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Newspaper Watch for the month of July 2007. Daily Critical Indian Newspaper Watch Archives on various topics, issues. Includes both Hindi and English newspapers For current newspaper watch with cartoon, view the homepage
27th July 2007
When most correspondents are obsessed with either ‘page 3’ glamour or politics, P. Sainath has been contributing a series of investigative socio-economic articles on the plight of farmers in the Hindu. Today’s focus is on cow relief package. As a part of relief package to the drought-hit poor farmers of Vidharbha region (in news for suicides), the Maharashtra government had, a year ago, distributed 14,221 high-breed cows to them. Result? Increase in milk production of only 16,600 litres or 1.16 litre a day per cow. And at best one litre sells at Rs. 9, while it takes Rs. 45 a day to keep the cow alive! Surely, it doesn’t make economic sense to keep these cows with so low yield. So why did these farmers accept these cows? Many have complained that these animals were forced on them and were eating more than their entire family. These cows have already indebted farmers over Rs. 75 million, excluding the cost of maintenance of the animal (Hindu). Is cow here a relief or an added burden?
26th July 2007
Four years ago the Supreme Court had directed the States to set up facilities to deal with industrial waste. However till date 18 States have failed to do so. Result- hazardous waste is being disposed off in illegal dumps. Non compliance States include- Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Orrisa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Goa, Chattisgarh, Bihar, Assam, Uttarakhand. Interestingly, 13 of these States claim that they have not detected any illegal dumping though the Supreme Court Monitoring committee points out that industrial units generates 484,897 tonnes of hazardous waste annually. The capital of the country which is getting a face lift for Commonwealth Games produces 18,000 tonnes of hazardous waste per year but has no facility or landfill. Why? Moroever, where does this waste disappear? The lack of any such facility, experts concur, often means that waste is being dumped in forests and low lying area (Mint). Who cares for its adversarial environmental impact?
25th July 2007
A Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Group has recommended formulation of a legislation to regulate money lenders, fixing maximum interest rates lenders charge and compulsory registration (Indian Express, Dainik Bhaskar). But remember, setting up a legislation is one thing and implementation another. Can small moneylenders operating in remote villages be regulated? First, who will identify him and second how would RBI ensure that he follows the cap on interest rates? Further the RBI Group has also recommended appointment of individuals or ‘accredited loan providers’ who would lend funds to borrowers in competition with money lenders (Indian Express). Individuals to compete with moneylenders? What is the guarantee that these ‘individuals’ will not join hands with the moneylenders- financial cartel in disguise? Is this competition in real sense? Any solution? Yes, Banks. But why are they not expanding their branches in the rural areas? On the contrary they (including public sector banks) are reducing. Wonder why RBI Group has not recommended any concrete branch expansion measures in rural areas?
24th July 2007
Section of farmers of Faridkot district (State of Punjab) have started spraying country made liquor over their paddy crops to get a better yield and to keep the crop disease free. However the agricultural department claims that that they had not recommended this practice as it would adversely affect the growth of plants and cause damage to soil fertility. On the contrary, Iqbal Singh Brar, a leading farmer in this district claims that he has been practicing this for years & had got better a yield, in addition to saving a lot of money. He alleges that department was not taking interest as it had been working under the ‘dikats’ of the pesticide manufactures. But fearing legal problem from agricultural departments, a number of farmers who have adopted this practice are not ready to come into the limelight (Tribune). Wonder how Mahatma Gandhi would have reacted to this practice?
22nd July 2007
Heard of a tribal & dalit women run newspaper? For last five years, eight women are contributing, editing, producing and distributing local fortnightly paper- 'Khabar Lahariya' which now has a print run of about 2,800 in 250 villages of Chitrakoot & Banda (Uttar Pradesh). How is it different from the rest of the papers- “The idea is to give space to local issues in our own languages”. The paper is also popular with those who can’t read, but understand visuals. But the job has not been an easy one -- threats, social pressures and gender discrimination- these women journalists have experienced it all. Not surprising, in 2003, the team was given the Chameli Devi award for outstanding media persons. What next-“ We want to turn it into a daily. But village women still can’t handle field work. Somehow it’s eight of us who have kept it going” (Hindustan Times).
