Shouting Indian News Anchors Trio: Arnab, Barkha & Sagarika

The I&B ministry commissioned the mother of all surveys on the media. It covered humans, whales and loan sharks. AJITH PILLAI scoops the findings……

..3. What should the government do with leaders who walk out of TV studios like Mamata Banerjee did?
60%: Set up a finishing school that teaches leaders to complete shows and not walk off in a huff….
4. In your view what would happen if Arnab Goswami of Times Now raises his pitch any higher/shriller?
60%: He will break the sound barrier and would be talking before actually speaking.
20%: He might be used as a special effect voice in heavy metal albums…
5. Who should be Arnab’s co-host?
60%: Barkha Dutt and Sagarika Ghose. They can shout at each other with Mani Shankar Aiyar and Cyrus Bharucha joining them to give the viewer’s a break…..
9 . Is it right for the government to allow senior editors to fight in public against each other?
60%: That’s better than the Big Fight on TV
20 %: If they agree who will be the aggrieved?…
Read the full article on The HootGovt poll: how is the media doing?

Mamatamayee: a worthy psychological case-study

Abhirup Bhunia writes an electrifying piece, “Didi, The Eccentric, Paranoid, Conspiracy Theorist”  in Youth Ki Awaaz

Cartoon courtesy: surendran & The Hindu

Having conquered the erstwhile Marxist citadel riding on heavy anti-incumbency, she has since tended to put an attitude of indomitability. But deep within lie a sense of insecurity and a fear that she might be unseated. She fears tough questions. She doesn’t like her shortcomings being pointed out to her. Critics unsettle her.

All the same, she has an even worse propensity to fly her own kite and go on about how it is her 1 year at the helm that saw the best of Bengal.

Typically, politics is dirty, and much so in India. It is about mudslinging, arguments and counter arguments.  But Mamata can be solely charged with disfiguring the rhetoric. Her tirade against CPM and anything distantly CPM like is ugly, fearsome. Not since independence has Bengal seen a more overbearing state. Badmouthing is all the rage in Mamata’s Bengal. And it is mostly the ruling party.

Mamata’s illogical statements and bizarre justifications have citizens worried. Her censorship tales are common knowledge. Arbitrary arrests under her rule on the one side and discretionary release of jailed partymen on the other side add up to a depressing incongruity.

Her hatred for CPM is understandable, not that it is allowed in democracy. But what’s downright intolerable is her labelling of all people as CPM’s agent who question her tenure, criticise her government’s functioning or point out the severe anomalies among her party and her cabinet.

And it so happened at a recent people show at a TV channel when university students gathered to engage in a Q&A session moderated by the channel’s senior editor. What ensued was absurd, deplorable and literally slanderous. Mamata went on to directly allege the students rightly critical of her government of being “Maoists”, “CPM cadre”, SFI members and everything anti-TMC. She wildly asserted that the audience was selected from an ultra-Leftist student block.  Clearly, it’s the same old conspiracy theory that Mamata resorted to. Bengal has heard this before. The nation has. Mamata has to get over her paranoia, stop seeing conspiracies everywhere, bite the bullet, and finally broaden her mind up.

And if she gets the time, she should start fearing the lull in Bengal. The storm might not be too far away.

Mamata Banerjee a spoilsport says a simple woman

Taniya Bhardwaj: I hold offers from the University College, London and the School of Oriental and African Studies to study development and administration. I too will probably leave, and now you know the reason why.

Taniya Bhardwaj a student of political science from Presidency University who was labelled as ‘Maoist’ by Mamata Banerjee on a news channel and became a centre of attraction, writes an open letter to CM:

Dear ‘Simple Man’,

On being asked a simple question, you acquired a complicated avatar. We all went to the CNN-IBN question-answer session on Friday, May 18, at the Town Hall expecting to hear some heated exchanges, but it got too hot to handle.

You, the most important person in West Bengal, labelled me and the rest of the audience ‘Maoist and CPM cadres’. What exactly did we do to deserve this honour? We asked you questions. I asked you whether affiliates of your party, specifically minister Madan Mitra and MP Arabul Islam, who wield power, should act, or should have acted, more responsibly.

Like many others, I was also greatly disturbed when Madan Mitra pronounced his own judgement on a rape victim before the police were done investigating. This woman, whose character was assassinated, is an Anglo-Indian, a member of the minority community. Thus, if we were to even forget about sensitivity, the question of political correctness still hangs over his conduct.

