For more than two months now, media tongues have wagged merrily as to why Financial World, the new business daily from the Tehelka stable, didn’t see the light of day.
With established players like Economic Times and Business Standard ramping up their offerings, did the publishers see the writing on the wall? Did the promoters tighten the purse strings? Etcetera.
K.D. Singh, the controversial poultry entrepreneur behind the Republic of Chicken chain and a member of Parliament four months ago of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and now of the Trinamool Congress, clears the air in The Economic Times on Sunday:
“Singh seems to share the late Ambani’s fondness for experimenting with media investments. He has bought a big stake in Anant Media Pvt Ltd, which publishes the Tehelka magazine.
“The company’s plans to launch a business daily, the Financial World, were aborted in January because Singh is said to have reneged on a promised 100 crore.
“Singh denies this. He says the decision to call off the venture was entirely Tehelka’s. “I am a silent investor in Anant Media. I don’t interfere in the day-to-day affairs.”
“Tarun J Tejpal, editor-in-chief of Tehelka and a promoter of Anant Media, concurs. “All the calls, including the one to scale down the project and rejig it for a far more modest existence, were mine.” Tejpal says Singh has never called asking for anything or suggesting anything. “I hope it stays that way.”
For a wannabe media owner, K.D. Singh has enjoyed what, at best, can be described as a colourful political life.
On the day of his election to the Rajya Sabha on the JMM ticket in July 2010, Singh was snared by a sting operation masterminded by former Tehelka journalist Aniruddha Bahal‘s cobrapost.com, that showed he had paid his way into the upper house of Parliament.
The sting was aired on CNN-IBN, on which he soon emerged as a political talking head.
His defection from JMM to the Trinamool resulted in violent clashes in Ranchi.
Last week, Singh was stopped at Delhi airport with Rs 57 lakh in cash, as he proceeded to election-bound Assam. He was let off after he apparently convinced the air intelligence unit of the income-tax department that the money was all accounted for.
In 2009, The Tribune, Chandigarh, reported that he had surrendered “Rs 22 crore of unacounted income” following surveys by the income-tax department on eleven of his business establishments. (View a Google cache of the 2009 annual report of Alchemist here.)
Two weeks ago, India Today published a glowing profile of Singh which revealed that he was close to launching a Bengali news channel.
Also read: After the Niira Radia tapes, the B. Raman letters!
With due respect, I would like the high-profile Civil Society, who have just now come into power to declare their assets. The power of passing new laws is the greatest power in the hands of MPs and MLAs, but Jantar Mantar party of civil society has got that power without their having to contest an election. They are now more powerful than the Congress or BJP. But will they condescend to declare their assets.
The members of so-called Civil Society who will sit down to legislate the new Lok Pal Bill should be like the Caesar’s Wife. Like the Caesar’s wife they should not only be pure, they should also be perceived to be pure.
Right now very little is known about these individuals and NGOs, so can we have some kind of clarity please. In India corruption is not a monopoly of the government, even sportspersons, celebrities and NGOs have been found to be corrupt.
Please declare your assets and that of your close relatives for the last ten years – this is my humble request to the NGOs of Jantar Mantar.
Shame on Tarun J. Tejpal, Tehelka’s self-righteous editor, for accepting a crutch from the glib political player, Kanvar Deep “KD” Singh. Talk of media indebtedness to dirty money! — or of editor doublespeak!
On another note, Shri. Singh is the self-admitted killer of a billion chickens, whose blood-gurgling “duas” will, I am quite sure, remain with him for the next seven births…
I am sad — and mad — that in the Rajya Sabha, murderers, butchers and players have increasingly replaced scholars, humanists and Gandhians. K.D. Singh (“KD,” coincidentally, is Kannada slang for “cheap crook”) is a low example of that trend.
Kudos to Sans Serif for a fine report.
Superb report which points to the truth that charity (and honesty, and decency) would ideally begin at home. A financial newspaper started with much fanfare, meagre foresight, and plenty of misplaced haste in recruiting a good number of journalists well in advance of the launch; culminating in a hasty retreat at the last minute sometime in January — in the process, leaving its own tribe high and dry.
Tehelka promised to pay the journalists who had joined FW in good trust salaries for two months. The salaries for February weren’t paid. Neither have the dues or allowances been settled.
Tehelka gained its reputation by emphasising the absence of the probity gene in our political and economic spheres. But its attitude to its own employees clearly makes it an exemplar of the very malfeasance and corruption it has been striving to highlight. Shame on Tejpal all the more!!
Many journos had left FW Tehelka even before any matter was public… as known to ones that stayed back…seek and ye shall find, is my only tip!
[…] The demise of Tehelka will result in a lot if job losses, and I hope they all get jobs soon. Some have already quit on principle. But I wonder how many worrying about the salaries of Tehelka staffers shed tears for the journalists Tehelka hired and immediately fired for a paper he started, called Financial World. […]
[…] The demise of Tehelka will result in a lot of job losses, and I hope they all get jobs soon. Some have already quit on principle. But I wonder how many worrying about the salaries of Tehelka staffers shed tears for the journalistsTehelka hired and immediately fired for a paper Tejpal started, calledFinancial World. […]