Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Can Javdekar Prevent A Tragedy?



If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong. There are reports that suggest Gopinath Munde could have survived the car crash if he had worn the seat-belt. It was a tragic, avoidable death. Within the day most TV channels had programmes on driving-safety and the use of seat-belts, how to follow traffic rules. These are routine hygiene issues in driving and use of roads. It is how easily we dismiss routines that often costs more lives. (On why “routines” and routine hygiene are important I recommend you read these two posts: Fool’s Secularism and Broken Windows).

Even on flights the most frequent travellers don’t switch off mobiles or wear their seat-belts when required or pull their seat-backs upright despite the signs or announcements. Some crew member has to come and persuade them to do so. Recently two buildings collapsed, one in Delhi and one in Chennai. The Chennai building was a 12-storey high-rise that killed 10 people and injured several others on June 29. Usually, the ones killed are workers who put up temporary residence in the basement or ground-floor of the building or the space around the building. Immediately, HeadlinesToday ran a show on what measures buyers should take before buying a flat. Tips like checking on cement quality, soil tests and so on. How dumb can these people get? Do ordinary folks buying a flat go around checking cement and soil? And how are they supposed to do it? Do they have the expertise? This is essentially the failure of the municipality or the govt in enforcing strict construction laws. It would be fair to expect building and construction inspectors to carry out regular checks and put out notices prominently.

The media loves a tragedy; natural or man-made. Remember how all the media folks gathered on the coast of Orissa and Andhra to report on cyclone Phallin in October 2013? Fortunately, the govts there took precautions and evacuated people and there was no heavy loss of life or damage. That’s a blow to media! The next day all of them had packed up and returned to Delhi with not much of a tragedy to report. That was a great exercise in “preventive action” by govt. There is a need for such a desperate preventive measure in the media to avert a possible tragedy. It’s a question Prakash Javdekar, the new I&B minister, must seriously address. A serious tragedy or death is waiting to happen because of media’s misconduct, particularly from TV reporters. This concerns the hounding of individuals who are either soft targets for media or because their political agenda dictates such intrusions. Take a look at this pic:

The top row has pics of Nitin Gadkari being hounded by reporters in Nagpur. They also hounded him at Delhi and Nagpur airports over an alleged scam. In particular, it involved a 19-part witch-hunt by Arnab Goswami on TimesNow which had nothing but a political agenda to unseat Gadkari as BJP President. NG was pushed and shoved around, he was waylaid when he tried to enter his car, and he was accosted at airports because of the desire of an orgy of violent reporting by the media. Last year Gurunath Meiyappan had reached Mumbai to surrender to the police in the IPL betting scam. TimesNow chased the police vehicle from Mumbai airport to the police station giving a running commentary all through the drive. Yes it was a chase almost like the one seen in the case of OJ Simpson. This is a seriously dangerous trend. Not just that, at the police station the cameramen and reporters jostled and poked mics at Meiyappan in the most uncouth and uncivilised manner. It took half an hour for the police to get out of the vehicle to the building in the complex.

Immediately after he took over, the first announcement that PJ made was that he would discuss 100% FDI in media with the media folks. Enthusiasm! One can understand his enthusiasm to please the media crooks and score some brownie points. PJ perhaps forgets that most of the media is still a bunch of poodles of Sonia Gandhi. The only privacy they respect is that of the Gandhi and Vadra family, everyone else is fair game for them. We have known film actors like Salman Khan and Dharmendra to have assaulted reporters or cameramen for excessive intrusion and harassment. The reporters want to provoke such actions with their hounding to create even more sensation. It is just that most decent people helplessly tolerate this unwarranted intrusion and nonsense. Take a look at these:

On top is the pic of Preity Zinta being hounded. Timesnow even sent a reporter to stalk her house in Los Angeles where Preity travelled after a molestation complaint she had lodged in Mumbai. On her return her car was crowded again by reporters making her life miserable. What is the purpose of all this? Just a few soundbites? Is it impossible to report on any case without such uncivilised behaviour? Is it necessary to push, shove, jostle and shove mics and cameras into people’s faces and vehicles to report? TimesNow is the biggest offender these days. Earlier they had hounded N. Sreenivasan of BCCI so much that they stalked all his houses and even filmed while he was jogging. I have no love lost for Sreenivasan but I certainly don’t think the media has the right to such invasion.

