Fine Print: Rajya Sabha to vote on Indian Media Censorship!

The Rajya Sabha is expected to vote on a motion on Friday that seeks to annul rules enabling individuals to demand removal of any content they deem offensive, on the grounds that these guidelines restrict freedom of expression. (courtesy: Bhuvaneshwari Joshi)

We will not only join the game but try to beat bloggers & twitterites: Darbar Ganguly

This Millennium belongs to you

This Millennium belongs to you: Darbar Ganguly

This Millennium belongs to you: Darbar Ganguly

Durbar Ganguly, the owner of the millenium post writes in his first editorial  :

…..In this age of bloggers and Twitterites, where the voice of the common man dominates like never before, we will not only join the game but try to beat them. We will prove this is not the end of an era for print journalism. Rather, it is the beginning of something new that will be defined by what we, and our readers and supporters, can learn and become together.

Like the common man, we have no regret or fear that we are not part of the lucky sperm club, just unbounded confidence (perhaps a little misplaced, but we just cannot help ourselves), and an untamable eagerness to get ahead and make our mark and grab every opportunity with both hands. For the ordinary to strain towards the extraordinary. His story is as old as time but like the emerging India, also a new chapter that is full of promise.

Our motto is no half truths, and the full truth must include not only the glamour of the corridors of power, but the grit and grime of the smallest galli and mohalla, the struggle for survival not only in the hurly burly of politics but also in the jungles of Bastar and the blood, sweat and tears shed in the arid fields of rural India. The striving for success not only in the plush highrises of corporate India but also the insatiable hunger to excel and better one’s lot in each slum sprawl that surrounds them. 

Read the full edit: This Millennium belongs to you

If Loksabha, a bat would really have come in handy to Sachin

Tunku Varadarajan writes in his column The World On A Page in The Newsweek International

Little Master, M.P.

Until now, the only argument Indians have had over Sachin Tendulkar is whether he is the greatest cricketer ever to have played the game, or merely the greatest Indian cricketer. But with his nomination to the Rajya Sabha—the Indian parliament’s upper house—some of his fussier compatriots are asking what (if any) skills the batsman possesses that would equip him for a legislature. Tendulkar, known to the game’s followers as the “little master,” is a notably apolitical man. He will be the first active sportsman to sit in the upper house, a sedate institution when compared with the Lok Sabha, or lower house—where a bat would really have come in handy.

Tunku Varadarajan is the editor of Newsweek International. He is also the Virginia Hobbs Carpenter Fellow in Journalism at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. He was an editor at the Wall Street Journal from 2000 to 2007.

“#unfollowsachin” trend on Twitter

The recent nomination of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar for the Rajya Sabha seat has managed to stir up a storm in the entire country. Everyone, television channels, social media, general public, political parties has caught the bug.

Some are questioning the practicality of the nomination; some are in favor of a political seat for the little master; while some are terming it as a political ploy by the Congress party. The reactions are many and varied.

The Twitter has become battle ground between Sachin’s fans and people who object to his nomination for the coveted post.

There was a general consensus among the people that it was an ‘attention diverting tactic’ on the behalf of the ruling Congress party.

The party- plagued by allegation of corruption, scandals, and misrule- wants to shift the focus from the main issues, it was believed by some.

One campaigner flashed out the collective sense of outrage. According to him, by accepting the Rajya Sabha nomination from the Congress, and by personally meeting Sonia Gandhi, Sachin had, in a manner of speaking, sold his soul to the “corrupt” Congress.

Sachin Tendulkar had gone to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi, on Thursday prior his Rajya Sabha nomination announcement.

The issue came into limelight on the social media site, Twitter. So much so, the Twitter site is buzzing with calls, for and against the #unfollowsachin trend; with message pouring in at the rate of over 100 tweets per 10 minutes.

The cause was vociferous on the web.

The chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar tweeted- “ #UnfollowSachin still trending on twitter & I still believe 95% of them have nothing to do with hatred toward Sachin but towards Congress.”

Vijya Mallya was the most vocal supporter of the nomination- “Delighted to hear on the news that Sachin has been nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Befitting for an extraordinarily accomplished Indian.”

