Sunday, November 28, 2010

That's all, Your Honour! : Nov.21-27

1. The 16th Asian Games have come to an end this week. India won a total of 14 Gold, 17 Silver and 33 Bronze medals. Most remarkable were gold wins in athletics and tennis. Somdev Devvraman won the Tennis Singles gold by defeating the top see Chinese player. A truly remarkable achievement was doubled when he also paired up with Samam Singh to win the Men's Doubles Gold too! Another athlete who won two golds was A.C.Ashwini who won 400m hurdles gold and later won the team 4x400m relay gold too. Sudha Singh won the 3000m steeplechase gold. 5 Indians went into the finals of the various boxing categories, with 2 of them winning gold. This is the first time, we have started to win so many medals in such a tough competition in sports which we never won. Though we came 6th in the medals tally, these wins have laid a very good foundation for future performances. And the best way to build on this foundation is to remove the red tape engulfing the sports system. Results will automatically follow!

2. At last, Rosaih was relieved of his duties as the Chief Minister of the Andhra Pradesh. Amidst dramatic developments, the Speaker Kiran Kumar Reddy was announced as the next Chief Minister of the state. Actually, this news was broken on twitter about a month ago by Rajagopalan, so for those of us who follow him, there was nothing surprising. However, in what was orchestrated perfectly for dramatic TV coverage, a CLP meeting was called, and all legislators were informed only late into the night. This set off speculation on whether this meet is to censure Jagan or to facilitate a change in the leadership. And in the afternoon, at 1:30pm, Rosaih appears before the media and announces his resignation. And then, while the High Command gleefully watched the coverage, TV media narrowed down the choices to 2 - Jaipal Reddy and Kiran Kumar Reddy. The CLP meeting, as usual authorised Sonia Gandhi to appoint a new leader. And she graciously appointed Kiran Kumar Reddy as the CLP leader and thereby the Chief Minister. Rosaih's tough stint ended thus. He took over at a turbulent time, and all that followed was even more turbulence. With Jagan breathing down his neck, and with Telangana issue ready to come back in December, surely it was too much to ask a person like Rosaih to lead the state. He is too fragile to live upto the demands of the post. Let's wait and see how Kiran Kumar Reddy will perform, and in the meanwhile, let's wish him good luck too!

3. In what can be termed as the victory of the year, the JD(U) - BJP combine has won a whopping 206 seats out of 243 in the Bihar Assembly elections. Fighting the election exclusively on development plank, the alliance trounced all other parties. So much so that there is no "official" opposition party in the state. For a party to get that status, it needs to win a minimum of 10% of seats. The RJD won 22 seats only. Congress performance was worse than last time - winning only 6 seats this time. BJP won a whopping 91 out of the 102 seats it contested. This victory is widely seen as Development winning over Caste politics, though it is too early to say caste was entirely out of picture. However, that development and development alone helped in such a massive victory gives us hope that one day development will also trounce the appeasement policies too. Here's hoping that that day comes soon :).

4. Phew! The "nataka" in Karnataka is getting very boring! After last week revelations that Yeddyurappa's relatives were sold land at throwaway prices, all expected that he will go. Even the BJP central command asked him to resign. Then he goes to Delhi, talks to the leadership, apprises them about the dangers of having him go (that the party will lose the Lingayat vote, that he has sizeable number of MLA's supporting him etc etc). Finally, the central leadership decides that he will stay as CM atleast till the local body elections are over in the state. These are due in Dec-Jan timeframe. Maybe, based on those results, a decision will be taken. Needless to say, these constant flip-flops are costing the party very dearly. It is high time the party takes a stand and sticks to it, and not ruin its well earned victory here.

5. And finally, your honour, Rahul Gandhi is back with a bang! In an interaction with students from Gujarat - he compared Narendra Modi to Mao. That's all, Your Honour!

