Posts Tagged ‘Mint’

POLL: Can Nandan Nilekani win Bangalore South?

18 September 2013

Kite-flying effortlessly replaces cricket as the nation’s favourite sport before every election, state or national, and so it is in the run-up to 2014, with “guided rumours” of Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani suddenly but not unexpectedly doing the rounds as a potential Congress candidate from Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency.

For the moment, there is no confirmation from the man, but he has certainly not denied the report which first appeared on the website of the business newspaper, Mint. “It’s speculative,” is how the Sirsi-born software mogul has chosen to greet the unattributed reports which clearly emanate from his “camp”, and all of which uniformally talk of his candidature having Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi‘s imprimatur.

On the face of it, Nilekani has plenty going for him. He is young (58), has a demonstrated track record as an entrepreneur and a technocrat, has ‘written’ an ambitious book on how he imagines India, and is a past-master at charming the pants off the media. On top of that, his wife, the former journalist Rohini Nilekani has pumped in crores into philanthropic projects.

Nilekani’s role in crafting “Brand Bangalore” is not insignificant. It is Infosys that largely put the shine back into Bangalore and made it the country’s unquestionable IT capital. Nilekani was also the brain behind the Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF) during S.M.Krishna‘s tenure. So, the Congress’s, if not Nilekani’s, calculation is: this is payback time.

The preponderance of IT types in Bangalore South, the large sprinkling of Brahmins, and a five-time sitting Brahmin MP (Ananth Kumar) who is not on the right side of the BJP’s “prime ministerial candidate”, Narendra Modi, makes the Sai bhakt’s candidature look all very rosy—on a spreadsheet.

But politics is not a zero-sum, page 3 game as the similarly qualified Captain G.R. Gopinath discovered not too long ago.

It is not only software engineers who go to vote, in fact they can barely get their backsides off a spa table on the weekends. Plus, Bangalore South has a sizeable Vokkaliga population, and who doesn’t know H.D. Deve Gowda‘s antipathy to urban, educated, rich, IT-BT types?

Above all, for all the friendly media coverage of Nilekani’s “Aadhar” card, the fact remains he has essentially presided over an unconstitutional scheme which does not have Parliament’s OK, and which has actually taken millions out of the welfare net, while precisely claiming to do the opposite, by stopping leakage and pilferage. These are the people who vote and, sadly for Nilekani’s and Aadhar’s backers, there are thousands of them in Bangalore South too.

So, does Nandan Nilekani, who can just about speak Kannada, stand a chance, if he gets the chance, or is he like so many billionaires deluded about what his billions can fetch? If he does, could he end up being a potential minister in the next UPA regime, if there is one? And, while we (and he) fantasise, could he even be the kind of quiet technocrat who could be Rahul’s Manmohan Singh? Just kidding.

(Or, tongue firmly in cheek, could Nandan Nilekani’s nomination papers get rejected because his date of birth does not match the DoB on his own Aadhar card?!)

Also read: Dear Nandan, quit Infosys, join politics, start a party

Nandan Nilekani: the six things that changed India

CHURUMURI POLL: Has Nilekani trounced NRN?

MUST READ: 12 things no one is telling us about namma Nandu

The spotlight is now on ‘Make Up’ Naani’s son

31 August 2013

bala

In Lounge, the weekend section of the business paper Mint, the columnist Aakar Patel doffs his hat to Prakash Belawadi.

The engineer-son of ‘Make Up’ Naani and Bhargavi Nagaraj who became an Indian Express reporter, who became a magazine correspondent, who became a television chat show host, who launched a journalism school, who launched a weekly newspaper…

And who made a national-award winning English film, who made a hit Kannada TV serial—and who is winning accolades for his role as a Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) agent in the just-released Hindi film, Madras Cafe:

“Prakash Belawadi started and edited a weekly newspaper, Bangalore Bias (it shut down). He has begun so many enterprises, a media school among them, that I have lost count just of those he has been involved in since 2000, and would not be surprised if he has too.

“Belawadi began his career as a journalist and worked for Vir Sanghvi’s Sunday. He remains a columnist and a first rate one. He has the best quality a columnist can have and that, according to Graham Greene, is never to be boring.

“Belawadi has a dangerous lack of ideology that makes him an aggressive and unpredictable debater. He can casually assume a position, often contrary to one he held a couple of days ago, and unpack a ferocious argument. Like all good men, he likes a fight, and like all good men it is promptly forgotten. He has a quality that is admirable among men.

“He is restless and tireless, and totally uncaring for the middle-class ambitions that most of us cannot let go of, and few of us ever achieve.”

Read the full article: A restless Renaissance man

“prabel” in churumuri: Everybody loves his own Jnanpith winner

Also read: For some journalists, acting is second string in bow

Finally, Karnataka gets an acting chief minister

Are South Indians less ‘giving’ than the others?

