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October 2009 Newspaper Watch

Sarcajc Research in Journalism Advertisement & Cartoon 

SARCAJC

SOUTH ASIAN RESEARCH CENTRE FOR ADVERTISEMENT, JOURNALISM & CARTOONS

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

31 October 2009

Report of Day

Chitleen Sethi tells a tale of private health care in India- “Inferior drugs, inflated rates”. And indeed it is very disturbing - “Use of substandard medicines, consumables and even implants like stents and ‘joints’ by some of the largest private hospitals is one of the most well kept secrets of the corporate healthcare system. And all this is done in active connivance with small companies manufacturing these medicines and equipment”. But why, is there no regulator keeping an eye over this evil greed? Sethi has the answer- “ since there is no check by any regulatory authority on the quality of product that these hospital use, the patient’s life is at the mercy of the goodness of the hospital authorities…”. Given the dismal state of public hospitals, does the main street have an option for health care?

Advertisement Watch

The nation pays tributes to former Prime Minister-Indira Gandhi on her 25th Martyrdom Day. Large Governmental advertisement in leading newspapers carry her graceful photographs. The best advertisement has been placed by the Delhi Government, which comes with punch line- “India’s Priyadarshini”. It carries Indira Gandhi’s graceful, smiling photograph. However, the advertisement by Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry has used special effects on the same photograph of Indira Gandhi, end result of which is far from satisfactory.

A special exhibition on this occasion has been organized in Delhi, which contains her rare photographs, few caricatures and movie. Indeed the exhibition is noteworthy and selections of her photographs gets full marks. The credit goes to the chief minister of Delhi who selected them. However, the decision of short duration of the exhibition (only for one day for general public) should be reconsidered.

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30 October 2009

Concern of Day

Perneet Singh reports on front page of Tribune that Major Singh, booked falsely, was acquitted after 47 long years! During every hearing in Rajasthan High court the police failed to produce the records pertaining to the case. The court also sought papers from subordinate court in Sikar, the police department and also the DGP. But it received one reply- “Records awaited”. Eventually, the High court bench ruled in Major’s favour. Why didn’t Major Singh take the route of Right to Information Act (RTI) to view those documents and speedy justice? However not all is well here, the Public Information Officer (PIO) can get away without providing information, by stating the same lame excuse- records not traceable/not available! This is true, even if complainant approaches Central Information Commission (CIC). Is penalty imposed by CIC on such PIOs for obstructing information? Some information Commissioners at CIC take a stern view and even award compensation to the complainant but other accept the standard excuse of PIO of records being non traceable and dismiss the case! Point to ponder- why is there no code of conduct for Information Commissioner to implement the RTI Act (05) in letter and spirit for the welfare of the main street? Yes, when RTI Act was introduced, it was seen as a major tool in the hands of main street to resolve their grievance without paying any bribe but has this vision being fulfilled? No prizes for getting this one right!

Advertisement Watch

SARCAJC has been raising the need to curb publication of surrogate advertisements of Liquor in various newspapers. Today, most newspapers report that Delhi Government has informed the Delhi high court that it will soon be introducing a bill in the State Assembly to carry out amendments to raise fine from Rs. 200 to Rs. 1 million and jail of six month for those who will be publishing surrogate liquor advertisements. This was in response to a PIL filed by an NGO- Nirmal Sahara.

Editorial of Day

If MPs on a Lok Sabha panel get heir way, they could soon give themselves and their colleagues a five-fold increase in the monies they can disperse on capital works in their constituencies…The fact is that the MPLAD scheme -- and it finds replication at the state assembly and even municipal level -- is flawed not just in its execution but also in its very conception. By giving legislators a direct role in disbursing funds for capital projects, the scheme erodes the separation of powers between the legislature and the executive. In fact, it is precisely on this count that the Administrative Reforms Council headed by Veerappa Moily, now Union law minister, recommended that the MPLAD scheme be scrapped…. Yet, this scheme, begun in 1993 by P.V. Narasimha Rao as a legitimate way to give MPs a stake in seeing out their Lok Sabha's full term, is routinely sought to be deepened and enhanced. That is regrettable. (Indian Express)

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29 October 2009

Lead Watch

Most newspapers have carried the news of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s offer prominently on their front page- Centre was ready to talk to anyone having meaningful ideas to promote peace in Jammu & Kashmir, and offered to resume dialogue with Pakistan if it took action against terrorists based in Pakistan and planning strikes in India. But interestingly none of the newspapers scanned carried the same headline on their front page!

Manmohan offers hand of friendship (Times of India)

Ready for talks of Pak curbs terror: PM (Tribune)

PM to Pak: Rein in non-state actors (Asian Age)

Centre ready to talk on Kashmir (Nai Duniya)

PM reaches out to J&K, Pak (Hindustan Times)

PM seeks peace with a country at war with itself (DNA)

PM won’t give up: seeks Pak friendship again (Pioneer)

PM gives directions to Pak (Aaj Samaj)

PM extends olive branch to Islamabad (Free Press Journal)

Willing for talks for J&K peace: Manmohan (Hindu)
Shun gun’, PM’s condition for ‘unconditional’ talks (Kashmir Times)
PM offers olive branch to Pak (Greater Kashmir)

Gun & friendship not together (Dainik Jagran)

PM reopens door to J&K peace (New Indian Express)

Concern of Day

While the Finance Minister has called for a meeting today to review the implementation of austerity measure (10% cut in non planned expenditure), Pradeep Kaushal informs Lok Sabha Standing Committee has recommended unanimously that Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) should be increased from 20 million to Rs 100 million per year. Each member of parliament gets this fund per annum to spend on their constituencies. Point to ponder- What is the logic of this five fold increase?

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28 October 2009

Concern of Day

Raghvendra Rao reports on page 7 of Indian Express that Passenger Amenities Committee (PAC) to the Indian Railway Ministry has penned down fresh recommendations that include introduction of specially designed luxury coaches exclusively meant for foreigners. Scanned 32 newspapers today, this news has been carried only by Indian Express, but without any comments from Raghvendra Rao . The point is that why should any Indian Railway coach be reserved for foreigners in the land of Mahatma Gandhi? Why should India practice Apartheid, that too against its own citizens? Yes, Mahatma Gandhi’s quest started with railways.

“…A passenger came next, and looked me up & down. He saw that I was a ‘colored man’. This disturbed him. Out he went and came in again with one or two officials. They all kept quiet, when another official came to me and said, “come along, you must go to the van compartment”. ‘But I have a first class ticket’ I said. ‘That doesn’t matter, rejoined the other. Í tell you, you must go to the van compartment’. ‘I tell you, I was permitted to travel in this compartment at Durban, and I insist on going on in it’. ‘No you won’t , ‘said the official. ‘You must leave this compartment, or else I shall have to call a police constable to push you out’. ‘Yes, you may. I refuse to get out voluntarily’. The constable came. He took me by the hand and pushed me out. My luggage was also taken out. I refused to go to the other compartment and the train streamed away. I went and sat in the waiting room, keeping my hand bag with me. And leaving the other luggage where it was. The railway authorities had taken charge of it. It was winter, and winter in the higher regions of South Africa is severely cold…Maritzburg being at a high altitude, the cold was extremely bitter. My overcoat was in my luggage, but I did not dare to ask for it lest I should be insulted again, so I sat and shivered. There was no light in the room. A passenger came in at about midnight and possibly wanted to talk to me. But I was in no mood to talk. I began to think of my duty. Should I fight for my rights or go back to India, or should I go on to Pretoria without minding the insults, and return to India after finishing the case. It would be cowardice to run back to India without fulfilling my obligation. The hardship to which I was subjected was superficial- only a symptom of the disease of colour prejudice. I should try, if possible, to root out the disease and suffer hardships in the process. Redress for wrongs I should seek only to the extent that would be necessary for the removal of the colour prejudice…..” (Mahatma Gandhi. An Autography). The rest of the story is well known to all.