What would have been the take of Mahatma Gandhi on this- " All women are not timid. There are lionesses among them also" (3/3/1927).
21st July 2007
Thought judiciary has won in Pakistan, the tussle (in a reduced form) continues in India. Is judiciary interfering in administrative matters? The Editorial in Tribune has focused on the right to education- “ The Supreme Court has rightly pulled up the State Governments for their casual attitude towards education and directed them to stem the rot in this critical sector.. If education continues to be in a mess today in most of the States, it is mainly because of the apathy and neglect on the part of the State Government...”. The statistics also paint a gloomy picture. So, the conclusion is surely not incorrect. While on the other hand the Supreme Court been told by the Central Government to wind up its Green Bench as it has outlived its utilitity and is hurting the objective of preservation of forests. Further, the government feels that bench’s order on the basis of advice by lay persons has increased poverty, social unrest and naxal activity (Times of India). What would be the take of security experts and social scientists? An attribution error? Are forest (SEZs) on the anvil?
20th July 2007
It’s heartening to know that people who offer resistance to corruption, ultimately win the long battle. Mukesh Kumar was denied promotion as tehsildar in 1996, as he did not grease palms of higher officers. Eventually, after 11 long years, he has been appointed as tehsildar of Ludhiana West. Mukesh feels proud to be honest and has no regrets about it - “If you have not so many desires, you can live a respectable life with your honest earnings”. But he has encountered rather few honest officers in his 25 years of service (Tribune).
What would have been take of Mahatma Gandhi on this-“ There is no human being on this earth without a grain of honesty. It is our duty as brother-humans to develop that quality in him. If in our attempt to do so he plays false to us, it is he who will have to bear the evil consequence of his misdeed, not we”(16/6/1918).
Hindi - New
Dainik Bhaskar is a daily newspaper in Hindi Language. Today, along with its Faribabad edition, came in a 34 page magazine (10x7 inches) – ‘Young Bhaskar’. The editor of the magazine called it a –“magazine just like the cool dude in your school, who’s full of the knowledge and is eager to reach out. Wouldn’t you like to hangout with him!” Hey are girls not smart & intelligent? Why such gender bias? Now more surprising fact about this magazine- full magazine is in English not in Hindi! A Hindi paper going Angrez?
19th July 2007
Today the country has voted for the next Indian President. But given the reports in the newspapers, it seems the result is certain. Apart from constitutional powers the new President will become custodian of a material fortune worth Rs, 7000 billion in terms of share prices alone! The recent boom in the stock market has had a positive impact on President’s wealth, which increased six times during outgoing President’s term. Currently the most valued holding in President’s portfolio is the public sector Oil & Gas giant- ONGC, where the President holds 74 per cent stake (Pioneer). Nevertheless, hope the President can manage this wealth well ! Any news of disinvestment round the corner? Remember the Disinvestment Commission was set up by the Government resolution dated 23 August 1996 but what happened to its recommendations? In its 1X- X11 report, dated October 1999, the Commission observed that “decisions should be taken without further delay on all the recommendations of the Commission which have been pending for last several months”. In the light of ongoing boom in stock market, a new Commission needs to check on public sector units afresh but with a stipulated 'quick' time frame – before market heads back.
18th July 2007
In Varanasi, a South Korean tourist has formally lodged complaint with the police against a monkey who broke into her hotel room and stole her reading glass. Is the police is looking out for the monkey? “It is an uphill task but we are still trying ”-said the inspector. Remember,there are thousands of monkeys in the city.Thought the police has admitted that even if the monkey in question was caught, there was no rules under which the police could hold him captive. “ We cannot shoot them or beat them as Hindus worship monkeys”(Asian Age). Lucky monkey!
However monkeys in the State of Himachal Pradesh are not so lucky as farmers are literally gunning for them. What? Yes, there is a shoot & sight order against monkeys invading field, executed by farmers under the supervision of the forest department. According to Additional Chief conservator of Forest-“ Himachal Pradesh had a provision for killing monkeys for past 12 years. Under this, farmers have to take prior permission of the forest department.”(Hindustan Times). Now guess the solution for a larger problem- humans taking over monkey's natural habitat - the forests?
