May 2007- Newspaper Watch

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For the month of May 2007, Daily Critical Indian Newspaper Watch Archives on various topics, issues. Includes both Hindi and English newspapers  For current newspaper watch with cartoon, view homepage 

31st May 2007
 
Cartoon Watch

A mixed bag- is the verdict of Cartoon Watch today. As usual, Pioneer & Punjab Kesari continued to share the same cartoon while same was the case for Free Press Journal (Mumbai edition) & Statesman (Delhi edition). What was common in all four- hot topic of Presidential Polls! The tradition of sharing the same cartoon is also seen in Times of India (Delhi edition) and Mumbai Mirror (Mumbai edition). A cartoon in Dainik Bhaskar features a person (appears to be a neta) sitting in car, who asks-" When will be reach the crucial meeting? I'm tired and need a nap".But hang on, this cartoon had appeared in DNA (Mumbai) yesterday, that too in colour! Why a stale (black & white) cartoon for the Hindi readers? The protest for extending reservation to Gujjar community in the Indian State of Rajasthan took the fancy of cartoonists of Rajasthan Patrika, Asian Age, Indian Express and Jansatta. While others concentrated on variety of topics- reforms (Hindu), green channel (DNA.Mumbai) meeting (Times of India), foreign cricket coach (Dainik Bhaskar), reservation (Hindustan, MiDday). The cartoon of day is the one that has appeared in Haribhoomi, a Hindi Daily (Delhi Edition), which is based on the news of suicide by scandal-hit Japanese Minister- One (Indian looking) man says to another- “I wish, he shouldn’t have done this!” The other responds-: “Say this… I wish he was a minister here!”. Correct! Has any tainted Indian Minister ever committed suicide here? This is the only cartoon based on foreign news. However Mumbai Samachar (Mumbai Edition), Dainik Jagaran, Navbharat Times, MetroNow, Tribune, Hindustan Times, Telegraph (Calcutta Edition),Business Standard, Financial Times, Political & Business Daily and Business Standard, Mint did not contain any Indian political cartoon. Economic Times, Punjab Kesari have carried one caricature each of Manmohan Singh accompanying an article while an interesting cartoon accompanies a satire in Rajasthan Patrika regarding (aam) mango & aam (common) man- ‘mango or common man- it’s fun if they are sucked ruthlessly!’ Aam is a word in Hindi language that has two meanings- common & mango.

(Otherwise stated, all newspapers are Delhi Edition)

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30th May 2007

Power Tale

On Monday, at the conference of Chief Ministers, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, had warned about dismal power scenario in India –“ In fact, the time is running out, and unless we’re able to arrest the growing shortages, the effect on our economy may well prove disastrous”. He called the States to come down heavily on power theft. (Hindustan Times. 29/5/07). What has been the take of today’s editorials?
 
“ ..If the government is indeed serious about keeping India’s growth paradigm on track, it has treat the power situation as a national emergency and deal with it accordingly…” (Times of India).

“ ..If Centre and State move ahead with greater coordination and don’t dole out subsidies for fulfillment of petty political interests, then, it won’t be hard to reach the destination ”(Hindustan).

“…Power theft has become an established social and political status. The visible slum dwellers account for only one percent of total power theft. Palatial houses of Power inspectors & all electricity officials reveal why big factories consuming huge amount of electricity pay only small amount of electricity charges….” (Rashtriya Sahara)

“..There should be accountability and compliance at every stage of the generation-distribution system, thereby bringing at least 30 per cent of the ‘lost’ power into the system..” (Pioneer)
 
“…According to the Prime Minister, power theft is like cancer. Earlier he had termed prevailing corruption in road construction as cancer. It seems focus is on identification of the problems. If Prime Minister will only identify problems, who will rectify it? Definitely not the bureaucracy, which itself is responsible for majority of ills…” (Dainik Jagran)

“ …There is little light on the road ahead for India wanting to be economic giants of the 21st century” (Tribune)
 
“…Power reforms must be addressed politically. The hard part is mobilizing the political resolve to stamp out theft… ” (Economic Times)

. “…More than money it is the latest technology and best management practices that are needed for the robustness if the power sector. Till the States are convinced that they indeed have to get their act together, the power sector will continue to be a worry for all concerned” (Hindu Business Line)
 
“ ..There are quick reforms held up nothing other than the establishment’s quirks..”(Indian Express).

During presentation of financial budget 1994-95, Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Finance Minister had stated-“ Efficient and abundant infrastructure services are a necessary precondition for the success of our economic reforms and especially for international competitiveness. Our electric power sector is faced with severe problems, including problems of financial viability of State Electricity Boards which must be solved if the supply of reliable power is to keep pace with ever increasing demand. The sector requires major changes in the working of State Electricity Board, rationalization of tariffs and restructuring of responsibilities for generation, transmission and distribution. A committee of National Development Council is looking into a comprehensive reform of our power system and it will necessary to face up to a number of hard decisions in this sector”. But till date no hard decision has been taken to improve the health of the ailing power sector. The need of the hour is not another speech but concrete action.

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29th May 2007

Claim Accepted?