Dr. Kalam remembered him on at the conclusion of the Third Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in 2005- “…I would like to recall my traveling on 16 September 2004 in a train powered by steam engine in a first class compartment of 1900’s vintage organized by Durban state of South Africa. When the train was moving from one station to another, Mahatma Gandhi’s struggle against apartheid system in South Africa was going through my mind. The train halted at Pietermartizburg, the station where Gandhiji was evicted on a cold winter night from a first class compartment and became a victim of apartheid. When I alighted at the Pietermartizburg railway station, I saw a plaque in the railway station, which reads like this: “In the Vicinity of this plaque M.K. GANDHI was evicted from a first class compartment on the night of 7 June 1893. This incident changed the course of his life. He took up the fight against racial oppression. His active non-violence started from that date”. When Dr. Kalam asked Dr Nelson Mendela, “Dr. Mandela can you please tell me about the pioneers of anti apartheid movement in South Africa?”. He responded spontaneously, “of course one of the great pioneers of South Africa’s freedom movement was MK Gandhi. India gave us MK Gandhi, we gave you back Mahatma Gandhi after two decades. Mahatma Gandhi was an apostle of Non-Violence”. Point to ponder- Time to Scrap this mindless recommendation of PAC altogether and exit door for members who recommended this Apartheid?

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27 October 2009

Media Watch

The HT correspondent informs “Full Monty by Bigg Boss draws govt’s ire” (front page. Hindustan Times). The Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry has issued a show cause notice to Bigg Boss-3 for showing content which was “against good taste and decency” and not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition. The channel has been asked to respond within five days (Asian Age). This channel has already been issued three notices and two advisories for violation of code since it came into force on 12 June 2008. Point to ponder- what about masala Bollywood movies- are they full of good taste and decency? Kids close your eyes?

Advertisement Watch

Rupali Mukerjee informs that the government is set to come down on food & beverage companies which make ‘tall’ claims about the benefits of their products through advertisements. A new code will come up which is aimed to restrict misleading & deceptive claims by ads. Point to ponder- will this code also tackle surrogate liquor ads?

 

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26 October 2009

Concern of Day

Rahul Sharma informs in Hindustan that Shankar, an adult elephant that was gifted to President of India by Zimbabwe way back in 1997 has been injured in Delhi Zoo. The significance of his injury is its cause- two trainers had been called from Chandigarh to train him - e.g. lift his trunk to do namesake etc. Shakar was not forthcoming and even refused to eat food, but still he was chained and his ‘forced’ training continued, which led to his fall and injury. Point to ponder- Why should elephants be trained to entertain humans? Is such training not a torture for the poor animal? Whose ‘bright’ idea was this in the Delhi Zoo, high time for some training for him?

RTI Watch

Jyoti Rai reports that Information Commissioners across the country, who have been appointed to safeguard Right to Information Act, are reluctant to provide information under Right to Information Act. This has been revealed by a countywide survey conducted by Public cause Research Foundation (Tribune). Point to Ponder- Why is there no code of conduct for Information Commissioners, who are appointed without any sign of transparency. After all they are being paid from taxpayers money, right?

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25 October 2009

Concern of Day

31 million cases are pending in India’s trial courts and high courts. The chief Justice of India has expressed his concern and called for resorting to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods like lok adalats, mediation, negotiated settlements to reduce the burden of pending cases and for their quick disposal. But will this be followed in letter & spirit, keep guessing? Nevertheless, there is urgent need to revamp the normal grievance redressal system, which seems non-existent, much to the misery of the main street. This adds to the overburdened judiciary. Take a clue- Tribune informs that after 15 long years finally four employees (including Bank Manager) of Punjab National Bank have been booked under various sections by police station for withdrawing Rs. 32,000 from account of a women in Gharyala village in the state of Punjab. Alas this women is now dead. The complainant wrote various letters to the Bank but nothing moved. And now after 15 years, the case has been registered in the police station, on the instruction of the Judicial court. Why talk only about Punjab National Bank (PNB), even State Bank of India (SBI), the largest public sector, does not consider customer service as a key performance indicator. And the Banking Ombudsman of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is biased against main street as it does not consider awarding any quantum of money for harassment caused to complainant if his/her complaint is other than related to credit cards! Logic- it’s there in its Act, but why, keep guessing why!

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24 October 2009

Concern of Day

Most newspapers report on the front page that the name of State of Orissa will soon be changed to Odisha. This change of name has been approved by the Union cabinet and will get approval of the parliament. Why? The British mispelt it Orissa! But then why did it take seventy three long years to correct it? But apart from cosmic changeover, will it bring relief to the State, where protests are swelling. Take a clue from the editorial of New Indian Express- “ The spate of suicides by debt-ridden farmers that shamed Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra has caught up with Orissa. The alarming regularity with which farmers in Orissa are committing suicide has put the Naveen Patnaik government in a fix….The state does not have a sound agricultural policy nor does it give due weightage to the demands of the sector even though Orissa's is primarily an agrarian economy. In its eagerness to climb the industrialisation bandwagon, the state government has neglected agriculture…The majority are marginal farmers hardly ever benefit from the various government schemes. But they are no longer prepared to suffer in silence. Protests are raging everywhere. It is time the government woke up from its slumber and addressed the farmers' legitimate demands. Quick fixes like loan waivers will not solve the problem; a focused, viable and liberal agricultural policy and its rigorous implementation are the need of the day”. However not many leading newspapers are reporting the state of affairs in Orissa. Mail Today on page 17 gives glimpses of soon to be telecast interview of the chief Minister of Orissa with Koel Puri. Does one get the feeling that he too is distressed, due to suffering of main street in Orissa? Get a clue from Koel’s blog- “One minute he is cracking crude jokes and flirting with the crew, giving us glimpses of his ‘ít’ boy life, but the minute the camera rolls he’s only interested in talking about his rice-for-two rupees scheme or about uplifting the state of women”. Point to ponder- why such apathy regarding welfare of the main street that has led to protests?

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23 October 2009

Concern of Day

Cashing on poverty? Madhur Tankha reports that a Guinness World record was broken this weekend when 173 million citizens gathered across 120 counties demanding that their government eradicate poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. “Stand up, take action, end poverty Now!”- has been certified as the largest mobilization of human beings in recorded history. Was this just another gimmick for Guinness World record? According to the United Nations Millennium Campaign Deputy Director & Asian Head, Minar Pimple- “the purpose of the massive mobilization in India was to increase accountability of governance both at the local and national level”. But then, why was the main street, real suffers of poverty, not informed of this event? Why no advertisements were visible in leading newspapers in India? Hang on, will governance improve (read poverty wipe off) by organizing a day event? Wonder how much money went down the drain in organising - “the largest mobilization of human beings in recorded history”! Yes, a lot more to wonder- how many Indian participants took Right to Information route to enhance accountability? How many Indian elite participants raised the necessarily of corporate social responsibility and on micro-level gave their servants at least the minimum wage and A grade working conditions? It is not surprising to view a photograph of a woman corporator from a constituency in Mumbai, wearing a saree worth Rs. 11,000 (along with three gold necklaces, earrings and bangles) to express support for a candidate! (Mid Day). Just put down your signatures for poverty eradication & keep guessing!

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22 October 2009

RTI Watch

Abhinav Garg informs on the front page of Times of India that largest study conducted to assess the performance of information commissioners across India suggest that implementation of RTI Act is far from optimal as only 27% RTI applicants get info sought. Moreover, And, even if an information commission rules in favour of the RTI applicant, there is a 61% chance he/she won’t get the information because the rulings are not complied by public authority (read PIO). But then why such information commissioners, who are getting hefty salary & perks from tax-payers money are not being held accountability for their failure to implement their Orders? To all those who opposed appointment of bureaucrats as Information Commissioners, finding of Kejariwals Public Cause Research Trust will come as a surprise. It found all the best performing commissioners were retired babus. The only commissioner with a background in activism, Shailesh Gandhi, was ranked at the bottom of the rung on each of the four parameters (Times of India). True, bureaucrat or non bureaucrat, one needs sheer conviction and commitment for the transparency and accountability. Or else all PIOs will get away by stating - “desire information is not traceable” !

