Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Katju & The Crooks

This is a scene from the movie ‘The American President’ where a presidential aide blasts him for not stepping up and talking to the media as often as his opponent does criticising him. I have quoted this before on this blog but worth recalling: (Quotes, where they appear are in blue)

Presidential aide Lewis Rothschild (Michael J. Fox): “You have a deeper love of this country than any man I've ever known. And I want to know what it says to you that in the past seven weeks, 59% of Americans have begun to question your patriotism. They don't have a choice! Bob Rumson is the only one doing the talking! People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand”.

The President (Michael Douglas): “Lewis, we've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference”.

Along comes a spider and he is starting to scare the little Muffets in the Indian news media. Retired judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Markandeya Katju has stated “90% of Indians are mentally backward and need to be uplifted” by the media. That’s right. Where the news media’s magnitude of nonsense is concerned a majority of the Indian population drinks the sand because they don’t know the difference. Fed on a daily diet of ‘rashi and kundli’, mindless Cricket discussions, divisive debates, hollering anchors and reporters, senseless Bollywood crap, Saas and the city, Saas, Bahu aur Betiyaan, ‘Bhoot-Pret’, spurious opinion polls, fashion shows, Kareena adoring her wax statue and utter nonsense like replaying worst moments from BigBoss they do not have a choice. Most Indians are struggling to make ends meet and can’t be faulted for the kind of trash they absorb from the news media. If these were recognised as entertainment channels there would be no problem but they are supposed to be ‘news channels'.

Justice Markandeya Katju (MK) is now the Chairman of the Press Council of India (PCI) and he is ringing some discomforting alarm bells. He wants to clean up the news media, implement punitive measures for infringements and improve the quality of media functioning. He is pitted against an extraordinary gang which is as thick-skinned as any political group.

Written over a year ago, the post ‘India’s Worst Journalists’ continues to remain among the most popular posts on this blog. Some of the so called journalists in the list like Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose, Arnab Goswami among others can share the credit for destroying the credibility of TV news. In recent times the excessive promotion of a Shahrukh Khan movie or excessive space to Modi-haters or Kashmiri separatists is the trend. Some of these media celebs have also been decorated with Padma Shris. I guess that reward is for their excessive mental masturbation on mundane, trivial issues and keeping the real issues in the closet and from the public. That most of these media outlets and journalists are politically inclined toward the Congress is also not a big secret anymore.

Any decently educated and discerning person would hold the mainstream media in utter contempt. Justice Katju does too and that isn’t surprising at all. But before that let’s pick on that coffee shop called ‘Editors Guild’ (EG). For those who came in late, the EG club is nothing but the usual kitty party that rich ladies host with friends to kill time and money except that the EG kills reputations and truth. This is the same EG, when Rajdeep Sardesai was its head, which also sought to bury the Radiagate conspiracy that involved Barkha Dutt and some other journalists. Most of the EG members are your friendly regular crooks. So why would the crooks want policing? Aha! There you are! So when members of this EG appeared before the standing committee of the parliament for the Lokpal bill they were unanimous – Media should not be under Lokpal.

Outlook reports: “Representatives of the Guild led by its President T N Ninan appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel here and said since media was a "private body" it should not be brought under the ambit of the anti-corruption watchdog”. A private body? Hmm! Let’s see, they get to peddle opinions to the masses, they get government quota on housing, they get political ads, they get govt ads some of which are mandatory and they exercise powers like many private businesses don’t. In short, they want all the luxuries of government money and accountability to none. Sounds pretty much like NGOs who also don’t want to be under the Lokpal. Funnier still is that Committee Chairman, Abhishek Singhvi, records that the Guild members have stated their views "clearly and provocatively".

Here are some more scathing observations by MK (All of this in an interview with Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN): 

Indian media is, very often, playing an anti-people role. Let me give you that in three respects. Number one, it often diverts the attention of the people from the real problems which are basically economic. 80 per cent of the people are living in horrible poverty, unemployment, facing price rise, healthcare etc. You divert attention from those problems and instead you project filmstars and fashion parades and cricket as if they are the problems of the people.....

I think it is even worse. I think it is deliberate action of the media to divide the people on religious lines and that is totally against the national interest.....