Last week, the Chinese Government denied visa to a Indian Administrative Service (IAS) official, who belonged to the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh by stating he didn’t need one. Till now there has been no official protest by the Indian Government. Moreover the political parties have also chosen to remain silent (Asian Age). Does it mean that the Indian Government has accepted long standing Chinese claim over Arunachal Pradesh? The sole response has come from the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh: “It is quite unfortunate that China refuses to accept in reality that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India” And he has asked the Centre to take up the issue with China at an appropriate level. (Tribune). Despite all this, India is going ahead with upgrading military ties with China. (Hindustan Times). Remember, there is a saying in sanskrit language-"silence is the sign of acceptance".

Tiger Farming

According to Wildlife Institute of India, since 2002, the tiger count has declined by sixty percent. What’s the solution? Not a National Wildlife Crime Bureau but a Chinese Model! India seems to be star stuck by China, after SEZs, military, now its tiger farming. The idea is to replicate the Chinese 'successful' model of tiger farms. And who’s advocating this ‘great’ idea- Environment & Forest Secretary. But a recent International Fund for Animal Welfare report had stated that tiger body parts were being sold from these farms to wine distilleries or restaurants serving tiger delicacies (Hindustan Times). So what’s the harm if the country can earn some foreign exchange by trading some parts of tiger- many high growth enthusiasts may argue. Stretching this never ending human greed- why protect tigers or as a matter of fact any animal living in forests, when the proposal for the SEZ-forests in on! In quest for higher and higher profits, it seems we have forgotten that we share this planet with other living beings- who also have a right to live in their natural habitat.

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28th May 2007

Just another Stats?
 
Four debt trapped farmers committed suicide in Vidarbha, Maharashtra - the total figure crossing 400 in this year alone. The reason- Credit crunch faced by these small, marginal cotton farmers. “They are in deep distress. Most of them borrowed crop loans from banks after waiver of interest on their earlier loan. They have failed to repay their loans owing to crop failure and their inability to get a good price for the reduced crop yield.” (Pioneer) The door to door survey conducted by Government of Maharashtra had revealed that more then seventy-five per cent of the all farm households in the Vidharba region are in distress. The major source of their misery is debt and crop loss or crop failure (Hindu 22/11/06). Vidarbha is not alone. Eighty nine percent of the farmers in Punjab are under debt and 12.8 per cent are those who have little option other than suicide (Tribune 7/4/07). In addition, debt is ringing distress death alarm on Uttar Pradesh farms (Hindustan Times 4/4/07). How about giving them some work under National Job Guarantee programme? But mere average of 37.5 mandays of work has been provided to against legal promise of 100 mandays annually, that too in only three hundred thirty odd districts. So if an average wage of Rs. 50 per day is paid, a household would earn only Rs. 1,880 in an year. (Times of India 2/3/07). Surely, not enough to keep farmers from committing suicides. What was the take of Union Agriculture secretary.- “ suicides are a cause for concern but an analysis of records of past ten years shows that the number of suicides in rural India has not exceeded 16 per cent of the total in any given year (Hindu 1/10/06).When members of Upper house of the Indian Parliament asked the Union Agriculture Minister to address the issue of indebtness amongst the farmers leading to suicides, he stated that Radhakrishnan Committee set up to study this phenomenon was expected to submit its report to the government by June end (Pioneer 28/4/07). And till then?

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27th May 2007

Toilets & BPL Two years ago, Union Rural Development Minister, who hails from Bihar, had expressed his concerned that a large number of elected local body representatives and many government servants do not have toilet facilities in their own house & defecate in the open and also proposed that people who don’t have toilets should not allowed to contest polls (Mumbai Mirror 3/8/05). “They need to lead by example” The minister had said (DNA 3/8/05). Alas! this proposal was not implemented. To understand why toilets are not built, one has to take a clue from article –“ Why some people want to be poor” that has appeared in today’s Times of India (Delhi Edition). According to which a large chunk of the poor in Bihar have been left off the Below Poverty Line (BPL) list, while on the other hand, a minister, several gazetted officers, ex-armymen, landlords, and even the dead have appeared in the BPL list as it brings in subsidized bank loans, gains, kerosene, oil & other things. But what’s the connection between BPL list & toilets? If one owns a toilet in Bihar, his name can’t appear on the prized BPL list! So, villagers who owned toilets demolished it to prove to the officers that they deserve to be on the BPL list!
 

Market Mechanics

Perspective in the Statesman (Delhi Edition) –“A Prudent outlook is needed “ feels that in the emerging world it may be rather foolish to destroy the fertile farmlands of the state to set up industries relying on outdated concept that a country can be economically prosperous only through industrialization and if the third world countries go for industry destroying their farm lands, the people there may find it difficult to purchase food at high cost….” True, it’s a simple case of supply & demand. But do remember that market also fails!

Save the Tiger

The news of death of tigers is often taken as another statistical information by many. “Catastrophe”- a full page critical report in Pioneer, is dedicated to the Indian Tigers.“ …Doesn’t the fact that tiger numbers have declined steeply warrant action? Can we please know what India is doing while its national animal is falling off the map?... How can we hope to fight a crime that feeds illegal trade in wildlife derivatives – which is second only to the illegal narcotics trade and arms- unless we have a National Wildlife Crime Bureau?”. Hope someone is listening before its too late.