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21 October 2009

RTI Watch

Seema Chishti informs that the winds of change ushered in by the Right to Information Act may now be blowing. Reason- In June, the National Archives set up a review panel (headed by Lov Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture) to recommend changes in the Public Records Act, 1993. At its second meeting on October 1, the panel made some drastic recommendations which, if accepted, will usher in a revolution when it comes to transparency about post-1947 developments. The panel is expected to submit its report by January. The recommendations include: All ministries must `appraise' papers after 20 years and send them to the Archives. Including five years that it might take for the Archives to organise them, in 25 years, the papers should be available for scholars to study. A penalty be imposed (like in the case of the RTI) if ministries violate the rule of making documents available (Indian Express).

But hang on, is full information is provided under present RTI regime? Nope, take a clue from the cartoon that has appeared in Hindustan which shows fat officer (probably public information officer) sitting on piles of files and a sad looking man sitting across the table on which is written- “Right to Information Law”. The happy fat officer (probably public information officer) is telling sad looking common man- “tell me which information is required…I am hiding all information”. Yes, at Central Information Commission there have been instances when PIO has got away without providing information by stating -information is not traceable! Point to ponder- RTI Act has lost its sheen, does anyone cares?

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20 October 2009

Climate Watch

The crucial climate change summit in Copenhagen is round the corner but the negotiating power of Indian negotiators seem to have lost its sharpness already! Yesterday, the lead report on the front page of Times of India came with revealing headlines- “Jairam for major shift on climate change”. Nitin Sethi referred to confidential letter from Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister for Environment to the Prime Minister, where Jairam argued the India should junk Kyoto pact, delink itself from G77 and accept emission curbs without any counter-guarantee of finances and technology. Net advantage- a permanent seat in the Security Council! When approached for his comments, what was his response on phone- “I am surprised and shocked that a privileged communication between me and the PM has found its way into the public domain. Whatever I had to say I have said to the PM”. And refused to speak further. What a way to defend his position as Minister for Environment! However, today Aarti Dhar reports on front page of Hindu that the Minister has claimed that critics are distorting his letter to Prime Minister. His defense- “…there is no harm in having discussions on other issues”. Economic Times reports that sensing a huge political loss from government’s proposed radical shift on climate change, the ruling Congress party has distanced itself from recommendation of this Minister. The foreign policy experts have described the proposition of getting a permanent seat in security council (as a result of this shift) as ‘laughable’. Chetan Chauhan reports that Jairam Ramesh has denied suggesting a radical shift in India’s position on climate change, but he does advocate taking a more nuanced position. The minister is quoted- “There is no question of India agreeing to emission cuts or junking the Kyoto Protocol. We want emission cut targets only for the developed world, not for developing nations” (Hindustan Times). The editorial of the same newspaper argues that Jairam Ramesh’s desire to junk the Kyoto Protocol needs elaboration. The editorial of Times of India stresses that the government needs to stand firm to preserve India’s interests. It ends- “…Any successful deal on climate change will need to back the principle of common but differentiated responsibility with concrete commitment of financial and technology transfers in sufficient quantity from developed nations, rather junk the principle altogether and punish low emitters by imposing greater costs on them. That ought to be non -negotiable when India goes to Copenhagen”. Point to ponder- do negotiators of developed countries read Indian newspapers?

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19 October 2009

Concern of Day

Few days ago, Deccan Herald had carried agency report that thousands of students from India and Pakistan have not been able to start their courses in British universities from September due to long delays in issuing students visas due to tighter student visa system in Britain. Two months ago, Economic Times carried agency report with self explanatory heading- “Indian students vital to sustain UK university subjects”. Major departments in British universities such as physics, engineering and computing could collapse without students from non-European Union countries such as India. (Economic Times. 13/8/209).Why bother about these international students, anyway? They are money bags for the British Universities. According Guardian, international students from India and other non-European Union countries, contribute nearly 4 billion pounds every year in fees alone. Simeon Underwood, head of admissions policy at the London School of Economics, had said "The sector's main worry is the damage this will do to the reputation of UK higher education overseas, especially in the Indian sub-continent, and the knock-on effect this will have on university funding". Indian students are seen as a lucrative source of revenue as they pay higher fees than students from UK or EU. Take a look at the highly skewed fees structure against the international students on the website of London School of Economics & Political Science. The LSE bursaries, discretionary bursaries and even maintenance grant are reserved for students from UK or EU.

But India is part of Commonwealth, why such blatant discrimination? Just to recap- “The Commonwealth is part of the world that it serves, sharing the same interests as those of its citizens: democratic freedom and economic and social development”. This kind of fees discrimination against international students is not seen in many other European countries which are not a part of the Commonwealth. While on the other hand, Hindustan reports that India is considering lowering fees and allocation of more seats for international students in Indian Institute of technology (IIT). But why, the fees in India is already so low compared to LSE. Moreover the seats in IIT are not sufficient even for Indian students. Point to ponder- Is this not high time to rethink if aim of Commonwealth is being followed in letter and spirit for the former colonies of the British Empire?

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18 October 2009

Holiday of month

All leading newspapers apart from Statesman have not made an appearance today. Yes, yesterday they were celebrating Diwali! But Statesman is not available on the news stall as the newspaper vender is celebrating holiday today!

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17 October 2009

Austerity Watch

Today is the festival of lights. The shopping malls are full of affluent with lots of shopping bags filled with goodies. Terming this year's festive sales as "bumper", retail czar Kishore Biyani said his stores have seen electronic goods fly off the shelf. "I haven't seen this kind of a Diwali in a long time. We have done Rs 75-crore worth of sales in electronics and consumer durables in just one day. We are hoping to meet a sales target of Rs 500 crore in the period October 15-21," Future Group's Founder and CEO Biyani told PTI. Despite high price of gold, the department of post in Maharashtra is betting on the expected high-demand during the festival period to push sales of its gold coins and is targeting a sales of 40 kg by this month end. "As the festive season is on, we expect to sell more than 40kg of gold coins by end-October in Maharashtra. The recession or the increasing gold prices have no effect on customer buying," postmaster general (business development marketing & technology), department of post, Maharashtra, Colonel KC Mishra, told PTI here. Deepa Suryanarayan reports in DNA - “ It is time to splurge. It is Diwali, And consumers have been flocking to city stores since the beginning of this week. The gloom of slowdown is gone in the festival of lights”. More, Nitin and Kishore report on the front page of same paper- “This was the best stock show in 20 years. Every third stock has doubled since Diwali last year”. Manoj and Salam are creators of five caricatures & the accompanying text - “…how shocks behaved thought the star struck eyes of a stock investor..” (Economic Times). But how much of this spending is through fake currency? Yesterday, Mahesh Sharma had reported in Tribune that Assistant Gernal Manage of RBI had acknowledged that fake notes threaten economy”. The editorial of DNA points- “But this year, Diwali is definitely feeling a bit subdued, if not downbeat….Add to that the problems of company cutbacks, salary cuts and cost-cutting and it is clear that this is not a Diwali for big spending. ..”. Yes, it is big spending for the elite but not for the main street (77% of Indians are poor & vulnerable), which is struggling hard under high food prices. Most leading newspapers have not reported their Diwali. This Diwali has seen a major transformation- local earthen diyas (lamps) & idols has lost to foreign glittering electric lights & cheap foreign plastic idols. Yes, the local potter is at loss and so is the energy conservation efforts.

Report of Day

The new kid on the block- Crest edition of Times of India is indeed value for money. The best page is 15, devoted to “Wonder Women against all odds”. Prithvijit Mitra reports of 72 year old widow- “she sold vegetables and her son grew up at a home for destitute children. But Subhashini Mistry still went on to set up a hospital in Kolkota that treats thousands of patients for free…”. The second report on this page is by Pervez Iqbal Siddiqui about grain bank in Bharkuda village in Uttar Pradesh. It has been started by 14 illiterate village women and is a great success. Why- “…For Bharkuda’s marginal farmers, who had to run to the moneylender in times of distress and borrow at steep rates , the grain bank has come as huge boon. Whether it is an untimely death in the family or a drought, the 100 families in this village can rely on it to ward off hunger..”.

