Puthiya Thalaimurai (PT) – A news channel independent from any political party

Behind the idealism and the confidence of having seen early success, PT also has a systematic and calculated approach to build its own brand and expand viewership.

Launch last August. Its claim to fame: Independence from any political party. A new channel – Puthiya Thalaimurai (PT) –  has been making waves in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. For years, politics, entertainment and news comfortably shared the same bed in the state. In the ’40s and ’50s, the DMK built its cadre by gathering people in street corners, reading and interpreting news for them. When cinema became popular, they mixed propaganda with the art – Anna and Karunanidhi through their screenplays, and MGR and Jayalalithaa through screen presence. The tradition continued in the era of television too. Sun TV functioned out of the campus of the DMK headquarters for most of its existence, and now that space is occupied by Kalaignar TV. To know how bad DMK is, watch Jaya, and to know how bad AIADMK is, watch Sun is the balance of media equation in TN.

PT launched a magazine, Puthiya Thalaimurai, that targeted youngsters, but without depending on the usual fare of cinema and politics. The success of the magazine – its circulation is about a lakh now – indicated that an independent news channel focussing on real issues like education, health and infrastructure would succeed. PT’s campaign started on August 15 last year, with a tagline that translates to ‘freedom to know the truth,’ and the channel itself was launched nine days later.

“When we were thinking about the idea, almost everyone I spoke to said it won’t work here. They said distribution will be difficult. They said there will be political pressure. But here we are,” says P Sathyanarayanan, president, Puthiya Thalaimurai.

Read the full report by N.S. Ramnath/ Forbes India in Money control.comNew competition for Tamil Nadu TV channels

‘chiyeazhs’ – Indian ‘In’glish’, a far cry from Queen’s English !!!

LEKSHMY PREETI MONEY wri(d)tesa fantabulous and a jocular piece English and its many avatars  about the pronun(z)ciation of the Queen’s language in different parts of the world and in particular in northern & southern India. Interestingly along with her piece, the readers comments are more interesting in how Indians have their own version of ‘In’glish and they are happy about it, too !!!:

The Malayali goes to the bank to get a housing ‘lawn’… and calls nurse ‘nezhs’

….Malayalis would be taught not to say ‘seiro’ for ‘zero,’ and ‘zimbly’ for ‘simply.’ They also have a penchant for substituting the sound ‘aw’ for ‘o’ and vice-versa. For instance, a popular Malayalam film star expresses the negative with a loud “gnaw” (for “No”). The Malayali also goes to the bank to get a housing “lawn” and mows his “loan.” The Malayalam letter ‘zh,’ found in the Malayalam words ‘pazham’(banana) and ‘mazha’(rain), are unique to the language. Malayalis often tend to exhibit their pride in this fact by liberally substituting it for ‘r’ in English words such as —‘nezhs’ (for ‘nurse’), ‘couzhs’ (‘course’) and finally: the quintessential Malayali toast before a round of aperitifs —‘chiyeazhs’ (cheers).

….Bengalis who are said to resemble Malayalis in physical appearance, fondness for fish and rice and political affiliations. They substitute an ‘o’ for ‘a’ and are not vhery o-polegetic o-boutthe same.

….those in Hindi belt of U.P.-Bihar, put a ‘j’ for ‘z’ (and vice-versa) and an ‘is’ before words starting with ‘s’. So a Hindi-bhai must have done dojens of prozects in his is-School.

…..The ebullient Punjabi considers it improper to pronounce the ‘sh’ sound when it occurs in the middle of certain words like ‘pressure’ and ‘treasure,’ and substitutes it with the more decent sounding ‘ya.’ Hence when he tells you that his player (pleasure) knows no mayor (measure), you must deduce what he actually means to convey. Punjabis also have the tendency to deduct syllables from certain places in a word. So when he is giving ‘sport’ to his old parents, he means “support.” This deduction is compensated for with the addition of an extra syllable where it is actually not required. Therefore cricket is a very popular “support” (sport) in Punjab. In Tamil Nadu, “Yem Wo Yet Yenether Wo Yen” just spells moon.

