More humor scoop from ‘gupta express’: media regulation bill !!!

It’s worth wondering why Indian Express drags (read, does PR for)  Rahul Gandhi into this, though.

Anant Rangaswami writes in Firstpost

And humor scoop from 'gupta express': media regulation bill !!!

And humor scoop from 'gupta express': media regulation bill !!!

The Congress party’s member of parliament, Meenakshi Natarajan, “wants a law to regulate the media, both print and broadcast. And set up an authority that can even “suo motu” probe “complaints” against the media,”said the Indian Express.

Natarajan was to introduce a private member’s bill called the “Print and Electronic Media Standards and Regulation Bill, 2012,” last Friday, but was absent from the house.

Today, a follow up story led the front page of the Indian Express, with the provocative headline “Ban & seize: Cong MP Bill out to gag media.”

The story reads like a doomsday prophesy, informing readers that the Bill provides for a media regulatory body “with a sweeping set of powers including imposing a “ban” or suspending coverage” of an event or incident that “may pose a threat to national security”. The details of the bill can be found in the article link above.

What makes this story interesting is that the Indian Express gives the bill credibility, almost suggesting that the smooth passage of the bill was guaranteed – and that is far from the truth.

“Why aren’t young people out on the streets protesting the noxious Natarajan bill, the Govt’s newest test balloon?,” asks Pritish Nandy on Twitter. The Indian Express story has even someone like Nandy worried.

“It has to be viewed as a trial balloon as it comes in the midst of intense debate over guidelines for media and while even the judicial experts are talking about it,” he said. “It is very clear that unless self-regulatory measures are not adopted by the media, the government may try to bring in such a regulation,” says Balveer Arora, a political analyst, quoted in Mint.

Mint also says that Ambika Soni and Manish Tewari said that the Bill may not reflect the party’s or the government’s views and that “three Congress leaders, including a cabinet minister, said the proposed law embarrassed the party.”

Mint also put the likelihood of the bill passing in perspective. “According to PRS Legislative Research, a non-profit organization focused on pending legislation, no private members’ Bill has been passed by Parliament since 1970. Of the about 300 private members’ Bills introduced in the 14th Lok Sabha, barely 4% were discussed; 96% lapsed without even a single debate in the House,”  it said.

Thank you, Mint, for the stats, which give us a clear idea of what is likely to happen to the bill: it’s got no hope.

Why, then, does Indian Express give the bill so much play? As curiously, why the repeated and marked references to Rahul Gandhi? Today’s story begins thus: “The private member’s Bill that Rahul Gandhi’s close aide and Congress MP Meenakshi Natarajan…”.

Yesterday’s story said, “At a time when the Supreme Court has indicated its intent to lay down “guidelines” for the media, Congress Lok Sabha member and a close aide of AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Meenakshi Natarajan, wants a law to regulate the media…”.

It’s quite clear that there’s no need to take Mr. Nandy’s advice and go onto the streets and protest – the bill is a non-starter. It’s too crude and ill-thought through to even be a ‘trial balloon’, as an expert quoted in Mint suggests. It’s worth wondering why Indian Express drags Rahul Gandhi into this, though.

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YOUBIHAR: Are Indian newspapers agents of the Congress Party?

Shalu Sharma, a homemaker from Patna writes in YOUBIHAR, (http://www.youbihar.com) a social networking site dedicated to Bihari viewsissues and history of Bihar.

If you read news from major news channels such as Hindustan Times, Times of India, Tehelka you will be surprised to know how they manage to cover stories of the Congress Party. We know that Bofors is in the limelight again but you never hear about that in these newspapers. This is perhaps because these newspapers are sold to the Congress Party. None of the newspapers highlighted the Singhvi Sex CD Case. Some even went to the extent of saying that it was a private affair. All of the major newspapers of India and News channel are trying to cover all bad stories relating to the Congress party. Hindustan Times and Tehelka in particular seems to be publishing paid articles for the Congress party.

They are all bukwas. They have sold themselves to the Gandhi family. They are pimps. HT has cheap crappy articles with lots of errors. The editors are pimps nothing more nothing less.

Ragini Bhatia from Delhi adds a comment on Shalu’s posting:

Most Indian TV channel and newspapers have special journalists ready to take split the hair when it comes to what to report report and how especially for the present government. They are sold newspapers and not to be trusted. A few Indian agencies try to remain honest and impartial but I believe amongst the very few most of them have paid news. 

The purpose of YouBihar is to communicate with people in and outsideBihar, to facilitate easy access to her glorious heritage; and to track Bihari issues. This site as a Bihar social network is dedicated to Bihar’s supreme past and to addresses today’s Bihari issues.

“#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.

Dynasty dilemma – Gandhi mystique quizzically unimpressed !