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26th May 2007

Common Man Revisited

The common man is back in news, thanks to Prime Minister's 10 point social charter presented at the annual conference of Confederation of Indian Industry yesterday. The Prime Minister told the Indian corporates to abstain from ostentatious consumption & greed in quest for profits and that growing income inequalities could lead to social unrest if not addressed by the healthy. (Hindustan Times, 25/5/07). What was the take by the editorials today?

“ ..a shift in official thinking from India to Bharat, from industry to aam aadmi.” (Tribune).

“Gandhigiri. PM Style”(Hindustan),
 
“ ..if Prime Minister is unhappy with the profit of industry and trade, then he should look what has his government has done to curb this profits in last three years?..” (Punjab Kesai).

“..let the good Prime Minister not perilously signal that clock be turned to an era where to be poor was to be glorious and to make money was a sin” (Hindustan Times) .

” What if the most marvellous lesson from reforms- that economic freedom is much more democratic than a nanny state- is forgotten in the rush to target the billionaire and the CEO? Would the prime minister want that? (Indian Express).


“.. it is surprising that PM has blamed the industry for inflation and other problems. If this is true, what has been the government going to do about it..?”(Dainik Jagran),

“ ..In today’s free market India, everybody has the opportunity to prosper, which vastly diminishes government’s power, as also that of those who ruled the roast till reforms knocked them off their pedestal, to control India’s destiny. That loss of power gas begun to hurt. It shows in Mr. Singh’s speech” (Pioneer).

“ ..Has loss of public support due to inflation made PM worried about next general elections ?... Though government is spending a lot of money on poor and villages but due to corruption, all this goes down the drain.."(Amar Ujala).

The debate whether vulgar wealth display insults the 300 million Indians who live below one dollar a day will not improve their condition anyway.Where are funds for planned expenditure to improve the condition of the poor? If the PM is really serious about his recent comments, how about devising a luxary tax on vulgar weath displays like weddings, cars, houses etc.? How about increasing tax rates for the super rich? How about recovering tax dues from them that run into billions of rupees? How about diverting funds meant for Common wealth Games for "image building" to the poor and improving the condition of rivers? But often the allocated funds don't reach the target. For which the key problem of corruption has to be addressed. Yes, ‘accountability’ should not be a topic of PM’s next speech which will be soon forgotten but rather concrete ‘action’- the only fast-track, straight path to reach the common man.

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25th May 2007

Cartoon Watch Today, diverse topics have taken fancy of the cartoonists- Corruption (Dainik Jagran), three years of UPA (Dainik Bhaskar), Cricket (Indian Express), Music, mischief of opposition party (Times of India), Ragging (Hindu), Expose & editing (Greater Kashmir), Security for Tiger (Asian Age), terrorist attack in India & Pakistan (Tribune), Musharraf (Hindustan), Punjab Kesari & Pioneer have carried the same cartoon on worrying for doctors in dispute. However no Indian political cartoon has appeared in Hindustan Times, Mint, Economic Times and Amar Ujala. 

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24th May 2007
 
Killing Yamuna

Despite pouring billion of rupees for the clean up plan, the condition of Yamuna, lifeline river of the capital, is worst than ever. The Supreme Court appointed Committee had observed last year that Yamuna in its journey throught Delhi – receives only drain water and no fresh water supply for nine months in a year. Why such a pathetic condition? Simple - there is no accountability for every rupee spent on the clean up. Recently, the Parliamentary Standing Committee had recommended that Ministry of Environment & Forests should take action against all officers and defaulters who were found lacking in their commitment to clean the Yamuna. And if this was condition of river with ample funds for maintenance, it failed to imagine the condition of other rivers in the country. (Times of India, 27/4/2007). The river is back in news today- for the clean up? No, now the floodplains of Yamuna will be converted into shopping Mall, residential & commercial outlets. Why? For Commonwealth Games 2010 ! “DDA clears Yamuna Project (HindustanTimes), “On the banks of Yamuna, Delhi will roam & enjoy” (Hindustan), “DDA nod for development projects” (Hindu), “ DDA panel’s green light for Games project” (Times of India) , “Yamuna up for major facelift” (Pioneer). What kind of ‘facelift ’or ‘development’ is this by Delhi Development Authority, which will again kill the already dying river? How can one 'enjoy' the environmental implications? A few Green campaigners have expressed their opposition- “ This will impact the water security of the city in the long run & change the characteristic of this river” (Asian Age). But who cares?