10 January 2013

photo

South Indians are the least likely to loosen their purse strings to donate but when they do, they are most likely to dig and deep and give lots, the quantum of individual donations being only slightly lower than their counterparts in the West.

That is the one-line summation of a nationwide study of philanthropic habits of urban Indians by an aid foundation last year (sample size: 9,000).

# 73% South Indians had made a donation in the previous year, unlike 100% in the North, 85% in the East and 77% in the West.

# 36% in the South Indians had donated to a recognised charity, as opposed to 30% in the West, 24% in the East and 15% in the North.

# The average value of each donor in the South was Rs 1,069, just shy of Rs 1,116 in the West, but well above Rs 623 in the North and Rs 302 in the East.

# Sikhs (99%), Buddhists (91%) and Christians (90%) were most likely to open their wallets; Christians (61%), Buddhists (45%) and Jains (37%) were likely to do so to charitable organisations.# Muslims (84%) and Hindus (83%) were neck and neck in general donations and in donating to recognised charities, 24% and 25% respectively.

# Missionairies of Charity (10%) was most likely to receive donations, followed by the PM’s relief fun (7%), Plan India and Rotary Club (4%); Helpage India, Red Cross, UNICEF, CRY (2%).

# Individuals are more likely (63%) to give to strangers than friends, neighbours and colleagues (24%) or maids or servants (11%) .

Infographic: courtesy Mint

Also read: Five reasons why South is better than North?

Another reason why South is ahead of the North*?

North or South. Rich or poor. Hindu or Muslim.

Why more South Indian firms are not on Sensex

How ‘trial by media’ turned into media on trial

13 September 2012

Is it a good thing that the Supreme Court of India has not announced clearcut guidelines for media coverage of court cases? Or has it opened the floodgates by introducing a “neturalising device” that underlines the right of the accused to seek postponement of coverage on a case-by-case basis?

By introducing a “constitutional principle” has the judiciary appropriated to itself the power of the legislature to make law? And by giving credence to the complaints of corporates, has the SC sacrificed the interests of faceless and voiceless millions seeking justice and guidance from the top court?

***

The Tribune, Chandigarh: Thoughtless curbs

The Supreme Court judgment that courts can defer media coverage of a case for a short period if there is a danger to an individual’s right to fair trial will curb freedom of the Press, limit the people’s right to know and unnecessarily encourage litigation. Growing complaints of “trial by media” had prompted Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia to initiate a discussion on framing guidelines for court reporting….

There is a growing tendency in the judiciary as well as the executive to curb free speech. The Allahabad High Court banned all media reporting of troop movements after a news report hinted at a coup attempt. The government recently gagged social media sites on the pretext of restoring order. The arrest of a West Bengal professor for circulating a cartoon, the removal of cartoons from school textbooks and the slapping of a sedition case against a cartoonist for disrespecting the national emblem are other instances of executive intolerance of dissent. Vague judgments like the one in the Sahara case will only fuel this tendency.

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Deccan Herald, Bangalore: Gag on media

A fresh threat to the right to free speech and expression, which has been sanctified by the Constitution, has come from an unlikely place, the Supreme Court of India, which has in the past protected and promoted it as a basic entitlement of citizens. Its judgement empowering courts to ban reporting of hearings in cases where there is a perceived chance of interference in free and fair trial amounts to muzzling media freedom. It needs to be opposed like all other assaults on the functioning on the media, which are becoming frequent now.

The court has propounded a  ‘constitutional principle’  which would allow aggrieved parties to seek postponement of the publication of hearings if they are seen to be prejudicial to the administration of justice. But this is disguising an unfair restriction as a constitutional doctrine, creating a devious device to undermine a basic right.

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The Indian Express: Lines of control

This “doctrine of postponement” of reporting is meant to be a preventive measure, rather than a punitive one, and is intended to balance the right of free speech with the right to a fair trial. The courts, the SC said, will evaluate each appeal carefully, guided by considerations of necessity and proportionality. However, the very outlining of the principle, in effect, leaves journalism at the mercy of the high court, rather than being internally regulated with better editorial gatekeeping.

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The Hindu: Don’t compromise open justice

The Supreme Court’s judgment justifying a temporary ban on the publication of court proceedings in certain cases is likely to have a chilling effect on the freedom of the press and the very idea of an open trial…. Indeed, by emphasising the right of an aggrieved person to seek postponement of media coverage of an ongoing case by approaching the appropriate writ court, there is a danger that gag orders may become commonplace. At a minimum, the door has been opened to hundreds and thousands of additional writs — a burden our legal system is unprepared to handle — filed by accused persons with means.

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Mint: Judgment and some worries

While the court prescribed tests of reasonableness, among others, on deciding issues of postponement, time is of the essence for media and citizens dependent on it for information. It is not far-fetched to presume that during this period of stasis, reporters and editors, can be arm-twisted into submission. The judgement whittles down an already embattled freedom available to the Press. It will add psychological pressure and uncertainty in an already difficult environment.

