Half of India lives without toilet, but no one is denied a TV!!

Mr. K. B. Ganapathy, Editor of Star Of Mysore (SOM) a widely read English Daily in Mysuru (Karanataka) &  also the editor of ‘Mysooru Mitra’, a Kannada Morning Daily writes his (SOM) editorial POSITIVES OF IDIOT BOX :

Idiot Box: Promises the moon to the gullible millions

During the years spanning almost seven decades since television scored a commercial success after a wait of nearly two decades following its invention by Logie Baird, the ubiquitious showpiece having earned a none-too-flattering label as the ‘idiot box’ is currently enjoying an honorable identity as the small screen. Its penetration in India with an officially declared literacy of less than two-thirds of the land’s population is within sniffing distance of 100 per cent.

It is an irony of sorts that while more than half of the country’s population lives without the toilet facility and open defecation is more the rule than exception in the more than six lakh villages across the nation, virtually no Indian is denied a chance to view the small screen. Given this predominance of the small screen across the land, both the State-owned ‘Doordarshan‘ and the multitude of private channels beaming programmes in all languages of the country have an immense responsibility and social role to telecast programmes that are high both in knowledge content and promoting people’s welfare.

While the press is functioning under the legal provisions, obliged to comply with a set of written as well as unwritten diktats of the Press Council, the small screen thus far has been enjoying unbridled freedom. It is only recently that the Centre was mulling a system in which the small screen too is subject to some order and discipline. The task is bound to be far tougher than dealing with the press for logistic reasons. For one thing, the small screen is virtually a 24×7 moving image and would need critical inputs of technology for successful monitoring, not to mention censoring.

The jazzy advertisements which (a) occupy major time space during prime time, (b) interrupt telecasts of even news features and of course, (c) bring in the only revenue in the enterprise, many of which promise the moon to the gullible millions are presently enjoying boom time. This side to the small screen is a huge negative and needs to be brought under the scanner.

Programmes that nurture the land’s culture in all its forms such as music and those which enrich knowledge even among the unlettered are great positives of the idiot box. They stand out amidst the cacophony called entertainment.

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Aamir Khan’s “moral” marriage code of conduct

Bollywood’s ” aam aadmi” (ordinary man) Aamir Khan writes in his column titled ‘ It’s your entire life — not just an event’, in The Hindu about his thoughts on marriage:

Second time lucky in love!- Aamir Khan, who divorced first wife Reena Dutta after 15 years of marriage, fell in love with Kiran Rao during the shooting of Lagaan and married her. (photo courtesy: Hindustan Times)

Let’s give marriage the importance it deserves — in every sense, financial, emotional, mental.

Marriage is a terribly important part of life. It’s a partnership you form, a companion you choose, hopefully for the rest of your life. Someone who helps you, who supports you and vice versa. The way we view marriage and the way we approach it determines how our life could end up being.

Today, I want to largely address youngsters, because most of you who are older are already married and for better or worse have already made your choices.

….Should you agree to spend the rest of your life with someone just because he/she carries an attractive label such as IIT or MBBS? Is one marrying the person or the label? Shared interests, like-mindedness, companionship, shared sensibility, sense of humour — shouldn’t all this matter?

….Instead of spending all that money on the wedding day, why not decide to take the amount set aside for the girl’s wedding and give it to her to use to kick-start her new life with her spouse? Instead of that lavish function, why not just have a simple, sharbatwedding and give the girl the money instead? It will be so useful for her life? I believe sharbat weddings are a great idea. Call as many people as you desire, serve them a soft drink and say thank you for coming and for blessing the newlyweds.

Have fun. Enjoy the day. Make merry. But with simplicity.

…And please take your time over that decision. Understand, probe, check, go deep. The better you do this, the happier life is likely to be. Take the step of marrying only when you are fully satisfied about the character and temperament of the person you are marrying.

…. Should we not invest in our daughter’s education instead of saving up for her dowry? Make her so accomplished and independent that she is capable of crafting her own future, and becomes the master of her own happiness. Then she won’t need a greedy, useless groom to complete her life. Let her marry a person who respects her. Let her marry a man who she believes is worthy of her. Whom she is happy to spend the rest of her life with. 

Read the full article:  ‘ It’s your entire life — not just an event’, in The Hindu

Shah Rukh Khan – The Real Angry Man in Bollywood

Is there more to the story than what is being reported in the media, or is it a simple case of a stress-fuelled midlife crisis that has finally snapped Khan into picking fights with friends?