17th July 2007
Apart from normal political cartoons, there was a variety today- Blue Line Bus (Dainik Jagran), entertaining news channel (Dainik Bhaskar), sex education (Punjab Kesari), smokeless Chandigarh (Dainik Tribune), conservation of essential things (Rajasthan Patrika), Management decision & love (DNA) and strong Rs, monsoon & the farmer (Hindu). And of course, the political cartoons focused on : Presidential Polls (Asian Age), Line of peace (Indian Express), Vote bank (Pioneer), terrorism (Veer Arjun, Times of India), Fight & peace talks (Deccan Herald), catching Laden (Virat Vaibhav), Manmohan & Haneef (DNA). The same cartoon (Holding ground) has appeared in Mumbai Mirror as well in Times of India. While cartoon on Jaya & voting for president has appeared in Free Press Journal, Tribune and Statesman. The cartoon of the Day focused on Project Tiger (National Herald). However no Indian cartoon has appeared in Telegraph, Maha Medha, Amar Ujala, MetroNow, Economic Times, Mint, Hindustan Times and Hindu BusinessLine and Rashtriya Sahara.
16th July 2007
Indian Judiciary has maintained high standards. But can you imagine there are no women judges in the Supreme Court of the largest democracy of the world? Yes, its true. Further amongst 597 judges in the higher judiciary across the country, only 7 per cent are women. Are women in India not capable?
“..Women’s merit has been ignored for a long time in judiciary…Women lawyer has to do a job 10 times better than her male counterparts…Now there are more women in the profession and some of them are performing much better than their male colleague..”- Indian women lawyers (Hindustan Times). However many would still forward the notion that people only achieve what they really deserve, implying that most women don’t deserve to be judges. However they fail to realise that gender & other social categorizations used by people in perceiving others involve a host of stereotypical judgments about their abilities, interests, and willingness and in particular, how well they “fit in” in their ‘club’. And this gender bias may lead many ‘able women’ into the trap of theory of Self Perception.
15th July 2007
Hang your passport on a tree and get your dream foreign job? What? Hundreds of passports are festooned to old pipal tree in the hope that this act of devotion will get them a lucrative overseas job. People from all faiths from Orissa, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Punjab are coming to the city of Jamshedpur for this hanging (Times of India). Isn’t this an obvious result of employment stagnation which is leading youths to such beliefs? Moreover, this gets aggravated when retired undistinguished teachers continue their innings as visiting professors. How would the young, bright get a chance to rise? Even the scholarly & strict Vice Chancellor of JNU seems unable to block a move by retired professors who don’t even possess a Ph.D, leave aside any publication, to return to JNU as visiting professors (Indian Express). Remember JNU governance model is likely to be adopted in all universities to ensure complete autonomy and check political interference in appointment of faculty members (Tribune. 8/7/07). So, how about hanging your distinguished research degrees on a pipal tree in JNU for a teaching job in India?
14th July 2007
A ‘green’ Advertisement informs that 58th National Forest Festival will be held on 15th July at Mahendragarh in the State of Haryana (Dainik Jagran). The Ad declares- “ Forest and wildlife are nature’s priceless heritage”. Very true. But in practice, is this really believed? Amar Ujala has carried a report that narrates how 67,000 trees were stuck off while making Delhi-Hissar, a four lane highway and moreover there are no plans of planting new trees. On the other hand, the Central government plans to embark on a mega forestry plan. Rs. 30 billion will be spend to green six million hectares of degraded land. But forestry experts are skeptical: such mega projects have so far failed. Take for instance- Governmental records show plantation in 28.5 million hectares of land but there is little evidence on the ground (Indian Express). Unless the delivery system is pulled up, it’s the same old story?
