Shouting Indian News Anchors Trio: Arnab, Barkha & Sagarika

The I&B ministry commissioned the mother of all surveys on the media. It covered humans, whales and loan sharks. AJITH PILLAI scoops the findings……

..3. What should the government do with leaders who walk out of TV studios like Mamata Banerjee did?
 
60%: Set up a finishing school that teaches leaders to complete shows and not walk off in a huff….
4. In your view what would happen if Arnab Goswami of Times Now raises his pitch any higher/shriller?
 
60%: He will break the sound barrier and would be talking before actually speaking.
20%: He might be used as a special effect voice in heavy metal albums…
5. Who should be Arnab’s co-host?
 
60%: Barkha Dutt and Sagarika Ghose. They can shout at each other with Mani Shankar Aiyar and Cyrus Bharucha joining them to give the viewer’s a break…..
9 . Is it right for the government to allow senior editors to fight in public against each other?
 
60%: That’s better than the Big Fight on TV
20 %: If they agree who will be the aggrieved?…
Read the full article on The HootGovt poll: how is the media doing?

Mamatamayee: a worthy psychological case-study

Abhirup Bhunia writes an electrifying piece, “Didi, The Eccentric, Paranoid, Conspiracy Theorist”  in Youth Ki Awaaz

Cartoon courtesy: surendran & The Hindu

Having conquered the erstwhile Marxist citadel riding on heavy anti-incumbency, she has since tended to put an attitude of indomitability. But deep within lie a sense of insecurity and a fear that she might be unseated. She fears tough questions. She doesn’t like her shortcomings being pointed out to her. Critics unsettle her.

All the same, she has an even worse propensity to fly her own kite and go on about how it is her 1 year at the helm that saw the best of Bengal.

Typically, politics is dirty, and much so in India. It is about mudslinging, arguments and counter arguments.  But Mamata can be solely charged with disfiguring the rhetoric. Her tirade against CPM and anything distantly CPM like is ugly, fearsome. Not since independence has Bengal seen a more overbearing state. Badmouthing is all the rage in Mamata’s Bengal. And it is mostly the ruling party.

Mamata’s illogical statements and bizarre justifications have citizens worried. Her censorship tales are common knowledge. Arbitrary arrests under her rule on the one side and discretionary release of jailed partymen on the other side add up to a depressing incongruity.

Her hatred for CPM is understandable, not that it is allowed in democracy. But what’s downright intolerable is her labelling of all people as CPM’s agent who question her tenure, criticise her government’s functioning or point out the severe anomalies among her party and her cabinet.

And it so happened at a recent people show at a TV channel when university students gathered to engage in a Q&A session moderated by the channel’s senior editor. What ensued was absurd, deplorable and literally slanderous. Mamata went on to directly allege the students rightly critical of her government of being “Maoists”, “CPM cadre”, SFI members and everything anti-TMC. She wildly asserted that the audience was selected from an ultra-Leftist student block.  Clearly, it’s the same old conspiracy theory that Mamata resorted to. Bengal has heard this before. The nation has. Mamata has to get over her paranoia, stop seeing conspiracies everywhere, bite the bullet, and finally broaden her mind up.

And if she gets the time, she should start fearing the lull in Bengal. The storm might not be too far away.

Mamata Banerjee a spoilsport says a simple woman

Taniya Bhardwaj: I hold offers from the University College, London and the School of Oriental and African Studies to study development and administration. I too will probably leave, and now you know the reason why.

Taniya Bhardwaj a student of political science from Presidency University who was labelled as ‘Maoist’ by Mamata Banerjee on a news channel and became a centre of attraction, writes an open letter to CM:

Dear ‘Simple Man’,

On being asked a simple question, you acquired a complicated avatar. We all went to the CNN-IBN question-answer session on Friday, May 18, at the Town Hall expecting to hear some heated exchanges, but it got too hot to handle.

You, the most important person in West Bengal, labelled me and the rest of the audience ‘Maoist and CPM cadres’. What exactly did we do to deserve this honour? We asked you questions. I asked you whether affiliates of your party, specifically minister Madan Mitra and MP Arabul Islam, who wield power, should act, or should have acted, more responsibly.

Like many others, I was also greatly disturbed when Madan Mitra pronounced his own judgement on a rape victim before the police were done investigating. This woman, whose character was assassinated, is an Anglo-Indian, a member of the minority community. Thus, if we were to even forget about sensitivity, the question of political correctness still hangs over his conduct.

A few months ago, this very same man had misbehaved with policemen who had stopped his car on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass as part of its routine. As for the Arabul Islam case, it is still making headlines.

