Friday, December 31, 2010

Eat well, Sleep well :)

That is my new year resolution :D. Always has, always will be ;-) !

2010 has been a very eventful year, both on the professional (includes work and twitter/blog :) ) and personal front. Perhaps the most eventful year ever (so far :D). Here's wishing you all a very happy and prosperous 2011.

And don't forget - Eat Well, Sleep Well :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Break from blogging :)

Me taking a break from blogging for about a month :). Will be back in the New Year. Thanks folks for encouraging the blog so far, and looking forward to the new year for more interaction.


My Experiments with Photography - Part 6

My brother got this kickass camera from the US. Nikon D3000 with extra lense (has some wierd name). I am telling you - it is just kickass! Tried taking pictures of pigeons in our balcony today. And the last picture is.... well...let's just leave it at there :D

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Lynch Mobs"

For more than a year now, the media derived some kind of sadistic pleasure in labeling those questioning them. When mediagate broke, the expletives continued. Lynch mobs was the term. Barkha used it first. Then Rajdeep Sardesai, in his capacity as the President of Editors Guild called it the "lynch mob mentality".

After an emotional speech, he was ready to face some questions. Look at the end of this video. He got some very very tough questions. This report in The Hindu details it clear.

Mr. Sardesai also remarked that the response in the case of Ms. Dutt and Mr. Sanghvi had been lynch-mobbish, with their being judged guilty without any reference to their journalistic track records. “The fundamental principle of jurisprudence, that you are innocent until proven guilty, has been reversed here,” he said, adding there was an element of professional jealousy in the chorus of voices raised against them. This started a near riot on the Press Club lawns, where the discussion was held. Journalists rose as one to condemn the suggestion that talking to corporate sources was an unavoidable aspect of good reporting. Many of them pointed to their own experience of getting good stories and breaking scoops without ever having to talk to a lobbyist. They made their displeasure clear at the issue being reduced to a case of jealousy and envy, and sought to know if Mr. Sardesai's own channel referred its exclusive stories to those featured on them.

Sensing the mood of the house, Mr. Sardesai, who is also president of the Editors Guild, quickly took back his words, promising immediate intervention by the Guild in formulating a code of ethics for journalists, including for editors.

So members of their own community have behaved in a manner befitting "lynch mob" mentality! Wonder if anyone would now dare to label any of the genuine questioners online. Also look at the cat fight amongst editors. Rajdeep taking on N.Ram, Vinod Mehta taking on Barkha and Vir - this is a HUGE victory to all those bloggers who have argued the same, over the years, in detailed blogs. Kudos to all ! The hypocrisy stands exposed, and how! The muck doesn't seem to stop anytime soon :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Trysts with MSM - Part 14: Basic Grammar 101

MSM stands for Main Stream Media.

In response to this question/demand/request to Vikram Chandra from me :

btw, @vikramchandra pls change the name of the program "India decides at 9". You/NDTV don't wholly represent India.

Vikram Chandra replies:

@ssudhirkumar and you do?

Now, at no stage did I say I do. Nor was the question framed as "India is asking you to change the name". It was just asking him to change the name of the program he anchors.

For those responses, he replies next day:

@ssudhirkumar of all your rants, this one takes the cake! "India Decides @ 9" doesn't mean decides on THIS show. Basic grammar 101

@ssudhirkumar 9 pm just happens to be one of the most watched slot. Across channels.

@ssudhirkumar having said that, i don't personally think it is the catchiest of titles so, for once, you may well get your wish..

I guess I have to indebted to NDTV for teaching me English. Once upon a time, Nidhi Razdan declared that I do not know English and today Vikram Chandra teaches me Grammar 101.

My apologies to you Vikram, for being dumb enough to think that "India Decides at 9" means exactly that and not the contrary.

Update on May18:

They have decided to change the name of the program :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Trysts with MSM - Part 13

The Mediagate scandal just refuses to die! Barkha's award winning performance on TV did not just shock the viewers, but many journalists too. Amidst discussion many such points, Bhupendra Chaube (National Bureau Chief of CNN-IBN) had this to say to a former colleague of his.

@diptosh the issue now clearly is not about corruption but violation of thin red line?If I was in barkha's shoes, I would have done the same

That response was in reply to this point by Diptosh -

@BDUTT It's really strange that ppl who have never done journalism are telling us to rewrite the grammar of reporting.

