Archive for the ‘Irresponsible Rumours’ Category

Why the ace opener ‘pulled down the shutters’

1 September 2010

The Indian media—print, electronic and digital—have approached the spot-fixing scam involving the Pakistan cricket team with the same jingoistic insouciance with which they greeted the match-fixing scandal 13 years ago. Which is, what did you expect from the damned Pakis? Of course not, our players are brought up well, they are clean.

Result: five days into the scandal, there is no sign of the Indian link except for a hapless photographer (Dheeraj Dixit) whom Mohammad Asif‘s ex-squeeze, Veena Malik, loquaciously accuses of being in link with her beau. No mention of an Indian hand in shady deals. No mention of IPL’s stunning potential for sex-drugs-scams.

It takes India’s #1 cricket writer, Prem Panicker, managing editor of Yahoo! India, to point out that spot-fixing, like match-fixing, isn’t quite a 21st century phenomenon but a 20th century one.

“There was once an opening batsman known as much for his impeccable technique as for his preternatural sense of the ebbs and flows, the rhythms, of Test cricket.

“The way he constructed an innings was both masterclass and template: the early watchfulness, the constant use of the well-placed single to get away from strike and go to the other end, from where he could observe the behaviour of pitch and bowler, the imperceptible change of gears and then, as the lunch interval loomed, the gradual down-shifting of gears as commentators marveled: ‘He is pulling down the shutters… he knows it is important not to give away his wicket just before the break… the onus is on him to return after the break and build his innings all over again… the man is a master of focus…’

“I followed along, on radio first and later, on television, and I marvelled along with the commentators, the experts. And then, years later, I heard a story — of how, when the toss went the way of his team and this opener went out to bat on the first day of a Test, a close relative would bet with not one, but several, bookies, about whether the batsman would get to 50 before lunch.

“Or not.

“‘So he would get to 45 or so, and there would be 20 minutes to go before lunch, and he would defend like hell, and all these experts would talk about how he is downing shutters for lunch when the fact was, there was a lot of money riding on his not getting 50 before the break,’ is a paraphrase of what one of the bookies who suffered from such well-placed bets said.”

Read the full article: We know it’s so, Joe

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Indians in spot fixing too?

MIDWEEK MASALA: Do not believe this sad rumour

25 February 2009

The Association of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Los Angeles-based organisation that hands out the Academy Awards also known as the Oscars™, has in an urgent press release clarified that there is no truth, no truth at all, no truth whatsoever in the cruel rumours floating around in Hyderabad that the entire Oscar ceremony held on Sunday night (US time), Monday morning (Indian Standard Time), has been cancelled, and that all the eight awards given to Slumdog Millionaire have been summarily withdrawn, because other contendors sought a recount of the votes when they heard that the votes had been counted by Price Waterhouse Coopers.

Also read: How much is two plus two? Don’t ask the auditors

How come media did not spot Satyam fraud?

Giving Lord Rama a good name 24x7x365

9 February 2009

On the day the Union home minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said the Sri Rama Sena was “a threat to the country“, a good time to rewind Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami‘s interview with the “brain” behind the threat, Pramod Mutalik.

‘Will even 90 cases bring some sense into TV9?’

23 December 2008

ASHWINI A. writes from Bangalore: The role of television channels during the live coverage of the Bombay terror attack  has been the subject of vociferous debate in the media with experts and news consumers accusing the channels of being voyeuristic, insensitive, irresponsible, etc.

However, what the 24-hour Kannada news channel TV9 did by the act of “breaking news” two days ago was not just irresponsible journalism but a criminal act to say the least. It has lent a new dimension to the growing public anger against electronic media.

Here’s what happened.

The nationwide  polio drops administration program began in Karnataka on Sunday. Even as the program was underway, TV9 telecast a breaking news story in the evening about the death of a kid due to polio drops.

TV9 relentlessly and repeatedly played this ‘death’ in the form of breaking news, which ignited anxiety among lakhs of parents who had got their children immunized. Several thousands of them—mostly the poor—across Bangalore, Mysore, Mangalore, Chikmagalur, etc, turned up at the government hospitals seeking relief and cure for their children.

