Category Archives: Issues and Ideas

“In an authoritarian state there is only one Truth; the newspapers are all alike, they all repeat the same one Truth. So do the radio stations, and you cannot listen to those of other countries”

What does a Kashmiri journalist who is neither a fidayeen anchor nor a studio warrior of the commando comic TV channels—on either side of the line of no control—feel about the undemocratic and unaccountable crackdown on media in the Valley? Srinagar-based journalist and broadcaster Gowhar Geelani—who believes both India and Pakistan should stay off Kashmir—has…

Raja Mohi-ud-din: editor, printer, publisher, distributor, messenger and store manager of a one-sheet Kashmiri newspaper that sells 500 copies in 5 minutes

In the New York Times, a graphic report of the state of journalists and journalism in Kashmir, following the communications blackout in the Valley. The paper tracks the life of Raja Mohi-ud-din, the editor of a Kashmiri newspaper, who wakes up at 2 am, carries the news for the next day’s issue on a pen…

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 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…

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…

To eat or not to eat with a suspicious host who says you can only sit in the verandah but not enter the kitchen where the numbers are cooked

The unintended consequences of the Union finance ministry’s decision to bar entry to journalists pre-screened by the Union home ministry. “Some ministry officials have said they do not like the idea of journalists prowling the ministry’s corridors and do not wish to be accosted whenever they step out of their rooms. They have claimed that…

Editor of Kashmir’s largest English newspaper picked up for ‘questioning’ in three-decade-old case

Successive Indian governments have turned off and turned on advertisements to Kashmir’s newspapers citing “anti-national” activity, invoking barely a whimper from India’s nationalist media. Now, the Editor and owner of Greater Kashmir Fayaz Ahmad Kaloo has been picked up for questioning by the national investigation agency, and there’s barely a squeak even in the Kashmiri…

33 headlines of columns on the Union budget in today’s newspapers that show ‘chamchagiri’ was, is, and shall always be a sunrise industry

Business journalism is, generally speaking, an oxymoron in India. On the day of the Union budget, it reaches another level. Be it a Congress government or BJP one, the average score for the budget veers between 9 and 10, as fear meets exuberance. 2019 is no different, as the headlines of “columns” by corporate honchos,…

In battle between newspapers and ‘desi’ newsprint manufacturers, Modi signals which side he is on

Notwithstanding the glowing readership numbers, large sections of India’s news media industry are in choppy waters, battling a low rupee, high newsprint prices, and falling advertising revenues as Google and Facebook conquer the digital space. As if that weren’t enough, the Narendra Modi government has signalled its intentions with a 10% customs duty on newsprint,…

FIR against newspaper Editor in Karnataka as chief minister Kumaraswamy (a TV channel owner himself) suffers from a major son stroke

Karnataka chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is having a major media meltdown. At various times in the year gone by, he has threatened not to speak to the press, railed against TV shows that satirise him, sought laws to regulate the media. But the debacle in #GeneralElections2019, or specifically the debacle for his family, has brought…

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…