Thursday, March 14, 2019

Chandrababu Naidu and the TDP continue to lie about the Railway Zone in Andhra Pradesh. The compliant media in AP does not question them.

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference:

A railway zone for Visakhapatnam was one of the key demands of the people of AP when the Congress party was trying to hurriedly get the AP Reorganization Bill passed. As usual, the Congress party told us that a new railway zone for Visakhapatnam will be given as part of the splitting of AP into two states. People of course assumed that it is now a mere formality. But then where there is Congress party, there is always a cynical twist. Here is what the Act promises (emphasis mine):
8. Indian Railways shall, within six months from the appointed day, examine establishing a new railway zone in the successor State of Andhra Pradesh and take an expeditious decision thereon;”
The Act only promises an examination! So technically one can examine, come back and say it isn’t feasible and that would still mean that the promise has been fulfilled!
Needless to say, a committee setup to examine this, came up with the recommendation that a new railway zone is not feasible! Infact, the UPA government rejected a similar demand in 2013 itself – again based on a committee report. Miraculously in 2014, the UPA created an impression that it is now ready to declare a special zone for AP, while still officially only promising yet another examination only!
The wordplay obviously didn’t go well with the people. While the NDA government was continuously mentioning that the door has not been closed despite rejection by a committee, as mentioned in my earlier articles too, the people of AP were justifiably vociferous in their demand for a separate railway zone. Multiple representations to the central ministers have been given and multiple mentions of the same were made in Parliament too.
And in February 2019, Railway minister Piyush Goyal has announced the creation of a new railway zone – South Coastal Railway (SCoR) zone, headquartered at Vizag. He also announced that three divisions from the South Central Railway (SCR) will now be part of this new zone. The existing Waltair division will be split into two – one part will be merged into SCoR, and a new division headquarters at Rayagad (Odisha) will be created for the second part.
So here’s the bottom line - Both the South Central Railway zone and the East Coast Railway zone lose administrative jurisdiction with the creation of new South Coast Railway at Vizag. Almost the entire state of Andhra Pradesh will now fall into one railway zone – the SCoR. The biggest gainer here is of course Andhra Pradesh. So you would expect all round cheer for the same, right? Now is the time to get stumped!
Here’s where the TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu has yet again shown his true colors by spreading blatant lies in order to gain some sympathy. He and his son first started with the lie that by splitting Waltair division, AP stands to lose revenue of 6500 crores! No one knows from which thin air this number was pulled out in the first place!
First of all, all revenue from the zones goes into the kitty of Indian Railways, not to the state in which the zone is headquartered! Second, and most importantly, if the Waltair division is split into two, people must also remember that three big divisions have been taken away from SCR and merged with the new SCoR. Would one want to crib the split of one division or do you want to welcome the addition of 3 new divisions?
The second lie Chandrababu Naidu perpetrated is that there is no Railway Recruitment Board that will come up at Visakhapatnam. This is even more shocking because the press release clearly mentions that with the creation of this new zone, the Railway recruitment board will be setup in Visakhapatnam, and therefore benefit the people of AP a lot!
The heavily compliant media picked up on these two lies. They ran multiple programs on how Andhra Pradesh is losing out on revenue – a revenue that was never its own in the first place! They have yet again tried to create an impression that this zone isn’t going to benefit AP. Don’t believe me? Here is a snapshot of an op-ed in the largest circulated telugu newspaper. The headline screams “No Engine to the Railway Zone”. However, from the same article, we also have these – “Almost entire AP will now come under one zone” and most importantly “Employment opportunities to increase”.
I am still at a loss of words as to how the TDP bunch continues to whine, crib and most disgustingly lie. With this promise, the NDA government has fulfilled 11 out of the 14 promises made in the AP Reorganization Act. We have discussed about all of these promises in an earlier article on this platform. The people of Andhra Pradesh deserve a better media that informs them all facts so that they can make an educated decision. Not a heavily compliant media that merely parrots Chandrababu Naidu’s lies and confuses them.

