Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Chopper Scam & The Credit Squeeze

In about 24 hours most news channels will probably go into another fit of “Gujarat 2002” and “Malnutrition in Gujarat”. February 27 is the date of the Godhra train burning and consequent events. It will be the day out for the Ministry of Apologies. However, there is change happening in the murky underbelly of TV news business. There is at least something to cheer for viewers. There has been, for some time now, a growing rivalry. In the previous post I had mentioned how TM Veeraraghav gloated his channel CNN-IBN was more “mature” in covering the recent Hyderabad blasts. Something’s been bugging both NDTV and CNN-IBN for quite a while. Yes, you guessed it right; it’s Justice Arnab. Call him Arnaboxious or the ‘Dented & Painted’ rapper, Arnab has indeed become a cult. Whether you like his style or not one thing that separates Arnab from the other crooks is that his integrity hasn’t been compromised as far as I know.

In the past year we have heard some gentle whispers and ridicule coming from members of the Colonial Cousins NDTV and CNN-IBN about Times Now but it’s now more pronounced and more open. A few months back Jonathan Shainin’s Caravan magazine was found ‘bitchin’ in the back row’ about Arnab. Now the bigger celebs are joining in. Some do it subtly, some just bitch about it openly. It had to start all over again with the Chopper scam which has been lately in the news. Around March 2012 TimesNow had made a lot of noise about the Chopper scam and brought attention to it. It was then buried by the GOI until it came back like the ghost who walks. Arnab & Co. were naturally claiming TimesNow exposed it first. He started screaming the same claim all over again of having exposed the Chopper scam this month. That seems to have upset some media celebs. The fun gets better.    

One of the measures of how popular a news channel is with people is how few awards it has received. For the establishment circles of Delhi the outrageous Arnab is the son they never wanted. If you look up Arnab’s background and even his present location he doesn’t have the Delhi DNA and that makes him a pariah. It started when I noticed a tweet from Barkha Dutt on February 15 congratulating Manu Pubby of Indian Express for breaking the “big chopper scam story”. Pubby broke that story? It sounded like J. Gopikrishnan breaking the 2G scam story in The Pioneer. But I had never heard about Pubby and the greatest expose I had heard from IE in recent times was Shekhar Gupta’s Raisina Hill story. That one is still probably in the courts with some defamation cases. So how come I missed such a breaking story by a journalist in IE? Mind you, I’m writing this without the slightest intention of robbing any credit from Pubby or his standing as a reporter. He gracefully thanked Barkha for the tweet. As far as I could recall it was still Arnab and Times Now who really brought attention to the Chopper scam story in March 2012

So may be Barkha was merely setting the records right, wasn’t she? Of course! So I tweeted the Bhai-Behen duo (remember IE is a vendor for NDTV with the ‘Walk the talk’ shows) was robbing credit from TN for the Chopper scam reports. In all of this Pubby, as it turned out, was quite modest and removed from these battles. But Barkha wasn’t the first to gently do the credit squeeze. We all know all reports, documents, appointments, resignations, parliament bills, purchase orders, faxes and small chits of intelligence papers pass through Arnab before they reach anyone else. And he never fails to flash those documents at all his panellists and viewers. This is what upsets Rajdeep Sardesai too.

Now Rajdeep, who runs the unofficial Ministry Of Apologies, is usually too busy with seeking apologies from people and probably has no time to look at documents. So he was alarmed that someone was using the documents which were already in the public domain being claimed as “exclusive”. See, documents in public domain can’t be claimed as exclusive, but Salman Rushdie interview appearing simultaneously on NDTV and CNN-IBN can be exclusive. Those are rules from the Ministry of Apologies. So what annoyed Rajdeep? I guess it’s that he just about laid his hands on some telephone conversations between the CBI lawyer and a 2G accused and was showing it as the “Biggest expose of the year” when the Chopper scam broke again. In less than 24 hours Rajdeep’s biggest expose was a distant memory and Arnab was screaming and shoving papers down people’s throats with the Chopper scam all over again. And yes, Arnab continued to claim TN had exposed it first.