A few months ago, this very same man had misbehaved with policemen who had stopped his car on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass as part of its routine. As for the Arabul Islam case, it is still making headlines.

I asked you something that had been on the minds of most people around me, people who voted for ‘paribartan’ (change). Is this what we expect of our leaders? The ones who set examples and whom people follow. This is all that I wanted to know. What I got to know, instead, is that in West Bengal, asking a question can be the equivalent of being a Maoist.

‘Simple man’, you claimed with pride on stage that you’re not a feminist.

That proclamation did not surprise us, especially after the Katwa and Park Street cases. You also spoke of democracy. The answers you gave to the questions you took before mine were sprinkled with words like ‘people’, ‘democracy’, and ‘Bengal’.

But one of the most important features of a true democracy, which I have learnt as a student of political science, is freedom of expression. This freedom is the one that allows an individual to express oneself, to not have to mince words out of fear of authority. It involves enjoying a chuckle or two at cartoon about important public figures.

Sadly, there seems to be a gradual failure in this aspect of the democratic machinery in the state. And just like I won’t become a Maoist simply because you called me one, the state too won’t epitomize democracy unless it is truly so in all spheres. All said and done, what you did was in haste and it made me the centre of attention. And as you stomped off in fury, you automatically assumed the role of the spoilsport.

It would have been so much more ‘simple’ had you just answered my question, or even said “No comments” and moved on. The question became so important because you chose to make it important.

You have spoken of ‘brain drain’ so many times. I hold offers from the University College, London and the School of Oriental and African Studies to study development and administration. I too will probably leave, and now you know the reason why. Had you stayed on, it would have been fun. And you would have honestly been ‘a Chief Minister with a difference’. The role of your office as Chief Minister is to aggregate interest – you should at the least have heard us all out.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”. So said Abraham Lincoln.


A Simple Woman – Taniya Bhardwaj

Undemocratic Mamata orders police inquiry on student who raised voice!!!

Cartoon: R. Prasad: Sohail Abdi, a second-year student of history at Presidency College who was also present on the TV show, said Mamata was ‘undemocratic’.

Next time you get a chance to ask West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee a question or criticise any of her moves, think twice as you could be labelled a Maoist sympathiser or a CPM cadre.

Taniya Bhardwaj, a student of political science at Kolkata’s Presidency College, dared to do as much on a TV news channel’s show on Friday at the Town Hall here. A furious Mamata labelled Taniya a ‘Maoist and a CPM cadre’ and asked the police to do a background check on those asking awkward questions.  Immediately after the show was recorded on Friday evening, some officers of the state police’s special branch descended on the TV channel’s office in Kolkata and demanded that the contact details of the participants be handed over.

She asked a simple question about the conduct of state ministers and officials over crimes against women. Taniya is now quite apprehensive about the consequences as the Kolkata police have already started collecting information about the students who asked Banerjee uncomfortable questions on the show.

‘Have I done anything wrong? I just asked a simple question. She could have avoided the question easily. But she started castigating the audience instead,’ Taniya said.

The CM lost her cool when members in the audience questioned her on the arrest of Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra and the increased attacks on women in the state.

Read full story by SOUDHRITI BHABANI  in MailOnlineIndia: Didi unleashes cops on students

Samay, August 15 : Old lady of Boru Bunder to take on Aveek Sarkar in Bengal

Shine Jacob writes in Business Standard:

Set to launch its first Bengali daily by year-end.

It may well be the clash of the titans in West Bengal’s media industry. The country’s largest media conglomerate, Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd (BCCL), also known as the Times group &  ” The Old Lady Of Bori Bunder” , is set to battle it out in the regional media space with Aveek Sarkar’s family-owned Anandabazar Patrika (ABP). There were speculations that the Bengali newspaper would be named Samay and launched by August 15. The hiring process had been initiated, though the group had not finalised on who would be the editor.

According to sources close to the development, the Times group is planning to launch a Bengali newspaper by the end of this year. While The Times of India is the largest broadsheet daily in the country, Anandabazar Patrika is the largest Bengali newspaper. According to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulation figures, Anandabazar Patrika has a circulation of nearly 1,250,000, while its nearest competitor, Bartaman, has a circulation of 534,000 copies. Other major competitors in the vernacular space are Aajkaal, Sangbad Pratidin, Ganashakti, Sakalbela, Ekdin and NEWZ Bangla.

