Posts Tagged ‘Mail Today’

‘Diminishing returns from aggressive Hindutva’

17 April 2013

Opinion polls are crawling out of the woodwork in Karnataka. While most previous surveys have predicted a BJP downfall, a new one by the little-known Prabodhan Research Group, published by The Pioneer, Delhi, suggests it is going to be a hung assembly in the State: Congress 95 , BJP 81, JD(S) 27, KJP and independents eight each, BSR-Congress five.

***

 

Narendar Pani of the national institute of advanced studies (NIAS), in Mail Today:

“There are also signs of aggressive Hindutva being a vote loser. Long before the BJP came to power in Karnataka it had a strong cadre-based stronghold in coastal Karnataka.

“When it came to power this area became the laboratory for its strong Hindutva methods. Churches were targeted, young couples of mixed religions were attacked, and moral policing took on a new momentum. But far from attracting fresh support, the BJP appears to have lost ground in this region.

“In the recent elections to urban local bodies in this region the BJP lost several ULBs, including one that it had not lost for 40 years.

“If Narendra Modi were to step in now and deliver Karnataka to the BJP he would be able to present himself to the nation as the political superhero India was waiting for. And within the BJP all challenges to his leadership will fall by the wayside.

“Which makes it all the more interesting that Narendra Modi has not shown any inclination to take over the leadership of the Karnataka battle. He was not among the national leaders who launched the party’s campaign in the state. Is it that the situation of the BJP in Karnataka is too adverse for even the Gujarat strongman?”

***

THE POLLS SO FAR

Suvarna News-Cfore (April): Congress 115-127 out of 224; BJP 50-60; JD(S) 25-35

Headlines Today-C-Voter (March): Congress 114-122, BJP 48-56, JD(S) 32-38, KJP 10-14

Tehelka-C-Voter (January): Congress 133, BJP 63, JD(S) 19, KJP 5

Suvarna News-CFore (December 2012): Congress 113, BJP 58, JD(S) 31, KJP 14

Prabodhan Research Group (April 2013): Congress 95 , BJP 81, JD(S) 27, KJP and independents eight each, BSR-Congress five

Read the full article: Karnataka elections

Also read: Why is corruption not an issue in Karnataka?

POLL 2013: Can the Karnataka opinion polls go awry?

POLL 2013: Has A. Ramdas not supplied ‘henda‘?

It’s unofficial: our democracy has a bribe future

Now showing at a theatre of the absurd near you

30 January 2013

32944703

So, young Indians cannot tell their friends what they ‘like’ on Facebook, without being “pre-screened” by Harvard types (or hauled into a police station by Shiv Sena goons). So, bloggers cannot publish their “online private diaries” without the sword of 66(A) hanging over their heads.

So, tweeters can be blocked and Savita bhabhi‘s enviable lifestyle can be subject to some faceless babu’s sense of humour (or voyeurism). So, the Mahatma‘s life is beyond scrutiny in the land of you-know-who. So (oh!), Aamir Khan‘s film will not be screened in the land of you-know-who.

Or his TV show.

So, TV stations cannot show protests without threatened by the information and broadcasting ministry (or corporate titans). So, newspapers cannot report what their reporters see without being told that the tap of government advertisements could be turned off.

So, M.F. Husain cannot die in his own country. So, A.K. Ramanujam‘s interpretation of the Ramayana hurts somebody.

So, Ashis Nandy cannot drop his pearls on corruption without offending Dalits, tribals and OBCs. So, Salman Rushdie cannot go to a lit-fest in Jaipur (or Calcutta) without offending Islamist fundoos. So, Shah Rukh Khan cannot write what’s in his heart without offending.

So, Kamal Hassan‘s new film can be banned by a government run by a former film actor.

Sometimes, you do have to remind yourself it is a free country, don’t you?

Image: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

Status Update: Shoot (or block) the messenger

23 August 2012

Mail Today cartoonist, R. Prasad, salutes the geniuses in the Indian government using the trouble in Assam to play around with Facebook and Twitter, including by reportedly blocking the IDs of journalists Kanchan Gupta and Shiv Aroor. The latter has put up this image on his Twitter handle.

Also read: Should Facebook be censored?

Say ‘No’ to India’s blogger control Act

Should the censor’s tighten Savita bhabhi‘s hook?

How BJP allowed Yediyurappa to become Sonia

9 July 2012

T.J.S. GEORGE writes: Crippled by corruption, Karnataka is now brutalised by blackmail.

Corruption was the collective contribution of all parties. What the Congress carried on quietly, the JD(S) took up with gusto and BJP turned into a celebration. Blackmail is the exclusive contribution of the BJP.

Congressmen can’t think of it because they shudder before their High Command. In the BJP, the High Command shudders before B.S. Yediyurappa. Yediyurappa’s victory is BJP’s tragedy—and Karnataka’s misfortune.

Look at the misfortune first. Historically one of India’s best-governed states, Karnataka witnessed audacious misuse of power from the day BJP’s first chief minister took office. He and some of his colleagues focused on illegal land transactions as a major activity of government.

The principal financiers of the party, the Bellary lobby, took to plain plundering of the state’s good earth in violation of many laws. Wounded by its keepers, Karnataka bled.

When half a dozen ministers, including the chief minister, were jailed, prudence demanded a moment’s pause.

The BJP as a party and the state government as a constitutional entity should have re-looked at where they were going. They didn’t. Instead, they mounted a show of defiance, politicians looking for loopholes in the law and the Bellary Brotherhood making a suspected bid to bribe a judge. The judge landed in jail in a demonstration of the ugliness of today’s politics.

The neglect of governance could not have happened at a more inopportune moment. The state was in the grip of a serious drought, but water resources minister Basavaraj Bommai had no time to bother about it. Farmers were facing starvation, but agriculture minister Umesh Katti was busy with resignation games.

A grand show was held a couple of months ago to attract big-ticket investments to the state. Industrialists were upset that not a file moved since the show because industries minister Murugesh Nirani was in the plot to topple the chief minister.

All this to satisfy one man’s ambition.

So all-consuming was Yediyurappa’s passion for power that even after coming out of jail, he acted as though nothing untoward had happened.  He spent his not-negligible resources to keep a few dozen MLAs on his side.