Anyways, I got curious, and asked Bhupen :

@bhupendrachaube didn't get the context of ur "would have done the same". What would u have done the same?

For which he replied : @ssudhirkumar not report on corporate pr angle

And now I got more curious :)

@bhupendrachaube ohh ok. now I am more curious. why? Isn't that a story to be told? :)

He replies: @ssudhirkumar u need to be a hardcore political journalist to understand why u wouldn't report on it! How can u make a pr agent a story? (cont)
@ssudhirkumar u r not sure of what the person is saying, the person is one of several people whom u r speaking to in an evolving situation

@bhupendrachaube look at it from the viewer perspective. we dont have indepth understanding, but we blindly trust what's on TV

@bhupendrachaube and when something like this happens - all we are told is that this is how it works so get back to work...

And here comes the killer line!

@ssudhirkumar mayb 2 decades back, it would have been reported. dynamics have changed now.In 24 hour cycle,u make& break rules all the time

I asked back what right does he (as in not individually, but the media as a whole) have to pontificate to us, if rules are broken "all the time"! However, this statement by Bhupen

@BDUTT @diptosh but what this has done, is that its making reporters question how to deal with sources. Best stories always come from crooks

elicited this response from auldtimer , that just about sums up the whole mood.

So journos expect us to trust them because they trust crooks RT @bhupendrachaube Best stories always come from crooks.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

That's all, Your Honour! : Nov.21-27

1. The 16th Asian Games have come to an end this week. India won a total of 14 Gold, 17 Silver and 33 Bronze medals. Most remarkable were gold wins in athletics and tennis. Somdev Devvraman won the Tennis Singles gold by defeating the top see Chinese player. A truly remarkable achievement was doubled when he also paired up with Samam Singh to win the Men's Doubles Gold too! Another athlete who won two golds was A.C.Ashwini who won 400m hurdles gold and later won the team 4x400m relay gold too. Sudha Singh won the 3000m steeplechase gold. 5 Indians went into the finals of the various boxing categories, with 2 of them winning gold. This is the first time, we have started to win so many medals in such a tough competition in sports which we never won. Though we came 6th in the medals tally, these wins have laid a very good foundation for future performances. And the best way to build on this foundation is to remove the red tape engulfing the sports system. Results will automatically follow!

2. At last, Rosaih was relieved of his duties as the Chief Minister of the Andhra Pradesh. Amidst dramatic developments, the Speaker Kiran Kumar Reddy was announced as the next Chief Minister of the state. Actually, this news was broken on twitter about a month ago by Rajagopalan, so for those of us who follow him, there was nothing surprising. However, in what was orchestrated perfectly for dramatic TV coverage, a CLP meeting was called, and all legislators were informed only late into the night. This set off speculation on whether this meet is to censure Jagan or to facilitate a change in the leadership. And in the afternoon, at 1:30pm, Rosaih appears before the media and announces his resignation. And then, while the High Command gleefully watched the coverage, TV media narrowed down the choices to 2 - Jaipal Reddy and Kiran Kumar Reddy. The CLP meeting, as usual authorised Sonia Gandhi to appoint a new leader. And she graciously appointed Kiran Kumar Reddy as the CLP leader and thereby the Chief Minister. Rosaih's tough stint ended thus. He took over at a turbulent time, and all that followed was even more turbulence. With Jagan breathing down his neck, and with Telangana issue ready to come back in December, surely it was too much to ask a person like Rosaih to lead the state. He is too fragile to live upto the demands of the post. Let's wait and see how Kiran Kumar Reddy will perform, and in the meanwhile, let's wish him good luck too!

3. In what can be termed as the victory of the year, the JD(U) - BJP combine has won a whopping 206 seats out of 243 in the Bihar Assembly elections. Fighting the election exclusively on development plank, the alliance trounced all other parties. So much so that there is no "official" opposition party in the state. For a party to get that status, it needs to win a minimum of 10% of seats. The RJD won 22 seats only. Congress performance was worse than last time - winning only 6 seats this time. BJP won a whopping 91 out of the 102 seats it contested. This victory is widely seen as Development winning over Caste politics, though it is too early to say caste was entirely out of picture. However, that development and development alone helped in such a massive victory gives us hope that one day development will also trounce the appeasement policies too. Here's hoping that that day comes soon :).