Readers Comments:

Peayen Mani: Waste of time energy trying to point out such funny pronunciations; it is fault of English language itself;
there is no clear logical mode e.g. C is used as soft S and also as K (cell/call)- U gives the sound of “ah” as well “oo”!(cut/put)- can go on ! why blame others; If Malayali calls college as KOLAGE, you laugh; but you accept Collate with “KO” Ha Ha!! Local lingua will sure affect a little; nothing wrong; communication achieved
is OK – Many Names in English are that of animals - Mr Fox,Tiger Woods etc ! Like it ?? Stop such comparison
Enjoy humor in your way but do not insult other languages.

Cricket is a very popular “support” (sport) in Punjab.

Ronny: a Punjabi professor of mine in college pronouncing  measure as “mayor” or rather something close to “maiyar”.

Devraj Sambasivan: I’m yet to hear a ‘thoroughbred’ Malayali comfortable with ‘z’ so as to sound ‘zzzz. . .’! I don’t think ‘that’ Malayali can go beyond a simple ‘sa’ or ‘si’ or ‘soo’!! No ‘zimbly’, that is – just ‘simbbbly’, followed by a frothy shower of saliva on the listener’s face!

Jaishri: Tamil news readers can be hilarious when they use words which they have ‘effectively’translated into Tamil..e.g Cricketing terms..and do you know what a “RACKET” is…?? Its ROCKET..

Kollengode S Venkataraman: More annoying to me is the Indian upper crust’s pretentious English, particularly when they pronounce Indian words with a pretentious English accent. Examples: Cauvery for Kaaveri, Ganges for Ganga, ADivasi for Aadivaasis, Deccan plateau for Dakshin Plateau…I can also nitpick on the way she spells her (authors’) name as “Lekshmy” and “Money,” and not “Lakshmi” and “Mani.”

Read the full piece and the readers comments  in The HinduEnglish and its many avatars

Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s sculpture with a message “Flowers Bloom, Earth Smiles”

116th Ooty Flower Show festival, Ooty: Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik’s sculpture with a message “Flowers Bloom, Earth Smiles” at 116th Ooty Flower Show festival.

Jaya’s Rs. 25 crore anniversary gift to newspapers

Giant cut outs of politicians are a rage in south India for long. Now Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa took her publicity campaign further by splashing the front pages of all major Indian newspapers with her government’s first anniversary year ads featuring her in the trademark brown sari.

“One Year of Achievements, Hundred Years Leap Forward” goes the headline of the “Power Jacket” ad which also quotes Jayalalithaa saying that the “vision for Tamil Nadu 2023 is to become by , India’s most prosperous and progressive state with no poverty and where its people enjoy all the basic services of a modern society.”

The ad claims that Jayalalithaa has rejuvenated and restored the glory of the state.

It goes on to say how her government has provided rice at no extra cost, mixies, grinders and electric fans for women at no cost and livestock was distributed for the poor gratis.

The ad says laptops were provide to students free.

According to media reports, the ads of one year of the Jaya regime placed by the Tamilnadu government’s Department of Information and Public Relations, could have cost at least Rs 25 crore.

courtesy: IBNS & India Today

India’s Info Commission: Parking lots for retired civil servants & govt. fixers

Information commissions in India male-dominated: study

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has released a study that takes stock of the functioning of the information commissions in India, which it said are male-dominated and far away from meeting their full potential.

The study, A Rapid Study of Information Commissions – Established Under the Right to Information Laws in India, was released on the eve of the seventh anniversary of the passage of the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) in parliament, on May 12.

CHRI’s research team conducted a quick study of the membership of all 29 information commissions (including that of Jammu and Kashmir established under the J&K RTI Act in 2010) against seven parameters.

The findings show that information commissions are far away from meeting their full potential and are male-dominated. Not one woman of eminence has been appointed chief information commissioner anywhere in India. Less than 15 percent of the information commissioners were women.

At least 30 percent of the posts of information commissioners around the country were lying vacant as on May 1, 2012. This includes posts of state chief information commissioner posts in Maharashtra, Manipur and Tripura. Only 83 information commissioners and chief information commissioners had been appointed against 117 posts all over the country. The state information commissions of Jharkhand (six), Tamil Nadu (four) Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh (three each) top the vacancy list.

