Category Archives: For the record

Narendra Modi and Amit Shah brutally divided Jammu and Kashmir. Now, the media have neatly divided themselves: foreign vs ‘desi’; local vs Delhi; Kashmiri vs Pandit—journalism vs propaganda

Like so much else since the dawn of civilisation in 2014, journalistic coverage and assessment of the situation in Kashmir after the removal of Article 370 in the Valley has been severely polarised. On the one side is a contest between the establishment view of the Narendra Modi government, and the independent view of foreign news…

A brave woman newspaper Editor shows the chutzpah to mount a legal challenge to the Narendra Modi government’s squeeze on media freedom in Kashmir, while industry bodies watch on smugly

Indian media bodies—Press Council of India, Indian Newspaper Society, Editors Guild of India, the various Press Clubs et al—have been happy to watch the extraordinary squeeze on journalism in Kashmir, following the Narendra Modi government’s decision to strip the Valley of special Article 370, silently from the sidelines. Silence bordering on complicity. It is as…

Editors Guild finally—finally!—speaks out on “draconian” Kashmir media blackout, seeks fair access for local reporters

Six days after a blanket ban on communications crippled journalism in Kashmir, the Editors Guild of India finally has finally found its voice. “The Editors Guild of India is deeply concerned over the continued shutdown in communication links with the Kashmir Valley and the consequent curtailment of the media’s freedom and ability to report fairly…

In the middle of an inexorable conflict situation in Kashmir, despite a brutal, undemocratic crackdown on civil liberties, there’s only one thing on the mind of a ‘saas’ who was once ‘bahu’

Mothers will be mothers, but reporters can be saviours. Vijaita Singh, a journalist with The Hindu, on assignment in Kashmir, met a woman in Srinagar, at a so-called “helpline” where citizens are allowed to make a phon calls, like prisoners. In the midst of a massive clampdown on communication networks in the Valley, Harvinder Singh…

In Kashmir, there are strict orders not to issue “curfew passes” to local reporters, to prevent them for going around. But then, there is no curfew, according to Delhi-based TV news channels.

As the lockdown—jargon for a brutal, undemocratic suppression of civil liberties—in Kashmir enters its fifth day, Zulfikar Majid, the Srinagar correspondent of Bangalore’s oldest English daily Deccan Herald recounts his search for an internet connection. “I managed to reach the office of a regional newspaper, hoping to get internet access. “I saw the faces of…

For three days running, Kashmir’s newspapers have not been published. To no one’s surprise, neither the Press Council of India, nor the Indian Newspaper Society, nor the Editors Guild seem to be unduly bothered.

These are the front pages of four English language newspapers published from Srinagar, for Sunday, August 4, and Monday, August 5, 2019. The newspapers have not been published on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, following the clampdown on phone, internet, broadband, and cable TV services in the wake of India’s decision to strip the Valley of…

Screenshots, thumb drives, sat phones, OB vans, and all the fancy footwork that fine reporters are using to get their stories out to counter the “propaganda blitzkrieg” on Kashmir

Three days on, the first reports are coming in of the situation on the ground in Kashmir, after New Delhi imposed a blanket clampdown on landline, mobile and internet services, before revoking #Article370 in the Valley. The Telegraph‘s Sankarshan Thakur (above) has a diary of the run-up to the “lockdown”—jargon for a brutal suppression for…

With phones, mobiles and internet switched off, it’s a psychological “war without witness” in Kashmir. And it’s hell for reporters, photographers and cameramen in paradise.

The “lockdown” of Kashmir—mild jargon for a brutal, undemocratic suppression of civil liberties in the Valley—in the run up to and following the bifurcation of the State has cast a dark shadow over journalism with phone lines cut and internet shut. The Telegraph (above) reports in its issue today that it has not been able…

Out of 24 newspapers in 9 languages, only three consider Ravish Kumar’s Magsaysay Award worthy of proper front-page display. George Orwell, also born in Motihari, would be convinced that “Big Brother is watching you”.

How much pride does Indian news media have in one of its own—Ravish Kumar of NDTV India—winnning the 2019 Magsaysay Award for “harnessing journalism to give voice to the voiceless”? Surely, it is front-page news given the spate of bad news dogging the industry? Surely, it is the kind of feel-good stories owners and managers…

Ravish Kumar’s citation (878 words) compared to Arun Shourie’s (575 words) is a testament to how much media freedom has shrunk in India under “popular authoritarianism”. It is a tight slap on Narendra Modi’s tax terrorists—and a salute to Prannoy and Radhika Roy.