4. Phew! The "nataka" in Karnataka is getting very boring! After last week revelations that Yeddyurappa's relatives were sold land at throwaway prices, all expected that he will go. Even the BJP central command asked him to resign. Then he goes to Delhi, talks to the leadership, apprises them about the dangers of having him go (that the party will lose the Lingayat vote, that he has sizeable number of MLA's supporting him etc etc). Finally, the central leadership decides that he will stay as CM atleast till the local body elections are over in the state. These are due in Dec-Jan timeframe. Maybe, based on those results, a decision will be taken. Needless to say, these constant flip-flops are costing the party very dearly. It is high time the party takes a stand and sticks to it, and not ruin its well earned victory here.

5. And finally, your honour, Rahul Gandhi is back with a bang! In an interaction with students from Gujarat - he compared Narendra Modi to Mao. That's all, Your Honour!

అదన్నమాట! : నవంబర్ 21-27

బహుశా రాష్ట్ర చరిత్ర లో రోశయ్య గారు ముఖ్య మంత్రి అయిన పరిస్థితుల్లో ఎవ్వరు ముఖ్యమంత్రి అవ్వలేదు ఏమో. అంతటి సంక్లిష్ట సమయం లో , ఈయనే అయ్యారు. అవ్వడమే తరువాయి, సమస్యల మీద సమస్యలు వచ్చి పడ్డాయి. వైఎసార్ మరణాంతరం ముఖ్యమంత్రి అవ్వడం అనేది పెను సవాలే మరి. రాష్ట్ర విభజన జరిగినట్టే జరిగి ఆగిపోయింది! ఇక రాజకీయ సవాళ్ళు షరా మామూలే. వీటన్నిటిని 14 నెలలు నెట్టుకు వచ్చారు. ఇక చెయ్యలేను అని సోనియా గాంధి కి చెప్పేశారు. ఆ విధంగా, అయన గత బుధవారం, తన రాజీనామా ఇచ్చేసారు. హాయ్ కమాండ్ కొత్త ముఖ్యమంత్రి గ కిరణ్ కుమార్ రెడ్డి ని నియమించింది. ఉప ముఖ్యమంత్రి గా తెలంగాణా కి చెందినా దామోదరం రాజసింహ ని నియమించింది. పీసిసి అధ్యక్షుడి గా బొత్స సత్యనారాయణ ను నియమించే అవకాశం బానే ఉండి అంట.

అత్యంత నాటకీయ మరియు సోచనీయ పరిణామాల మధ్య ముఖ్యమంత్రి అయిన రోశయ్య గారిని చరిత్ర ఎలా గుర్తు పెట్టుకుంటుందో అని చాలా ఆత్రుత గా ఉంది. కాంగ్రెస్స్ వాళ్ళు అయన పేరు ని అసలు చరిత్ర లో ఉంచుతార లేదా అనేది కూడా పెద్ద ప్రశ్నే. రాష్ట్ర చరిత్రే మారిపోయే తరుణం లో రోశయ్య గారు ముఖ్యమంత్రి గా ఉన్నారు. పొరపాటున జగన్ మోహన్ రెడ్డి ఎప్పటికైనా ముఖ్యమంత్రి అయితే మాత్రం, రోశయ్య గారి పేరుని చరిత్ర పుస్తకలోంచి తీసేఎడం తధ్యం! అదన్నమాట!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mediagate! - More Questions to Vir Sanghvi

Read both articles in their entirety on my website (the links are given below) and judge for yourself. I think you will find that they are completely fair.

Somewhere in his "response" to the Mediagate, more popularly known as #mediamafia #barkhagate, debate Shri Vir Sanghvi writes that. Now Shri Vir Sanghvi, if you are leaving the judgement to me and then tell me it is fair - what kind of choice are you exactly giving me sir? Not that you care,but brilliant this post on Governance Now, has argued that you were extremely biased in your write up (folks, that link is a must read. Please take time out to read it).

Plus just take a look at how the editor of Open magazine dissects your "counterpoint" on this topic - matching what was said on tapes to what was written. It can't get more elaborate than this, is it? (Another must read folks. Dont miss it). Don't you think you should counter these points, instead of your free flowing generic rhetoric.

