Tuesday, November 20, 2012

HT Summit: How To Sell Leadership & Make Money



One of the most enduring legacies of George W Bush is the number of words he invented and the number of amusing statements he made. Try these: “Nu-cu-lar” instead of nuclear or “misunderestimate” instead of underestimate. In an interview he once said “I make decisions… I am the decider” in defence of Don Rumsfeld. In his final months of presidency, at the end of a climate meet in Japan in July 2008, he told the G-8 summit members: “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter”. Those were silly ones. But GWB, a good friend of India, did leave the stunning and ever-lasting phrase for the world: “Axis of Evil”. Bush was strongly influenced by his Faith and even believed his foreign policy was influenced by God. So it’s a bit of a surprise that he didn’t use the term “Unholy Trinity” instead. But we do have an Unholy Trinity in our media and it’s often hard to tell where one begins and where the other ends; Hindustan Times–NDTV–CNN-IBN. This threesome is easily the most potent propaganda machine. Add to this their little ones like Mint, NDTV Profit, CNBCTV18 and their siblings. The TV18 group does have an online site, Firstpost, through which it tries to balance the propaganda work of its TV channels. But that’s not the point.

In an article titled “The new Ram and Ravan” in Firstpost, Anant Rangaswami explains how HT buried the allegations against Robert Vadra in the inner pages to fool the public. Well, that story still remains buried. Now even the National Herald scam of Congress and Young Indian of the Gandhis remains buried in the media. But this isn’t about any of these. Then there is this extreme obsession of this Unholy Trinity with a guy called Pervez Musharraf. The number of times Barkha Dutt has rushed to interview him is not possible to count. The number of times the media hosts him in their conclaves and summits is not possible to count. I don’t have to run a history of Musharraf which is already known. But that is not the point.

If leadership is what India has to learn from an army guy then there any number of honourable generals in this country to learn from. A recent retired General is quite anti-govt so not acceptable. But hey, someone who is predominantly anti-India is the one to lecture on leadership. While individual interviews are fine, where in the world would you find such disgusting media pampering of someone to whom India is a sworn enemy? Imagine the Washington Post or New York Times hosting seminars on leadership and inviting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to lecture Americans on it. I guess these summits don’t pay unless there is some controversy, some glamour and some comics. Seriously, you need to learn leadership from Katrina Kaif? I guess you’d need to if you want to be in the glamour business or sell mango juice. But that is not the point.

So what exactly is the point? It’s about this Unholy media Trinity that seems to protect and serve the govt and the Congress at all points of time. Focus on tiny issues of other political parties and cover up major issues that concern the govt or the Congress. Who pays for HT’s ego trip with such frivolous summits? YOU DO! How? Let’s do some math. There were 34 speakers invited for HT Summit 2012, most of them from foreign countries. Most of them charge speaking fees and all their travel expenses are paid by the host. So depending on the pecking order you can make your own calculations of how much it would cost to invite 34 speakers, put them up in swank hotels, pay for their travel, pay for all the meals during the 2-day summit. Do you feel lucky? Okay! Now, it is normal for corporate bodies to pay and sponsor such events, get a little media mileage over competitors and maybe even some good display. They could even bargain for precious favourable columns and air time to be used in the future. You know, all those luxury cars, SUVs, high value real estate, consumer goods; any kind of competitive business. Right? Take a look:


Well, what do you see? I admit I was wrong; there’s no car company or real estate company or consumer goods company. Except for a couple there aren’t even regular major advertisers. Instead, we see a host of govt companies. Most of them are oil and power companies! Some of these companies are more or less in some kind of monopoly. The Associate partners are ONGC and LIC, both huge govt companies. Interesting, eh? Now let’s do a count of Summit partners too.

