Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Calcutta Club Debate: "Is media misleading common people?"


The media are misleading the masses.

That was the rather damning verdict of the audience this evening at The Telegraph Calcutta Club National Debate with the team arguing for the motion — “This house believes that media is misleading the masses” — winning the show of hands.

It was a debate dominated by the C-word — from commitment to commerce, content to cricket — as Shobhaa De, R. Gopalakrishnan, Sandip Chatterjee and Swapan Dasgupta proved just a bit more persua-sive than Iqbal Chagla, Raj- deep Sardesai, Mukul Kesavan and Ramachandra Guha. The British deputy high commissioner in Calcutta, Simon Wilson, was the moderator.

Playing the “female Judas”, as she said she might be perceived, and opening for the proposition was writer and columnist Shobhaa De who felt there was a degeneration of the media because news itself was for sale.

The “Big C” — commitment — that journalists had started off their careers with, has been replaced by another “C” – commerce — she said. De then attacked the content of news citing the media’s obsession with John Abraham’s buttocks and Rahul Mahajan in Bigg Boss as examples of where the media has gone wrong.

Barrister Iqbal Chagla ripped apart De’s argument saying John Abraham’s buttocks and such “asinine content” did not define misleading.

He cited examples of the media reporting a senior lawyer in Delhi caught red-handed attempting to bribe a witness, taking up the case of the Jessica Lal murder among others, and asked the audience whether these were “misleading” the public.

He took the audience back to the “dark days” of the me- dia when even Rajiv Gandhi had to turn to the BBC for confirmation of his mother’s death because All India Radio would not dare say Indira Gandhi was dead. “A free and fearless media was and is something that I cherish and commend,” said Chagla.

Gopalakrishnan, a director of Tata Sons speaking for the motion, likened the problem of the media dealing with news to a condom salesman playing with many kids — all product complaints!

“The media does not deliberately mislead the masses. The media misleads because there is an embedded conflict of interest and it does not know how to deal with it,” felt Gopalakrishnan.

Sardesai, who identified himself as the soft target in the shooting gallery, declared the proposition for the evening as preposterous. “The media tells the story. You cannot shoot the messenger just because you do not like the message,” said the editor-in-chief of CNN-IBN.

His C-word for the evening, Credibility, which is what his profession depended on.

Neurosurgeon Sandip Chatterjee — who according to Guha batted in the middle order like another famous Bengali Sourav Ganguly — drew the loudest cheers from the packed Calcutta Club lawns. He rubbished the notion of an all-knowing media that can talk about any topic under the sun because the brain after all has limited hard disk capacity.

Blasting the media for playing to the gallery, he accused them of leading the masses not from darkness to light but from darkness to further darkness. “The television-toting young men are more dangerous than the gun-toting young men because the gun-toting man only harms one individual, the television-toting young man who thinks he knows it all destroys not the individual but the very fabric on which our society exists,” said Chatterjee.

Writer and columnist Mukul Kesavan who spoke against the motion said the masses very often misled the media. “The media exists to entertain… and acts as a vehicle for identification and aspiration… that is not misleading.”

Dasgupta accused the media of taking up the mantle of the prosecutor, judge and executioner and even God. “The word sorry is absent from the lexicon of media. The media is never sorry,” said the senior journalist and columnist.

“Batting at number 11” in the 90-minute war of words, Guha stressed that the media did not mislead the masses, they “led the classes”.