The plan to launch a Bengali daily is considered to be a move by the Times Group to position itself against ABP in the vernacular space. In Bengali, TOI  has two magazines, Samay and Udita. The Times Group has a strong presence in regional markets, with dailies like Navbharat Times and Sandhya Times (evening tabloid) in Hindi, Maharashtra Times in Marathi and Vijaya Karnataka in Kannada.

Anandabazar Patrika, founded in 1922 by Prafulla Chandra Sarkar, is the largest read Bengali newspaper, with a readership of more than six million, according to Indian Readership Survey reports.

US has begun warming to chief (prime) minister Narendra Modi

James Fontanella-Khan in Charanka, Gujarat, and James Lamont in New Delhi writes in Financial Times:

.…Such turbocharged growth, coupled with a report on the riots from a Supreme Court-appointed team that exonerated Mr Modi, has made the chief minister a possible prime ministerial candidate for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party in 2014 parliamentary elections.

……“It is stupid if you are not in Gujarat,” Ratan Tata, the chairman of the Tata Group, once said in a ringing endorsement after moving his Nano plant from West Bengal to the state.

…..Not only has Mr Modi led an economic transformation built on the supply of electricity and improving roads, he has pulled off a remarkable rebranding of the state, largely centred on himself.

….Admirers say he has the instincts of a chief executive with little tolerance for underperformance among his officials. His critics say the “media hype” is intended to clean up his image, arguing that the communal riot and Mr Modi’s divisive, overtly religious stance make him unacceptable to India’s voters.

……One senior western diplomat says that while Gujarat’s boasts do not always live up to scrutiny, the international community is being forced to engage with Mr Modi in support of their business executives.

…..The US, which denied Mr Modi a visa in 2005 due to “particularly severe violations of religious freedom”, has begun warming to Gujarat’s chief minister. Peter Haas, the Mumbai-based US consul general, recently stood at Mr Modi’s side at the inauguration of the Gujarat Solar Park, praising the state’s government for creating the conditions and incentives for investment.

Read the full story in Financial Times: Modi puts Gujarat growth on a fast track

Mamata gags the Dodhichi newsletter

Now, it is the turn of the alternative media in West Bengal to be at the receiving end of governmental intolerance. There is a clampdown on a unique mobile alert service in Kolkata, writes RANJIT SUR in The HOOT.

The Mamata Banerjee Government in West Bengal is trying its best to gag the language media. It is not news anymore. To some extent she is exposed in this regard, and people are protesting against such a move. But gagging a small but very important alternative media centre remained out of sight of the people. It is mainly because the big press or the corporate media have not shown any interest over it. Moreover, most of the media persons even do not understand what alternative media could be. So the news of gagging of  the Dodhichi Newsletter did not find any place in any major publication in Kolkata, in print or on TV media, barring a line or two in a couple of news media.

What is the Dodhichi Newsletter? According to its director, Dr Shyamal Roy, “Dodhichi Newsletter is a Kolkata-based cellphone text messaging service disseminating information, news, and views not appearing in the mainstream media.” It is in operation running since 2010. In a letter addressed to Home Secretary, Government of India, Dr Ray said: “ Our service provides a platform to hundreds of freelance news-gatherers, social and cultural activists, and NGOs and reaches out to a select list of thousands of message receivers, among them MPS, MLAs, Ministers, political leaders as well as eminent personalities in various fields.“
This writer himself is a message receiver and sender listed with Dodhichi. It’s a unique service, at least in Kolkata. There is no other service of this kind here. During the last two and a quarter years it has provided wonderful service to all the mass organisations and their activists.
Whenever an organisation calls for a demonstration or rally, or any State crackdown occurs on any mass organisation, a single text message (SMS) sent to Dodhichi was enough to inform and mobilise all the activists. Through the Dodhichi mobile newsletter the SMS containing the information reached hundreds of interested persons within seconds. Within a short time, the activists could decide on their duty or they could assemble at the place of demonstration or at the site of the happenings.
During the last months of Budhadeb Bhattacharjee government Mamata Banerjee got the benefit of this service, as it was the time of anti- government and anti-establishment mass movements.
(Read the full article in The Hoot: Dodhichi Newsletter