Yes, the general rut is very low and I have a poor opinion of most media people. Frankly, I don't think they have much knowledge of economic theory or political science or literature or philosophy. I don't think they have studied all this.....

See very often I find those debates totally frivolous. First of all there is no discipline. If there are four people on the panel, all speaking at the same time, is this the way disciplined people should behave? When you speak, I will never interrupt you. But why should you interrupt me when I am speaking?

The majority, I'm sorry to say, are of a very poor intellectual level, media people, I doubt whether they have any idea of economic theory or political science, philosophy, literature, I have grave doubts whether they are well read in all this, which they should be.....

MK is not saying anything new. Such thoughts on the news media have already been voiced over and over again by many in the social media, including on this blog. In response to MK’s statements Karan Thapar points to the National Broadcasters Association (NBA) as a self-regulating body for TV channels. Unlike the PCI, the NBA is not a statutory body and therefore is really not accountable to anyone just as the TV channels are not. MK wants the electronic media also to be under the PCI and for it to be renamed as ‘Media Council’. MK would need to substantially revamp the PCI too. It is the same body that buried its own ‘paid news’ report because most of the members are crooks themselves.

Some of the credit for the collapse of credibility of news channels has to go to some media celebrities like Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt, Arnab Goswami, Shekhar Gupta, Vir Sangvi, Sagarika Ghose and more. They are responsible for vitiating the atmosphere so much that any sensible discussion of national issues is simply impossible. And they know the kind of panellists they need to pick who can kick and scream and talk over each other. Of the many great people available in this country you can trust the news media to pick on the most uncouth and uncivilised characters as their panellists. They don’t want a decent debate, they want the drama and the spin. Some of the people that adorn the TV screens actually need to be in prison for some of the worst offences. Some of the channels need to be shut down.

How Justice Katju deals with the crooks, only time will tell. But there is reason to be cautiously optimistic that the new chief of PCI is finally one who is with the people and the country.


  1. Dear Mr Ravinar,

    Although I completely agree with the views expressed by Justice Katju about the paid news & entertainment syndrome in the Television Media, I would say that its just half part of the problem. The other problem is Anti-Hindu mindset of the Media paymasters. Let's hope Mr Katju's medicines can cure that too!

  2. Justice Katju' virtual reprimand of Mr. Thapar would have no effect because Dr. Subramaniam Swamy was even more scathing of Mr. Thapar's lack of knowledge of how the law (as in interpretation of law, arguments etc) works and it does not seem to have done any good to Mr. Thapar. It may be worthwhile to find out who are the REAL investor's when the news channels start and who are the major investor's when they go public with an IPO.

  3. Absolutely fantastic! Incisive, Hard-hitting.

    The only thing we need to be watchful is what the paid media will do to dislodge Justice Markandey Katju. Because he is not only a pain for media, he is a threat to corrupt politicians. Their game will be so weakened, if the media is made truly independent, effectively controlled, punished severely, if it strays.

    The public needs to keep a vigil and stop the powerful press barons from executing any dirty tricks.

  4. The press release on Justice Katju’s criticism of TV, like several others I found in the electronic media today (unlike yours), simply substantiates the points that Justice Katju himself was making and which irked his interrogator, the Devil’s Advocate (Karan Thapar).:
    i) Distorted and biased news reporting
    ii) Insufficient across-the-board knowledge of TV reporters
    iii) Character assassination of honest people
    iv) Interview techniques which do not serve any purpose e.g. constantly interrupting a speaker (he wouldn’t be meaning the Devil’s Advocate himself, would he?!)
    v) Choice of trivial tropics like. Lady Gaga or Kareena Kapoor, instead of focusing on areas of social concern
    vi) Inefficacy of self-regulation by TV and electronic media
    vii) Need for monitoring of TV and electronic media by the Press Council of India.
    I personally endorse his views on all the above points as regards CNN-IBN. The latter shows a marked bias in favour of the ruling party and 2G-accused corporate heads; and against social activists such as Anna Hazare and his team members. This is very irresponsible on the channel’s part, and it needs to be reined in immediately.
    Justice Katju did well in allowing himself to be interviewed by CNN-IBN itself. It is most unfortunate that it backfired on him. On the other hand, the manner in which his interaction with Karan Thapar has been misreported and the subsequent attack on him by the Editor’s Guild serve to reinforce the point Justice Katju was making: need for regulation of television by the PCI. Unfortunate but necessary under the circumstances.