This support base was a weapon with which he threatened the party bosses in Delhi, knowing well that the bosses would go to any length to see that the BJP did not lose Karnataka. Although his threats were effective, Yediyurappa knew that he was too tainted to become chief minister in one go.

He had a solution to that problem too. He found in foe-turned-friend Jagadish Shettar the fittest person to become the Manmohan Singh of Karnataka, and let him, Yediyurappa, be the Sonia Gandhi of Karnataka.

The puzzle is that the BJP’s leaders in Delhi do not see that approving Yediyurappa’s scheme is equal to approving corruption. They are said to condone Yediyurappa’s record, including the jailing, so as to ensure the allegiance of the Lingayat community.

First of all, will the BJP really gain by doing what no party has openly done before, namely, split Karnataka into Lingayats (17 per cent), Vokkaligas (15 per cent) and others (68 per cent)?

Second, how do they know that the silent majority of Lingayats will accept the position that they have no leader other than the second most tainted politician in Karnataka’s history (after Janardhana Reddy)? This is a community that gave India one of its noblest philosophical creeds. It has a proud public record and several eminent leaders.

On the other hand, a principled stand against the threat politics of Yediyurappa could have given the BJP a swing in its favour. Yediyurappa’s flaunted support base is sustained by the feeling among BJP legislators that his bullying will put him back in power. Call that bluff and the support will melt away.

The Congress and the JD (S) are in a mess, which gives the BJP a reasonable chance to beat them at the next election. But the rivals have a propaganda plank that is powerful: that the BJP promotes corruption officially. The BJP could have demolish that plank. All it needed was some guts.

Cartoon: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

How BJP turned Karnataka politics into a cartoon

10 February 2012

Cartoonists and headline writers are having a field day as BJP government in its so-called “Gateway to the South” turns a fine and civilised State into the butt of jokes across the nation. The number of disgraced ministers who have had to sadly wash their hands off the “development agenda” is now 12.

Six ministers charged of corruption: B.S. Yediyurappa, G. Janardhana Reddy, G. Karunakara Reddy, B. Sriramulu, Ramachandre Gowda, Katta Subramanya Naidu.

One minister charged of molestation of a friend’s wife: Hartaalu Halappa.

One minister of molestation of a nurse: M.P. Renukacharya.

One ex-minister in denotification scam: S.N. Krishnaiah Shetty.

Three ministers charged of watching porn: Laxman Savadi, C.C. Patil, Krishna Palemar.

Cartoons: courtesy Rahul da Cunha/Amul, R. Prasad/ Mail Today, E.P. UnnyThe Indian ExpressS.V. Padmanabh/ Kannada Prabha

It’s an ad, ad, ad world and it’s even official

20 December 2011

Rajiv Gandhi‘s 2011 birth anniversary: 108 ads across 48 pages in 12 newspapers surveyed by churumuri.

Indira Gandhi‘s 2011 birth anniversary: 64 ads across 32 pages in the same 12 newspapers.

Now, the Union information and broadcasting ministry has put a figure to the advertising blitz: Rs 7 crore in all; Rs 4.79 crore on Rajiv’s and Rs 2.46 crore on Indira’s ads.

The I&B ministry’s computation, which obviously includes other non-Delhi and non-English papers, does not take into account the death anniversaries of the two, or the birth and death anniversaries of Jawaharlal Nehru. In all, 393 pages of advertising were published on the six anniversaries, on the pages of 12 newspapers this year.

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Image: courtesy Mail Today

Also read: Nehru birthday: 58 ads amounting to 26¼ pages

Nehru death anniversary: 24 ads over 11 pages

Rajiv birthday: 108 ads across 48 pages

Rajiv death anniversary: 69 ads, 41 pages in 12 papers

Indira Gandhi birthday: 64 ads, 32 pages

Times, Express groups get most anniversary ads

6 pages for Ambedkar; 393 pages for The Family

POLL: Has UPA ‘fooled’ the people on Lok Pal?

10 December 2011

The four-decade-old quest for an independent and effective Lok Pal has entered a crucial phase once again with the tabling of the parliamentary standing committee’s report and its immediate rejection of it by the Anna Hazare-led section of civil society as a “dupe” played on the nation by the Congress-led UPA government.

17 of the 30 members of the parliament panel have reportedly given dissent notes to the version presented by Abhishek Manu Singhvi, whose late jurist-father L.M. Singhvi is believed to have coined the word “Lokpal”. And of the 24 issues concerning the bill, the members agreed on just 13 of them.

Barring the creation of a Lok Pal, a cursory glance at the table above shows how little ground the standing committee  found with the demands of Anna Hazare, who has twice sat on a fast-unto-death. Little wonder, the man from Ralegan Siddhi says the government has “fooled the people of India” even as he prepares to sit on a fresh fast.

Questions: has the government fooled the people? Or is “Team Anna” stretching itself? Will a fresh agitation catch the people’s fancy again, or has the government discredited Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Prashant Bhushan and Shanti Bhushan enough to take the wind out of their sails?

Will the parliament panel’s recommendations find favour with parliamentarians? Or is the Lok Pal bill likely to run into serious trouble with the Opposition?

Infograph: courtesy Mail Today

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Citizens above Parliament?

How The Times of India pumped up Team Anna

UPA’s Hazare cock-up in 179 simple words

CHURUMURI POLL: Should PM be under Lok Pal?

Is the Indian Express now a pro-establishment paper?

Let a thousand Anna Hazares bloom across India

Stepmotherly affection for Father of Constitution

6 December 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: For all the lip service it pays “dalits and the downtrodden”, for all the tokenism of a Dalit as speaker of Lok Sabha, and for all the buzz about a possible Dalit replacement for Manmohan Singh as prime minister, the Congress-led UPA government has issued a measly six pages of ads in 12 newspapers to mark the birth death anniversary of the father of the Indian Constitution—and the icon of Dalits—Dr B.R. Ambedkar.

In contrast, the State government of Uttar Pradesh, headed by Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj Party, has issued seven pages in the same 12 newspapers surveyed by sans serif.

The Centre’s six pages of ads for Ambedkar is in stark contrast to the 393 pages of ads issued by various ministries and departments of the Union government and Congress-run State governments to mark the three birth and three death anniversaries of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi in 2011.