In the second row are pics of Nihalchand Meghwal, a union minister, who has been alleged to be involved in a sexual offence case. An FIR has been registered in the same case in which the investigation against him was closed earlier. A moron called Aditya Raj Kaul hounded him in some place in Rajasthan and grandly claimed they had “located him” as if Nihalchand had gone underground or absconded. I have seen the videos and it was Kaul who was offensive and provoking Nihalchand poking mics into the latter’s face and into his vehicle while the minister kept repeating “no comment, no comment”. Kaul then ranted that he was heckled by the minister’s men. I am surprised they didn’t beat up this idiot because some day such a thrashing is inevitable. Excessive intrusion is as much physical violence as a retaliatory violent action. Who the hell are these reporters? They have a license to hound people? After all this, the moron Aditya Raj Kaul tweeted he was safe as if he was attacked by terrorists. These are the antics they resort to when their target is clearly “political” and has nothing to do with journalism. Did you watch all this, Mr Javdekar?

In the third row are pics of PK Bansal who is alleged to be involved in a scam in the railways. The reporters zoom into his residence and show his “goat sacrifice”. That is perhaps even tolerable. But look at the next pic. The entire uncouth crowd of media has blocked the gates to Bansal’s residence. If the context weren’t mentioned these morons would look like they are protesting or agitating for “Goat rights”. Such is the cheap level to which journalism has fallen. The excessive intrusion is not journalism but Paparazzi behaviour. There is another serious issue where journalists are not being prosecuted and punished for intrusions: sting operations.

One has to remember that phone tapping and recording is illegal. If that is illegal then how are unauthorised sting operations legal? How is it legal to intrude upon a person, induce him or her to some offence and then grandly claim he or she is corrupt or a murderer or rapist? Private sting operations cannot be legal and there should be a law to ban them totally. Many journalists (like in the 2G scam or AR Antulay scam) have found genuine methods to expose corruption and crime. The only cause where stings can be authorised should be when the police or a legal investigating body carries out a sting to seek evidence for an already registered crime. The media cannot claim a license to such actions especially when most of the top editors of the media are corrupt and, if investigated genuinely, most of them would be in jail. Even if the media wants to carry out a sting it must seek prior authorisation by someone like the police commissioner or a suitable authority. Unauthorised sting operations must be made illegal and punishable.

Contrast all the above with the National Herald scam. Not one editor dared to ask any question to Sonia or Rahul Gandhi. Not one joker like Aditya Raj Kaul or Navika Kumar got anywhere near their residences. Not one cameraman filmed activities inside their residences. None of them dared to hound Robert Vadra. The circus clown Arnab did not even dare to call the Gandhis on TV to answer questions which he thinks is his birthright with everyone else. These criminals never know when and where the Gandhis travel, they claim respect for privacy. They don’t know if and what Sonia’s illness is for which she supposedly goes abroad for treatment. Again privacy! Why is it only this dynasty is entitled to privacy? All other citizens are third class citizens? The media has the right to ask questions. Their target has the right not to answer and when someone says “no comment” that should be honourably accepted. Especially in cases where the issue is a crime the target is entitled NOT TO say a word to the media. The target is neither answerable to the media nor is he liable to incriminate himself through soundbites to media, which is what our sensation-seeking media desires.

The media, like I said before, has the right to ask questions but must keep a very safe distance and ask questions honourably. They cannot poke mics at a person or into his vehicle. They can shout their questions from a safe distance of 10 feet. They do not have the right to picket and crowd houses of any individual no matter what the issue. This needs a law that bars them from such intrusion. Princess Diana was killed in such as case. OJ Simpson could very well have ended up in a disaster on the streets. This requires appropriate laws that can prevent a tragedy. Are you prepared to act, Mr Javdekar? Or are you waiting for a tragedy like all other tragedies to start thinking about it? Can you prevent a tragedy? 