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23rd May 2007

Common Man
 

After sixty years of Indian Independence, the search for the ‘illusive’ common poor man still continues. After Mani Shankar Aiyer, another Union Cabinet Minister has jumped into debating arena - “ What does Aiyer know about rural and the poor that he has started championing their cause”? (Indian Express). Earlier, Aiyer had expressed his displeasure on massive allocation of Rs. 70 billion for Commonwealth Games while only Rs. 6 billion were allocated for rural development. His criticism has embarrassed the government. (Amar Ujala. 22nd May 07) But the question still remains – who is a common poor man? A person below the poverty line? Most likely. But what if a Governor of the State, living in 24.7 acre palatial house-‘Raj Bhawan’, earning fat salary and perks features in the list of Below Poverty Line People! This is precisely what has happened in the State of West Bengal. The Governor of the State- Gopal Gandhi, also grandson of Mahatma Gandhi remembered his grandfather on this occasion-“ My grandfather would have been delighted if as a former civil servant, diplomat and a serving governor his grandson’s assets were level with the poorest of the poor. And even more so, if the governor of West Bengal, his grandson had opted to live not in a Raj Bhawan, but in a remote town like Raiganj. Alas, that is not the case. I have been a income tax assessee all my working life, well above poverty line”. (Asian Age).The State government has launched an investigation into the matter, promises that the mistake will be rectified (IndianExpress).

But what stops the Governor of the State to earn and live like a common man? Why live in a palatial Government House, now called Raj Bhawan which was built by Wellesley as a symbol of power and permanence. A copy of Robert Adam’s Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, Home of Curzon family, the government House was built at a massive cost of £140,000. Why so much of pump & show required today? It would be pertinent to remember that recently the same Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi had declined the post of Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapeeth, a university established by his great-grandfather Mahatma Gandhi, saying he does not meet the criterion of being a “100 per cent khadi practitioner.” (Indian Express, 17th April 07)

. What would be his grandfather’s take on this--
 
“But where are we to find men who will have the talent to work as Governors, barristers, traders and the like? And who will be satisfied with the wages of a scavenger?” (Mahatma Gandhi, 12th July 1947).

“ May I say I deeply appreciated your wish to go to an unpretentious house as the chosen Governor General of the millions of the half famished villagers of the nation. I hope it will be possible to carry out the wish” (letter to Lord Mountbatten by Mahatma Gandhi.28th July 1947).

Alas, the wish continues to remain a wish for the last sixty years! Why principles of Mahatma Gandhi are not being followed in a country which is celebrating 100 years of Satyagraha? Are they only relevant for a Bollywood movie?

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22nd May 2007

Anand Bhawan shifted?
 
The Newspaper- National Herald (New Delhi) was founded by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. But where was his ancestral house – ‘Anand Bhawan’ located? His autobiography mentions that he spend Happy childhood days at ‘Anand Bhawan’ - “when I was ten year old we changed to a new and much larger house which my father named ‘Anand Bhawan’.. There was a large swimming pool in the house… it was a novelty and the electric light that had been installed there in the house was an innovation for Allahabad in those days..”. But according to National Herald, Jawaharlal Nehru’s ancestral home is located in Lucknow, where Congress activists paid tributes to his Grandson -Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on his 16th Death Anniversary -“In Lucknow, a large number of Congress activists visited ‘Anand Bhawan’ the ancestral home of Nehru-Gandhi family and paid homage to the late leader”(front page –“ Pledge to fight terror” 7th column).


Dancers perform on Death Anniversary

Top leaders in Delhi led the grateful nation to pay homage to the late Prime Minister –Rajiv Gandhi on his 16th Death Anniversary. This news has been covered by all newspapers through reports, photographs. A photograph with a heading- ‘Remembering Rajiv” and a caption- “Dancers perform during the 16th death anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at his memorial in New Delhi, Monday” feature dancers performing on this solemn occasion (MetroNow). A similar photograph has also appeared in Navbharat Times, a Hindi daily and Eenadu . Dancers performed on the occasion of late prime minister of India’s death anniversary? Earlier, such occasions have been marked by all religious prayer meeting and not by dance. Have Indian dancers turned all-occasion favourite-irrespective of the occasion?


Double Vision
 
A news has appeared on page eight in The Economic Times-“ DLF board to meet tomorrow on IPO price brand” under the column –“In a Nutshell”. The same news has again appeared on page twenty two under the same column –“In a Nutshell” but with a different heading - “ DLF may fix IPO price at Rs. 550-650/share”. Both news reports are word to word the same, though few words of the first sentence of the former news report have not appeared in the first sentence of the latter. Incidentally, the page eight is titled – ‘Corporate’ while page twenty two is called- ‘Markets’. Lack of coordination between the ‘markets’ and ‘corporate’- not good for the economy!

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21st May 2007

Power of Lobbying

There is no doubt that the ecosystem has been distorted by human greed, global warning- its devastating impact, has still not changed the ‘destructive’ consumption patterns. And now there is a proposal by Ministry of Environment to lease out jungles to industry for commercial use. ‘Forest SEZ’- will be based on degraded forest land (areas with tree cover of less than ten per cent) under a contract to industry to ‘farm’ trees to produce raw material like paper pulp (Times of India). Forest degraded area amounts to 36 million hectares in India (Forestry Statistics of India). Not a small amount. It raises some questions- Why did the forest degrade anyway? Who was responsible for this? What about loss of ecosystem- its habitants- animals, birds, herbs, water bodies…? Don’t they have any right to live? Tigers and lions are fast disappearing from reserved forests, now what to talk about non reserved areas. Is the industry mature enough to handle the forest with social responsibility? How much of successful afforestation drive has been conducted by them? “The proposal has been framed in the backdrop of hectic lobbying by the paper-pulp industry, which has been seeking access to forest lands” (Times of India). Now who speaks for the ecosystem?