Then you go along and write about how it is important for you to string along your source blah blah. As fellow tweeter, NR_Tatvamasi points out here: "All it needed was am doing a coloumn on this dispute, would like to know your side of the story, what are your keypoints." Would you care to answer ?

No message was ever conveyed by me. And Congress leaders have now confirmed that.

Right - we should trust the Congress leaders now. Is that how you want to close this matter? Really? What about the below excerpt then?

VIR: I’ll pass this on?

RADIA: Yeah. Thanks. Thanks to you.

VIR: Yeah.

RADIA: That was really great, you know, you all, I mean it was exactly as you had said and…

VIR : Okay.

RADIA: They were very relieved and she was so relieved. So, wants to say thank you to you personally.

VIR: I’ll pass it…

Why was she thanking you Shri Vir Sanghvi? You have not done anything for her, and yet she is thanking you? I wonder why the Tatas and Ambanis will hire such people in the first place? :D

Also, most feel (I realised it later too) that you have been let off too lightly by the ever vigilant online community. As a small attempt, have written a separate blog mentioning all questions that were directed towards you. Answer them specifically instead of waiting for this issue to die down. Merely discontinuing "counterpoint" (though a relief) is no solace. Plus your rhetoric is tiring to read.

Mediagate! - More Questions to Barkha.

"While there is no doubt that journalists must be held to the same exacting standards of accountability that we seek from others, the allegations in this instance, as they relate to me, are entirely slanderous and not backed by a shred of evidence."

Thus begins Barkha's response (in her words, her final word) to the Mediagate, more popularly known as #mediamafia #barkhagate, debate going on.

"The same exacting standards" means that she gets grilled the exact same way she and her ilk do on TV (often times, smirking at politicians for the exact same kind of response above). Instead she just choose to write and then call it the "final word". Am reminded of unilateral ceasefire! What kind of standards does this set? (Update on Dec.1: Last night NDTV asked for journos to question Barkha. Watch the show and decide for yourself who got grilled.)

Before I ask more, let me say this - Yes Barkha the tapes have nothing to prove that you lobbied for Raja or for that matter any individual. So there is no debate there.

Now, Barkha then goes on to say.

The few, short conversations took place in the backdrop of cabinet formation in 2009, when the DMK had stormed out of the UPA coalition over portfolio allocation.

And at a later point says this:

"What should I tell them," was in response to her repeatedly saying to me over several different phone calls, that if I happened to talk to anyone in the Congress, I should ask them to talk the DMK chief directly.

Quick question Barkha - were there "few" calls or were there "several" calls? The "two separate sentences " -"Oh God, What should I tell them", were uttered not in response to "can you pass the message", but almost voluntarily upon hearing Baalu's mess up. Why were you the first person to broach the topic of passing the message? Did you give out such vibes in your "few several" calls before too? Did Radia know that she can rely on you to pass the message (because in a conversation with A. Raja, she says she spoke to you and you have agreed to pass the message). Or are we to assume that the PR lobbyist of the Tata's and Ambani's is so stupid as to have believed you when you have not acted on such promises previously too?

Like asked in the previous blog, by "humouring of the source", did you mean to say you lied to her? Does NDTV's ethical policy (if it has one) allow any employee to lie (humour) a source to extract any kind of information? And no - all journalists do it is not the answer I am looking for.

The next main important question that many other folks in the media have asked too. If you knew that the PR lobbyist of Tata's and Ambanis is very much trying to get some portfolios in the Cabinet - did you NOT find that as newsworthy? Or did you find it so, and decided to kill it so as to not lose the source? Over the past 1 year, at no point of time have you felt that this was not newsworthy? Investigative worthy?

Later you say this too - Anyone who has bothered to read the entire transcript of these conversations instead of just the headline, would notice that the conversation is essentially a journalist soliciting information from one of the many people plugged in - something all journalists do as part of news gathering

Yes Barkha - I have "bothered" to read and re-read the entire tapes. I heard and re-heard the tapes - just to come out of the shock. And no - it doesn't sound like you were "sourcing information" or "humouring a source". By merely saying, "anyone would understand" you are just insinuating those who are disagreeing and asking pointed questions.

"While a genuine debate on media ethics is always welcome in the quest for self improvement.."

Thus ends her "final word". Barkha - I have asked this question multiple times before too - what is stopping you from starting that genuine debate? What efforts have you made to bring about this quest? And no - 140 character debates on twitter or a 45 minutes "We the people" does not count as "genuine debate". Regret to say this but your "final word" is anything but that.