13th July 2007
River Yamuna, lifeline of capital is getting from bad to worse. First, it was the high pollution level which has converted it into a drain. And now, its river flood plains are in danger. Why? With no Central government notification banning construction along the river flood plains, this land is up grabs. The Eastern flood of Yamuna river has emerged as key real estate area. The much acclaimed Commonwealth Games 2010 is also in line to exploit its 40 hectares for building Commonwealth Games Village, six hotels and malls. Even the ‘environmental friendly’ metro has been allocated another 90 hectares to build a railway shed, residential quarters, IT park & several malls. Coalition of environmental and social activists are trying to save Yamuna. According to one-“ River needs these flood plains in order to accommodate the monsoon swell. These areas are the primary water recharge zones for our cities (Asia Age). The green brigade plans to approach the court against proposed Commonwealth Games village on Yamuna riverbed (Hindustan Times). Hope it's not too late.
12th July 2007
Inspired by a Bollywood movie, unhappy Indian Green card seekers in United States resorted to Gandhigiri and sent hundreds of flowers to the Director of US Citizenship & immigration Services (USCIS) to protest against last minute reversal in policy which will impeded their way to permanent residency (Tribune). Do these NRIs protest likewise against prevailing bribery in India? Nope! 81 per cent of Non Resident Indians (NRIs) paid bribes in India at various stages. This shocking fact was revealed by a survey conducted by Association of India’s Development. The NRIs said that they had bribed the authorities for getting international driving permit and passports while leaving India. And at the time of re-entering India, they had to pay bribe at the customs and during stay for getting land records (Hindu). The question is why have they accepted corruption as a normal norm in India? Why no resistance, why no Gandhigiri here?
11th July 2007
India is importing wheat to boost buffer stock.This news has been covered by all financial papers. “ Citing high price, government has almost halved the quantum of wheat purchase from global buyers to 511,000 tonnes from 9,20,000 tonnes. The price is still about 54 per cent higher than what government had offered to Indian farmers a few months ago” (Business Standard).The Government is paying a price $318 to $329 a tonne, which is atleast $55 more than April’s scrapped global tender (Financial Express). Is there a slump in production of wheat in India? Nope. India is world’s second largest producer of wheat and this time production of wheat is estimated to touch 74 million tonnes,higher than earlier estimate of 73.7 million tonnes. So why this decision at this point of time? However, none of the financial papers (Economic Times, Mint, Hindu Businessline, Financial Express, Business Standard) have offered any analytical report on this. So keep guessing!
10th July 2007
Nearly 70 per cent of the wheat under public distribution system (PDS), which amounts to 20,000 tonnes a month, meant for people below poverty line population, gets diverted to the open market. This ‘open secret’ has been admitted by sources in the State Food & Civil Supplies Ministry in the State of Karnataka. The price of wheat in ration shops is Rs. 3 per kg against Rs. 13 in the open market, so the quantum of profit is significant. And it’s an ‘open secret’ that officials at various levels indulge in transporting of wheat directly to the open market (Hindu).
What would have been the take of Mahatma Gandhi –“ Ours is a very vast country. If our traders behave properly and if they are sensible we can say that as long as India is alive, the world cannot go hungry (Prarthana Pravachan. 1/6/1946). In addition to traders, there are some officials who are not sensible but are greedy and corrupt -Bapu!
9th July 2007
Despite all hype about growth of prosperity in India, a man allegedly sold off his one-day old baby for Rs. 1000 in the State of Orissa. Hindustan Times has called it a ‘shameful incident’. But this shocking news has appeared on its page nine & not on the front page. The father, who is a construction worker confessed before media that in order to carry his wife’s body back to the village & perform last rites, he sold his child to another construction worker. Due to poverty and unemployment for long, he had migrated to Cuttack and worked as a labourer in a building construction site on daily wages. What is the response of the Collector of the area? “ We are verifying the details and trying to interrogate the father of the child”! (Hindustan Times). A standard response. This is not the first incident of its kind in Orissa. Nearly two years ago, driven by poverty, a daily wage labourer in Orissa reportedly sold his five month old son for Rs 500. Local media in the past has reported instances of parents selling off their children due to extreme poverty, though the government has denied it (Times of India. 7/11/2005).
But is poverty a major issue? What do stats say? According to the latest figures released by the Planning Commission, of the 239 million people living under undesirable conditions, 170 million are in the rural areas and 68 million in the urban areas. And Orissa, with 85 per cent of population living in rural area, is the poorest State in India with 40 per cent of its population living below the poverty line (Hindu. 23/3/2007, Census 2001).