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20th May 2007

Arty Woes

It seems that controversial art & subsequent bashing has become a normal phenomenon. “Another storm brewing over painting” (Hindu)- as paintings depict Muslims as terrorists. Earlier, famous painter M.F Hussain was in trouble as his paintings ‘hurt the Hindus’. The came an art student from University in Gujarat with his set of paintings that created an uproar. Pioneer has raised a pertinent question- “ Does Freedom of expression allow an artist to violate religious sentiments? Here the views of a famous painter and an office holder of a Hindu organization throw contrasting light. While Rastriya Sahara, a Hindi daily, has carried an article -“ Don’t suffocate art”. The best analysis of the week on “Art, Tolerance & Religion” has come from Vir Sanghvi (Hindustan Times). “ Yes, it is probably right to say that a man is free to paint or draw whatever he likes. But is he as free to exhibit it in public? If he is, the why do we have obscenity laws?.. Clearly there is a distinction between private expression and public expression…. Our problem in India is that we have no standards, no barriers and no sense of what is acceptable and what is not. ..No principles are ever discussed. No balance is reached….”(Hindustan Times). Indeed a critical, well-thought counterpoint – not to be missed.

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19th May 2007

Re-tailing
 
Only three per cent of the huge Indian retail market (Rs.1310 billion) is organised. Recently, Reliance industries and Bharti Enterprises had announced that they would pump in Rs. 250 billion and Rs. 100 billion respectively (Times of India). Now, the Aditya Birla group has announced the investment of Rs. 80-90 crores over next five years to start retail chain (Mint). But not all have welcomed the corporate sector in retail. Recently in the Indian State of Jharkhand, petty traders and vegetable vendors vandalised three of the five Reliance Fresh food outlets in the first such attack on a modern retail chain by those feeling threatened by it. (DNA, 12 May 07). Why this insecurity and how to reduce it? Pratap Somvanshi has tried to offer some explanation in his article “Retail Trader & Retail Companies- face to face” (Amar Ujala, a Hindi daily). The article is accompanied by an interesting cartoon.

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18th May 2007

Street Food

With the approval of Supreme Court, the municipal bodies of Delhi will enforce a ban on roadside food in Delhi. What about other cities and villages? Remember, clean & beautiful Delhi before the Commonwealth Games is the buzz and therefore this Delhite extra effort! Most papers have reported about this decision. However the best report comes from Indian Express on the front page of Express Newsline. “..it will leave fewer options for Capital’s not-so-rich population, those who cannot afford a bite at fast food joints.” (Indian Express). How about doling out free food coupons of fast food joints to the ‘poor’ -rickshaw pullers, labourers, beggars, unemployed. Or is there a plan to get rid of them before 2010?

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17th May 2007

Who will it be ?


With the election of President of India fast approaching, the aspiring candidates for the top post are still undecided. Nevertheless, the Left parties seem to be the key. “Left spells out criteria”(Asian Age), “Left wants politician as new President” (Hindustan Times), “Left suggests no name, tells Cong to take BSP on Board” (Indian Express), “ Left formula to make Pranab Mukerjee President”(Hindustan), “Left ready for Pranab, Cong yet undecided” (Times ofIndia). According to Pioneer, which has devoted half front page on this- “Prez poll: A ready reckoner”, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Prahab Mukherjee brace up for contest. While Punjab Kesari reports –“ President our Shinde, Vice President your Somnath” (Punjab Kesari).


A Day Late

Yesterday, MetroNow reported a split between cricketer Yuvraj Singh & actress Kim Sharma - “Kim needed to be prim?”. Interestingly, today, the same gossipy report, word to word the same, has appeared in Delhi Times (supplement of Times of India) on page one- “Splitville for Kim, Yuvi” . The only difference lies in accompanying photos! But why bore the readers with same text? Or is it true that the readers of MetroNow don’t read Delhi Times & hence there is no question of getting bored with the same report!

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16th May 2007

Views of the Day:
 
"India’s water crisis shows that aspiration-driven human actions are incompatible with the laws that govern water as a natural phenomenon". (“Aspirations and an Earth forgotten”. Hindu). The article ends in a rather passive note-“ Even as India is currently preoccupied with exercising its blessings of democracy, the Earth remains forgotten. Human values, however noble, are transient. It is unrealistic to follow policies or enact laws assuming the nature will somehow facilitate arbitrary human aspirations…”. The country’s scholarly Prime Minister has also expressed his concern about long run policies- “In a true democracy, competitive politics often creates an environment where political masters are not able to take a long-term view of the country’s needs” (Times of India). Surely, it's a lone long run journey for a few for sustainable development!