Shahrukh Khan may have many a time played the bad guy in the movies but in real life is always loved and adored by one and all. In the recent past though Shahrukh has been in the news more for his controversial fights than anything else. It looks like Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘brawl days’ are still not over. A few months after his infamous fight with Farah Khan’s husband Shirish Kunder, the star finds him in the midst of yet another controversy and this time it involves the Indian Premier League (IPL).

With the original bad boy of Bollywood, Salman Khan, having tamed his wayward ways of late, it seems that King Khan is eager to fill that throne, irrespective of how many punches he needs to throw to get there.

Bollywood King Khan’s ‘wankhede brawl & ban’ has comes very soon after the lucrative T-20 tournament was rocked by a sting operation conducted by a TV news channel, in which five IPL players were purportedly caught on camera indulging in spot-fixing and other “murky deals.” The actor has been caught in controversy at the Wankhede before when he was seen smoking much to the disapproval of many.

In the past five years, the award-winning actor has slowly but surely managed to alienate himself from several members of the Indian film fraternity with a spate of brawls in his wake, while his own personal life has come under scrutiny with rumour mills churning that all is not blissful in the marital bond between Khan and wife Gauri.

SRK has never spared anyone close to him, so to say. It may be her partner friend Juhi Chawla, Aamir Khan, Shirish Kunder, Karan Johar, Arjun Rampal, Farah Khan, Amar Singh, Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and of all his onetime ‘chuddy buddy’ Salman Khan !!

For those who can’t recall, the brawl between the two superstars erupted nearly three years ago at Katrina Kaif’s birthday bash, where the verbal sparring almost headed towards fisticuffs before Aamir Khan intervened and broke them apart.  The war still continues, with Salman saying at Mukesh Ambani’s party for Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th 100: “Sachin kaa record todnaa mushkil hi nahi naamumkin hein. Aur yeh Don nahi main bol rahaa hun (No one can break Sachin’s record; and it’s not Don, but me saying this).”

One-time best buddies, Khan and Arjun Rampal were inseparable – even spending New Year’s Eve together in Dubai – but all went sour post “Ra.One” and the rift is for all to see. The rift was also over an argument the Rampals had with Khan, defending Gauri when the actor’s ‘close relationship’ with co-star Priyanka Chopra came under scrutiny. Khan wasn’t impressed with the intrusion and Mrs Rampal made it clear whose side she was on.

Earlier in 2012, the superstar actor’s professional & personal frustration finally culminated in the ‘slap-gate’ affair, which saw him allegedly assault former friend and filmmaker Shirish Kunder, husband of Farah Khan, also a close family friend of SRKs. Relations soured between the three when SRK rejected “Tees Maar Khan”, Kunder’s directorial venture.

Khan’s status as a faithful husband was never brought into question. Not until people started to whisper a certain name: Priyanka Chopra. It was widely gossiped that Khan’s co-star in several films, PC and him apparently started to get cozy during the shoot of “Don 2”. But those whispers became talk when stories filtered out that Gauri refused to let Priyanka into her house for the film’s wrap up party. Bollywood pundits say, ‘all is not well in the Khan household. Both SRK & Gauri has not been snapped together since quite a while”

Is there more to the story than what is being reported in the media, or is it a simple case of a stress-fuelled midlife crisis that has finally snapped Khan into picking fights with friends? Could that have given rise to the anger and frustration that led to yet another ‘slap-gate’ incident at Wankhede Stadium? He only can tell.

‘desileaks ideator’ Aamir nays 125 Crore for ‘satyamev jayate’

Aamir Khan’s 13-episode Satyameva Jayate which fuses together the mass appeal of celebrity with the mass reach of the TV medium to raise awareness on social issues, is already the toast of drawing rooms. But it has also sparked questions: do hi-glitz shows such as this have a lasting impact? Or could this, like other shows, end up being just another platform to peddle products? Aamir spoke to Outlook’s Namrata Joshi in Jaipur. Excerpts:

I am using entertainment to reach out. Which is not to say I am using fun and games. It’s more about underlining things with emotions. Like I did with the issue of childcare and education in a film like Taare Zameen Par. The information people get from a newspaper and magazine article doesn’t change their heart. Very few people cry on reading newspapers. I try to affect them emotionally.