They stayed put through the night demanding doctors attend their kids. Private hospitals saw hundreds of parents waiting in the queue, upto as late as 2.30 am seeking medical assistance.

The government medical staff on duty—outwitted and hopelessly outnumbered—sought the help of the police as irate public assaulted doctors and damaged hospital property.

As it turned out later, no child had died because of polio drops anywhere in the State, but a kid had died due to hydrocephalus and that death was completely unconnected with the polio drops program. In fact, of the 60 lakh children who took the drops, there was not even a single case of any kid taking ill leave alone a death.


Through its conduct , choice of stories, and style of breaking news for the past two years, TV9 has taken television journalism to disgraceful new lows and on Sunday it hit a new depth by its own standard. This latest disgrace of TV9—without ascertaining the veracity—deserves to condemned as nothing short of criminal.

It resulted not just in general mayhem but caused untold misery to lakhs of parents across the State who were worried about the safety of their children.

Another tragic victim of this irresponsible story is the polio drops program. This initiative has suffered a huge setback and it will take some time for it to regain the trust of the public. There were reports that on Monday, the second day of the polio drops campaign, that dozens of volunteers were turned away by the wary parents across the State and as a result 54,000 kids could not be administered the polio drops in Bangalore alone.

How should we react to the TV9 story?

Is it enough to condemn it and call for self-regulation?

What do you do when a false and mischievous story administers a deadly blow to a well-intentioned medical initiative that reaches out to large, mostly poor and illiterate, sections of society?

Should the government revoke the license of the channel for a few days?

The Bangalore Police have booked nine cases against TV9 for “causing panic through mischievous statements”. But, is this enough? Will anything come out Police case against TV9 ? Will TV 9 learn its lessons or will it be back to business soon and unleash further horrors on an unsuspecting public?

Is it a good idea for the people to come together and march to the offices of TV9 office to register their outrage?

Lastly, should the reporter, who was responsible for filing the story without checking for facts, and the editor, who cleared it without bothering to verify the claim, be hauled up and criminal charges framed against them?

Also read: An old flame ignites media’s insensitivity

A sobering lesson for His self-appointed soldiers

Never judge a cop by his friend’s BMW car

Pampa to Champa, what a fall my countrymen

‘Bomb blasts are now doing what riots used to’

2 October 2008

AMARESH MISRA writes from Bombay: The recent series of bomb blasts that have rocked India—a series which has become a proverbial dark tunnel where no end is in sight—denote a new pattern.

Till now communal riots were engineered by communal forces and the fascist part of the Indian state machinery to polarize society. This trend reached its apogee in the Gujarat 2002 riots.

The communal forces both inside and outside the Indian State machinery learnt some important lessons from Gujarat; chiefly that in this time and space, in the 21st century, it is very difficult to get away with organized pogroms. Ultimately you have to pay a political price which the BJP did in the 2004 elections.

The communal forces then conjured a new phenomenon: why not start engineering bombs first in Hindu dominated areas, and then in Muslim areas?

The trend began with the July 2006 Bombay serial train blasts in “Gujarati Hindu dominated” first-class compartments of the Bombay local train service; soon there were blasts in Muslim areas of Malegaon and Hyderbad.

In 2008, with elections just around the corner in April-May 2009, and the BJP getting relegated to the third position in electoral calculations in the post-nuclear deal vote phase, the bomb blast phenomenon has become endemic.

From July 2008 at the time of writing this piece here have been several blasts—in the past week, blasts have occurred almost daily.

One thing is clear: it is not that bomb blasts are being engineered to create communal riots. That (communal riots following bomb blasts) simply has not happened. The new mantra seems to be of bomb blasts replacing communal riots. This means that if in the past riots were engineered to create communal polarization the same kind of polarization is being sought to be created by engineering bomb blasts.

So the pattern: four blasts in a Hindu dominated area; then one or two in a Muslim dominated area. So Malegaon and Modesa after Bangalore, Ahmedabad and the two blasts in Delhi.