33 comments :

  1. No he isn't , Javadekar is a wrong pic for the job. You will need someone with the guts of Sheshan to bring this bunch to heel.

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  2. You are spot on Ravinar Ji. For last 10 yrs we have seen the transition of media from News gatherer to News manufacturer. Their insensitive all people. Even those who are victims are hounded and ponded to make their life miserable with gems like "Aap ki beti ke saath Balatkar hua, par aap ko kaisa lag raha hai! Seeming educated journos asks these questions to hapless victims time and again on national TV. Remember Patna blast (modi rally), victims family - reporters went inside their house to ask " aap ko kaisa mehsus ho raha hai"
    Sometime I feel these reporter should be slapped by a kid on nation tv and then asked " malum chala! Kaisa lag raha hai?

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  3. Yes, media is aggressive beyond limits but Javdekar is I&B Minister. He can't do anything here. Ravishanker Prasad can. The hounded persons can try filing police complaints against these paparazzi or better still carry a baseball bat as a warning and possible preventive use.

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    1. Unfortunately, both of these are bumbling fumbling clueless jokers and not competent to do even a normal ministerial function.
      both of these ( PJ and RP) will be responsible for some of the tragedies that may befall this Modi Government ( along with a few others of their cabinet colleagues). ( and i hope and pray , i am wrong and Modi and india get a smooth, peaceful, prosperous few terms)
      The constituent members selected for SIT ( on black money) is an example of the lack of foresight of RP. PJ evidences his mediocrity whenever he opens his mouth.

      Ravinar has been extremely polite here on,PJ. Whilst both these individuals ( PJ and RP) not bad people per se, they are incapable of making a difference.

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    2. Absolutely right.. RP and PJ don't exactly fit the slot to make a difference. But let their mediocrity serve as a chance for someone robust to take over from them after some time. Need Shourie and softer version of subramaniam swamy to be inducted into cabinet to have multiple Modi's in this cabinet to make a lasting difference.

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  5. As you have suggested earlier NG should have filed defamation suite against TimewNow and Arnob as Justice Sawant did and humiliated them.
    Also I am not sure about PJ's political correctness or abilities, but I feel that PJ is not the right person for I&B. His own blabbers are enough to put him out. I don't know what compulsion forced PM to induct him and few others in this cabinet. PM might have better plan in his mind or he doesn't want to look in to this area now. I hope some changes will come in coming months.

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  7. On a lighter note: Modi should be cloned and clones be put in important ministries!! None of the ministers have vision like PM Modi

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    1. Deliver or quit - Modi should use the stick on his team on his first 100 days, and periodically once in 100 days henceforth. There must be a few good ones among the 282 BJP Mp's to be given a chance

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  8. Agreed but the problem seems to be far bigger. (1) What about lies peddled by print media everyday e.g.Indian Express insinuating that Gen.VK tried for military coup or TOI's fake news regarding Modi in Uttarakhand etc., (2) about slanderous 'fixed' debates to malign individuals or organizations, (3) about conflict of interests with politicians like Rajeev Shukla owning news channel to further their agenda.

    Why not the TV news consumer like newspaper consumers made to pay Rs3-4 per day per channel they choose, that would eject the garbage out of the system.

    There should be comprehensive media 'REFORMS' immediately otherwise in next one year the government would be discredited by these crooks beyond repair.

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    1. Agree with you on the need for complete reforms to prevent further misinformation. It is a pity that scoundrels are running our mainstream media ( print, tv, radio ) and we (indians) have to suffer and tolerate them.
      even advertisements are foot loose , fancy free and irresponsible. Nobody seems to be bothered in putting some semblance of accountability in them.

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  9. Media Crooks shd be renamed MEDIA TERRORISTS

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  10. "In journalism, there has always been a tension between getting it first and getting it right".
    Someone rightly said this.
    In India it is just getting it, most of the time, getting it wrong.
    Going by Election Commission's actions during election time, I feel it is time we have one Autonomous Media governing body, that will monitor content and truth, guidelines on paparazzi style of hounding, and rewarding positive journalism.
    If media houses are punished by banning their channels for a week to a month, depending on severity of false propaganda, most of these media houses who trade news will fall in line.
    If the chief of media or Commissioner is chosen by a committee comprising of Prime minister, Chief justice of India, Opposition leader..., it will do good for the country..