“I have unfollowed Sachin. He has become part of corruption now,” read one of the tweets.

One tweet sums the entire episode, “@sachin_rt U should’ve joined politics but not Sonia Gandhi, who is hated by the nation. Hence #UnfollowSachin. U’ve let down Indians.”

“Y #unfollowsachin? I thinks it’s great that he goes to d Rajya Sabha. Better than many many tht have gone before” reads the tweet of director and producer, Shekhar Kapoor.

The hashtag has not gone down well with the ardent fans of Sachin Tendulkar. The reaction was enormous. One person tweeted- “The most absurd hash-tag in recent Twitter.”

While the other read- “First you push him to score the 100th 100. Then you suggest him to retire. And now this. Mind your own work people!”

A majority of the people were of the opinion that the hashtag ‘Unfollowsachin’  is inconsequential and Sachin will always continue to rule the hearts of millions of Indians with his batting displays.

68 % Indians don’t want Sachin in parliament !

Star cricketer Sachin Tendulkar’s nomination to Rajya Sabha was met with widespread bemusement on Friday, with many questioning whether the publicly apolitical batting superstar will have the time or inclination to serve as an MP.

President Pratibha Patil approved the government’s nomination of Tendulkar late on Thursday, offering him one of the 12 seats in the Rajya Sabha, or upper house that are reserved for presidential appointees.

He is the first active sportsman to receive the honour, with the seats normally gifted to people who have distinguished themselves in the arts, sciences or social services.

The adoration of the cricketer in India verges on religious worship – a fact not lost on Friday’s newspaper headline writers, with newspapers announcing that ‘God has a New House’.

Not to divert attention: Cong

Most members of the upper House welcomed the decision even as the Opposition felt this could be a move by the Congress to divert attention from the problems afflicting the party.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut maintained that Tendulkar should be given the Bharat Ratna but questioned the timing of his nomination to Rajya Sabha.

“Sachin is still on the field and has not retired. So why is he not being nominated for Bharat Ratna? And if Sachin is being used to divert attention from the problems plaguing Congress, then such politics should not be practised by them. Anything that Congress does is inspired by politics. Sachin is above politics,” he said.

Congress Rajya Sabha member Satyavrat Chaturvedi rubbished the opposition charge that Tendulkar has been nominated to divert attention.

“The Government, country and Parliament are above any individual. One person can neither build nor destroy the fate of a party or a government. The sooner this confusion is removed, the better. The kind of mindset Shiv Sena has, it can say anything,” he said.

Chaturvedi maintained that nominated members have also contributed immensely to Rajya Sabha.

“I have seen some nominated members who have made a lot of contribution. Can anybody ignore the contribution made by M.S. Swaminathan or Shabana Azmi? On the other hand, there were some who visited only once in a blue moon,” he said.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Mayawati (BSP), Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Sudip Bandyopadhaya (TMC) and Raj Babbar (Cong) welcomed Tendulkar becoming a Rajya Sabha member.

Hope Sachin is not bored: Hema Malini

Rajya Sabha is a place for retired people and one hopes that Sachin Tendulkar does not get bored with his new responsibility, actress and former MP Hema Malini said today.

“It is a very prestigious thing. I am happy for him. This (RS) is for retired people…and I suppose he is not retired yet. I just hope he doesn’t get bored,” Malini, whose term in Rajya Sabha ended recently, said.

Noted director Mahesh Bhatt hoped that glory will follow the 39-year-old star batsman in Parliament as well. “He is a legend. It is great that he has been nominated. Glory is his co-traveller. This (nomination) is just deepening of his halo,” Bhatt said.

“Don’t forget Sachin had taken on the Shiv Sena and said that Maharashtra belongs to every Indian not just to Maharashtrians,” actress Shabana Azmi wrote in reply to a Twitter user, who said Sachin would never raise his voice against anything wrong.

Bandit Queen director Shekhar Kapur wrote, “I think its great that he goes to the Rajya Sabha. Better than many many that have gone before.”

Actress Gul Panag tweeted, “I am all for Sachin for RS. Better than a retired 60+ sports person no?”

While Bollywood celebrities came out in support of Tendulkar’s nomination, the twitter world seemed divided with ‘Unfollow Sachin’ trending on the micro-blogging website.