This is a foreign pattern for even Indian communal forces; this trend has been seen in areas where Mossad and CIA operate; a similar/exact phenomenon was seen in Lebanon where Beirut, a beautiful and cosmopolitan Asiatic city was turned into an arena of sectarian Muslim-Christian conflict with bomb blasts being engineered every day in respective Muslim-Christian areas, something which now even Hollywood films (see Spy Game) admit as a CIA ploy to destroy Lebanon.

The post-American invasion Iraq situation too sees a similar thing—of sectarian Shia-Sunni violence being generated by the bomb blast phenomenon, engineered by the CIA, private US mercenary firms like Blackwater and the US forces.

A third region is Pakistan where too blasts take place respectively, in Shia or Sunni, Sindhi or Mohajir, NWFP or Punjabi or Baluchi areas alternately and with regularity. Here the western game is clear: America and Israel have been working for decades to dismember Pakistan and control its nuclear arsenal.

India was spared of this ordeal till 1991 as Prime Ministers like Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, and even Rajiv Gandhi, did not allow Mossad-CIA penetration.

Before liberalization during Narsimha Rao‘s regime, Indian passport holders could not travel to two places: Israel and South Africa. India was at the forefront of the International crusade against apartheid and the denial of a homeland for Palestinians.

Why is it that after liberalization, which was initiated soon after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, India recognized Israel and established diplomatic relations, and then the Babri Masjid demolition incident occurred?

So three things are related: liberalization of the Indian economy, the change in Indian foreign policy from an anti-imperialist, pro-Third World position to a pro-American, pro-Israel stance, and the increasing persecution of Muslims, in an institutionalized form.

See that these three developments occur side by side, and now in 2008 we see India being turned into another Lebanon.

The biggest delusion of the RSS-BJP is that by blaming organizations like SIMI or Muslim “terrorists” for the recent blasts they are doing some service to the nation. On the contrary, by not exposing the foreign Mossad-CIA hand, they are going against the interests of India.

Why did the BJP-RSS not cry foul over the flight of Ken Haywood from India after the email sent by the so-called “Indian Mujahideen” group was traced to his computer in New Bombay?

Why was there no demand for a probe into the role of this dubious American national with shady evangelical, anti-Hindu and anti-Muslim connections in America? These connections can be seen by clicking on links like this, this or this or this, or even this or this.

Let this be very clear and sound today, supporting the persecution and the arrest and the torture of thousands of Muslim youth, is tantamount to being anti-national.

Today being anti-Muslim is tantamount to being anti-national.

What India needs today are not just protests. We need a special prevention of atrocities against minorities Act, something which makes refusal of housing and flats to minorities, refusal by a police officer to register a FIR by minorities, or to act in their protection, failure of a district magistrate or a senior superintendent of the police to prevent a riot or a bomb blast, the picking up of Muslims and other minorities without a formal charge, the very idea of detention of Muslim youths after blasts, or encounter killings, the calling of Muslms by the name Laandiya or Katua, a stringent crime with due punishment.

India already has a prevention of violence/atrocities against Scheduled castes act; it is a crime to call a Dalit a chamar; or not to register his or hers FIR. Why can’t a similar act, be enacted for the minorities?

In India the so-called war against terror, against SIMI or the Indian Mujahideen is a fictitious, bogus war. The recent bomb blasts were engineered by security forces, and foreign agencies and RSS-Bajrang Dal.

The real war is against Muslim/minority persecution, the appropriate response to Batla House type fake encounter killing, and the extension of civil liberties guaranteed in the Indian constitution.

See the history of nations:

In America and Europe mere constitutional guarantees were not enough. Specific new laws had to be enacted from time to time to abolish slavery, protect minorities, and end persecution, segregation and racism.

America passed through its civil rights moment in the 1960s. India has to confront its own civil rights moment now. There is a simple message to Indian liberals. Either support the demand for a special civil rights act for minorities or perish. For, soon the fascist forces persecuting Muslims will turn against you.

If there is a civil war in India on this issue, so be the case; in any case with direct American intervention in Pakistan, conflict between America and India is very near. Liberals do not understand this but the Indian army does. So there is bound to be a double civil war in India. One against foreign intervention in the Indian sub-continent and the other against anti-national fascist forces.