While various ministries were falling over each other to sing hosannas for the three ex-PMs, only the ministry of social justice and empowerment is in evidence for Dr Ambedkar. The only State government advertiser is the Delhi commission for safai karmacharis.

***

The breakup of the Ambedkar ads today are as under:

Hindustan Times: 24-page main issue; 2 Ambedkar ads amounting to 1½ broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 26-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 broadsheet page

Indian Express: 20-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 broadsheet page

Mail Today (compact): 36-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 compact page

The Hindu: 20-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 broadsheet page

The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 broadsheet page

The Statesman: 16-page issue; 1 ad amounting to 1 broadsheet page

The Telegraph: 24-page issue; 0 ads amounting to 0 broadsheet pages

***

The Economic Times: 24-page main issue; 0 ads

Business Standard: 14-page issue; 0 ads

Financial Express: 18-page issue; 0 ads

Mint (Berliner): 24-page issue; 0 ads

***

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Photograph: courtesy Sepia Mutiny

Also read: Nehru birthday: 58 ads amounting to 26¼ pages

Nehru death anniversary: 24 ads over 11 pages

Rajiv birthday: 108 ads across 48 pages

Rajiv death anniversary: 69 ads, 41 pages in 12 papers

Indira Gandhi birthday: 64 ads, 32 pages

Times, Express groups get most anniversary ads

Nehru’s CTC (cost to country): 58 ads, 26 pages

14 November 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: There are 58 government advertisements amounting to 26¼ pages in 12 English newspapers today to mark the birth anniversary of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. In contrast, there were 108 ads amounting to 48 pages to mark his grandson, Rajiv Gandhi‘s birthday in August.

All told, so far this year, between three death anniversaries (Nehru’s, Rajiv’s, Indira Gandhi‘s) and two birth anniversaries (Rajiv’s and Indira’s), various ministries of the Union government and Congress-ruled State governments have spent taxpayers’ money in buying 323 advertisements amounting to 158¼ published pages in the 12 surveyed newspapers.

The breakup of the Jawaharlal Nehru ads are as under:

Hindustan Times: 24-page main issue; 11 Nehru ads amounting to 4½ broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 30-page issue; 9 ads amounting to 3¾ broadsheet pages

Indian Express: 24-page issue; 9 ads amounting to 4¼ broadsheet pages

Mail Today (compact): 36-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 2¼ compact pages

The Hindu: 24-page issue; 7 ads amounting to 2¾ broadsheet pages

The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 5 ads amounting to 2¼ broadsheet pages

The Statesman: 16-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ broadsheet pages

The Telegraph: 22-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1 broadsheet page

***

The Economic Times: 30-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ broadsheet pages

Business Standard: 16-page issue; 2 ads amounting to 1 page

Financial Express: 22-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ page

Mint (Berliner): 24-page issue; 0 ads

This computation is only for 12 English newspapers; many other English papers have been left, as indeed has the entire language media which are more numerous than the English ones, several times over.

Among the advertisers wishing the dear departed leader happy birthday this year are the ministries of information and broadcasting, commerce and industry, steel, women and child development, health and family welfare, human resource development, micro small and medium enterprises, youth affairs and sports.

The state governments advertising their love are those of Rajasthan and Delhi. Besides, there are ads of Nehru Yuva Kendra and the national book trust.0

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Also read: Rajiv Gandhi death anniversary: 69 ads, 41 pages in 12 papers

Jawaharlal Nehru death anniversary: 24 ads over 11 pages

Rajiv Gandhi birthday: 108 ads across 48 pages

Indira Gandhi: 64 ads, 32 pages; Vallabhbhai Patel: 9 ads, 3 pages

CHURUMURI POLL: Press Council versus media?

3 November 2011

The “tendentious and offensiveremarks of the new chairman of the Press Council of India, Justice Markandey Katju, on the state of the media and the quality of journalists—and his articulation for greater powers, including over television news channels—has predictably, a) touched a raw nerve, b) stirred a hornet’s nest, c) set the cat among the paper tigers, d) exposed the media’s achilles’ heel, or e) all of the above.

The Editors’ Guild of India*, the Broadcast Editors’ Asociation, the Indian Journalists’ Association have all reacted sharply, while public opinion seems to be on the side of the press council chief, a former judge of the Supreme Court of India. To a question on the CNN-IBN programme “Face the Nation” last night, 73% viewers said there was no need for Justice Katju to apologise (but who believes these polls any way?).

While Justice Katju tries to “place” an article in newspapers to further elucidate his views and some in the media say he said nothing that should not have been said, at least two Delhi-based English newspapers have thought the controversy fit enough for editorials.

Mint, the business daily from the Hindustan Times stable, has an edit titled “Educating Justice Katju“:

“Perhaps Justice Katju is not aware of what journalists do. The basic task of any journalist is to gather news and report it. Most of his or her working day is spent doing that. This is true of the cub reporter and of the senior editor.

“It is true that newsrooms, newspaper columns and TV channels are noisy. But that is only a reflection of the society at large: journalists don’t exist in ether. What is true of Indians is true of Indian journalists.

“Now it would be wonderful if all journalists could appreciate Caravaggio, read Catullus’s poetry, know Thucydides by the chapter and creatively use advanced macroeconomics to interpret the daily ebb and flow of events. It would not only make the press a more cultured institution, but possibly make India a better country. It is also true that few, if any, journalists are enabled to do that.

“These are expensive tastes that require extensive (and yes, expensive) education. Few journalists can afford that, even if most of them want to. The reason: there’s a huge divergence between personal and social returns from such education. This is a wider problem and it afflicts many other professions. To blame the press for being “illiterate” is misinformed, if not downright wrong.”

 

Mail Today, the compact daily from the India Today group, pulls no punches. “He doesn’t deserve to be press council chief” is its rather straightforward headline:

“Justice Katju’s attitude towards the media is one of undisguised disgust. Clearly, he seems to have been misled about his work as the PCI Chairman.

“He seems to think that he has been appointed by Josef Stalin to forcefully “ modernise” the media. Actually he has been appointed under the Press Council of India Act and his main job is to ensure that the press remains free in this country.