Here’s an important question for Rajdeep. If all the documents were in the public domain why didn’t he make any noise about the Chopper scam all this time? In my previous post I mentioned about 800 terror cells operating in this country. Even that is in the public domain. Why isn’t Rajdeep making any noise about that? Okay, let’s forget these. There was this enormous land related issue with Robert Vadra and Rajdeep was largely defending him when Arvind Kejriwal made a lot of noise about it. Actually, the Vadra land dealings were in the news months ago in Economic Times. Why didn’t Rajdeep scream about it? I will you what Rajdeep, since the Cash4Votes burial nobody even expects CNN-IBN to expose anything. People expect CNN-IBN to expose as much as they expect Poonam Pandey to cover. Despite genuine efforts of Bhupendra Chaubey to frequently break news or new grounds CNN-IBN has mostly been just a parrot, just like its colonial cousin NDTV.

So since Barkha and Rajdeep tweeted I looked up the whole story and Manu Pubby had also provided some links to the “breaking Chopper scam story” that Barkha congratulated him for. In response to his tweet I had mentioned that merely reporting events do not amount to an expose. What indeed was reported by IE was that the Italian authorities had opened up an inquiry in the whole deal in February 2012. This wasn’t an investigative report or breaking story of any sort. It was just a report of some event in Italy relating to the Chopper deal. What should be extremely alarming to Rajdeep and Barkha is that they were silent then. Defence Minister AK Antony even ordered an inquiry into VVIP Chopper on February 25, 2012. This was reported as a consequence of the report by IE. (Antony orders probe into VVIP copter deal). So where were NDTV and CNN-IBN on this inquiry? Where was Times Now on this inquiry? Where was GOI on this inquiry? All of them quietly buried it! No one even mentions whether Antony had actually ordered an inquiry or if it was just hogwash. If Antony had ordered an inquiry in February 2012 why didn’t IE, NDTV and CNN-IBN follow up on that inquiry? Any answers Rajdeep? Was that not in the public domain? The answer is simple, the parrots just don’t care.

After my exchanges with Manu Pubby he put up a message for me elsewhere. He was humble enough to admit he never claimed credit for any scam-breaking or expose. In fact all the news channels FAILED in their job. They didn’t ask AK Antony even once what happened to the inquiry he ordered in February last year. It’s only now when the CEO of Finmeccanica was arrested in Italy that the GOI is again chanting “no one will be spared, inquiry….” Blah blah. That’s how your news channels fail you over and over again. And then the petty ones are worried about credits. That Arnab and Times Now have been No.1 for five years and still at the top is upsetting both CNN-IBN and NDTV. So every once in a while the celebs from both channels make some petty ‘jilted-lover’ comments.

Akash Banerjee was with Headlines Today till recently before he quit the TV business and joined radio. In response to the bitchy Caravan article this is what he wrote in December 2012:

What the Caravan’s profile misses out totally is the phenomenal rise of Times Now to the numero uno position from what was considered to be a joke of a channel when it launched. Not only was the mix of news / views / business / entertainment programming a disaster in waiting, the inordinate delay in getting satellite unlinking rights made Times Now a laughing stock in journalistic and political circuits. Times When? Times Then? Times Never? were the daily jibes we cub reporters had to face. When Times Now finally launched (with a massive thud) a NDTV reporter mocked me, ‘This is the channel you hatch after nine months of pregnancy!’ he said. (Ironically both the reporter and the channel in question are not doing so well now)

Akash Banerjee should know. He was with TN before he joined Headlines Today. TN may not be right in claiming exclusives or the Chopper scam specialists. But the contempt coming from NDTV or CNN-IBN is neither surprising nor new. Arnab is now the new legend. He is mimicked in Comedy Central promos, there are video mash ups about him, “dented and painted” have been turned into rap songs. I doubt trying to squeeze credits out of Arnab would do any good for Rajdeep or Barkha. Even the GOI trusts the social media more than their channels.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Our Terrorists Better Than Yours

There has been terrorism in almost all parts of India. It must be a rare state that hasn’t suffered a terrorist attack since independence. I suppose Sikkim could be one of them. By now it has become a regular facet of life in India. Since 26/11 our media has been a little more careful and sensitive in reporting terror attacks but this is not because they are any wiser. If earlier there was a race for histrionics and breathless reporting, we now have a race to claim the most “mature” reporting. Who knows, we might now even have a category of awards for “Best reporting of a terror attack” given these attacks are inevitable. It’s not just what happens on TV but also off it that produces a lot of unwanted and mindless spin over a tragedy.

