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December 03, 2006
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December 03, 2006

Page: 10/34

Home > 2006 Issues > December 03, 2006


Courage of trivia journalism

A CITIZEN of Mumbai, G.V. Masurkar sends a copy of a letter he sent to a prominent daily congratulating it for ?highlighting such earth-shaking news? as follows: ?Britney Spears delivers male child. Her second child after one year of her first child. One Miss Ullal, a young actress?s decision not to expose her body fully in films by wearing scanty dresses. Another young actress?s firm decision to expose her body except her cleavages?.

?There are more than 15 earth-shaking news in most of the English newspapers boasting free, frank, fearless journalism and journalism of courage. But these newspapers have no space to highlight poor farmers? committing suicide?there have been over 1,000 of them?My letter is to express peoples? anguish and pain in ignoring these tragedies?? The letter obviously was not published.

After all how much more newsworthy is the suicide of a mere one thousand farmers in comparison to the earth-shaking event of Britney Spears (who is she?) giving birth to a second child within one year of giving birth to her first child? One must be grateful to our English media for not highlighting the fact that an advertising ?guru? in his seventies has re-married for the fourth time having ditched three other women he had earlier married, the fourth wife being a ?20?something nymphet? The information was formally disclosed by Bachi Karkaria in her column in The Times of India ( November 12). Writes Karkaria: ?Despite the anguish of being ditched by the man who was both lover and mentor as well as father to their kids, the guru?s women all ultimately reconciled themselves to the successively younger squeeze. Perhaps theirs was a virtue of necessity. It?s difficult enough to turn your backless choli on your displacer when you flash about in the fishbowl of the social circuit; it?s impossible when you literally occupy the same stage.?

Strange that this earth-shaking news was not front-paged but had merely to be commented on by a columnist. Incidentally, The Free Press Journal (November 4) carried the story of eight more farmers ending their lives in just two days, quoting the Vidharba Jan Andolan Samity (VJAS) as it source. The story received a four column headline. Thank God there still are some responsible newspapers in the country which care for people?poor farmers?and not only for Britney Spears, Miss Ullal and sundry characters adorning page three.

One must, however be grateful to The Time of India (November 12) for reporting the results of a survey conducted by Times-TNS. According to the survey ?an ll-city poll shows aam admi backing Manmohan as it completes two-and-a-half years in office?. But one has to read the full text to know all the facts.

Says the report. ?Voters were asked whom they would vote for ?if elections were held today?. In May 2006 Congress Allies had received 44 per cent support. In November 2006 this had declined to 38 per cent just as much as BJP/Allies. Elsewhere the survey report says: ?What is revealing is the fact that a majority (53 per cent) in Delhi felt the handling of the economy had damaged the government?s image?The city that seems to have a uniformly low opinion of the PM, his government and his party is Delhi?..Not surprisingly, only 35 per cent of Delhi?s respondents said they would vote for UPA if elections were held today while 42 per cent said they would vote for NDA?Opinion polls suggest that BJP is slowly regaining ground, despite endless family squabbles centering round its ?sulking elders??. This is evident in the apparent revulsion of UP?s urban voters to the Samajwadi Party?s view that Muslim vote could be bagged by supporting the cause of those arrested for the Mumbai and Malegaon blasts?.The next Assembly polls in UP, Uttaranchal and Punjab may also bring some grief to Congress?.In Bihar Lalu Prasad Yadav?s 15 year assault on civil society is yet to be forgotten. The Bhagalpur and Nalanda by-polls made it clear that Lalu is yet to make good his losses??

One has to read between the lines to realise that the UPA is not doing well but if one goes by the headlines, one gets and entirely different picture?perhaps that was the basic idea.

However, The Times of India says in a cut box: ?While approval ratings for the PM remain high, what should be worrying Congress is the fact that it continues to draw little support in states ruled by the Opposition.?

What should draw the attention of the reader more is the money that is being made by our cricketers which is mind boggling. This is reported by The Times of India (November 12) on page 15. Here are the figures for some of our cricketers. The total earnings of Rahul Dravid was Rs138.50 lakh, of Sachin Tendulkar 102.90 lakh, of Virendra Sehwag 133.70 lakh, of Anil Kumble 82.50 lakh, of V.V.S. Laxman 77.50 lakh, of Saurav Ganguly 60 lakh, of Harbhajan Singh 91.88 lakh of Irafan Kahan 119.80 lakh, of M.S.Dhoni 120. 30 lakh. Zaheer Khan earned the lowest: Rs 31.40 lakh. Surprising that this did not make front page news.

Nobody would condemn The Hitavada as anti-Congress. But it has the courage to speak out when it feels it is necessary to do so. Thus, the paper (November 5) strongly demanded that ?it is high time India officially and finally did away with the so?called ?joint mechanism? with Pakistan to tackle terrorism.?

Its argument was that ?with all top Indian civil and military functionaries constantly talking about the continuing menace of cross-border terrorism, there is no wisdom in even continuing discussion with Pakistan on the subject?. India, according to The Hitavada should tell Pakistan that it does not believer in the latter?s integrity. Well said.

And a word about what Hindustan Times (November 7) thinks of the trial and death sentence leveled against Saddam Hussain. Says the paper: ?Mr Hussain?s trial may not have been run on textbook lines, but how can one deny the importance or justness of the verdict?? On the same day the paper published an article by the editor-in-chief of the British, The Telegraph, Max Hastings. His verdict: ?The verdict on Saddam is just, yet everything stinks about the process.? And that too, is well said.

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