Indian Media – Debunking Ownership Myths

There’s a horrible email doing the rounds regarding the Indian media. As far as I can tell, it originated on an article site much like a blog, so I have no idea who first came up with it. It’s irrelevant. The important point is that it’s been picked up by all sorts of people to validate their theories on the Indian media and even I have received it as an email forward – from my mother, who’s a trusting sort of soul and tends to believe things she receives in emails.

Now this doesn’t mean that the Indian media is a pure white entity whose farts smell of roses. My point is that certain popular criticisms are false and illogical. There can be many more that are true, but the focus of this post is on the specific accusations leveled in the email.

Last month, I had asked a friend of mine in the TOI about the perceived bias in the Indian media. Apparently he too had received this email from someone who asked him whether it was true or not. So in return for a favor I did him, he’s taken the trouble to expose the myths in this email point by point.

His initial response:

Hi M, Thank you for forwarding some of the funniest shit I’ve read in a while. But this is also rather amazing in many ways; definitely an email for a researcher or two to analyse further. Comes from far right of the spectrum from what I can tell. Far right of sanity too, if you ask me.

Quite extraordinary how Indian right-wingers are gradually coming to mirror American ones. Talk radio and television in the US served to spread the ‘good word’ among the right-wing faithful there, before the internet appeared to further help ‘like-minded’ and ‘patriotic’ Americans share ‘vital truths’. Not to mention mobilize.

Interesting to see that the net jump-started this phenomenon in India. The last fifteen years have seen so many malcontents spew so much bile online that you’d think India’s largest-selling pills are Liv 52. Besides email forwards like this (and others slamming Mahatma Gandhi, uncovering the ‘Shiva temple’ in the Taj Mahal, ones questioning the Nehru-Gandhi’s paternity – and also from the other side about ‘Jewish-Hindu’ conspiracies to eliminate honest cops, the Indian Army’s ‘Hindu terror’ connections and big business corporations running the government- and the like) you need only to check the comments section of any op-ed article that touches on matters vaguely ideological.

The internet’s clearly become a giant echo chamber for hyperactive desi netizens, not to mention all manner of wackos. It allows many to slam everything from sliced bread (‘western conspiracy’) to rock music (‘the devil’s work’). The Indian media is a favourite punching bag. However, when you do consider what news television (especially Indian language news channels) is like today, you can’t fault some of that criticism though. But even more respected print and TV names are often slammed as ‘biased’, ‘liberal’, ‘anti-national’, ‘capitalist’ and ‘pseudo-secularist’ (a delightfully illogical phrase I puzzle over, and even asked its originator – L K Advani – about. Didn’t get a very convincing or nuanced reply).

Since you ask I reply to as many of these as I can – from what I know.

But some of this stuff really takes the cake

BTW, India’s rules for FDI in media are quite tight: 26% cap on FI in general news, editors and all key executives must be Indian, most of the board has to be Indian, 51% in a single Indian entity etc.

Point by Point Analysis (Comments in bold):

Who owns the media in India ?

NDTV: A very popular TV news media is funded by Gospels of Charity in Spain Supports Communism. Recently it has developed a soft corner towards Pakistan because Pakistan President has allowed only this channel to be aired in Pakistan .

Hilarious. Communism, rather famously, never ‘got along’ with Christianity, or any other religion. Churches are still ‘officially’ banned in China and North Korea.  Besides, NDTV is publicly listed

Indian CEO Prannoy Roy is co-brother of Prakash Karat, General Secretary of the Communist party of India . His wife and Brinda Karat are sisters

True. But don’t see any hammers and sickles popping out of the subtext in NDTV broadcasts. Don’t see televised Politburo meetings either. NDTV is liberal, not leftist – by any yardstick. BTW, ‘co-brother’ is a phrase unique to Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Probably indicates where the author of this post came from.

India Today which used to be the only national weekly which supported BJP is now bought by NDTV!! Since then the tone has changed drastically and turned into Hindu bashing.

Perhaps NDTV would love to buy the magazine, but there’s just the small problem of a significantly larger news channel, Aaj Tak, being from the India Today stable. Could Pepsi buy Coca-Cola?

CNN-IBN: This is 100 percent funded by Southern Baptist Church with its branches in all over the world with HQ in US.. The Church annually allocates $800 million for promotion of its channel. Its Indian head is Rajdeep Sardesai and his wife Sagarika Ghosh.

LOL. Seriously. $800m is a LOT OF MONEY – about Rs Rs 4000 crores. National parties (Cong, BJP) are said to spend about 600-700 crores in a general election. If he was wallowing in so much moolah Rajdeep would be be urged to float a new party right away, forget running some channel. He could then join a ruling coalition and dictate ‘pseudo-secular’ policy, rather than just comment on it on the 9 PM news.

Times group list:
Times Of India, Mid-Day, Nav-Bharth Times, Stardust, Femina, Vijay Times, Vijaya Karnataka, Times now (24- hour news channel) and many more…

Times Group is owned by Bennet & Coleman. ‘World Christian Council¢ does 80 percent of the Funding, and an Englishman and an Italian equally share balance 20 percent. The Italian Robertio Mindo is a close relative of Sonia Gandhi.

ROTFL.Rather well known that Times is a privately-held corporation owned and run by the Delhi-based Jain family. J-A-I-N, interesting Indian Christian surname, don’t you think?

Star TV: It is run by an Australian, who is supported by St. Peters Pontifical Church Melbourne.

Sure, Rupert Murdoch, the world’s most famous and powerful media baron, hails from Australia. Wonder how come Pope Rupertus IV hasn’t made a hostile takeover bid on the Vatican yet? Aussie Rules at all convent schools then, Oi, Oi

Hindustan Times: Owned by Birla Group, but hands have changed since Shobana Bhartiya took over. Presently it is working in Collaboration with Times Group.

Shobhana Bhartiya is KK Birla’s daughter. HT and TOI are fierce rivals, their circulation duels in Delhi are the media biz equivalent of India-Pak cricket matches. Amusing; shows how much this guy really knows.

Indian Express: Divided into two groups. The Indian Express and new Indian Express (southern edition) ACTS Christian Ministries have major stake in the Indian Express and latter is still with the Indian counterpart.

The Hindu: English daily, started over 125 years has been recently taken over by Joshua Society, Berne, Switzerland .. N. Ram’s wife is a Swiss national.

Wonder if this chap’s ever heard of the Prophet Moses Society, Svalbard? A society of Nordic warrior monks, furniture manufacturers and bankers, they plan to conquer the world in one final crusade – unleashing a terrifying evangelical blitz of malfunctioning mobile phones, bio-weapon bookshelves and marauding polar bears. The bears would provide for shock and awe. In any case, hasn’t this chap read the Da Vinci Code, that masterwork of historical scholarship? Who needs proxies? Jesus lives! His kids are coming to help ‘pseudo-secularists’ finally take over India…

Eeenadu: Still to date controlled by an Indian named Ramoji Rao. Ramoji Rao is connected with film industry and owns a huge studio in Andhra Pradesh.

So?

Andhra Jyothi: The Muslim party of Hyderabad known as MIM along with a Congress Minister has purchased this Telugu daily very recently.

The Statesman: It is controlled by Communist Party of India.

Actually, you should ask a Calcuttan this and then watch him splutter and choke on his macher jhol.

Kairali TV, kerala: It is controlled by Communist party of India (Marxist)

Mathrubhoomi, Kerala paper: Leaders of Muslim League and Communist leaders have major investment.

Malayalis may choke on avial – easier to survive I think

Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle: Is owned by a Saudi Arabian Company with its chief Editor M.J. Akbar.

Akbar left two or three years ago. Owner of both is Venkatram Reddy. Last time I checked Reddy was a wealthy Andhra businessman who also owns the IPL’s Deccan Chargers. Wonder when they became the Deccan bin Bakwaas Al Saud?