But when stumps were drawn, the historian-cum-cricket-writer and his team of “nay-sayers” were beaten by the ayes” from the crowd that represented more class than mass.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dhoni denies quit threat

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has denied he had a row with selectors because he was not given the team he wanted for the next two one-day matches against England.
Reports in the Indian media claim Dhoni threatened to resign because medium-pacer Rudra Pratap Singh was dropped in favour of Irfan Pathan.
"I don't know where the report came from," Dhoni said, adding there was no rift with the selectors "on any issue".
"It cannot be a report because what happens inside a meeting where the selectors, the captain and the coaches are gathered... when it comes out it is disgusting and disrespectful.
"Things like this should not be happening.
"I'm not saying something happened at the meeting, but over the years we have seen things being leaked from meetings and things getting out.
"There will be debates over the composition of the team and that information should not be put out in the media.
"If it is meant to come out, then I can say we might as well have the whole meeting telecast live on television.
"Nobody knows what was discussed except the eight guys in the meeting, and only they know whether it's the truth or not."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We deserved to win :M.S.Dhoni,indian captain

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said his side was the deserving winner in the third one-dayer in Kanpur on Thursday though England gave the closest fight in the series so far.

India won the match by 16 runs under Duckworth/Lewis method to take a 3-0 lead in the seven-match series and Dhoni said the home team was always ahead even under the D/L method.

"It was a tough match and it was the closest so far but we were ahead at every stage," he said.

"In the morning when I went out for the toss I knew that D/L method could be applied as we know light fades away very fast at this venue after 4pm.

"So we were prepared, I had a chit of D/L calculations. Once we knew D/L method would be applied we decided to preserve wickets as we knew we were ahead and runs could be scored from the power play (to be taken by batting side)," he said after the match.

Dhoni said the pitch was a difficult one to bat on but his batsmen were up to the task by taking ones and twos and ensured that no wickets were lost once the D/L method came into picture.

"The pitch was slowing down and the odd ball turning. It was difficult to bat on. But we decided to preserve wickets and take the singles as D/L method was in mind," he added.

The India captain, however, warned his boys not to lower their guards, saying the series is far from over and they have to win one more match.

"We want to win the series, have to win four matches. That is the most important thing. We want to make it 4-0 first before thinking of anything else," he said

Friday, November 14, 2008

Indian probe lands on moon, sends images

BANGALORE, India (AFP) — An Indian probe landed on the moon on Friday, the Indian Space Research Organisation announced, in a milestone for the country's 45-year-old space programme.

The probe touched down on the moon at 8:34pm (1504 GMT), 25 minutes after it was ejected from an unmanned spacecraft orbiting the moon, spokesman S. Satish said.

"During its descent from Chandrayaan-1 an onboard video camera transmitted lunar pictures to the ISRO command centre," Satish said in the southern Indian city of Bangalore where the national space agency is headquartered.

Scientists monitoring the probe cheered as ISRO chairman Madhavan Nair announced the success of the country's first lunar mission, which began on October 22 when a rocket transported Chandrayaan-1 into space.

The probe, carrying three instruments and with the Indian flag painted on its outer panes, settled in a crater in the moon's south pole.

Nair said the landing was perfect.

"We have now successfully put our national flag on the lunar surface," he told a news conference.

"The moon has been very favourable to us and this is a very productive and fruitful mission," he said, and added: "We have also emerged as a low-cost travel agency to space," referring to the mission's 80-million dollar tag.

Chandrayaan-1 is on a two-year orbital mission to provide a detailed map of the mineral, chemical and topographical characteristics of the moon's surface.

Buoyed by its success, ISRO plans to send a second unmanned spacecraft to the moon in 2012 and separately launch satellites to study Mars and Venus.

India started its space programme in 1963, developing its own satellites and launch vehicles to reduce dependence on overseas agencies.

It first staked its case for a share of the commercial launch market by sending an Italian satellite into orbit in April last year. In January, it launched an Israeli spy satellite.

India is also hoping the mission will boost its space programme into the same league as regional powerhouses Japan and China.

As well as looking to grab a larger slice of the global commercial satellite launch market, India, Japan and China also see their space programmes as an important symbol of their international stature and economic development.

But India still has a long way to go to catch up with China which, together with the United States, Russia and the European Space Agency, is already well established in the commercial launch sector.

China's immediate goal is the establishment of a space lab, with Beijing's long-term ambition to develop a rival to the International Space Station, a project involving the US, Russia, Japan, Canada and some European countries.

