Monday, June 20, 2011

Venal Journalism in India

Modern secular democracies who define themselves as ‘free’ nations have not come about just like that.  It was a tortuous journey of nearly thousand years where the common man fought against the powerful regents and institutions who believed they had a divine mandate and hence divine right to rule over the people with absolutism.   Regents or the Religions manifesting as the State was the most powerful enemy of the common man for millennia, ready to strip him of his rights at the pretext of protecting him from imagined threats. 

 A modern nation defined and built institutions to protect the common man from the tyranny of the state, ensuring there were enough checks and balances to protect democracy from being subverted by the State or the powerful groups.   The role of independent media was crucial to ensure democracy was protected from being hijacked by these vested groups. 

And yet, we see an ominous trend in India where the media houses, instead of making an independent investigation, instead of conducting a free debate, instead of checking the powerful groups from usurping the freedoms of the common man, have start aligning themselves with the State and the powerful lobbies, acting as their mouthpieces, engaging in subversion of democracy.

Take a look at the following events and incidents.

Far more dangerous and ominous than those uncovered by Wikileaks are the statements made in the Secret Chapter of Srikrishna Committee Report.  This committee was formed by the Government of India to prescribe a solution to Telangana people’s demand for a separate statehood.  Instead, this Report has become a blueprint for subverting democracy in this country, and yet no journalist or columnist worth his salt has read into the implications to highlight the dangers this ‘free’ nation is facing.  This Secret Chapter writes:

…the Telangana Congress MPs / MLAs need to be taken into confidence and asked not to lend any form of support to the agitation… also the main opposition party (the TDP run by Chandra Babu) must be advised not to participate in any further meetings that would be called by the Centre. This could be an effective stumbling block for any meaningful dialogue on resolving the Telangana demand.

A report created and funded by the Government of India lays down the steps to stall the democratic processes in this country.  It suggests nefarious tactics to create stumbling blocks so that no meaningful dialog can take place on resolving Telangana demand.  It suggests advising a political party not to come to the meetings organized by the Center so that meetings are stalled.  Machiavelli would cry in shame.   Even a secret report during British Rule would not spell such divide-and-rule policy so unabashedly. 

It is clear that Government of India has already started to implement this, not just in the issues relevant to Telangana but also against the Anti-corruption movement.  A similar document can be easily imagined.  It would read as - prop up another character that has support from opposition party, invite him to Delhi, dilute the original movement, and now blame the opposition party for furthering their Hindutva agenda.  The document would say, ‘create stumbling blocks’ so that ‘no meaningful dialog’ can take place.

The Secret Report of Srikrishna Committee is far more dangerous compared to any report disclosed since the time of Indian Independence and yet no reporter or columnist discusses this.  That’s because our media has become corrupt and venal – there is an all-pervading intellectual deficit amongst them.   Indian media joins the powerful lobbies to celebrate such Machiavellian tactics as long as they suit their agendas.  One can easily question how far the media will continue to champion the current anti-corruption movement.  Will they topple the masters when it comes close to their own turf?  Because most media houses in India have some tie-ups with the politicians and industrialists.  It is bound to happen soon. 

The Secret Report further writes:

The Andhra Congress MPs belonging to Kamma caste must be encouraged to work in tandem with TDP leadership; which is now caught in a bad shape.

Even a British Rule time report may not have written the caste equations so egregiously.  The report wants the Government of India to play with castes to suppress a people’s movement. 

..on receipt of the Committee’s Report by the Government, a general message should be conveyed amongst the people of the State that Centre will be open for detailed discussions… But every method must be adopted to avoid giving finality to any discussions to drag on the matter until the agitation is totally brought under control.

Should a Committee formed to address the aspirations of people of a certain region resort to this kind of Machiavellian stratagem?

Now, imagine how the current anti-corruption movement is being handled.  ‘It should be dragged out till the agitation is completely brought under control’, seems to be message of another secret report guiding the current Cabinet.

The Secret Report continues:

Andhra Pradesh has got about 13 Electronic Channels and 5 major local Newspapers which are in the forefront of molding the public opinion… The equity holders of the channels… the entire Print Media are with the Seemandhra people. The main editors/resident and subeditors, the Film world etc. are dominated by Seemandhra people. A coordinated action on their part has the potential of shaping the perception of the common man.

However, the beat journalists in the respective regions are locals and are likely to capture only those events/news which reflect the regional sentiments. This can be tackled by the owners of the media houses by systematically replacing the local journalists by those from Seemandhra wherever it is possible.

How could a modern democracy stoop so low?  When will we reach the bottom of this nefarious abyss? 

A report prepared by the Government of India, commissioned to address the aspirations of Telangana people who bemoan they are dominated by Seemandhra, instead of addressing their issues, goes onto legitimize the domination of Seemandhras, and in fact, prescribes the formula to use that domination to further suppress the legitimate demands of Telangana people.  It calls for ‘replacing’ the Telangana journalists by those from Seemandhra.  Isn’t this the very discrimination cited by Telanganas when they sought separate statehood?

