There once used to be a time when any new announcement by Reliance Industries would be put under the microscope by the media and examined with a fine toothcomb.
A rights issue, a new venture. a tie-up, even a routine annual general meeting (AGM). Everything would be inspected with forensic detail by newspapers like the Indian Express given the track record and reputation of Dhirubhai Ambani’s company.
It is a reflection of how high Reliance has soared—or perhaps a reflection of how journalism has been hollowed out, or co-opeted—that there is nearly no critical commentary on RIL’s recent announcements.
Rather than investigating how Mukesh Ambani was able to swing deal after deal for Jio in the lockdown period when the whole world was shut, the media is in a celebratory mood.
Rather than asking questions about the implications of a single company controlling the entire chain from production, to distribution, to consumption, newspapers are advising regulators to lay off.
And rather than asking how RIL will roll out 5G when it holds none of the patents, there are servile editorials on the company’s pivot from the industrial to the information age.
In this episode of J-POD, the podcast on journalism, Paranjoy Guha Tharkurta, former editor of the Economic and Political Weekly, discusses some of the issues that ought to be at the forefront of the conversation on Reliance Jio’s latest deals.
In a 43-year-long career in journalism, Thakurta has worked for newspapers and magazines, and done books and documentaries, and hosted television chat shows.
Thakurta, who was at the forefront of the investigation into the 2G spectrum and coal allocation scams that dogged the Manmohan Singh government, has explored crony capitalism and illicit financial flows up close.
Naturally, the Ambanis and Adanis have attracted keen interest in his endeavours.
JFA demands justicefor journalist Rajib Sarma
Guwahati: Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA), while expressingshock at the arrest of a senior scribe by the Dhubri police, urges the Stategovernment in Dispur to release journalist Rajib Sarma unconditionally. Theforum reveals that Rajib invited enmities from a section of anti-socialelements with his media coverage in the satellite news channel named DY365.
“It was so annoying that Rajib’s ailing father (Sudhin Sarma,64) collapsed on 16 July morning as he seemingly could not bear the arrest ofhis son from their residence during the previous night. Rajib received a three-day interim bail from thelocal court to perform his father’s last rite at Gauripur cremation ground inpresence of a few relative & well-wishers,” said a statement issued by JFApresident Rupam Barua and secretary Nava Thakuria.
The forum also urges the management of satellite channelDY365 to extend necessary supports to Rajib as he has to go for a legal battlefollowing an FIR lodged against him by a forest officer in the Dhubri policestation. The officer alleged that the television scribe demanded money fromhim, which Rajib strongly denied sayingthat it was his extensive reporting on the cattle smuggling (to Bangladesh) andcorruption that invited the hostility. Rajib, also the secretary of Dhubri Press Club,was supported by the local scribes for all the hours. As the energetic scribetook many risky assignments for the news channel, he should now be thoroughly supportedby its Guwahati based management in the time of crisis, asserted the JFAstatement adding that vey often media houses try to wash their hands when theirscribes face a medical emergency or other professional hazards.