“A second task is that of raising the standards of the media discourse, not through chastisement— where, in any case he can merely admonish— but dialogue and persuasion. But this is something you cannot do if you hold the media in utter contempt.

“It would appear that Justice Katju, who had a streak of the self- publicist even as a judge, is pursuing a bizarre agenda which may end up embarrassing those who pushed for his appointment as the Chairman of the Press Council of India.”

* Disclosures apply

Also read: ‘I have a poor opinion of most media people’

Editors’ Guild of India takes on Press Council chief

TV news channel editors too blast PCI chief

Raju Narisetti: ‘Good journalists, poor journalism, zero standards’

Aakar Patel: Indian journalism is regularly second-rate

Is Mayawati pilloried because she is a Dalit?

1 November 2011

With the Uttar Pradesh electoral joust not too far away, the shadow-boxing has begun. The Congress is going to town questioning the hundreds of crores spent by chief minister Mayawati on statues. In the other corner, Mayawati is being credited for uplifting Dalits and tribals and the success of India’s formula one debut is being placed at her door.

There is talk that Mayawati could emerge as a prime minister candidate if not as a kingmaker if the Bahujan Samaj Party does well in the assembly elections and repeats the show in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Which is why apparently the Congress is said to be pushing Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar as a potential PM to steal Mayawati’s thunder.

But, as always, the spectre of corruption hangs over her abrasive figure. Former civil servant Amitabha Pande writes in Mail Today:

Mayawati’s corruption or the growth of her private wealth through the use of political power has a political, cultural dimension which is often ignored. It does not justify it, but it may offer a possible explanation for the blatant manner in which it is done.

“Purely in terms of scale Mayawati will rank quite low in the gallery of rogues in comparison with many members of the Union Cabinet, many present and former chief ministers, sundry progenies and sons in law of prominent political dynasties, and other shadowy denizens of Indian political life. Yet, while most others will evoke nary a reaction from the chatterati, Mayawati’s conduct invariably evokes voluble expressions of revulsion. Caste prejudice is undoubtedly at work here.

“There is also no doubt that as much as the upper classes hate her, her own constituency adores and admires her despite or maybe even because of the growth of her wealth. Her identification with her own lot is so complete that her growth is their growth and a form of retribution for centuries of servitude and exploitation.”

Also read: Is even Ambedkar safe in Mayawati‘s hands?

A leader whose time has come to cross her legs?

CHURUMURI POLL: Can the BSP succeed in Karnataka?

For the doyen of downtrodden, all assets is maya

Raichur malnutrition deaths & BJP ‘governance’

27 October 2011

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: More than 2,600 children under 6 years of age—that’s two-thousand-six-hundred children under six years of age—are reported to have died of malnutrition in Raichur district over the past two years as per data provided by the women and child welfare department.

The irony couldn’t have been more stark or striking: hot and arid Raichur is, after all, home for India’s only active goldmine, Hutti, in Lingasugar taluk. Another 4,500 children are reported to be on their deathbed due to malnutrition in Deoburg and Manvi taluks  of Raichur.

“The entire system has collapsed. It has now become a sociopolitical and economic issue. Karnataka claims to be a progressive state but look at what is happening in these villages,” Dr Akhila Vasan, a child healthcare expert and worker, has been quoted as saying.

Yet, the response of the State government, whose leading figures utter the words “governance” and “development agenda” like a stuck record, is stunning to be believed.

B.S. Yediyurappa, who took a chopper to every known and unknown temple and mutt to save himself from the long arm of the law, and his BJP colleagues who are cooling their heels in Parappana Agrahara, never found time to visit these villages and take effective steps.

The minister for child and women’s welfare C.C. Patil, who was directed by new chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda to visit the district by September 26, has still not found the time, and it is already October 27.

The minister for medical education, S.A. Ramadas, who was  busy splurging taxpayers’ money and hogging all the limelight during Dasara, hasn’t heard of this or hasn’t been bothered enough to respond. Leave alone visiting the affected villages, he hasn’t stepped out of Mysore, fearing he might be upstaged by his friend-turned-foe–cum-colleague Shobha Karandlaje.

And, needles to say, the State’s health minister has been missing in action. So, who was the State’s health minister under Yediyurappa the last two years? B. Sriramulu.

Aha, that explains everything.

Graphics: courtesy Mail Today and Frontline

External reading: Hard to follow

What an idea RG! 108 ads, 48 pages in 12 papers

20 August 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: There is yet another advertising blitzkrieg by Union ministries and Congress-led State governments and departments in today’s newspapers on the former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi‘s birthday.

And it beats the number of ads on Rajiv’s death anniversary hollow.

While there were 69 ads amounting to 41 published pages in 12 newspapers on May 21, there are 108 ads amounting to 48¼ published pages in the same 12 newspapers today.

Hindustan Times: 24-page issue; 14 RG ads amounting to 7 broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 32-page issue; 21 ads amounting to 9 broadsheet pages

Indian Express: 28-page issue; 15 ads amounting to 6½ broadsheet pages

Mail Today (compact): 36-page issue; 11 ads amounting to 6½ compact pages

The Hindu: 24-page issue; 13 ads amounting to 5 broadsheet pages

The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 11 ads amounting to 3¾ broadsheet pages

The Statesman: 16-page isuse; 7 ads amounting to 3 broadsheet pages

The Telegraph: 26-page issue; 9 ads amounting to 3¾ broadsheet pages

***

The Economic Times: 16-page issue; 2 ads amounting to ¾ of a page

Business Standard: 18-page issue; 2 ads amouning to ¾ of a page

Financial Express: 22-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1¼ pages

Mint (Berliner): 16-page issue; 0 ads

This computation is only for 12 English newspapers; many other English papers have been left, as indeed has the entire language media which are more numerous than the English ones, several times over.

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

Among the 21 advertisers wishing the dear departed leader happy birthday this year are the ministries of information and broadcasting, micro small and medium enterprises, power, health and family welfare, tourism, housing and urban poverty alleviation, new and renewable energy, women and child development, commerce and industry, steel, and social justice and empowerment.

The state governments advertising their love are those of Rajasthan, Haryana, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, all Congress-ruled States. And the departments putting their money where their mouth is are the Rajiv Gandhi centre for biotechnology, Navodaya vidyalaya samiti, national small industries corporation, national commission for women, and the coir board.