Of the 14 companies listed as HT’s Summit partners you have: 1) ONGC 2) NTPC 3) LIC 4) Petronet LNG 5) Power Grid Corporation of India 6) Oil India Ltd 7) Power Finance Corporation 8) ESIC 9) SAIL 10) BHEL. Simply stunning! Of the 14 companies who are Summit partners, 8 are PSUs/Govt companies or companies in which our govt has a sizeable stake, in addition to ONGC and LIC as Associate partners. Mostly, your money! Does that tell a story? I guess it does and a big one too. So companies that are largely funded by the public or survive on public money are sponsors of a major event of HT Summit, an ego trip for the private media outlet. That’s the first lesson in leadership to learn: How to use your smooth connections with a political party to have govt companies shell out money for your luxury trip. If you were in place of HT would you care to return the favour? And if you were HT and part of the Unholy Trinity, would you care to ensure this nice party stays in power?

I know what you’re thinking. That this maybe a one-off year. Well, can’t tell because I haven’t been able to go into the 10-year record of HT’s Summit sponsors since they aren’t currently available. That might require an RTI inquiry with the govt, DAVP or with these govt companies. But what I can tell you is that this is no isolated case. Back in August 2011 the CAG was reporting certain wrong-doings in the contracts awarded to many parties. By Darth Vader, you will find the Unholy Trinity in there too. Remember how Times Now and the whole TOI group went after the CWG scam and Suresh Kalmadi? Well it was suggested by many that the main motivation for TOI going hammer and tongs at CWG and Kalmadi was not getting certain media contracts from the CWG organising committee. That was estimated at some 12 crores. Not really a big amount considering the size of the event and the size of scams we are used to. But who got the contracts? You get no prizes for guessing – the same Unholy Trinity of HT-NDTV-CNN-IBN.

Most of us are aware of “paid news”. Most of us are also aware of the huge spend on various dynasty ads of the govt. What we may be missing out is on the other leakages that aren’t quite evident to us routinely. I’m no RTI specialist or activist but I’m sure if an RTI is filed with the DAVP and govt companies it could well reveal the amount of ad spend on certain dedicated media outlets. Well, I suppose we shouldn’t complain. After all, Leadership isn’t free to learn! Especially, if it earns a tidy sum for some. 

50 comments:

  1. Easily the best from you so far! Thanks for enlightening us... and i thought only miyan musharraf being invited was the biggest flaw!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. i dont know what bjp is doing..........congress has been master in this bussiness of media management.......without media's probaganda congress can never remain in power.............they have been doing this since from Indra Gandhi's period

    ReplyDelete
  3. Chomsky wrote a very powerful work on this "(un)holy nexus" called manufacturing consent.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This spend wouldn't show up on the RTI right. Since it is indirect spending!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Sujeet

      The govt owned companies do come under RTI. All of them have an RTI page on their website. DAVP definitely does come under RTI... Of course, some RTI specialist might be able to tell you more..

      Delete
  5. So it turns out we are paying them to bamboozle us.

    ReplyDelete
  6. If you are Anti-Govt you are not qualified to be a speaker on leadership - so what even if you Commanded the 2nd Largest Army in the world. If you want to qualify to speak at HTLS, which is paid by us, you need to kill a few soldiers, good-looking (after you apply greasepaint ;) or simply be Anti-India.

    And wasn't all these PSU's financially stressed - Oh yes! That is when you need to focus on leadership (summit)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Amazing eye opening article. Must share for everyone

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wonderful post. Feeling miserable that tax payers money is being used to host an enemy/backstabber of India. Also these unholy trinity apart from covering scams of cong/dynasty, also hold sympathetically disposed towards naxals, Islamic bigots and secessionists!

    ReplyDelete
  9. The greatest disappointment is week after week you are providing ammunition to BJP. And so are many others like Kejriwal. But there is no concerted action happening from their side.
    The "Herald" case is a open and shut case against Congress but yet to see even a voice from BJP(except Swamy). Why didn't anyone from BJP raise a voice against maligning of Ram's name in Twitter or TV?
    A toothless and weak opposition is one of the reasons for such events. What an insult to the Kargil martyrs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What is your disappointment, MC's supply of ammunition or the lack of action from people / representatives?

      Delete
    2. Bugging BJP i feel betrayed by them, I voted for them to be aggressive on CON-crooks but they look like soft on the Dirty -Dynasty. Jhetmalani's and Swamy's are more vocal than them what a waste of opposing power. may bcz of Media which glares on them with SICULAR eye might be keeping them mum and dumb.