Gujarat riots which took place in 2002 where Hindus were burnt alive,
Rajdeep Sardesai and Bharkha Dutt working for NDTV at that time got around 5 Million Dollars from Saudi Arabia to cover only Muslim victims, which they did very faithfully… Not a single Hindu family was interviewed or shown on TV whose near and dear ones had been burnt alive, it is reported.

Tarun Tejpal of Tehelka.com regularly gets blank cheques from Arab countries to target BJP and Hindus only, it is said.

The ownership explains the control of most of the media in India by foreigners. The result is obvious.

I can’t type anymore, I’m rolling on the floor, with some of my media colleagues. Wait, one of them is unable to get up! He…he’s frothing at the mouth, making strange noises, saying something about a deeper conspiracy…

‘Bugs in air conditioning ducts”… “churches-shmurches, naah! Media is party organ, Chairman Mao’s organ. The Chairman is well. Damn Chinese bio-tech… everywhere…(aargh)…but our Dear Leader shall return; shall lead revolution…glorious march forward (splutter). Lal Salaam Comrades…(choke)”.

Damn, he isn’t moving anymore; and his hair’s on fire.

There’s another informative response to this email over at Learning to be Terse.

How much information on the Internet sounds like th stuff above. Most of us have neither the time, nor the inclination to check the facts for ourselves. Now indeed one needs to be well informed to refute even a piece of junk. Something that most of us are not.

Hence, as a matter of policy, as far as conspiracy theories go, I like to get solid factual information from reliable sources. If not from the regular news channels, then from other areas – just like how Wikileaks has told us so many things that traditional news outlets haven’t. Even better, an informed consensus is one of the most powerful tools to make sure one isn’t being deceived. Whether it’s Climate Change or the issue of politically motivated large scale bias in the major media outlets.

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Comments

  1. We keep receiving such mail very often. And, I do only one thing, summarily reject them. Just the sheer language of the mails will tell that how much truth is there in those mails. However, a good job done by you and your frined as many of the people simply believe them and keep forwarding them with final notes like – PLEASE FORWARD TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS IF YOU WANT TO SAVE INDIA/HINDU COMMUNITY and blah blah blah……….

    Reply

  2. Well done. I also received this (and some other such) mail. Glad to see it being dealt with.

    Reply

  3. This is clearly a silly claim, with claims that can be easily debunked. Someone had mentioned ‘Gospels of Charity’ over twitter. I had pointed out that there can be covert monetary incentives for media houses (as the P. Sainath’s expose of the Times Group and the Lokmat group proved), but outright ownership stakes was unrequired and that there were no proofs of the same.

    Quite ironically, I never received this email.:D

    What this email proves to me is that the media needs to be at least a bit accountable (which it is not in current era) and with regard to its reliability,it needs to be a bit more ‘white’, or still better, rather than white transmit exactly what it sees without adding any color filters to the truth.

    In one of my analogies for history text books in Indian schools in which Mughals are projected largely peace-loving rulers, I had pointed out that just like if schools do not provide reliable information through sex-education,this space would be taken over by much less reliable sleazy magazines and web sites, etc.

    Same is happening with mainstream media v/s social media. If the same mass media is unreliable to the degree it is (which I have pointed out in quite a few instances), then its space would be taken over by such unreliable sources. But as I have been pointing out, media houses are not really bothered about reliability as at least currently , it does not seem to be one of the determining factors in how much revenue they are able to generate.

    Last thing I want to ask is, essentially when media houses shape opinion through testimonies of “witnesses” and “reliable/highly placed sources have informed us” what is the fundamental difference in kind of evidence provided by them and the above email?

    Reply

    • In reply to Ketan

      You’re lucky you didn’t receive this mail! But it’s good fun no?

      As far as testimony of “highly placed sources” go, there are two things. First I trust the media more than a random source out of nowhere. Say what you will, but those who write and publish these reports have some credentials and that’s their job which has to mean something after all. We know who they are.

      Second, in a worst case scenario they can be forced to reveal their sources. If a newspaper says “According to trusted sources in terrorist organizations there is a serious death threat to the PM tomorrow,” I’m sure a court order (if not just a serious request) can force the reporter to reveal his/her source.

      Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        Bhagwad,

        I’m not sure how these credentials are determined. I would classify requirements for entering a profession into two broad categories – skills/ability and ethics. The first category can be assessed objectively or with at least with some kind of consensus. The second is impossible to determine. In the medical field itself, a surgeon might be quite skilled in performing fine surgeries, but how does that in any way ensure that the surgeon would not prescribe unnecessary investigations or won’t unduly frighten the patient into undergoing needless surgery? Because there is no external monitoring body in India, these malpractices are very common. And quite ironically, more so in the larger corporate hospitals. And needless to say different professions require different degrees of ethics. Media is a business that relies heavily upon ethics, in much the same way medicine does. The thing common between the two is that in both cases it is difficult for the client to determine the truth as they are not in a position to know it. As against that, vegetable selling would not rely as much on ethics, because the customer has the option and ability to assess the quality of what he/she is paying for.

        About the second thing you say, I have heard of more number of cases in which even anonymous internet users or even those with names have been apprehended than those cases in which court pull up media houses to ask for sources. There were recent cases wherein an Orkut user had been apprehended for saying something derogatory about Sonia Gandhi. http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Gurgaon-techie-held-for-posting-derogatory-messages-against-Sonia-Gandhi-on-Orkut/311070/ & http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Gurgaon-techie-held-for-posting-derogatory-messages-against-Sonia-Gandhi-on-Orkut/311070/ Cheytanya Kunte’s case is well known. Likewise, Gaurav Sabnis, though not for saying anything derogatory about a person, was perhaps made to resign because of a blog post he had written about IIPM. Also, I vaguely remember a news in which someone who’d hacked into Obama’s twitter account was booked. Now of course, one might say that it is because media houses are so accurate that the courts have never required to ask them for their sources, but then that would be one of those extraordinary claims that is difficult to believe, especially when there are appreciable number of instances where news reported is inconsistent between media houses. To the best of my knowledge, media houses enjoy certain amount of immunity to not reveal their sources to protect them. The situation that you mentioned is too extreme and does not occur commonly. I’m not sure for plain seemingly-innocuous lying there are any provisions to make the media houses accountable. Also, as I said this attribution is lot more subtle, which patrons usually don’t discern. E.g., in the above link that I posted about NDTV, under what provision would court ask them to reveal their source? There is no margin of libel, no margin of risking Narendra Modi’s security, but the damage the ‘news’ had done to his image was quite a bit. With so many news channels round-the-clock indulging in “sources said” kind of news, Courts are obviously going to not intervene commonly. And this, of course, the media people know.

        Lastly, I was not asking for the difference between the nature of ‘messenger’, i.e., media house v/s anonymous email, but between the nature of evidence provided.

        PS: I went through the first link that you’d provided as the speculated origin of the email. It seems unlikely to be because when I checked there was not a single facebook ‘like’ nor any comment. Of course, that’s largely a non-issue, but just something I noticed.

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        Of course, every story can be given a twist. And this is why so many media houses exist – each gives its own twist to the story and thus garners readers based on what they like. Strictly speaking, if one media house gives news where Modi is shown in a bad light, then others should exist which show the opposite.

        I don’t read all news sources so I don’t know what others say, but if enough people are sympathetic to Modi at the national level, there’s nothing stopping a new media house opening which addresses that target segment.

        We fundamentally disagree on the financials I think. I’m pretty sure a newspaper can survive without being corrupt. Even TV news channels have lots of ways to recover their costs.

        Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        Bhagwad,

        Let’s take a few examples:

        1. Sachin Tendulkar – he’s popular simply because of his batting style and his statistics, and a bit because of how he conducts himself in public. Except for the last factor, there’s nothing that the media could do about his popularity.