I asked you something that had been on the minds of most people around me, people who voted for ‘paribartan’ (change). Is this what we expect of our leaders? The ones who set examples and whom people follow. This is all that I wanted to know. What I got to know, instead, is that in West Bengal, asking a question can be the equivalent of being a Maoist.

‘Simple man’, you claimed with pride on stage that you’re not a feminist.

That proclamation did not surprise us, especially after the Katwa and Park Street cases. You also spoke of democracy. The answers you gave to the questions you took before mine were sprinkled with words like ‘people’, ‘democracy’, and ‘Bengal’.

But one of the most important features of a true democracy, which I have learnt as a student of political science, is freedom of expression. This freedom is the one that allows an individual to express oneself, to not have to mince words out of fear of authority. It involves enjoying a chuckle or two at cartoon about important public figures.

Sadly, there seems to be a gradual failure in this aspect of the democratic machinery in the state. And just like I won’t become a Maoist simply because you called me one, the state too won’t epitomize democracy unless it is truly so in all spheres. All said and done, what you did was in haste and it made me the centre of attention. And as you stomped off in fury, you automatically assumed the role of the spoilsport.

It would have been so much more ‘simple’ had you just answered my question, or even said “No comments” and moved on. The question became so important because you chose to make it important.

You have spoken of ‘brain drain’ so many times. I hold offers from the University College, London and the School of Oriental and African Studies to study development and administration. I too will probably leave, and now you know the reason why. Had you stayed on, it would have been fun. And you would have honestly been ‘a Chief Minister with a difference’. The role of your office as Chief Minister is to aggregate interest – you should at the least have heard us all out.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”. So said Abraham Lincoln.

Love

A Simple Woman – Taniya Bhardwaj

Undemocratic Mamata orders police inquiry on student who raised voice!!!

Cartoon: R. Prasad: Sohail Abdi, a second-year student of history at Presidency College who was also present on the TV show, said Mamata was ‘undemocratic’.

Next time you get a chance to ask West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee a question or criticise any of her moves, think twice as you could be labelled a Maoist sympathiser or a CPM cadre.

Taniya Bhardwaj, a student of political science at Kolkata’s Presidency College, dared to do as much on a TV news channel’s show on Friday at the Town Hall here. A furious Mamata labelled Taniya a ‘Maoist and a CPM cadre’ and asked the police to do a background check on those asking awkward questions.  Immediately after the show was recorded on Friday evening, some officers of the state police’s special branch descended on the TV channel’s office in Kolkata and demanded that the contact details of the participants be handed over.

She asked a simple question about the conduct of state ministers and officials over crimes against women. Taniya is now quite apprehensive about the consequences as the Kolkata police have already started collecting information about the students who asked Banerjee uncomfortable questions on the show.

‘Have I done anything wrong? I just asked a simple question. She could have avoided the question easily. But she started castigating the audience instead,’ Taniya said.

The CM lost her cool when members in the audience questioned her on the arrest of Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra and the increased attacks on women in the state.

Read full story by SOUDHRITI BHABANI  in MailOnlineIndia: Didi unleashes cops on students

Mamata gags the Dodhichi newsletter

Now, it is the turn of the alternative media in West Bengal to be at the receiving end of governmental intolerance. There is a clampdown on a unique mobile alert service in Kolkata, writes RANJIT SUR in The HOOT.

The Mamata Banerjee Government in West Bengal is trying its best to gag the language media. It is not news anymore. To some extent she is exposed in this regard, and people are protesting against such a move. But gagging a small but very important alternative media centre remained out of sight of the people. It is mainly because the big press or the corporate media have not shown any interest over it. Moreover, most of the media persons even do not understand what alternative media could be. So the news of gagging of  the Dodhichi Newsletter did not find any place in any major publication in Kolkata, in print or on TV media, barring a line or two in a couple of news media.

What is the Dodhichi Newsletter? According to its director, Dr Shyamal Roy, “Dodhichi Newsletter is a Kolkata-based cellphone text messaging service disseminating information, news, and views not appearing in the mainstream media.” It is in operation running since 2010. In a letter addressed to Home Secretary, Government of India, Dr Ray said: “ Our service provides a platform to hundreds of freelance news-gatherers, social and cultural activists, and NGOs and reaches out to a select list of thousands of message receivers, among them MPS, MLAs, Ministers, political leaders as well as eminent personalities in various fields.“
This writer himself is a message receiver and sender listed with Dodhichi. It’s a unique service, at least in Kolkata. There is no other service of this kind here. During the last two and a quarter years it has provided wonderful service to all the mass organisations and their activists.
Whenever an organisation calls for a demonstration or rally, or any State crackdown occurs on any mass organisation, a single text message (SMS) sent to Dodhichi was enough to inform and mobilise all the activists. Through the Dodhichi mobile newsletter the SMS containing the information reached hundreds of interested persons within seconds. Within a short time, the activists could decide on their duty or they could assemble at the place of demonstration or at the site of the happenings.
During the last months of Budhadeb Bhattacharjee government Mamata Banerjee got the benefit of this service, as it was the time of anti- government and anti-establishment mass movements.
(Read the full article in The Hoot: Dodhichi Newsletter

India – Charming state of affairs

Hot-headed democracy?

