Archive for the ‘blogging’ Category


People getting the vicious satisfaction of seeing so many “presstitutes” (their words, not mine) lose their jobs have very little understanding of how newsrooms and media houses are run. All media houses have editorial policies and every employee – no matter how high or low – has to follow that policy. It’s either that or his/her job.

All those who lost their jobs in the latest round of retrenchments were lower and middle-level employees who were simply making a living. They were workers in the printing departments, district correspondents, mofussil reporters and photographers. None of them were the decision-makers.

How many of those who were perched on the top of the industry ladder or were decision-makers were handed out pink. slips? For that matter, how many highly paid editors lost their jobs? I am pretty sure, NONE.

Like a lot of other lower and middle class people around the country who take the bus or the train to work every morning these people too slog to put food on the table, pay for their kids’ education through school and college, look after their aged parents, and wonder every day what will happen to their families if something were to happen to them. What is the fault of a photographer in a small town who rides on his scooter every day looking for the perfect photograph that will fetch him a pittance? And if the editor of the newspaper tells him he cannot supply that photograph to anyone else. he will have to scour the city for another perfect picture to supply to his next client. All this, just so that he can make a living. I know of stringers living in villages who are still paid per word. Imagine being paid Rs 300 or Rs 500 per article and have just two pieces appear every month. And for many, that is their only source of income.

I’ll give you my own example. I began working in a newspaper in 1985 and today I am embarrassed to say that if it hadn’t been an ancestral property from my maternal side, which we sold to buy a 3BHK, I wouldn’t be able to afford my own home on my salary.

Honestly, there is no such thing as a free press. As an Assistant Editor did I have the right to decide what stories we should use in the newspaper? No I didn’t. Yes, I could make a judgement call on a story that came in late at night, but even there the editorial policy was sacrosanct. I couldn’t just take a story that praised Rajiv Gandhi just because I liked him. I had to keep in mind that my newspaper didn’t believe in praising anyone.

Between 2000 and 2005, I worked for a newspaper that was going national with a vengeance. Did I have the right to decide on the kind of stories I could take? No, again. In neither of the two cities where I headed the news desk, could we carry anything that could hurt the ruling dispensation. Instructions were handed down to us on the kind of stories we could use. We couldn’t speak against the State government because it could hurt the business interests of the media house. Any stories that were against the State or the CM had to be vetted by the editorial department in Delhi.

Resident Editors at most of these mofussil editions are nothing but glorified bureau chiefs. Do they have the authority to take decisions on any stories that were inimical to the State government? Your guess is as good as mine.

There are stifling restrictions vis-à-vis reporting on stories that were inimical to the interests of the owners, various individuals or groups. Time and again, stories are killed or watered down for one reason or another. One cannot do a story about the corrupt practices of politicians…One cannot report on a fraudulent scheme run by a big business house… There were so many such instances.

I remember one story that we had in our pocket. It could have shaken the particular state government. The reporters put their heart into the story. It was a perfect story with not one fact missing, including the names of the big-time politicians involved in a huge scam. It went to HQ for approval. That was the last we saw of the story. When it finally appeared you wouldn’t have known if it was from some state of the Indian Union, or Timbuctoo. Why was the story watered down? Because the management was worried that publication of the story would have jeopardised its business interests. Would you blame the reporter for this? Of course not, but when it comes to cost-cutting that poor kid will be the first to go.

A former editor who I had worked with for a short while, lost his job because he wrote something against a chief minister. The chief minister wasn’t satisfied with the fact that the editor in question had been removed from his post, and wanted him out of the organisation, and he was hounded out. And it wasn’t as if the CM in question was clean as a whistle.

Some years ago a senior editor of a well-known newspaper, during another such retrenchment drive, told me that many of the senior staff who were being laid off by a media house had, in fact, been hired on fat salaries only to ensure they would not write stories that harmed the group’s business interests. Now that keeping these people on board was proving costly they were being shown the door!

While I agree that running a newspaper is big business and not social service anymore, someone in the higher echelons of power has to take a stand. That is something a lot of newspaper establishments never do. And that is where the lower- and middle-level employees suffer. And not just the journalists.

