Tag Archives: Indian Media

‘Patriotism’ Made Easy in Times of ‘WhatsApp Elections’

A WhatsApp-sponsored report, prepared in partnership with Queen Mary University, has raised the alarm that the 2019 elections in India, which already has cleavages on lines of caste, race, gender, religion, would be a fertile ground for damaging fake news.

‘Patriotism’ Made Easy in Times of ‘WhatsApp Elections’

There was a time when ‘Good Morning’ messages were causing much “pain” to internet giants?

It was the beginning of last year when the obsession of Indians with starting their day with a deluge of ‘Good Morning’ messages flooded WhatsApp, and generated a lot of chuckle. But it but also raised serious concerns such as the overloading WhatsApp servers, and clogging Android phones.

We were told how millions of Indians were getting online for the first time and how everyone was getting hooked on to WhatsApp. Their obsession with sending such messages was causing “..[s]ome serious pain for Internet giants.” Not only WhatsApp but even Google researchers in Silicon Valley had noted how “[I]nternet newbies are overloading their Android phones with Good Morning messages.”

Nobody then had any premonition that India would shortly come under scanner for the spread of online disinformation and fake news resulting in a string of murders and growth of anti-minority sentiments. A report published by BBC’s Beyond Fake News Series had tried to corroborate this.

( Read the full article here : https://www.newsclick.in/patriotism-made-easy-times-whatsapp-elections)


From Koodankulam, an open letter to the Indian media


Press release issued by the PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT AGAINST NUCLEAR ENERGY (PMANE), based in Idinthakarai in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.

Dear friends,


Please allow us to bring the following to your kind attention in the larger interests of our country, people and most importantly, our democracy and freedom.

As the Fourth Pillar of our democracy, the media in India plays an important role in the smooth running of our country and the perpetuation of our democratic heritage.

We are sure that you have noticed the postponement of the commissioning of the Koodankulam nuclear power project (KKNPP) to July 2013 without giving any reasons or explanations. Continue reading From Koodankulam, an open letter to the Indian media

Chit-funded media

With the Sarandha chit fun scam in West Bengal, a side-effect has been the going bust of its media investments. Seema Guha, Delhi bureau chief of the recently shut down Bengal Post writes in The Hoot:

The executive editor Ranabir Roychowdhury and several of the core journalist team were known to us, but none of us had ever heard the name of Sudipta Sen, the owner. We in Delhi were far away, but our colleagues in Kolkata too did not know anything about him, except that he was a real estate tycoon with a land bank of 100 acres or more. He was also into chit funds. It was much later that we came to know that this was his main business, our money was basically derived from the collections Saradha made from the poorest people in Bengal and other eastern states. He had business in the north east as well as in Odisha. [Read the full article]

Ashis Nandy, Media and the Work of Acceleration: Anirban Gupta Nigam


The hornet’s nest stirred by Ashis Nandy’s comments at the Jaipur Literature Festival might – hopefully – be dying down, but certain questions raised by the occurrences on the 26th probably require a little reflection on everyone’s part.

In the corporate and social media blitz, a lot of the details have been forgotten, excised and overlooked. Till yesterday it was not clear what his entire speech consisted of. The most quoted line from his talk at the festival is: “it is a fact that most of the corrupt come from the OBC, the Scheduled Castes and now increasingly the STs and as long as it is the case, the Indian republic will survive.” None of those attacking Nandy for being casteist or spewing hate-speech have in fact even attempted to explain the latter part of the quote: “as long as it is the case, the Indian republic will survive.” How is that a casteist statement? More importantly, media reproductions of his statement have excised a crucial disclaimer he himself gives at the beginning: “It will be an undignified, even vulgar statement, but it is a fact that most of the corrupt come from the OBC, the Scheduled Castes and now increasingly the STs and as long as it is the case, the Indian republic will survive.” Continue reading Ashis Nandy, Media and the Work of Acceleration: Anirban Gupta Nigam

How not to think about violence against women: Noopur Tiwari

Guest post by NOOPUR TIWARI

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

I woke up in Paris last weekend to the news of the Delhi protests. I felt relieved. People are not just watching or suffering quietly anymore, I thought to myself. I wanted to be there too, out in the streets of Delhi. For all those times I had to suffer sexual harassment in Delhi, I want to be part of this churning for change now.

