to manipulate its religious impulses for her political ends. Like Gen Zia, she believed a Pakistan presence in Afghanistan would lend her country ‘strategic depth’. ….In short, she was as flawed as the Pakistani state. So why are we mourning?” .

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3 January 2008

The News of the Day: Empowerment

Can a TV Channel be run by rural women with no corporate funding? Take a look- in a state where beating & killing women, after branding them as witches is common, an all women news channel- ‘Appan Samachar’ (Our News) is making waves in rural Bihar. Guess what, here the village has no electricity, no landlines phone connection, So how does this news channel run? The weekly news bulletin is shown on TV using a video cassette player using a battery at weekly fair in the village. And unlike flashy studios of news channels, they work from asbestos roofed room furnished with two chairs, one table & a portable TV (Asian Age).

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2 January 2008

Labour Market: Anti Women

The Labour market of the trillion dollar economy is biased against educated women. The high unemployment rate of 58% among young educated unmarried women in the State of Maharastra quantify their desperation. This result comes from the first ever study on behaviour pattern of youth across six States has been conducted by Internal Institute of Population Sciences (Indian Express). What about quality of jobs for women already in the labour market? Do they face any kind of discrimination/glass ceiling? The study by ASSOCAM reveal that only 3.3% of women are elevated to the top positions while vast majority (78.9%) continues to grind at junior levels (Hindustan Times).

Is the presence of one or two ‘pretty face’ women CEOs at award functions sufficient to prove a level playing field? Nope! Remember, recently India's first woman police officer, Kiran Bedi quit as she was denied the top position- commissioner of Delhi Police. Ms Bedi hit out at the government saying it was because as a woman she did not have enough networking clout or "booze friends" like her male colleagues.

Point to Ponder- Any free market advocates for the deep rooted existing imperfections- only for women? Forget job market, why even cities like Delhi & Mumbai are not safe for women? Take a clue from the fact that male mob (70-80) pounced on two girls in the heart of Mumbai’s glamour district (Hindustan Times). Booze impact/networking/ media/cultural impact- what would Ms. Bedi say?

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1 January 2008

New Year Greetings

Happy New Year- is the focus today. Most space in four page Haryana Punjab Kesai, the supplement of Punjab Kesari & Gurgaon Bhaskar, supplement of Dainik Bhaskar, is being taken by ‘Happy New Year’ advertisements by local politicians. However, this trend is not evident in Gurgaon supplement of English Newspapers. Wonder why?

The Reliance Haryana Special Economic Zone (SEZ) has also wished happy new year -“progress is life” (Amar Ujala). In the light of scrapping of 12 SEZs in Goa (Hindu, Pioneer) and announcement of Haryana rehabilitation policy for landowner, the advertisement by Reliance SEZ in Haryana gains significance.

The Advertisement of the Day is by Health Department of Haryana that focuses on programes for Children & Women like Immunization, safe motherhood, Oral Health, Blindness control, School health and steps for improvement of sex ratio, HIV/AIDs, Prevention of Epidemic, TB, Malaria & Dengue (Tribune, Indian Express). And not to forget the greetings for the new year!

January 2008 Newspaper Watch

SARCAJC

SOUTH ASIAN RESEARCH CENTRE FOR ADVERTISEMENT, JOURNALISM & CARTOONS

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