      Delete
    3. Bugging BJP i feel betrayed by them, I voted for them to be aggressive on CON-crooks but they look like soft on the Dirty -Dynasty. Jhetmalani's and Swamy's are more vocal than them what a waste of opposing power. may bcz of Media which glares on them with SICULAR eye might be keeping them mum and dumb.

      Delete
  10. Oh ,guess what i was thinking about firstpost is true after all. Kejriwal is right when he said Ambani is ruling whoever is on seat in Delhi - he should have added about the tools used to make sure that those in Delhi stayed on line is the unholy nexus. But then, he is relying on the nexus to take news to people , how can he?

    Thanks a lot for posting Ravinar.

    p.s : I was wondering what is Nucular after watching Madagascar 3 . Now i know. Also , one of Bill Maher's stand up is called 'The Decider' , now i knwo what that means. Guess, i am not reading your blog only for media criticism :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Eye opener. That is one of the reason I hate paying taxes from my salary.

    @Ravinar: Please throw some light on - Nitish visiting Pakistan for what?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Umesh,

      To get Secular votes in Bihar. Congress has been winning with their votes in the past. After Cong exit in these states, Lalu, Mulayam, Paswan, ands Nitish has been getting their support.

      Before Independence, major supporter base of Jinnah come from UP and Bihar. A large chunk left for BD and Pak. Visiting Pak will give him a boost in next election.

      Delete
  12. This is investigative journalism at its best. Super post.

    ReplyDelete
  13. An absolutely fantastic analysis. And I used to think only politicians ate all our money.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Why my money shd be wasted on hosting anti india summit called leadership sum it? We call Pulvarize musharaff, notebly architect of kargill to speak to us, pay him to screw us. Irrsponsible attitude by 8 PSUs.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Excellent work all round; the research, analysis and the writing. It's one thing for a private company to call Indian enemies, pay them and listen to their tirade but as you have shown only this government can show the bullheadedness to fund Musharaf's trip through such covert means and our great secular media trinity to brazenly roll a red carpet. I am simply unshamed and appaled.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Completely agree with u.. Keep up the superb work..

    ReplyDelete
  17. Dear Ravinar,

    Just Awesome. Otherwise if not from you how on earth could we the "Aam Janata" find such amazing insights of sold out journalism & public companies doing bidding for anti nationals !!! Thanks again. It was an eye opener.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Leadership does not grow on trees. Nor at HT summit either. That this is a convoluted practice with the organisers itself is self evident. Their ideas of leadership were never meant to grow, nurture, leadership that will serve our country in all walks of life. By being pro-Government, this summit will not be able to carry on its facade for a long time. Ravinar, your research, perceptions, and putting the things in right perspective deserve kudos. Encore!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Kudos to you! This is very different, insightful & informative article after reading similar kind of stories from you. Good observation & investigation. Articles of these kind reveal your true journalistic abilities & I mean it in the positive sense.
    Good luck & keep it up.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Will the Moody's award AAAA+ to India on that HT-LS 2012 count? This is mere tamasha on the Front End -- Back End (behind the scenes) is the actual doings of these crony statism and socialism of corruption and looting - the real game. The gullible sees the frontend snapshots of heroic proportions covered and masked by our media outlets while there is shameless propositions ever going on the back end. We at MediaCrooks are a privileged lot to see the front-end and back-end courtesy Ravinaar. Good.

    ReplyDelete
  21. My EYES were open my mind is opening.superb analysis

    ReplyDelete
  22. Kudos to the brilliant piece of info on how the "aam aadmi" is fooled by vested interest groups.

    Now, can someone get details of expenses/funding etc and file civil/criminal cases against those responsible for this spending public funds for private functions, in a court of law? Hon.MP, Dr Subramaniam Swamy is renowned for fighting a number of court battles, on such public issues.

    Or, can this episode be investigated by CBI/CVC/CAG in order to book the entities for misusing public funds for private function?

    Or can Anna Hazare/Arvind Kejriwal deal the issue and enlighten the public at large?