So across the country, and across the different estates—government, legislature, judiciary, media—we have a charming state of affairs in which action derives only from reaction.

Talking Media | Sevanti Ninan

If you ask whether social media is a boon or bane you should also ask whether the judiciary is a boon or otherwise, and ditto for the democratic governments we elect. For increasingly they all have their zany moments. And that is a kind word.

We’ve become such a reactive polity that our daily conduct will soon be hemmed in by injunctions issued by one or the other of these estates. All of them are on a short fuse.

If a Dalit poet and activist writes on social media about a beef-eating festival in Hyderabad, she encounters a chilling barrage of hate mail on the same trendy Twitter that the chattering classes are addicted to. Including a tweet which suggests she be raped on live television. A blogger called Kevin Gil Martin has described Twitter as lazy mob justice—an apt description of something which is more and more in evidence.

Then a video allegedly featuring Congress politician Abhishek Manu Singhvi goes viral and while Twitter reacts with glee, the always-dying-to-react Press Council chairman suggests restrictions on social media.

A newspaper goes overboard and fantasizes on its entire page 1 about troop movements, and the intent behind them. Six days later the Allahabad high court responds to a public interest litigation by directing the centre and the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that there is no reporting on the movement of troops by the print or electronic media. A blanket ban, just like that?

Mamata Banerjee is determined to immortalize herself in social media’s rogues gallery by acting like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland. Metaphorically, it is off with their heads for anyone who makes fun of the chief minister, and a neat blow to their circulation for newspapers that do not play ball. Cyberspace responds as it’s wont to, and in vigorously waving the free speech flag prefers to ignore the more conventional skulduggery behind the cartoon-forwarding-professor coming to grief.

courtesy: livemint.com

Surely what also needs to be exposed along with Mamata’s reactive behaviour is Trinamool’s politicking-for-spoils culture that may be spreading in the state.

The ministry of information and broadcasting is amazing. Unable to get broadcasting regulation passed for a decade and a half, it resorts to malleable guidelines. Either you have a firm policy on what can be telecast in terms of adult fare, and when, or you don’t. Is this now going to be decided on a movie-by-movie basis, as happened last weekend with the Sony telecast of The Dirty Picture?

So across the country, and across the different estates—government, legislature, judiciary, media—we have a charming state of affairs in which action derives only from reaction. What happened to due process?

The Supreme Court is also attempting to curb runaway legal reporting. The difference is that it has initiated deliberations, which is as it should be. The purview of its deliberations to frame guidelines for how the media should report sub judice matters has arisen from an issue of allegedly leaked privileged communication between the counsel of Sahara Real Estate Corp. and the Securities and Exchange Board of India.

The court initiated a debate on the framing of guidelines for reporting of criminal trials to guard against any violation of Article 21 that guarantees the right of an accused to reputation and dignity and to ensure that his trial does not get prejudiced.

Then on 4 April, the court also ordered the inclusion of four more media guideline-related petitions. The issues raised in these petitions include norms for news coverage in electronic media, norms and guidelines to minimize presentation of sexual abuse and violence on TV channels, and contempt proceedings against journalists for publishing confessional statements of the accused before police.

The 2011 petition by Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (Anhad), which is one of the four the Supreme Court will take up, is also a response to the ad hoc manner in which police releases to the media material that can tarnish reputations.

Several journalists and media associations will be able to intervene in this judicial process of determining norms. That is how it should be. And where social media is concerned, too, that is how it should have been, before Markandey Katju (Press Council chairman) and Kapil Sibal (human resource development minister) chose to make pre-emptive statements.

But because nobody waits to give a measured response before they go their reactive way, all we will end up with is arbitrary curbs decreed by the government and implemented by service providers. Accompanied doubtless by an extended flurry of cyber abuse. As the current campaign seeking annulment of restrictive IT rules shows, undoing arbitrariness is going to take a lot of doing.