“UnfollowSachin trended not just in India, but worldwide. Point was made loud and clear that Sachin’s fans don’t like his Rajya Sabha entry,” a twitter user wrote.

“We like Sachin for his cricket. With GpCapt rank in AF he degraded Air Force Offrs. Same way many don’t like him degrading MPs post (sic),” another tweeted. “Give him a chance, he has always done right things in his life,” a supporter wrote.

Sachin interested?

The reaction of media commentators and some of the ‘Little Master‘s’ fellow cricketers was one of puzzled caution.

“Frankly, I am at a loss for words,” said former Mumbai and India team-mate Sanjay Manjrekar.

“I never realised these sort of things interested him. He is not one to express his views publicly and this would be a real test for him. I hope he can make a difference in parliament.”

Tendulkar, who turned 39 on Tuesday, has played more Tests (188) and one-day internationals (463) than any other player since his debut in 1989.

He is the highest run-getter in both forms of the game and last month became the first batsman to complete 100 international centuries – 51 in Tests and 49 in one-dayers.

Doubts on serving as a politician

Despite recent speculation about his retirement, Tendulkar has given no indication that he plans to hang up his pads, leading some to question how he could fit an MP’s duties into his hectic playing schedule.

“He plays almost right through the year, where is the time to go to parliament?” said another ex-international Akash Chopra.

“I will be disappointed if he did not contribute and make a mark for himself in the Rajya Sabha.”

Not a great idea: Bhogle

Noted cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle suggested the nomination was a cynical ploy to gain ‘political mileage’ out of Tendulkar, who has rarely, if ever, spoken out on political issues or professed any party affiliation.

“I don’t think it is the greatest idea,” said Bhogle. “He does not have the experience of governing or doing social work.”

No comment from the cricketer

Tendulkar has not yet commented to indicate whether he will accept the honour.

But news of the nomination broke just hours after he and his wife called on ruling Congress party president Sonia Gandhi at her residence in New Delhi.

“My only fear is that the stamp of a political party should not come on him,” said Chetan Chauhan, a former India opener who forged a career as an MP.

“The minute he associates himself with a party, the public’s perception about him will change,” Chauhan was quoted as saying by a newspaper.

Well-known cricketers who are sitting members of the elected lower house, or Lok Sabha, are former internationals Mohammad Azharuddin, Kirti Azad and Navjot Sidhu.

A snap online poll in a daily revealed 68 per cent of respondents did not want to see Tendulkar in parliament.

Another editorial labelled Tendulkar’s nomination a populist move that made ‘little sense’.

Pointing out that that Tendulkar’s cricketing duties kept him on the road for 216 days last season, said nominating an active sportsman ‘defeats the purpose’ of choosing eminent people who can enrich parliamentary debate.

“His new role will force Sachin to choose between his duty to the team and his job as a parliamentarian. It’s an unfair choice,” it said.

Cricket is like a soap opera

siddhartha vaidyanathan

siddhartha vaidyanathan

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan‘s (http://sidveeblogs.wordpress.com/ & former Assitant Editor Cricinfo) take on Cricket, IPL et al:

What is it about Cricket that we all get hooked to?

It’s like a soap opera. It’s also like reality TV. And it’s (mostly) unscripted.

Cricket ka Karmayudh- IPL: 

It’s a bit too early to say whether the negatives outweigh the positives. The IPL is not going anywhere. It’s here to stay. 

Post Ganguly – DravidLaxman – Tendulkar era: 

I don’t think there is going to be any player appearing out of thin air. The core group remains Kohli, Pujara, Rohit, Raina, Rahane, Mukund. Sehwag and Gambhir will be around. And Yuvraj too.

About Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar

He takes every practice session seriously. He is completely devoted to the game. He’s humble. These are rare qualities, especially among extraordinarily successful people.

Missing consistency in Indian plays: 

You need players who can be unpredictable. If every player was consistent, this would be a boring game. I love Sehwag’s unpredictability. It’s what makes him score 219 on one day and 0 the next.

Assembly of a commentary team from Twitter: 

I would sure like to see many of these Twitter folk talk about cricket in a pub. The way they argue, there may be blood.

