Jan 202012

Times of India has linked back to this blog. in a section called ‘women molested’ *face palm*


and, it links back to this page on the ToI Website



I must appreciate the Time’s of India’s ability to get all searchers of all sort of stuff onto its site.. I wonder if there is a page for “indian p*rn”

Sep 052011

Wikileaks is in the news again.

Last Week, Julian Assange threw a hissy fit, and made all the remaining files available freely via his site. Unlike the last time, the cables ‘outed’ this time did not censor the information to hide the identity of people involved. These include political activists, spies, informants, environmentalists, essentially sources of all types. This has, possibly, put the lives of thousands – especially those in totalitarian regimes – at risk.

In a piece that I wrote for the DNA I had suggested that One reads wikileaks As gossip. Nice, juicy gossip. Read WikiLeaks, smirk, and move on. For me Julian Assange was a self righteous, self appointed guardian of political morality (an oxymoron like no other), and he would do anything to bring the edifices crumbling down. And, the best way to do that is to create & spread distrust in all existing systems and relationships.

Tortuous Convolvulus is one of the most fascinating comic book characters. He appears in Asterix and the Roman Agent. Tortuous Convolvulus is a troublemaker par excellence — he just has to walk past two people to get them to start fighting. He causes distrust, strife and fights wherever he steps foot. He is the ultimate anarchist – who revels in the discord that he is able to create. He is used by Caesar to create divisions in Asterix’ village — till common sense, shared values and a wee bit of magic potion saves the village.

Julian Assange, the Australian who is on the United States’s ‘most hated’ list — is a modern day Tortuous Convolvulus. While on the face of it WikiLeaks — the organisation that he directs — has the stated aim of creating ‘open governments’ in the long run, in the short run WikiLeaks has become the ultimate tool of creating distrust and discord.

Every Publication & Government has condemned the redacted leaks. In particular The Guardian, New York Times, El Pais, Der Spiegel and Le Monde – which were the partners for the original wikileaks put out a statement dissociating themselves from this set of leaks.

“We deplore the decision of WikiLeaks to publish the unredacted state department cables, which may put sources at risk,” the organisations said in a joint statement.”

So, given all this hue and cry on privacy and risk – you would expect the world’s best selling Newspaper to show some rectitude in naming names.



And, then ToI- goes on to name the girl friend. I suppose putting stuff in quotes and attributing it to someone else saves them from libel… It also upholds their reputation of having a tabloid soul in a broadsheet’s body.

I wonder if they will do a story on a media magnate who is rumored to personally train and groom slightly over teen contestants for an allegedly leading event .. or one about a leading media organisation that is supposed to take money to create favorable stories.

I could talk about media and ethics – but wait there is a pink unicorn outside my window, and i am off to have a conversation with it …

(no. i dont’ particularly care about Yedurappa or his ‘girlfriend’ – but i do believe that stories like this should not be put out without verification).

Dec 012010

Over 10 days after the story broke in the Open Magazine & Outlook, the rest of the media seems to have gotten into the act of covering the #Radiatapes – especially the ethics of journalists on the tapes.

NDTV went first yesterday – with a strange, strange show hosted by Sonia Singh (please correct me if the name is wrong, have begun watching 24*7 news for the first time in 2 years). The show featured Barkha Dutt and a panel including – Manu Joseph, Sanjay Baru, Swapan Das Gupta and Dileep Padgaonkar … Sonia didn’t add to the show except to assert her designation – and Barkha lost her cool with Manu Joseph who seems to have all the tenacity of a blood hound that had found a rather juicy steak !

You can watch the unedited episode here.


here, here and here

Frankly, the show was disappointing. Ms.Dutt vacillated between being emotional – hardly surprising given the barrage of criticism that has been leveled at her and her professional & personal integrity – and outraged. She admitted she was gullible – not the best quality for a political editor – but said that she didn’t do anything wrong. Her interaction with Manu Joseph was particularly appalling – especially when she got into his ethics of publishing the story. In doing so she forgot that Manu Joseph may have breached professional etiquette, but i am not quite sure that it was a breach of professional ethics.

Part of the problem with the NDTV programme was that it was designed like an inquisition rather than a journalistic endeavor. When someone accuses you, you will – but naturally – defend yourself. While it makes for a great soap opera, it doesn’t make for a particularly credible news show.

The show reminded me of all the reasons that i stopped watching 24*7 news channels in the aftermath of 26*11 – too many shouting heads, too many people screaming in tandem – all in all a clusterf***.