The poet Frances Trollope coined an evocative phrase with reference to Thomas Jefferson, referring to his “hot-headed democracy” which he said had done “a fearful injury” to his country. Who embodies it most here, I wonder: abusive free speech champions, the West Bengal chief minister, parliamentarians and the judiciary railing against the messenger rather than the bad news, or our hyperventilating TV anchors?

Sevanti Ninan is a media critic, author and editor of the media watch website thehoot.org. She examines the larger issues related to the media in a fortnightly column.

Mamata, Pawar, Ramesh, Sibal & Selja in que to start channels

After West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed her desire to start her very own television channel and newspaper to ward off the negative publicity that she has been garnering, it looks like there are many other politicians in the fray who wants to utilize the media, the Didi-way.

Similar requests have emerged from several UPA ministers to the government expressing their keenness to start TV channels to make the common man aware of the “ministries’ achievements” and “people friendly policies”. Mamata was the first among the lot who wanted a dedicated channel to propagate her and her party’s views.

Among the ministers who want themselves and their ministries featured on TV are agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, Jairam Ramesh (rural development), Kapil Sibal (HRD) and culture minister Kumari Selja. Sources have been quoted as saying that the ministries were of the view that dedicated channels were required considering the specialised nature of their domains.

The proposals are, however, stuck at the proposal level before the planning commission. The commission is taking it easy for the time being since the cost of setting up each channel would cost close to Rs 200 crore each.

courtesy: OneIndia News

TIME: Anjali & Mamata are amongst 100 most influential on Earth

They are the people who inspire us, entertain us, challenge us and change our world. Meet the breakouts, pioneers, moguls, leaders and icons who make up this year’s TIME 100

Anjali Gopalan

I met Anjali Gopalan in 1995, when I was researching a new disease whose name was spoken only in whispers in India. At the time, doctors and nurses in some Delhi hospitals would not touch people infected with HIV. Gopalan not only touched them; she took them into her home and danced with them. She escorted me to the hidden places where gays and lesbians met: in Nehru Park on Sunday evenings and at a party where men arrived garbed as Bollywood heroines from the 1950s and ’60s. It was a threatened world, and Gopalan had returned home from Brooklyn to protect it.

Through her work at the Naz Foundation, Gopalan, 54, has done more than anyone else to advance the rights of gays and the transgendered in India, successfully petitioning the courts to get rid of a British-era law against sodomy. But her work isn’t just in courtrooms. She also runs a home for HIV-positive orphans.

Gopalan has brought about a revolution in the status of sexual minorities in India — and has done so joyously, dancing.

Mamata Banerjee

Though much of Indian society remains hidebound in patriarchy and tradition, strong women still prevail in the nation’s political life. Mamata Banerjee rose to the fore last year when she and a movement she built from the grassroots wrested control of her home state of West Bengal, ending 3 ½ decades of sclerotic communist rule. Banerjee, 57, spent years struggling on the margins, her Trinamool Congress Party a feisty rabble compared with the leviathan of West Bengal’s communists. Referred to by her supporters as Didi, or “elder sister,” she was labeled by critics as a mercurial oddball and a shrieking street fighter. But ultimately she proved to be the consummate politician. Through successive elections, Banerjee steadily expanded her power base while chipping away at those of her opponents. Her lower-middle-class background was no obstacle in a country notorious for its dynasties. In New Delhi’s back rooms, where political horse trading is the name of the game, she excelled. On the streets, she out-Marxed the Marxists. And as chief minister of her home state, she has emerged as a populist woman of action — strident and divisive but poised to play an even greater role in the world’s largest democracy.

(courtesy: Suketu Mehta, Ishaan Tharoor & TIME)

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2111975_2111976_2112141,00.html #ixzz1sPMvUW00

‘the people of West Bengal will turn their back on her’

Rudrangshu Mukherjee writes in The Telegraph, Kolkata:

..No one can deny that Mamata Banerjee came to power through democratic means. She led a relentless campaign against the Left and her campaign would not have been possible or successful if the Left had effectively stifled democratic rights and expressions. When she sat on a hunger strike in Esplanade and then later blocked a major highway for days on end, the state administration did not send in the police to break up the protests and neither did the CPI(M) let loose its goons on the demonstrators. Moreover, the media were left free to report on these agitations in ways that they deemed fit. Some supported the protests and some didn’t. There was no external interference in editorial decisions.

….The Bengali word, paribartan, has suddenly come to acquire very ominous overtones. When the people of West Bengal voted overwhelmingly to overthrow the Left Front, they did not quite expect that they were ushering in a regime that would be irre sponsible, intolerant of criticism and would display a pronounced propensity for authoritarianism.

