One of the things that the Tarun Tejpal rape case brought out and on which no action has been taken at all is the corruption at Tehelka. Everyone who was aware of Tehelka knew it didn’t have enough earnings to sustain itself. Many former employees mentioned salaries were always delayed. Yet, the top management like Tejpal, Shoma Choudhury and their family members made a huge amount of money selling shares at bogus, inflated prices. Even Kapil Sibal had shares in his name but he claimed he had only made a donation of 5 lakhs. Being the law minister he isn’t bothered who signed his share application form if he hadn’t applied. Such money flows directly through political organisations or indirectly under orders of those in power. Not very hard to guess, is it?
Tehelka being a Congress crony had a great run till Tejpal’s ‘one minute of drunken banter’ as he calls it. His THINK Litterfest was a grand scheme to make money through coerced sponsorships. I wonder how other Litterfests and Think programmes organised by other media outlets are funded. We do know that HT Summit has been funded with PSU money in the past and this year too. There’s India Today with its multiple conclaves. There’s NDTV and CNN-IBN with Greatest Indians, Tiger’s tail, Green-cover money and so on. Each one has a farce of its own flavour.
India Today came up with the most extraordinary finding that Andhra Pradesh was the best managed state and doled out an award to CM Kiran Reddy. They claim to have assessed the performance of all the states on various parameters and found AP the best governed. Even if this goes against general public intelligence you have to wonder what experts they employ to deliver such comic assessments. There is merit in assessing state performances by a news outlet so that the public can measure but is there merit in a media house giving out awards to a CM? Absolutely not! A warden may assess the conduct of his prisoners and recommend early releases but it would be stupid to dole out “Best prisoner awards”. The media fails as a watchdog over and over again when it starts doling out awards. Seasoned editors and publishers have removed the “watch” part from their roles and become shameless ass-lickers.
CNN-IBN was there again with its annual sham of “Indian of the year” awards. The sports and business categories shouldn’t bother anyone but yet again there was a political award for Arvind Kejriwal (probably for the 3rd time). This time it was for winning against Sheila Dikshit and AAP making a great debut in the Delhi elections. What are these awards for? Electoral performances or performances as elected officials? In any case, news media shouldn’t be rewarding politicians at all. Once again CNN-IBN removed the ‘watch’ from the watchdog. CNN-IBN’s past awardees include Rahul Gandhi, Manohar Parrikar and nominations include Akhilesh Yadav. At least two of these have turned out to be pathetic non-performers. Manohar Parrikar still has some way to go before being judged. The haste to give an award to Arvind Kejriwal follows the campaign the entire IBN group carried out for the AAP party during the last elections.
Kejriwal himself has made a thorough farce of democracy itself with his mindless moronic 18 questions to other parties and then the SMS poll with citizens to decide if AAP should form a govt. In giving out such silly awards the news channels cheat the public to whom they are to report facts and truth. I do not see one case where the IBN group has honestly reported about AK or AAP. This was true for their sucking up to RahulG also till they had to face the undeniable truth that RahulG was a dud. This brief report about the annoyance of Delhi citizens with AK and AAP is the sign of times to come for this party that is making spurious promises based on nothing but foolishness:
The CNN-IBN IOTY farce is sponsored by none other than GMR who is a major contractor of the govt for building airports and other infrastructure projects. GMR is a group with over 150 companies under their roof. All it takes is a call from a friendly minister to channelise funding of such awards and programmes. As with Tehelka, the other news outlets and TV channels have found that they can sustain themselves only through such silly programmes where they make a huge profit through sham awards, litterfests and other campaigns. The honour for some awardees may well be truly deserved but only a fool would believe that these news channels are out for some noble deeds.
Each of these flamboyant news channels has been laying off employees by the score, facing huge losses but have to keep their lipstick on with such programmes. The last THINK of Tehelka was reported to have brought in 17 Crores, so you can estimate what each such event is meant to generate. If you read the linked report it will be obvious that the festival was operated through multiple companies and even sponsors weren’t aware which company they were actually dealing with. Each year it gets more brazen as NDTV showed us this year.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan for once was turned into Hotel Raisina Hill. Here’s an image from the RP website:
Notice carefully the links on the left margin of the website home page. It has profile, speeches, gardens etc. but none that says “RP Bhavan is available for rent”. There is another page that accepts requests and grievances though that doesn’t appear to be information for renting a hall at RP Bhavan. NDTV, for its 25th anniversary celebrations, rented a hall at RP Bhawan for a frivolous show called “25 global living legends of India”. From a nation of 1 billion plus they went with a torch and microscope to find these 25 people.
I would agree with the people chosen being living legends but it is foolish to pick only 25 because there are many others who would also qualify to carry that title. Oh, of course, the number has to match NDTV’s 25 years of non-performance. Surely, if you were to pick Shahrukh Khan, who I consider a ham, why would you overlook someone like Dilip Kumar? Anish Kumar, Indira Nooyi, YK Hamied, Zubin Mehta can all have better replacements one can argue. Surely, Lata Mangeshkar is any day a bigger legend than Zubin Mehta for India. But the whole idea and event is a farce so why look for any sense in it. Why should the President hand out these dole-titles from RPB and make it look like a State award?
NDTV has just about managed to pick those who would appear to be “sickular” and closer to their own political persuasions. The channel is a loss-making, face-losing brand. It has been accused of many misdeeds, including financial ones. So to out-do their competition in these sham shows they had to do something weird and unusual to catch some attention so they used their political clout and rented the RPB. To say NDTV is a doormat of the Congress would be stating the obvious. The more important point is how the govt allows a private party to misuse the facilities at RPB for its own private agenda. Sonia Singh confirms the channel had paid rent for it and I would say that is quite big-hearted of NDTV. I’m also sure the rent would be nothing more than peanuts for the facilities obtained if it were compared to a 5-star property. Sonia also mentions “this exchange really misses the point”. I agree! The point that it misses is that a bad precedent has been set by the govt. Now any Tom, Tata or Reliance can seek usage of RPB for grand private ceremonies. TOI can even hold its next Filmfare award at this hotel and have the awards given out by the President.
If at all RPB is available for such frivolous shows their website makes no mention of it and doesn’t mention at what rent. If such a facility is allowed to NDTV there is no reason why the public shouldn’t be aware at what rent and for what purposes RPB can be misused. The RPB hall is mostly meant for state functions. But now you can hold your next party there if you have political connections.
All these events are annual farces to make money and partly for brand-building. It is worth noting that almost all of these farces have bloomed only in the last 7-8 years while the corrupt Congress regime has been at the Centre. Someday a massive investigation in to these news outlets and such events will reveal how much public funds and facilities have been looted. Those who scream the loudest about corruption are also usually the ones fuelling it. The watch had indeed gone out of ‘watchdog’ a long time back. All that remains is the…
PS: Please do vote on the poll for India’s worst news channels (on the right margin of this page).