PS: Earlier questions to her here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Trysts with MSM - Part 12

MSM stands for Main Stream Media.

#Mediamafia #barkhagate were two most trending topics on Twitter since about 10 days after "Mediagate" broke. After 10 days, The Associate Editor of The Hindu comes on twitter and says this:

Those curious about view of the Hindu on Radia tapes and journalism, see N.Ram on Karan Thapar's show at 10 pm on CNN-IBN tonight

For which, I ask back:

@svaradarajan why not write in the newspaper instead of talking on some channel?

And this got him all worked up!

@ssudhirkumar Grrrrr If he writes, y'all whine itna late kyon likha, yeh kyon nahin bola, voh klyon nahin bola. Learn to be happy sir.

I don't get it - What is so unreasonable in expecting the Editor of a newspaper to write his views in the paper rather than speaking on TV (which quite obviously all his readers will not watch)? And why should I be content with 'something is better than nothing' logic? Is the Editor really not writing in the paper because he is worried readers like me may not like it? Is that how the standards have fallen down now?

Also, CNN-IBN's Bhupendra Chaube also has been tweeting on this topic, asking how such smear campaign is ok. One such example:

U put pics of individuals on cover, then say let's deal with larger public issue at a seminar,what else will this be considered if not smear

I ask back:

So @bhupendrachaube those specific conversations r not the issue? Their publishing is?

He replies back:

@ssudhirkumar I am on the specific point of the manner in which they were presented. Design of the story is what I am debating.

When asked how the design matters, when the larger issue of betrayal by distinguished journos and their defeaning silence , he says there is a valid point and they need to come clean.

@ssudhirkumar precisely, frankly the key actors have a lot to answer for and I do agree that their silence is deafenin

Exactly our point! It really doesn't matter to us why there was selective leaking, or what professional "jealousy" (as termed by Sagarika Ghose) has led to these publications of the tapes. Those who don't miss out on an opportunity to lecture us on morality have betrayed us, and they need to answer. Period.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mediagate - Part 2 !

This is a continuation of the earlier elaborate post - Mediagate. Came across this post today. Written by B.V.Rao of Governance Now, this article counters Vir Sanghvi when he first wrote that Ambani article (and therefore feels very vindicated about his observation - given what the tapes have now revealed!). Especially those sattires referrring to Vir's food articles are sooper!

The print media has been slowly picking up the tapes story. After Open, Outlook and Mail Today - New Indian Express and Deccan Herald have covered the news, and have written editorials too. And today, The Hindu published a lead article, speaking of these tapes in nice detail. And this article made very interesting read - primarily because the most pompous Vir Sanghvi says that even if he did pass information it was not wrong!

He insisted that he had never acted on Ms Radia's requests to call Mr. Patel or anyone else in the Congress “as anyone in the government will know.” However, even if he had called Mr. Patel as promised, it would not have been unethical if it was not privileged or secretly communicated information, he felt.

And then when Barkha was questioned, she refused to answer citing "legal concerns" !!!! This is more huge - what "legal concerns" do you have here Barkha? What just is your problem in coming out with facts, instead of general rhetoric?

Ms Dutt declined to answer The Hindu's questions, citing legal concerns, but she has been freely offering answers to similar queries on her Twitter account over the past few days.

Most of Barkha's response on twitter are to people who are supporting her. To those questioning her, she asks back why only her tapes were released;whether it is ethical for Open and Outlook to air them etc etc. After a couple of days, I have stopped following her replies (if you have the patience, please visit She needs to answer many specific questions, and only a long article will do justice to it. Merely rubbishing off questions in 140 characters amounts to trivialising the issue. And please, no marks for attempting to have a debate on twitter - that will count only if you answer the tough questions.

While the blackout of the tapes on TV continues (only IBN did a 30 min discussion on this - without airing the tapes though) - many people still await a satisfactory response from the pompous Vir Sanghvi and Her Highness Barkha Dutt.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

That's all, Your Honour! : Nov.14-20

Before getting into the details, a top story this week that the ENTIRE TV media has blacked out - The Mediagate scandal!

