Monthly Archives: November 2010

All India Radia-the fourth pillar left shaken

Famous first: Politicians, Journalist and Industrialist who are part of Radia tapes. (photo courtesy-Deccan Herald)

The Controversial tape

Headlines in the recent past on Radia tapes.

All India Radia

Radia tapes- Probing the journalist

The fourth pillar of the democracy is stumbling

Journalists put the profession to shame.

When Radia killed the media star

Media run for cover

The great media blackout on the Radia tapes


“What kind of story do you want? Because this will go as Counterpoint, so it will be like most-most read…” —VIR SANGHVI

“Oh god. So now what? What should I tell them? Tell me what should I tell them?” —BARKHA DUTT

Journalism and ethics

Earlier this month, the Open and Outlook Magazine leaked the Niira Radia tapes containing the conversation between PR, journalists, politician and industrialist. It shows the corruption nexus between top journalists such as Barkha Dutt and Vir Saghavi.

They reveal that journalists play a big role in deciding Indian politics.

Prashant Bhushan, advocate for Centre for Public Interest Litigation, had filed the case on the telecom scam and submitted the transcripts to the court as evidence. “It is unfortunate that some media houses are either owned or have links with corporate houses have become power brokers and fixers for their ambitions.” He said.

The question is not whether or not BD and VS lobbied for A. Raja, but have they remained standing by the journalistic ethics? Have they crossed the lakshman rekha or journalism?


Both Vir Sanghvi and Ms Datt are not denying the conversation, but they say  it was within the ambit of journalistic roles.

But it is quite clear from the tapes that they had agreed to carry messages from Nira Radia to the Congress party men. It further raises more doubts when they have denied coming on Karan Thapar’s show to discuss on this issue.

Siddharth Varadarajan, the editor of Hindu said, when Journalists believes they are more than journalist, we have a problem and they no longer provide balanced news.

The press on which people rely heavily on “fair, objective and comprehensive news and views” appears to be “betraying the trust”. It is utter shame that journalist like Vir and Barkha who have gained media prominence couldn’t draw a line on their role and put the profession to shame.

The Washington Post feature by Emily Wax said, adding that India’s free press is not free from pressure of India’s government and corporate leaders.

The SC had declared right to privacy as a part of right to life, the most important of the fundamental rights of a citizen. So, does tapping of phone calls curtail one’s freedom and affect one’s privacy? In my view, it is definitely not and the IT department had tapped to check the possible corrupt practices which proved right and A. Raja had to step down. But it had lot more to reveal so is open in public.

Kudos to Manu Joseph and Vinod Mehta for having made a strong decision to report this issue.

Media blackout:

Its big news in the social media but it’s yet to catch fire in the mainstream media. The Television Channels have carried out just a half an hour show on the primetime slot while the print media has covered only on editorials.

If we were dependant only on TV and the big newspapers for the biggest news developments of the day, the Radia tapes would have never come to limelight. Thanks to the social media in this regard. It is absurd to suppress such news at a time when people are losing faith in media. The news content are greatly controlled because, many politicians own and air the news channels.

We are living in a competitive media world where everybody claims to be the first and every news channel claims every news as a breaking news. The media doesn’t want to be at fight with itself so they are not airing on Barkha and Vir or the Radia tapes for that matter.

People only debate on how free is press in India, but how many media house do we have without corporates and politicians  involvement to say that Indian press is considerably free.

It even surprises when great industrialist like Ratan Tata wants those who had stolen these tapes or those who leaked them to be punished. It shows how corporates wants to shed their roles and doesn’t want to bend down on their breach.

Corruption is institutionalized; media instead of setting standard are lowering the ethical standards.

The toothless tiger and its role

The press council of India often referred to as ‘toothless tiger’, was formed through an Act in 1978 with the purpose of preserving the freedom of the Press and of maintaining and improving the standards of newspapers and news agencies in India.

One of its functions is to build a code of conduct for newspapers, news agencies and journalists in accordance with high professional standards. But it does not have any penalty clauses for the breach if code of conduct since it curtails the freedom of speech. Though the chairman has the suo motu power, it limits his power to issue notice, giving a warning and admonition or censure. The name ‘toothless tiger’ does come with the above reason.

Press Council of India (PCI) chairman G.N. Ray has blamed corporatisation and monopolisation of the media for the new trend of ‘paid news’ and called upon civil society to press for legislation to curb it.

The economy of media are corporates and advertisings, But those alone shouldn’t drive the media.

The council is just watching the systematic erosion of faith of people on press.


To end with, as Paranjoy Guha says, there are dogs and dogs. Apart from watchdogs and lapdogs, the media also has intelligent guide dogs and sniffer dogs.  Despite all criticism it is because of the media that these tapes are out in the public domain.