అదన్నమాట! : నవంబర్ 21-27

బహుశా రాష్ట్ర చరిత్ర లో రోశయ్య గారు ముఖ్య మంత్రి అయిన పరిస్థితుల్లో ఎవ్వరు ముఖ్యమంత్రి అవ్వలేదు ఏమో. అంతటి సంక్లిష్ట సమయం లో , ఈయనే అయ్యారు. అవ్వడమే తరువాయి, సమస్యల మీద సమస్యలు వచ్చి పడ్డాయి. వైఎసార్ మరణాంతరం ముఖ్యమంత్రి అవ్వడం అనేది పెను సవాలే మరి. రాష్ట్ర విభజన జరిగినట్టే జరిగి ఆగిపోయింది! ఇక రాజకీయ సవాళ్ళు షరా మామూలే. వీటన్నిటిని 14 నెలలు నెట్టుకు వచ్చారు. ఇక చెయ్యలేను అని సోనియా గాంధి కి చెప్పేశారు. ఆ విధంగా, అయన గత బుధవారం, తన రాజీనామా ఇచ్చేసారు. హాయ్ కమాండ్ కొత్త ముఖ్యమంత్రి గ కిరణ్ కుమార్ రెడ్డి ని నియమించింది. ఉప ముఖ్యమంత్రి గా తెలంగాణా కి చెందినా దామోదరం రాజసింహ ని నియమించింది. పీసిసి అధ్యక్షుడి గా బొత్స సత్యనారాయణ ను నియమించే అవకాశం బానే ఉండి అంట.

అత్యంత నాటకీయ మరియు సోచనీయ పరిణామాల మధ్య ముఖ్యమంత్రి అయిన రోశయ్య గారిని చరిత్ర ఎలా గుర్తు పెట్టుకుంటుందో అని చాలా ఆత్రుత గా ఉంది. కాంగ్రెస్స్ వాళ్ళు అయన పేరు ని అసలు చరిత్ర లో ఉంచుతార లేదా అనేది కూడా పెద్ద ప్రశ్నే. రాష్ట్ర చరిత్రే మారిపోయే తరుణం లో రోశయ్య గారు ముఖ్యమంత్రి గా ఉన్నారు. పొరపాటున జగన్ మోహన్ రెడ్డి ఎప్పటికైనా ముఖ్యమంత్రి అయితే మాత్రం, రోశయ్య గారి పేరుని చరిత్ర పుస్తకలోంచి తీసేఎడం తధ్యం! అదన్నమాట!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mediagate! - More Questions to Vir Sanghvi

Read both articles in their entirety on my website (the links are given below) and judge for yourself. I think you will find that they are completely fair.

Somewhere in his "response" to the Mediagate, more popularly known as #mediamafia #barkhagate, debate Shri Vir Sanghvi writes that. Now Shri Vir Sanghvi, if you are leaving the judgement to me and then tell me it is fair - what kind of choice are you exactly giving me sir? Not that you care,but brilliant this post on Governance Now, has argued that you were extremely biased in your write up (folks, that link is a must read. Please take time out to read it).

Plus just take a look at how the editor of Open magazine dissects your "counterpoint" on this topic - matching what was said on tapes to what was written. It can't get more elaborate than this, is it? (Another must read folks. Dont miss it). Don't you think you should counter these points, instead of your free flowing generic rhetoric.

Then you go along and write about how it is important for you to string along your source blah blah. As fellow tweeter, NR_Tatvamasi points out here: "All it needed was am doing a coloumn on this dispute, would like to know your side of the story, what are your keypoints." Would you care to answer ?

No message was ever conveyed by me. And Congress leaders have now confirmed that.

Right - we should trust the Congress leaders now. Is that how you want to close this matter? Really? What about the below excerpt then?

VIR: I’ll pass this on?

RADIA: Yeah. Thanks. Thanks to you.

VIR: Yeah.

RADIA: That was really great, you know, you all, I mean it was exactly as you had said and…

VIR : Okay.

RADIA: They were very relieved and she was so relieved. So, wants to say thank you to you personally.

VIR: I’ll pass it…

Why was she thanking you Shri Vir Sanghvi? You have not done anything for her, and yet she is thanking you? I wonder why the Tatas and Ambanis will hire such people in the first place? :D

Also, most feel (I realised it later too) that you have been let off too lightly by the ever vigilant online community. As a small attempt, have written a separate blog mentioning all questions that were directed towards you. Answer them specifically instead of waiting for this issue to die down. Merely discontinuing "counterpoint" (though a relief) is no solace. Plus your rhetoric is tiring to read.

Mediagate! - More Questions to Barkha.

"While there is no doubt that journalists must be held to the same exacting standards of accountability that we seek from others, the allegations in this instance, as they relate to me, are entirely slanderous and not backed by a shred of evidence."

Thus begins Barkha's response (in her words, her final word) to the Mediagate, more popularly known as #mediamafia #barkhagate, debate going on.