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15th May 2007

Bite-less Tiger
 
It’s a well known that corruption is not a rare phenomenon in India. But does this mean that ‘irregularities’ should be taken as granted ? No. The latest report of Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) of India has revealed irregularities across the board- “CAG pulls up Army for excess soldiers (Hindu), “After spending 700 crore (Rs. 7 billion) IL-38 (aircraft) without fire” (Dainik Jagran), “ Tax breaks to Sachin earn CAG ire” (Times of India), “IAF officers, wives flew in VIP planes, ran up Rs. 75 cr- bill: CAG” (Indian Express), “Report derails Lalu’s freight claims” (Indian Express), EoU (Export oriented unit) scheme is full of holes: CAG” (Hindustan Times), “MoD’s (ministry of defense) shopping skills come for CAG rap” (Times of India), “CAG finds holes in Railway’s ‘turnaround’ claim” (Pioneer), “Favourism towards Sachin & Gavaskar” (Amar Ujala). But mere exposing the above is not enough! CAG is a ‘honest’ tiger which cannot bite, but can someone lend sharp nails atleast? 

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14th May 2007

Cartoon Watch

Uttar Pradesh Elections seems to be a favourite topic of cartoonists today- Dainik Bhaskar, Rajasthan Patrika (Jaipur edition), Hindustan, Veer Arjun, Jansatta, Decccan Chronicle (Hyderabad edition). One cartoon on DMK sibling clash has appeared in colour on the front page of Free Press Journal (Mumbai). The same cartoon has also appeared in Tribune and Statesman (both Delhi edition) but in black & white! While two Ps -Punjab Kesari and Pioneer have carried the same cartoon on 1857. Others have concentrated on - Pakistan (Indian Express), Election Promise (Times of India). However, Hindustan Times, Mint, Rashtriya Sahara, Maha Medha, Asian Age, MetroNow and Telegraph (Calcutta edition) did not contain any Indian political cartoon.
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13th May 2007

Standard

The literacy rate of Indian State of Himachal Pradesh is the second highest in the country but there is serious doubt about the quality of education. Only half of students class fourth can read textbooks, and by the time they reach class fifth, they fail to achieve proficiency in the subjects being taught (IndianExpress). This is not all. Three University students at Ph.D level have being given exceptionally high marks without checking the answer sheets and they will be awarded degrees in sixth convocation to be held in May 16 at Dr. Y.S Parmar University of Horticulture & Forestry (Tribune).

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12th May 2007
 
Neighboring Worry

A lot is happening in Pakistan and India seem concerned- “ Only this time the storm will wreck havoc not just in Pakistan; but around the world, which has its eyes tightly shut to the silent revolution sweeping through Pakistan” (Opinion, Tribune). While Punjab Kesari, a Hindi daily has republished a long editorial written by its former editor on 8th June 1981 focused on dictatorship in Pakistan, which concludes: “if democracy comes to Pakistan, the situation can change and the resources involved in India-Pakistan fight can be ulitised for development of Pakistan”. A variety of news reports have appeared in Indian newspapers on Pakistan- “ Pak near to civil war” (Amar Ujala), Pak facing a war like situation- says Jamali (Asian Age), “Jamali warns against civil war (Pioneer), General-CJ showdown today (Indian Express), “Karachi gearing for showdown today” (Hindu), Chaudary adamant on rally, hundreds arrested (Hindustan), “100 held ahead of rally” (Asian Age), “Pak says foreign troops not active” (Hindustan), “ Top Queda men hiding in Pak” (Asian Age). The Maximum coverage to Pakistan has been given by Asian Age. The Hindu has carried its archival news report dated 12th May 1957 on celebrations in Pakistan on 1857 centenary functions. But no news report has appeared on how Pakistan celebrated revolt of 1857 on 10th May 2007.

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11th May 2007

Freedom of Mismangement

Thousands of participants from all over the country have reached Delhi to participate in 150th anniversary celebrations of Indian revolt of 1857. But their state is anything but well, thanks to the mismanagement by the organisers. This has been covered in detail by MetroNow with photographs “ 2007: Marching girls faint, fight and suffer ogling men. For them the struggle for freedom is not over yet!”. Yes, it’s a long way home! But why every time the youth have to suffer and yet made to listen to long boring lectures about importance of freedom? Give them a break! Investigation of the Day: Glut It’s a bumper sugarcane crop, but farmers are still committing suicide in Marathwada region of Maharashtra. Why? “ Suicides as glut leaves poor farmers stuck, no one willing to crush record produce” – reveals Indian Express on its front page. And experts are blaming poor planning by the government for this mess. Ironically, the Union Minister of Agriculture belongs to the same state but no remedial steps have been taken here. Remember the Indian State of Maharashtra had earlier been in papers due to farmers suicides in Vidarbha region. Remedy - can these small farmers lobby their case in the power centre of India?

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10th May 2007
 
Freedom of Press
 
Today, surveys/polls have become a regular features of newspapers. But what if the result of a survey is not favourable to one person? Burn the newspaper office? What? This is precisely what’s happened in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu, that has led to the death of three people. The survey had asked respondents – who will be political heir of Karunanidhi (present chief minister of Tamil Nadu)? Response- 70 per voted for second son while the eldest son got only 2 per cent votes. So, the supporters of latter burned down the newspaper building. All newspapers have strongly condemned this attack. The editorial in Hindu saw this attack as a issue of media freedom & not as a family feud. It cautioned- “if goons and their political masters in Madurai are allowed to get away with arson and murder, it might embolden others to target the media in future”. Very true and law of the land must take action to protect the strong pillar of democracy and violence of any kind against media should be condemned with strongest words. Remember what Thomas Jefferson had to say: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I would not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.” But, two other issue have also emerged from this incident – first, political succession in India, based on dynasty is not new but is it desirable? Second, members of political party take a decision on the issue of leadership of their party, so what’s the point in asking readers of newspaper about this?