And, of course, the Indian National Congress.

Also read: Rajiv Gandhi: 69 ads over 41 pages in 12 newspapers

Jawaharlal Nehru: 24 ads over 11 pages in 12 newspapers

And what happens to the indicted IAS officers?

28 July 2011

B.S. Yediyurappa is on his way out after the clamour following the Lok Ayukta report, and so will the politicians who have been named alongside him: G. Karunakara Reddy, G. Janardhana Reddy, B. Sriramulu and V. Somanna. On the Congress side, too, Anil Lad will be expected to show some repentence.

Say what you will of our politicians—they may be crooked, corrupt, criminal, whatever—but eventually in the temple of democracy, they pay a price for their transgressions.

Kicking and screaming, they step down, but at least they step down, before they are thrown out at the hustings. But what about the fatted cows of the bureaucracy—the “officers” lording over everything they survey—who aid, abet and do their master’s bidding while partaking of the loot, and still go on as if nothing happened?

Justice Santosh Hegde and his men have found 787 government officials, from clerks to Indian administrative service and Indian forest service officers, who had their hand in the Rs 16,000 crore mining scam that has spelt disgrace for Karnataka’s politics and environment for years now.

What about them?

And what about the industries and industrialists, like the Jindals, who were party to the daylight loot?

Cartoons: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today, Surendra/ The Hindu

And those who don’t respect the Constitution?

21 July 2011

After his suggestion that the Bhagwad Gita be taught for an hour every day to school children was resisted, Karnataka’s minister for primary and secondary education, Vishveshwar Hegde Kageri, has been quoted as saying that if “someone does not respect the Gita, they have no place in India. They should leave the country and settle abroad.”

Editorial in the Indian Express:

“Apart from ignoring the constitutional injunction against introducing religious material in public schools, Kageri has displayed the worst instincts and rhetoric of the right, publicly stating that those who disregard a certain Hindu religious text do not belong in India….

“It is the politics represented by people like Kageri that remind us how important it is that our state schools remain faith-neutral…. [His] words are a reminder of the still-real danger of those who would shape education to their own ends, and they undermine one of India’s founding values. If anyone has a problem fitting into this plural and secular nation, it is people like him.”

Editorial in The Times of India:

“Whether Kageri or the state BJP likes it or not, there is a constitutional issue around religious preaching by State schools. Article 28(1) of the Constitution forbids religious instruction of any kind in educational institutions wholly funded by the State….

“Kageri’s approach also sums up another common ailment of Indian education ministers. They still do not see their job as expanding the boundaries of education and promoting useful skills that will empower the young, but as prescribing what should be taught, using schools and colleges to disburse patronage, policing the boundaries of Indian culture, and turning education into a tool of political propaganda.”

Cartoon: courtesy Prasad Radhakrishnan/ Mail Today

‘Yediyurappa, not BJP, in power in Karnataka’

20 July 2011

The Bharatiya Janata Party increasingly resembles a franchisee operation like Nirula’s or McDonald’s. Its flag flies high in a number of States, but each of its regional satraps—be it Narendra Damodardas Modi in Gujarat, Shivraj Chauhan in Madhya Pradesh or Raman Singh in Chhattisgarh—scripts his own story.

Prof Narendar Pani of the national institute of advanced studies (NIAS), Bangalore, extends the argument to Karnataka, in Mail Today:

“When the BJP formed its first government in Karnataka it was seen as a victory of the party’s ideology and the first step in a deep ideological push into the South. Halfway through its term that beginning seems a distant memory. The State government is in the news more for stories of corruption and defections rather than anything more positive.

“While this could be dismissed as a part of the preoccupations of the media, it is difficult to miss the defensiveness on the part of the party’s usually aggressive national spokespersons when talking of the Karnataka government. And, what is even more significant, the national leadership of the party appears to be unable to do very much about it. What began as a BJP government has somewhere along the way been turned into a Yediyurappa government.

“This apparently incomprehensible transformation may well have a very simple explanation. If we look at what has happened in Karnataka from the perspective of local grassroots politics, rather than national ideological concerns, it does seem that the BJP and others in Delhi may have exaggerated the ideological content of their electoral victory in the State.”

Also read: ‘How Karnataka is becoming Gujarat of the South’

What would you do with Rs 1,000,000,000,000?

5 July 2011

With gold and other jewels tumbling out of the vaults of the Padmanabhaswamy temple in Trivandrum—figures upto and beyond Rs 100,000 crore are being mentioned, more than twice Rs42,000 crore of Tirupati—newspapers are busy calculating the true value of the haul (at current gold prices) and what can be done with the windfall.

The Times of India reports that one lakh crore rupees is almost equal to Wipro’s market capitalisation of Rs 1.04 lakh crore, nearly one-third of Reliance Industries, and the more than twice Posco’s proposed investment of $12billion in India.

ToI says the gold will…

# Almost meet the cost of rolling out food security Act (around Rs 70,000 crore) and NREGA spend (Rs 40,000 crore)

# Meet central government’s education budget for two-and-a-half years

# Help meet government’s interest liability for over four months and seven months’ defence spending

Mail Today reports that Rs 100,000 crore can be used to…

# Build 290 super-speciality hospitals

# Lay 14,000 kilometres of national highways

# Buy 255 multi-combat aircraft such as the Eurofighter

# Build 1,000 sports arenas like the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium

The Supreme Court will, of course, decide who the money belongs to: the temple, the temple board, the State government or the Centre. But what do you think should be done with the gold?

3 deaths, 14 attacks on journos in last 6 months

14 June 2011

GEETA SESHU writes from Bombay: The killing of Mid-Day (special investigations) editor J.Dey on Saturday, 11 June 2011, was the third death of a journalist in India over the last six months. In all three instances, investigations are on but no arrests have been made; much less is there any headway as to the killers or their motives.

The impunity with which these attacks have taken place only shows that, in India, freedom of speech and expression cannot be taken for granted. “The Free Speech Tracker” set up last year by the Free Speech Hub to monitor all instances of violations of freedom of speech and expression reveals that attacks on journalists and intimidation of editors and writers continued unabated.