….The people of West Bengal, like people all over the world, have the right to dissent, to laugh, to mock, to criticize and, above all, to speak and write freely without the fear of the State and the bullying of party cadre. The present political regime appears to have scant regard for these rights. It wants to create an ambience of fear and to rule through terror. For this alone, the present dispensation has to be opposed.

Read the full article: http://epaper.telegraphindia.com/PUBLICATIONS/TT/TT/2012/04/18/ArticleHtmls/Fear-of-freedom-18042012010005.shtml?Mode=1

Promised Delivered – Mamata’s Achievments in 168 pages( 4 of which are ‘ulta’)

AMID NEGATIVE NEWS, 168 PAGES OF GOOD NEWS IN BENGAL

The answer was blowin’ in the wind and rolling off the presses while the chief minister was insisting

“you (a section of the media) only see the negative, you don’t see anything positive“.

A 168-page paperback, titled Promises Delivered and printed in glazed paper, is available for anyone willing to fork out Rs 100 and eager to read about the achievements of the new government which feels its good work is not being given enough recognition.

Advance copies have already started reaching the tables of senior officials who were caught by surprise because they were already working on such a list for the big day round the corner: the Mamata Banerjee government’s first anniversary next month.

“Very few people in Writers’ actually knew that it was getting published…. Everyone is now working on the oneyear commemoration book, scheduled to be published next month,“ said a senior state government official.

Others were marvelling at the production quality and size of the tom-tom tome. “This is the first time that I have seen such a voluminous publication about the government’s achievements,“ said an official who got the book free yesterday after the chief minister’s office started distributing it.

Some officials suggested the chief minister’s office wanted the publication “as soon as possible“ to counter what Mamata has described as “slander and conspiracy“ in the foreword of the book. (See excerpts in chart) If such a word did indeed go out, those who printed the book appear to have spared no effort:

such was the haste that Pages 41-44 in at least one copy have been printed upside down.

But that should not take anything away from the effort to highlight the achievements the government has managed over the past 11 months.

After explaining the problems -mainly financial constraints -that she has faced in her attempt to deliver on development, the chief minister has highlighted some of the major achievements in her four-page foreword, which have been explained later in detail under different department heads.

“Some are publicly criticising us without mentioning our good performances. This is unmixed conspiracy….False statements are issued forth and facts and statistical data are being ignored,“

she has written in the foreword.

The past few weeks have been a public relations disaster for the government and the chief minister, culminating in the arrest of the Jadavpur University professor for emailing a cartoon.

Against such a backdrop, the book presumably hopes to set the record straight and bring those who strayed back to the straight and the narrow.

Sources in the state secretariat said that around 10,000 copies of the book -a majority of them in English and the remaining in Urdu and Santhali -have been printed from government-owned Saraswaty Press. Unlike most government publications, quality paper has been used for Promises Delivered, which has several colour pictures of Mamata, some of them reliving the happiest moments of her chief ministerial career. Among them are a November 10, 2011, picture with Sharmila Tagore and Shah Rukh Khan at the film festival inauguration and another a week later with Sachin Tendulkar at the Eden.

A senior official of the state information and cultural affairs department, which has published the book, said that the main objective of the book was to make people aware of what the government has done. “It is nothing new. The book is basically a translation in English, Urdu and Santhali from the book published in Bengali to mark the new government’s 200 days in power,“ he said.

The government had brought out a Bengali book -Kichu Kotha, Kichu Kaj (Some words, some work) -in January as Mamata had promised in her manifesto that she would give the people of the state the chance to evaluate her. “We could not distribute the book to all the departments that time and that’s why we have brought out the English version now,“ said the official.

Such a publication would not have drawn much attention but for the fact that government of Trinamul spokespersons have been repeatedly speaking of negative publicity .

Last evening, the chief minister herself had complained of negative news and said in response to a question on development:

“Had you seen the positive side too, you would notice that this government’s performance is 100 out of 100.“

The only problem is if the paperback becomes a bestseller, the state may end up losing money , although for a good cause. Off the record, some officials put the cost of producing the book between Rs 150 and Rs 200 a piece, which means if more and more readers buy it at the official price tag of Rs 100, the state will be adding to its losses.

The Telegraph does not intend to add to the burden of the state exchequer but it is sticking to the cardinal paperback code of not letting out the suspense-filled contents of Promises Delivered.

Instead, the newspaper has done the next best positive thing to plug the book by unabashedly offering a sneak preview of the foreword and highlighting the outlet (see chart) from where you can buy it.

Happy reading! Courtesy: The Telegraph