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9th May 2007

Revolt

The impact of 150th year of Indian Revolt of 1857 is evident in all spheres - cartoon, advertisement, reports, special articles, and the magnitude is more in Hindi newspapers. Why call it revolt and not first war of Indian Independence? What’s in the name after all, many newspapers call it revolt or/and mutiny or/and first war of Indian independence or/and uprising. Anyway, the flavour of revolt against injustice was fully evident in the re-enactment of the sepoy’s march from Meerut to Delhi when thousands of hungry volunteers turned violent since they were not served any food for last 24 hours and much more (Pioneer). Remember a massive budget of Rs. 180 million has been sanctioned for this historical march but still …(Jansatta). Now, what more is in the offering?

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8th May 2007

Intrusion? Yesterday, Dainik Bhaskar had carried a report on its front page alleging Chinese intrusion into Arunachal Pradesh. Today, the Asian Age has carried short report that the Centre has refuted reports of Chinese troops making an incursion into Arunachal Pradesh and similarly Hindu reports that government has refuted reports of Chinese troops making an incursion in Arunachal Pradesh. While, Dainik Bhaskar has reported that the Indian Government is silent on Chinese intrusion into Arunachal Pradesh and foreign & defense ministry are passing on the responsibility on each other. In the light of the above, its better to ask the Chinese!

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7th May 2007
 
Sustainable Dream

River Yamuna, lifeline of capital of India, is now virtually a drain. Any attempt to improve its condition? Yes, several plans have been drawn & implemented. And the net result is self-evident- despite spending billions of rupees, its state has not improved. “..the biggest bane is the fact that there is no accountability. Not enough people are hauled for taking wrong or motivated decisions. When it comes to the environment no one gets punished”, says Manoj Mishra, Indian Forest Service officer turned environmentalist who has recently launched a campaign to save river Yanuma. And he has a dream, which many share -“ dream of a city that has the conviction to stand up and reclaim its river”. (Hindu) And what about global warming. For years, it has not been taken seriously by the economic growth driven countries. Who cares for sustainable development, until floods, drought, tornado actually reach our doorstep?

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6th May 2007

Double Vision

Today, the news report – “Pakistani Sikh member of parliament asks for asylum from Britain!” has made an appearance twice, on page two & three in the Hindi daily- Punjab Kesari (Delhi Edition). Apart from one para extra on page 2, the two reports are word to word the same, even the headings! Moreover, both news reports have been sourced from the same news agency. Innovators of the week Sanjeev, from Seek village, district Panipat (Haryana) has invented a unique transformer which does not give electric shocks. This will benefit the electricity boards where most deaths occur due to electric shocks by transformers. Meanwhile, Sanjeev, is seeking financial help from the government to patent his unique invention. (Dainik Bhaskar). While on the other hand a doctor has invented a 100 per cent eco-friendly animal driven ‘multi-drill cultivator’ which will cost Rs. 70,000 (Dainik Bhaskar, Tribune)

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5th May 2007
 
Double Vision

One news report appearing twice in a newspaper on the same day? Yes, this is precisely what has occurred in Hindi daily- Dainik Bhaskar (Faridabad Edition). Its page two contains a news report-“ Centre asks for report: uproar on death of 38 newborns in Kerala”. Interestingly, the same news report has again made an appearance on page 7, and except for deletion of a few words and lines, its word to word the same! Moreover, the source of both is the same- Bhaskar Network. Any difference? Now, the heading on page 7 report goes as -“ Uproar on death of 38 newborns in a hospital”!

Devotion
 
The Planning Commission of India has warned that the country is heading towards a food crisis (Pioneer). The Agricultural statistics reveal that per capita availability of foodgrains, cereals and pulses have fallen to levels recorded 25 years ago. (Times of India). Is it not an alarming sign that require attention from policy makers? Sure, but when a private member’s Bill on Agriculture Crisis was being debated in the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha), only 26 members were present. Times of India's take on this-“ absence of members seem to perfectly reflect the distance between adopting profitable positions and acting on those concerns”. But the paper did not reveal the names of 26 dedicated MPs who devoted their time for an important national cause.

Report of the Day
 
In the shadow of agriculture crisis, the ‘report of the day’ has appeared in Hindu - “ Jailhouse talk: a fate worse than debt” by P. Sainath. The investigative report reveals that “after a lull of some years, farmers are being jailed for debt in Andhra Pradesh. Even those in drought–hit districts who cannot repay their loans. Farm unions see the banks as driving a dangerous and explosive process which lets off crorepati (rich millionaire) defaulters but jails bankrupt farmers owing a few thousands rupees”. Are all defaulters treated this way? No, this is not the case for tax defaulters. Infact, the income tax department has suggested to the government to waive ‘non recoverable’ tax arrears amounting to Rs. 850 billion accumulated up to 2003-04. The editorial in Tribune had severely criticised this proposal on 5th January 2007. Point to note that the outstanding dues are mostly from companies, banks, high net worth individuals.