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Business Standard: Tilting the balance

Tuesday’s judgment has done is to tilt the balance in favour of litigants seeking court interventions — which might well result in the imposition of such gag orders on the media. To that extent, the apex court’s order is prone to misuse…. The legal process (of deferement) is certain to cast an adverse impact on the freedom of the media and undermine the people’s right to know about such cases before the court.

Instead of paving the way for such curbs, it would perhaps make more sense if the courts took upon themselves the responsibility of allowing independent and comprehensive electronic coverage of court cases that both the people and the media can freely access for information or reportage. That would be a more effective way of ensuring that the coverage of court proceedings does not create the risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice or to the fairness of trials.

**

The Times of India: Chilling effect

The bench headed by outgoing Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia came up with an alternative approach to maintaining the balance between free speech and fair trial. Drawing upon the contempt law, the apex court devised a judicial power to order the postponement of publication as a last resort. Even this, however, may negatively impact the salutary principle that trials be held in public, as powerful defendants could routinely invoke such postponement orders….  The media is anyway a heterogeneous entity and the right of journalists to cover court proceedings is an essential attribute of a fair trial.

Cartoon: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

‘Both UPA and NDA will be routed in 2014 poll’

16 August 2012

The predicament of the Congress-led UPA, with scams and scandals raining all over it, has led many to conclude that it should be a cakewalk for the BJP-led NDA in the next general election. But a survey by a Delhi-based market reserch agency, published by Mint, the business daily of the Hindustan Times group, predicts a bad time for both alliances.

“Marketing and Development Research Associates (MDRA), which studied its own by-monthly sample surveys and other recent surveys across the country, said as of July 2012, UPA would decline to 130-140 seats if there was an election now to the Lok Sabha, losing 120-130 seats from its present tally of 266 that excludes outside supporters.

“Similarly, the NDA would see an erosion in its strength by about 25-35 seats, reducing the number to anywhere between 115 seats and 125 seats.”

Agree? Disagree?

Infographic: courtesy Mint

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

Congrats, your taxes have helped buy 265 ads

31 October 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: After the advertising blitzkrieg to mark Rajiv Gandhi‘s birth and death anniversaries, and the death anniversary of his grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru earlier this year, Union ministries and Congress-led State governments and departments have once again splurged heavily to mark Indira Gandhi‘s death anniversary today.

In the 12 newspapers surveyed, there are 64 advertisements of various sizes, amounting to approximately 31½ published pages to mark the assassination of the former prime minister on this day, 27 years ago.

In contrast, Vallabhbhai Patel, the late Union home minister, whose birth anniverary too falls on October 31, gets 9 advertisements in the same 12 newspapers, amounting to 3 published pages. While there are multiple advertisements for Indira Gandhi, no paper has more than one ad for Patel.

The breakup of the Indira Gandhi ads are as under:

Hindustan Times: 22-page main issue; 9 Indira Gandhi ads amounting to 4¼ broadsheet pages

The Times of India: 30-page issue; 13 ads amounting to 6¼ broadsheet pages

Indian Express: 22-page issue; 9 ads amounting to 4 broadsheet pages

Mail Today (compact): 36-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 2¾ compact pages

The Hindu: 24-page issue; 8 ads amounting to 4 broadsheet pages

The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 7 ads amounting to 3¼ broadsheet pages

The Statesman: 16-page issue; 4 ads amounting to 2 broadsheet pages

The Telegraph: 22-page issue; 5 ads amounting to 2½ broadsheet pages

***

The Economic Times: 26-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ pages

Business Standard: 14-page issue; 2 ads amouning to 1 page

Financial Express: 20-page issue; 1 ad amounting to half a 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 13 advertisers wishing the dear departed leader are the ministries of information and broadcasting, commerce and industry, steel, women and child development, health and family welfare, human resources development, development of north east region, and social justice and empowerment.

The state governments advertising their love are those of Rajasthan, Delhi and Andhra Pradesh. Besides, most newspapers carry an advertisement inserted by the Congress party.

All told, so far, this year, tax payers money have been spent in buying 265 advertisements amounting to 132 published pages in the 12 newspapers.

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 over 41 pages in 12 newspapers

Jawaharlal Nehru death anniversary: 24 ads over 11 pages

Rajiv Gandhi birthday: 108 ads across 48 pages

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

Has the IT boom quelled Bangalore’s tensions?

13 August 2011

A City whose population doubled from 30 lakhs to 60 lakhs between 1981 and 2004. A City which attracted five MNCs a month between 1995 and 2005 (which should peg their overall figure at least 600). A City which contributes 34% of India’s $50 billion outsourcing revenue.