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  11. Iam not sure about India, but in US even after a person is detained, he is administered Miranda warning (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miranda_warning), which among other thing states that the detained has a right to be silent and not answer questions. This is law enforcement, whose job is to detain people indulging in unlawful acts and these media guys in India.....

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  12. And to the media morons preaching "Green Society" and carpooling to ordinary mortal citizens, why can't you share the video feed from one or two cameramen instead of sending a battalion out from each channel. Also in these times and age when AK decides to run government by SMS, will it be difficult to pool the questions and send it to the reporter on ground. After all the "nation only wants to know" what is the answers to the question and not who posed the question or who reached first.

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  13. Perfectly stated Ravinar.

    This is a logical continuation of the phenomenon I like to call the "jaante-ho-mein-kaun-hoon?" Media thugs by virtue of being media persons think themselves above the law of the country and also the laws of common decency and civil behaviour. Hence we see them heckling their interviewees, lying with impunity, making arrogant statements and also all the shove-the-mic-in-the-mouth behaviour that you pointed out.

    Of course that also works as "jaante-ho-woh-kaun-hai?"...hence Pappu and Sonia scare the media witless and are treated like deities.

    Your observation about the behaviour of passengers on the flight is spot on. It's a general up-bringing issue where we are not taught to respect the rule of law. More often than not, the folks that are supposed to enforce rules...like traffic police, chowkidars, security personal come from a lower income level than the people they are supposed to control. As a result they are victims of a lot of arguments and general arrogance from the pata-hai-mein-kaun-hoon? folks.

    While PJ can fight the media misbehaviour with the rule of law...something needs to be done to our society in general to remove the bigger evil.

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  14. I think Modi has made a blunder in his selection of team mates

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  15. Yes He is not the right choice. He is too soft and pliable.These media thugs needed some one strong. The sting operation is illegal. This if I am right is the verdict of SC. This came just when a sting operation by a kannada channel against minister DKShi was thwarted by calling police before it could happen. The two journos are facing prosecution.Now a days the local tv channels like their big brothers are hounding small fries. It is disgusting.

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  16. the only tragedy i would like to see is that in one of these days these media morons get crushed under car or get killed by shots by some short tempered person and the person should be allowed to go scott free by court

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  17. One way to rein in the MSM news traders would be to expose their monetary nexus with the congis and the dynasty and cut their daal-paani supply.

    Once MSM is purged of the bad models of journalism (the usual suspects),the others down the line will automatically fall in place and practice real journalism.

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  18. The answer to your question is a resounding "no". Javdekar, or any other BJP minister for that matter, does not have the guts to take on these media crooks. They are too polite, too naive, and too scared to do anything that will change the status quo. It's the sad, bitter truth.

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  19. Prakash Javdekar is unfit for the job. Most of Modi's cabinet is uninspiring. The BJP must be combative and pay the media crooks and pseudo-seculars in the same coin. Laaton ke bhoot baton se nahin mante. The media crooks will do everything they can to spoil Modi's efforts. Unfortunately, most of the BJP walas are useless and many are in cahoots with the previous establishment. Modi and Amit Shah will have to do serious restructuring.