If women complain of sexual discrimination in an office, the report which is commissioned to address their grievances writes in its report to remove all women from all positions thereby ending the problem altogether.  That seems to be how India resolves its problems. 

Can India go lower than this?

Can we now create a blueprint to attack the problem of anti-corruption movement in India?  The report will look like this: Look for those media houses that are pro-corruption, and ensure that journalists who campaign against corruption are slowly replaced by those who support it. To get the pro-corruption candidates, hire the sons and daughters of the current MPs, MLAs, and IAS officers who are tainted with corruption charges.  This will ensure that these kids will be completely pro-corruption, thereby diluting the movement. 

We look at the complicity of military and Islamic terrorism in Pakistan and feel pity for them.  Now the World should pity India and Indians for creating such a defunct democracy, where media houses are mouthpieces of a corrupt government, engaging in brainwashing campaigns, in molding opinions that benefit small elite, and in architecting the grand campaign of subverting democracy.  

Do we need to read further into this Secret Report? 

However, the RTI Act may prove to be an impediment for the Government to deny due share of ads to publications supporting the Telangana demand.

For this purpose necessary prohibitory orders under appropriate provisions of law can be issued in advance.

A government report commissioned by India prescribes methods to subvert Right To Information Act. 

I say, shame on Indian journalism, shame on Indian media.  Shame on their venality for not covering this big and bold! Shame on them for being completely silent on this! Shame on them for being apathetic to this subversion of democracy!

The responsible media houses should wake up, shed their apathy, build up intellectual capacity, take up the responsibility and fight this dangerous anti-democratic report before it becomes a rule book for solving future people’s problems in this country.  

And to all those aspiring journalists who still believe in sanity in your media houses: watch ‘Good Night, and Good Luck’.


  1. Can India go lower than this?

    There is a saying in Telugu "tandaaka vaste kaani..."

    For seven years the country was pushed in kind of limbo in the name of fight against communal forces.
    Media, elite, intelligent co-operate with great grand party to eliminate this. As part of it they bring doctored reports on Godhra incident (Banrjee committee), on muslims (sachar). The anti-communal forces do not see country lowering itself. Instead they get ammo from these reports to attack communal forces.

    But the same elite cries about a leaked report and see India lowering its dignity.

  2. Sujai,

    I've been reading your blog for couple of years now but never commented. This one I have is just disgusting what the 'govt sponsored' report mentions. How much lower can we stoop? And the Media? This is not surprising Sujai. Media is India is hardly independent but just a stooge for the ruling party.

    I'm with you all the best, don't give up the fight...


  3. Feels bad no.

    The same way others felt when they were abused and beaten up.

    Feels bad. I know. But how else can a dishonest agitation built on a foundation of lies be tackled.

    Though I don't understand the need for the 8th chapter to have been in writing. I suspect that the Indian Union wants to makes this as an example and warning to all dishonest agitations and leaders in the future.

  4. Feels bad no.

    The same way others felt when they were abused and beaten up

    Oh my.. Oh my..
    you have to grow.

    In this moderan world of spreading love and peace
    Human rights of terrorists must be safe guarded.
    Self-proclaimed 'victims' can do anything. They are working for a CAUSE. I repeat CAUSE.
    Beating up is act of retribution. It is thier birth-right because they are being 'wronged' since before thier birth.
    Destroying statues, throwing stones is not vandalism but expressing thier wish.
    Not allowing somebody to move in his own country is upholding freedom expression.

  5. It happens day in and day out across the country.

    Ecotimes writes a para recommending a share. Look back 6-8 months and some investment arm of Bennet Coleman would have taken stake in that company.

    How many media owners are willing to write against corporate India? And lose ad revenue.

    Every paper wants to talk about 'post godhra' riots. No one wants to write about the train burning at Godhra.

    Every paper wants to highlight the 'Hindu' terrorism in India. They conveniently forget what constitutes terrorism. Yet none wants to write against Dawood. Not one paper has ever written about his assets in India. Not one paper has exhorted the Govt to take action on his properties and people here. They are afraid.

    PS: Where can we read the secret chapter of srikrishna committee. Anything leaked and avaailable on the internet?

  6. Want to know why Indian journalists have kept quiet.

    1. Because they have seen the truth behind this agitation - that it is entirely built on lies and misinformation.

    2. Because they have understood how dangerous and undemocratic are the people who support and participate in this agitation.

    3. Because they have understood that this is an agitation which is immoral, dishonest, undemocratic and also against the freedoms of individual people.

    That is why they have kept quiet and understood implicitly that the 8th chapter is needed to ensure democracy and freedom in this country - not the other way around. And that is why the entire nation's journalists did not react.

  7. Brij:

    I'm with you all the best, don't give up the fight...