A City a third of whose population lives below the poverty line; nearly 15 lakh in slums. A City only a third of whose garbage is collected. A City which has lost 70 per cent of its trees since 1990. A City where more than half the population is from abroad or other parts of India….

Not fanciful numbers from Upendra‘s “Super, but cold statistics being bandied about India’s most “globalised” City—and, therefore, India’s most vulnerable City should there be a recession—Bangalore, by global consulting firm$, expat academic$, NGO$ and thinktank$.

Quoting a recent American paper, Rupa Subramanya Dehejia reported in the Wall Street Journal recently that a 1%  rise in India’s GDP quelled the chances of communal riots by 5%. Writing in Lounge, the Saturday supplement of the business daily Mint, Samar Halarnkar makes a similar point about Bangalore:

“A transformation so rapid, from small town to global metropolis, is obviously not easy on those who see change but are not a part of it. So, the 1990s saw the most visible, violent protests against change. This was the decade when farmers and Kannada chauvinists ransacked the first outlet of Kentucky Fried Chicken, picketed multinationals Cargill Seeds and Monsanto, and protested the Ms Universe contest.

“As the economy swelled to embrace more people, such protests quickly faded, as did Bangalore’s once-regular riots and confrontations—between Hindu and Muslim, Tamilians and Kannadigas, between congregations of various languages in Christian churches.”

Link via Sahridaya Shobhi

Read the full article: Urban change

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

BANGALORE‘A city whose soul has been clinically removed

C.N.R. RAO: If IT takes away Bangalore’s values, burn IT

PAUL THEROUX: Bangalore’s idiots who speak an idiolect at home

CHURUMURI POLL: Who killed Bangalore?

Bharat as seen from the City of Baked Beans

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.

Is it really so difficult to say sorry, maaf karo?

3 December 2010

Nearly 30 years after it was made on a shorter than shoestring budget, the Kundan Shah-directed caper Jaane bhi do yaaro remains one of Bollywood’s most loved movies, presciently squatting at the 2010 intersection of politicians, businessmen and journalists a la Niira Radiagate.

In JBDY, two commercial photographers (played by Naseeruddin Shah and the late Ravi Baswani) pick up freelance assignments for Khabardar, a muckraking publication edited by Shobha Sen (Bhakti Barve) that ostensibly wants to expose the link between an unscrupulous builder (Pankaj Kapoor) and a corrupt municipal commissioner (Satish Shah).

The lensmen come up with damning evidence but, well, the editor is “stringing along” with another builder (Om Puri) and strumming a different tune.

Now, what if the remorseless Bhakti Barve played Barkha Dutt, the “massively influential but ethically embattled” NDTV anchor?

***

B.V. Rao in Governance Now:

Barkha’s show of her lifetime left me unimpressed because it did not answer some key questions. Where is her apology to her viewers (she did not look into the camera, address her viewers and say “sorry” even when prompted).”

T.N. Ninan in Business Standard:

“If both (Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi) could bring themselves to admitting that they crossed a line, apologise and declare that it won’t happen again, the entire journalist community would breathe easier and hold its head up a little higher. So would a generation of young journalism students and new entrants into the profession, who have grown up idealising Ms Dutt and others.”

Shobha Narayan in Mint:

“Should Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi say “mea culpa” for letting down their readers and viewers? Absolutely. Then, why don’t they?”

***

Full coverage: BARKHA DUTT on the allegations against her

Lessons for Vir and Barkha from Prem and Nikhilda

‘Credibility is like virginity, and it’s been lost’

‘A too-argumentative Barkha squanders chance’

86% feel let down by CD baat of top journalists

Has media credibility suffered a body-blow?

The TV anchor, the ex-editor and TV personality

Why we didn’t air Niira Radia tapes: two examples

Vir Sanghvi suspends Hindustan Times column

In which Adolf Hitler reacts to ‘Barkhagate’

‘Indian daily journalism is uniformly second-rate’

20 June 2010

Bill the bard, put it better, of course: “‘Tis the time’s plague, when madmen lead the blind.”

Aakar Patel is no Shakespeare, but he makes a similar point: Indian media doesn’t know but they are trying to show us the way. Patel, formerly of Asian Age, Deccan Chronicle, Mid-Day and Divya Bhaskar, tears into our information providers in a column in Lounge, the Saturday supplement of the business daily Mint.

Indian journalists do not know how to ask questions. Indian journalists look for validation of their views rather than fresh information. Indian newspaper proprietors are more knowledgeable than their editors. Indian writers are rarely asked to write for publications abroad because they are so bad. Etcetera.

“There are good journalists in India, but they tend to be business journalists. Unlike regular journalism, business journalism is removed from emotion because it reports numbers. There is little subjectivity and business channel anchors are calm and rarely agitated because their world is more transparent.

“Competent business reporting here, like CNBC, can be as good as business reporting in the West. This isn’t true of regular journalism in India, which is uniformly second-rate….