It’s sad, really, because journalists, photographers, DTP operators, designers, and all those involved with the business of publishing a newspaper have nothing to do with the policies formulated by the management. They are just small cogs in the big wheel, but they are the first to be sacrificed when it is time for the management to cut its losses. Think of the poor machine operator in the printing press. All he does is run the machinery that prints the newspaper. Is he a “presstitute”? Can he be blamed for the editorial policies of a newspaper? For all you know, the guy is a Modi supporter.

When The Telegraph announced there would be retrenchments I called a former colleague now working in that newspaper. He was just one of the senior editors, a family man, with wife, aged parents, and a teenaged daughter, doing his job to the best of his abilities. He was understandably worried that he might lose his job. I could feel the worry in his voice and I felt sorry for him. I haven’t had the courage since that day to call him to ask if he still has a job.

After three decades in the media I can honestly say that I have seen many of those in my profession give their blood, sweat and tears for a job which at the end of the day, gave back very little in terms of monetary recompense. None of these people were presstitutes. They just followed orders handed down to them by people who decided on how a story should be done, why, and who to target. Those guys are still around and prospering.


Frankly, I am getting tired of people droning on about standing in bank queues and the time they have to waste, and all the wonderful or terrible people they meet. What the fuck were you doing when there were no ATMs? Did God come down on Earth to dole out cash to you? I think one of the biggest crimes any government committed in the last 70 years was the launching of ATMs. It made us lazy, it made us impatient, and most of all it made us forget the pain of standing in queues.

In the last three weeks I have been reading about people allegedly dropping dead in bank queues because they’ve forgotten what it was like to stand in a queue. And I use the world ‘allegedly’ deliberately. I am sure there are genuine cases too, and it’s sad, but I am sure by the time things are back to normal the number of deaths will come down to single digits, and many of those too, this sexed up media will realise, were unrelated to standing in a queue. Maybe, we should shut down ATMs every few months to let people live a more realistic life of the 1970s and 1980s where they stood in bank queues that sometimes stretched to the street outside. I know there are problems. It is a mind-boggling exercise which could not have been done any other way. There have been problems many un-anticipated. I am sure, in hindsight, even the government realises the process could have been better planned. I am sure villagers are the hardest hit, but to make it a doomsday scenario is stretching the truth a lot. And in this one has to blame sections of the media who are deliberately misreporting to create a panic. If the villagers are having problems the state and district administration should approach the centre and make arrangements to disburse funds. The problem is when bankers, government officials and politicians are themselves are corrupt, who do you trust? I know of labourers who have bank accounts opened in their name all of a sudden, with funds being deposited in them. Since when did one need to deposit Rs 50,000 in a savings bank account, when one can maintain a zero balance?

And I’ll be honest, my family too felt the sudden shortage of cash with banks running short, and wondering how we spend the old denominations. Fortunately, all three of use debit cards and wire transfers. Maybe it’s called being smart. I also connected to Paytm and have never been more relieved, because I have to carry even less cash around now.  I too had problems with my account in a co-operative bank. I waited for the problem to ease, and when it didn’t because they were giving only Rs 2,000, I wired money from there into the nationalised bank account I have and withdrew Rs 20,000. We cut down our expenses, saved enough last month to ensure we could pay the maids on December 1. So stop cribbing so much, and move on. I did.

I also know that the entire country cannot go cashless and neither is the government forcing you to. But can those who want to, do so, instead of having to read planted reports by a subjective media demonising the plan? Indians are so gullible that they believe anything and that is what the media is hoping it can achieve in its efforts to ensure this plan fails. This country is littered with stories of idiotic Indians falling for a con. Look at the way people fall for the dumbest trick around – the spam mail telling you that you have won millions of dollars. Or someone claiming to be from a bank asking for your ATM card and pin. The fact that the government has to release commercials on TV channels telling people not to fall for it should tell us what a bunch of idiots we are.

Which brings me to this whole engineered controversy about demonetisation being a waste of time, money and energy, because black money will not go away. It is bizarre. No, black money won’t go away. If it did, we would all be living in Utopia. Let’s face it, a thief will remain a thief. He will find new ways to break the law. Years ago, when we moved to Gurgaon, I went to buy a lock. I told the shopkeeper I wanted a big lock for the front door and he smiled and said “Taala sharifon ke liye hota hain, choron ke liye nahin” (Locks are meant for the honest (to tell them you’re not home), not for thieves). I mean, the police put up traffic lights, road dividers and lanes, in the hope that we will follow traffic rules. But some people think they are above the law. We can only make laws tougher. And it’s not like all the people who had black money got away. We are reading about sacks full of money being discovered and the arrest of bank officials who have been helping the unscrupulous change their currency.