        2. Aamir Khan/Shahrukh Khan/Amitabh Bachchan/Lata Mangeshkar etc. – they’re popular because their patrons can judge their works directly and take an instant liking to them. Again, except for what media reports them to have done outside their field of work and how media quotes/misquotes them, not much could be done to damage their image. An example is that concerted effort Filmfare had put in to tarnish Aamir Khan’s image had yielded little result, because viewers could judge him directly. It should not be surprising that Aamir Khan was moved to get a court order to prevent Filmfare from mentioning his name. Success of a movie depends on word of mouth, much more than its publicity and how media projects him (an example of this “Mangal Pandey”, which as later revealed to ‘Stardust’ by Aamir Khan had done a business of around Rs. 40 crores, when the news floating around was that theaters were “empty” in the opening week).

        3. A politician – except for people who live under the politician’s sphere of influence, there is no way others can know about him/her except through what the media tells them. So, the point I am making is that in case of politicians, unlike celebrities who get to interface directly with their patrons, the only way people can know about politicians of other states is through what media tells them about the politician. So, it should not be surprising that Modi in Gujarat is popular. Because those are the people who have also gone through the riots and also experienced the much-touted development. Also, in recent local elections, I guess, at least in two constituencies Hindu-BJP candidates had won, which were Muslim majority. Another implication of over 250 Hindu deaths should have been Hindu people’s disenchantment with Modi, if it were true that police had taken no action. Because I believe, majority of people are more bothered about their own safety rahter than whether or not a leader gives ‘free hand’ to the killing of Muslims. And if what I say is wrong (which in other words would make the Hindus in Gujarat ‘sadomasochists’ – “it is alright that Hindus die, what matters is that we get to kill Muslims”), then there would have been lot many incidents of communal violence because of this perverse mentality after the ’02 riots. Again, that has not been the case to the best of my knowledge. So, if all these indicators are to be considered, the people who were in best position to know about Modi’s governance have endorsed him, rather than rejecting him, and might I add, with somewhat increasing popularity with time. So, in simple terms, within Gujarat the function of Modi’s popularity is people’s perception of his role in Gujarat riots and governance based no their own knowledge, and outside of Gujarat, it is what the media asks the people to believe about Modi based on what “sources say”.

        BTW, multiple online and other kind of surveys, which I anyway consider unreliable (which cater to the core audience of the major news channels) show Modi to be one of the most, if not the most popular politician in India. So going by what you’ve argued, media should have started showing Modi in good light by airing his congratulatory interviews (like was done with Sonia Gandhi) or portraying him to be some kind of revolutionary leader (as was done with Rahul Gandhi when he had visited Mumbai)? Why is this not being done? I have simple explanation for this (which I have presented multiple times and you have rejected as many times): currently, media houses’ revenue do not depend appreciably upon how much their patrons consider them to be reliable or how much do they like their content. Because all news channels present virtually identical content, there’s little choice and people are resigned to watch what they get. Also, perhaps a lot of people are not much bothered about news (they watch daily soaps, “reality TV”, music channels, instead). So the media houses recognize that with such limited market and so many channels around, it is best to try to stay afloat rather than indulging in misadventure of being ethical.

        Lastly, I have never said that the media houses aspire for mere survival. My belief is they aspire for maximizing their profits, the ethicality of means notwithstanding [proof: (sorry to get repetitive) the behavior of Times Group and Lokmat group in Maharashtra]. This, I see in so many professions around me; I find no reason to believe media is any different.

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        But even the people in Gujarat get their news about Modi from the media no? After all, without the media how can people judge even those politicians close to them? So the news about Modi isn’t all bad.

        The TOI has covered Modi’s stunning victories in Gujarat recently with a lot of fanfare. According to you, they should have blotted out this information completely. They haven’t.

        Today I read an article in the TOI about how some Congress leader trying to extort funds to make a Sonia rally a success. If the TOI was pro Sonia, why was this news shown?

        Moreover as you say, there are lots of online polls by the media where people show support for Modi. If the media were getting paid, why would they publish these polls? Why would they allow comments praising Modi to be published? It seems very stupid of them to go to all the effort of screening news and then letting people vent themselves on their websites!

        Of course, we’ve gone over this ground before. The media industry has tens of thousands of people working for it. There’s no way such a huge conspiracy could ever be kept secret.

        It’s been my experience that those on the right are far more passionate than those on the other side. Their blogs for example are hardly ever personal blogs. Sites like sandeepweb are passionate and so are those who comment on it. Far more passionate than those on the other side of the spectrum. No jokes, no gentle poking of fun, everything is single minded.

        And that’s why they’re so loud. They’re a minority, but because of their passion they seem to be vocal. People like IHM etc are non confrontational. They don’t visit these sites, or comment on them cause they don’t like to get into a fight. I’m a freelancer who has a lot of time, and so I’m one of the rare people who can afford these luxuries.

        I’d also like to find out what the demographics of right wingers are? I’ve yet to meet a hardcore right wing woman. Why? I want to know their age and work status. They can’t be busy professionals because most people don’t have that much time.

        Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        Bhagwad,

        I have beforehand pointed out that these manipulations need to be subtle.

        I don’t understand the ‘fanfare’ part of declaring the victory of BJP in Gujarat, and I also do not understand how merely reporting election results amounts to saying good things about Modi. And also, I have never claimed that BJP and/or Modi must not be paying the very same media houses for good publicity! In fact, I have pointed out that some of the claims of Gujarat development in media are seemingly exaggerated, and they could be because of favors received from the BJP of the same nature I have been talking about. So, what comes out in the media is the ‘resultant’ of various kinds of struggles between all the parties (not just political, I mean even industries or actors or whoever would like to have their public image ‘managed’) that can pay.

        The news that you linked to, where does it show Sonia Gandhi in badlight? Gujarat riots happened, Hindus and Muslims killed each other, and Modi has been called ‘mass-murderer’. Does that article likewise call Sonia Gandhi a ‘bandit’ or ‘extortionist’ for something that happened in full public gaze. And as another surrogate indicator, just see how few commentators (the same abusive kind) have directly implicated Sonia Gandhi for this?

        The reason media keeps on publishing these comments praising Modi is because they are mere opinions and not one of the “highly placed sources”. Also, because very few people read these comments. The fraction of Indians who get their news online is very less. In fact, many people don’t even go beyond the headline to get their news. And so it is not uncommon to find headlines that say one thing and the impression formed on reading the text is very different. Why the polls are published the way they are is difficult to answer, but as I said, I anyway consider them unreliable.

        The reason such arrangement is easy to keep secret is because there’s no way evidence of the nature you’re asking for could be provided. So, how many employees are there does not matter.

        You spoke of SandeepWeb, and yes he’s one of the persons I consider intolerant. In fact, I have except for once, never ever commented on his blog. But I also find his analysis very good. But there are other blogs too that are single-tracked with very little personal information that never indulge in abuse – offstumped, acron, Filter Coffee, S. Sudhirkumar’s blog, etc., so what does your point indicate? In fact, I also know of blogs that are exclusively dedicated to rationality and atheism, and they too don’t abuse. Moreover, I have recognized that these people are angry, so what? Shall I disregard the logical points they show, many times after painstaking research.

        Ideally, I would’ve not liked to give this example, given certain circumstances, but please read the comments here: http://manonthecouch.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/the-problem-with-karma/#comment-38 I used to publish comments by ‘panchalkc’. To me it is no consolation that a worst accusation of being eccentric/cruel/dishonest/inhuman would be veiled in ‘decent’ sugar-coated words. To give you an example, I have never even remotely said something to the effect of: “I wonder why Bhagwad would want Muslims to kill Hindus”, but if I say that, would you consider me more decent than my saying “Bhagwad is ‘pseudo-secular’, ‘pro-Muslim’ and ‘anti-Hindu'”? I would consider former insinuation far more disgusting. Because it reeks of pretense and decency and an attempt to portray a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude. Anyway, you’ll get my point if you go through the link.

        One of the ‘decent’ blogs I used to comment on used to put my dissenting comments in moderation deep freeze, which were (if you could trust me) not even remotely abusive, while at the same time comments by others would be published and replied to. Then, they would be published after two-two three days when no one would see them.