"The same exacting standards" means that she gets grilled the exact same way she and her ilk do on TV (often times, smirking at politicians for the exact same kind of response above). Instead she just choose to write and then call it the "final word". Am reminded of unilateral ceasefire! What kind of standards does this set? (Update on Dec.1: Last night NDTV asked for journos to question Barkha. Watch the show and decide for yourself who got grilled.)

Before I ask more, let me say this - Yes Barkha the tapes have nothing to prove that you lobbied for Raja or for that matter any individual. So there is no debate there.

Now, Barkha then goes on to say.

The few, short conversations took place in the backdrop of cabinet formation in 2009, when the DMK had stormed out of the UPA coalition over portfolio allocation.

And at a later point says this:

"What should I tell them," was in response to her repeatedly saying to me over several different phone calls, that if I happened to talk to anyone in the Congress, I should ask them to talk the DMK chief directly.

Quick question Barkha - were there "few" calls or were there "several" calls? The "two separate sentences " -"Oh God, What should I tell them", were uttered not in response to "can you pass the message", but almost voluntarily upon hearing Baalu's mess up. Why were you the first person to broach the topic of passing the message? Did you give out such vibes in your "few several" calls before too? Did Radia know that she can rely on you to pass the message (because in a conversation with A. Raja, she says she spoke to you and you have agreed to pass the message). Or are we to assume that the PR lobbyist of the Tata's and Ambani's is so stupid as to have believed you when you have not acted on such promises previously too?

Like asked in the previous blog, by "humouring of the source", did you mean to say you lied to her? Does NDTV's ethical policy (if it has one) allow any employee to lie (humour) a source to extract any kind of information? And no - all journalists do it is not the answer I am looking for.

The next main important question that many other folks in the media have asked too. If you knew that the PR lobbyist of Tata's and Ambanis is very much trying to get some portfolios in the Cabinet - did you NOT find that as newsworthy? Or did you find it so, and decided to kill it so as to not lose the source? Over the past 1 year, at no point of time have you felt that this was not newsworthy? Investigative worthy?

Later you say this too - Anyone who has bothered to read the entire transcript of these conversations instead of just the headline, would notice that the conversation is essentially a journalist soliciting information from one of the many people plugged in - something all journalists do as part of news gathering

Yes Barkha - I have "bothered" to read and re-read the entire tapes. I heard and re-heard the tapes - just to come out of the shock. And no - it doesn't sound like you were "sourcing information" or "humouring a source". By merely saying, "anyone would understand" you are just insinuating those who are disagreeing and asking pointed questions.

"While a genuine debate on media ethics is always welcome in the quest for self improvement.."

Thus ends her "final word". Barkha - I have asked this question multiple times before too - what is stopping you from starting that genuine debate? What efforts have you made to bring about this quest? And no - 140 character debates on twitter or a 45 minutes "We the people" does not count as "genuine debate". Regret to say this but your "final word" is anything but that.

PS: Earlier questions to her here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Trysts with MSM - Part 12

MSM stands for Main Stream Media.

#Mediamafia #barkhagate were two most trending topics on Twitter since about 10 days after "Mediagate" broke. After 10 days, The Associate Editor of The Hindu comes on twitter and says this:

Those curious about view of the Hindu on Radia tapes and journalism, see N.Ram on Karan Thapar's show at 10 pm on CNN-IBN tonight

For which, I ask back:

@svaradarajan why not write in the newspaper instead of talking on some channel?

And this got him all worked up!

@ssudhirkumar Grrrrr If he writes, y'all whine itna late kyon likha, yeh kyon nahin bola, voh klyon nahin bola. Learn to be happy sir.

I don't get it - What is so unreasonable in expecting the Editor of a newspaper to write his views in the paper rather than speaking on TV (which quite obviously all his readers will not watch)? And why should I be content with 'something is better than nothing' logic? Is the Editor really not writing in the paper because he is worried readers like me may not like it? Is that how the standards have fallen down now?

Also, CNN-IBN's Bhupendra Chaube also has been tweeting on this topic, asking how such smear campaign is ok. One such example:

U put pics of individuals on cover, then say let's deal with larger public issue at a seminar,what else will this be considered if not smear

I ask back:

So @bhupendrachaube those specific conversations r not the issue? Their publishing is?

He replies back:

@ssudhirkumar I am on the specific point of the manner in which they were presented. Design of the story is what I am debating.

When asked how the design matters, when the larger issue of betrayal by distinguished journos and their defeaning silence , he says there is a valid point and they need to come clean.