As the attacks at Dilsukh Nagar in Hyderabad unfolded on February 21 there was information being shared all over including Twitter. People were reporting blood banks, trying to find info about their family or friends with others helping to relay the message. Naturally, there was also the usual chatter about Islamic terror and Hindu terror. We will get to that part but when everyone else was concerned about life and death Sagarika Ghose’s friend calls her up to tell her the area was known for its meat shops and meat retailers. Damn! How are we gonna eat beef in that area now? People from Hyderabad rejected her piece of info claiming the area was a huge market that had all kinds of things including theatres, temples and malls and bazaars. Of all the things meat shops seem to assume significance for Sagarika and she relays it. She then says “no pre-conceived notions, just facts”. I hope she runs a FTN show on how to bring the meat shops back. But I doubt anyone is in doubt what she wanted to really convey through her “meat shop” tweet. (Tweeple from Hyderabad claim the nearest meat shop is at least over a km away).

Let’s now turn to “maturity”. Oh there you are! TM Veeraraghav of CNN-IBN and his claim that his channel was the most informative, non-speculative and mature in reporting the Hyderabad attack. How does he know? He was probably watching other channels and didn’t watch his own. The downright stupidity in the manner Rajdeep Sardesai conducted himself in covering the attack is alarming. He was banging away with theories of polarisation and immediate dangers and so on. He even called in Asaduddin Owaisi to comment on the situation. Owaisi is the guy with cases against him and someone who threatened a “third wave of Muslim radicalisation” from the parliament. There was worse. What does it say of Rajdeep when even Owaisi told him “you are more of a politician than me”? I haven’t known TMV to be bombastic or indulge in moronery like his boss so we can let this off as a one-time gaffe. I suppose Arnab and Times Now put a lot of pressure on these guys. But Arnab had his own theories and started with the US handling of terror. And NDTV? I really don’t know what they did since I didn’t watch. I just hope they didn’t coin a new term “moderate terrorists” like they used for Yasin Malik calling him “moderate separatist”.

But for a while let’s put our media folks aside. We can’t blame all our media crooks for terrorist attacks, can we? This is a better time to look at our politicians. The Hyderabad attack came a day after Sushilkumar Shinde expressed regret for his shameless speech about “Hindu terror”. Zero tolerance, war on terror and all that crap is what people are being fooled with and a majority of people happily also buy the argument that “terrorists have no religion”.  The very idea of saffron or Hindu terror was created by the Congress to distract from the real challenge and the real enemy of the current spate of terrorism that India is facing; Islamic terror. As long as the politicians fake the real cause or live in denial India will never be able to combat terror and terrorists. And that is that! Simple! And for those who still live in the hogwash that we are at “war on terror” I will have to recall Allen West’s speech I had reproduced in a previous post. Here’s how the American General who has seen battle summed it up:

“...I’m sick and tired of people saying “war on terror”. There is no such thing as war on terror. In World War Two, how smart would it have been, if the United States of America said they were at war with the Blitzkrieg. Or if they were at war with the Kamikaze.......  A nation does not go to war against a tactic. A nation goes to war against an ideology, and that’s what we’ve been talking about here today....” His speech in February 2010 can be viewed on Youtube.

If one wishes to wage war the enemy must be clearly identified. Who is India’s enemy? If a majority of these terrorist attacks are emanating from Pakistan what exactly is our govt doing? They are exchanging French kisses with them and our media is busy describing the dresses and hand bags of Hina Rabani Khar. No matter what the compulsions of vote banks and agents of Ghulam Nabi Fai and other terror sympathisers you simply cannot have a diplomatic relationship with a nation that frequently attacks you and hope to win peace. This is the real problem. Islamic terror does not imply Indian Muslims are naturally terrorists. But unless the govt accepts that there is Islamic terror and the route through Kashmir, where it started, is the belief that Kashmir belongs to Pakistan because of Muslim majority they will live in denial. Instead, the Congress govt trumps up some charges against a few Hindus and then drums up the chant of “Hindu terror” to please their votebanks. And it’s even starting to sound funny.