As for the opposition politicians who are protesting the loudest, it’s obvious they’ve been hit the hardest. Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stolen their ideas, reinvented them to suit his party, and put paid to their plans, they are hell-bent on getting rid of him. That is why people like Rahul Gandhi, Lalu Yadav, Mulayam Singh, Arvind Kejriwal, and now Mamata Banerjee, are indulging in hysterics. In which country did you hear of a state being taken over by the army, when there is a civilian government at the centre in power? You have to be a complete imbecile to come up with such an absurd fantasy. Rahul Gandhi accuses Modi of TRP politics, conveniently forgetting that he too was doing just that with his khat sabhas and the farce of standing in a bank queue to withdraw Rs 4,000. Doesn’t he know there is a bank and an ATM in Parliament House? Oh, but how would he, he is hardly there.

If this is the way Rahul, Kejriwal, Mamata and the rest intend to push forward their candidacy to replace Modi in 2019, then Modi can be sure of another two terms as prime minister. Also, we don’t need comedy shows on TV channels anymore, these political stand-up comics will do just fine as replacements.

As a tax payer I am happy even if 2 per cent of the crooks in this country are nailed. I would consider it worth every minute I spend in a bank queue.


From the day he became prime minister over two years ago, Narendra Modi has been saying, whether in India or anywhere else in the world, “We want peace with Pakistan”. He gave the Pakistanis a really long rope. I think this week the rope just reached its end. And I, for one, am thrilled to bits.

I am delighted to see that finally some Indian prime minister, instead of worrying about whether his actions will jeopardise his prime ministership or his Lok Sabha seat, has had the courage to bring the issue of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir out in the open. I am also glad he has told Pakistan, “Enough about talks on Kashmir, from now on we only discuss Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and Ladakh.”

All these years, thanks to the stupidity and pusillanimity of our politicians, we have been letting those murderous Pakistanis gloat in this belief that they can dictate terms on Kashmir. Some of our politicians have given the Pakistanis the impression that we are scared of their supposed nuclear capabilities and fear a war, which, of course, the Pakistanis gleefully continue to dangle over our heads like the proverbial sword of Damocles. And other politicians and their peacenik friends, who are feted when they go across the border, have made things worse by their confused and dovish rhetoric. Well, I am glad Mr Modi called the Pakistani bluff. He finally told them and their friends on this side of the border that they had no role in Kashmir, so the ride was over and it was time to get off.

I know a retired colonel of the Indian army, who in 1971, as a young lieutenant, rode triumphantly on the first truck into Dhaka to liberate East Pakistan. He once told me “Don’t ever expect the army or any army man to talk peace with those butchers. Those mother f*****s killed so many of my boys in cold blood in the wars. Every time we have fought them, it has been with one arm tied behind our backs. They only know one way and that is to knife you in the back”

So when I read what Maj Gen (retd). G.D. Bakshi http://http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/gd-bakshis-iit-madras-speech-was-filled-with-hatred-alleges-student-2970742/spoke at IIT Madras I can understand where he is coming from.

Peace is a two-way process. You can’t talk peace to someone who has an AK-47 in his hands. You have to be either mentally deficient or living with your head shoved really far up sone place where the light doesn’t reach to know that Pakistan does not ever want peace with India. They want India’s total destruction. So can we ask those sympathisers of the Pakistani establishment in this country to extricate their heads from that warm, fuzzy place so that they can see daylight?


I have been reading with great interest the rants and the self-righteous indignation and anger at what has been transpiring in the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the Patiala Courts lately. And these people, some of whom are my ex-students, former colleagues, and some well-known journalists with an axe to grind with the present dispensation in Delhi, comparing the events to the Emergency, and calling India a fascist state, dictatorship etc. etc. Do they even know what happened during the Emergency?

What finally got me riled up enough to pen this blog were the comments I read in a newspaper from Noam Chomsky and Orhan Pamuk comparing the events and the mood to (again) the Emergency. That they’re comparing the present time to those dark days when one crazy old woman, her equally psychotic son along with their sycophants ran their own evil empire, where no laws existed except those that they decided, and no courts and no judges had the courage to speak their minds, unlike today, is indeed laughable. It is ironic that the same people who had no qualms about imposing the Emergency and supporting it and justifying it through its entire tenure, are today talking about free speech and freedom of expression and blaming the present government for the lack of it! And worse a blinkered media is printing every word with great relish. Ladies and gentlemen, had there been an Emergency, you would have been behind bars. And the communists who talk about dictatorship seem to forget that most of the dictators around the world have been Communists.