1. Finally, A. Raja resigned! Late last Sunday night. It was widely expected that Parliament will now function, but the opposition has not budged from its demand on JPC. Parliament has ben adjourned all week because the government is also not budging from its stand of not having a JPC! And amidst all this, for the first time in the history of Independent India, the Supreme Court has questioned the Prime Minister's silence for 16 long months, on a request by Subramaniam Swamy seeking permission to prosecute A. Raja. The Prime Minister has filed an affidavit detailing what all had been done. And then CNN-IBN breaks a story showing how DMK "arm-twisted" the PM into changing the terms of reference for the GoM on spectrum allocation. That the "honest" and "decent" Prime Minister stood as a mute spectator to this loot is also no open secret. However what is elementary, and what our complicit media has very conveiniently dodged this time too, is the gross surrendering of the Congress party, led by Sonia Gandhi, to "coalition dharma". As much as the Prime Minister is guilty of allowing Raja to loot, equal culpability lies at the steps of Sonia Gandhi's house too. Why was she not strong enough to tell DMK that Raja is not acceptable? While the loot was happening, why was Sonia Gandhi silent? That the Congress party has been bending and crawling, even while such open loot was happening, is no big secret. We all know the Prime Minister does not have the political mandate to take on the DMK and it is only the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi who has this mandate. Why then, is Sonia Gandhi above questioning in this whole sordid saga of A. Raja?

2. And Yeddyurappa is back in news! First it was the Bellary brothers' revolt. Later, it was the split in the party. And now, JD(S) released documents that he alloted government land to his sons and other relatives at throw away prices. And also apparently some rules were bent, so that these lands could be acquired. And as expected, clamour for his resignation began. BJP should seriously consider this option too. There are just too many things propping up time and again. The failure of BJP to appear strong when such things are occuring, is a blow to its image in the country. Meanwhile, Yeddyurappa says that all the land has been surrendered and that there is no need for resigning. The BJP central leadership is yet to take a decision on this matter. Looks like we have to wait one more week to see how this plays out.

3. And Jagan is also back in the news! Sakshi channel, owned by him, telecasted a scathing program on how bad Sonia Gandhi is running the party ! A Congress MP running such kind of a story in a state which sent the highest MP's for the party, would obviously make it to National news in any other country, but not in ours! Quite expectedly, all Congress leaders in the state are jumping up and down in anger. They are unable to digest any kind of criticism against their "madam". Some voices were even choking! The Chief Minister, who is steadfast in responding only when "Madam" is insulted has released his mandatory condemnation too. Other TV channels had a field day in "analysing" this open defiance by Jagan. And about the voter - phew! Who really cares, your honour!

అదన్నమాట! :నవంబర్ 14-20

అసలు మన రాష్ట్రానికి పట్టిన దరిద్రం ఏంటో ! మొన్నామధ్య ఏపీపీఎస్సీ పరీక్షలు వాయద వెయ్యమని, తెలంగాణా విద్యార్ధులు రచ్చ చేస్తే, మన ప్రబుత్వం అంచనాలకు భిన్నంగా , గట్టిగా తన మాట మీద నిలబడి, పరీక్షను నిర్వహించింది. అదే సామర్ధ్యం ఇప్పుడు మళ్ళి ప్రదర్శించాల్సిన తరుణం వస్తే, మొహం చాటేసింది !