        And anyway, what you said about SandeepWeb would’ve been better said on your other post on abuse. :)

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        Speaking of Sandeepweb, did you see my genuine attempts at engaging the people there in dialogue? See how my attempts were received

        I’ve tried not to claim that right wing people are abusive. Instead I’ve said that most abusive people are right wing – a subtle difference.

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        Bhagwad,

        Just to remind you again, though it is not very important, just because you’ve anyway recently published a post dealing with abuse, it would be more proper to make this point over it. :)

        I think I had read your post superficially. I totally empathize with you. Usages like “b*ench*d” are totally uncalled for, especially when you were not even supporting consanguinous incest (referring to the post on Khaps). I’m sorry I did not express this empathy before, perhaps I got carried away by trying to proving that ‘comrade…’ guy was not a typical right-winger. :D Sorry, about that. And hope, you can excuse me for that.

        I say I can empathize because on twitter once one of my lady-‘friends’ had been pointedly asked what her Muslim friends thought about Prophet. She had replied something to the effect of her friends are not very religious and that they didn’t discuss this much. However, the assault from the other side had descended to the level of “You ladies were enamored by the manliness of Prophet” or some such shit. I had intervened trying to point out that what she was saying was right and that nobody gets to choose one’s religion of birth anyway. Of course, my intervention was a bit before the above thing was said to her. The reply I had got was: “Now that you have entered her petticoat (a la entering the pants), you would obviously defend her”! I’m not sure if she had noticed it. It would’ve been quite disturbing for her, especially as she’s married. And of course, I was quite shocked. But what is curious is that despite having had many such encounters with right wingers, she as well as I are pretty convinced about the ‘monetary arrangement’ the media has with various entities. So, one more thing I want to point out is that this belief of media manipulation has little to do with being a right winger. In fact, I know many atheist/agnostic friends who believe the same about the media. If you wish I would introduce them to you over twitter.

        But I would still like you to go through the comments on ‘themanonthecouch’.

        I think I have tried to point out why most abuse emanates from ‘right wingers’ – that’s because they’re in the majority over the net, and yes, there could be a personality difference also, as you’re trying to allude. They perhaps can’t be politically correct. Whereas, the above kind of abuse I wanted to point out is lot more hurting (at least to me).

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        I’ll go through the link you sent. I also find Satyameva Jayate slightly better than sandeepweb. The comments are more decent, though I find the topics are vigorously pro Hindu and anti Muslim.

        Interestingly, I haven’t found any blogs on the opposint side – vigorously pro muslim and specifically anti Hindu blogs. Have you found any?

        Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        Dear Bhagwad, Grateful if you could substantiate your statement re. || Satyameva Jayate || here

        Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!
        Shantanu

        Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        Bhagwad,

        You said: “You’re lucky you didn’t receive this mail! But it’s good fun no?”

        Yes, it’s mildly amusing for me. But at many other levels it is lot more worrying. Perhaps, lot people believe such things despite the fact that the assertions and some of the corollaries are inherently silly. But fortunately, such emails at least currently have limited reach. However, what I worry about is that how easy it is for the media to then indulge in propaganda and push around their agenda on similarly unsuspecting people, especially when their presentations is more polished (which is a part of their grooming to enhance their ‘credentials’).

        To get my point, please go through this post (I don’t know if you’ve gone through so many of links that I have provided, nor do I expect you to given they’ve been so numerous, but this one is particularly illustrative of lack of scruples of the media houses, and the inherent gullibility of the readers, and I urge you to actually go through; also please go through the comments and try to gauge whether from the amount of aggression they show, if they are right-wingers or something else). The link to the post is this (click). That post in turn links to the previous post, but you do not have to go through it, instead you can go through the ToI (click) and DNA (click) news articles, which serve as the template for my post.

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        I think you’re overanalyzing the report. It’s quite possible that the baby was starved to death because it eased the doctor’s conscience by not overtly killing it. There may be other reasons, but unless I hear them questioned I won’t jump to conclusions.

        Second, you’re only assuming that the parents etc paid the doctor. A suspicion isn’t enough to arrest someone. There has to be proof. Maybe the proof isn’t easy to find.

        It’s not profitable to catch glitches like this from a preliminary news report. It’s not meant to be a 100% comprehensive and accurate description of the situation. Nor do I want it to. I want the reporter to give me the interesting bits according to his/her judgment and that’s it!

        Unless you have access to police reports etc, you don’t know why something has or hasn’t happened.

        Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        Bhagwad,

        I don’t understand what criterion one must apply to term some analysis as excessive, especially when two well established news agencies come up with conflicting reports of simple binary (“happened/did not happen”) events.

        Granted, that the doctors’ conscience would have eased to know that the baby would struggle for life for three days in pain (without food) as compared to administering it, or to the mother an infusion of opiates. But still that does not answer the motivation part for it. But most important factor is how long would a baby, premature by 12 weeks survive without any medical/nutritional whatsoever support in one of the coldest times of the year (when glucose requirement would increase), and more so born to such a young mother? Though, I don’t think such ‘experiments’ have been conducted, even a term baby, not taken care of, without food would not survive for more than 4-5 hours in those circumstances. As ensuing hypoglycemia and electrolyte imbalance would cause seizures. In fact, body temperature management in new-born babies is such an important issue, that it is made sure that babies are wrapped up in mother’s clothing. The current directive for the maximum time till which a (term) baby could be kept hungry is 30 mins! Shall I discard my knowledge of physiology only to keep out the possibility out of my mind that another human being could lie?

        Of course, in case of parents, suspicion is not enough, but remember, the police had ‘investigated’ the (presumably) middle-aged ladies, so they must have spilled the beans as they must have not been trained to face such interrogations. But more important, I have never claimed that the parents/rapist should have been booked for getting the baby murdered, what I’m trying to point out is that there was even no mention of who might have paid the doctors.

        And you’re missing the crux of my point here. I’m not talking of what police had registered or not registered. It is that because of two factors (which includes statistical facts like significant fraction of 28 week babies dying in India, even with dedicated care) and the conflict in reporting of a simple incident by two prominent news agencies, I consider news by IANS to be greatly spiced up (and by extension, dishonest). Again, you have no problems with this. But what I want to point out is that they managed to get away with it! Neither the readers took reporters to task, nor any of the two doctors filed a defamation suit (or at least I did not hear of it). And much worse, the readers responded to the news on an entirely emotional level. Lastly, both the papers have mentioned different surnames for the second doctor. Very difficult task to get at least the name right? And it does not matter to attach wrong names with such ghastly crimes, no? And then when will some court pull up the media houses for shoddy and dishonest journalism? (Of course, one of the two reports are dishonest. I guess, IANS’ is)

        Remember, I have pointed out, not one or two, but several flaws in the entire reportage of the event.

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        A newborn baby can survive for a few days without food and water. In 1985, in Juarez in Mexico City after a hospital was destroyed in an earthquake, several were found still alive even after 7 days. There were called the “Miracle babies.”

        Your analysis is one reason why don’t recommend non experts to try and make a detailed analysis of scientific issues. They inevitably miss something, overestimate something else, or make similar mistakes. It’s one reason why I don’t listen to climate change skeptics who are not scientists.

        In fact, it’s almost always best to just follow the consensus. I use the same logic to evaluate complicated situations like the Godhra riots also.

        When I say over analysis it means the drawing of broad sweeping conclusions from a very small hints here and there. Sherlock Holmes would have almost certainly failed in real life!

        Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        How many babies were fed not even once? What was the temperature at that time? How many babies had died in the process? And most important, how many of them were preterm?

        How many of those who have written ‘miracle babies’ are neonatalogists’ (“expert consensus”) with years of experience in the field?

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        Good questions – and even more reason for my contention that it’s not advisable for laymen or those who haven’t had direct experience to comment on these matters.

        And come on Ketan – we’ve seen time and again lots of wonderful things happening in the medical world that no one thought possible. It’s not at all difficult for me to believe that a newborn lived for three days when these could live for seven!