(Amaresh Misra is the author of Mangal Pandey: The true story of an Indian revolutionary (Rupa); Lucknow: Fire of grace (HarperCollins), and more recently War of Civilizations: India, South Asia, Europe and the World)

Also read: When my conspiracy theory is better than yours

Welcome to Deve Gowda International Airport?

17 July 2008

The Manmohan Singh government has reportedly decided to name Lucknow’s airport after former prime minister Chaudhury Charan Singh (in return for his son Ajit Singh‘s Rashtriya Lok Dal’s support during the trust vote next Tuesday).

Now, Our Lactose-Deficient Correspondent in East Delhi reports that there are whispers in the eastern parts of East Delhi that the Janata Dal Secular may pledge its support if the Bangalore International Airport is named after the former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda.

“Congress will say yes to anything now. They can withdraw it at leisure after July 22,” he writes.

Also read: Tipu Sultan versus Kempe Gowda?

For one godman & his devotees, ignorance is bliss

10 June 2008

In the dog-eat-dog world of godmen, rarely does one godman bite into another. But Swami Sukhabodhananda did precisely that on the “devotional” channel Aastha last night:

“We now have a ‘guru’ who proudly proclaims that he has no knowledge of the vedas. Yet, this swamiji goes around the world “representing” Hinduism.

“How can a swamiji who claims not to know the vedas represent Hinduism, and how can such a swamiji fill the holes of agnana in the hearts of his devotees?”

Who could this guru/ swamiji be?

Who could these Richie Rich candidates be?

1 May 2008

While the middle classes may be happy with reports of Election Commision accumulating affidavits, curbing wasteful expenditure, etc, Karnataka’s super-smart politicians have found ingenious ways of using their money power to influence voters.

One JDS candidate in Mysore district has reportedly picked up the cable TV bills of his constituents. So, instead of handing a couple of hundred rupees to voters and catching the evil-eye of the EC, he has found a novel way of keeping the observers at bay.

A Congress candidate in Bellary district has sought the services of dozens of young volunteers to go from home to home in the sweltering heat. On paper, the volunteers work for free. In reality, the candidate will pay 75 per cent of the “down payment” for a new motorcycle for the volunteers.

Who could these super-smart candidates be? And what new tactics of circumventing the EC have you heard?

Who could this future prime minister of India be?

1 April 2008

A former corporate honcho who has renounced the business world and become a “televisionary”, offering views on every topic under the benign Bangalore sun, has apparently started holding a durbar every morning at his residence, where impressionable dehatis from various impoverished parts of the nation line up for jobs and general gyaan.

In his new-found persona, the forty-something paper tiger dashes off letters to various functionaries of the government where he “advises” the babus to do the needful. In his private moments, the man is even known to have told a few people that in ten years’ time, he will be the prime minister of the country.

Who could this genius be? Our lips, as usual, are sealed.

For one star-cricketer, kabhi dukhi, kabhi gum

19 December 2007

Karnataka has had a terrible Ranji Trophy season. So far. It could just about manage to draw with Rajasthan in Mysore; it snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Saurashtra, again in Mysore; and it has been sent on a leather hunt by Delhi in Bangalore. But the dismal showing has done little to bring the mannina makkalu down to earth.

Unlike the visiting teams which have been thrilled to bits with the royal treatment they have received in Javagal Srinath‘s hometown, the Karnataka cricketers have been behaving like spoilt brats, throwing their weight, attitude and tantrums around, complaining about lack of privacy, etc, while their rivals have been humility personified.

During the second match, a Karnataka cricketer kicked up a scene—wait for this—created a scene over being supplied the wrong brand of chewing gum by the organisers. Yes, the wrong brand of chewing gum. Who could this humble cricketer be whose performance gets affected if he chews the products of a different manufacturer?

Who is the television interviewer who…

1 June 2007

In dog-devours-dog world of Indian television, nothing is any longer sacred. And anything goes in the quest for securing an exclusive, a scoop, or anything that looks like an exclusive or a scoop.

One prominent television interviewer recently secured an interview with an Indian cricketer by threatening, yes by threatening, an income-tax raid, if he did not comply. Who could the interviewer and cricketer be?