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16 October 2009

Special Visitor of Day

Asian Age has carried a news report with heading- “Scientists stumble upon long-feared extinct crow”. But the accompanying photograph of the crow seem to be that of the common Indian Crow. Indian Crows are indeed clever. Yes, a young crow, frequent visitor at SARCAJC has been spotted trying to read a newspaper! Yes, SARCAJC is making a substantial impact!!
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15 October 2009

Report of Day

Most newspapers report about the high voter turnout during this Assembly elections in the state of Haryana. Yes, it was indeed festival of democracy, and literally speaking too! Supporters were dancing at streets, elderly women wearing caps took to streets, in support their favourite candidates. Recently, SARCAJC was witness one such great procession of an Independent candidate in Old Gurgaon! One newspaper vender in Old Gurgaon advised us to vote for a particular candidate as he was approachable, unlike others! “If you need to get work done, I will come with you to him”- he assured! But the elite of posh Gurgaon did not show this kind of interest and stayed away! They rather discuss democracy around coffee table than to come and experience it ? Nevertheless, who will win? With Election Commission’s bar on exit poll, how to guess? Take a clue from Anup Jha he looks at the buzz at offices/homes of prominent candidates in Gurgaon (Nai Duniya).

RTI Watch

Till date, how many people have filed applications under Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 in the country? Official figures are not available as many States have not even filed their annual reports! Nevertheless, take a clue from the survey commissioned by the Centre’s Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT). It found that only 13% of the rural population and 33% of the urban population was aware of the RTI act’s existence. Further, most were not fully aware of the contents of the Act. “The awareness level of citizens regarding their rights as an appellant under RTI is minimal,” conceded SK Sarkar, joint secretary, DOPT, at the annual convention of the Central Information Commission (CIC). Therefore, RTI Act has not been used by majority of Indians in the country. But it seems the President of India was not properly briefed and therefore she stated at the inauguration of Annual Convention of Central Information - “Citizens exercising the right to information have substantially grown in numbers, complex and stature…This speaks of the success of the RTI Act in creating conditions for free flow of information and thereby empowering the citizen”. (12/10/2009)

And now there is an attempt to amend the RTI Act. Will it make the RTI Act more user friendly? Will PIOs be fined by all Information Commissioners when they make an excuse - “ information is not traceable/ available”? Will there be a uniform code of conduct for Information Commissioners? Nope! Himanshi Dhawan reports that the government’s attempt to ‘dilute’ the RTI Act has met with stiff opposition from Information Commissioners (Times of India). What is the response of main street? Chetan Chauhan reports that activists have called it the death knell for the transparency law. What are the possible amendments coming in? Reasons for taking any cabinet decisions should be disclosed only 60 days after the decision has been made, many more organizations (now exempted) will come under purview of RTI Act, not to allow information regarding issues on which the government has not taken final decision and green signal for PIO to use his discretion to decide whether RTI is frivolous (Hindustan Times). The last amendment will be simply a gross disaster to the spirit of the RTI Act. Even now, PIOs (Nearly 59% of applicants have complained about discourteous PIOs) don’t give complete and correct information (over 75% of information seekers were dissatisfied with the quality of information provided) & get away without any penalty, after this amendment, PIOs will not hesitate to reject so called petty RTI applications. Yes, most RTI applications from main street will be petty, as they would seek information that might help them to fight corruption and resolve their individual grievances. The existing public grievance redressal system is already non functional and it seems now RTI Act will join in this club. Point to ponder- Was RTI Act not publicized as a tool to fight corruption for the main street?

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14 October 2009

Concern of Day

The India born wins Nobel Prize! Indians feel proud of his Nobel & express their pride through various ways, never mind that India had no role in his winning the award! Now Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramkrishnan has expressed disentrancement with people of India “bothering” him and “clogging” up his email box and dubbed as “strange” their sudden surge to reach out to him. He also expressed anguish over “all sorts of lies” published about him in media that he went to school & pre school in temple town of Chidambaram in State of Tamil Nadu, though in reality he had left the town at the tender age of only 3 years! Point to ponder- was this Nobel prize possible if Venkatraman Ramkrishnan had stayed back in India? Does the Indian ‘educational system’ encourage innovative interdisciplinary research? Nope, Infact, it discourages and converts academic leave into private affairs! So, what if the Indian scholar’s research has received fame abroad? As long has the scholar doesn’t win the Nobel Prize or other ‘big’international rewards, he has no chance of recognition back home. But why bother about this research, every Jack, Tom & Harry in Central Indian Universities have got bag full of arrears recommended by Sixth Pay Commission! So come, let’s celebrate Diwali!

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13 October 2009

Corruption Watch

It is no secret that corruption has been badly hurting the main street. A Planning Commission study of 2005 had found that 58% of the subsidized foodgrain issued from the Central pool does not reach poor families. The study found that for a Rs. 1 worth of income transfer to the poor, the government spends Rs 3.65, indicating Rs. 1 of budgetary consumer subsidy is worth only 27% to the poor. Admitting that corruption and caste are holding the country back, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi (seen by many as future PM) had said in interview published in The Sunday Times - “India is rising, but I want to see it compete successfully with every other country, and I want to transform what you see here-poverty”(PTI.30/4/2006). Financial Express published contents of a letter written by Finance Minister P Chidambaram to Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, objecting to the Planning Commission’s proposal to hike social sector expenditure. Chidambaram had written- “You do not repair a leaking water supply pipe by stepping up the water pressure.” That is, first reform the delivery mechanism, then raise spends. Did Montek Singh Ahluwalia agree? Take a clue- “The analogy is cute but incorrect. If the leak can be plugged in a day, we can maintain the same water pressure. But if it’s going to take years, and we also want more water to reach the other side of the pipe, we need to increase pressure. Both have to be done simultaneously.” (Indian Express 20/10/2006). Did this work? Take a clue from Rahul Gandhi again. He raised his concern that mismanagement of central funds continued to be a major bane in the implementation of the central development and welfare schemes for a long time and claimed ‘only 10 paise out of Rs. 100 reaches beneficiaries even now’. "My father Rajiv Gandhi used to say that only ten paise out of Rs. One reached genuine people, but I say that the needy people still get 10 paise out of Rs. 100 under the central development and welfare schemes," he told a public meeting in Gangtok (Daily Excelsior.26/4/09). His genuine quote was also carried by Outlook Maganzine- "My father Rajiv Gandhi used to say that only ten paise out of one rupee reached genuine people, but I say that the needy people still get 10 paise out of Rs 100 under the central development and welfare schemes." (Outlook. 1/6/2009).
Now, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has admitted “leakage” of funds earmarked for development works, but said it was “not as big” as was mentioned by Rajiv Gandhi. “Leakage of funds earmarked for development does exist. But, I do not admit that these leakages are as big as was mentioned by Rajivji” (Hindu.11/10/2009). Today, correspondent of Asian Age reports that according to Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Rajiv Gandhi was right about distribution system. "When we conducted a study on public distribution system (PDS)....came out with a finding that of Rs. 1, only 16 paise reached the beneficiaries". Rashtriya Sahara has carried agency news, which points our that black money is 50% of GDP, which is in possession of 3% of elite high income group. This was pointed out by financial experts in a seminar in Delhi.

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12 October 2009

Nobel Watch

A Large size caricature of happy Obama, dancing & singing has appeared in Aaj Samaj. The Editorial take on Obama’s Noble peace prize continues in many newspapers. The editorial of Veer Arjun asks- whether Barack Obama deserved Nobel prize? And also answers- “The bitter truth is that Nobel Committee made this decision in haste, without serious consideration….But this prize beginning from 1901 has always not been given to the able person. This time too 205 nominations were received, but without considering them, giving prize to Obama is unwise”. The editorial of Rastriya Sahara also points to the haste in giving this prize to Obama. The heading of the Editorial of Hindu reads -The burden of expectation’. Further, even the editorial of Deccan Herald & Aaj Samaj too feels the same. However, according to Editorial of Tribune- “An award for rhetoric rather than deed”. While if editorial of Financial Chronicle is to be believed, his prize is for an idea whose time has come. Take a clue- “…The Nobel prize is not a popularity contest. In the fields of science, the chemistry and physics Nobel has gone to the people who have worked towards making the world better, healthier and less burdensome on mankind. In most cases, the honour came not for a final product but for research that would make an idea click, and on which further worked was necessary. Obama’s peace Nobel has to be seen in that light…It is work in progress. Give Obama time”. The editorial of In-Dino points out that it should be hoped that Barack Obama through his neutral behaviour will keep honour of Nobel. On the same page, this newspaper carries an article which asks- Why Gandhi did not get Nobel? The last page of Navbharat Times gives out the reason- “This is reason, why Shanti Doot didn’t get Nobel for peace”.

