Nothing ever like it on Indian TV : Arnab Goswami’s veritable ‘Devil’s Dance’

Additional Secretary (retired), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India B. Raman writes in Sri Lanka Guardian about TIMES NOW Editor Arnab Goswami‘s theatrics while anchoring the prime times news at 9 on the Times Of India’s news channel:

 

Even if there is no exciting news, Arnab manages to produce excitement out of what is available.And when exciting news is available, Arnab keeps his viewers enthralled.

I understand Arnab Goswami of the Times Now news channel is an increasingly viewed news anchor of India today.

I am not surprised.
Ever since he started his 9 PM daily news programme, people no longer have to go to night clubs and bars for their evening excitement.

They get it in ample measure by watching his daily debates on the important news of the day.

It may not be appropriate to call them debates.
What he serves the viewers is a veritable Devil’s Dance— with no histrionics barred.
The more hysterical you are, the more valued you are by Arnab.
It is immaterial whether you know the subject, whether you have insights and whether you analyse lucidly.
What is important is your ability to add to the colour and excitement of his Devil’s Dance.
Things like Netiquette, politeness, courtesy, patience to let others speak, decorum, gravitas are not important.
It is not a debate, it is an exciting performance.
You can do anything so long as you attract viewers.
You can scream.
You can shout.
You can pull your hair and that of others.
You can try to monopolise the show by not letting others speak.
Not much is intelligible because everybody speaks and shouts at the same time.
As in some Greek shows where the author also joins the play as an active participant, Arnab is not just an anchor.
He also joins others in their histrionics.
There is never a dull moment in Arnab’s Devil’s Dance.
Even if there is no exciting news, Arnab manages to produce excitement out of what is available.
And when exciting news is available, Arnab keeps his viewers enthralled.
For the last three days, Indian TV news channels, which were going through the summer silly season, have found something exciting to show and talk about following the arrest of Abu Jundal, a co-conspirator of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, by the Saudi authorities and his transfer to Indian custody.
You can depend on Arnab to make the best out of the excitement.
His Devil’s Dance, full of anti-Pakistan histrionics, has acquired a new excitement, a new rhythm and new drum-beats.
Many retired spooks are happily joining the Devil’s Dance every day.
You can save money on going to bars and night clubs and instead watch Arnab’s show at 9 PM every night.
Nothing like it seen on Indian TV before.

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Bofors source revealed by The Hindu Editor N.Ram?

N. Ram, a former editor-in-chief of The Hindu, whose efforts in exposing high-level corruption in the Bofors deal in 1989 were recently recognized by Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, seems to have indirectly revealed his source after 25 years. In an interview given to the livemint.com, he doesn’t deny or confirm whether Sten Lindstrom, was the man who he termed as ‘highly privileged & authoritative Swedish’ source, who released the Bofors Deal documents. N. Ram said:

I am not going to confirm or deny who the source was. For us, protecting the highly privileged, authoritative source was, and is, important, a matter of journalistic integrity and honour. Nobody other than the few who needed to know within the newspaper ever asked me who the source was— not Mohan Katre, the CBI director who flew in to meet me in Chennai, not defence minister K.C. Pant, who met me and spoke off the record, not Rajiv Gandhi, who discussed Bofors with me, at his request, in mid-1988.

But I’m sure the Indian government and some of the others involved in the affair had their suspicions, from the nature and irrefutable authenticity of the documents published by The Hindu. We always made it clear that the documents were given to us by a privileged, authoritative source in Sweden; and that formulation was in agreement with the source. I can’t answer to purported rumours that “did the rounds in Delhi’s political circles” a quarter of a century ago. I never heard them at the time but if the rumours indeed went around, they didn’t emanate from us.