The fabled Congress party is finding that the past just doesn’t sell anymore

It was 1999 when, in the midst of a heated election campaign, the granddaughter of India’s beloved late prime minister Indira Gandhi told international media, “I am very clear in my mind. Politics is not a strong pull. I have said it a thousand times: I am not interested in joining politics.” At the time, Priyanka Gandhi was adamant her presence on the campaign trail was not an introduction to political life. She simply wanted to help the Indian National Congress, then run by her mother, Sonia, regain control of the Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of parliament.

Congress, one of the world’s largest and oldest political parties, had lost the house to its rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party, in the 1998 election. It was a chaotic period in Indian politics: from 1996 to 1999, the nation had gone through three general elections and three unstable governments characterized by fractious coalitions and alliances of convenience. For Congress, the 1999 vote was a chance to reclaim its political dominance: since India’s independence from British rule in 1947, it had governed the nation more or less uncontested for three decades. Priyanka Gandhi, then 27, was Congress’s secret weapon, seen as the future of the Gandhi political dynasty. But the strategy didn’t work. Congress lost and the BJP gained a near majority in a defeat that was a sign of things to come. Congress regained control, but only as part of a shaky alliance. Priyanka Gandhi left the public arena, opting instead to work behind the scenes.

Recent crises, though, have brought her back into the spotlight. During last month’s state assembly elections, she took to the campaign trail, joining her brother Rahul in key states like Uttar Pradesh.  Priyanka’s return prompted frenzied speculation among India’s political pundits. Was this a sign of desperation? Internal tensions within Congress inspired talk of impending collapse and a last-ditch effort to bring unity to a party that had previously been the defining symbol of Indian democracy.

The strategy failed again. Among the five states where voters went to the polls, Congress managed a majority in only one—Manipur. In Uttar Pradesh, considered a litmus test for India’s national elections, scheduled for 2014, Congress won a dismal 28 of 403 assembly seats, garnering a meager 11.6 per cent of the vote.

So what went wrong? Congress strategists were lambasted by political observers for relying too heavily on the Gandhi mystique to garner votes. Rather than inspiring people, the return of Priyanka left many quizzically unimpressed. “They tried everything,” says Salma Mirza, a 25-year-old resident of Mumbai. “Priyanka looks like Indira, she talks like Indira, and this time, on the campaign trail, she even dressed like Indira.” But an Indira doppelganger wasn’t what the Indian electorate was looking for. “It was too funny for us,” says Ravindra Patel, a voter in Uttar Pradesh. “We wanted to hear what plans politicians had for improving our lives. Instead, we got Priyanka telling us about how great Congress is.”

Congress’s history may have served the party—and the Gandhis—well at one time, but not today. India is a country of more than 700 million voters, with real GDP growth of around eight per cent annually for the past 10 years and an increasingly robust role in the global economic market. All that has contributed to a more subtle and perceptive electorate. “Change was inevitable,” says Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president and chief executive of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. “India’s political parties are now operating in an increasingly vibrant democratic environment. But party structures remain closed and reliant on opaque internal decision making.” Mehta faults Congress for not adapting to the new reality. At a time of “India Rising,” the catchphrase for the last decade, a reliance on dynastic nostalgia simply won’t work anymore, he adds.

However, Tom Vadakkan, a spokesperson for Congress, defends the party’s dynastic inclinations, pointing out that state-level elections are not the same as national elections. “People will think about their immediate needs when they vote for the state assembly,” he says. “But when it comes to national elections, they will vote for the party that has a long track record in governance.” Dynasties, he adds, are a natural phenomenon in India. “It’s a system that runs throughout the country,” he says. “A doctor’s son will become a doctor himself. This is the way Indians think.”

Recent studies on the career aspirations of Indian youth tell a different story. “Earlier, there were limited career options available for Indian youth,” says a 2011 report looking at the growth of the Indian IT sector. “Those fell in government/semi-government organizations like civil services, engineering, medical, management, etc.” But during the course of India’s economic surge, “many new career avenues have emerged which are more promising, challenging and rewarding,” the report notes.

India’s youth are increasingly thinking for themselves, weighing their options and deciding on careers best suited for them. That thought process also extends to political choices, adds Mehta. “When choices are available and there are no barriers, these transitions happen,” he says. “Economic diversification opens up options to people; it gives them economic capital, which then translates into political capital.”

But India still has some way to go before its democracy reaches full maturity, he says. Political families will remain a force in Indian politics for the foreseeable future: they have the contacts and the wealth to maintain their positions. Until political parties themselves are democratized, Indian democracy will struggle. Moreover, corruption remains a major problem. In the recent state assembly elections, one-third of the politicians elected to office have pending criminal cases against them, while two-thirds are millionaires, according to a joint analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms and National Election Watch.

Nonetheless, Mehta, for one, is hopeful. A variety of Indian institutions, from the family to the bulwarks of a democratic system—judicial, political, and economic—are undergoing rapid change. The political parties cannot ignore this trend, he says. They do so at their peril. (courtesy: Adnan R. Khan & macleans.com)