@ssudhirkumar precisely, frankly the key actors have a lot to answer for and I do agree that their silence is deafenin

Exactly our point! It really doesn't matter to us why there was selective leaking, or what professional "jealousy" (as termed by Sagarika Ghose) has led to these publications of the tapes. Those who don't miss out on an opportunity to lecture us on morality have betrayed us, and they need to answer. Period.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mediagate - Part 2 !

This is a continuation of the earlier elaborate post - Mediagate. Came across this post today. Written by B.V.Rao of Governance Now, this article counters Vir Sanghvi when he first wrote that Ambani article (and therefore feels very vindicated about his observation - given what the tapes have now revealed!). Especially those sattires referrring to Vir's food articles are sooper!

The print media has been slowly picking up the tapes story. After Open, Outlook and Mail Today - New Indian Express and Deccan Herald have covered the news, and have written editorials too. And today, The Hindu published a lead article, speaking of these tapes in nice detail. And this article made very interesting read - primarily because the most pompous Vir Sanghvi says that even if he did pass information it was not wrong!

He insisted that he had never acted on Ms Radia's requests to call Mr. Patel or anyone else in the Congress “as anyone in the government will know.” However, even if he had called Mr. Patel as promised, it would not have been unethical if it was not privileged or secretly communicated information, he felt.

And then when Barkha was questioned, she refused to answer citing "legal concerns" !!!! This is more huge - what "legal concerns" do you have here Barkha? What just is your problem in coming out with facts, instead of general rhetoric?

Ms Dutt declined to answer The Hindu's questions, citing legal concerns, but she has been freely offering answers to similar queries on her Twitter account over the past few days.

Most of Barkha's response on twitter are to people who are supporting her. To those questioning her, she asks back why only her tapes were released;whether it is ethical for Open and Outlook to air them etc etc. After a couple of days, I have stopped following her replies (if you have the patience, please visit She needs to answer many specific questions, and only a long article will do justice to it. Merely rubbishing off questions in 140 characters amounts to trivialising the issue. And please, no marks for attempting to have a debate on twitter - that will count only if you answer the tough questions.

While the blackout of the tapes on TV continues (only IBN did a 30 min discussion on this - without airing the tapes though) - many people still await a satisfactory response from the pompous Vir Sanghvi and Her Highness Barkha Dutt.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

That's all, Your Honour! : Nov.14-20

Before getting into the details, a top story this week that the ENTIRE TV media has blacked out - The Mediagate scandal!

1. Finally, A. Raja resigned! Late last Sunday night. It was widely expected that Parliament will now function, but the opposition has not budged from its demand on JPC. Parliament has ben adjourned all week because the government is also not budging from its stand of not having a JPC! And amidst all this, for the first time in the history of Independent India, the Supreme Court has questioned the Prime Minister's silence for 16 long months, on a request by Subramaniam Swamy seeking permission to prosecute A. Raja. The Prime Minister has filed an affidavit detailing what all had been done. And then CNN-IBN breaks a story showing how DMK "arm-twisted" the PM into changing the terms of reference for the GoM on spectrum allocation. That the "honest" and "decent" Prime Minister stood as a mute spectator to this loot is also no open secret. However what is elementary, and what our complicit media has very conveiniently dodged this time too, is the gross surrendering of the Congress party, led by Sonia Gandhi, to "coalition dharma". As much as the Prime Minister is guilty of allowing Raja to loot, equal culpability lies at the steps of Sonia Gandhi's house too. Why was she not strong enough to tell DMK that Raja is not acceptable? While the loot was happening, why was Sonia Gandhi silent? That the Congress party has been bending and crawling, even while such open loot was happening, is no big secret. We all know the Prime Minister does not have the political mandate to take on the DMK and it is only the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi who has this mandate. Why then, is Sonia Gandhi above questioning in this whole sordid saga of A. Raja?

2. And Yeddyurappa is back in news! First it was the Bellary brothers' revolt. Later, it was the split in the party. And now, JD(S) released documents that he alloted government land to his sons and other relatives at throw away prices. And also apparently some rules were bent, so that these lands could be acquired. And as expected, clamour for his resignation began. BJP should seriously consider this option too. There are just too many things propping up time and again. The failure of BJP to appear strong when such things are occuring, is a blow to its image in the country. Meanwhile, Yeddyurappa says that all the land has been surrendered and that there is no need for resigning. The BJP central leadership is yet to take a decision on this matter. Looks like we have to wait one more week to see how this plays out.