# On 20 December 2010, Sushil Pathak, a journalist with Dainik Bhaskar in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, was shot dead while returning home after a late night shift. The general secretary of the Bilaspur Press Club, Pathak is surived by his wife and two children. An investigation began into his death but till February this year, no headway was made into it.

Following sustain protests from journalists’ organisations as well as opposition parties in Chhattisgarh, the state’s Chief Minister Raman Singh ordered that the investigation be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

# On 23 January 2011, Umesh Rajput, a reporter with Nai Duniya was shot dead by two masked assailants on a motorcycle. A note, stating “Khabar chaapna band nahi karoge toh mare jaoge” (If you don’t stop publishing news, you will be killed), was found near the crime scene.

Apart from these deaths, there have been 14 instances of attacks on journalist in this year alone.

# On January 3, Sudhir Dhawale, dalit activist and editor of Vidrohi, a Marathi magazine, was arrested and charged with sedition and links with Maoists.

# In January, Somanath Sahu, reporter of Dharitri, was prevented from attending a press conference at the office of the deputy commissioner of police, Shaheed nagar, Bhubaneshwar, and threatened with dire consequences for writing reports that went against the police.

# Rajat Ranjan Das, a reporter of Sambad daily, sustained fractures and head injuries by alleged supporters of Saikh Babu, a ruling Biju Janata Dal leader from Pipili, Orissa in February.

# In the same month MBC TV reporter Kiran Kanungo and cameraperson Prasant Jena were roughed up by a group of BJD workers in Banki. And, in a separate incident the same day, OTV reporter N.M. Baisakh and his cameraman Anup Ray were beaten up by anti-social elements in Paradeep when they were covering a protest dharna outside the IOCL main gate by local people demanding jobs and compensation.

# In February, an NDTV team of journalists and camera crew were harassed and illegally detained allegedly by staff belonging to the Adani group when the were filming  a report on the large-scale destruction of mangroves in Mundra, Gujarat, due to the construction of a port by the company.

# In April, Bikash Swain, the publisher of Suryaprava, an Odiya daily alleged intimidation by police, following a series of adverse reports that he published. Last September, Swain was arrested by police and protests by journalists about vindictive action by police have obviously failed to have an effect.

# On May 3, ironically on world press freedom day, Goan Observer journalist Gary Azavedo was attacked and illegally detained by security staff of a mining company in Cauverm, Goa when he went there to cover the on-going agitation against mining companies.

# In May, three journalists were beaten up allegedly by CPI(M) supporters in Burdwan district in West Bengal.

# On May 8, in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, a group of youths, allegedly supporters of Nabam Tuki, Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee president and State PWD minister, attacked several media offices, including the local office of PTI and a local newspaper Arunachal Front, apparently to protest a report in a leading daily involving their leader.

# On May 19, MiD-DAY reporter Tarakant Dwivedi, better known as Akela, was arrested under the Official Secrets Act by the Government Railway Police (GRP) for an article written over a year ago in the Mumbai Mirror that exposed the poor condition in which hi-tech weapons procured after the 26/11 attack were being kept by the railway security forces.

# On May 21, unidentified assailants waylaid V.B. Unnithan, Kollam-based senior reporter of the widely circulated Malayalam daily, Mathrubhumi, and assaulted him with iron rods. Unnithan was heading home after work on April 16.

(Former Indian Express reporter Geeta Seshu is co-ordinator of The Free Speech Hub at The Hoot)

Image: A roster of journalists killed in the line of duty, compiled by  Mail Today. Not surprisingly, “troubled” Kashmir and the northeast account for the majority of the 31 deaths in the last 14 years.

***

Also read: The unsung heroes who perished before J.Dey

J. DEY: ‘When eagles are silent, parrots jabber’

About time politics is covered on the comics page

31 May 2011

Cartoons: courtesy Keshav/The Hindu and R. Prasad/Mail Today

***

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Why did Sushma Swaraj ditch Reddys?

How the BJP completely lost the plot in Karnataka

CHURUMURI POLL: India’s most corrupt State?

Getaway of the louts in the Gateway to the South

BJP’s lotus grows in muck, so do BJP’s people

One question I’m dying to ask Yediyurappa & Reddy

Jawaharlal Nehru: 24 ads, 11 pages in 12 papers

27 May 2011

A week is a long time in politics, especially if you are a dead Congressman.

On May 21, the 20th death anniversary of the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, various ministries, departments and State governments unleashed an advertising blitzkrieg in the media.

Result: 69 ads totalling 41 pages in 12 newspapers.

Today, on the 47th anniversary of the death of his grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, the sycophancy deficit is palpable: Just 24 ads amounting to 10¾ published pages in the the same 12 newspapers surveyed last week.

Meaning: India’s first and longest-serving prime minister gets 45 fewer ads (amounting to 30¼ pages) than his grandson who was in office for five years against Nehru’s 17.

Hindustan Times: 22-page issue; 4 JN ads amounting to 1¾ broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 30-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1¼ broadsheet pages

Indian Express: 20-page issue; 5 ads amounting to 2 broadsheet pages

Mail Today (compact): 42-page issue; 4 ads amounting to 2 compact pages

The Hindu: 20-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1¾ broadsheet pages

The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1 broadsheet page

The Statesman: 16-page isuse; 1 ad amounting to half a broadsheet page

The Telegraph: 16-page issue; 1 ad amounting to half a broadsheet page

***

The Economic Times: 32-page issue; 0 ads

Business Standard: 20-page issue; 1 ad amouning to half a broadsheet page

Financial Express: 24-page issue; 0 ads

Mint (Berliner): 32-page issue; 0 ads

Also, unlike dozen or so ministries and departments that were falling over each other to remind the nation of Rajiv Gandhi last week, just four ministries—information and broadcasting, women and child welfare, steel and power—and one State government (Delhi) seem to have taken up Nehru’s cause.

Also read: Rajiv Gandhi: 69 ads over 41 pages in 12 newspapers

Rajiv Gandhi: 69 ads over 41 pages in 12 papers

21 May 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: On the former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi‘s 20th death anniversary today, different ministries of the Congress-led UPA government are falling over each other to demonstrate that the “collective flame of political sycophancy” continues to burn brightly and shamelessly.