“You could read Indian newspapers every day for 30 years and still not know why India is this way. The job of newspapers is, or is supposed to be, to tell its readers five things: who, when, where, what and why. Most newspapers make do with only three of these and are unlikely to really you ‘what’….”

Where would Indian journalism be if it weren’t for its columnists?

Photograph: courtesy My Space

Also read: SEBI chief: Business journalism or business of journalism?

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

New York Times: Why Indian media doesn’t take on Ambanis

CNBC barbs that resulted in a Rs 500 crore lawsuit

Pyramid Saimira, Tatva, and Times Private Treaties

How come none in the Indian media spotted Satyam fraud

When a music mag (Rolling Stone) takes on Goldman Sachs

When Jon Stewart does the business interview of the year

Also read: Aakar Patel on working at The Asian Age

Prime minister, maybe, but not a very good sub

Has NRN bid goodbye to dream of public office?

28 April 2010

In 1999, Atal Bihari Vajpayee apparently offered him a ministership. In 2004, Manmohan Singh apparently invited him to be chairman of the investment commission.

Then his name apparently did the rounds for President of India (before the national anthem controversy singed him). There was an all-too-brief flirtation with reviving the Swatantra Party, and he himself expressed interest in becoming India’s ambassador to the United States.

Now, the business paper Mint hints that Infosys chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy may have decided once and for all that public office is not a good fit.

“I’m used to an orderly way of life. I’m used to a disciplined set of people. I’m used to delivering on promise. I’m used to working with civilized people. Unfortunately in public life in India these are not the attributes that you see.”

Read the full article: Narayana Murthy‘s new passion

Also read: Why Narayana Murthy will make a poor Prez

Cho Ramaswamy: Why NRN won’t wash as President

Narayana Murthy to revive Swatantra Party?

The Mahatma, Murthy and Information Technology

CHURUMURI POLL: Has Nandan Nilekani trouned NRN?

‘Advani offers nothing creative, only resentment’

29 April 2009

advani

Aakar Patel does an excellent appraisal of Lalchand Kishinchand Advani in Mint, the business daily owned by the Hindustan Times group, on the basis of his memoir:

“If Advani has such a poor record on security [on Kandahar, Kargil and Gujarat], why do his supporters refer to him as strong? Sadly, this image comes from his willingness to do violence to India’s Muslims.

“Having had only eight years of executive experience, the same as the average 32-year-old, Advani has no long view. He does not understand strategy.

“He thumps his chest and warns Pakistan to behave after taking India nuclear, but is taken aback when Pakistan’s generals immediately use this as an excuse to weaponize their own programme. This has destabilized South Asia for generations.

“He opposes the Indo-US nuclear deal. Why? Because America does not treat India as “equals”. He views strategic policy through honour and emotion.

“Of his autobiography’s 48 chapters, not one is on economics. Muslims, Kashmir, terrorism, Pakistan, Musharraf, Kargil, Shah Bano, Naxalism, Godhra, Assam, Ayodhya. These are his concerns. His passion is all about what other people should not do.

“Under Advani, the BJP’s three policy thrusts were all negative: Muslims should not keep Babri Masjid; Muslims should not have polygamy; Kashmir should not have special status.

“He offers nothing creative, even to Hindus, only resentment….

***

“At the G-20 this month, London’s Financial Times put Manmohan Singh on its masthead next to Barack Obama and sent three editors to interview him. All Indians who are ashamed of the quality of our leaders must try to read this interview: www.ft.com/indepth/g20.

“First question: Do you agree with China on the failures of the global monetary regime and the case for a new reserve asset in place of the dollar?

“It’s not the question they would ask of Advani.”

Only comments from valid, verifiable email IDs will pass muster

Read the full article: Advani or Manmohan Singh?

Also read: The man who sowed the dragon seeds of hatred

A lifetime achievement award for L.K. Advani?

Tarun J. Tejpal on the uber babu: Manmohan Singh

A civil servant or a very civil servant?

How come media did not spot the Satyam fraud?

8 January 2009

A requiem for Indian business journalism, in the delightfully breathless style of Juan Antonio Giner, founder-director, Innovation International Media:

‘Satyam’, meaning truth.

India’s fourth largest software services provider. The darling of Hyderabad.

An outsourcing company with 53,000 employees that serviced 185 of the Fortune 500 companies in 66 countries.

A company which now says 50.4 billion rupees of the 53.6 billion rupees in cash and bank loans that it listed in assets for its second quarter, which ended in September, were nonexistent.

India’s biggest corporate fraud ever.

Hell, India’s biggest fraud ever: customers, clients, shareholders, employees, families down in the dumps.

India’s Enron.

We have heard all the big questions being asked. So far.

How come the analysts did not know?

How come the auditors did not know?

How come the regulators did not know?

How come the directors did not know?

How come the bankers did not know?