        As for your last sentence, are you saying the reporters didn’t have the right to call them “miracle babies?” Giving them a name that is recognizable doesn’t require them to have expert medical knowledge…or are you trying to say something else?

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        Bhagwad,

        This is the translation from a web site in Spanish [ http://www.diariocritico.com/mexico/2008/Septiembre/noticias/99041/mas-de-40-mil-muertos-en-el-sismo-del-1985.html ]:

        “It is remarkable that in hospitals that collapsed, a part of some of them babies in incubators, were able to rescue. In particular, three infants (two girls and one boy) who were rescued from the rubble of the Juarez Hospital seven days after the earthquake. In these babies were actually known as “The Kids / Baby Miracle” or “The Miracle of the Hospital Juárez,” the reason this nickname was that in the seven days they were under the rubble, the babies were all alone, no There was nobody to give them to eat or drink, no one to give them cover and heat, and despite having everything against them, the three left alive. It is recalled that when taking the first child (a girl), all the rescuers and workers stopped and even turned off all machinery awaiting the baby’s crying, which came moments later, confirming that he was alive.”

        Important to note are “babies in incubators” and “in particular after seven days“. The link that you’d provided pegs the longest survival at 8 days, 17 hours and one of the New York Times articles calls it “9 days”.

        Again, it is not known as to what were they fed after the birth.

        You might ask why am I pointing out these things. That is because, there is no “consensus”, firstly. Second, just like how “seven” can become “8 days, 17 hours” or “nearly 9 days”, originally, it could have been anything. I have noticed people’s desire to see miraculous things. So no, for me the way this even has been reported does not constitute scientific consensus of experts as to what is the time for which a 28 week-preterm baby in winter born to a fiteen-year old girl could survive without any water or feeding.

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        I suggest we drop this. The earthquake is a well documented event and you can find more details about the hospital and the earthquake in wikipedia.

        There are limits to how much one can doubt press reports. To suggest that 8 days can become 7 which can then become 6…all the way 3 is bordering on the ridiculous don’t you think? It couldn’t have been “anything” since it took five days for the heavy machinery to even reach the hospital. You can verify this for yourself.

        It’s not necessary for a reporter to be a scientific expert to report on a news story regarding a baby.

        It’s good to be suspicious but beyond a certain point, it just begins to look like paranoia.

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        Bhagwad,

        The link I provided is the very same I had obtained from Wikipedia. And where in my comments have I doubted that the earthquake had occurred or not? So, my only point is that the overall incident is has assumed status of a folklore than anything. And what I’m pointing out about ‘one number becoming another’ is a practical thing I am saying, which is illustrated by differing reports!

        Yes, it could have been anything right from 2 days to 20 days, but the point is this ‘evidence’ is merely anecdotal, with at least in two instances an apparent desire to attribute the ‘miracle’ to ‘God’, which makes me further suspicious of the particulars.

        I deliberately mentioned the scientific consensus point to illustrate that not just to report facts about baby, but to report any other event plainly no particular rigor or expertise (perhaps a bit of language skill) is required as would be required to publish a scientific paper (which was the selection criterion for taking ‘opinion’ of scientists on climate change).

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        But why stop there? How do you know the earthquake occurred at all? We hear about it from the media which isn’t comprised of seismologists!

        Do you also doubt that it took five days for machinery to reach the hospital? How could the babies have been rescued before that? So couldn’t have been “2 to 20 days” as you say.

        Some trust at least Ketan!

        It just seems to me that you’re drawing a very wide conclusion from observing small, isolated events. A dangerous thing to do.

        Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        Bhagwad,

        Why I do not agree with the consensus analogy in case of media is very simple. The scientists on global warming were firstly merely expressing their opinion, as it was based on simulations, and they were not claiming to be reporting facts, hence implicit in their assertion was the fact that lot of subjectivity was involved. Secondly, their credentials were built on submission of papers that have to undergo rigorous refereeing and peer review, and if need be, to also submit their raw data. And it is for this reason that many studies get rejected (not because the audience of the said journal would not be interested, but simply because the data could not be relied upon because of faulty sample design or inability to establish the veracity of data obtained).

        The way media works in India, there are no equivalents of above processes. E.g., it does not happen that two scientists using exactly the same sample, and taking measurements at the same time using same instruments would come up with different data. But this thing happens in the media. So, we cannot use what happens in publication of scientifically scrutinized journals as analogy for what happens with the the media. And this is because the mechanism by which ‘credibility’ is built in scientific circles is much different from the ones by which is built in the Indian media.

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        Agreed. But it’s not just media people who form the consensus. It’s also NGOs, opinion writers, international organizations, foreign media, and even foreign governments.

        The consensus is all these people and I listen to the general chatter to pick the version that most likely represents the truth. If the media were faking it, one of these other organizations would have picked up on that since they have people who are probably smarter than either you or me.

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        Bhagwad,

        All the agencies that you’ve pointed out follow the same method to establish credibility of their data as does the media. In the climate change analogy that you provided, what (for me) made the opinion somewhat believable was not the number or the scientists involved, but the assurance that these people are basing their opinion published research papers with raw data intact for others to review. And a lot of this data is automatically generated by machines (like computers), so it further assures that they have been using reliable techniques.

        International and foreign to me only indicate that inherently less likely to understand how the police force is equipped or functions in other circumstances.

        And lastly, I don’t think there is a survey that says that “98% of people who had witnessed the riots feel that Narendra Modi had instructed policemen to fire at Muslims and to not protect them”.

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        And a lot of this data is automatically generated by machines (like computers), so it further assures that they have been using reliable techniques.

        And that is why it’s even more important for regular people like you and me not to make up our own minds about things that can be more complicated than climate change like the Godhra riots. The scope for error is so much more.

        Bottom line is that I don’t trust laymen to make a proper factual compilation of data when complicated situations are involved. I would rather leave that to those whose job it is to observe and just listen to the chatter.

        Reply

  4. *This is clearly a silly email.

    Reply

  5. I think people who abuse are basically inarticulate…

    Reply

    • In reply to Sraboney

      Sraboney, Yes, inability to articulate and ensuing abuse are somewhat related. But other motives that I have noticed are indulging in plain mischief and anger at veiled (but not explicit) abuse.

      Did you, by any chance, mean to comment on another recent blog post published by Bhagwad surrounding abuse by right wingers, as your comment would have been more pertinent there? Though, this question would be best asked by Bhagwad himself. :D

      Reply

  6. BTW, I noticed that your blog is being channeled through the stumbleup. Is it the way you’d intended it to be?

    See this article: http://www.ndtv.com/news/india/will-modi-appear-before-the-special-panel-tomorrow-18142.php

    And especially this line (incidentally, the first line): “Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is likely to skip appearance on Sunday before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing a post-Godhra riots case, sources in the state government said on Saturday.” How does the nature of evidence supplied compare with nature of evidence provided in the email you quoted?

    Reply

  7. Clearly that email was malicious & rightly slaughtered here. Good job.

    However, all the ROFL stuff at those mocking pseudo seculars would stop, once the content of some of these news channels get scrutinized. There is very clearly overt dislike for BJP, RSS, Sangh parivaar etc.

    One example, which I personally followed has been blogged by another internet contact here:

    http://satyameva-jayate.org/2010/08/06/ndtv-spin/

    Why did NDTV leave a potentially very different meaning giving line, even after PTI seemingly edited, followed by ExpressIndia, CNN-IBN & others? This became a bigger laughing stock at Vijaya Karnataka (Kananda paper) later.

    Such examples tarnish the image of unpartisan reporting from main media houses, particularly folks like NDTV. By the way, none of the big names of NDTV like Prannoy, Barkha bothered to accept that they messed this particular piece up.

    -Kiran

    Reply

    • In reply to Kiran

      It would certainly be interesting to find out why NDTV inserted that line. I don’t know all the details and it seems that the NDTV guys have forgotten all about it.