While Rajiv Gandhi’s widow Sonia Gandhi and their son Rahul Gandhi talk of “austerity” when it suits them, nearly a dozen Union ministries and a couple of State governments have released tens of ads through the government-controlled Department of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP) to remind Indians that such a man as he walked this earth.

In eleven English news and business papers published out of New Delhi, there were 65 advertisements amounting to 38¼ pages, glorifying The Great Leader, without whom India wouldn’t have entered the 21st century.

Hindustan Times: 24-page issue; 9 RG ads amounting to 5¼ broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 32-page issue; 10 ads amounting to 6 broadsheet pages

Indian Express: 28-page issue; 10 ads amounting to 5 broadsheet pages

Mail Today (compact): 42-page issue; 8 ads amounting to 7 compact pages

The Hindu: 22-page issue; 6 ads amounting to 3½ broadsheet pages

The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 7 ads amounting to 3½ broadsheet pages

The Statesman: 16-page isuse; 4 ads amounting to 2½ broadsheet pages

***

The Economic Times: 16-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1¼ broadsheet pages

Business Standard: 14-page issue; 4 ads amouning to 1¾ broadsheet pages

Financial Express: 24-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ broadsheet pages

Mint (Berliner): 12-page issue; 1 ad amounting to one compact page

Among the departments and ministries seeking to remind the nation of Rajiv Gandhi’s magical powers are the department of information and publicity; the ministries of commerce and industry, tourism, human resource development, social justice & empowerment, power, micro small and medium industries, information and broadcasting, steel; the state governments of Haryana and Rajasthan; and Rajiv Gandhi centre for biotechnology.

Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”

On his birthday in August last year, The Telegraph reported that “Union ministries released more ads on Rajiv Gandhi’s birthday today than on the anniversaries of the rest of India’s Prime Ministers put together in the past one year, Press Information Bureau sources said.”

For the record, The Telegraph received four ads amounting to 2½ pages this year.

The timidity of the Ultimate Playsafe Alliance

20 January 2011

In November 2007, the US embassy in Delhi sent a cable to Washington, which was revealed later by Wikileaks. It said, among other things, “Mrs (Sonia) Gandhi never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Proof in the new year comes in the form of the reshuffle of the Manmohan Singh team.

***

# Manini Chatterjee in The Telegraph:  “The much-awaited cabinet shuffle turned out to be an uninspired and uninspiring exercise that has only served to reinforce — rather than end — the sense of confusion and drift gripping the Manmohan Singh-Sonia Gandhi-led UPA in their second term in power.”

# Editorial in The Indian Express: “Reshuffling a pack fools nobody…. The UPA might think that good optics are enough. They are not. And the truth is that a mere reshuft fle is not even good enough optics. The crisis the UPA faces requires not just reshuffling, but discards.”

# Editorial in The Times of India:  “UPA-II has been buffeted by corruption scandals and spiralling food inflation. And it’s been under sustained attack from an opposition that’s smelt blood. A cabinet rejig was just what it needed to signal changed course and renewed combativeness. Manmohan Singh required it especially, not just as a reminder of his authority as prime minister but because the buck for governance shortfall stops at his door. As things turned out, the reshuffle was a damp squib, signifying no real change to the status quo. Barring some exceptions, it focussed neither on projecting result-oriented ministers nor the youth factor.”

# Editorial in The Economic Times: “The lack of ambition in the reshuffle is borne out by the failure to drop anyone from the Council of ministers. All that we see is some wagging of the prime ministerial finger here, a mild rap on the knuckle there and a more liberal use of that mortification called making someone stand in a corner.”

# Editorial in DNA: “It can be argued that cabinet reshuffle is not meant to send out political signals about which way the ideological wind is blowing and that it is just a reassigning of work. That is not convincing enough.”

# Vinod Sharma in the Hindustan Times: “One had expected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to renovate his ministerial council with fresh talent and out-of-the-box thinking. To that extent, he comes across as having rearranged furniture without completely discarding rickety chairs and faded upholstery. The makeover is partial, even half-hearted with ministers shifted from one portfolio to another.”

Cartoons: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today; E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

Kapil Sibal and the CAG’s ‘notional atyachar’

10 January 2011

We live in a strange, revisionist era. Nothing is what it seems, at least not for more than a few blinks.

For instance, the much-ballyhooed Pokhran II tests under Vajpayee‘s watch, we are told a decade later, was actually a damp squib. Many of the recent blasts that have were supposedly masterminded by Muslim terror-mongers were actually plotted by high functionaries of the RSS, by the admission of one of their own.

The saint of the Indian Premier League, Lalit Modi, was actually a sinner; the former saint-turned-sinner Jagmohan Dalmiya is now again a saint. The Bofors scandal that seemed properly dead and buried just last year with the closure of the case, is now back with a bang to haunt Sonia Gandhi.

Etcetera.

The 2G spectrum allocation scam that just a month ago seemed like India’s largest ripoff ever is now firmly in that revisionist realm, thanks to the new telecom minister, Kapil Sibal‘s exertions. Sibal says the “presumptive loss” of Rs 173,000 crore that the comptroller and accountant general was way off the mark.

In fact, claims “India’s greatest poet since the Bhakti movement“, with the kind of pugnacity only a Punjabi accountant can muster, that the allocation made telephony cheaper, took it far and wide, and that indeed the revenue loss was actually zero. Which, if this were a chess game, could have been called the A. Raja defence.

Little wonder, the Harvard-educated lawyer gets it left, right and centre.

***

Minister’s Point, says The Telegraph:

“If Kapil Sibal has chosen to take issue with the CAG’s performance audit of the issue of second-generation licences for spectrum, the explanation must be sought in three factors. First, the Supreme Court has chosen to take interest in the issue of the licences, and has in the process implicitly indicted Sibal’s predecessor in the ministry of communications, A. Raja. Second, the Supreme Court’s investigation of Raja’s questionable activities has raised questions about the inexplicable inactivity of the prime minister while Raja ruled the roost. Finally, Sibal happens to be a lawyer of some experience. The prime minister’s last encounter with the Supreme Court, when he used executive privilege to defend a possible error, was not very astute; a more expert response was called for.”

Kapil Denial Sibal, says the Indian Express:

“Sibal’s assumption of the telecom portfolio was a sign of hope. With his reformist credentials, he was supposed to ensure transparency in the investigation, and help the ministry, and governance, move on. That is why his Friday press conference is so disturbing….