Our lips are as always are sealed. We cannot reveal which language the interviewer does his interviews in, and we cannot reveal whether the cricketer is a batsman, bowler, all-rounder or wicket-keeper? (And in both those caveats, there is a clue!)

Logo courtesy Gawker 

The cricketer who smuggled out a ‘coach’

19 April 2007

Long before Babubhai Katara used his VIP status to smuggle human beings across the nation’s borders, an Indian cricketer—we won’t reveal if he was a batsman or bowler, captain or coach, umpire or referee, curator or selector—and Indian cricketer came under the scanner of the US Embassy in India.Reason: the man had his son’s coach (and we won’t say in which game) appointed as a non-playing member of the Indian cricket team about to tour the West Indies. After the tour ended, the man eventually, allegedly, hopped across into Uncle Sam’s country. Of course, we aren’t saying this was done for money like Babubhai Katara.

Who could it be? As usual, our lips are sealed.

Australia-Sri Lanka Super 8 match fixed?

16 April 2007

The decision of the Sri Lankan team management to “rest” Muttiah Muralidharan and Chaminda Vaas for today’s Super 8 World Cup match against Australia has set tongues wagging more than usual in the SET Max studios in London.”If Paul Condon and his Anti-Corruption Unit men are around, they should go into the Sri Lankan dressing room and ask what the hell is happening,” former Australian captain Ian Chappell said, as Mandira Bedi‘s jaw dropped, in a manner of speaking.

Present in the studio when Chappell made the stunning accusation was former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga, but even the proud Sinhala nationalist refused to rush to the team’s help.

“All I can say is that the Sri Lankan team had the most accomplished substitutes on call today—Murali, Vaas and Marvan Attapattu,” Ranatunga said feebly.

The charitable view of the decision to drop Murali and Vaas, two of the most effective bowlers in the tournament, is that the team may have not wanted to expose them to the Aussies in the match since they are already assured of a semifinal berth.

“You could say they are saving them for Jamaica,” Chappell said. “But what do you tell spectators who have paid top dollar for a much-hyped encounter like this?”

To be fair, nobody mentioned the word match-fixing. But in the era of spread betting or spot betting, bookies are known to take bets on the composition of a side, too. So, were Murali and Vaas kept out to keep some forces beyond the boundary happy? Maybe, maybe not.

Don’t shoot us; we are just the piano players.

The chief minister and the damsel in distress

30 March 2007

Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy‘s flying “private” visit to Mangalore on Tuesday has kicked off all manner of rumours. The juiciest one, which nobody in the JDS is even bothering to counter, is that the “Man of the Year of 2006” had actually gone to the coastal city to look up an actress admitted to a hospital. Who could this damsel in distress be? And why may he be so concerned about her condition?

Will a Pakistan cricketer be arrested soon?

23 March 2007

With Bob Woolmer‘s death being confirmed as death due to asphyxiation, in other words murder by strangulation, and with the Police “not ruling out anything at the moment”, which Pakistan cricketer may be living in apprehension of being arrested for his involvement with the murder, or with those behind the murder?

Deve Gowda as Vice-President, Oscar as CM?

1 March 2007

A reliable political bird in Bangalore says former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda met Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi the day before the current session of Parliament began—a fact confirmed by Forest Minister C. Chennigappa and denied by Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy yesterday.

The deal? “Let bygones be bygones, let’s come together again and I’ll prevent BJP from coming to power at the end of 20 months of the current JDS-BJP coalition. In return, make me Vice-President.”

By this reckoning, Oscar Fernandes, who has long harboured hopes of leading the State, could get a shot at being chief minister as he is Sonia’s man.

Meanwhile, Ashok Kheny, the man behind the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor (BMIC) project, has been going around saying in public meetings that the reason Deve Gowda has been silent on the Cauvery issue is because he is cosying up to M. Karunanidhi, in return for the DMK’s support for his candidature in the presidential polls.

Which part do you think could happen: a) JDS ditching BJP, b) Gowda as prez, c) Gowda as veep, d) Oscar as CM, e) All of the above, f) None of the above, g) Don’t know/ Can’t say/ Won’t say.