Yes. But where is the other question?

How come the media did not know?

Yes.

How come the English newspapers did not know?

# Not Deccan Chronicle, not The Hindu, not The New Indian Express, not The Times of India.

# Not The Economic Times, not Business Line, not Financial Chronicle, not Business Standard, not Financial Express.

How come the foreign newspapers did not know?

# Not New York Times, not Wall Street Journal, not Financial Times.

How come the Telugu dailies did not know?

# Not Eenadu, not Andhra Jyoti, not Andhra Prabha, not Saakshi.

How come the general interest magazines did not know?

# Not India Today, not Outlook, not The Week.

How come the business magazines did not know?

# Not Business Today, not Business World, not Outlook Business.

How come the English news channels did not know?

# Not NDTV, not CNN-IBN, not Times Now, not Doordarshan News.

How come the business channels did not know?

# Not CNBC, not NDTV Profit, not UTVi.

How come the Telugu channels did not know?

# Not ETV, not ETV2, Not Gemini, not Maa TV, not TV9, not TV5, not Doordarshan

So many media vehicles, but so little light on the infotech highway yet so much noise.

But who is asking the questions?

Is journalism that doesn’t shed light journalism?

Or puff?

Or PR?

Or Advertising?

Also read: Is this what they really teach at Harvard Business School?

Is Satyam alone in creative accounting scam?

New Year card Ramalinga Raju did not respond to

What your choice of life partner says about ‘us’

11 September 2008

Ramesh Ramanathan has an interesting piece in today’s Mint in which the uses the metaphor of arranged marriage to reveal the schizophrenic nature of Indian democracy.

“At the heart of the idea of democracy is the freedom to make choices. But when we talk of democracy and choices, we tend to confine these to “public” issues: should India sign the nuclear treaty, what should be the resolution in Singur, should we have reservations in our IITs?….

“How come we are so passionate about protecting our political rights—wanting to have a choice to make decisions about our roads and schools and hospitals—but so completely comfortable with giving up choice in the single biggest decision that impacts our lives—that of a life partner?

“How come we hold different views on public versus personal choices?”

***

Does democracy begin at home? Is this distinction between our public postures and private choices hypocritical? Are we a slightly less-mature democracy as a result? Are western democracies better because this dichotomous distinction is less visible?

***

Photograph: a still from the film Kuch na Kaho (tagline: “Love can’t be arranged”), starring Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai. The two stars were later united in an “arranged marriage”, after both had had their fill of failed “love affairs”.

Read the full article: Marriages and democracy

Also read: Has online matchmaking becoming a bit of a scam?

Is it a crime to break a marriage engagement?

How IT has changed the marriage market

For Shyam and Madhu, the show had to go on

How ‘BBC’ turned Bhiwani into ‘Kashi of Boxing’

27 August 2008

Niranjan Rajadhyaksha writes of how specialisation works in sport as it does in business, in Mint

“Online encyclopedia Wikipedia quite aptly describes Bhiwani as “the Kashi of boxing”. Three pugilists from the town — Akhil Kumar, Vijender Kumar and Jitendra Kumar — went through to the quarter finals while Vijender Kumar went on to win a bronze medal in the recently concluded Beijing Olympics….

“The gutsy boxers of Bhiwani have perhaps never heard of Alfred Marshall.

“Marshall was one of the first economists to ask why certain occupations and industries tend to cluster in a particular town: cutlery in the Sheffield and pottery in the Staffordshire of his times, for example. “When an industry has thus chosen a locality for itself, it is likely to stay there for long: So great are the advantages with people following the same skilled trade get from near neighbourhood to one another. The mysteries of the trade become no mysteries; but are as it were in the air, and children learn from many of them unconsciously.”

Read the full article: Alfred Marshall in Bhiwani

Dilli door asth, yes, but does Delhi know best?

24 May 2008

Does the political establishment in New Delhi have a better idea of what has been recorded in the voting machines in Karnataka? Is the Congress’ fate really sealed as at least two opinion polls seem to indicate? Or is the media beginning to echo what it itself puts out?

Today’s newspapers provide an interesting lesson. Delhi-dated stories by “political correspondents” supposedly with an ear to the rooms and anterooms of the movers and shakers of the national capital, all put out the same line:

# Subodh Ghildiyal in The Times of India: “Congress would only surprise itself with a positive result in Karnataka…. Congress has prepared a list of alibis on why it might not do well…. The view is that the much-publicised return of S.M. Krishna to politics has turned out to be a “non-factor”.”

# Shishir Gupta in The Indian Express: “The Congress leadership is not very upbeat about the Karnataka Assembly results…. Congress’s Karnataka managers, however, still feel that they could have done slightly better if the high command had not insisted on giving 17 tickets to minorities, 11 tickets to women and two tickets to Christians…. Congress knows that S.M. Krishna’s magic has not worked with the urban electorate.”