In the last few posts I explained how “malnutrition in Gujarat” is used as a stick to beat any economic progress or development in the state and Narendra Modi. Name any progress or achievement of Modi or Gujarat the haters will say “What about malnutrition”? That’s how Sadhvi Pragya has become. You name Mumbai 1993 they’ll say “What about the Sadhvi”? You name 1989, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and you will consistently get a question: “What about Sadhvi Pragya”? So, even now when someone mentions the Hyderabad attack being Islamic terror, the “Sadhvi Pragya” question pops up immediately. Of course, it doesn’t matter that the Sadhvi is not charge sheeted yet and is languishing in jail. This is further compounded by Opposition leaders like Sushma Swaraj also chanting “terrorists have no religion”. She has political compulsions, I don’t. I’m sorry, but they do. Most of these Islamic terror attacks are carried out in the name of Allah-Hu-Akbar, the attackers swear on the Quran and their motivators also promise them martyrdom and virgins in heaven. Remember, being at war with Islamic terrorists is not the same as being at war with Islam. No nation can be at war with a religion. It’s simply not possible. But if the terrorist’s Faith results in their action there can also be no denying that religion motivates them.

We need not go back into history of a thousand years. Even in the last two centuries religion has been the source of terrorism. Whether it’s the holocaust, whether it’s Northern Ireland or whether it’s Palestine, religion has been at the core of terrorism. The terrorism in Kashmir displaced lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits. The day our govt accepted that and did nothing about it they welcomed terrorism to our doorsteps. They created the window and kept the broken windows unfixed for permanent entry of terrorists. The so-called fight for liberation of Kashmir is no battle for strategic real estate alone. It is without doubt a battle born out of religion where the Muslim separatists and terrorists base their philosophy on the Muslim majority theory of the region. Why are we then being fooled with this “terrorists have no religion” nonsense? What exactly do these terrorists want? Unlike the Naxals, who are also terrorists, these terrorists are motivated by nothing but religion. If there is one count on which we can agree “terrorists have no religion” it has to be the application of law. Punish the terrorists regardless of whether they are Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians or even atheists. Aha! That’s where the problem lies. Our politicians even want punishments to be applied selectively. MLAs are now passing resolutions for mercy to terrorists.

Here’s something else that might shock a few. 26/11 is not the biggest terror attack in India in terms of lives lost. This is what the media and politicians have peddled to the people. The 1993 Mumbai blasts cost us 257 lives. Seven bombs in 2006 in Mumbai train bombings killed more than 26/11 (172). The Bush Doctrine at the very least laid out one honest truth. It stated that it is not possible to protect every street and corner of a country from terror strikes; the only solution is to take the offensive to the terrorists. No matter how much people and media scream it is impossible to protect every street and corner of India, especially with our huge population of one billion plus. Here’s another shocker: even before 26/11 happened, National Security Adviser MK Narayanan pointed out that were 800 terror cells in India with external support (read TOI report). That was in August 2008. The NIA, CBI, CIA, MIA, POS and all should have been busting these 800 cells and should have finished by now. Instead, they caught hold of some Sadhvi Pragya and still haven’t managed to prosecute her. That says a lot for zero tolerance. Has anyone ever asked in the parliament what happened to these 800 terrorist cells? Has the media asked? And then Rajdeep will say… Oh that information was already in the public domain and the other channel is wrongly claiming “expose”. Take that Rajdeep and ask that question.

The only way to fight terrorists is to take the battle to them, to take the offensive to them. And what does our govt do? They play dossier-dossier! They indulge in cultural exchanges. They want to show our enemies how sweet we are. Our news channels call terrorists who sleep with terrorists in Pakistan “moderate separatists”. Our Bollywood folks are short of talent in India and have to rely on enemy talent. Our commie folks have undying love for them. And our media? They’re the biggest laugh. They can’t live without enemy panellists or appearing as panellists on their show. Our ministers, like Shashi Tharoor, moderate cross-border debates on how civilians can end terrorism. That’s how you fight terrorists, eh?