In 2006-07, a little more than half of the posts in information commissions were occupied by retired civil servants. In 2012, two-thirds of these posts had been cornered by retired civil servants, particularly those from the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). The case of Haryana is even more interesting as 50 percent of the membership of the Haryana state information commission is made up of a husband-and-wife team that retired from the IAS.

The J&K state information commission is the only multi-member body to buck the trend of having retired IAS officers on board.

Less than 10 percent of the information commissioners are from the field of journalism and mass media. Governments seem reluctant to trust the eminence and expertise of citizens who have never been civil servants in their lives.

Of serious concern is the fact that three information commissioners served as members of political parties prior to their appointment (in Kerala, Nagaland and Punjab). The RTI Act bars members of the information commissions from being affiliated to political parties. It is not known whether they resigned from the primary membership of the political party before taking on their current jobs.

All information commissions except that of Mizoram have dedicated websites but less than 50 percent of them have uploaded their decisions in appeals and complaints cases disposed until date. Similarly, more than 50 percent of the state information commissions do not display the cause list of cases on their websites. Section 25 of the Central RTI Act makes it mandatory for information commissions to prepare annual reports on the implementation of the law in their jurisdiction. The state information commissions of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu have not uploaded any annual report on their website until date.

While underlining the need for governments at the central and state level to work closely with advocators of transparency to assess the pendency of cases in the information commissions, CHRI Director Maja Daruwala stated, “The size of the information commission should be determined on the basis of objective criteria”. She also stated, “Public access to all decisions of information commissions must become the policy instead of being left to the caprice of the information commissioners.”

Venkatesh Nayak, programme coordinator at the Access to Information Programme, who led the CHRI research team stated, “Governments and civil society must work together to identify objective criteria for determining the suitability of candidates other than retired civil servants for appointment to the information commissions. The RTI Act intended to provide a diversity of life experience to such bodies from the fields of science, technology, law, management, social service and mass media whereas practice has turned them into parking lots for retired civil servants who are sympathetic to the political establishment.

Is India’s ‘iron man’ Modi a spinmeister or is there something everybody is missing?

Mr Modi has become synonymous with Gujarat's growth

Is Gujarat’s red hot economy a myth?

BBC’s New Delhi correspondent, Soutik Biswas writes in his column:

Is Gujarat’s so-called red-hot economic growth a myth peddled by the government of the controversial chief minister Narendra Modi?

Mr Modi, who was blamed for not doing enough to stop the horrific 2002 anti-Muslim riots in the state after the burning of a train carrying Hindu pilgrims, has modelled himself as a no-nonsense economic reformer leading one of India’s fastest-growing states.

Gujarat also signed on to a fiscal responsibility law only after five other states did, and 20 states preceded Gujarat in implementing value added tax.

More interestingly, states like Uttarkhand (13.2%), Bihar (10.9%), Maharashtra (10.7%), Tamil Nadu (10.4%) and Haryana (10.1%) recorded double-digit growth in the seven-year period under review.

None of these states have the kind of hype associated with them as does Mr Modi’s Gujarat, which is often called the most business friendly state in India. So is Gujarat really the “breakout” state that Mr Modi wants the world to believe?

So is Mr Modi a spinmeister or is there something everybody is missing?

Read the full column: Is Gujarat’s red hot economy a myth?

Teachers & Scholars, not sportsmen should be in RS: Mini Krishnan

“..today’s media have become urban centric and dalits, minorities and women are given least priority.  The stories which are covered in media are decided by the those who sit in newsrooms. The news that are covered in media are strongly coloured by these newsroom people.”

said, Mini Krishnan, Editor, literary translations, Oxford University Press, Chennai.

Mini Krishnan was also critical of the penchant of political parties to nominate sports persons and film stars to the upper house and said instead teachers, scholars and those in the academic field should be nominated.

Ailing practices like untouchability, superstitions that exist in our society should not be carried to next generation in this regard media should play a bigger role,

urged  Mini Krishnan.

She was addressing students on ‘pivotal role of translation in Indian media,’ a special lecture which was organised by centre for proficiency development and placement service (cpdps) in Manasagangothri campus here on Monday.