The Hindu tries to spin its own spin on Rafale and it sinks to yet another low

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference:

Neither vainglorious not venturesome”, screamed the headline of this week’s Readers Editors column of The Hindu. Just so you get a measure of how much print space this alleged clarification got in The Hindu today, look at the image above.
What is all this about some glory going in vain? You would recollect how N. Ram and The Hindu allegedly published a cropped defense note. #CropItLikeTheHindu was the top trend on the day The Hindu got exposed for relying an entire report on a cropped document. The moment ANI and the Defense Minister outed the full document, which very clearly showed the Defense Minister’s noting too, one would have imagined The Hindu will take a step back and say sorry.
As is the wont of the English media, they have simply moved on. Or I thought so, until today! The Readers Editor introduced us to “crucial forensic details”. Oh boy, things just went into another level. Crucial forensic details. We are treading into a very intellectual path now!
What is the detail? The original note put out by N.Ram didn’t have numbered sequence. The note put out by ANI had a numbered sequence – i.e. – the Defense Secretary’s noting was numbered 12; the Defense Minister’s noting was numbered 13. Therefore the document put out by ANI is a “subsequent document”. N. Ram therefore didn’t do anything wrong. Hence proved.
This deserves a slow clap. Along with a standing ovation. Such “crucial forensic details” should further be employed by our investigative agencies immediately! But seriously, dear The Hindu, what happened to you? Why are you embarrassing yourself day in and day out? You actually don’t realise your lies? Have you become that delusional?
Why do I think you are delusional? Let’s take a look at the note N.Ram published. In the image below, I am also highlighting something at the end.
This signature is cropped. You can see the ANI document to understand that. The note you originally published has been cropped to the exact pixel where “RM” is written on the left side. Take a very very close look. It is cropped to exactly the point where RM’s response begins. I wonder why this “crucial forensic detail” escaped your attention.
Now let’s assume that the note N. Ram got was an initial version and did not have the RM’s response in it. If so, why crop the signature? Why not just show us the full document that has been received by N.Ram? What great journalistic value is stopping you from publishing the original full note that N.Ram has received?
Immediately after being caught, the spin put out by team Hindu would have put Anil Kumble to shame. They started claiming that the ANI document is new proof. And that the comments by the Defense Minister are even more damaging. Now, let’s assume they are indeed damaging. Then why would you want to NOT publish them in the first place?! Let’s now assume the document N. Ram got didn’t have RM’s response. Wouldn’t any journalism student want to first find out if the Raksha Mantri had responded to this note, given how the file was sent to him?!
Bottom line – N. Ram either cropped the document on purpose or was a lethargic journalist in not attempting to find out the Raksha Mantri’s response! This “crucial forensic detail” of numbered sequences is merely a whitewash and infact insults the intelligence of today’s reader.
The Readers Editor is a unique institution of The Hindu. He publishes a clarification column every day, where in factual errors and typos are rectified. And every Monday, he writes a column, about whatever topic he wishes to. The first RE often discussed readers concerns. The second RE occasionally discussed readers concerns.  The third and the current RE, rarely discusses readers concerns and often ends up taking the side of the newspaper. I would have loved to call today “crucial forensic details” as the nadir, but I am very confident that The Hindu has some more depths to plunge. So for today, let’s just slow clap at the alleged clarification!

The Hindu seems to have invested heavily into a BJP defeat in the 2019 elections. What else explains their persistence with these lies on Rafale?