Instead of acting and taking the battle to terrorists our politicians are busy researching the colour of terror. Most Congress morons shirk the responsibility with the fake argument of “saffron terror” and our Opposition too sings their song of “terrorists have no religion”. I guess all terrorists must be happy atheists. And our media has now shown progress. Some are busy informing us if there were meat shops in the place of attack. Some tell us our coverage was more mature. I’m positive that at the next attack our media will be hosting some debate: Is our terrorist better than yours? SMS reply to…

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Spuriosity Killed The Katju

The old proverb about cats and curiosity has been around since Shakespearean times. It was used in a different form then and only in early 20th century has it come to be used in its current form. It is meant to warn of the dangers of unnecessary investigation and crossing certain lines. The first known usage of the proverb in a newspaper was on March 4, 1916 in The Washington Post as it quoted a report from the NewYork World titled “Four Departments of NewYork City Government Summoned to Rescue Feline”. Here’s how the story ran:

So poor Blackie died! In this day and age, though, curiosity is encouraged and doesn’t kill all that much. It’s spuriousity that kills. That’s right, especially when it comes to airing views in newspapers and on TV supported, not by facts, but by spurious theories. Justice Katju (JK) does cross the line of indecency when he frequently attacks Narendra Modi with spurious theories, analogies and untruths. In response to JK’s latest spurious piece in The Hindu I had written “Justice for 10000 killed in Gujarat 2002”. I had put him in the same basket as Aakar Patel and Ram Guha. I am often advised by good friends and well-wishers that JK is best ignored. You see, to ignore JK is like a woman mistaking a lump on the breast for a boil. Aakar Patel and Ram Guha are boils and can be ignored as they go away in some time. JK is no boil, he’s a lump that can turn out cancerous because he was a judge in the SC and still holds a statutory office. Aakar and Guha are, at best, street hawkers (my apologies to sincere, hard-working hawkers). This is the reason Arun Jaitley chose not to ignore him and provided one of the most stinging responses ever seen in writing from a politician.

I am a man who not only supports free speech but absolute free speech. The morons who believe JK is merely exercising his right to free speech are mistaken. He has been given the opportunity to speak at various functions and write in various newspapers more because he’s the PCI chairman at not because he’s a former judge or individual of great wisdom. They also do not ask if JK’s writings and utterances are motivated. And he uses these opportunities to propagate his spuriousity. Let’s just go through a few samples.

Despite being a judge who would be expected to care for facts JK still chose to peddle fake and unverified numbers of Muslims killed in Gujarat 2002 in his article. And, of course, he makes readers believe only Muslims were killed and not Hindus. If this is not political tinkering, what is? On February 18 in a chat with Rahul Kanwal and Meenakshi Lekhi on Headlines Today JK used more spurious nonsense to defend himself. He cited women’s bellies being slashed and ripped and burnt. This gory tale doesn’t come from anywhere but appears to be from Arundhati Roy’s wonder world of fiction. I had quoted the whole fake story of Suzy Roy in “SC exposes media’s clean shit” after the SC didn’t accept Zakia Jafri’s petition against Modi. For her bogus story in Outlook magazine, Arundhati had apologised but JK uses similar stories without an iota of evidence. Is he fit to be the PCI chairman? When told that Modi has been elected by people, JK nonchalantly says “we all know how elections are won”. Is he suggesting all elections in India are also spurious or is it only when it comes to Modi? The only major case of election-fraud in a court is not related to Modi but to P. Chidambaram.