# Ashish Sharma and K.P. Narayana Kumar in Mint: The farm debt waiver scheme has been expanded, “on the eve of what many see as another likely electoral setback for the ruling United Progressive Alliance in Karnataka where votes will be counted on Sunday.”

Also read: And finally, who is giving how much to each party

The ‘godmen’ are all backing god’s own party

A week’s a long time in politics. And four years?

8 May 2008

Ramesh Ramanathan in Mint:

“When S.M. Krishna lost the Karnataka state elections in 2004, most pundits suggested that this was due to his focus on the urban voter….

“What a difference four years can make. As we turn into the home stretch of the 2008 elections, urban development and urban politics have come out of the shadows to play a prime role in electoral fortunes.

“Credit the Election Commission (EC) and its delimitation work. Karnataka is the first state to go to polls after the electoral map was redrawn based on the 2001 census, and the urban shift is massive. Bangalore has gone from 16 seats in the 2004 state assembly to 28 seats this time, a jump of 75% in political representation. This shift is only the beginning of an irreversible trend. Karnataka was 34% urban in 2001 and—going by national trends—will see decadal urban growth of at least 30% and urban share increase of 1.5% every year.

“The implication? Demographics drive politics. Urban areas will act as relentless political magnets, drawing power from the rural areas, as people migrate from farm to factory and service-based livelihoods. Karnataka is just the first domino—we will see this in every election to follow, to a lesser or greater degree.”

Read the full article: On political climate change

First the winner’s curse. Then the loser’s curse.

7 May 2008

Niranjan Rajadhyaksha in Mint:

“Halfway through the first IPL season, there seems to be a very weak link between the money spent and actual performance on the turf. As in most other auctions, investors in the IPL business also seem to have misspent their money initially….

“Most auctions—be they for works of art or telecom licences— suffer from what economists describe as the winner’s curse. This is the tendency to get sucked into a bidding war. Bidders tend to get carried away and pay astronomical prices. Cooler heads could have bough the asset cheaper. Suppose Company A bids Rs10,000 crore for an oilfield, while Company B loses out by bidding only Rs7,000 crore. Now the winner could have bagged the oilfield by paying only a rupee more than the losing bid, but shelled out Rs3,000 crore extra. That is the winner’s curse.”

Read the full article: Winner’s curse in cricket

Anyone here with an open mind & reads English?

4 May 2008

Palagummi Sainath has been the stalwart correspondent of our times. In an era of “feel-good” journalism, the Hindu‘s rural affairs editor has an been unapologetic harbinger of drought, disease, despair and death from parts of Bharat that the Indian mass media can’t reach, won’t reach, and no longer wants to reach.

At the same time, Sainath has also been sharply critical of the mass media’s methods, priorities, skillsets and doublespeak—its disconnect from mass reality, its loss of compassion and outrage, its chase of the trivial and the frivolous that will fetch advertising lucre.

But, quod erat demonstrandum, few in the English hack-pack, have had the intellectual stamina (or editorial freedom) to attempt a counterpoint to Sainath’s blistering barbs. Is the agrarian crisis the only story the media must follow all the time? Is it so wrong to be interested in the stock markets? Is the media doing nothing right? Are reforms a bad thing merely because Sainath says so?

London-based journalist Salil Tripathi wrote a much-required piece for Mint, the business daily of the Hindustan Times last week, in which he raised precisely those questions. (Reproduced here with the author’s permission)

***

By SALIL TRIPATHI

The foreign correspondent Edward Behr had titled one of his books Anyone Here Been Raped and Speaks English? It pithily shows journalistic callousness, where reporters hardened by tragedy cannot respond in a humane way to a crisis. But it is one thing to be moved, quite another to be moved by the idea of being moved. And honest reporters try to avoid falling into that trap by reporting facts, letting them speak for themselves.

A journalist is supposed to be good at observing facts, reporting them accurately and objectively, and telling stories. A journalist is not a post-trauma counsellor, therapist, medical assistant, or someone who can compensate victims financially or represent them legally.

Accepting this circumscribed role requires humility: Journalists are neither qualified nor elected to play roles requiring different skills. And yet, in a scathing indictment, distinguished journalist P. Sainath has criticized his colleagues for their lack of outrage and compassion over India’s rural crisis, and for paying attention to frivolous stories, such as fashion shows.

In a recent address before the Editors’ Guild of India, the Magsaysay Award-winning journalist said the media is charmed by frivolity because of a fundamental disconnect between mass media and mass reality. The poor, he argued, are structurally shut out from the media. Corporate agendas dictate the media, and the institution has become more elitist than the other estates of democracy—the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.

To be sure, the Indian media is not infallible. But if newspapers fail to serve readers, the market will fix the problem, and more serious alternatives will emerge (as indeed they have).