రాష్ట్రం లో ఎస్సై పోస్ట్స్ కోసం నిర్వహించాల్సిన పరీక్షలను వాయద వేసింది . కారణం - మళ్ళి తెలంగాణా విద్యార్ధుల రచ్చ . రెండేళ్ళు గా వాయద పడుతూ వస్తున్నా పరీక్ష ని ఎత్తి పరిస్థితుల్లో నైన నిర్వహిస్తాము అని చెప్పిన ౨౪ గంటల్లోనే మన ప్రభుత్వం ఇచిన మాట తప్పింది ! 1200 ఖాళీలు ఉన్నాయి. 65000 మంది రాయడానికి సిద్దమయ్యారు. వాళ్ళ ఆసల మీద నీళ్ళు జల్లుతూ, మన ప్రబుత్వం మళ్ళి ఇంకో సారి ఇలాంటి గూండాలకి తలొగ్గింది. తెలంగాణా విద్యార్ధులు సంతోషించారు అంట ఈ వార్త విని ! కేవలం ఉస్మానియా విద్యార్ధులు సంబరాలు జరుపుకుంటే, మొత్తం తెలంగాణా వాళ్ళు జరిపినట్ట అండి? ఎంతో మంది ఈ పరీక్ష కోసం వేచి చూసారు, వాళ్ళ సంగతి ఏమిటి మరి? ఎన్నాళ్ళు ఇలాంటి హింసా వాదుల అరాచకపు వ్యవహారాలని సహించాలి ? సీమాంధ్ర ఏమో అట్టుడికింది అంట ! మళ్ళి అదే కధ. అదే ప్రబుత్వం ! ఈ దరిద్రం ఎన్నాలో? దీని నుంచి విముక్తి ఎప్పుడో ?
ఇది ఇలా ఉండగా, సాక్షి టీవీ మొన్న ఒక గంట పాటు సోనియా గాంధి మీద ఒక కధనం ప్రసారం చేసింది అంట. విచ్చలవిడి గ తిట్టి పోసింది అంట మ్యాడం గారిని !! నవ్వలేక సచ్చాను అండి బాబు ! ఈనాడు, ఆంధ్రజ్యోతి ఎంత కాంగ్రెస్స్ కి వ్యతిరేకం గా వ్యవహరించినా, నీచమైన పదజాలం వాడలేదు. మన జగన్ గారి సాక్షి టీవీ ఆ గీత ని కూడా దాటి నట్టు ఉండి ! ఇంకా కాంగ్రెస్స్ లో ఇప్పుడు పోటి పడి మరి, నాయకులు జగన్ ని తిడుతున్నారు ! ఎంతైనా మ్యాడం కి తమ విశ్వాసం ప్రదర్శించాలి కద ! అదన్నమాట!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Watergate was a major scandal back then in United States. It led to the fall of the then President too. Indian media, to showcase its utter lack of imagination, includes a "gate" to almost every scandal that gets exposed in India. Following their eminent footsteps, this blogpost has been titled "Mediagate" (word not my invention, but many folks have been using this on twitter and elsewhere, ever since the latest scoop got exposed!).

Anyways, let's get to the point. Nira Radia, a PR consultant and a lobbyist, was in news recently because of her alleged involvement in the 2G spectrum (Check out this link, for exhaustive info on links to follow). Turns out, she was also in touch with a lot of media folks. And then turns out, she had discussions with Barkha Dutt (during the 2009 UPA2 govt. formation), and Vir Sanghvi (during the 2009 UPA2 cabinet formation, and also about the Gas pricing fight between the Ambani brothers).

Quite expectedly, these have created quite a stir . And also quite expectedly, peripheral and generic rebuttals by both Barkha and Vir Sanghvi have come out too. The purpose of this blog (a copy of which has been sent to for Barkha's response. Not sure how to get in touch with Vir) is to pose some specific questions to both these eminences, with a vain hope of extracting a clarification from them. Multiple questions to Barkha on twitter (1, 2, 3, 4) have not yielded any answer from her.

The conversation between Barkha and Radia is here. These tapes are real - that much has been established. In defense of her conversation, Barkha Dutt points out:

Gathering information against the backdrop of a political story is not unethical. Nor is using that information to get more information

In isolation, this tweet looks perfect and most logical too. The problem arises, you see, when there is a difference between "using information" and "sharing information". Take for example this line by Barkha:

Oh God. So now what? What should I tell them? Tell me what should I tell them?

Now, the first and foremost commonsense question that comes to mind is - who are "them". What should Barkha tell "them" that will ease the situation? When asked this pointed question on twitter, there is no answer. When asked if finding out what to "tell them" is "sourcing" information, no answer.

We move on. To this line.

BARKHA: Also, but, but the Congress needs to tell Karunanidhi that we have not said anything about Maran.

BARKHA: Okay. Let me talk to them again.

So here she says she will talk to "them" again on what needs to be communicated. Naturally, a doubt arises if that communication has happened. But hey - ask her this and no answer!

Lastly this -

BARKHA: No, I’ll set it up as soon as they get out of RCR.

RADIA: What she saying is that, you know, that someone senior like Ghulam [Nabi Azad, senior Congress leader]---because he is the one who is authorised to speak. ….

BARKHA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

RADIA: Right? Was to speak to her then she can tell her father that I have got this message from the Congress.

BARKHA: Theek hai, not a problem. That’s not a problem, I’ll talk to Azad---I’ll talk to Azad right after I get out of RCR [Race Course Road, presumably, the PM’s residence].