Media Watch
Times of India reports that Information & Broadcasting Ministry seeks report from police in the incident where American journalist was allegedly beaten up by Delhi police on October 6. Joel Elliot, freelance journalist wrote for the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor. According to him, he was beaten up when he tried to intervene in an alteration between at least four policemen who beating up a person in posh area of Delhi. While according to the police, Elliot was trying to steal a cab in a drunken state and indulged in violent behaviour.
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11 October 2009

Media Watch

The Election Commission has directed Union Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar to exercise more care in future while issuing advertisements by his ministry so that the model code of conduct is not violated. "The Commission expects that once a direction is given, appropriate care is taken by the Ministry/department concerned to the model code of conduct in letter and spirit", it said.(Free Press Journal). Point to ponder- Was this not the last day for campaigning the upcoming State Elections in Maharashtra?

RTI Watch

Right to Information Act (2005) will be celebrating four years of operations tomorrow. It was decided that the week preceding it from October 6 to 12, shall be celebrated as the 'RTI Week' all over the country. But despite an order from the central ministry of personal, public grievances and pensions, requesting the state governments to organise suitable programme like workshops, lectures, publicity campaigns on the subject the week to create more awareness about the RTI in the populace, no large sized governmental advertisements have come up in leading newspapers in capital. Even if celebrations were organized in Delhi, why not publise them through advertisements? Free Press Journal (Bhopal edition) informs that no celebrations were reported in the State of Madhya Pradesh. According to Ajay Dubey a RTI activist, Ajay Dubey - 'Circular was issued to all field officers and department heads but no department made efforts to publicise the act. Whole government machinery wants to put sideline the RTI activities, in the state’. Yes, RTI is a boon for the main street to fight corruption. In response to a question by Shaliesh Agrawal ( whether this law has managed to control corruption?), the Chief Information Commissioner has responded- “There should be a study on this. But it seems, it has indeed helped. Now for getting important documents, there is no need to give money. In accordance to the Right to Information, it can be procured by giving Rs. 10...“ (Rajasthan Patrika).

Hang on, it’s still not possible to procure information under RTI Act! Here the excuse by PIO is - information is not traceable/ not available! Moreover, in many cases PIO gets away without any penalty or even an adverse comment on state of maintenance of records under RTI Act! Is the RTI Act so weak? Nope, under section 4 (1) (a) of the Act, every public authority is required to ‘maintain all its records duly categorized and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information‘. According to one Information Commissioner in CIC- “If a CPIO’s contention is accepted that information cannot be furnished because the file is ‘not traceable’, it would be impossible to implement the Act. And, dream of setting out a practical regime for providing access to information held by a public authority would be shattered…”. Asian Age on 3/7/2008, had reported that Prof. Ansari had awarded Rs. 10,000 as award to RTI applicant. He had pulled up the concerned ministry and noted - “If such an explanation (not possible to locate the relevant files”) is accepted, how can an ordinary citizen realise his right to seek information from a public authority?”. Point to ponder - Do all Information Commissioners share this concern?

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10 October 2009

Nobel Watch

The front page Cartoon in Indian Express features Happy Obama with noble prize. While, the toon in Hindu shows a dove bringing a medal (inscribed - yes we can) to smiling Obama. The cartoon in Mail Today, shows him (dressed in beach wear), resting and pondering - “which of my ‘pieces’ is it? The acceptance piece, the inaugural piece, the Prague piece, the Cairo piece…? On the background is the news in caps- “Barack Obama wins Nobel peace prize”. The cartoon in Hindustan has former President George Bush with newspaper with news-”Noble to Obama”. Bush is shown asking- - “If I had not spread so much unrest would he have received this peace prize?”. And the cartoon in Nai Duniya has a man holding newspaper with news- “Nobel Peace Prize for Obama”. He is looking at the crying & hurt moon and predicting “See! These people will one day take Noble peace prize for peace on moon! The background news reads- ‘NASA’s bombing on moon”.

Shock & awe Obama wins peace noble, Decision criticized for merely recognizing intention‘. (DNA)

Surprise Nobel for Obama (Mail Today)

Obama wins Peace Nobel (Shillong Times)

Obama is Nobel peacemaker (Tribune)

Brand Obama wins Noble Peace prize (Hindustan Times)

Not many takers for Obama peace prize (Free Press Journal)

Nobel Obama (Hindustan)

Lifetime award for debutant Obama (Times of India)

Audacity of Noble (Telegraph)

Obama also surprised on Nobel (Nai Duniya).

Nobel Peace prize for Barack Obama (Hindu)

Noble Peace Prize 2009 to Obama (Swatantra bharat)

Nobel Peace Prize to Obama (Aaj)

Noble for Peace for Obama (Dainik Bhaskar, Navbharat Times)

And Peace Nobel goes to... Obama! (Indian Express)

The editorial of Hindustan Times comes with heading- ‘Nobel wins an Obama’ and that Noble Peace Prize needed Barack Obama to bolster its flagging brand equity. It ends- “We congratulate Mr. Obama. After all, it is no fault of his that he’s been foisted with an award that he doesn’t deserve- at least, not yet. …The award also makes us understand at last, even if indirectly why Mahatma Gandhi, among a few others, did not get the precious honour”. Hang, on does independent India follow the core principles of Mahatma Gandhi today? Just take a look at an advertisement in the same paper which features his image with a punch line- “Gandhiji writes a post card”. This advertisement by India Post invites children to take part in a competition. And the prizes to be earned are in carried in bold - “laptops/ ipods/cameras/music systems..”- all electronic items, but not even one that is remotely related to Bapu!

The heading of editorial of Financial Express reads-’Obama gets Nobel Peace because he aren’t Bush? Strange’. Further- “… while the Nobel Peace Prize may or may not burnish Obama's presidency, it will almost certainly raise more questions about the Nobel Peace Prize committee….”. Kalpesh Vagnik is critical of Obama’s peace prize- “cruelty with Peace” (Dainik Bhaskar). The editorial of Nai Duniya is also critical- ‘Nobel in haste’. While the editorial of Hindustan feels that Obama has tried to make fundamental changes in foreign policy. In Hindu, Siddarth Varadarajan- “the world is so accustomed to American presidents waging war that the first incumbent to promise diplomacy get to win the Noble peace prize regardless of what he does”. The editorial of Indian Express ends- “..There's nothing to say that he won't redeem his promise, but really, after the Nobel Peace Prize, what personal milestone does Barack Obama have to live for any more? And how, in his remaining years in power, will he ever live it down?”. What next on the Obama agenda- take a clue from Chidanand Rajghatta who reports that hours before the Nobel Committee announced the peace award for Barack Obama, he transmitted a letter to US congress that in effect promised that his administration was working with other countries not to support enhancement of India’s nuclear weapon’s programme. The front page of Times of Indian carries Times View, which starts off- “The noble committee has done president Obama no favours by conferring on him an award that most sensible people will regard as absolutely premature. It’s like anticipatory bail- the pressure will be on Obama to live up to it…”.

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9 October 2009

Inflation Watch

Two days ago, Times of India reported that upward spiral of prices continues and housewives are complaining that their household budget for vegetables have gone for a toss. However, today newspapers carry official figures claim that various food items including vegetables and fruits became cheaper over the week. Agri-analysts attributed the fall in prices of vegetables to a strong revival in monsoon rains towards in month of July and September (Economic Times). The cartoon in Dainik Bhaskar shows wife asking her husband (living in extreme poverty) eating food, while sitting on floor of a hut- “Don’t understand…why don’t we get wheat flour, pulse, sugar, opinion etc on installment”. The small son looks surprised. Why- the news in the paper reads- “Buy Hussain’s painting in installments”. Point to ponder- all leading government statisticians buy vegetables, pulses, sugar etc from the wholesale market?