Headlines Today had a show tonight which had Vir Sanghvi being interviewed by Rahul Kanwal, and then Kanwal went on to discuss the issue of the journalists & Radia with N Ram, Dilip Cherian (of Perfect Relations), Hartosh Bal Political Editor of the Open and two other editors from the Living Media (India Today) Group – MJ Akbar and Prabhu Chawla. (Prabhu Chawla is on the tapes as well – but it seemed more to be conversation about the Ambani dispute, rather than anything else)

The discussion was far more controlled, Vir Sanghvi appearing far more credible than i thought possible under the circumstances….


here, here, here and here.


Surprisingly, Wall Street Journal , has a fairly detailed and multiple views on this affair – especially vis-a-vis Ms.Dutt. They had 6 opinion pieces today – that seemed to be over kill.

Incidentally, WSJ is owned by News Corp., who also owns Fox News (amongst other media vehicles). So, it was quite amusing to see them behave outraged about journalistic ethics


And then there was this rambling piece by Tunku Varadarajan – in the daily beast that concludes with:

A final word: India’s media is still an insulated and protected sector. To this day, foreign media companies cannot own more than 26 percent of an Indian imprint. This has made for an insular press, a corrupt press, an Indian media untested not merely against global standards of journalistic craft, but also against Western standards of journalistic ethics. Dutt, surely, has a heckuva lot of explaining to do. But she’s not the only one in that position—by any stretch.

we are of course talking about the same set of ‘western journalistic ethics’ that believed that there were WMD’s in Iraq and convinced its readers/viewers of the same … please !!

By all means let there be more transparency and better monitoring of all professions, but to draw causality where there is none is kind of stupid….

If you want to read a Varadarajan on this issue you might be better off reading Siddarth Varadarajan in the Hindu


And finally, while the trickle of coverage becomes a deluge – it would be good to remember that the journalists in this entire affair  are basically gullible dupes – and the bigger story is that of who benefits from this entire episode and leaks …


Worth Reading

Fixing Barkha Dutt – B Raman

Hello, this is Niira, by Archana Shukla  in the Indian Express

NDTV Exposes NDTV, by Farzana Versey in Counter Media

The rotting of New India – Pankaj Mishra in the Guardian

The Storm in the Studio – Shailja Bajpai in the Indian Express

Vir Sanghvi Gets Points for Being Apologetic – WSJ

Dangerous liaisons – Samar Halarnkar, HT

Wait a Minute, What Exactly Is Barkha Dutt Accused of?, Amol Sharma, WSJ

Lessons from the Radia Tapes Row -Bupendra Chaubey, CNN IBN

The Republic on a Banana Peel - P Sainath, in the Hindu

India Journal: What Difference Will the Radia Tapes Make? – Rupa Subramanya Dehejia – in the WSJ

Was it okay to leak the Radia tapes? – Financial Express -

Nov 292010

Last week i had posted on the media black out of the  RadiaTapes  - filed in the SC as evidence – and that has the who’s who of media, industry and politics – an incestuous  oligarchy – in conversation,   in an environment more reminiscent of the Borgias , than a modern Democratic Republic (atleast i hope India is).

Atul Chitnis – suggested that i put a response to a conversation with Sohini about the silence as a separate entry – so here goes …

Sohini says:
November 21, 2010 at 8:53 pm

What amazes me is that top news channels keep running prime-time stories on the telecom scam so unabashedly, without a blink even, when their own ‘stars’ are involved in the scam. It is so rightly called the ‘spectrum’ scam. People from all across the spectrum are aboard here!


gargi Reply:
November 22nd, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Yes & No.
There are three parts to these recordings :
a) business interest
b) business interest fixing ministerial berth with the help of powerbrokers, advocated by journalists
c) minor or major indiscretions

you cannot do the journalist story without doing the business story. the business story will end up pissing off people whose annual advertising spend is possibly greater than the turnover of most media companies …. what do you do then ?

minor or major indiscretions while speaking -for example a is having an affair with b; or person x is f***ed no matter what he does; or person y has no imagination – those are things that are going to end up mattering more – because you are talking about fragile egos and lots of money – a dangerous combination …..

in the outrage over Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi – and their alleged roles – the bigger picture is being forgotten, and that bigger picture is that these two are incidental to the bigger picture ….hear the tapes