“Brazenness won’t help the political climate. Nor will it aid in ending the stalemate with the opposition. Indeed, it strikes an odd, arrogant note precisely when the government is backing the PAC as an investigatory mechanism, and that committee specifically examines the CAG report. It’s silly to score points on the weakest part of the CAG report when the Supreme Court is monitoring the situation, and the CBI is still in the process of filing a status report to the court.”

A pyrrhic win, says DNA:

“Sibal has unwittingly tried to discredit the CAG, which could turn out to be a great disservice. It would make the beleaguered UPA government far more vulnerable than before. The brilliant lawyer that he is, Sibal picked up what was the weakest point in the report and went on to clinically decimate it. But if he believes that the 2G spectrum scam would vanish into thin air because of his legal acumen, then he may have to think again….

“It is clear that Sibal is fighting a political battle on behalf of the Congress and prime minister Manmohan Singh. But politics is not just about winning debating and legal points. It is much more about images and perceptions. The image of UPA2 in the public mind at the moment is that this government is caught up in too many scams. It has much to atone for. Instead of belligerence, this government should display is a sense of penitence and do what it can to clean up the mess.”

Don’t quibble over figures, says Mail Today:

“Even if the CAG’s figures are inaccurate or speculative, it does not acquit the government — and former telecom minister A. Raja in particular — from the charge that the process followed in the allotment of 2G spectrum was fraught with irregularities. The moot issue has always been that certain entire process — and this is a question Mr Sibal has sought to deliberately obfuscate.

“It is unfortunate that the telecom minister has to make a statement that the figures stated by the CAG have “embarrassed government and the nation” as the government has no one but itself to blame for embarrassment that has been caused. It’s unfortunate that a minister has to raise questions in this manner about a constitutionally mandated watchdog.”

Subversive Sibal, says Deccan Herald:

“The minister’s arguments are those of a clever lawyer, trying to obfuscate issues and facts and create confusion. He also adopted a posture, aggressive and theatrical enough to make people believe that there was substance in the argument. But cleverness and drama do not help strengthen a case. What Sibal has done is in effect supporting the case of A.Raja, who has also advanced the same arguments. Then why did Raja have to resign?”

When a lawyer becomes judge, says The Sunday Guardian:

“If Kapil Sibal believes what he says, he should send in his resignation immediately so that Raja can be reinstated. Why was Raja dropped from the Cabinet, at such political cost, personal anguish and Karunanidhi family heartbreak if he was innocent? At the very least Manmohan Singh owes Raja a grovelling apology. Raja should in fact sue Dr Singh and Sonia Gandhi for libel, since their decision to wrench him out of the office he coveted amounted to, by Sibal’s interpretation, defamation and humiliation on a national scale.

“Obviously, Sibal was either on holiday or so immersed in his public service duties that he was totally oblivious of media when the Radia tapes took complete control of airwaves and print. Or, perhaps, again like a good lawyer, he had no interest in any fact that would be relevant to the prosecution. Since Sibal will still need a job after resignation, he can easily step into a vacant home ministry. P. Chidambaram will surely now have to resign. Chidambaram, after all, sent a letter to the Prime Minister accusing Raja of malpractice, not mere “procedural lapses”.”

Cartoon: Shyam Jagota/ Cartoon Chaupal

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: The most corrupt government?

CHURUMURI POLL: Manmohan Singh, still “Mr Clean”?

Is Yale turning India into a “dynastic democracy”?

Everyone has his own Gandhi to thank for

9 November 2010

Barack Obama‘s three-day visit sent the Indian media into a paroxysm of irrational exuberance. Pity the President of the United States was already in the air when some acid pens got working.

Cartoon: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

Graphic: courtesy The Telegraph, Calcutta

As Voltaire said, “I disapprove of what you say…’

27 October 2010

Editorial in The Hindu:

“In his classic defence of free speech, On Liberty, John Stuart Mill laid down what is known as the ‘harm principle.’ It postulates that the only justification for silencing a person against his will is to prevent him from causing harm to others.

“It is to this powerful libertarian mid-19th century principle that we owe the idea that free speech cannot be proscribed merely because we find it disagreeable, and that curbs may be imposed only if such expression constitutes a direct, explicit, and unequivocal incitement to violence.

“There is no such nexus in Arundhati Roy‘s statements on Kashmir, which are shaped around the theme of gross human rights violations and ‘fundamentally a call for justice.’ It is tragi-comic that there is talk of ‘sedition’ at a time when it is regarded as obsolete in many countries.”

Editorial in Mail Today:

“Those arguing for registration of criminal cases against these individuals are only betraying their lack of respect for the right of free speech and their rather fragile notion of what constitutes our nationhood….

“Arundhati Roy is a public intellectual and has a right to voice her views even if they may appear anti- India in nature. The right of free speech and expression lies at the core of our democracy, and any abrogation of it, diminishes freedom in the country. That is why censorship is the most important weapon in the arsenal of autocrats….

“The bottomline here is that the Indian state is not so weak or fragile as to feel threatened by speeches that few will commend for their balance or good sense.”

Venkatesan Vembu in DNA:

“Soundbite-savvy Roy’s polemics were once merely infuriatingly dishonest (even when they had half a point), her most recent public articulations on Kashmir, coming on top of her unvarnished defence of Maoist resort to violence, cross the threshold of what any self-respecting, law-bound nation-state can tolerate….

“Apart from being historically inaccurate, Roy’s words also betray an inadequate sensitivity to the enormous gravity of any loose talk of azaadi or self-determination at a time when the separatist campaign in Kashmir finally stands exposed before the world as having been propelled all along by Pakistan-backed jihadis who are playing for much larger stakes: the disintegration of secular India.

“Perhaps in parlour room polemics, among calm and politically sanitised minds, there may be little risk from intellectual explorations of the merits of Kashmiri self-determination. But the Kashmir mind today is in a fevered state as a result of years of hot-headed jihadi indoctrination; only when that fever subsides can other cures be contemplated.

“Right now, given that inflamed state, Roy’s words have the potency to bestir indoctrinated minds into extreme action.”

Cartoon: courtesy Prasad Radhakrishnan/ Mail Today


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,703 other followers