Austerity Watch

The editorial of Free Press Journal is not happy with the pep talk about need for austerity & vulgar CEO salaries by Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khrusheed. Take a look- …Reportedly, he threatened to intervene should the recipients themselves fail to curb their excessive greed…if the Minister for Corporate Affairs had kept the legal provision in mind, in all probability he would not have played to the gallery by talking of `vulgar' CEO salaries. Admittedly, in a poor country, annual pay-packages running into tens of crores do evoke a sense of envy and even outrage, which politicians like Khursheed seek to milk for cheap popularity. …Under these circumstances, Khursheed's lecture to the corporate honchos was meant to win him cheap publicity….The point is that politicians and company CEOs are, or should be, governed by different norms. It is because in a democracy, politicians are accountable to the voters; a company CEO is accountable to the share-holders…. ‘(Free Press Journal). Nevertheless, this pep talk seems to have worked for the benefit of shareholders of Reliance, whose CEO’s moneybag has made it to newspaper pages! Krishna Kant & Apurv Gupta’s report suggest there is no sign of recession here as the Indian companies have ended with a lot more cash ( Rs. 4700 billion) on their kitty last fiscal than a year earlier (Economic Times). According to Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, the stimulus package will continue to combat the global meltdown and also the concessions to the industry till country achieves a GDP growth of seven percent (Hindu).

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8 October 2009

Media watch

News editor of a Dinamalar, leading Tamil daily has been arrested for allegedly portraying the film industry in a bad light through a report that was published recently. He was arrested under Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Women Harassment Act. The report, allegedly quoted statements made by a small-time actress arrested under prostitution charges, named few of the popular actresses as being involved in prostitution or running brothels. Though the report in Dinamalar claimed these were `confessions' made by Bhuvaneshwari, it angered the actors who termed the statements as wild allegations (Indian Express).

Advertisement Watch

An advertisement by Union Agriculture Ministry violated the model code of conduct and hence has prompted notice by Election Commission to the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. . The advertisement appeared in Loksatta on 3 October, with the message in Marathi: "Dear farmer: This Kharif season the rains did not help you, but we will." Acocrding to the notice by election Commission, the advertisement published in Loksatta, Mumbai, on October 3 is "prima facie motivated to influence the voters of the state," as it contains a slogan and a message addressed "to farmer friends from Union Agriculture Ministry….Publishing the advertisement in Marathi language in a newspaper published from Mumbai at the time of the general election in Maharashtra is prima facie motivated to influence the voters of the State" (Free Press Journal). Point to ponder- there is no such

Corruption Watch

M. K Migwani, Former Principal Secretary of Haryana has expressed need to curb corruption. Take a look- “corrupt officials are like fish of oceans….difficult to guess how much bribe will eat…Today he is honest, who wants to be honest. Its important to tightened grip on corrupt. To keep a vigil, there is need to create honest & strong structure. This is happen one day. In this election or after any other election…”(Nai Duniya).

Concern of Day

Aditi Tondon informs on the front page of Tribune that Haryana and Punjab poor in secondary education. Yes, the world Bank study portraits a grim picture of the state of secondary school. But hang on, this should come as shocker. The statistics in latest Economic Survey (that arrived much before World Bank study), shows that the State of Punjab & Haryana have the lowest gross enrolment ratio in class I-V. And for class VI-VIII, Bihar possesses the lowest gross enrolment ratio (39), among all states. Most surprising statistics is about rich Union territory- Chandigarh. The GER for classes class I-V is mere 61 while for class VI-VIII it goes down to 48. The editorial of DNA feels that education in India is a mess is not news. However, what is alarming is the extent of this mess. The latest World Bank report on the status of secondary education in India shows that between classes 9 and 11, India has 11 per cent dropouts and 37 per cent failures. This means at the most crucial point in education, 48 per cent of Indian children fall off the treadmill — and this is only counting those children who are in the school system….We keep hearing about how India must become a “knowledge” society, but given our current state of education, that is a far-fetched fantasy….The situation on the ground is appalling, especially in government schools and rural schools… On the other hand, expensive schools are proliferating…The World Bank report is one more reminder that no country can progress if it leaves a majority of its people behind. (DNA). Is the Union Education Minister, who seems to be obsessed with Higher education, listening?

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7 October 2009

Concern of Day

The editorial of Tribune is apprehensive about the success of the project to clean up Ganga, Take a look- “In India, rivers are supposed to be a sacred life-sustaining entity. The Ganga is the holist of them. Yet, today it is among the 10 most engendered ones in the world…10-year project to rejuvenate the river is not only welcome but also a crying need. As much as Rs. 15,000 crore (Rs. 150 billion) is to be spend under the project…the money allocated for the project is a tidy sum, but ir will be successful only of it is meticulously planned and faithfully executed…Between 1985 and 2009, Rs. 916 crore (Rs. 9.16 billion) was pumped …but the river is dirtier than it was in 1985. When the Environment Minister himself asks “where the money has gone?” there are bound to be question marks about the new project also…”. The massive leakages are not unique to the Ganga Action Plan,even much publicized NREGA and Mid-Day Meal scheme is not unaffected. However, steps are being taken to counter these leakages. The same newspaper reports that district administration has decided to file cases against over 60 village Pradhans (village heads) after a preliminary investigation found that they allegedly misappropriated the government fund for midday meals in various primary schools in Faizabad.

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6 October 2009

Austerity Watch

The editorial of Asian Age calls floods in South a national calamity. The cartoon in the same newspaper shows a man & woman on top of a tree, surrounded by flood water. Many drops of water are seen to be dropped them from a airborne helicopter. The man guesses the reason- “Relax, not fresh rains. They are crocodile tears of our leaders!” Will flood relief reach them? Take a clue from correspondent of the same newspaper- “Apprehensions of former PM Rajiv Gandhi that resources allocated for poor do not reach the targeted beneficiary became true, as the latest UNDP report revealed that India could only manage to maintain its 134th position in the Human Development Index among 182 countries”. More, according to Aditi Tondon, India has been ranked 134th, a slip from standing of 128, last year (Tribune). But who cares, India Inc has slammed CEO pay cap talk and gone overboard by pointing out this will cause brain drain, loss of economic edge and also affect the globalisation process (Mail Today). While the front page of Economic Times informs -“Thanks for the advice. But no thanks! Seems to be the polite message emanating from India Inc to the government to extent its new-found penchant for austerity into corporate boardrooms”. The headline of ‘India Inc stand’ reads- “leave austerity to executive to shareholders”.The editorial of Tribune has a take on this one- “when the per capita annual income of the country is less than Rs. 40,000 and there are a large number of people who survive on less than even that, it is nothing less than scandalous that CEOs of some companies get as much as Rs 500 million a year. That is not a question of demand and supply but that of sheer exploitation of shareholders…”. And not to forget, Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report 2009. According to which India ranks 19th. More - “Firms from India, China and Brazil are regarded by their peers as among the most corrupt when doing business abroad”.

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5 October 2009

Concern of Day

All talks of women empowerment have gone for a toss, its back to the dark ages. Pankaj Jaiswal reports ‘Bundelkhand shame’ on page seven in Hindustan Times. Actually it is - India shame. Reason- In the drought ridden vast region of Bundelkhand, stretching across two Indian States- Uttar Pradesh & Madhya Pradesh, women are being seized by moneylenders to make up for unpaid loans. Yes, there are no bad debts in Bundelkhand, only evil ones. According to Bhagwat Prasad, director of an NGO- “…the healthy have all the power and women are considered an extension of a man’s property and assets…Here, women are helpless and voiceless, invisible victims of an invisible crimes”. But to the Principal Secretary (Women & children) of Uttar Pradesh- “There is no such thing going on…”. This is not the time, this news has come into light. CNN IBN had reported how debt ridden farmers are selling their wives (often on stamp paper) to survive in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. Meanwhile, while the chief minister of state has ordered an enquiry, according to the Commission of Jhansi- “…The region is reeling under drought and farmers have been hit hard. But they are fighting the situation with self-respect”. I can’t believe this. If I hear of any such case, action will be taken“. Meanwhile, instead of punishing the culprits, the police were reportedly trying to silence those who had dared to speak in front of camera (Mid-Day. Sept 2009).