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Posted by on November 28, 2010 in News and Views


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Tradition with a twist

Bangalore: The stage set for the November Fest event performance by Sudha Raghunathan and Amit Heri

Performance by Sudha Raghunathan (center) and Amit Heri (Extreme left) at the rehearsal session.

Bangalore, November 25, 2010

Two great musicians, carnatic vocalist Sudha raghunathan and jazz hero Amit Heri, mesmerized the audience with charm and fine music at November Fest event sponsored by The Hind.

After working together for the film Morning Raga, they seem to have blended well with music. The duo started the concert with Mahaa ganapatim song which is an invocation to Lord Ganesha, the remover of all hurdles and evils.

Another song Mathe, from the same film silenced the audience through its melody.

Ms. Raghunathan said, the music combination of Jazz with carnatic, is a ‘tradition with a twist’.

Jeoraj George on the drums, Embar Kannan on the violin, Thiruvayur Vaidyanathan on the mridangam and Giridhar Udupa on the ghata Karl Peters on the bass guitar, entertained everyone with their expertise.

Later, they enthralled the audience with the song composition Thaye Yashoda. Amit rendered a peace song of his own composition, followed by Krishna nee Begane Baaro.

Ms. Raghunathan ended the programme with a tillana.


Sudha Raghunathan – Vocal
Amit Heri – Guitar
Karl Peters – Bass
Jeoraj George – Drums
Embar Kannan – Violin
Thiruvarur Vaidyanathan – Mridangam
Giridhar Udupa – Second Percussion

Photo courtesy: Prabhu M

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Posted by on November 27, 2010 in Events, News and Views


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Silence of Indian media

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Posted by on November 23, 2010 in News and Views


Gender gap-India

When the clock strikes half past six, Priyanka gently requests her husband Rahul to prepare a cup of coffee while she gets ready to go to office. Rahul accepts and prepares a strong cup of coffee. Quarter past seven, he prepares breakfast and keeps it ready for her and he manages to do all other household work for rest of the day. Rahul does not work, instead Priyanka heads the family. Isn’t that possible in reality? It could be possible in some urban households. Does it really mean women’s empowerment?

The latest National Family and Health Survey (NFHS) report (Figure 6.1) indicates an increasing trend in females heading the household. But it could also happen that a woman is heading the household because her husband has died or he’s working elsewhere. But, this opens up the issue of gender inequality in the society.

Where do we stand in terms of gender equality?

Our constitution guarantees equality and opportunity while prohibiting any discrimination. India’s top post is held by a woman, and yet we are far away from attaining equality and empowering women.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2010 report indicates that India stands at 112 among 134 countries worldwide.

The Global Gender Gap Report 2010 brought out by the World Economic Forum benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education and health based criteria, and provides country rankings that allow for effective comparisons across regions and income groups, and over time. It ranks countries according to gender equality rather than women’s empowerment.

It is important to understand and define ‘gender’, before I proceed further.

While ‘sex’ refers to the biological differences between males and females, gender describes the socially constructed roles, rights and responsibilities that communities and societies consider appropriate for men and women.  (Source: UNICEF)

The 2001 census data revealed a sharp decline in the sex ratio for the population age 0-6, from 945 females in 1991 to 927 females per 1,000 males. The National Family Health Survey data for the period 1992-93 to 2005-06 also provides evidence of continued decline of sex ratio and shows that in 2005-06 the under-seven sex ratio had fallen further to 918 females per 1,000 males (Figure 2.1). States like Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Andhra Pradesh have sex ration less than 900 females per 1000 male.

This just intensifies the discrimination against the girl child. India also has among the worst sex ratio at birth in the world, ranking 131st on this variable. Despite increased awareness campaigns and education, discrimination still persists to a large extent. Isn’t the new medical technology helping us? Finally, is technology a boon or bane? Technology like ‘ultrasound diagnostic testing’ which determines the sex of the foetus has hurt more than it helped in India.

The sex ratios at birth estimated separately for pregnancies with and without ultrasound testing provided clear evidence that many are using ultrasound tests for sex selection. Figure 2.5 also shows that the sex ratio of completed pregnancies with an ultrasound test to women in the highest wealth quintile (818) is lower than for pregnancies with an ultrasound to women in any other wealth quintile (854- 905).Thus, pregnancies with an ultrasound test have a sex ratio at birth that is lower than the biologically normal sex ratio, while those with no test have a sex ratio close to normal.

We somehow perform better in terms of political empowerment, ranking 24 of the 134 countries. In the economic participation and health and survival indexes we rank among the bottom ten.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment goes hand in hand and hence they both represent a single UN millennium goal.  In reality, we lag behind in several aspects to achieve this millennium development goal.


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