To another question whether he and Lindstrom have a disagreement about when the stories would be published, he said (as if Lindstrom was his source): 

Not once during the period of the investigation did our source have or express any disagreement about the timing of publication of our document-backed Bofors stories. In fact, the boot is on the other foot. Our privileged source in Sweden was not willing to give the entire documentation in possession to us. So it was a process of negotiating over a period of about one and a half years with the source. The source was, for whatever reason, not willing to part with the document cache in one go, and would only give it in phased-out instalments over this long period. This certainly added to the drama and the feeling of high insecurity, if not paranoia, that had seized key functionaries in the government and the ruling party, the Congress.

There was no question of the newspaper publishing the documents and other information arbitrarily, as and when we pleased. We were not fools to hold back material without due cause and incur the risk of letting others run away with our story! In a story with such big stakes, involving a great newspaper’s credibility and people’s reputations, there was a need for due diligence, for devil’s advocacy, for making connections and drawing inferences, for being fair and just. We needed to translate—accurately—some of the material from Swedish. As for the Ardbo diary—which the police had seized and returned to him, preserving only photocopies—it presented a tough challenge.

Some of the handwritten diary entries made explosive suggestions but these were semi-coded, using initials and sometimes misspelling key names. What I can say about our source, for whom I have nothing but warm appreciation and goodwill, is that the motivation for leaking the highly confidential, privileged documents was moral outrage, that no financial transactions of any kind took place between leaker and recipient, and that the source took a big professional and legal risk. We were always aware of this risk and were consequently highly protective of the source’s identity. We left no fingerprints and our data security methods, I’m pleased to say, worked without a hitch. No one outside our newspaper and our trusted translators (from the Swedish) got their hands on any of the documents before they appeared in print in The Hindu.

One thing though is contrary to what N. Ram told the interviewer (“We were not fools to hold back material without due cause and incur the risk of letting others run away with our story! “) and a reader point out very rightly with a question too,  is :

When Kasturi, as editor held back one story on the ground there was nothing new in it, Ram gave it to all other newspapers. And as he himself admits, the Hindu stopped the expose in October 1989, that is after Rajiv lost power and V P Singh Government assumed office. Now it was up to the new government to carry on the investigation, he contended. Then, wasn’t the expose agenda driven? 

Read the full interview by Nikhil Kanekal : http://www.livemint.com/2012/04/25231225/N-Ram–Rumours-didn8217t.html

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.

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.

An Advertisement of a Woman Caught in the Maoist Conflict

The Home Ministry put up a big advertisement in The Hindu a few days ago, and I believe in other newspapers also. The advertisement speaks of a destitute woman, whose everything is lost in the never ending conflict between the Government of India and the Maoists.

On the first look, it is hard to comprehend for what purpose this advertisement appeared. Who is the target audience? What does the government want to convey? Is it trying to tell itself that there are people suffering because of their negligence (fiat accompli)?  Or is it trying to convince Maoists to drop weapons (As all other semi-adopted methods, they tried, have failed)? Or is it trying to speak to the people of India – a majority of which is not concerned, as they are not affected directly and those who are affected and are concerned, are no position to do anything on their own but feel pity and sympathy.

Since April 2010, when 75 CRPF Jawans were killed, attacks by Maoists have become more frequent and the concern of the authorities has diminished proportionately. The root cause of the issue is well known and understood – Lack of development. It is sad that we are not able to integrate the tribal people into the growth story of India and it is a common failure. But to take the first step to assimilate them is the duty of the government only.

courtesy: Youth Ki Awaaz & Mani Mahesh Garg

The advertisements won’t help, and talks among people won’t help unless the government actually means what it portrayed in its advertisement that day, and takes some hard and decisive steps to help the people, whom it projects as the sufferers in the advertisements.

media laundry @Dhobitalao: Coalgate Tweets, Channels Pulling Down Game, Recycled Scoop, Costly Photo, Big Paper-Big News,

Mukkam Post- Dhobitalao

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guidelines for media on court reporting soon….

The Supreme Court recently indicated that it would lay down guidelines for the media on court reporting with a view to striking a balance between protecting press freedom and protecting the right to life.

A five-judge Constitution Bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justices D.K. Jain, S.S. Nijjar, Ranjana Desai and J.S. Khehar said: “We have to balance Article 21(right to life and liberty) with Article 19 (1) (a) (the right to freedom of speech and expression, including the freedom of the press).”