3. And Jagan is also back in the news! Sakshi channel, owned by him, telecasted a scathing program on how bad Sonia Gandhi is running the party ! A Congress MP running such kind of a story in a state which sent the highest MP's for the party, would obviously make it to National news in any other country, but not in ours! Quite expectedly, all Congress leaders in the state are jumping up and down in anger. They are unable to digest any kind of criticism against their "madam". Some voices were even choking! The Chief Minister, who is steadfast in responding only when "Madam" is insulted has released his mandatory condemnation too. Other TV channels had a field day in "analysing" this open defiance by Jagan. And about the voter - phew! Who really cares, your honour!

అదన్నమాట! :నవంబర్ 14-20

అసలు మన రాష్ట్రానికి పట్టిన దరిద్రం ఏంటో ! మొన్నామధ్య ఏపీపీఎస్సీ పరీక్షలు వాయద వెయ్యమని, తెలంగాణా విద్యార్ధులు రచ్చ చేస్తే, మన ప్రబుత్వం అంచనాలకు భిన్నంగా , గట్టిగా తన మాట మీద నిలబడి, పరీక్షను నిర్వహించింది. అదే సామర్ధ్యం ఇప్పుడు మళ్ళి ప్రదర్శించాల్సిన తరుణం వస్తే, మొహం చాటేసింది !

రాష్ట్రం లో ఎస్సై పోస్ట్స్ కోసం నిర్వహించాల్సిన పరీక్షలను వాయద వేసింది . కారణం - మళ్ళి తెలంగాణా విద్యార్ధుల రచ్చ . రెండేళ్ళు గా వాయద పడుతూ వస్తున్నా పరీక్ష ని ఎత్తి పరిస్థితుల్లో నైన నిర్వహిస్తాము అని చెప్పిన ౨౪ గంటల్లోనే మన ప్రభుత్వం ఇచిన మాట తప్పింది ! 1200 ఖాళీలు ఉన్నాయి. 65000 మంది రాయడానికి సిద్దమయ్యారు. వాళ్ళ ఆసల మీద నీళ్ళు జల్లుతూ, మన ప్రబుత్వం మళ్ళి ఇంకో సారి ఇలాంటి గూండాలకి తలొగ్గింది. తెలంగాణా విద్యార్ధులు సంతోషించారు అంట ఈ వార్త విని ! కేవలం ఉస్మానియా విద్యార్ధులు సంబరాలు జరుపుకుంటే, మొత్తం తెలంగాణా వాళ్ళు జరిపినట్ట అండి? ఎంతో మంది ఈ పరీక్ష కోసం వేచి చూసారు, వాళ్ళ సంగతి ఏమిటి మరి? ఎన్నాళ్ళు ఇలాంటి హింసా వాదుల అరాచకపు వ్యవహారాలని సహించాలి ? సీమాంధ్ర ఏమో అట్టుడికింది అంట ! మళ్ళి అదే కధ. అదే ప్రబుత్వం ! ఈ దరిద్రం ఎన్నాలో? దీని నుంచి విముక్తి ఎప్పుడో ?
ఇది ఇలా ఉండగా, సాక్షి టీవీ మొన్న ఒక గంట పాటు సోనియా గాంధి మీద ఒక కధనం ప్రసారం చేసింది అంట. విచ్చలవిడి గ తిట్టి పోసింది అంట మ్యాడం గారిని !! నవ్వలేక సచ్చాను అండి బాబు ! ఈనాడు, ఆంధ్రజ్యోతి ఎంత కాంగ్రెస్స్ కి వ్యతిరేకం గా వ్యవహరించినా, నీచమైన పదజాలం వాడలేదు. మన జగన్ గారి సాక్షి టీవీ ఆ గీత ని కూడా దాటి నట్టు ఉండి ! ఇంకా కాంగ్రెస్స్ లో ఇప్పుడు పోటి పడి మరి, నాయకులు జగన్ ని తిడుతున్నారు ! ఎంతైనా మ్యాడం కి తమ విశ్వాసం ప్రదర్శించాలి కద ! అదన్నమాట!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Watergate was a major scandal back then in United States. It led to the fall of the then President too. Indian media, to showcase its utter lack of imagination, includes a "gate" to almost every scandal that gets exposed in India. Following their eminent footsteps, this blogpost has been titled "Mediagate" (word not my invention, but many folks have been using this on twitter and elsewhere, ever since the latest scoop got exposed!).