      Actually, I’m quite willing to believe that they dislike a certain party. My point is that it’s ridiculous to claim that they’re getting paid regularly to do this.

      Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        Bhagwad,

        If you remember, I had pointed you out this glitch. And no, it is unlikely that NDTV had forgotten about it. In fact, I had also pointed out that they had published the news on ‘7th’ of a particular month, whereas others had done so on ‘6th’ (I’m just remembering the date from memory).

        Also, it is extremely unlikely that the celebrated persons in NDTV had forgotten about it, because Barkha Dutt herself had tweeted about the news in the first place! And when this glitch was found out, lot of noise was made by the ‘right wing’ (as is to be expected?) tweeters with several repeated tweets and retweets to BD, Prannoy Roy & @NDTV.

        I think our greatest point of disagreement is here:

        “My point is that it’s ridiculous to claim that they’re getting paid regularly to do this.”

        Why is it ridiculous?

        1. I go to work –> because my work motivates me (there is an emotional driving force for what I do). | NDTV hates BJP-RSS -> because their personal biases make them do so (there is an emotional driving force for what they do).

        2. I go to work –> because I want to earn lot of money, to firstly survive and secondly, to lead a life of luxury (there is no emotional drive, but only monetary incentive). | NDTV gets (monetary or similar) favors for tarnishing the image of rivals of the Nehru-Gandhi family –> because they want to make money, firstly to keep their company afloat, and secondly to lead luxurious lives as individuals (there is no emotional driving force for what they do, only monetary incentive).

        Why is the second set of statements ridiculous?

        The caveat that these means have to be legal/ethical does not hold, because in case of high-profile corruption in India, what is ultimately proved illegal is what the media gets to expose. But most importantly, these things don’t have to be done in entirely illegitimate manner (because all that is required is to qualify with “sources said” or some such vague terminology, with which immunity from the judiciary would be ensured). And the shining example that even when acts of impropriety are proved beyond reasonable doubt, nothing really happens to the said media house is what has (or rather not) happened to the Times Group and Lokmat groups after P. Sainath’s expose.

        Sufficient to show that a vast number of people can indeed be engaged in openly unlawful/unethical practice when it comes to money is the existence of a profession of ‘Medical representative’ in India. The only significant way medical/surgical products are pushed is through offering gifts, even money, sponsoring tours for the family to doctors to prescribe their products. Mind you, not just unethical, these are also on the wrong side of the law. This practice is rampant, open and everyone knows about it, but what stops the corporations from indulging in it? Surely, some conscientious soul must have got the whole thing stopped by exposing this big unethical business? Surely, every single person in the pharma industry must not be corrupt? Why has it not happened?

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        Sufficient to show that a vast number of people can indeed be engaged in openly unlawful/unethical practices

        See that’s the thing Ketan. According to you, it’s not done openly.

        In the medical rep business, there have been several cases where demonstrable evidence has been produced regarding individual malpractices. People inside the industry have talked about it. Doctors admit it and so on and so forth. It’s not a secret.

        But for your media allegations, till now, I haven’t seen even one shred of evidence that will stand up in court. No whistleblowers, no exposes, no person who’s suddenly got an attack of conscience. Nothing! Whatever you say is pure conjecture and nothing more than that.

        Another difference is that the medical rep thing isn’t a conspiracy for the same reasons that corruption in the country isn’t a conspiracy. It’s not a secret, there isn’t a single secret and powerful entity that’s controlling it.

        You have to see the fundamental difference between what you’re proposing and the examples you’re giving.

        In fact, your reasoning goes something like: “Everyone will do whatever they can for money. Therefore they are accepting bribes because that’s how they can get money!”

        Apart from my earlier point about there being no proof, this logic fails because human nature is more complex and isn’t a linear maximization function. As a writer, I’ve turned down requests for unethical writing assignments. If I was in the media business, I wouldn’t accept bribes either. Or are you saying that if I was in the media, I too would accept bribes?

        A lot of people are ethical and that includes people in the media. Everyone isn’t bad. In fact, people are assumed to be good by default until and unless they are proved guilty by solid evidence.

        A person’s guilt is supposed to be the last possible explanation after he/she has given every chance to defend themselves. So I ask you – have you put these questions regarding an individual’s corruption to them personally? Has anyone checked their bank accounts? Has the IT department found suspicious sources of funds? Have you given them a chance to defend themselves?

        If not, then it’s not decent to slander people who don’t get the opportunity to defend themselves by calling them corrupt.

        Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        Bhagwad,

        The point is simple! Why would courts pull up media houses for transactions and favors when nobody complains or is in a position to complain, or if complain is filed? And how would we know if such a thing happens when there is no media house to report it?

        And I do not agree with this “single shred of evidence”-point. Tell me who has got arrested from the Times Group or the Lokmat group for what happened, when the issue was something so serious as it had involved the incumbent chief minister? Why, nobody from among so many conscientious workers in the two companies, none have uploaded information about what money and how it was being transacted? Why have none of them taken the lead to inform the HC about the occurrence? This is a very good index case for the test of conscience-trumps-money-assertion.

        And if pharma industry can do this openly, some other industry can most certainly do similar things covertly.

        Why is it decent to slander a media house with being biased against the BJP to the extent that they can insert a malicious line about them in relation to such a ghastly line, then tweet about it, especially when the same media house proclaims to stand for truth all along?

        And no, I have not “called” them corrupt. I for practical purpose, ‘consider’ them corrupt. I have clearly stated that what I speculate is the best hypothesis for all the glitches I get to see. Because, apart from it, the only competing hypothesis that I have come across is “no, it just can’t happen that way” told in one way or the other.

        And you see, my decency is commensurate with the decency of people who get away with much worse kind of slanders (‘Hitler’, ‘mass murderer’, ‘Mother who killed her daughter out of casteism, but oh no the daughter could not have committed suicide!’, ‘Doctors who starved a baby for 3 days without even showing the baby to the mother’, ‘the men who chopped off hands were BJP-RSS workers’ and well, the list is endless) with their “sources said”. And I’m pretty alright with my level of indecency that comes to the fore by my pointing out that money and job-security are indeed a good incentives for people to be less scrupulous than it is possible to be.

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        I was talking about evidence of the Gandhi family paying media houses – which is your contention. So far as I know, there is indeed no shred of evidence or even reliable intel that this happens.

        So while I’ve never claimed that the media is pure (and I’ve also mentioned it in my post), I would at least like to get some reliable statements about a particular conspiracy before bothering my head with it no?

        And if pharma industry can do this openly, some other industry can most certainly do similar things covertly.

        That doesn’t follow at all. I’ve constantly repeated that it’s not possible to keep such a massive operation secret for long.

        The only competing hypothesis that I have come across is “no, it just can’t happen that way” told in one way or the other.

        Which is a very good hypothesis given that I feel that it’s indeed impossible for something like this to remain hidden for so long with no evidence.

        Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        Bhagwad,

        The kind of evidence you’re asking for Gandhi family paying media houses would be tantamount to someone asking for a video of Modi himself killing a Muslim before accepting his role!

        The only reason you’re not requiring to bother yourself is because you’re studiously ignoring the evidence supplied by P. Sainath. So, I do not agree with “no-evidence” or “secret” point. One instance of this practice is out in the open. It’s just that the very body that is in position to expose this is the beneficiary or the dependent party and is not forthcoming. That P. Sainath came out with it, in itself is very surprising. Of course, if you want a video of someone actually paying a Times Group/Lokmat employee, then yes, it will never come. And not because these things cannot happen, but simply because ones indulging in these acts would be cleverer than that.

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        If I understand you correctly, your claim is that the Gandhi Nehru family is paying all the national media houses for favorable coverage right?

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall Sainath making such claims about Sonia Gandhi. I’m not asking for unreasonable evidence as you say. I’m not asking for a video of Sonia gandhi signing black cheques and mailing them to media people. Thatwould be like a video of Modi killing Muslims!