The CJI made it clear, “We are not interested in controlling media content. We are interested in prevention rather than initiating contempt of court proceedings against the erring media. How to prevent before the damage is done.”

TRIAL BY MEDIA

The Bench expressed concern over trial by media in several pending criminal cases. “The media reports sub judice cases in a manner which makes the accused seem guilty even before the court has convicted him and the media attempts to drum up support for the sentence he should eventually be handed out.”

Justice Khehar said: “The media creates a mindset about what is right or wrong. When the judgment is not on those lines, the judge’s image is tarnished and all sorts of motives are attributed to him and his judgment becomes suspect.” The court was specifically concerned about cases in which an accused was arrested and “the media goes to town projecting him as guilty.”

Court pulls up govt. for not policing media

A high court division bench in Bangalore headed by chief justice Vikramajit Sen has adjourned hearing to Thursday on a batch of petitions pertaining to the March 2 violence at the City Civil Court complex following a request by advocate general S Vijay Shankar.

“We are not saying anything against police. But, minus the CBI, how investigation can go forward to the satisfaction of all is the issue. Do not talk of morals, we are concerned with the truth, when will it emerge? Anyway, you seek instructions ,” the bench observed. This when the advocate general sought time while appealing to the court not to entrust the investigation to CBI which in his opinion would demoralize the state police.

The bench took the government to task for not initiating any action against TV channels which had spread wrong news about some policemen being killed in the March 2 violence.

“In three weeks, nothing has been done. It only shows lack of administration,” the bench observed. As regards the media, especially electronic media, the bench was of the view that they were only interested in pulling down the rival channel and about viewership.

RECYCLED SCOOP

On March 22 DNA ran a story on an agriculture ministry report on BT Cotton. On the 26th morning the Hindustan Times ran it as a front page exclusive!

Costly photo

Congress MLA Founder Strong Cajee flew into a vengeful  rage when he assaulted senior photojournalist Warton Lytan in the State Assembly corridor. The reason: Lytan had taken a picture of him sleeping inside the Assembly which was published in the vernacular dailies. The Shillong Press Club (SPC) has condemned the attack and also filed an FIR.

In the counter FIR, Cajee has claimed that Lytan told him,”You stupid MLA representing Mawlai Savage Constituency.”

Anticlimax

The Hindu interview with the army chief which dominated the airwaves on Monday night was done a week before it appeared, not used  for a mundane reason–Vidya Subramaniam did not have time to write it earlier. And the ETV interview which all the channels had on the 26th night was in fact aired on ETV before the Hindu interview was published, but nobody noticed it when it initially surfaced! Something has to be on a  big  English daily to become big news.
One more paper implements Majithia Wage Board recommendations

A South Indian newspaper has become the second paper in India to implement recommendations by the Majithia Wage Board. Madhyamam is the second paper (after Assam Tribune) to implement the recommendations, and is the first newspaper in Kerala to do so. The paper’s journalist and non-journalist staff will now receive pay revisions with retrospective effect from July 2010. The move will benefit nearly  a thousand employees.

“#coalgate”

After 2G & CWG scams, another scam that is presently making the current UPA govt ‘popular’ on social media is the 10.7 lakh crore coal scam. “Coalgate” is the top trend on Twitter in India right now. The present top 10 trends on Twitter are “#coalgate”, “CAG” and “Rs. 10.7”.

Clever Mamata

Mamata Banerjee has learnt the art of pleasing the journos. To earn brownie points, the Bengal CM has announced that she will  support  the demand of media persons for the implementation of Majithia Wage Boards and will join the nationwide agitation on March 20 in this regard.


One more in Arunachal

Itanagar got its sixth daily earlier this week, calledIndependent Review. This is in addition to   The Arunachal Times, Echo of Arunachal, The Dawnlit Post, Eastern Sentinel and Arunachal Front.

(compiled from thehoot.org, TOI, The Hindu)