My Parisian friends asked me what was going on. And I told them about the new “national outrage” and the stories that had been stoking the anger. That’s when I realised I needed to make a list. What was informing my idea of what’s going on? These stories making it to the headlines, do they have something in common?

Yes, they do have one very obvious thing in common. They are all “sensational” news items. They are either:

Continue reading How not to think about violence against women: Noopur Tiwari

Why is the Indian media building a case for internet censorship rather than against it?

Hundreds of webpages now stand blocked in India, the government has openly been appealing to internet companies to pre- or post-screen content and remove what the government wants it to remove. One Google Transparency Report after another has been revealing how the number one target of the government is criticism of politicians and government. Just imagine what would the Indian media’s response to such censorship have been like had it been hundreds of books or articles we were talking about? Instead of asking Facebook to ‘pre-screen’ our posts, had Kapil Sibal been asking for someone to pre-screen articles in the newspapers, would it not be like the Emergency?

Okay, point taken. Let us not trivialise the Emergency, which entailed jailing of dissidents and forced sterilisation and so on. But still, there’s so much internet censorship in India now that it is surprising that instead of outrage you find the Indian media actually building the case for censorship. What about hate speech, they ask. What about the trolls, Why is there so much abuse on the internet? Continue reading Why is the Indian media building a case for internet censorship rather than against it?

An Unrecorded Festival – Pictures from Parliament Street: Siddhi Bhandari

April 14 was Ambedkar’s birth anniversary. There is no single pan-India political icon, certainly not Gandhi, whose birth and death anniversaries are celebrated as public festivals, by the public, in the way the Ambedkar’s is. Some newspapers on 15 April typically had photos of the top leaders of the country paying homage to Ambedkar but that’s about all. When historians turn these pages they will not find, in the first drafts of history, any reports about how people celebrated Ambedkar’s birthday like a festival. They will not find a record of the singing and dancing, of drums and plays, of Dalit housing socities and employees’ unions holding celebrations bang under the nose of the Indian Parliament at Parliament Street as much as in Dalit bastis is villages across India. Such is the public ignorance of this celebration at Parliament Street in Delhi that most Delhites enjoying a free holiday don’t even know about it. Parliament street is where SIDDHI BHANDARI took these photos in 2010.

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Mass media and the Indian national project: Raza Rumi

Guest post by RAZA RUMI

Indian Mass Media and the Politics of Change; Edited by Somnath Batabyal, Angad Chowdhry, Meenu Gaur and Matti Pohjoen; Routledge, UK; 230pp. £65

It has taken me some time to finish reading the assemblage book entitled Indian Mass Media and the Politics of Change. An overly long reading list has been haunting me for the past few months, but I was slow and self-indulgent as I read and re-read many sections of this insightful book which is path breaking in many ways. First, it is a unique collection which emanated from intense thinking and collaborative action; and second, given the fairly recent rise of Indian mass media (also applicable to South Asia in general) this is quite a seminal work of its kind. Continue reading Mass media and the Indian national project: Raza Rumi

My Abu Talha Moment: Sanjay Kak

Guest post by SANJAY KAK

Last week was my Abu Talha moment. That’s when dubious honours rain on you, unsolicited, undeserved. There I was, charged with wrecking a literary festival in Kashmir; links to the Parliament attack case; racism against Kashmiri pandits; scuttling a film screening in a women’s college in Delhi… And if that doesn’t create a frisson, I was also said to be on the radar of Mumbai’s Anti Terrorist Squad.