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it below for reference:

After penning down a rebuttal to N.Ram of The Hindu, it stuck to me that the reader might assume that this attack by The Hindu is an isolated incident to gather some eyeballs. It is not, and here are instances from recent past that explain a consistency in The Hindu’s strategy to further the same lies again and again.
Let’s begin at September 2018.
The Hindu wrote an editorial on September 22, 2018 titled “The Plane Truth”. They begin with a startling claim:
“… the clarificatory statements issued — by the Centre, the French Foreign Ministry and Dassault — did little to clearly address what Mr. Hollande had said.  
But what did Mr. Hollande, the former French President say? The editorial makes life easier by telling us what Hollande allegedly said – “…it was India that suggested the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Defence Ltd. as the offset partner for the deal.”
Almost immediately, all concerned parties have issued separate statements. Dassault saying that Indian government had no role. Indian government reiterating that they had no role in Dassault choosing any partner. French government saying that this was a government to government deal – every one of them has reiterated oft stated positions. Leave all these – even Mr. Hollande has told an agency AFP that he isn’t aware of any pressure on Dassault.
Amidst all this – why does The Hindu think that the clarificatory statements did “little to clearly address what Mr. Hollande had said”? They go on to repeat the question yet again:
But all this merely begs the question: did the Centre suggest a partnership with Reliance Defence as Mr. Hollande said?
I am still trying to understand the question! The Centre has said NO. Why does it “beg” the same question again and again? Is The Hindu expecting an answer they want to hear, and will not accept any other answer? Because they continue their tirade.
Also, if so, what form did it take? A firm nudge in that direction? A quiet whisper in someone’s ear?”
If so? The answer is already a NO. Language such as nudge and whisper may make for good dramatic reading but is no substitute to hide the glaring agenda peddling happening in the garb of news! The tirade doesn’t stop
Who suggested to who? And when?”
When the clarification reads an emphatic NO, why this constant barrage of irrelevant questions? Why doesn’t The Hindu don the role of investigative agencies and grill Mr. Hollande on his alleged claim?
Well, what would one investigate when one claims that there is no financial trail that smells of a scam exists for Rafale? Snipper from the editorial itself: “the corruption allegations have persisted in the absence — unlike in the case of some other defence deals such as Bofors — of a financial trail”.
The editorial amusingly ends with a suggestion that “private briefings to Opposition leaders and the disclosure of all information that doesn’t jeopardize national security or impact the aircrafts’ operational capability are good starting points”. Now, did The Hindu really think that the likes of Rahul Gandhi will stop peddling lies even after being briefed? I have been wondering how such ideas come up at The Hindu!  Let’s park this here for now, and move on to November 2018.
The report and graphic of November 2018.
While submitting an affidavit to the Supreme Court for the frivolous case filed by Prashant Bhushan and his ilk, the central government had mentioned that the “French govt. didn’t guarantee Rafale deal”.
The Hindu viewed this as a “change of stance” and told us that the government has earlier mentioned that the French government stood as a guarantee. Not only this, The Hindu added 5 more points to this bizarre claim and published a front page graphic on November 15, 2018.
Point number 1: No amount of google search has revealed any official statement at any official forum by the central government. The Hindu’s article doesn’t even mention when the government made a statement like this. It uses a vague time frame “earlier” and doesn’t give an exact date for this alleged statement. This looks more like a dictation from Prashant Bhushan!
Point number 2: Yet another bizarre claim that government said something “earlier”.
Point number 3: The mother of all bizarre claims! What stance has changed in March 2018 from September 2016?! The two points mentioned here are for barebone aircraft and a fully equipped aircraft, so how exactly is this a change of stance?!
Point number 4: Corroborated by government in and out of Parliament. Not government’s fault if The Hindu doesn’t bother to read the corroborations!
Point number 5: No deal was signed with HAL to produce the aircraft. Negotiations reached a standstill in 2014. The deal in 2015 was for 36 aircraft in flyaway condition + 30,000 crore investment by Dassault in offset companies in India. A “change of stance” can be quantified if an earlier signed deal mentioned HAL as a producer of the aircraft. When no deal existed, how can this be termed as a change of stance?!
Point number 6: “No faster delivery”? Really?! The deal was signed in 2016. The first Jet is arriving in 2019. That the first jet will arrive in 2019 was reported by The Hindu in November 2017 only! How much faster does The Hindu want it to get? And yet again, there is no mention of any official statement related to “faster delivery” or the lack of it, in the report by The Hindu.
It is therefore of little wonder that this story also didn’t get any traction. After all, why would anyone want to acknowledge such vague and lazy journalism?
Moving on to January 2019
We had pointed out how The Hindu front paged Rahul Gandhi’s vague accusations but the government’s official response was relegated to the 10thpage of the paper. And in an attempt to gain more eyeballs, The Hindu used their most potent weapon, i.e., their Chairman, N.Ram! N. Ram rehashed all these wild theories, plagiarized from other hard working journalists, used lovely English language, conducted complicated mathematical operations such and addition and division, and wrote an absolutely fascinating, long and lazy article, in which he himself demolished his own arguments!
The Hindu has been stuck in a cobweb of its own hypocrisy. From Sept 2018 to Jan 2019, by their own admission, they haven’t been able to find a single financial trial that whiffs of a scam. And yet, they have hidden as much information as possible from their (gullible) readers. Repeating the same lies once every two months might garner eyeballs, but will not gather any credibility. It looks like such attacks will increase in the days to come. The Hindu seems to have invested heavily into a BJP defeat in the 2019 elections. What else explains their persistence with these lies?