8th July 2007
Hindustan Times has carried an investigative report on the state in the State of Manipur- “ ..Manipur is fast becoming India’s first “failed” state, and New Delhi seems ready to do little about it…every single citizen of Manipur pays “taxes” to the underground militant directly or indirectly. ..corruption limits the farcical. ..Graduates ad post graduates ply cycle-rickshaws on the street of Imphal, their faces marked out of shame. There are more than 600,000 educated unemployed people in the state- more than a quarter of the entire population. Many join the Underground.” While on the other hand “thousands of people were ‘fake appointments” – drawing salaries with the connivance of superiors without being government employees”. In addition, two full page detailed reports point out the problems faced by the indian armed forces- "The Army's dead end" (Asian Age), Payback time for Armed forces" (Tribune). How to explain the above in the light of booming trillion dollar economy?
7th July 2007
Presidential polls continue to dominate the cartoon scene (National Herald, New Indian Express, Jansatta). 2Ps- Pioneer & Punjab Kesari are back to carrying the same cartoon (Vote for Taj). And the same tradition has been followed by 2Ms- MeroNow & Mumbai Mirror. Both tabloids have carried the same cartoon- 7/7/07 & marriage. The problem of terrorism in Pakistan & U.K has also attracted the attention of the cartoonist- Musharraf (DNA, NationalHerald), Bomb & UK (Hindu), Terrorism (Hindustan), Tourist to London (Times of India). Other have focused on- Water (Hindustan), Ration card (Haribhoomi), I.T park, anti-dowry protest (DNA), gathering (Times of India), vote (Dainik Bhaskar), kids falling in pits (Asian Age). Cartoon of the day is carried by National Herald on its front page on President Musharraf’s present problem. However no Indian cartoon has appeared in Business Standard, Financial Express, Mint, Economic Times, Amar Ujala, Tribune, Dainik Jagran and Hindustan Times. Point to ponder -Cartoon apathy is visible in the Financial papers- Why?
6th July 2007
The Global Competitiveness Report 2006-07 ranked India 43rd out of 125 countries. What pulled down India’s score was health & primary education (rank 93). Article 45 of the constitution stipulated that the ‘State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of 10 years from the commencement of the constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of 14 years’ also a Fundamental Right (Constitutional Amendment 2002). But the trillion dollar economy has literacy rate of only 64.8 per cent, and for females it's 53.7 per cent (Economic Survey 2006-07). Sarva Shiksha Mission was launched by the government in the year 2001 with the objective of 'Universalisation of Elementary Education'.
Sarva Shiksha Mission in Newspapers:
Almost 66% of the additional posts for primary teachers sanctioned under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) are lying vacant across the country. And it is not because of lack of money. The ministry has not been able to utilise funds (Times of India. 14/8/04).
Four years after the Union Government adopted the “mission mode” to universalise elementary education through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyana, only 47 of the 100 children enrolled in Class I reached class VIII. This puts the drop out rate at 52.79 per cent, which, according to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, “is unacceptably high (Tribune.1/11/05).
Four years of implementation and spending has failed to yield the desired impact of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in West Bengal. There were 8.97 out-of-school children in West Bengal as of April 2005, despite the target of universal enrolment set by the SSA, according to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (Financial Express.16/4/07).
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan—the government's flagship programme to enroll all children in the age group of 6-14 in schools—suffers from inadequacies ranging from misuse of funds to ineffective monitoring both at the national and state levels, the CAG has said (Hindustan Times. 20/8/06)
The government’s audit report has taken the fizz out of the union Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry’s tall claims about the success of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). Taking the air out of the high-flying SSA balloon, the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report points out that even after four years.....about 1.36 crore children (40 per cent of the total 3.40 crore children in the age group) still remain out of school in the age group of 6-14 years. This is in spite of having spent Rs 11,133.57 crore (or Rs 111.34 billion) from the exchequer (DNA. 20/8/06).