Japan has also been boosting its space programme and has set a goal of sending an astronaut to the moon by 2020.

Japan's first lunar probe, Kaguya, was successfully launched in September last year, releasing two baby satellites to study lunar gravity and other projects.
Copyright © 2008 AFP. All rights reserved

Can the Congress make a comeback?

The first phase of polling in Chhattisgarh will decide the fate of Chief Minister Raman Singh from the Rajnandgaon seat. Singh became the Chief Minister in 2003, after the BJP defeated the Ajit Jogi-led Congress government.

The BJP won 50 seats in the November 2003 elections. Ajit Jogi had been in power since the state was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000.

Polling will be held in five districts of Bastar region - Rajnandgaon, Kawardha, Durg, Mahasamund and Dhamtari. The state has a total of 90 seats and polling for the remaining 51 seats will be held on 20th November.

Development being his poll plank, Raman Singh is relying on his administration’s welfare measures such as selling rice at Rs 3 per kilo to the poor.

On the other hand, the Congress has made corruption, law and order and killings of tribals its campaign theme. Ajit Jogi is contesting from Marwahi, which will go to the polls in the second phase of elections.

Fearing disruption by Maoists, Chhattisgarh has stepped up security in the 39 constituencies, including those contested by chief minister Raman Singh and opposition leader Mahendra Karma
Twelve of the 39 constituencies are in the Bastar region where the Maoists are particularly active.

Unlike in other constituencies, polling in these will begin at 7am and end at 3pm to enable poll officials to complete the process before sunset. In the other constituencies, polling will begin at 8am and end at 5pm.

The Bastar region has seen at least 1,100 deaths since 2004 in violence attributed to Maoists.

Chief minister Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is contesting from Rajnandgaon, and Congress partys Karma is contesting from Dantewada in Bastar. Singh became chief minister in 2003 after the BJP defeated Ajit Jogi-led Congress party that had power since the state was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000.

In the previous election, the BJP had won 52 seats, Congress 34, and the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Nationalist Congress Party one each.

The incumbent, Singh, is banking on his administrations developmental initiatives and welfare measures, including populist ones such as selling rice at Rs3 a kg to the poor. The Congress, on the other hand, is seeking a vote for change.

The first phase polling will decide the fate of Chief Minister Raman Singh from Rajnandgaon seat, leader of the opposition and Congress candidate Mahendra Karma from Dantewada and assembly Speaker Premprakash Pandey from Bhilai.

Some 6.4 million of Chhattisgarhs 15.2 million voters are expected to cast their ballots in 8,883 polling booths on Friday, according to data released by the Election Commission of India.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Vertical division in Congress before Election.

New Delhi, Nov 11 (PTI) Apparently facing disciplinary action, Congress General Secretary Margaret Alva today resigned from her post after creating a storm by her stinging criticism of the party in election ticket distribution, drawing sharp criticism from various leaders.
The morning after she met Congress President Sonia Gandhi and A K Antony, Chairman of the party's Disciplinary Action Committee, Alva sent her resignation to Gandhi this afternoon.

During the meeting with Gandhi last night, the 66-year-old veteran, who is also a member of the Congress Working Committee and Central Election Committee, is believed to have offered to resign from her post if her criticism had become an embarrassment.

Apparently not not wanting to be seen as leninent on indiscipline with elections round the corner, leaders were unsparing in criticism of Alva, a member of various high-level fora of the party.

Rahul Gandhi rejected her charges saying he was "not not unhappy" about ticket distribution. Those who attacked her included Congress' chief spokesman M Veerappa Moily, who said she had committed serious breach of discipline, Digvijay Singh and Ashok Ghelot.

There were also voices of support from senior leaders including Yogendra Makwana from Gujarat and R L Jalappa from her state Karnataka.

Last week, Alva, who is in charge of party affairs in several including Maharashtra and Punjab, had stirred a hornet's nest by saying that tickets during Karnataka assembly elections were sold and questioning the denial of ticket to her son Nivedith
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