Anyways, let's get to the point. Nira Radia, a PR consultant and a lobbyist, was in news recently because of her alleged involvement in the 2G spectrum (Check out this link, for exhaustive info on links to follow). Turns out, she was also in touch with a lot of media folks. And then turns out, she had discussions with Barkha Dutt (during the 2009 UPA2 govt. formation), and Vir Sanghvi (during the 2009 UPA2 cabinet formation, and also about the Gas pricing fight between the Ambani brothers).

Quite expectedly, these have created quite a stir . And also quite expectedly, peripheral and generic rebuttals by both Barkha and Vir Sanghvi have come out too. The purpose of this blog (a copy of which has been sent to for Barkha's response. Not sure how to get in touch with Vir) is to pose some specific questions to both these eminences, with a vain hope of extracting a clarification from them. Multiple questions to Barkha on twitter (1, 2, 3, 4) have not yielded any answer from her.

The conversation between Barkha and Radia is here. These tapes are real - that much has been established. In defense of her conversation, Barkha Dutt points out:

Gathering information against the backdrop of a political story is not unethical. Nor is using that information to get more information

In isolation, this tweet looks perfect and most logical too. The problem arises, you see, when there is a difference between "using information" and "sharing information". Take for example this line by Barkha:

Oh God. So now what? What should I tell them? Tell me what should I tell them?

Now, the first and foremost commonsense question that comes to mind is - who are "them". What should Barkha tell "them" that will ease the situation? When asked this pointed question on twitter, there is no answer. When asked if finding out what to "tell them" is "sourcing" information, no answer.

We move on. To this line.

BARKHA: Also, but, but the Congress needs to tell Karunanidhi that we have not said anything about Maran.

BARKHA: Okay. Let me talk to them again.

So here she says she will talk to "them" again on what needs to be communicated. Naturally, a doubt arises if that communication has happened. But hey - ask her this and no answer!

Lastly this -

BARKHA: No, I’ll set it up as soon as they get out of RCR.

RADIA: What she saying is that, you know, that someone senior like Ghulam [Nabi Azad, senior Congress leader]---because he is the one who is authorised to speak. ….

BARKHA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

RADIA: Right? Was to speak to her then she can tell her father that I have got this message from the Congress.

BARKHA: Theek hai, not a problem. That’s not a problem, I’ll talk to Azad---I’ll talk to Azad right after I get out of RCR [Race Course Road, presumably, the PM’s residence].

RADIA: Yeah, and then she said when father lands, I can speak to him.


"Sharing" information eh? "Sourcing" Information, did someone say? "I will set it up" comes under these categories?

Well to be fair, here's what she replied to some folks in a generic sense. No specifics. Only generics.

@diptosh Thanks for a voice of sanity.Many things said as diplomatic nice-nice to get info. Challenge magazines to prove any quid pro quo

Now would she care to define "many things"? Assuring that something will be "set-up" is part of a "diplomatice nice-nice" to get info?

Barkha also says this -

Radia was a valid news source for DMK camp. She gave info on Karunanidhi, and sought my analysis on what Cong may do next. Valid journalism.

I am sorry, but from the tapes, does it really sound like someone's "analysis" was being sought? Is it just about interpretation here?

@samratd diff btwen humouring a news source politely and acting. for the record, no call was made to azad. Check with him.

Yeah right, we should check with Azad (because he is one icon of trustworthiness!) And despite Barkha not delivering on "many things", I just wonder why Radia keeps calling her up? Radia is not as intelligent as she is made out to be?

There are more specifc questions that Barkha Dutt needs to answer. From how long has she been in touch with Nira? What stories were aired on NDTV based on her sourcing (Question via auldtimer)? (since she claims she is trusted source)? Exactly who were "them" and what was "set-up"? Or were they amongst the "many things" that were just said and not acted upon? How much trust did Radia place in you, that she is asking you to pass on information (or in your terminology, "share" information)? Does NDTV group have a corporate ethics policy? 2. If yes, does it endorse an ends-justify-means strategy? For ex: can NDTV staff lie to or strike dubious deals with sources? (last 2 questions from auldtimer). And then these superb questions from the editor of Open magazine (this line added on Nov.26) . Mere rebuttals with fancy words like "defamation", "unsubstaintiated" etc etc don't mean anything at all.

It is not this blogger's contention that you "lobbied" for A. Raja or for that matter, any individual. The above questions are asked based purely on the material available on the net, and not picked up from magazines that you have accused of defaming you. Nor am I am a part of a "lynch mob".