In Siddhartha Vaidyanathan’s dream team God of Cricket Sachin is rested. Others includes, Sehwag,  Jayasuriya, Laxman, Lara, Mark Waugh, Carl Hooper, Gilchrist, Wasim, Ambrose, Shane Bond &  Warne .

(courtesy: Blogadda)

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

India’s media judge Katju speaks the ‘unpleasant truth’: 90% of Indians are fools

From his lofty ivory tower, Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju has a 360-degree view of India – and it’s plain from his every pronouncement that he doesn’t like what he sees. Long after he retired as Supreme Court judge, the man continues to sit in judgement on virtually every aspect of humanity and its many failings. And he has been unabashed about pronouncing his verdict on every subject under the sun, typically with a sneer.

Today, Katju has fleshed out one of his earlier comments in which he said that 90 percent of Indians are fools. In an editorial page contribution in The Indian Express, Katju reiterates the point, and offers it as

“the unpleasant truth” he insists on telling us. And to validate his point, he is even rewriting the scriptures.

The shastras, he says, tells us not to speak the “unpleasant truth”. But “I wish to rectify this. The country’s situation today require that we…. ‘speak the unpleasant truth’’.”

And what is that truth? That 90 percent of Indians are fools.

To establish his case, Katju points out that

“the minds of 90 percent of Indians are full of casteism, communalism, superstition.” In elections, 90 percent of people vote on the basis of caste or community, not the merits of the candidate – which accounts for why dacoits like Phoolan Devi were elected to Parliament.

Second, Katju claims, 90 percent of Indians believe in astrology, “which is pure superstition and humbug”. Which is why television channels that beam programmes on astrology have high viewership ratings.

Katju then picks on another of his pet peeves: the Indian media’s obsession with cricket and Bollywood. The game, he says,

“has been turned into a religion by our corporatised media, and most people lap it up like opium.” Rahul Dravid’s retirement is treated like a national calamity, and Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th century as if it were a great achievement for India.

Likewise, the media’s breathless reportage of Dev Anand’s recent death gets Katju’s goat.

In the process, India’s real problems that affect 80 percent of the people – mass deprivation, unemployment, and a whole lot more – are ignored, he points out.

And then, there’s the Anna Hazare movement for a Jan Lokpal to combat corruption. Katju likens the movement’s followers to a lynch mob – and blames the media for playing it up.

Katju writes:

“It is time for Indians to wake up to all this. When I called 90 per cent of them fools my intention was not to harm them, rather it was just the contrary. I want to see Indians prosper, I want poverty and unemployment abolished…”

But for that to happen, he reasons, Indians should cultivate a “scientific outlook”; until that happens, “the vast majority of our people will continue to be taken for a ride.”

Ahmedabad: Mr. Modi, YES SIR (DNA), NO SIR (Times Of India) !!

If you were an Amdavadi, depending on whether you read The Times of India or the DNAthis morning, you would have a very different view of life from someone who read the other.

The difference is stark and telling.

The Times of India carries on with the CAG report on the sins of omission and commission by the Narendra Modi government dominating the front (and city) pages. The lead story, headlined ‘You are living in toxic Ahmedabad’, quotes the CAG as saying, “Despite tall claims, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has not succeeded in bringing down pollution levels to prescribed levels,” and points out that, despite the government spending nearly Rs 100 crore on cleaning up the Sabarmati, it has “failed to improve the condition of the river.” A table highlights three major heads of expense in the fight against corruption and their shortcomings.

 

DNAdoes not even make a passing reference to the CAG report in the entire paper. Their lead story on the front page is an “exclusive” on another instance of corruption in the defence forces.

 

Patently, to readers of Times of India, Modi is no more Mr. Nice Guy, while for DNA readers, he continues to be.

It’s not just in politics that the two newspapers (and readers) do not share common views. In sport, Times of India generously previews IPL 5 with more than one-and-a-half pages devoted to the cricketainment extravaganza. Football, even the 3-3 draw played out by Manchester City versus Sunderland at home, a match which just might have given rival Manchester United the title, is ignored by The Times of India, while DNA does a wrap of Saturday’s games. DNA devotes about 60 column centimetres to the IPL, that too in a piece that says Sachin Tendulkar was at the nets for Mumbai Indians. DNA’s focus, as far as sports is concened, is Tiger Woods’ fitness, which dominates the back page.