Translation has a power to interpret and convey things in proper manner. In Indian scenario most of the mediapersons gather information in local languages and whatever chosen by him will come to light through translation, she said.

The Tamil Problem: just social brawl led 80% murders in TN!

Law and order maintenance and traffic control need to be intelligent, perceptive and sensitive. Better living conditions and social equality is an ideal that one should work towards. Being smart is better than being tough.

In the Indian state of Tamil Nadu last year, around 80 percent of the murders recorded in the state were committed by people who are otherwise not criminals; and the murders appeared to have occurred at the heat of the moment, not by history-sheeters or sociopaths. It is not organised crime and money that kill people here, but socio-economic conditions in the state . This includes quarrels within or between families and between people, personal enmity and passion.

G. Pramod Kumar writes in Firstpost.com:

Out of the 1715 murders in 2011, the highest in the last ten years, “family quarrel” accounted for the highest number – 440. Interestingly, this has been the trend in the state for years. Mostly, the numbers hovered around the 400s. The next is, personal enmity. It accounted for 421 precious lives, followed by crime of passion, which the state police categorises as “love affairs and sexual causes”, that claimed 347 persons. “Wordy duels,” which possibly means petty quarrels or quarrelsome arguments had an equally high toll – 325 people.

The biggest cause of avoidable deaths in Tamil Nadu, however, is road accidents. More than 15,000 people lost their lives on the roads in 2011. About 0.44% of the vehicles in the state were involved in fatal accidents. In other words, one out of every 227 vehicles on Tamil Nadu roads is involved in a fatal accident. The number of accident deaths has been rising progressively over the years. Till 2005, it stayed below 10,000; but since then, it just kept rising steeply. However what is redeeming is that the percentage of vehicles that get involved in fatal accidents is certainly coming down. In 2002, it was twice of what it is today. In fact, it has even improved from last year. Even the percentage of deaths attributed to the number of vehicles is improving. The combination of factors in the traffic-statistics indicate sheer rise in number of vehicles in the state and the possibility of lawlessness on the roads. However, the reduction in the relative possibility of accidents and deaths hovering around the vehicles perhaps indicate better infrastructure, traffic management and trauma care services.

The Hindu pokes The “Leader” again, this time on the chin!

Karuna Nundy from Cambridge Columbia writes on facebook page :
Kudos for taking it on the chin. If others were equally responsible it would give so much less ground to the restrictions on free speech being considered in Court 1.

The Hindu and Akshaya Tritiya

Siddharth Varadarajan, Editor of The Hindu writes in a box:

We carried a ‘jacket’ on Monday in our Tamil Nadu editions that featured a message — laid out in the form of an in-house advertisement — to readers on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya on behalf of “The Hindu”.

Neither I, as Editor of The Hindu, nor anyone from the editorial side, was involved in the drafting of this message. Nor did we know of, let alone approve, its contents.

For the record, it is not The Hindu’s editorial position that Akshaya Tritiya, an occasion that has risen to prominence only relatively recently, is one of “the most auspicious days in the Hindu religion.” Nor can we possibly endorse this statement — “The belief that buying gold on this day would make you prosperous throughout the year is shared by one and all” — or others contained in that message.

We have now taken internal steps to ensure that advertising messages put out in the name of The Hindu are consistent with its editorial policy and that our Code of Editorial Values, which says there is “a firm line between the business operations of the Company and editorial operations and content”, is strictly adhered to by all.

Pudhia Thalaimaru: A refreshing change

In just two months after its launch, an independent television news channel in Tamil gallops to number one position in viewership. It has more to its credit than merely warding off political affiliations, writes MAYA RANGANATHAN

In television-saturated Tamil Nadu, news that Pudhia Thalaimaru (New Generation) television channel has emerged as a leading news channel in the region in about two months went largely unnoticed. In a state where television news has come to mean propaganda with political parties launching their own channels, where “objectivity” amounts to simply not believing any source entirely, and where sectarian interests dictate news coverage, the success of an “apolitical” television channel is something to write home about.