        I’m asking for just one reliable person to come out into the open and says that the Gandhi Nehru family has been paying media people. I don’t even require it to go into court. Just a reasonable allegation from someone who is in a position to know is enough for me to start thinking about it. I mean at the very least.

        That’s not unreasonable is it?

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        Also in my earlier comment, I had asked you to explain some anomalies which should not exist if the media is being paid to be biased.

        Your position seems to be unfalsifiable. Meaning, what sequence of events will convince you that the media is not being paid by the Gandhi Nehru family? Mind you, the key word is being paid. Any reasonable hypothesis should be falsifiable. So what set of events would convince you that your position is wrong?

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        Bhagwad,

        In one of the above comments you have used the qualifiers “reliable” and “reasonable”. What criteria would need to be fulfilled for that?

        Yes, you’re very right that a hypothesis needs to be falsifiable. I would stop alleging media bias at least against Modi the moment the official statistics of Gujarat riots would be given the same prominence by channels like NDTV as the mere accusations by people like Jafri and Teesta Setalvad. Also, it would have helped had NDTV not inserted that “some men were BJP-RSS workers”.

        It would also help if:

        1. Deganga and other riots are reported

        2. Coverage of non-burning of the Quran in the US, and Burqa and Minaret-ban in Europe do not get so much more coverage than harms done to Hindus in India by Muslims and the desecration of Temples at their hands.

        3. There would not have been such extensive coverage of Rahul Gandhi’s Mumbai trip.

        4. They give space to people who are suspicious of Man Mohan Singh’s scruples, especially after the way the Nuclear Liability Bill was being passed.

        These are a few examples. Of course, these things have already happened. But I’m pretty sure at least for a next one or two years, such things will continue to happen.

        And I’m afraid I find my expectations of the media reasonable, especially if NDTV could come up with Shiney Ahuja’s maid’s recanting of allegations as the prime time headlines.

        Reply

      • In reply to Ketan

        My personal opinion that the non performance of the points you’ve given are explainable by factors other than massive bribery – and let’s leave it that :) since you know my position and I know yours.

        Reply

  8. Hi, I am not in the media, however I keenly follow your blog and discussions. Please forgive me if I am naive in making a comment. I had a small point to make on the ownership issue with media houses. Each media house generally subscribe and reject a particular ideology, and are generally concerned with maximizing revenue for its stakeholders. If you take the case of NDTV, for example, and the accusations on its news, you will find a genuine political link which somehow justifies the accusations. Did you know that Narayana Murthy of Infosys was on the board of NDTV for a while? He is not any more now after some outrage over his comments. Anyway, you must know that Karnataka politicans RV Deshpande and SM Krishna have huge stock with Infosys. I have not been able to verify this but has been spoken about quite a bit. Infosys had to trade some stock with these guys to get land and other benefits, etc etc. The industrial-political nexus is a well know fact. These guys will do one favour to another, again and again for each other’s benefit. Again take the case of the UID. Nandan Nilekani is on the project and initial groundwork for the project is being done by Infosys. Can you see the subtle link? Narayana Murthy or Nandan Nilekani have no reason not to sing praises of the Congress, which they will in whatever way they can. The Congress party for obvious reasons has a useful way to corner the BJP by broadcasting news favourable to itself. Not that the BJP is anyway lagging behind. The Pioneer, a newspaper is edited by a sitting BJP Rajya Sabha MP. If you see the board room of major news media houses you will see a political, or economical consideration influencing most major decisions.

    Reply

    • In reply to Bharath

      Thanks for your reply Bharath!

      I mostly agree with what you say. The problem of paid news is a very real one and is something I would definitely like to address.

      I’d like to start off by saying that it’s not restricted to just the Congress as many people seem to imply. That’s one thing.

      Another thing is that many people even within the media itself are protesting. In the linked article, Outlook being a media organization has tried to expose it. So there’s hope. It means that not everyone is in agreement over it and as we progress with the Internet etc. I hope to see real progress come in this arena.

      It seems that the problem is more prevalent in local language newspapers and less so in the major English dailies.

      Third, there are efforts underway to address the problem. I know we all think that it won’t come to anything and they may be right. But as time passes by, such efforts will only increase. Greater transparency will come and things will improve – but slowly.

      And finally, it’s possible for media houses to be profitable even without taking bribes like this.

      Reply

      • BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT says

        In reply to bhagwad

        “It seems that the problem is more prevalent in local language newspapers and less so in the major English dailies.”

        There you go sitting on your high horse.. theres nothing with people like you. Yes yes. Its the uneducated. Oh the people who can’t “speak” and by speak you guys mean not speak in English.

        Your website is just an example of Indian Media or any Media. Articles written without any research, relying on provocative headlines, carrying an attitude of intelligent than thou and Written by someone who does not do anything productive in life..

        Where is your article on Bharkha Gate? It is the sensation now, write it, more traffic and more google ads revenue. oooo I see you smiling on your way to your bank.

        I know this wont be published.. If you publish it and want to make again your “point by point intelligent rebuke”, its a waste of time.

        Reply

      • In reply to BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT

        And it’s exactly comments like yours which represent the craziness we’re fighting against. Abusive, personal comments with very little added in. Read some of the latest comments on the post here to see what discussion is taking place.

        Next time, try and focus on issues and ideas instead of people’s character. If you don’t do that you come across as a whiny, spluttering and insecure person who can only spew abuse.

        Reply

      • BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT says

        In reply to bhagwad

        “we’re fighting against” Now there is a group of you. Oh by we you mean the educated liberal wine sipping arm chair activists. Right. Ofcourse Ofcourse, people like me. What is the point in discussing about issues and facts with people like you (ofcourse ofcourse character assasination).

        Reply

      • In reply to BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT

        Let me play right into your stereotype and show you this post I wrote about five “western”, “liberal” and “sophisticated” things I do.

        Enjoy!

        Reply

      • BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT says

        In reply to bhagwad

        Poor you. you think people laud you when they say ‘educated liberal”. People are just being sarcastic

        Reply

      • In reply to BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT

        Poor you – you don’t know I’m making fun of that sarcasm by playing right in to it :D . Let’s party!

        Reply

      • BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT says

        In reply to bhagwad

        I will think about it when you write about Bharkhagate

        Reply

      • In reply to BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT

        I’ve never said the media was uncorrupted. In fact I’ve specifically said this in my post. This is hardly news. I only said that the media wasn’t being exclusively paid by the Congress. Perhaps you should read the article first?

        Reply

      • BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT says

        In reply to BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT

        Oh but then what about the regional language dailies which are more corrupted. People like you the educated English speaking are non corruptible. But poor you then there is Bharkhagate.

        Reply

      • In reply to BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT

        It’s a question of degree – nothing is black and white. I would have thought that was obvious.

        Incidentally, I used to run and own a local hindi newspaper in Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. Kind of bursts your little bubble about me eh?

        Reply

      • BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT says

        In reply to BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT

        I can understand the used to. Seeing the poor research in your blogs, surely it would not have been a serious newspaper and it closed? But arent you the one who cant speak hindi very well. See Again, trying to do something that you were not good at.

        Reply

      • In reply to BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT

        See, personal attacks again. This is getting tedious. You can comment on my blog again when you have something useful to say.

        Once again to make it clear, my blog is for discussing ideas and not for attacking individual people. You can do that elsewhere, but not here.

        Perhaps my previous post on abuses in blog comments would interest you more.

        Reply

      • BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT says

        In reply to BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT

        But I want to attack you and this is your blog. I dont see any other place to do that.

        Reply

      • In reply to BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT

        My blog is meant to discuss ideas and not people. If you insist on personal attacks, I’ll have no choice but to mark your IP as spam and warn all other blogs. So please behave yourself.

        Reply

      • In reply to BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT

        Bhagwad,

        I truly commend you for your patience. Your response was the most appropriate one I could think of. Neither did you totally ignore BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT, thus showing your initial willingness to engage him/her, nor did you take the seriousness out of this topic by indulging too much in personal attack.

        Apart from that, I will return to you later (for obvious reasons!).

        BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT,

        You have openly admitted the only reason you dropped in was to personally attack Bhagwad (for I don’t know what reasons). Perhaps, because you (wrongly) assumed that whoever differs from you is either a fake or not aware of ground realities. I don’t know if you are interested in genuine issue-based discussions. But I want to point out that the reason (Bhagwad and his friend feel) English (national) media is more reliable is because of greater scrutiny. An English news journal is much likelier to be accessed by much greater number of people and from many regions of the country simultaneously. It should be no surprise that an English daily (I presume still) The Times of India is the largest selling daily in the World (and not just in India). So, (Bhagwad and his friend, I suppose presume) that owing to this greater scrutiny and impact (and ensuing risk of litigation), the management has to make sure that reportage does not bite them in their backs. Whereas, the regional media houses do not have this kind of patronage and are not subject to this scale of scrutiny and also because some of them are quite openly owned by political parties (more so in the South), they can more easily ‘get away’ with incorrect and partisan reporting.

        While, I am pretty confident above is the reason Bhagwad and his friend feel that national media (including Hindi) is more reliable than the regional one, perhaps the reason he did not clarify is because of your irritating behavior. Of course, it would be nice if Bhagwad clarifies if my guess is correct.

        If you are here solely for attacking Bhagwad, it is indeed a deplorable intent, especially because I feel Bhagwad is a very genuine person (and this I say despite disagreeing with him so strongly on this particular topic) and is one with systematic, methodical thinking. What he does for his livelihood is none of your business unless and until he is asking you to provide for his subsistence. And if he is not doing that (which he is not) and yet you choose to attack him on that makes you a very pathetic person.

        Above are perhaps the strongest words I have used over the internet; it is unfortunate that I had to do it on someone else’s blog.

        Reply

      • In reply to BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT

        Bhagwad,

        You said: “I only said that the media wasn’t being exclusively paid by the Congress”.

        I don’t know if this clarification is required, but even I have myself never said that the media is totally owned by the Nehru Gandhi family, but nor do I believe that all the political entities in India are EQUALLY influential.

        I believe that the most influential entity has been the NG family, and that is the reason there is a certain bent (which unfortunately includes making up facts as well as suppressing/inadequate coverage of significant issues) in news selection and presentation over certain vital issues.

        Does this marginally greater influence of the NG family (if you accept that it is indeed marginally greater) have significant impact?

        Yes, I believe it does. In the much touted BJP-JDU win in Bihar in assembly elections that average difference in voter share was only 15%. In 2009 LS elections the difference in voter share was only 2%. And in 2004, it is said that BJP had in fact polled more votes than the Congress (I)! [I am recalling all this offhand].

        People who had come to my house for interiors painting told me that in their constituency the ‘going rate’ for each vote was Rs. 1000! [It used to be Rs. 500 5 years back in Mumbai – inflation,phew!].

        The point I am trying to make is that image management is a very high-stake game (and I believe you would agree with that).

        So, for the kind of influences I am talking about, media houses do not have to be entirely owned by any one party.

        In fact, BarkhaGate and Vir Sanghvi’s tapes fall in the same spectrum of influence that I have been talking of.

        I was curious of what you think of Radia’s and related tapes. What are your inferences? Did these revelations alter (even marginally so) your view of how media operates and their ethics and (legal & other) liabilities? It would be nice if you blog on it (however, unlike BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT I am not challenging you, but just making a request. But if you have been short of time and/or not finding inclination to blog I can understand if you do not humor me.

        Though, I might blog about it, I will just lay out what I think exactly happened (of course, it’s pure speculation).

        Firstly, no action has been taken against authorities involved who deliberately leaked CONFIDENTIAL and sensitive tapes to multiple media houses. This indicates that the sanction to do so was from higher up (NG family). I am not the one to believe that The Open magazine and Outlook are in possession of extraordinary espionage skills that enabled them to ‘steal’ the data without IT department’s knowledge.Nor do I believe they are significantly more conscientious than other major media houses that did not give adequate/proper coverage to the entire incident. The latter did not do so, obviously because their employees had featured in these tapes (or might have had similar conversations that were not yet made public).

        Who was the real target?

        The real targets were corporates like Tata. This was the NG family’s extremely subtle way of letting them know that they were under watch and that if they did not fall in line (support the family financially and otherwise [for instance by desisting to support Modi publicly]), “more was in store” (and that the NG family still had the upper hand).

        Did this harm any major media house/journalist in any significant way?

        No! This incident will not lead to losses (greater than what they might have already been making). Firstly, very few people know about these tapes [of my 7 colleagues, all of them MBBS or postgraduates in sciences, not a single person had known about these tapes and they were all startled – proving that the damage to the media houses was insignificant and also that it is possible to suppress important news to an appreciable degree]. That the news is significant and/or interesting could be gauged from the facts that WSJ and Huffington Post had made prominent mentions of these tapes.

        Anyway, more later. If and when you respond or through my blog post. Have been highly inactive over my blog as well as over twitter. So might not respond immediately when you reply.

        Thanks!

        Reply

      • In reply to BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT

        Ketan,

        I had posted comments in this regard on the “Media Bias” post here on Bhagwad’s blog and he has responded there…. I raised some similar concerns though not quite the same. I had also posted the first comment on ketanresponds albeit in the wrong thread (you had comments off on the other one).

        Pls go thru that thread there and you can continue there or here or on your blog as you feel fit. I dont know abt the “real target” part of your comment since the tapes implicate the Ambanis and several others also.

        There is also some discussion on Dilip’s blog at “Radially Speaking”.

        Thanks,
        Jai

        Reply

      • In reply to BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT

        BTW did you guys catch BD’s “court martial” (as described on Yahoo) on NDTV. I didnt. I’d like to know your thoughts on it. I couldnt find it on NDTV site.

        thx,
        Jai

        Reply

      • In reply to BEING ANONYMOUS IS MY RIGHT

        @Jai @Ketan,

        Thanks for your inputs guys. Perhaps I should write a post on what my thoughts are regarding this…in the process of collecting my thoughts since there are two or three things I want to say and I don’t want the post to become ultra long and rambling…

        Thanks for springing to my defense Ketan :) – the other points I will address in a blog post.

        Jai, what is the BD court martial case? Link?

        Reply

  9. Bhagwad

    Your analysis of the ridiculous article re: media ownership is fine. Even 2 minutes of analysis can rebut it.

    However then you go off a total tangent re: “consensus”. Sure, basic physics and biology taught in schools forms part of an “informed consensus” but even there there can be MANY errors that are corrected over the years.

    On complex matters like the human body, the society, the economy or climate change, please don’t drop your guard.

    Such analysis is not a 2-minute analysis that makes people feel ‘so smart!’. It requires years of thinking and reading and even then you often don’t reach the end of the journey.

    That 90% of Indians don’t think is a given. That you should advocate a consensus on complex matters is wrong. Please start thinking. It will do you (and India) a ton of good, given your powerful blog which reaches out to thousands.

    Let’s teach Indians to think CRITICALLY on everything. Let them not be taught to accept so-called consensus. Often the media controls this ‘consensus’. You learn the truth by paying attention to detail.

    Regards
    Sanjeev

    Reply

    • In reply to Sanjeev Sabhlok

      Ah Sanjeev, I knew you’d have something to say on that point :D

      I get where you’re coming from and for those new to this, here’s a discussion Sanjeev and I had some time ago on his blog regarding this.

      My point was that I was being critical even though I wasn’t wading through the original source material. Your point was that only by wading through the original material can you reach the truth.

      Reply

  10. Damm funny.

    “Quite extraordinary how Indian right-wingers are gradually coming to mirror American ones. Talk radio and television in the US served to spread the ‘good word’ among the right-wing faithful there, before the internet appeared to further help ‘like-minded’ and ‘patriotic’ Americans share ‘vital truths’. Not to mention mobilize.”

    Absolute agreement. Not just American right-wingers but also Pakistani ones.

    Reply

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