There is a great deal of thought given these days to what goes for investigative journalism. This is invariably linked to sting operations which is wholly incorrect. Sting operations are in a class by themselves. Investigative journalism at its best involves a lot of hard work and research.
One of the best examples of this kind of journalism was recently displayed by The Hindu (January 9 & 10) when it published a series on the origins of the long jehad. The article by Praveen Swami has to be read to be believed. One does not whether to laugh or cry at the enormous stupidity of certain Islamic fundamentalists. They seem sincerely to believe that they can destroy India. Praveen Swami recalls a speech by Hafiz Mohammad Saeed made in November 1999 in which he said: ?Today, inshallah I announce the break-up of India. We will not rest until the whole of India is dissolved into Pakistan?. That was, writes Praveen Swami, the beginning of the jehadi movement in Pakistan and it has largely remained unchecked.
On February 6, 2000 the Lashkar-e-Toiba'stop ideologue, Abdul Rehman Makki even declared war on India. At a Lashkar convention Makki announced a new campaign to liberate Hyderabad from Hindu rule. Like Junagarh, he announced, Hyderabad had been siezed by force and would be won back through the sword. Bombs went off not long after in cinema theatres of Karimnagar and Nanded. That anybody, let alone the Lashkar can think India can be destroyed and Hyderabad ?liberated? makes one wonder what sort of madness these fundamentalists have come to.
But one has to read The Hindu to get a full picture of that madness. Another well-researched article appeared in The Organiser (January 8, 2006) outlining the conspiracy behind that Karbi Anglong Genocide in recent times when more than 100 innocent people from Dimasa and Karbi communities were killed in the north east, 40 villages of both communities comprising over one thousand houses were burnt down and 52,000 people were forced to take shelter in 58 relief camps (48 in Karbi Anglong and ten in N.C.Hills) now living a destitutes life.
Can anyone name one single prominent paper in the country informing its readers about the genocide that took place in north east? Aren'tthe Dimasa and Karbis fellow Indians? Let a church in the north east be attacked and our secular newspapers will raise a hue and cry against the attackers. But let Karbis and Dimasas?both incidentally Hindu and having unflinchable allegiance to India?be killed and dispossessed not a single media dog barks. That is media secularism.
Then there is The Times of India's(January 8) interview with Amitabh Bachchan. Is, incidentally, the paper slowly improving? The interview was very revealing. Bachchan told his interviewers that even as he was being wheeled in for surgery at the Leelavati Hospital in Mumbai, the Central Board of Direct Taxes had demanded that he cough up rupees five crore as tax within three days! Or face up to the consequences. The last date of payment is March 31. But our tax people were adamant. Fancy a citizen being threatened with stern action within three days if he does not meet with the demands of the tax authorities. The excuse given was that Bachchan'scase was ?sensitive?. Hell, it is!
It is all very well to say that everybody is equal before the law. But there is such a thing as grace. The man was in the ICU and was forced to sign a cheque for the aforesaid amount while lying in bed, no doubt with tubes inserted in his nose. The most touching part of it all is The Times of India'sgesture in presenting a specially designed 24 page broadsheet of the paper consisting of 10,634 mobile text messages praying for the mega star'sspeedy recovery. That may be a clever gimmick, but that doesn'tmake it less touching. It is a lovely gesture on the part of The Times of India for which praise be. It also presented Bachchan with a CD containing 1,28,888 get-well voice messages. No wonder the superstar was visibly moved. The full-page interview he gave to the paper again is very revealing. It is good journalism.
Bachchan told his interviewers that even as he was being wheeled in for surgery at the Leelavati Hospital in Mumbai, the Central Board of Direct Taxes had demanded that he cough up rupees five crore as tax within three days! Or face up to the consequences. The last date of payment is March 31. But our tax people were adamant.
But to think that over a lakh and a quarter citizens sent voice mail wishing Bachchan speedy recovery speaks as much of modern technology as of Bachchan'spopularity. No wonder that he was chosen Man of the Year.
According to ND TV Sonia Gandhi was chosen Person of the Year by rural people while Bachchan was named for the award by urban people. But what have Amitabh Bachchan and Sonia Gandhi done specially for their fellow citizens to make them their darlings?
One would imagine that if an award has to be given it would be for a citizen who has rendered real service to the people. What service has Amitabh rendered or, for that matter, Sonia Gandhi? Dr Manmohan Singh, as Prime Minister would have been a more suitable candidate.
According to a poll conducted by The Week (January 15, 2006) Dr Singh seems quite popular in the country at large. The Week commissioned the market research agency TNS to conduct a nation-wide poll to rate the performance of the Prime Minister over the past year. Says the weekly: ?The 1,006 respondents were all graduates in the 18-55 age group from 10 cities?Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kochi, Lucknow, Ahmedabad and Chandigarh. Most of them were satisfied with Manmohan Singh'sperformance. However, many felt Sonia Gandhi was a major hurdle in his path to attaining maximum governance.?
Now isn'tthat interesting? Sonia Gandhi is Person of the Year to villagers. But Manmohan Singh has captured the imagination of urban people, and those too, graduates. The Prime Minister has scored high marks in such subjects as Economic Policies, Political Policies, Law and Order and Inflation Control. Amitabh Bachchan is a loveable character; Sonia Gandhi is an imposing character and, one suspects that in naming these two as a Persons of the Year the people as a whole have been somewhat unfair to our Sardarji.
The Times of India, incidentally continues its new rage of calling distinguished citizens to edit its Edit Page. The newest ?victim? is Kiran Karnik, NASSCOM chief. The first one to be bestowed the honour was President Kalam. Now it is Karnik'sturn though in a different context.
For all that the gimmick still does not measure up to the India Empowered series run by the Indian Express. What, one wonders, is DNA trying to do to get even with its competitors?