Unable to make the Abu Talha connection? Many in Kashmir know the name as a talisman, the kind that security forces brandish when they periodically feel its time to square their books. It doesn’t take much; they just have to produce a fresh corpse before a pliant media, although one with long hair and a beard, fatigues and an AK47, does make things easier. As Abu Talha, this all-purpose corpse can then be held responsible for fidayeen attacks, the murder of innocent civilians, the assassination of political workers, massacres, and explosions, whatever. Crucially, even as Abu Talha is lowered into the ground, all further investigations into those events can be safely laid to rest.

End of story: tamam shudh? Well, only sort of. Because Abu Talha will be called upon to perform again, dusted up and presented afresh to the world. Again. He’s not alone, for with so much happening in Kashmir, Abu Talha is part of a frequent fighters club: Abu Hamza, Abu Shakir, Abu Waqas, Ghazi Baba… The other day a friend from Kashmir invented one to cheer me up: Abu Tamam, he offered, Father of it All.

Continue reading My Abu Talha Moment: Sanjay Kak

News TV – Caught Between an Anna and a Hard Place: Abhishek Upadhyay


Taken in August 2011 at around 2 am one morning at Ramlila Maidan, this photo shows a news TV cameraperson taking sleeping on his chair.

Anna Hazare has returned with his protests and fasting. Should the media, particularly news TV, be more circumspect this time?

Is it time for the media to learn from the Ramlila Maidan experience in August, or should news channels stick to their earlier editorial line of broadcasting the Anna movement in great detail? Back in August, news TV broadcasted Anna’s “satyagrah” allegedly at the expense of the government. The stage is set again, the jury is out. Continue reading News TV – Caught Between an Anna and a Hard Place: Abhishek Upadhyay

From Dehli to New Delhi, it wasn’t 1911

Amidst the cacophony of celebrating 100 years of Delhi, several details seem to have escaped the attention of our ever vigilant media, both print and electronic. This post is to draw your attention to a few of these ‘details’ in an attempt to place the celebrations in what appears to this author to be the correct perspective.

The 12th of December, 2011, can not by any stretch of imagination be described the centenary of Delhi, because there were at least 7 Dehlis before New Delhi came up, in fact 9 Dehlis if one were to add Kilokhri and Kotla Mubarakpurpur, Dehlis in their own right, to the generally accepted list of Qila Rai Pithora, Siri, Tughlaqabad, Jahan Panah, Firozeshah Kotla, Din Panah or Sher Garh or Purana Qila and Shahjahanabad. All of these came up at different times from the  11th century to the 17th century and all of these were more than a 100 years ago.

All that the 12th of December 2011 can claim to be the centenary of, therefore, is New Delhi. Let us look at even that claim a little more closely. What exactly transpired on the 12th of December 1911 that is causing so much excitement a 100 years later? Continue reading From Dehli to New Delhi, it wasn’t 1911

An open letter to Tarun Tejpal: Hartman de Souza

On 27 October the Hindustan Times published an article by Hartman de Souza and on 30 October a response to it by Tarun Tejpal, editor of Tehelka newsmagazine. This guest post by HARTMAN DE SOUZA is his rejoinder

There are some of us in Goa who will know in about 20 days or so, thanks to two RTIs filed, whether Tarun Tejpal did in fact get all the necessary permissions and clearances needed to add to the lovely property he now owns in the village of Moira… or, as he more pointedly said of the village when he called me up in the Pune, “I mean, look at Moira man, it’s a dying Goan village” …emphasis on ‘dying’, and the implication being one suspects, that the Tejpals of the world can and will breathe life into it. I wonder if he remembers and can parse what I said to him in reply. Continue reading An open letter to Tarun Tejpal: Hartman de Souza

‘This is like a editorial kind of things no, I can’t mention on the paper you know’

Goa-based journalist MAYABHUSHAN NAGVENKAR posed as a politician planning to contest the Goa assembly elections 2012, and called up a marketing executive of the Goa newspaper, Herald, asking for an interview to be published in the newspaper, for a price, as editorial content rather than advertisement. He has posted online four conversations he had with the executive, one of which you can hear below.