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has rapped the Rajasthan Government for mismanagement in the performance of various departments, fiscal imbalances, wasteful expenditure and failure to utilise full Central grants and appropriations under a number of heads (Hindu. 16/3/07)
Surely, a fine tuning is required to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. But according to Pioneer - the Prime Minister has asked Human Resource Development Ministry to cut down Central funding for primary education in order to spare resources for higher education. For what? Transformation of higher education which will cost Rs. 1310 billion over a period of seven years (Hindustan Times). Increasing the enrolment in higher education at the cost of primary education & literacy? In the era of privatization, why not leave higher education expansion to the private sector? Even foreign Universities of repute can be welcomed to open their campus, which in turn would improve both quantity and quality of higher education. And the exchequer’s money can be utilised to expand & improve primary education and health.
5th July 2007
Ponni & Oscar, integral part of the Dog squard of Chennai City Police have put in eight years of service. Now, the State government of Tamil Nadu has recognized their sincere services and have granted entitlement of pension benefits (Asian Age). But their desi (local) counterparts on the streets of big cities are not so fortunate. Remember, animal-rights groups reported that the stray dogs were being killed or being released en masse into the outskirts of Bangalore in violation of laws preventing cruelty to animals (10/3/2007. Indian Express). If only they could get a government job!
4th July 2007
Is a life of Langur is better than of a security guard or helper ? Yes, according to the cover story of MetroNow. How? Langur is getting double the amount of the pay received by a security guard in a college in Delhi University. But what is job of the Langur in a college? To keep the monkeys at bay! It seems that the tussle between humans & monkeys has crossed limits as villagers of Chhattisgarh village have complained to State Human Rights Commission that monkeys are violating their human rights. Their plea - it's difficult for them to live as hordes of monkeys invade their houses and attack them. The Commission has referred the issue to the Collector of Raipur for suitable action (Pioneer). What is a ‘suitable action’?
3rd July 2007
At the 11th hour Christie has called off sale of Gandhi’s letter so that the Indian government can acquire it. According to counselor at the Indian High Commission-..”We expect to complete the purchase expeditiously” (Times of India). In this regard, L.M Singhvi, former Indian High Commissioner to Britain & leading jurist has raised a pertinent question- how did the letter came into the possession of private Swiss collector and on what basis he or she claims ownership of the title? He points out that earlier too India retrieved Gandhi’s papers from an auction on the basis of his will- free of cost as auction houses wanted to avoid suit for heavy damages and injunction (Hindustan Times). So now, why waste exchequer’s money to buy something that is yours? Only for an adventure?
2nd July 2007
Presidential Polls continue to dominate the cartoon scene (Indian Express, Times of India, Jansatta, Tribune). A break from the past of carrying the same cartoons- Pioneer (Mayawati’s assets) and Punjab Kesari (Mahatma Gandhi) have carried different cartoons today. Others have focused on various topics- Left Economists (Hindustan), Doordarshan (Times of India), Mayawati’s banks (Hindu), clean chit (Viraat Vaibhav), Monsoon in Mumbai (Loksatta). The cartoon of the day on social issue has appeared in Rajasthan Patrika on polio eradication. However no Indian cartoon has appeared in Hindustan Times, Dainik Bhaskar, Amar Ujala, Dainik Jagran and Asian Age.
1st July 2007
Bhopal Gas Tragedy
Thousands of residents of Bhopal were killed, thousand others were seriously affected due to the leakage of poisonous gas from the Union Carbide premises in December 1984. Dow Chemicals later took over Union Carbide but has rejected the contention that it has inherited Union Carbide's Bhopal liabilities. Ten Non-Governmental Organisations which had taken up the case of the Bhopal gas tragedy victims alleged that the new owner of Union Carbide- Dow Chemical is trying to absolve itself of the liabilities of cleaning up the "polluted'' factory site owing to the 1984 gas leak tragedy at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal (Hindu BusinessLine. 11 April 2007). Today, Asian Age has carried a investigative report that reveal that PMO, Planning Commission, ministries are all involved in plans that would allow Dow Chemicals to walk away with its liabilities in the case. Effective use of Right to Information Act is evident from such reports. In the nutshell, it’s a tussle between future investments by Dow vs pollution clean up. Who will be the winner, is anyone’s guess.