Asked about charging Rs 3 crore per episode for a show on serious social issues Aamir say:

I never discuss my fee. But since you asked I am getting Rs 3.5 crore per episode. Firstly what I get is none of anyone’s business. Main apni mehnat ki kama aur khaa raha hoon. [I am earning and enjoying the benefits of my hard-work]. I am not doing anything wrong. Main izzat se, achchaa kaam karke roti kama raha hoon aur mujhe fakr hai is baat ka [I am honourably, by doing good work, earning my bread, and I am proud of it]. Secondly to clear the misconception this amount includes the cost of the episode also. The bulk of the money goes into the cost and some of the episodes may have overshot the amount. Thirdly, I have endorsements deals of about Rs 100-125 crore per year. I have stopped them for a year while the show is on. There’s no logic in the decision, it’s purely emotional. But tell me who has ever said no to Rs 100 crore for a cause?

Asked whether such shows bring about change? Or do people engage and move on, Aamir says:

 The biggest change we can bring about is in ourselves. .. Female foeticide is a crime planned in our bedrooms and we can’t have cops in the bedrooms to monitor us. ……The choice has to be yours, …Even if one girl child is saved then the show is a success. I will be on TV. I will also be on Vividh Bharati, AIR, Radio Mirchi, Star News. I will write a column in HT. With every issue I want to go wide on many platforms. It’s a deep and concentrated approach to reach out in as many different ways as possible. I hope it will make people understand an issue for a life. I hope it will have them converted for life.

Read the full Outlook interview: You’ll see all kinds of India: the India I have seen. 


Bengaluru: 872 females to 1k males; Is ‘satyamev jayate’ irrelevant here?

Deepti Rao writes on her blog http://www.binfikr.com: Is Satyamev Jayate Irrelevant to Karnataka?

…Both rural and urban populations of Karnataka must watch such inspiring (Satyameva Jayate‘s) television episodes. Did you know that Bangalore Rural has a glaring sex ratio of 872 females to 1,000 males? Who knows, it could be attributed to the prevalent female feticide practices in rural Bangalore!

…Kannada is the only south-Indian, regional, language that has been left out (telecasting Satyamev Jayate) . Do not blame Satyameva Jayate producers for this mishap – they dubbed the show in Kannada and Suvarna television channel was supposed to air this program starting May 6th! Shockingly, the Karnataka government, especially Karnataka Film Chambers of Commerce (KFCC) and Karnataka Television Association (KTA) prevented the Kannada-dubbed show from being aired!

Taking refuge under an old restriction imposed by the KFCC and KTA, way back in 1960, Karnataka state has banned the dubbing of movies and television serials into Kannada for decades now. The reason being that dubbing would suppress local talent and would also reduce the popularity of Kannada language.

Consequently, a majority of the not conversant population of Karnataka state (accounting for about 2 crore people) might have skipped the last episode of Satyameva Jayate because they did not understand Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi, or Bengali languages! It is sad, is it not?

Read the full post: Is SJ irrelevant to Karnataka

Community Radio will dry out in India

Sevanti Ninan writes in her column Talking Media (livemint.com) about the Community Radio (CR) services affected by the spectrum policy.

A spectrum story

The ministry of I&B has been holding periodic consultations to see if it can give a fillip to the spread of CR

Here is a spectrum story that does not make the headlines. No fancy lawyers arguing on behalf of top-drawer clients, no Rs. 1,000 crore sums to bandy about, no industry associations seeking meetings with cabinet ministers, or a 2G or 3G label to guarantee page 1 when a story lands on the desk. And completely without the drawing power of Aamir Khan on Star TV to compete for media mind space.

The drama is small scale: a meeting boycotted this week with the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B) in the hope that some pressure will be exerted, a one-day no-broadcast strike by community radio stations on Wednesday in districts across the country, which will be noticed by the communities they cater to, but nobody else. Desperate consultations with each other by very small radio broadcasters catering to communities within a 5-25km radius, in scattered districts of the country.

In April, a small community radio (CR) station, run by people dedicated to the Brahma Kumaris in the hilly area of Mount Abu, got a rude jolt. Radio Madhuban 90.4 FM caters to a rural community around the town of Mount Abu. Its website has the usual pictures of happy cows and smiling people. April brought the annual licence fee invoice from the wireless planning and coordination wing (WPC) of the department of telecommunications. This is the wing which allocates spectrum and had announced in March that rates were being revised upwards from 1 April this year. The announcement had tables to help you calculate the rate for the spectrum you were using.