The SRM Group launched Pudhiya Thalaimurai, with the tagline “unmai udanukudam” (truth instantaneously) in August 2011, buoyed by the success of the weekly Tamil magazine by the same name which was launched in 2009. In a press meet ahead of the launch, managing director of the group T R P Sathyanarayana had reportedly said that the channel would seek to fill the void in the regional televisionscape for a channel that had no political leanings, that provided more than film-based entertainment and that was as informative as it was entertaining targeting the youth.

At first glance, it can be said that the channel has succeeded in its aim. The success is particularly significant, as it came at a time when the only other apolitical news channel in the region, the NDTV-Hindu, launched in 2009, was floundering and had accumulated Rs. 20 crore in losses. It has since changed hands.

Perhaps, the initial success of Pudhiya Thalaimurai lies in that the SRM group chose a time when there are alternatives to the cable connection in the form of DTH (direct-to-home) television, which is of late becoming more popular owing to the “cable war” that the DMK and the AIADMK are embroiled in. Speaking in another context, Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) chairman Sashikumar pointed out that first tussle between the DMK and AIADMK in the nineties was over the issue of establishing the huge network required for cable television. Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s announcement of the setting up of Arasu Cable Corporation is a measure to combat the overarching reach of Sun TV and the monopoly Sumangali Cable Vision enjoyed in the State. It is said that more and more viewers, tired of their favourite channels being blacked out in the political war, are turning to DTH which only costs marginally more. Interestingly, the government also imposed a 30 per cent entertainment tax on DTH which has been stayed by the Madras High Court.

But Pudhiya Thalaimurai has more to its credit than warding off political affiliations. The periodic news bulletins are interspersed with talk-shows, discussions, news features, district round-ups that attempt to present information unlike the other Tamil television channels. For instance, “konjam soru, konjam varalaru” (A bit of food and a bit of history) traces the origin of items in the Tamil cuisine while “Yuppieskku mattum illai” (Not just for the yuppies) attempts youth-talk that is not contrived. Its programming thus differs drastically from that of other channels that have more or less followed the pattern set by the commercially-successful Sun TV. In terms of salary packages it offers, it is said to be competitive.

Its presenters are young, dressed neither in the formal DD style nor the “loud” style of Sun TV. They are like everyday youth that one gets to spot on Chennai roads dressed in decent casuals speaking a Tamil that is neither classical nor Anglicised. It is perhaps for the first time that Tamil viewers get to hear the news delivered in a conversational tone, devoid of the particular intonation pioneered by Sun TV, copied by other channels and parodied in Tamil cinema. The sets are reminiscent of The NDTV-Hindu where the television newsroom, complete with staff walking around, is seen in the background. Interestingly, the news team from the NDTV-Hindu seems to have relocated to Pudhiya Thalaimurai.

Its news segment also differs in terms of content and not just for the perspectives that it takes. The focus is more on social issues, which also helps it to steer clear of political leanings. Its young reporters are dressed in salwar kameez and jeans. Unlike other Tamil channels, it covers more than the regional and political and has a fair amount of information about the national and international which has so far been relegated to the English news channels. Pudhiya Thalaimurai’s success turns on its head the assumption that Tamil viewers are not interested in anything that is not associated with “Tamil” and in its attempt to redefine “Tamilness.”

It is, however, a little early to predict if it will set trends the way that Sun TV has. While Sun remains the undisputed leader in entertainment in the region, the success of Pudhiya Thalaimurai has had an effect on Sun TV, if sources are to be believed. It has apparently caused a rethink on Sun TV policies, including Maran’s dictum that it is the organisation and not the individual that should be projected. But changes, if any, are yet to become apparent.

The channel, however, is not without its detractors. Preceding reports of the channel topping the list of news channels in Tamil Nadu, there were reports that Pudhiya Thalaimurai was far from “objective,” the criticism stemming from the seemingly changing stand on Koodankulam nuclear plant. Its “political-correctness” has been seen as an attempt to offend none and appease all. It remains to be seen if it is able to tread the tightrope when faced with a crisis. After all, the SRM group has a finger in almost every business pie. It is when one of its interests is affected that its resolve to remain apolitical will be tested. Till then, it is a welcome fare for the Tamil viewers.

(courtesy: MAYA RANGANATHAN & THE HOOT)