  8. Sujai, please provide a link to the secret report

    Its not only Telangana, Indian media always avoids reporting on human rights violation, unless there is a communal or political element to it.Who cares about Irom Sharmila? Or AFSPA in J&K? Or that 37% of adult Indian popn. has a BMI less than 18?( if the % goes above 40, India will considered to be under famine, according to WHO) Or that Child Sex Ratio has dropped from 927 to 916? The battle for Telangana is going to be very tough, very gritty, and I'm afraid, very long. I wish Telangana people never give up.

    BTW, the Telangana MPs and MLAs have given Congress 1 July deadline. Let's see....

  9. Sujai,

    We all know media is a business.Especially when running a 24/7 news and entertainment network involves hundreds of crores with longer gestation periods than a tech startup.

    Not publishing the supposedly secret (if it is available to you and Namaste Telangana, it is no longer secret, isn't it?) 8th chapter is not a surprise at all.Firstly, most media houses can not establish whether the copy they have is genuine or not.Secondly, publishing any thing that portrays a negative image of the Govt/Congress Party, is not going to help the management of these media houses.

    The media in India have been venal for a long time.And will continue in this manner because most middle class Indians are conditioned to believe what the media says, and the political class will not throw away the opportunity to use media and manipulate public opinion.

    Btw, the media is equally venal and partisan in the US too.There will be some good journos here and there, but on the whole media houses and personalities like Barkha Dutt, Prannoy Roy, rajdeep Sardesai etc, are hand in glove with the establishment.They cheat the public and the Govt awards them Padma Sri and Padma Vibushan :)

    Btw, my condolences to all Telangana-vadis about the demise of Prof.Jayasankar.If Telangana would have been formed, he could have been the Raj Guru for KCR.Alas, he passed away without seeing his dream being fulfilled.May his soul RIP.

    Another point: Kingshuk Nag, Editor of Hyd ToI released a book called Battleground Telangana.You may want to review his suggestions for an amicable solution.

    But word on the ground in Hyderabad is that T Congress MPs/MLAs have been given two options: 1.Regional dev councils on the lines of Gorkhaland for Telangana, Seema and Uttara Andhra.One state, many cabinet level posts for all three backward regions. 2.Telangana state to be formed, but Hyderabad will be common capital for a few years (seven?)-revenues from Hyd (Outer Ring Road is the border between Telangana and Hyd) to be shared between both states for some time.After that, Hyd to become union territory.I believe several platoons of police forces have been requisitioned as preparation for making the announcement. There is an expectation that a serious agitation and violence will happen after the announcement. But the police platoons will ensure violence does not spread from Telangana into Hyd - it will be stopped at ORR.

    Well, these are all rumors among businessmen (T-business men not Seemandhra folks) and they are desperate for an end to the movement because most ancilliary industries are having big slow down in Hyd for the past 1 year. With BHEL setting up ops near Tirupati and BDL also following suit, many ancillary companies are wondering about the flow of their business and skilled workers.

    Meanwhile, most corporate schools and colleges in Coastal AP are seeing a huge influx of Telangana students from this year. Reason: Their parents fear the disturbances to the academic year and believe it is safer for their children to study in Coastal AP. The school owners in Guntur/Vijayawada/Ongole are not complaining.

    The media is venal, yes.But it is also inefficient.It does not cover important news items because it is busy sucking up to the Govt and businessmen.

    All T-vadis should, at least today, pay homage to the late Prof.Jayasankar.I have heard him speak once, and always read his interviews with interest.I do not agree with his T-ideology, but he is a great speaker and intellectual.Peace !

  10. It is unfortunate that Prof Jayashankar could not see his dream fulfilled - creation of separate Telangana.

    It would have been nice if Telangana was formed in 2010.

    The ideologue is no longer there, but his idea - of creation of separate Telangana - lives amongst many T-vaadis.

  11. Sujai,
    "....... .......many T-vaadis."

    "Many"? not "All".

    Time has brought upon you a new realization?

  12. Here is the link to the leaked secret "Supplementary Note" of Justice Srikrishna Committee:

  13. "The Andhra Congress MPs belonging to Kamma caste must be encouraged to work in tandem with TDP leadership; which is now caught in a bad shape."

    What is wrong in stating above Truth when the whole Telangana movement is nothing but fight against kamma domination.

    Though you may shyoff from naming Telangana movement as Fight against kamma domination the fact remains that it is. Its good that Srikrishna Committee named this in "SECRET" report instead of making it obvious to everyone i think its only helping T-vadis by not making this public.

    I think a free nation has a right to know the inner mechanics of this movement and thanks to Srikrishna Committee.

    I think you need to come out of the myth that Srikrishna Committee was formed to suggest what you think is right.

  14. One more totally biased report and from Outlook Business.

    This is better than Dilbert! You can count dozens of lies.


Dear Commenters:
Please identify yourself. At least use a pseudonym. Otherwise there will be too many *Anonymous*; making it confusing.

Do NOT write personal information or whereabouts about the author or other commenters. You are free to write about yourself. Please do not use abusive language. Do not indulge in personal attacks and insults.

Write comments which are relevant and make sense so that the debate remains healthy.