Honest is as honest does

Today, the Indian media - both print and television - are focusing on the recent corruption scandals involving the UPA government with unusual zeal. However, I fail to understand why almost every commentator, every TV anchor, every editorial writer feels compelled to pay ritual obeisance to the “personal honesty and integrity” of Dr Manmohan Singh while dealing with the scandals ema

Who`s to blame for corruption in India?

Corruption is again dominating the news in India. Long-standing issues, such as broad attempts to avoid taxes, have simmered back to the surface and been joined by new accusations against the wealthy, major companies, and the government. Scandals have crossed finance, property, and telecom. Crimes have been

Heard Radia tapes? Now read Radia papers

[Nikam published this column on May 12, 2010 on his website. See the original here.] For the last nearly a month, the name of Niira Radia has been in circulation. Two publications, Outlook and The Pioneer, raised the issue first almost simultaneously. While Outlook concentrated on the is

Journalism means never having to say you are sorry

Barkha Dutt was sold down the river by NDTV. If this was the slave era, Prannoy Roy would have got a good price for the wench. He still won. What he did get for his coldblooded murder of the Dutt icon was a one hour self indulgent exercise in marketing his channel as a citadel of virtue and Dutt be damned. Take her away, she’s damaged goods. For graceless TV mediated by a dreary Edit

PR - a historical

The study of history can be, at times of media polemics as the one now ravaging the Indian media, fun,fascinating and immensely valuable. How PR, or more specifically political PR,a la Nira Radia Tapes, emerged as a powerful tool and a full-time preoccupation in America can be gauged from the fact that in the US today there are a couple of lakhs of practitioners who call themselves

Spanking reminder on the Delhi Metro

I was struggling to make space between two seats in an overcrowded ladies compartment of the Delhi Metro for a little girl to sit when my phone beeped. It was my mother. The message said: Women are beating men in the ladies compartment of the Guragon-bound train. They are showing this on TV. Policewomen are making them do sit-ups. The text was followed by a smiley. My mother hardly tr

Obituary of Bihar`s Gabbar Singh

"Yahan se pachaash- pachaash kosh door gaon mein jab bacha raat ko rota hai to maa kehti hai bete so ja, so jaa nahin to Gabbar Singh aa jayega.” This immortal dialogue of Gabbar Singh, one of the most popular villains of Hindi cinema, remains firmly etched in our minds. As Nitish Kumar is applauded for his hard fought and well-earned victory

Charge of the Nitish Raj

For the past four decades, Barauni assembly constituency of Begusarai district in Bihar was held as an impregnable communist bastion. Not so any more. The CPI’s citadel fell this morning in face of a saffron surge. The BJP won this seat by a huge margin. The fall of Barauni assembly signifies many things. The assembly segment known as industrialised segment of Bihar was the cr

Maine PR Kiya

For many, many of us, the nightmarish picture Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman present in their book “Manufacturing  Consent” is a bit outlandish. They argue that many respected and liberal news media organisations actually work in cahoots with corporates to control public opinion. But, we think of our favourite newspaper (or news anchor) and their scoops and stings and it is

But PM remains honourable!

The spectrum scam is not just about A Raja. To believe that he could have single-handedly caused a loss of Rs1.76 lakh crores is to overstate his capacity and calculating abilities. Nor is this a system failure: On the contrary the system that includes various ministries, departments, official watchdogs like CAG and the judiciary has actually worked. The media again did its bit while whistleblo

What`s Gate got to do with a scandal?

The Gate is back, long live the Gate! One of the enduring rules of the media teetered on the verge of being abandoned this fortnight before the right thinking restored it to its primacy. Headline writers and TV anchors seemed to have shut the gate behind them when ‘Kargilgate’ erupted. “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world” about sums it up. Or if

Good show, Ambika Soni!

Sleaze sells. Makers of reality shows such as Bigg Boss and Rakhi Ka Insaaf know this well. So do those who run the so-called news channels which keep decrying such shows only because that gives them an excuse to play the visuals from these shows, mount protracted discussions and draw viewers to their own channels. It is manifestly clear that nobody in the media has been interested in self-regu

Digital diplomacy

The man may still not be the foreign office’s answer to E Sreedharan. He certainly deserves the MVC for bravery. His mission is to do “strange” things like listening and engaging with people across the world. Strange because most rational diplomats would think Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are either for their kids or radioactive no-brainers for trouble. Some maintain dis

Time to go beyond resignations

On the face of it, the Manmohan Singh government seems to have acted against Ashok Chavan and Suresh Kalmadi for their alleged involvement in corrupt deals, by removing one from the chief ministership of Maharashtra and the other from party’s parliamentary party. Given the opposition party’s unrelenting campaign and the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (

Count Rahul Gandhi among the Congress sycophants

At times a one-line candid remark exposes political hypocrisy more than several reams of written words. This happened when Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar gave a simple “piece of advice” to aspiring Prime Minister Rahul Gandhi to learn a lesson or two in governance by becoming a chief minister first before giving lectures about development in Bihar. That the message went home

To summon or to snub without summoning...

You get to know when the boss is displeased. Either you are summoned for an explanation or, if the boss is really angry, you are given the snub of snubs and left to live in constant fear of an execution without so much as a trial and an opportunity to mount your defence. Readers of mafia thrillers are familiar with this drill. So are inhabitants of the world’s largest democracy.

Audacity of their hope

Is there any hope for people’s movements these days? Cynics surely would have an upper hand in a debate on this question. There are too many examples of failed protests. So here is a counter-example, from the land of the Mahatma – or of Modi, depending on how you look at it. Gujarat’s ruling BJP swept local-body elections last month, capturing all major municipali

Time to worry when CBI outdoes itself

The alacrity with which the CBI approached the supreme court after Amit Shah was granted bail is only illustrative of the supine nature of the country’s premier investigative agency. Shah, former home minister of Gujarat, was jailed for his involvement in the brutal killing of Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi by the state police. The CBI has been probing Shah’s complicity in

Are the interlocutors speaking for the centre?

If somebody were to tell you that the solution to the Kashmir imbroglio will have to be found outside the ambit of the constitution, you will dismiss the suggestion without so much as a second thought. If the same is said by somebody authorised by the central government, though, it is a matter of serious concern. The three-member team of interlocutors sent by the centre to the valley has r

An idea of a (mobile) republic

As ideas go, anarchism is a worthy one. Though the name has a bit of negative connotation, all it says is that the state is a nasty construct that is bound to give rise to inequalities and exploitation of its citizens. Tolstoy, Gandhi and Chomsky are proto-anarchists in one sense or other. If Arundhati Roy imagines herself as an independent mobile republic outside the Indian state, there&r

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


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