Mr N Ram and The Hindu get their 'exclusive' story on Rafale completely wrong. A graph from his own story demolishes his piece.

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference: 
Over the past 10 years, 100s of volunteers on social media took pains to research and call out poorly researched articles and fake news in the mainstream media (MSM). However, today’s article in The Hindu by none other than N. Ram has a rare distinction. Just one graph that he has himself published demolished his entire carefully crafted long piece on Rafale!
Let’s take a look at his graph only.
N. Ram tells us that the cost of the “barebones” aircraft is indeed lesser than what was negotiated in 2007. And then tells us that the costs of “design and development” has increased from 11 million to 36 million. The grouse of N. Ram is that the 13 India specific enhancements that this 36 million euros entail, have not been disclosed. That’s it – that’s the basis of his entire story today! Duh – they have not been disclosed in the interest of National Security. It may not be paramount to you, but to a vast majority of this country, National Security is very paramount. The Defense Minister has categorically answered the same in her 2 hour long reply in the Lok Sabha too.
This fallacious argument has been repeatedly shred to pieces, by volunteers, journalists, bureaucrats, ministers, and the Supreme Court. Yet, N. Ram thinks he has some path breaking journalistic article in today’s paper!
He makes yet another bizarre but an old argument – “.it is extremely unlikely that this information can remain a secret from the international community of military experts and journalists specializing in defense and security matters.” Shekhar Gupta has already made this argument in 2018 (“Today’s arms bazaar carries almost no secrets about platforms, weapons and accessories.”). I asked then and I ask now – hasn’t the job of Indian journalists become very easy if this information is not a secret in “international community of military journalists”? Instead of rehashing Rahul Gandhi’s lies, why couldn’t N. Ram do some real journalism and talk to these “international experts” to get the breakup of the 13 Indian specific designs?
Instead of doing such homework, N. Ram makes a dubious claim as follows:
Big increase in price came because a deal bypassing mandated procedures and made in the face of official objections
Official objections”? N. Ram has dedicated significant space to tell us that the pricing was Okayed by a 7 member committee on the basis of a 4-3 majority. What is the problem if the decision was based on a majority? So I read through the entire section again to see what was the exact concern of N. Ram on official objections. His only concern was all decisions were taken by a majority of 4-3. Still beats me – so what is the problem?! Is he implying that the decision should have been 7-0? Or 6-1? Of 5-2? Anything but 4-3? This is perhaps for the first time in the history of any argument that was ever made, we are being told that a group of people took a decision based on a majority vote!
Pertinent to recall how The Hindu’s board voted 6-6 for a recommendation to sack Siddarth Varadarajan as their editor. N.Ram then cast his additional vote as chairman, and facilitated the removal of Siddarth Varadarajan as editor of The Hindu. A 7-6 majority is ok in The Hindu’s board room, but a 4-3 majority is not ok for a defence deal? Or even this note by N.Ram back in 2005, where he has emphatically declared that 80% readers were in favor of the design change at The Hindu, and 20% weren’t. Despite that The Hindu went ahead with the change of design. Now, is this is a scam dear N.Ram? Do you have no limits to your hypocrisy, dear N.Ram?
Bypassing mandated procedures”? Notice how the article doesn’t mention a single procedure that was bypassed! All N.Ram mentioned is that Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar didn’t take a decision on his own and instead passed it on to the Cabinet Committee on Security. This is neither a procedure violation nor a scam. N.Ram knows this fully well, but he also knows fully well that all he needs to do is use fancy words to create doubts in the minds of the gullible reader.
Also, in the same article, N.Ram rues that mandated procedures were followed in rejecting Eurofighter’s proposal. No, am not making this up. Here is N.Ram in his own words in the exact same article where he rued about imaginary “bypassing” of mandated procedures – “The official stance that entertaining the offer at that stage was impermissible under the DPP and would also be violative of CVC guidelines was, at best, a debatable position to take.
Eurofighter’s proposal came in after the bidding process was closed – so why would the bidding process be reopened again to facilitate a fresh offer?! To do so would be violative of established procedures, and the stickler to rules that N. Ram is, he would have written a hard hitting editorial exposing the Modi government! It still amazes me as to how he cannot see his own hypocrisy.
We can discuss more, but N. Ram has further made our job easier. In conclusion he writes, “no money trail has been discovered so far in the current case.” So let’s summarize the article – There is no money trail to indicate a scam; the prices negotiated and finalized in 2016 are cheaper than equivalent negotiations only prices of 2007; decisions were based on a majority; established procedures were diligently followed; secrecy was maintained to honor National Security – so what exactly is the problem dear N. Ram?