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4th May 2007
 
Be Happy

A local cooperative bank has recovered a loan from the scholarship of class eight girl student that was provided by Chhattisgah government as her father, poverty ridden farm labourer failed to repay the loan (Hindustan Times). Yes, the banks are having a free run in India. Most newspapers have reported that the Indian credit card holders pay the highest interest rates in the world and within a span of only 10 years, banks have extracted Rs. 60 billion from them. Moreover, a management consultancy firm has predicted that India will become a fifth largest consumer market by 2025, so more credit card holders, more windfall profits for the banks! Now why should they go to the rural areas & sweat out with farmers & their family members? Hindustan has reported that foreign banks don’t want to go to villages & even the Indian government has never advised them to go. A officer of a foreign bank reasoned-we have not come to India to function as alms-house but to function amongst those who want better service. Sure, when even Indian private sector banks don’t want to go to rural areas, why force the foreign ones! Let’s all concentrate on the great Indian middle class & be happy!

Sensational stuff

On May day, a thirty year old pregnant farm woman along with her seven year old son committed suicide as factories did not purchase her sugarcane. This is not an isolated case, 25 farmer have ended their lives in Bidar since January due to man made sugarcane crisis (Hindu).It’s been a bumper harvest of sugar cane, then why this crisis? Did anyone do an investigative cover story on this? Nope! Did this news make to the front page of newspapers? No, simply because it’s not sensational enough. While on the other hand, most newspapers have carried news on their front page that a property dealer came out his car bleeding (committed suicide due to differences with his wife) and asked for police but now is out of danger. What’s the sensational element about this? The place where he parked his car & came out was near Prime Minister’s residence. Now who cares for a pregnant women, her son & rest of rural folks in some obscure place?

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3rd May 2007
 
Another experiment?

Remember Muhammad bin Tughluq’s experiment of moved the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, which turned out to be a blunder and resulted in death of vast amount of the population. It was said that Delhi was a ghost town for years. Today, another such ‘great’ experiment has been suggested in an article-’Can India afford its villages?’ that has appeared in Mint. The authors believes that “anyone who lives in the average Indian village and has access to information and money would like to leave for towns and cities”. But what is the magnitude of these rich villagers, with majority in debt? No details given! Nevertheless, the article concludes - “Rather than trying to trap people in villages and agriculture, the focus should be on the creation of new urban centres which will lead to economic growth & development of people”. A feasible solution? First, have we trapped 700 million people in villages? Second, how would we ensure employment for 700 million people, majority of them possession no marketable skills and education? The pathetic state of slum dwellers in Urban centres is well known. Third, who will finance the transformation of rural India into urban centres? Fourth, Who will feed one billion Indians in the era of global warming with definite decline in food production – worldwide? Fifth, will this solution lead to sustainable development of all one billion people? The questions are endless….Surely, not a reasonable excuse for acquiring agricultural land for SEZs!

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2nd May 2007

Cartoon Watch

The heat wave in the Northern region has not been welcomed by all. But it has brought in a refreshing change too– Dainik Bhaskar, a Hindi daily has published four interesting cartoons on the effect of heat on different people. Surely, this “Bhaskar Exclusive” is welcome! As before, cartoons in 2 Ps- Punjab Kesari and Pioneer are same except for the language. The topic of Fake encounter was the favourite today(Hindu, Hindustan, Tribune). It seems that cartoonist of AsianAge still seems to be suffering from a hangover of the much hyped marriage between two film stars of Hindi cinema. Why? On
21st April 07, a cartoon appeared by the same cartoonist in Asian Age, that featured a horse (made in style of renowned artist M.F Hussain),marked B in bold . Who were its the riders? A man with a sword & women, with a man (media) following them. Surely it tried to depict celebrated Ash-Abi marriage! The cartoonist did not forget to mention:” with apologies to M.F Hussain”. But today no apologies have been offered, though the horse is still in M.F Hussain style! Who is the rider? It appears to be Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh with a sword, while his party colleague - Amar Singh is on foot. And what's the focus of Amar Singh’s talk - Most eligible bachelor and a suitable bride!

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1st May 2007

Cartoon watch

Diversified topics, was the menu for cartoon lovers today. However, Punjab Kesari & Pioneer published the same cartoon on human trafficking by the same cartoonist, with the only difference that caption in the former was in Hindi while in latter – English. Cartoons on the theme of cricket are all-time favourites, the 2H- Hindu and Hindustan have concentrated on this topic. The cartoonists of Times of India took on morality and reservation, while cartoonists from Dainik Bhaskar focused on 2 Bs- bribery and begging. Others focused on – Judicial activism (Asian Age), Mamta Banerjee (Indian Express), Election campaign (Economic Times). The cartoon of the day has appeared in Daink Jagran “Totababu” (parrot-sahib) which captures destiny, cricket and inflation. However, no cartoon has taken on the hot news- fake encounter nor recent violence in Nandigram. Mint,Hindustan Times and MetroNow did not contain any Indian cartoon.