    Exposing such info is fine and great. But what next? Please, please, Someone act on this aspect so that such things do not recur in future.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Really saddened that they invited Musharraf, who was the architect of the Kargil war back in 1999. In a leadership summit you invite a dictator for his views. That tells the rest of the story....

    ReplyDelete
  24. That was my money Musharraf took? I am feeling so unpatriotic today. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  25. What can a mango man do, I suggest just stop reading or watching this unholy trinity. I have just deleted 'HT APP ' on my iPad. This is precisely why congress is always opposed to selling these companies they even opposed it when hip govt tried to do this. Nobody can directly abuse them of bribing to manufacture consent.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Your eye for details is awesome

    ReplyDelete
  27. You never stop to amaze us. Piece after piece, I feel the latest always as best...lol. This article is too good and very unique. Other than you, nobody would touch this issue in India.

    ReplyDelete
  28. A Job well done! I am not surprised with the findings as we all can see media dalals Cnn ibn/HT and NDTV scratch each others back all the time.What is worth noting in this article is your research and a very well written essay which is very convincing and in fact brings group orgy of our media houses and congress govt and PSU in public.

    ReplyDelete
  29. As always,hilarious and very informative too! Rightly put for TOI too! Now 1 question what could be the motivation of Arnab Goswami going after Nitin Gadkari hammer and tongs on any silly pretext?

    Needs investigation like you are capable of doing!!!

    ReplyDelete
  30. @paramjitgarewal

    Brilliantly Exposed-Sootradharof HT-NDTV-CNN IBN THE RADIA RATS/Padma Shris Operating Freely in these spin Outlets-Keep up Good Work Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  31. why dont you file an rti if you smell something wrong? are you saying only india has such kind of media. even in US the media channels are pro-govt most times, the same in UK as well...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shouldn't have replied to your dumb question newbie -- you missing the whole essence of this expose -- theives don't want to get exposed, rapist, looters, indulgence of dark also -- but here in India, something different -- all waywardness and corruption is taking place in broad daylight but the media is not asking question, as 4th estate of governance, instead, they are playing with so called thieves and rapist and changing the opinion (giving clean chit to chors - as devil's advocate) as if everything is normal. Either you are dumb or you are provoking the mirror to speak out, very funniye.

      Delete
    2. @Amit

      Your comment is akin to asking a cricket commentator to go out and bat because he criticised the batting side. Not everyone is in the RTI business. While the other parts of your comment are written with lack of facts I clarify for everyone's benefit, particularly you:

      a) In UK and USA.. the BBC and PBS are historically govt-funded autonomous media bodies and that is not a secret. Its a lot like Doordarshan without as much govt interference.

      b) In UK and particularly in USA, the govt doesnt run many businesses like in India. Supposing they even do, those companies do not sponsor adventures of a private media house.

      c) This post has nothing to do with a media house being pro or anti govt. It has much to do with how media can be bought by public funds and how consequently such media houses can be slaves of the establishment.

      I hope you will be able to see the difference.

      Delete
  32. No aam aadmi would have seen the truth when they were watching the event.Max max they would have felt-Why the hell has Mushy been invited?Thanks so much for this well-analysed eye-opener!






















    t

    ReplyDelete
  33. Dear Sir,
    I have become a fan of your articles. Hope you saw today's front page of 'The Hindu'. Waiting for an article from you on that...

    ReplyDelete

  34. Dear Ravinar,

    I was shocked to see front page news of HT & few other dailies. They mentioned this " Hanging of Kasab was justice to MumbaiCity". Seriously what's wrong with them ??
    1) Is Mumbai not a part of India, then why not justice to india??
    2) By just hanging one idiot will India get justice ??
    3) I am sure the Congi dosen't have guts to hang Afzal because the only reason Kasab was hanged was to divert the attention of common man from corruption issues before the winter session of parliament.Hence Afzal guru is not discussed by Media after initial chitchatting on kasab.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are welcome and are not moderated so as to allow free speech. However, comments that are off topic, abusive, defamatory or slanderous may be deleted. Comments disclosing personal information of individuals/entities will be deleted.Comments appearing here do not imply endorsement by author of this blog.