The Hindu leads by example, it shows Rahul Gandhi what 'pliant media' is - By being more pliant towards him.

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference: 

Pliant media” thundered Rahul Gandhi. I couldn’t agree more with him. Almost as soon as he said this, “India’s National Newspaper”, The Hindu gave us an ultimate glimpse into what a “pliant media” means.
The picture above is their front page on January 7th, 2019 (Hyderabad edition).
Continuing with his series of lies, Rahul Gandhi yet again accused India’s defense minister of lying to the Parliament. Within minutes, Nirmala Sitharaman busted his lie on twitter. But notice how the Defense Minister’s response is relegated to a smaller font. Also notice how The Hindu has done no analysis of the original Times of India report. It is very painful to see The Hindu, which helped unearth the Bofors scam, to not do any kind of basic analysis. However, something even more painful happened the next day.
Since Nirmala Sitharaman cannot afford to be as irresponsible as Rahul Gandhi is, she dutifully made a statement in the Lok Sabha too, busting Rahul Gandhi’s lies. She did this on January 7th (Page 42 of this Lok Sabha bulletin). So one would obviously expect that “India’s National newspaper” will front page this on January. Here is the front page of The Hindu on January 8th.

You cannot find any news item. You can only find a small box in the top right corner that says “Nirmala Sitharaman, Rahul Gandhi continue war of words on HAL”.
So Rahul Gandhi’s wild, irresponsible and negligent comments are put on front page as if they are the gospel truth, but government’s official documents and responses on the floor of the Lok Sabha get relegated to the 10th page. Aren’t you also forced to now agree with Rahul Gandhi on “pliant media”!
This is not the first time this “pliant media” is being called out. We had earlier mentioned how The Hindu carried out a vague editorial that was full of contradictions. Despite getting clear cut answers to many of the questions, The Hindu still conveniently repeats ad nauseum the same questions that Rahul Gandhi does. In fact, The Hindu has suggested a “private briefing to opposition leaders”! This is an amusing suggestion because The Hindu really wants us to believe that a “private briefing” will change Rahul Gandhi’s mind?
Rahul Gandhi’s lies have crossed every possible limit. Yet, “pliant media” has been shielding him to an unbelievable extent. In an effort to make every statement of Rahul Gandhi look true, the media is competing to prove who is more “pliant” towards him! I will leave it to you, the reader, to decide whether such competition is even desirable.