Commercially, too, these papers are like chalk and cheese. Here’s how the two fare (as far as their main sections are concerned):

Times ofIndia DNA
Total number of pages 24 14
Full page ads 7 2
Half page and smaller display 2 0
Cinema ads 1 0
Classifieds 2 0
Tenders/notices 3 1/2
Total number of ads pages 15 2 ½

The Times of India, then, has more paid ad pages in the main section than the total number of pages in the main section of DNA.

And, for the first time I’ve seen this in a newspaper, pages 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the Times of Indiaare paid ads — making page 5 the ‘front’ page.

In Ahmedabad, it’ll be difficult for readers of Times of India and DNA to have an easy conversation immediately after they read the papers in the morning. Each will think the other has come from some other planet…

Palangtod Dhulai: ‘(media) arrogance is all very well, but stupidity is just that’!

Palangtod Dhulai <> Ranjona Banerji

Justice Katju tells it like it is. Again

Press Council of Indian chairman Markandey Katju has been one of the most vocal holders of this post, losing no opportunity to stand up for the media when required and to castigate it at other times. The trivialization of news remains a key issue with him and he has questioned once again whether our obsession with Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th century was justified. Interestingly, Tendulkar himself questioned it, pointing out that in the four matches when he got his 99th 100, no one mentioned it at all!

Katju, speaking at the convocation ceremony of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in New Delhi (“over the weekend” says The Hindu in Monday’s paper) however saved his best for last, taking on Anna Hazare and his methods. While making it clear that corruption is a mega issue and that is why Hazare’s movement gained so much support, he questioned Hazare’s methods. “What is the rationale of the thinking of Anna Hazare? With due respect, I could not find any scientific ideas. These shoutings will not do anything.”

Katju is a man who calls a spade a spade. Much as he rubbed most of the media the wrong way, there is perhaps some merit in taking some of his criticisms seriously. Is Aishwarya Rai’s pregnancy really front page news? Did the world end with Rahul Dravid’s retirement from cricket? There’s no point getting defensive here and saying, “The media has every right to choose its own stories”. Quite right it does. But does that mean that the media never makes mistakes? Or indeed, can one deny the dumbing down of the media in terms of choice of stories and understanding of news?

**

Talking about getting defensive, the editor in chief of MXM India. Com Pradyuman Maheshwari faced some defensive posturing on the media’s role in the Norway-Bhattacharya child custody case on NDTV “over the weekend”. The anchor Sunetra Chaudhury, journalist Rashmi Saxena and former diplomat MK Bhadhrakumar staunchly held that the media had done no wrong. It was only when Maheshwari pointed out that no fact-checking had been done by the media and that the other side of the story was not presented – “a basic trait in journalism” – that the bluster of the others died down a bit and it was accepted that the media could have done more.

Arrogance is all very well, but stupidity is just that.

**

This lack of perspective in the television media, especially when it comes to the armed forces, is equally appalling. It has the narrow-focused ability to only see every problem from the side of the armed forces. Yet surely we have seen, more so in recent times, highly ranked officers involved in the most reprehensible acts of corruption. In the current allegations made by chief of army staff VK Singh that he was offered a bribe by a former Lt-general, surely it would be better to get a few more facts on the case before having hissy fits in favour of every soldier ever accused of anything at prime time? At the very least it would be interesting to see if TV can seriously question what seems to be an obsession with attention as far as VK Singh is concerned. Also, at the risk of facing a firing squad at dawn, I would suggest that the media would be better served if it stopped treating the armed forces like a collection of overly-principled martyrs eschewing payment for their cause and just treat them with customary scepticism.

**

In an aside, how about TV channels hire some people with better spelling skills for their written portions? All morning on Monday I read about a “defemation vase” filed by Arun Jaitley against somebody. Of course, there are no bigger teasers than those little ticker tape thingies that run across the screen which promise so much and deliver so little.

Twitter: @ranjona

(courtesy: ranjona banerji & mxmindia.com)