Austerity Watch

After austerity drive for the government sector, a Union Minister has targeted the “vulgar” salaries of the CEOs of the private sector. According to Corporate Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid- “ think when we’re working on this (austerity), we can hardly day that we (will) shut our eyes to what salary CEOs are going to take”. But stopped far from regulating it. The India Inc has not appreciated this pep talk. But is this a question just about high salaries or more of lack of social responsibility on the part of big corporates? Mahima Puri & Vivek Sinha report that aspiration level of country’s professional is $1 million. And with economic revival on cards, thousands will storm the Rs 10 million club! (Economic Times). While the promoters and senior executives of several Indian companies have been offloading part of their stake in the high stock market (Financial Chronicle). Even Mahatma Gandhi has not been spared. The cartoon in Mid-Day reveals the forcing-effect of market forces on Mahatma Gandhi! Tall talks of corporate social responsibility are best heard in five star settings! The country is seeing worst floods in decades apart from drought in various places but none of the big corporate shots have bothered to donate substantial amount to Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. Perhaps their press release didn’t reach newspapers!? Point to ponder- Need more of Barack Obama here?
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4 October 2009

Election Watch

The election battle in State of Haryana is being reflected through advertisements placed by various leading political parties in various newspapers in Hindi. A positive advertisement by ruling Congress party features happy mother & daughter. The text focuses on achievements on keeping promises for women empowerment and also promises more. The punch line is appealing- “Ladli scheme is unique, sweets are distributed on birth of daughter…Increasing women‘s honour”. While the advertisement by opposition party -BJP features pulses in a shop, and focuses on inflation and promises steps to control it. It also appeals- “This time don’t get duped, once give us a chance”. (Punjab Kesari). Punch line of Another ad of same party reads- “No electricity, no water, till when will this be story of Haryana” (Dainik Tribune). The punch line of ad other opposition party- Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) reads- “honour to workers”. It makes 7 promises that include- “8 hours duty to policemen, overtime and one weekly holiday”(Punjab Kesari). Another ad of same party in Dainik Tribune comes with punch line- “Every family will benefit”. Here 4 promises are listed that have Rs.2000 in common, includes- “ One woman of every family will receive Rs. 2000 as woman Honour money”. While the main opposition party, Indian National Lokdal has placed its advertisement on the front page of Dainik Jagran and promises to waive off loans of less than Rs. 1 lakh (Rs.1,00,000). It also mentions- “did it before, will do it now”. It appeals - “This is time of change”. The cartoon in Dainik Tribune features a politician (greeting with folded hands) from helicopter in air. Looking up, villagers comment in rural dialect- “Real development has been done by “Netaji” (politician). Leaving cycle on car, leaving car now helicopter- you tell should for whose development”. In the background is news- “Give vote after looking at development: Hooda”.

Flood Watch

The Southern States are under worst floods, has it appeared on front page of leading newspapers? Take a look-

Rain batters South India, flood deaths up to 194 (Asian Age)

Situation worse in Karnataka- Andhra floods, 180 dead (Punjab Kesari)

Flood disaster in Karnataka, Andhra, relief work speeds up (Dainik Tribune)

177 death due to floods in South (Navbharat Times).

187 dead in 3 days (Hindustan Times).

Floods devastate Andhra, Karnataka (Pioneer)

Flood Situation serious army takes control (Aaj Samaj)

Southern floods leave 172 dead (Times of India)

Flood havoc down South (Hindu)

Armed forces pressed into flood rescue (New Indian Express)

After Tsunami, monsoon fury (Free Press Journal)

However news of Floods in South have not appeared on front page of Dainik Jagran, Mail-Today, Nai Duniya and Rajastha Patrika. Flood Photographs have appeared on front page of Hindustan, Tribune, Hindu, Indian Express, Times of India, Navbharat Times.

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3 October 2009

Advertisement Watch

A half a page ad by Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi features smiling Shera and clock which shows 12 months. The punch line reads- “One year to go…Shera on track” (Indian Express, Amar Ujala, Hindustan). According to Sobhana K, it will a tight finish cards (Indian Express).Rashtriya Sahara has carried agency report that till now even elementary structure is not complete. Team of Nai Duniya reports that only 2-4 projects are over 50% complete and questions are being raised on the pace. However, Joginder Solanki has given a positive report on front page of Deshbandu. Promod Kumar reports that the chief of Commonwealth Federation, who is likely to meet the Prime Minister next week, has again questioned the preparedness of the forthcoming Games saying that there was a need for a “renewed focus by management across the operations of the organizing committee” .(Asian Age). However chief of Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi seems relaxed and claims - “Melbourne was the best but Delhi will be better”. (Times of India).

Media Watch

Toufiq Rashid informs on front page of Hindustan Times that government has asked for a ban on a popular television reality show where celebrity couples look after babies of strangers for four days. In one of the episodes celebrity couple was seen force-feeding a child to the level of chocking him. Anita Joshua reports that showdown between NDTV Imagine and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) appears to on card (front page. Hindu). According to creative head of NDTV- “We have received a notice but we will do everything possible to keep the show on air. The child rights activists should have spoken to parents and producers before jumping to any conclusion..”(Indian Express).

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2 October 2009

Gandhi Watch

Overview

The American President Barack Obama has expressed appreciation for Indian spiritual leader Mohandas K. Gandhi and said that the U.S. joins the Indian people in celebrating a man who dedicated his life to the causes of justice, tolerance and creating change through nonviolent resistance. What about the coverage to Gandhi in Indian newspapers? Page 20 of Times of India asks- “World feted Gandhi, but no takers in India?”. News/report about Mahatma Gandhi has made it to front page of only 5 newspapers of the 19 newspapers scanned today. The President of India is seen trying her hand on the spinning wheel on the front page of Aaj Samaj, Dainik Jagran and Rashtriya Sahara. Bapu has also made an appearance on Masthead of Navbharat Times, Hindustan, Aaj Samaj. However, Ramji Singh feels that Gandhian institutions are loosing their sheen (Rashtriya Sahara). The chief correspondent of Hindustan has similar take. However, Varsha Das (Director of a Gandhian Institution in Delhi) feels that it would be better if people give more importance to Gandhi’s thought than Gandhi Brand (Rashtriya Sahara). However to Archana, Gandhi lives on in luxury brands & tees (Mail Today). The front page of Delhi Times, supplement of Times of India carries Chandra Arora‘s small write-up with heading-“long time ago, Mahatma Gandhi spun cotton….Since then, he’s been spinnin’gold!”. More, page 16 & 20 are devoted to Gandhi in fashion- watch, tees, shirts, jacket & films! On the other hand, Madhusudan Anand feels that if Gandhi would have been alive today, he would not have written with golden pen (read Mont Blanc!). Gandhi was man of soil, what work he had with gold? ” (Nai Duniya). To Gopalkrishna Gandhi, grandson of Bapu- “If a manufacturing group wants to use the Gandhi image on an object of sale, it would do well to recall what Gandhi told Rebello & sons. And if that firm feels that no copyright law now binds it, let it ask itself if a copy-duty does not” (Hindu). The two letters to editor in Hindu are also critical of Mont Blanc’s luxury pens in Gandhi’s name. According to editorial of Rajasthan Patrika- “..On anniversary of Gandhi and Shastri, we should take a pledge to incorporate patriotism, simplicity and honesty in our lives. This not only will be honest homage to them but also change out lives and lead country speedily on development track”. And even Mohan Dharia (Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission) has accepted that Mahatma’s message is still relevant. Many newspapers inform that NREGA will be named after mahatma Gandhi. However, not all is well with NREGA, Times of India reports on its front page that 40% of NREGA funds siphoned in key districts. Hopefully leakages will be checked and accountability fixed. Nevertheless, low priced Gandhi’s autobiography by Navajivan Press, is the maximum selling book in India- 200,000 copies (Rajasthan Patika).