In addition to the bellies-ripped story, JK also cites the killing of Ehsan Jafri as a planned attack. It took Meenakshi Lekhi to point out to him that leading the killers of Jafri was not a BJP man but a Congress MLA called Meghsingh Chaudhary. To all the criticism JK grandly claims that he has not only criticised BJP but also Congress. In support of this argument, the moron claims he criticised Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan. Alright, but what was the criticism for? Corruption? Irrigation scam? Nope! The criticism was for 800 journalists being attacked by policemen for undertaking some protest. Does it take anyone to tell this idiot that speaking up for journalists’ rights is part of his job and can’t be compared to wanton and unprovoked criticism of Narendra Modi or any other CM? He is supposed to be a former judge but cannot see logic as clear as daylight. Again, this is quite a spurious defence. Moreover, he threatens Chavan with dismissal under Article 356. Jaitley rightly asks the question if the guy is bestowed with such powers. It’s, unfortunately, JK who has been acting like Hitler.

I doubt anyone in the media or any observer would deny that the campaign against Modi was the biggest witch-hunt in India. The hunters who participated benefited financially, in position and in influence. There is no reason not to criticise Modi but it is the proportions and usage of spurious information and analogies that make JK look more like Teesta Setalvad or Mallika Sarabhai. I wonder if he also dances as Mallika does. I have no hesitation in calling JK a potentially dangerous lump on the breast for more reasons. In his interview with TimesNow Jaitley mentioned how as Law Minister he had experienced senior judges on the verge of retirement clamouring for post-retirement postings. He also mentioned that some judgements just around the pre-retirement phase could be affected by such lust. With his open political campaign that is intended to benefit the Congress party, JK now has people wondering about the conduct and motives of judges themselves. By his conduct and utterances JK has pushed people into wondering if judges are above political persuasions when they are in office. This is the dangerous lump on the breast that cannot be ignored. In my previous post I have not attributed any motives to JK’s biased, prejudiced and spurious articles and nor have any of his critics in the current episode. However, grapevine in Delhi is a big business and gossip and rumour are staple diet for journalists. How does JK explain this piece that appeared in the Sunday Guardian? Is this smoke without any fire?

The bimbos in our media who have been talking of freedom of speech have not asked JK a single question about this article. JK claims his articles and balderdash are written as a private citizen and not as PCI chairman. The Hindu article signs him off as former judge and PCI chairman and doesn’t anywhere carry a disclaimer stating these are his “personal” opinions as journals often do with controversial figures. Even JK’s Twitter account @KatjuPCI has PCI tagged to it. Is he tweeting as a private citizen or as PCI chairman? How does one know? Or is it a fake account? In which case he should have protested to Twitter. His profile also mentions his position and not that his tweets are personal opinions. In my earlier post on this topic I had wrongly mentioned JK has an opinion on everything under Pluto. No Mr. JK, it seems your favourite planet is Uranus.

For all the corruption and scams that the Congress has been mired in, JK doesn’t have much to say about it. His conduct and frequent outbursts and outrage does make one worry about the conduct of our judges. In recent times SC judges have received postings on various statutory bodies immediately on retirement. There isn’t any cooling period post retirement anymore. Meenakshi Lekhi pointed another important aspect of JK’s behaviour and political persuasions. With so much of bias and prejudice against the BJP, particularly Narendra Modi, how can a member of this party who has a complaint to be heard by the PCI chairman ever expect him to be fair and impartial? This alone is good enough reason for JK to resign or to be sacked.

The funniest part is that of all the people in the Congress party guess who rushes to defend JK? Yeah, it’s not just ironical but a good laugh. It’s Abhishek Singhvi, the man caught on camera in his chambers. Consequently, the SC Bar Association passed a resolution not to engage the services of Singhvi. There you go Mr. JK, a tainted lawyer is the only one to defend you and that says a lot, doesn’t it? Mind you, this Congress is the very same party that asked Anna Hazare to join politics if he wants to protest and criticise the govt or politicians. Anna is neither a former judge nor holds any statutory office. Yet, the Congress spokesman feels JK can keep mouthing nonsense and keep writing politically motivated articles.

The awful truth also is that without the “justice” tag, without the “PCI Chairman” tag and most of all, without the “anti-Modi” tag JK wouldn’t be allowed to write in the media. Not just writing, being anti-Modi is like a license to write with spurious analogies and information. This time everyone called JK’s bluff. It looks like the cats may survive their nine lives but spuriousity certainly killed the Katju.