RADIA: Yeah, and then she said when father lands, I can speak to him.


"Sharing" information eh? "Sourcing" Information, did someone say? "I will set it up" comes under these categories?

Well to be fair, here's what she replied to some folks in a generic sense. No specifics. Only generics.

@diptosh Thanks for a voice of sanity.Many things said as diplomatic nice-nice to get info. Challenge magazines to prove any quid pro quo

Now would she care to define "many things"? Assuring that something will be "set-up" is part of a "diplomatice nice-nice" to get info?

Barkha also says this -

Radia was a valid news source for DMK camp. She gave info on Karunanidhi, and sought my analysis on what Cong may do next. Valid journalism.

I am sorry, but from the tapes, does it really sound like someone's "analysis" was being sought? Is it just about interpretation here?

@samratd diff btwen humouring a news source politely and acting. for the record, no call was made to azad. Check with him.

Yeah right, we should check with Azad (because he is one icon of trustworthiness!) And despite Barkha not delivering on "many things", I just wonder why Radia keeps calling her up? Radia is not as intelligent as she is made out to be?

There are more specifc questions that Barkha Dutt needs to answer. From how long has she been in touch with Nira? What stories were aired on NDTV based on her sourcing (Question via auldtimer)? (since she claims she is trusted source)? Exactly who were "them" and what was "set-up"? Or were they amongst the "many things" that were just said and not acted upon? How much trust did Radia place in you, that she is asking you to pass on information (or in your terminology, "share" information)? Does NDTV group have a corporate ethics policy? 2. If yes, does it endorse an ends-justify-means strategy? For ex: can NDTV staff lie to or strike dubious deals with sources? (last 2 questions from auldtimer). And then these superb questions from the editor of Open magazine (this line added on Nov.26) . Mere rebuttals with fancy words like "defamation", "unsubstaintiated" etc etc don't mean anything at all.

It is not this blogger's contention that you "lobbied" for A. Raja or for that matter, any individual. The above questions are asked based purely on the material available on the net, and not picked up from magazines that you have accused of defaming you. Nor am I am a part of a "lynch mob".

Now comes Vir Sanghvi! More than the transcripts, his rebuttal is more hilarious! First for some points on the transcripts - He talks about writing about the Gas pricing tussle between the Ambani brothers -

VIR: What kind of story do you want? Because this will go as Counterpoint, so it will be like most-most read, but it can’t seem too slanted, yet it is an ideal opportunity to get all the points across.

Also Vir Sanghvi talks about how an entire interview has to be "scripted" before it goes on air. Vir Sanghvi in his response, does not talk about any of these. Just goes on to rant about how he has never lobbied for Raja and how that is an unfair allegation. Many questioned as to how asking for the kind of story she wants, amounts to ethical journalism. No answer yet!

Check out this piece of conversation during the cabinet formation:

VIR: I’ll pass this on?

RADIA: Yeah. Thanks. Thanks to you.

VIR: Yeah.

RADIA: That was really great, you know, you all, I mean it was exactly as you had said and…

VIR : Okay.

RADIA: They were very relieved and she was so relieved. So, wants to say thank you to you personally.

VIR: I’ll pass it…

Does this not make it clear that he was "passing" along some information for which some people were very "thankful" about? And in his "response", he says this:

I received many calls from different sources during that period. In no case did I act on those requests as anybody in the government will know.

Does the pompous Vir Sanghvi see no need to clarify on these issues too? And first of all, which magazine has accused him of "lobbying for A. Raja"?

Why should these journos get away with merely rubbishing claims that were not made in the first place? Aren't there so many grey areas in these conversations that need clarification? Or is it that they think these are not worth clarifying? Just use hi-fi words, get on the offense, shout loudly, thank their supporters (who I presume haven't read/heard the transcripts) and therefore skip the specifics? Some journalists think the "complexities" of the source-journalist relationship needs to be understood better. I am sorry, Mr. Diptosh - getting away with such language doesn't befit the profession you are in!

It is an open challenge to these journos to answer these specific questions. Mere generic and peripheral "rebuttals" are not helping in bringing this watershed moment a.k.a the "Mediagate" to a closure!

PS: This blog has more follow-up posts on Mediagate, after writing this one. This link will take you to all posts labelled mediagate.