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.”

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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)

Bengal government probing ‘Poonam Pande’ episode

Internet intermediaries in India are not willing to learn lessons from their past mistakes. From time to time objectionable contents have been appearing in both print and digital formats of press and media. This is despite that fact that such publication is criminal offence under various laws of India.

Recently, a nude picture that was published in Kolkata’s Telegraph edition caused a furor among the citizens, leading to a road blockage for over six hours. The same picture was also published in Hindustan Times that was subsequently taken down from the electronic version of the paper/website.

There are many pertinent questions to be asked about the unbridled (and burgeoning) use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media as a source of news by newspapers and TV stations—not to mention websites like these.

One of those questions faces The Telegraph, Calcutta, which carried a picture* posted by the actor-stripper Poonam Pandey on her Twitter account (@iPoonampandey) in its tabloid t2 section on Monday.

In the picture*, Pandey—who threatened to pose nude if India won the cricket 2011 World Cup—stands naked with a photograph of “God” as an offering to Sachin Tendulkar, who scored his 100th hundred in Dhaka last week.

“Thinking what pic should I gift the “God of Cricket”…. This historic moment reminds me of an old pic which one of my fans had morphed…. this was the pic….”

The use of a tiny picture* in a city tabloid to celebrate the momentous occasion has resulted in a fullblown communal issue in Calcutta.

Wednesday’s Telegraph carried a front-page appeal by the chief minister, Mamata Banerjee.

“Some people are trying to stoke violence over a photograph published in a newspaper. I appeal to all members of the Hindu and Muslim commuities to steer clear of any provocation. The newspaper which carried the picture today tendered an apology.”

The Telegraph‘s apology, also carried on page one, read:

The Telegraph tenders an unconditional apology for reproducing a tweet by @iPoonpandey in Monday’s edition of t2. The publication was the result of a technical error. The Telegraph had no intention to hurt the sentiments of any community. We sincerely apologise for the hurt the publication of the tweet has caused.”

***

* photograph for representative purposes

Adding another chapter to this episode, the West Bengal government has on Friday sent bulk SMS to various individuals, companies, newspapers and media houses directing them not to publish any further objectionable material in this regard.

According to Praveen Dalal, managing partner of ICT law firm Perry4Law and leading techno legal expert of Asia, this single episode attracts Civil and Criminal Liabilities on the part of those involved in the making, uploading, publication and circulation of the same in paper and electronic form. The Cyber Law of India prescribes stringent Due Diligence Requirements that paper based and electronic publishers must follow. If they do not follow Cyber Due Diligence, they can be Criminally Prosecuted by the Government, opines Praveen Dalal.

In fact, the Bengal government has already started the probe in this regard and the culprits would be brought to the book very soon. However, the way this episode has been handled by media shows great disregard to the laws of India, especially the cyber law of India.

Media is India is largely Self Regulated but the Indian Government has recently formulated the Press and Registration of Books and Publications Bill 2011 to regulated “Publication of Contents” informs Praveen Dalal. The Bill has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology for its inputs before it may be presented in the Parliament of India, informs Dalal.

Media must be vigil to follow the laws of India, especially the cyber law of India, to retain the self regulation privileges that it is enjoying. If casual and careless publications would continue, there would be no other option left for the government but to regulation their affairs in a more intrusive manner.

(courtesy: churumuri & CJNEWS INDIA)

Mumbai Indians – ‘Duniya Hila Denge Hum’!

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IPL Season 5: Mumbai Indians – Practice Session

Mumbai Indians mentor Shaun Pollock who joined the team camp ahead of IPL season 5 interacts with fielding coach Jhonty Rhodes at Wankhede stadium on Thursday.  Shaun Pollock who joined the team camp ahead of IPL season 5 interacts with fielding coach Jhonty Rhodes. Mumbai Indians coach Robin Singh with Ambati Rayudu during the first day camp at Wankhade Stadium. RP Singh in discussion with Mumbai Indians coach Robin Singh during the first day camp at Wankhade Stadium.

(pics courtesy: Bhuvaneshwari Joshi)

“as long as he can tap into the inner 10 year old, he is unlikely to walk away”

There could be nothing more ironic than India‘s navel-gazing TV channels having wall-to-wall coverage of Sachin Tendulkar‘s 100th international century on a night when the team’s abysmal bowling was exposed by Bangladesh – without a win against the big three in 28 previous Asia Cup matches.

The near grimace on Tendulkar’s face when he was presented with a memento at the post-match presentation said it all.

The path from No 99 has been among the rockiest he has ever traversed, but what will bother him most is that none of the last five three-figure knocks has resulted in an Indian victory. In that sense, he could be back in the mid-1990s, when he first started opening the innings in coloured clothes.

” sachin is peter pan of cricket in a fantasy land  !!! “

The biggest positive for India on a night, when their flaws with the ball were forensically exposed, will the end of the hysteria and hype around a record that no one considered seriously until the marketing men realised what a money-spinner they were on to.

To compare a Test century made on a lively Newlands pitch against Dale Steyn at his skilful best with a one-day hundred on a placid Sher-e-Bangla surface against modest Bangladeshi bowling borders on cricket sacrilege.

In the same way, you should not even talk of his brilliant CB Series hundred (2008) and an inconsequential Test ton against Sri Lanka [Ahmedabad, 2009] in the same breath.

But while the record itself may be an artificial construct, the effort that has gone into it is one of the wonders of the sporting world.

Ryan Giggs has been a Manchester United marvel for more than two decades now, but by the time he made his league debut in 1991, Tendulkar had already raised his bat to acknowledge the applause for his first century, at Old Trafford of all places.

That he is playing at all while approaching his 39th birthday is testament to both the wonders of modern medicine and an indomitable spirit forged in the tough-love school that was Mumbai cricket.

When Andrew Wallace operated on his shoulder in March 2006, after sections of his home crowd had booed him off on the final day of a Test defeat against England, Tendulkar was already a veteran of 132 Tests and 362 one-day internationals (ODIs).

The previous year, the same surgeon had fixed a tennis-elbow problem. Though only 33, a body that had been on the cricket treadmill since he was 10 appeared to be betraying him.

When we spoke as he was recovering, there was more than a hint of anxiety about the future. Poise and certainty had given way to self-doubt and insecurity.

“It’s not like a fracture where you know it’ll heal in four weeks,” he told me at the time. “It’s not easy to forget the injuries.

“There are times when you spend some time in the middle and the body complains. That’s when you need to hold back a bit and take it easy for a couple of practice sessions.”

At that stage, he had made 35 Test hundreds, and 39 in the ODI arena. No one was even thinking of 100.

There was no fairy tale return from the abyss either. He did not thrive under Greg Chappell and the two Test hundreds that he made in the 18 months after his return from surgery both came against Bangladesh.

The Indian summer that has followed has few equals in sport. Perhaps only John Elway, who won his first Super Bowl ring at the age of 37, has had such a fulfilling last act.

Tendulkar was nearly 38 when the World Cup was finally won, and his limitless enthusiasm was apparent from the way he turned up to optional practice in the days leading up to this Bangladesh game.

Some reckon that he will follow Rahul Dravid into retirement soon.

They are wrong.

As he grew older, Dravid’s life encompassed far more than the game. Tendulkar, like Sir Alex Ferguson, seems happiest on a field of green.

Like Peter Pan, they will never grow old.

Forget the records.

What Tendulkar has taught us is that there can be no excellence without an abiding love of the game.

And as long as he can tap into the inner 10 year old, he is unlikely to walk away.

 (courtesy: The National & )