TOP SECRET: Who is that businessman?

28 February 2007

Who is the loud-mouthed Bangalore businessman whose marriage has reportedly run into big trouble thanks to his “incursions” into the deep, dark world of Kannada cinema?

TOP SECRET: Who is that TV anchor?

28 June 2006

The Hoot reports that during a recent recording of a panel discussion on reservation for an English news channel, a pro-reservation panellist turned to the big TV honcho anchor and said: “Isn’t it amazing that someone like you who came out of St Stephen’s with pass marks and got rejected by UPSC after failing the exams, has reached the heights you have? Now isn’t that because of the quota of the old boy school network?” Which channel, and who is the anchor?

TOP SECRET: Who is that diplomat?

22 June 2006

A handsome Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, currently in the news, used to write a weekly column on diplomacy for the now defunct Illustrated Weekly of India under the pseudonym "Akbar Krishna". Who? Our lips, in the best traditions of good responsible journalism, are sealed.

TOP SECRET: Who is that “senior journalist”?

14 June 2006

For 24 hours and more, we have pondered over whether we should be asking this. But since the controversy refuses to die down, since the Congress' H.K. Patil  has asked for a white paper into H.D. Kumaraswamy's claim that a "senior journalist" had tried to mediate on behalf of NICE, we must drop our editorial guard.

Who was the "senior journalist" who tried to "purchase" the honourable chief minister of Karnataka? Is he (she?) an editor or just a "senior journalist"? Of an English newspaper or Kannada one? Bangalore based or Delhi-based? Or is HDK, exposed by the Indian Express, just fibbing to leave journos guessing?

TOP SECRET: Who was that great tenant?

31 May 2006

Who was the chief minister—now in the thick of resolving the reservation imbroglio—who built a house on a plot allotted to him as an MLA by the legislators' housing society but claimed a house rent allowance from the government every month stating that he was a tenant in his wife's house? Our lips, as usual, are sealed. 

TOP SECRET: Who will take on Brijesh Patel?

11 May 2006

Brijesh Patel has had a free run ever since he dislodged C. Nagaraj as the secretary of the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA). None of the players, none of the clubs, none of the factions have had the guts to take on Patel and his cabal, who have turned Karnataka cricket into a joke in the name of "player power".

But with Jagmohan Dalmiya gone and Sharad Pawar in, a powerful lobby has been emboldened to try its luck. Efforts are on to convince a prominent Kannadiga cricketer to take on Patel and end his Raj. The cricketer has also sent positive vibes. Who is the cricketer?

TOP SECRET: Will the suitcase MLA be minister?

9 May 2006

The JD(S)-BJP coalition government is slated to be expanded tomorrow or May 12. Guess which loud-mouthed BJP legislator is hoping and praying he will find favour? Here's a clue: this longtime MLA was not considered initially for the H.D. Kumaraswamy team by the BJP bosses because of suspicion that he had defied the party whip and voted for a Rajya Sabha candidate put up by the JD(S) for reasons which we cannot spell out without inviting breach of privilege charges.

JNANPITH AWARD: The one that got away

3 May 2006

As more skulls, bones and skeletons tumble out of Kaavya Viswanathan‘s rather bare cupboard, guess which “Most Important” Jnanpith Award-winning writer must be feeling mighty relieved that he built his fame when Google wasn’t around? And that he internalised and drew inspiration not from silly English novels—foolish Kaavya!—but from Hebrew novels? Considering the plagiarism that forms the platform of that author’s oeuvre, should India’s highest literary award be revoked from him? You know who, don’t you?

TOP SECRET: Oil’s well that ends well

2 May 2006

A powerful swamiji, who studied in a Mysore college before he was asked to don the mantle, used to come to class with harlenne dripping in his hair. Out of exasperation, one of his classmates gifted him a bottle of shampoo. The next day, the swamiji-to-be came to the class and said, ‘Idu yenla idu. Sakkath nore batthade idarinda!’ (What’s this? It generates a lot of lather). Who was this dude? As always, our lips, in the interests of the fair reputation of all concerned, are sealed.