Now comes Vir Sanghvi! More than the transcripts, his rebuttal is more hilarious! First for some points on the transcripts - He talks about writing about the Gas pricing tussle between the Ambani brothers -

VIR: What kind of story do you want? Because this will go as Counterpoint, so it will be like most-most read, but it can’t seem too slanted, yet it is an ideal opportunity to get all the points across.

Also Vir Sanghvi talks about how an entire interview has to be "scripted" before it goes on air. Vir Sanghvi in his response, does not talk about any of these. Just goes on to rant about how he has never lobbied for Raja and how that is an unfair allegation. Many questioned as to how asking for the kind of story she wants, amounts to ethical journalism. No answer yet!

Check out this piece of conversation during the cabinet formation:

VIR: I’ll pass this on?

RADIA: Yeah. Thanks. Thanks to you.

VIR: Yeah.

RADIA: That was really great, you know, you all, I mean it was exactly as you had said and…

VIR : Okay.

RADIA: They were very relieved and she was so relieved. So, wants to say thank you to you personally.

VIR: I’ll pass it…

Does this not make it clear that he was "passing" along some information for which some people were very "thankful" about? And in his "response", he says this:

I received many calls from different sources during that period. In no case did I act on those requests as anybody in the government will know.

Does the pompous Vir Sanghvi see no need to clarify on these issues too? And first of all, which magazine has accused him of "lobbying for A. Raja"?

Why should these journos get away with merely rubbishing claims that were not made in the first place? Aren't there so many grey areas in these conversations that need clarification? Or is it that they think these are not worth clarifying? Just use hi-fi words, get on the offense, shout loudly, thank their supporters (who I presume haven't read/heard the transcripts) and therefore skip the specifics? Some journalists think the "complexities" of the source-journalist relationship needs to be understood better. I am sorry, Mr. Diptosh - getting away with such language doesn't befit the profession you are in!

It is an open challenge to these journos to answer these specific questions. Mere generic and peripheral "rebuttals" are not helping in bringing this watershed moment a.k.a the "Mediagate" to a closure!

PS: This blog has more follow-up posts on Mediagate, after writing this one. This link will take you to all posts labelled mediagate.

Monday, November 15, 2010

At the Test match...

We get down from the car, and the chat bandar guy asks us if we are returning from the match (perhaps because me and Sandeep were wearing our "famed Madhapur Cricket Club" t-shirts :D ). They then ask us score details; the pani puri guy felt an instantaneous disappointment on hearing that Sehwag missed his century; then another moment of instantaneous happiness on knowing Sachin was at the crease; And then ofcourse he got back to his routine of serving us those pani puris!

That cricket glues various sections of the society is no big secret, but such first hand experiences are always interesting memories. That said - what a weekend it was! We bought season tickets for the 2nd test match between India and Newzealand. The match started on a Friday (and if India were to be batting, we were ready to go that day too!). On Saturday, fully decked up, we reach the stadium and the police guy asks us to throw away our chart-papers! Already the list of things not allowed was long - but chart papers?? Any amount of argument with him didn't work and so before he threw us out, we threw the chart papers :D

India was fielding when we went in. Any player walks towards the boundary, that section of the crowd goes wild. And imagine, if the player happens to be either a Dravid or a Sachin - anyone standing outside will assume a wicket fell :). Dravid was fielding on our side, and this will perhaps be the closest look we will ever catch of this great man. Once New Zealand was all out, we shifted base to the top floor. The view was brilliant, but the Sun was literally breathing down our neck. That so much heat was possible in winter was another new thing that we learnt on that day. After a slow start, Sehwag got back to his original style of batting. Just when we thought, there is some element of boredom, Sehwag hits a four! More than anything, it was the constant cheering from the crowd that was real thrilling. The chanting of names, the shouting of slogans, and the Mexican wave (amazing how even the sound wave is super to hear - on TV we only get to see the wave; here, we get to hear it too!) - all added to our enjoyment. And during those "dull" moments", we could just strech our legs and relaxedly sit, given some empty seats in our area :). Ahh - you have to experience it to understand it :D

When Sachin walked in - You have to hear the roar to believe it ! We tho were in awe of his stance also, leave alone his shots! The greatest disappointment happened early on Day 3 (Day 2 for us) when just moments after we settled down in our seats - Sachin got out. And with VVS Laxman walking in, the roar was back again! Though what followed was "slow play" by Dravid and Laxman - must say it was hugely filling experience to watch them play in their own styles. Also given that we will never get to see them play live again (unless ofcourse, we get a test match before all three of them retire). Later, when Dhoni and Raina completed their formalities of getting out - the crowd was beginning to leave. And then Harbhajan turned the tide.