See the full story: Goa’s Paid Piper – Paid political interview in Goa’s Herald newspaper for Rs 86,400

And the newspaper’s response.

Small is Beautiful: Lushkary

Guest post by LUSHKARY

Of all the things about my last workplace, being summoned by one of our editors to her cabin was one that I did not particularly like. The problem was that, unlike other parts of the office, in her cabin I could not even pretend to seem interested in what she had to say. My eyes would involuntarily travel to the soft-board above her desk and get fixated on a slightly hazy colour photograph of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. And if I shifted focus a bit towards the left, then I could also see another familiar figure standing next to Mr. Modi. That of the cabin’s proud occupant.

Now, it is not a hidden secret that the Indian business news community admires Mr. Modi. His biennial Vibrant Gujarat Summits, desi version of international pseudo-events like the Davos World Economic Forum, are a definite hit among business news hacks. How can you not be at a place where deals upwards of $452 billion get signed over just a couple of days?

Continue reading Small is Beautiful: Lushkary

The Hindu, WikiLeaks and Me: Malarvizhi Jayanth


Once upon an election, the ruling party was bullying and booth-capturing recklessly. I was there. I saw it. Outside one booth, three Tata Sumos drove away at mad speeds, their screeching, spinning wheels blowing dust into my eyes in a scene straight out of the Tamil movies. I walked into the booth to find it had been ransacked minutes earlier. I saw weeping government officials and ballots with the stamp over the rising sun scattered everywhere. Other reporters saw similar scenes. Reporters received complaints of cash and biriyani(!) being distributed to voters.The management of the newspaper I worked for chose to run the Election Commission’s claims that the elections had been without incident, rather than accounts from several reporters who had seen the captured booths and heard from voters who had been offered bribes. Two days later, when almost all other media (barring the usual suspects) had run outraged stories about the brazenness of the booth capturing, hesitantly, The Hindu followed suit. Today, they announce to us that cash for votes is a way of political life in Tamil Nadu. Yeah, thanks, we know that already. Too bad you couldn’t believe your lowly brown-skinned reporters who told you all about it. A white man sends off a cable about it to his masters and then it becomes news? Really? Continue reading The Hindu, WikiLeaks and Me: Malarvizhi Jayanth

Of journalist citizens

With Kashmiris forcing us to take note of them on Facebook and Twitter, with the internet noise on the Radia tapes making a mockery of the media’s radio silence over them, with WikiLeaks assuring us that we’re well into the age of information anarchy, the old, dogged question rears afresh its banal head: Are citizen journalists, journalists?

I was at a Google conference in Budapest in September, called ‘Internet at Liberty 2010’, which had bloggers, activists and policywallahs from 70 countries. At one of the theme dinners, we were asked how many of us identified ourselves as citizen journalists. No hand went up, even as we were all conscious that any one of us could be the first one to see a plane crashing and be the first to report it on Twitter. Continue reading Of journalist citizens

The press freedom bogey

…is raised every time there’s talk of a law “regulating” TV News channels in India. A rajya Sabha committee now says self-regulation is not enough, the media needs a set of rules from the government. I think that one shoudn’t necessarily view the idea of a law, or regulation, with suspicion. After the despicable 26/11 coverage and even before, many channels have lost the right to hide their TRP-driven sensationalism behind the free speech bogey. 

That may sound self-contradictory, but see what the committee has concluded on the subject:

Continue reading The press freedom bogey

Hotel Taj: Icon of whose India? Gnani Sankaran

Gnani Sankaran is a noted Tamil writer who lives in Chennai.

Watching at least four English news channels surfing from one to another during the last 60 hours of terror strike made me feel a terror of another kind. The terror of assaulting one’s mind and sensitivity with cameras, sound bites and non-stop blabbers. All these channels have been trying to manufacture my consent for a big lie called – Hotel Taj the icon of India.

Read this scathing critique of the media here.