By juxtaposing a fashion event with the Vidarbha farmers’ suicides, Sainath is pitting the so-called India against Bharat, or “shining” India ­versus “declining” India.

Far from solving any problem, it accentuates an unnecessary divide.

The tragedy of farmers’ deaths cannot be denied. But on a scale of outrage and compassion, is it the most important story of the day?

What about the victims of the Bhopal gas disaster, or the oustees of the dams on the Narmada river? Or the Sikh survivors of post-Indira Gandhi assassination massacres in 1984? Or the victims of the Gujarat pogrom, a group I feel compassion for, after the failure of Narendra Modi’s administration to protect civilians?

Who, if not the Indian media, kept those stories alive?

In any case, how sound was Sainath’s analysis of rural India and the solutions he offered? Was the narrative, in each case, one of debt-ridden farmers, driven by hunger and poverty, taking their lives? But then, in The Times of India, earlier in April, Mohammed Wajihuddin wrote of alleged murders passed off as suicides to get compensation from the state, making real the morbid fears of perverse incentives the government’s compensation package created. Economists had already pointed out potential moral hazard by loan waivers; few had predicted that the word “moral” would be in its original, and not economic, sense.

Sainath also lamented that eight million people have given up farming in the past decade, and many are looking for urban jobs “that are not there”. Really? As the informal sector of unorganized workers is far larger—and undocumented—on what basis can one conclude that there are no jobs for migrant labour in towns and cities? And what’s wrong with a few million farmers giving up farming?

Many economists have shown that Indian farm productivity is low because the land-holdings are too small, making efficient farming unviable. There are too many Indians trying to work as farmers and many would prefer to do something else. The land is not productive; agriculture’s share of India’s wealth is declining, and the sector is not growing rapidly. A transition to services or industry is a good thing.

Finally, Sainath returned to his perennial theme, rural hunger. He said that per capita availability of certain foodgrains had declined, implying that farmers committing suicide was a tragic consequence. He said, “The availability of foodgrain has fallen from 510g a day in 1991 to 422g in 2005—a fall of 88g for one billion people for 365 days a year! That means your average family is consuming 100kg less of foodgrain than it consumed a decade ago. Where is your outrage?”

My outrage is over questionable statistics. As economist Surjit Bhalla showed in response to an earlier Sainath assertion, food consumption per capita has risen. As Indians have prospered, they are eating different types of food—not coarse cereals, but fish, meat, eggs and milk. In a 2007 study in the Economic and Political Weekly, Praduman Kumar, Mruthyunjaya and Madan M. Dey concluded that food consumption in India was moving towards higher-value commodities.

Maybe those reforms are working. Anyone here with an open mind and reads English?

Also read: The first casualty of a cosy deal is credibility

You are what you are repeatedly told you are

23 April 2008

Niranjan Rajadhyaksha writes on an interesting study conducted by two economists in 2004, on the self-fulfilling nature of stereotypes, when people tend to behave unconsciously in accordance with the way they are typecast, in Mint:

Karla Hoff of the World Bank and Priyanka Pandey of Pennsylvania State University collected a group of 622 boys and girls at a junior high school in a village in Uttar Pradesh. They wanted to find out the effects of caste on performance. These students were in classes VI and VII. Half were from the so-called upper castes and the other half from the so-called lower castes.

The children were asked to solve a maze. Those who successfully completed the game were rewarded with money. So, there was a clear economic incentive to play the game for the benefit of the researchers. At first, the castes of the participating children were kept secret. There was very little difference between the success rates of children across castes during this part of the experiment.

Then the castes of the participating children were publicly announced during a second round of the experiment. The lower-caste children suddenly performed significantly worse during this round. The number of mazes that they successfully solved fell by a quarter.

Read the full article: Escaping caste traps

If Pawar’s BCCI could, why not Pawar’s ministry?

26 February 2008

Ramesh Ramanathan in The Mint:

“If liberalisation in the 1990s unlocked the entrepreneurial energy of India, and allowed the trickle of wealth creation to begin, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has broken open the dam on the debate about markets in our country. In one stroke, it has moved the theatre of action on free markets from the chandelier-tinkling conference rooms of Delhi to the galis and nukkads of every town and village in India. Millions of Indians will now, forever, engage viscerally in a manner that no trickle-down process could ever achieve….

“Overseeing the bonanza for BCCI while presiding over a sleepy agriculture ministry, Sharad Pawar‘s got to be thinking: “there must be some lessons here in creating an open market for rural credit” that mere exhortations and loan waivers won’t do—ironic timing here, IPL happening on the eve of this Budget. Or, that if BCCI could turn around a concept such as IPL in less than a year, what prevents the National Horticulture Mission from working at a similar pace, embracing some of the same principles to accelerate the creation of a cold chain infrastructure, creating incentives for states to deliver a knock-out punch to the outdated APMC Act.”

Read the full article: Unleashing the genie


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