Unlimited entertainment was what he provided. We have never seen a field in which all 9 players were at the boundary. Nine!! More than that - each time the NZ players came to the boundary to take position, the crowd's roar was too good :) The crowd that left assuming the innings was over, once Laxman got out - must surely be ruing their decision. Amidst all this, Daniel Vettori's captaincy and NZ fielding were very good (of course, until Harbhajan came in :D). That we could get to get watch real quality cricket from so many players is what made this weekend one of the best.

The day ended with a sumptous dinner at a roadside Chinese eatery. The experience still lingers on, though :).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

That's all, Your Honour! : Nov.7-13

1. Now, when you hear all over the TV that the US President has signed deals worth $10billion with Indian companies and government, you would instantly expect them to show what the actual deals were, no? However, irrelevant trivia, directionless discussions dominated the entire 3 day trip. Thankfully, print media did give us details about these deals, and quite frankly it was an incredibly proud moment for many folks - The President of US coming to India to secure jobs for people of his country :). Obama not mentioning Pakistan at the Taj drew some flak in the country. Thankfully, the next day in a town hall meeting with the students - a girl asked him how come the US helps Pak so much despite knowing of its support to Pakistan (the electronic media went gaga over this question too, but that's for a later day!). And then Obama started a long winded answer, where most of us did now understand where he started and where he ended (this was the case with most of his answers - dull, dreary, long, no direction) ! The substantial part of the answer being this - It is a strategically important country in the region. And is also a victim of its own terrorism. (same old stuff). And then says a stable Pak is in the interest of India. Well agreed, but shouldn't Pak first realise a stable Pak is in the interest of Pak! And therefore work towards it? Why is this India's responsibility?

And the next day, while addressing the joint session of Parliament, Obama says they would like to see India as a permanent member in an expanded UN Security Council. And then again our TV media went gaga - only realising later that this came along with some caveats. This article in Hindu analyses this announcement correctly - India is expected to support US in places like Iran; play a larger role in Mynammar etc. Though the announcement is significant - there is really nothing substantial about it. Ofcourse, for the TV media - it is the significance that matters, not the substance :D. Ohh, then he also asks Pak to take steps to bring the planners of 26/11 attacks to Justice! For most of the time, all they cared were about how Michelle Obama "wowed" the nation with her dances (with children). Anyways, our takeaway from this trip is the relaxation of further sanctions imposed on us - now there will be much more freer transfer of high-end technology. Again, what an incredibly proud moment for so many Indians - US President coming to India to secure jobs for his citizens :).

2. Within an hour of Obama leaving the country, Ashok Chavan's resignation as the CM of Maharashtra, because of his involvement in the Adarsh Society Housing Scam, was "accepted" by Sonia Gandhi. He then went and submitted it to the Governor. Finding a replacement took time, because almost all leaders were involved in this! Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushil Kumar Shinde were also involved - but incidentally, they will get to stay as Union Ministers. Another Union Minister, Prithviraj Chavan was chosen as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. Turns out, he also owns a flat elsewhere, meant for weaker sections of the society! Either way, the 4th CM in 5 years and only time will tell if he will complete his term! Chance pe Dance - NCP also changed its deputy CM ! Ajit Pawar, cousin of Hon. Shri. Sharad Pawar was "elected" as the Deputy CM unseating Chagan Bhujbal !

3. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) submitted his report on the 2G scam to the President. And he said the Union Minister, Shri A.Raja has caused the exchequer a loss of Rs. 1,76,000 crores through his decisions! To give you a perspective of this number - the defence budget of India last year was Rs. 1,40,000 crores !! Raja and his party DMK, however insist he has done no wrong - saying he just followed the 1999 policy and rates! You see, here's where people don't understand stuff. Why would anyone in their right mind use the 1999 rates in 2008 too?? Why? Just why?? More importantly, who? (and "telecom firms" is not the answer we are looking for. we want names of those who benefitted). Guess what - Raja even defied the PM's orders on this. Yes, you read it right - he defied the Prime Minister and yet he gets to keep his job! In the meanwhile, Jayalalitha jumps into the fray and offers her support to the UPA if Raja is sacked - for which the Prime Minister responds by saying it is for the "high command" of the Congress to take note of this! Strange, given that one would assume the Prime Minister of the country would also be part of the "high command"! That's all, your honour!