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  20. IF any institution or person has misused freedom of expression or freedom of speech the most it is the media and journalists under the garb of freedom of press. Everywhere gospel is put that ‘with Freedom comes the responsibility’ but only media has the divine right to claim exemption from that. And particularly in India media is creating more nuisance than the public services it renders. Previously their nuisance was directed against one man and one party, now since Modi took up the rein they demand Aladdin Chirag solution for every left over mess and for that are creating nuisance by news and debates.
    Even the prostitutes of kamathi pura area in Mumbai may not be jostling for customer the way TV channels reporters are jostling on one another. You have rightly said that there should be some restrictive laws to prevent media nuisance. Whenever it is established that media has indulged in false reporting, deliberate twisting and maligning campaign heavy punishment must be inflicted on them. Also they must be forced to print an apology on first page for seven days for print media and display the same for 7 days on prime time for TVs.
    And you are right that none of the media has ever seek any clarification directly from the mouth of any of the dynasty member. Whatever has come it has come through their stooges and always media has accepted willingly without any murmur. Indian Media has dutifully accepted that King Clans can never be questioned, their blots should be safely guarded and democratic norms are not for them.
    Instead of toothless press council TRAI like regulatory authority is the need of the day.

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  22. One reading of the article and the comments does provide a reasonable insight on what tje challenges are and what needs to be done immediately on an urgent basis.
    But is Mr Modi listening??
    Whilst it is good to be off media and not allow them to dictate the agenda , it is foolish to have an unrestrained, contrived, shamelessly antagonistic media which spreads biased/lopsided information everyday.
    Mr Modi cannot ignore this for long. Bad press is bad .

    Please Mr Modi, get real.

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  23. Mr Ravinar, brilliant article from you. Hope the powers that be "hear" this and take corrective steps. Else we are really sadly waiting for an accident to happen. Its getting ridiculous.

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  24. Ravinar, Brilliant Article. Gone are the days, where journalists dug out hard truths and exposed them to the people. These days journalism is hardly more or less a nautanki. No analysis, only sound bytes.
    1. This incessant propoganda of everything bad, everything getting worse, everything getting costly is creating a sense of prematured pessimism in the minds of public at large. And this cannot be cured simply by good governance alone.
    Few days back when I read the headline of a news paper which says "petrol costly by half a rupee and unforseen burden on the people of India". I was really saddened by the negative tone of the reporting. You see people should be explained that prices of oil and others are not in our hands and if people do not pay, then the losses the Govt accrues will hurt the public in much bigger way as the Govt will be short of money for infrastructure, education , security et al. But Journalists don't seem to care. I didn't see a single journalist not a single one in MSM who talked sensibly as to how it was pertinent to raise railway prices.

    2. It is known fully that Social media contributed in setting the skewed balance of political discourse right by exposing the pseudo liberals who were nothing but congi loayalists. Congress and their assorted liberals have now changed strategy and the initial indications are that it is working.
    3. The entire focus of anti-Modi establishment has now changed to Hindi Mainstream Media, we can call it HMSM. As Modi was able to convince most of the voters that English MSM is elitist and had no roots in the land. Congress and it stooges have invoked the journalists of Hindi channels and start provoking them on every issue, railway fare hikes being an example.
    4. Social Media was able to convince and was able to take on the english elitist jounalists to task but with the perceived defeat of them, the entire funding seems to move now to HMSM and as most Hindi journalists are not on twitter and other social media, it has become hard to scritinize and take them on and this has become a kind of resistance.
    5. Finally, the Social Media Vs MSM war which raged for quite few years where right wingers successfully took on the left liberals is now waning. Even the anti-Modi political establishment no longer cares about Engish MSM and the the stories of their hypocrisies may only become purely academic now.
    6. I hope somebody starts a similar website for criticism of HMSM too.

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  25. Tragedies are already happening in Public Discourse . Govt is getting attacked everyday 24*7 ( even in doordarshan , hahahaha ) even on non issues , inanities . Media ( MSM and its reaction in SM ) continue to operate at a very low standard of news reporting and review. Acchey din aagaye crooks of media kay liye !!!! They could not have asked for a better nincompoop than Javadekar !!!

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  26. media indeed has bartered its integrity for money&TRPs-there is so much sensationalisation of small/unimportant news of little value-there is continuous transgression of privacy,people provoked to get irritated through silly question based on political leanings/priorities of the media house to which the journalist belongs&when he shrugs them off it grabs headlines in name of violation of right of journalist-in short news has become captive to sensational prejudices-can't say whether news being reported is real news or packaged views of the media house running the channel!we are surrounded by fake,manufactured,prejudiced&paid news to influence our opinion-beware!

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