In 1982, in the wake of Indira Gandhi‘s Emergency, the Ramon Magsaysay foundation awarded Indian Express editor Arun Shourie with the Magsaysay Award. Shourie’s citation was 575 words long. In 2019, NDTV India’s Ravish Kumar has been honoured with what is considered to be the “Asian Nobel”. Kumar’s citation is 878 words long. The length…

When a journalist feels great about his profession these days, it is news—and it is news to celebrate

These aren’t the days when journalists wake up and feel great about the world—or their profession. But Man Aman Singh Chhina of the The Indian Express has enough reason to feel proud of the power of the press even in these gloomy times. On Friday, July 26, his paper front-paged a report on a Kargil…

It’s curtains for Busybee’s baby, the ‘Afternoon Despatch & Courier’

The Afternoon Despatch & Courier was launched by Behram Contractor alias ‘Busybee‘ in what was a protest action against goings-on in Mid-Day. The founder is long gone, and the paper soon will. *** Farzana Contractor recounts the launch of the paper, in Mumbai Mirror.

How an ‘Indian Express’ reporter was the conduit for the Vajpayee government to learn that Pakistan had invaded the icy heights of Kargil in 1999

2019 marks the 20th anniversary of Pakistan’s incursion to Kargil and the war that followed with India. Sushant Singh of The Indian Express recounts the role played by the paper’s then defence correspondent Manvendra Singh in relaying the news to his father, Jaswant Singh. “At the beginning of the second week of May 1999, I…

On the day after Narendra Modi’s stunning triumph, the further you move away from the Hindi heartland, the more sober the newspaper front pages get

Narendra Modi‘s stunning victory in the 2019 general elections has resulted in a not unusual journalistic overkill that has been the hallmark of his first five years in office. The country’s biggest English newspaper has an all-Hindi headline, ‘Chowkidar’s Chamtkaar‘, but at least there is a semblance of sobriety in most the headlines and coverage…

56 years later, the last TV interview of India’s first prime minister offers a stark and sobering contrast to the first press “appearance” of the 14th PM

After 1,817 days—in his final week in office at the end of his five year term—prime minister Narendra Modi presented himself in a press conference at the BJP headquarters in Delhi—and took no questions. This extraordinary and advertised disdain for the freedom of the press to question a prime minister—freely and openly, without a script…

Wisdom at the ‘Sangam’: Journalist Jawid Laiq has called seven elections in the last 42 years with greater accuracy than exit pollsters just by dipping his finger in the Ganga. Will 2019 reverse that trend?

After watching Indians at a polling booth and failing to read their mind on which way they were inclined to vote, James Reston, the late executive editor of The New York Times, grandly concluded that an election was a secret communion between a voter and democracy—it is sacrilegious to pry.  Now, where “Scotty” wrote this…

“Nothing less than a landslide against Narendra Modi can redeem us as a nation and pull us out of the rut of neutrality and nonchalance”: R. Rajagopal, editor, ‘The Telegraph’

“A city can be judged by the quality of its water and its newspapers,” is a quote often attributed to the playwright Arthur Miller. The day after BJP hoodlums went on the rampage in Calcutta, The Telegraph shows it is the city’s conscience-keeper, speaking out clearly (and courageously) against BJP’s advertised ‘goondagiri’, which lives off the quiescence…

Why the Malayalam newspapers ‘Kerala Kaumudi’ and ‘Mangalam’ should apologise to Razik Raheem and his wife, for ruining their lives, careers and reputations

In April 2019, the Kerala High Court acquitted five men charged in the so-called “Panayikkulam terror camp case” of 2006. Nizamudeen, Razik Raheem, Shammas, Ansar and P.A. Shaduli, were among the 17 who had been arrested for allegedly organising a secret meeting of the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India in Ernakulam district. They were…

All indications are that India is heading for a major economic slowdown, but it is unlikely you will get that impression reading the so-called business newspapers

The less said about India’s business newspapers the better, but sometimes it has to be reiterated that they live in an alternate universe, all of their own making. Not one of them ever breaks a scam, although the state is seemingly receding from the lives of people and business houses are taking over. Most are…

How five Prime Ministers before the ‘Divider-in-Chief’ dealt with the media—from the pen of a Kannadiga who (honourably) served four of them, under three different political formulations

Today is the second death anniversary of I. Ramamohan Rao, the genial Kannadiga who served as the principal spokesman of the government of India under four prime ministers and under three different political formulations. There is an advertisement (above) in the Delhi papers to mark the date. Rao, who like most Dakshina Kannada boys of…