But until Radio Madhuban got its notice, nobody quite understood what the implications were for CR stations, which have always got concessional rates. The short-range radio spectrum for which they had paid Rs. 19,700 the previous year, would now cost Rs. 91,000 for an annual licence. That might be less than chicken feed for the Bhartis, RComs and Telenors of this world, but was bad news for a small community radio, which in any case struggles to be viable.

Why it was done is probably because spectrum rates were upped across the board after the Supreme Court’s judgement on getting higher value for natural resources. But if that is the case, it directly contradicts the 1995 judgement of the Supreme Court which says the airwaves belong to the people. Can all users of spectrum be lumped in the same category for pricing purposes? True the CR licence fee has remained unchanged since 2003, but then elsewhere in the world the trend is to bring down costs of CR to enable its spread. Some countries have a free citizen band of spectrum.

The ministry of I&B has been holding periodic consultations to see if it can give a fillip to the spread of CR. There are some 120 stations now, the majority run by universities and colleges, because that is how the policy started out in 2002. The government, always terrified of what little people might do to national security, opened up a band of very local spectrum for use by educational institutions. By 2006, they gathered courage to open it up further. But there is an impressive list of ministries who have to clear each licence. Which is why it has taken 10 years to get to 120-plus stations going operational, the majority still linked to educational institutions.

So who needs CR when we are drowning in media of all kinds, including rural direct-to-home (DTH) and cable television? Communities that need information and entertainment in local dialects in rural areas, and even on the fringe of metropolises. Communities that have learnt to create their own radio programmes. There is Gurgaon ki Awaaz and a new radio station called Radio Mewat, catering to communities outside Delhi. There is Apna Radio in Tonk, Rajasthan, Chanderi ki Awaaz in Madhya Pradesh, Radio Namaskar in Puri, and Sangham Radio, the oldest of them all, in Medak district of Andhra Pradesh. They put out local news-you-can-use and music. Do they now need to become a source of revenue for the government of India?

There is a body of CR advocates called the Community Radio Forum who make a few basic points. Is this just another way of denying access by raising the barriers to entry? In actual money terms, what the government gains from charging Rs. 91,000 each from 125 community radio stations is a pittance. The bigger non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and university radio stations might survive this fee hike, but it will be the last straw for the smaller CR ventures run by local-level NGOs. They are yet to find a sustainable revenue model for CR.

There is nothing to indicate that a body like the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is seized of this issue. They have bigger fish to fry. And evidently, in the government of India, ministries such as I&B, rural development and communication and information technology don’t consult each other as to what their priorities are, when they make policy.

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

SJ’s Oprah Khan earns 30 million per gig!!!

It’s not unusual to hear about stars adopting the alter ego of social crusader. In India, actor/director/ producer Aamir Khan is being applauded for calling attention to some of the country’s longstanding challenges in his new show Satyamev Jayate (Truth Alone Triumphs).

Khan’s show, which debuted Sunday after a massive promotional campaign, began by tackling one of India’s darkest secrets—the traditionally taboo subject of female foeticide.

He explored how the nation’s longstanding preference for male heirs led to the tragic practice, which still occurs today in remote villages that are poor and hard to govern. During the show, Khan interviewed several young mothers who candidly shared their painfully raw and emotional experiences.

So far, critical reception has been overwhelmingly positive. The Hindustan Times newspaper went as far as to compare him to American talk show queen Oprah Winfrey due to his mixture of social activism and intimate, personal style.

Khan used data graphs and statistics to make his case, before urging the public to support progress and change. Satyamev Jayate ended with a powerful Bollywood-style song meant to maximize emotional impact.

The show immediately became a trending topic on Twitter. Actor and social activist Shabana Azmi tweeted “Aamir Khan’s show can bring a revolution.” She added it “forces us to re-examine ourselves.”

 Actress Preity Zinta told her 1.5-million followers: “I love this effort from him and thank him as a woman!”

Khan will reportedly earn 30 million rupees, about $564,000, for each of the 13 episodes, which will air on Sunday morning—a prime slot typically reserved for soap operas in India.

Such efforts have garnered considerable attention, which can only benefit the cause, but the actor remains humble: “I can only keep the issues in front of everyone,” Khan told reporters after the show. “One person cannot improve or bring solutions to an issue.”

Female foeticide in India has led to a huge gender imbalance. According to the 2011 census data, there are just 914 girls for every 1,000 boys across India – behind the global benchmark of 952.