No one would ever charge the Kerala paper Malayala Manorama with communalism. And no one would charge The Indian Express either. On August 31, the Kerala paper carried an extensive report on how a Pakistan-based terrorist outfit has been planning, abetting and financing the enticing of college girls from different communities to become cannon fodder for its programmes in India.
A summary of that report was published in The Indian Express on September 4. It is revealing and, what is worse, terrifying. But how are Malayali girls fooled? The modus operandi is astounding. Muslim boys in Kerala are employed by the terror organisation very selectively. The youngsters have to be handsome and dashing and persuasive. They are provided with expensive clothing, hard cash and motorbikes. Their job is to move in groups, select their prey carefully and methodically, entice the girls chosen on the promise of marriage and a wonderful life abroad.
Step two is as follows: “After days of pretended love-making, the girls begin to believe that they have got their ‘Prince Charming’. They elope. Then a marriage is registered before a notary and after that the girl is whisked from place to place. The victim begins to believe that she has to undergo all this to evade her parents who would be searching for her. No outside contact is allowed to the victim. All the time she is subject to propaganda videos that eulogise terrorism, jihad and the ultimate victory of Islam.”
It would seem that all over India as many as 4,000 girls have been recruited as potential terror hands and suicide bombers. And nobody ever gave the matter any thought. Now the Malayala Manorama has exposed it all. Except The Indian Express, nobody else seems to have picked up the story. The report would soon be forgotten. But doesn’t it carry a moral? And shouldn’t all newspapers carry forward the story of the missing girls by doing state-wise research of “missing girls”? And how much is being spent for terror in India?
The Free Press Journal (March 4) carried a story that said that the government has begun processes on a war footing to trace the source of at least Rs 2,000 crore detected in over 200 bank accounts during the current year. But where did that money originate? Nobody knows, but the ‘investment’ was reportedly routed through countries like Bahamas, Mauritius, Cooks Island and the Gulf countries. Isn’t there scope for some real investigations? What is our media afraid of?
But once in a while the media does carry a story that is heart-warming. Thus, The Hitavada (August 14) wrote about a British teacher, a headmaster of a school in London who believes that “linguistically, Sanskrit is the most perfect language on earth” and “understanding the Sanskrit grammar through Panini will give an understanding of grammar of all languages in the world”! That is an interesting observation. According to David Boddy, the headmaster of St James Independent School for Senior Boys, who once was Director of Press and Public Relations for the British Conservative Party and Political Press Secretary to the Right Hon. Margaret Thatcher during her first two successful election campaigns, his school “is a school of difference because it is developed on the strong foundation of ‘Philosophy of Oneness’ or ‘Advaita Siddhanta’.” It is not often that one gets to read a story like this.
Good news is no news. Bad news, especially about the English media, continues to make news, but what is often left out is a follow-up. The Times of India, for instance, carried a story as long ago as April 7, that the New York Times is threatening to shut down Boston Globe, which it bought way back in 1993 for a record $ 1.1 billion. At the time, Boston Globe was considered one of America’s “most acclaimed and profitable newspaper”. But now it seems that the paper is losing heavily and the New York Times has incurred a debt of over a billion dollars. In the United States, the craze is now for online news. The growing fear is that if Boston Globe, famous for its reportage, can lose circulation, what about smaller, less distinguished papers?
Technology is killing the print media in the United States, but apparently this is getting to be common all over the West. India is currently carrying on as if there are no changes in the offing but one never knows how long this situations will last. Does one know that The Times of India Online is the world’s number one daily website? According to the latest figures from internet marketing research company ComScore, timesofindia.com with 159 million page views in May 2009 was way ahead of the New York Times, Sun, Washington Post, Daily Mail and USA Today. Surprisingly, The Times of India has been the world’s largest-selling English language broadsheet newspaper in the world but now it has also become the world’s number one English newspaper across formats-broadsheet, compact, Berliner and online.
According to the Times Group Managing Director Vineet Jain, the internet penetration is growing at the rate of about 30 per cent annually. That is substantially large a percentage and if one has to keep up with it, its trustworthiness has to literally increase exponentially. If this happens it will be raising India’s own trustworthiness, apart from that of the Times Group, a matter for all to be proud of. The important think to remember is that India can do it. But then, shouldn’t other Indian media websites strive to do better? What one website can do, surely another can?