  5. It takes hard work and a lot of time to read, study, discuss, formulate an opinion and to know what is what before opening your mouth in public.
    It is not just the media, it is everywhere.
    In an illuminating discussion I had in the US with several Indians, all were in agreement that the local Americans WERE FAR MORE INTELLIGENT. The Indians included IIT and IIM graduates. On the other hand, the highest intellectuals of the time who met Paramahamsa Yogananda said that his intelligence was inestimable. Even the highest intellectuals couldn't come close.
    If you talk to Indian IT professionals in Japan, they will tell you that Indians have a vast spectrum of knowledge, but the Japanese has much more SPECIFIC KNOWLEDGE concerning his own field. In other words, we Indians have a large mass of knowledge which is paper thin. We know something about everything, but do not have in-depth knowledge in specific subjects of our concern.

  6. The conventional wisdom for anybody dealing with ex Justice type of persons is to be over cautious as they can put anybody in cold storage very easily (Example see a cyber defamation case on a whistle blower http://www.mumbaimirror.com/printarticle.aspx?sectid=15&contentid=20100415201004150444035498c0a203 ). Yet Firstpost.com has a comparable "Open Letter" brazenly against Mr Katju's remarks to Karan Thapar. I guess mediacrooks will be bolder on the honourable men, knowing that they will never hit below the belt !

  7. in any profession, the primary requirement for the job is honesty and dedication; together. it is lacking in plenty with many of those we see in televisions or newspapers these days. Expecting to be favoured, these journalists mould the facts to suit certain vested interests and present it to public. Pretty much the same way that our medical profession has landed itself these days. I wouldn't know how and where one should begin to stem the rot. It is uniformly distributive and disturbingly there's no great success story in public view for the 'reformers'! God bless.

  8. Well i would only like to say that we should keep our fingers crossed and should hope that we see some kind of reforms being undertaken in terms of the Tv media channels projecting their reports and agendas...!!

  9. Entire Gang of mediacrooks are after Justice Katju's blood.In the process they are getting more exposed and their credibility declining further.Please go through following link also for interesting views http://serious--fun.blogspot.com/

  10. Now Vir Sanghvi says in "Nonsense Dustbin TV" that his Radia Tapes are manipulated & has been proved by somebody from England. This is what they call down south; "rolling garlands of flowers
    over the ears"; we are supposed to believe these stark lies like nincampoops.We will need more strong voices like Justice Katju to put an end to this endless spinnig of yarns; "paid news" with
    half baked crooked panelists' shitty opinions.

  11. In an editorial “Expressbuzz.com” says: “He may be right in doubting the intellectual ability of journalists in view of their apparent lack of knowledge about economics, history, philosophy et al. At a time of falling standards where there are MPs and MLAs with criminal records and an estimated 20 per cent of judges were deemed corrupt by a fellow judge, it will be unfair to expect only journalists to be honest and erudite even though they are supposed to write the first draft of history.” ( http://expressbuzz.com/opinion/editorials/a-total-rebuke-of-the-media-is-unwarranted/329191.html ).

    What a shameless defense by crooks!

  12. very nice article, all these are crooks are resposnsible for the falling of standards in Indian media, all these are so arrogant, they can abuse any one, they can twist the opnions, they can be irresponsible but no body should question them.

    it has a become a norm in the indian journalism, that you should support congress, you need to abuse the majority community, need to sensationlize useless bollywood things, need to talk non-sense about cricket.

    never talk about the actual issues of people dying of hunger, farmers commiting suicides, malnutrition, lack of health care, no roads, no electricity.

    their only job is.
    1. create some farse awards and give them to Sonia and family, so that in return you can get padma shri, and regular pay check from congress party.
    2. project Rahul as saviuor.
    3. create some dummy polls and twist them in favor of congress, if people notice the these dummy polls, either aplolize or say some thing like technical error.

    it is so bad to see a country, which has so much potential has rotten with crooks like these.

    all the news channels and newspapers in India are big crooks.

    these are my rankings for crooks:

    4.Star News
    5.Times Now.

    news papers

    1. Hindustan times.
    2. Indian express
    3. TOI

  13. You can also c what it says in movie "Eagle Eye" and what should be done to government when they fail and do wrong things...


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