Advertisement Watch

If advertisements are any indication of regard for Mahatma Gandhi, then the grade is A+! Government Advertisements are raining in most newspapers today, courtesy birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Of the 19 Newspapers scanned today, 91 Mahatma Gandhi advertisements have appeared. However, no such ad has appeared in Financial Chronicle, Loksatta and Mail Today. Apart for BSNL (public sector company), PNB (public sector bank) and Mont Blanc, the rest of the ads are associated with government. The punch line of advertisement of Punjab National Bank reads- “On Gandhi Jayanti, PNB embraces Gandhiji’s teachings and reiterated its commitment to its customers” (front page. Indian Express). While BSNL’s punch line reads- “One man connected the entire nation. One name continues to do the same today.” Needless to mention that the ad by Mont Blanc is selling luxury pens using brand Gandhi with his photo and handwriting! However, a PIL has been filed in Kerala High Court challenging the misuse of Mahatma Gandhi’s name for this luxury pen, so this ad might become archival!

Cartoon Watch

The cartoon in DNA shows two politicians paying homage to statue of Mahatma Gandhi (in walking pose), one telling another - “I want to follow him but he is not on Twitter”. While the cartoon on the front page of Asian Age shows two men sitting below the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, one telling other- “We need him to stage one more Satyagrah. Not only for salt but also for rice, dal, sugar, oil…! And another toon deals with more corporate guys approaching Bapu for endorsement of their products to be launched on Jan 30 next! The toon in Aaj Samaj show a politician with flowers and also banging his head, returning from 10 Janpath (residence of Sonia Gandhi). Why- “Dhat tere ki, again confusion”. Clue, take a look at its heading- “Gandhi..which Gandhi..Sonia, Rahul,or…Oh..that old one..forgotten..”. The cartoon on the front page pf Rajasthan Patrika features unhappy statue of Mahatma when politicians are approaching with garlands. Why-”In this drought, inflation, why are you making fun of me, Son!!”. The news on background reads- “Jaipur- On Gandhi circle decoration by electric lights”. While on front page of Indian Express, toon shows a politician chanting favourite bhajan of Bapu in a strange manner- “Vaishshshshshshshshshvava Janto..” He is holding a paper at back -‘Bofors’. The front page cartoon in Hindustan features a politician delivering speech to public-”We should follow Gandhian principles…”. The common man is shown wondering- “Like speaking truth?”.

Media Watch : Manish Anand reports- “Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi has decided to acquire the copyright of Young India from National Archives of South Africa. The journal was launched by Mahatma Gandhi during his initial years in South Africa as a mass leader…Meanwhile, when contacted Mr Gandhi’s office declined to either confirm or deny the leader’s desire to acquire the rights. ” (Asian Age).

Hang on, Young India was never launched by Mahatma Gandhi during his initial years in South Africa as a mass leader. Check out Bapu’s Autobiography, one entire chapter focuses on Navajivan and Young India. Young India was taken over by Gandhi as editor, after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

In fact, take clue from Mahatma - “..friends who were directing the management of the Chronicle (Bombay Chronicle), viz. Messrs Umar Sobani & Shankarlal Banker, were at this time also controlling editorship of Young India. They suggested that, in the view of suppression of The Chronicle, I should take up the editorship of Young India, and that in order to fill the gap by the former, Young India should be converted from a weekly to bi-weekly organ. This was what I felt also. I was anxious to expound the inner meaning of Satyagrah to the public, and also hoped that though this effort I should at least be able to do justice to the Punjab situation…In the meantime The Chronicle was resuscitated. Young India was restored to its original weekly form. To have published the two weeklies from two different places would have been very inconvenient to me and involved more expenditure. As Navajivan was already being published from Ahmedabad Young India was removed there at my suggestion…Both of them had reached wide circulation, which at one time rose to the neighborhood of forty thousand each..But while the circulation of Navajivan went up at a bound, that of Young India increased only by slow degrees… ”.

Another chapter in Gandhi’s autobiography exclusively focuses on Indian Opinion, which Bapu launched during his initial years in South Africa as a mass leader.

“….About this time Sjt Mandanji approached me with a proposal to start Indian Opinion and sought my advice. He had already been conducting a press, and I approved of his proposal. The journal was launched in 1904, and Sjt Mansukhlal Nazar become the first editor. But I has to bear the brunt of the work…In the very first month of Indian Opinion, I realized that the sole aim of Journalism should be service…”

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1 October 2009

Gandhi Watch

With Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi just a day ahead, leading newspapers have carried full page advertisement by Ministry of Women & Child Development, which features Mahatma Gandhi. This ad comes with the punch line- “Women is the incarnation of Ahimsa. Launch of National Campaign on prevention of violence against women”. How- Facilitations, meets, walks, commissions, centres etc. Will all this bear fruit? Why ask? All newspapers report that Delhi has announced the new excise policy, allowing liquor vends to open shops in Malls in the city. Not surprising, mall owners have welcomed this decision- more rent & value for their shops! But what’s the logic behind this move, that too a day before Bapu’s birthday? Needless to mention that Mahatma Gandhi was dead against liquor. Has Bapu been forgotten? Nope, website of the Department of Social Welfare, Government of NCT of Delhi does mention- “The objective of the Prohibition is well stated in the Article 47 of the Constitution of India. Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation was the Chief Profounder of this policy and it has been accepted as a National Policy of the Country. Intoxicants lead to physical, mental, intellectual and economic degeneration of the addict and there is no substitute for this loss. In the recent past drinking has crossed all the barriers and it has reached into the homes of all section of society i.e. economically weaker section and elite class especially youth. Drinking in the society has ominous implications and weakens the entire social structure by disrupting the institution of the family and the country and also distorts the priority of development process…”. Hindustan Times has carried opinion of four people (under 24 years), and all are against opening shops in malls. Take a look what the Neha had to say- “As if unsafe streets were not enough, now even malls will be full of thirsty eyes”. Neha, streets will not be safer, as government has given permission to open 78 new liquor shops in the city making total to 590 (Nai Duniya). The why open these outlets? Special correspondent of Hindu reveals- “..to meet the demand during upcoming Commonwealth Games…increasing revenues…”.This is definitely not an image-building exercise for the nation of Mahatma Gandhi, at the cost of safety of women. Nevertheless, Asian Age & Tribune have carried a photograph which shows a man splashing water on the statue of Bapu in preparation with his birthday. Point to ponder- Ritual remembrance of Bapu will as usual follow tomorrow, but what about his core principles? ..What did you say?


https://www.sarcajc.com/Nov_09-Newspaper_Watch.php

Nov 09-Newspaper Watch

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

 

30 November 2009

Media Watch

The Indian Express has carried a four page supplement - “Pride of India”. What is it about- Indian public sector. But hang on, this is not a normal supplement, small print informs “A space marketing feature”. An advertisement or space marketed, keep guessing! Look -“Dun & Bradstreem the world’s leading source of global business information, knowledge and insight, published a report on India’s top PSUs 2009’, in an effort to recognise the strategic importance of this sector”. This supplement also contains ads of ONGC, UCO Bank and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd & also a write-up each about them! Point to ponder- what was that?
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29 November 2009

Concern of Day

The Indian Express has highlighted extract from Nandan Nilekani in bold- “The idea is to be inclusive, The upper and middle classes have many forms of identity but the poor has none”. Under Nandan Nilekani’s supervistion, will the national identify number make it easier to identify the poor which is seen in the cartoon in DNA? The cartoon in DNA shows common man being crushed under the bulldozer of prices. Manmohan Singh is seen telling this crushed man- “We promise to protect you from terrorism”. Three ministers- Home Minister, Agriculture and finance are seen amused.

Advertisement Watch

If you have it, flaunt it! A full page advertisement in DNA (Mumbai Edition) informs - “ DNA is not the 2nd largest English daily in Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Jaipur. The ad does not forget to mention-”Thank you for your support”.
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