Worth Reading MSM Sources

Indian Papers

When Radia killed the media star, G Sampath in the DNA

Merging Estates, in the Hoot

Anchored in mire, 1st Edit,  Deccan Herald

The spectrum of corruption – Editorial, Indian Express

Indian Media Discredited, Binu Thomas, Countercurrents.org

Oh what a lovely blackout – Sevati Ninnan – the Hoot

The spotlight is on the media now - Priscilla Jebaraj – lead in the Hindu

Anant’s blog: Open dares to be different -  Campaign India

Over the Thin Red Line - Salil Tripathi –  The Mint

2G scam sideshow: Netizens lambast high-profile journalists - ToI

The Thunderous Silence – Amit Varma , Yahoo News India

The silence of the hacks – Santosh Desai, Times of India

Those living in Glass Houses - Rasheeda Bhagat – Hindu Business Line

Beware the single brush – Pratap Bhanu Mehta, in the Indian Express

Just Say Sorry – T N Ninan , Business Standard

The Radia Tapes debate–swallowing the bait – Vidya Subrahmanyam  in the Hoot

Radia Tapes: Media ethics at the crossroads – comment in the Hoot

Welcome to the Matrix of the Indian State – Siddarth Varadarajan, in the Hindu

Of Twitter outrage & media silence – Santosh Desai in the Times of India

Journalism in a Radiaactive media -  G Sampath

Foreign Papers

Media run for cover : BRP Bhaskar, in Gulf Today

Phone Taps Draw Media Into 2G Spotlight –  Tripti Lahiri in WSJ

Indian Media Where Art Thou on Media Scandal – Betwa Sharma in the Huffington Post

Indian journalists accused of secretly helping politicians, businesses – Washington Post

Corrupt Corporate Fascism in India – the Dawn

Oh Vir, What Can the Matter Be? - Paul Beckett in the WSJ

Indian media’s mighty stand exposed on wrong side of 2G spectrum scam – International Business & Law

The Media as Middle Man – Farzana Versey – in Counterpunch

Dragging Indian Media out of the Muck – Sadanand Dhume in the WSJ

The Fall of India’s Katie Couric? by Tunku Varadarajan in the Daily Beast


Zee News

Sagarika Ghosh on CNN-IBN – FTN – November 23rd 2010

Radia tapes: Probing the journalists – The Last Word with Karan Thapar

Shourie on Radia with Karan Thapar – on CNN-IBN

Ratan Tata with Shekhar Gupta on Walk the Talk, NDTV


Responses to the Radia Tapes

Barkha Dutt

Vir Sanghvi

Prabhu Chawla


On the Radia Tapes:

Medianama has a consolidated set of links – both audio, and text – here

Reading Radia – the tapes transcription project

Nov 262010

A week has gone by, but MSM is yet to cover the story in a major concerted manner, though opinion pieces have begun emerging both in India and outside. I have begun compiling a list of all pieces in the MSM, here. Do add to the list.

On the Radia Tapes,  I have been listening to a tape MP3  a day. They are the most entertaining listening in the media right now. No reality television can come close. This is pure unscripted reality – hear your jaw drop as a senior journo calls a business magnate a harami, or hear the take on ‘teaching a lesson’ to a leading society columnist, or hear about a sort of ‘mutual fund’ for spouses of journalists, or appreciate water cooler conversations on the wheeling and dealing in Delhi , or have the alleged sex life of MP’s being tossed around as garnishing. There is this complete feeling of voyeurism. The tapes are an interesting study on how Delhi works. It may, at the end of the day be just name dropping, but it is that entire heady feeling of power intoxication – albeit through  osmosis – that comes through in the tapes ….

The magazine that broke the story last week,  The Open Magazine, has followed up this week with a set of finely written opinion pieces, one by their editor Manu Joseph and the other by their political editor Hartosh Singh Bal, on the Radia Tapes, the role of journalists, why they chose to expose the story and what is their stand on the issue. Both are worth reading.  Open has also published an excerpt of Arnab Goswami’s (alleged)  letter to his staff that reassures me that there are people with a sense of integrity that is binary and not fuzzy …

‘Colleagues,There has been news about two senior journalists from other media groups being involved in collaborating with corporate lobbyists and corporate groups on the 2G scam issue. This is a low point in the news business. It’s downright shameful. I am writing to reiterate some of the core values of the group and the channel. We believe in fierce editorial independence and complete personal honesty. Our standards have to remain impeccably high. In your interactions at any level, remember that you are ambassadors of India’s number one news channel. In an earlier edit meeting, I have said that even a pass into a stadium that’s accepted free amounts to being compromised, and today I am writing to reassert that. No gifts, no favours, no lobbying, no free dining and wining, no cash, no kind, no pass, no trip, no holiday, no promise, no passes, no special treatment, no tall or short claims, no disrespect to the organization that you represent and the group that we are all a part of, no loose talk, no flexibility on values, will be accepted. If I hear of any, we will come down hard, and no exceptions will be made…—Arnab’

If the writer is Arnab, then the  channel in question is Times Now, and the larger organisation is Bennet and Coleman which also runs Times of India, ET, Zoom

To, those at Open Magazine (if you, by chance, stumble upon this blog, my mother has decreed a subscription to you magazine. I thought the action was quaint and old world — but she is 70 :)