Some over-zealous morons in khakhi or others in black robes taking law into their hands, or a paranoid and amateurish government that responds to the darts the opposition throws at it with a bazooka, or at other times behaves like a herd of deer caught in the headlights of a car, does not make this country a fascist state nor this the Emergency. Do most young Indians even know what a fascist state is? No one disappeared, there was no midnight knock on your door because of what you wrote or what you did. That you can rant about it on social networking sites without having the likes of Kapil Sibal throw Section 66A at you, should make you realise where you are. Have you already forgotten Aseem Trivedi?

It is also ironic that the same people who are every night broadcasting to the nation everything without a line being censored about students protesting and raising anti-India slogans etc. are the same people who are calling it a dictatorial regime. The fact that the press is still free to report the incidents at the JNU and the Patiala Court as they have been unfolding should tell you a lot. That they were even able to report live how some of them were manhandled in the courts should tell you how much these people know about what transpired during those dark days in the mid-1970s when news was blanked out, and people who protested just disappeared. Had these incidents happened during the Emergency you would not even have heard or read about it. The kids involved in raising anti-India slogans or anti-government slogans would have vanished without a trace and not even their remains would have been discovered.

I do wish the 20- and 30-year-olds sitting in their air conditioned offices in front of their Macs ranting about fascism and dictatorship would get a reality check and stop hyperventilating about things they know very little about. And most importantly, stop believing a bunch of assholes pretending to be politicians. Go to Kerala and ask the family of student leader P. Rajan of the erstwhile Regional Engineering College, Kozhikode. He was tortured in local police custody in Kerala during the Emergency in 1976. His remains are yet to be recovered. Talk to journalists such as Coomi Kapoor whose husband Virender was arrested and tortured during that time for publishing stuff against Indira Gandhi. In 1975, my father buckled under threats from the police because of his close association with Jayaprakash Narayan and was forced to praise Indira Gandhi. It helped him stay out of jail. The cops and JP told him he was old and may not be able to take the rigours of a jail cell. So I should know what I am talking about.

Oh and just by the way, had this been the Emergency you would not have been around if you had called the prime minister of the country a ‘feku’ and posted morphed pictures of him day in and day out, or for that matter abused or insulted him the way we see today on the social networking sites. You would never have been seen or heard of again and your bones would have been discovered 20 years from now buried in some field a few thousand miles from where you lived.

What pains me is that these comments come from journalists. I always thought journalists were supposed to be anti-establishment and not communists, centrists, leftists or rightists. At least, we were always told to be that way. Or have the lines been blurred now? Or is it just a case of sour grapes? It is no secret that numerous Journalists in the mainstream media have been smarting ever since Narendra Modi came to power and decided to shun them? Now that they have got the opportunity to get even they are going after him and his government with a vengeance? What saddens me is some journalists who I respect immensely talking about dictatorship and the Emergency without thinking even once about the repercussions.

So, I do wish people with very little understanding of the realities of the Emergency, dictatorship, fascism, Nazism and all the fucking isms for which all right-minded people share an inherent dislike would SHUT THE FUCK UP about comparing this to those dark days of the mid-1970s. And, Messrs Chomsky and Pamuk, that you are alive and kicking to air your views about whatever you wish from whichever country you live in and whatever time, and to have what you said published in an alleged dictatorial regime, should give you some food for thought. Had this been the Emergency and had you aired those comments in India, you would have disappeared without a trace never to be found again.

 


(Just thought I’d post this piece for posterity and for the record. This is the original piece sent to Tehelka, which was abridged for publication. It appeared on July 12, 2014. The link to that story is here.

Genes are a mysterious element in our system. It’s funny how they work behind-the-scenes.

My parents separated when I was around three or four, so whatever I heard about my father was from my mother – that he used to be a politician, journalist, lecturer. If there was more she didn’t tell me, and if she did, I was too young to remember. I only saw him as and when he occasionally dropped in at our place in Bhagalpur from Patna over the weekend, stayed the night and left in the morning. He scared me, because he had a volatile temper and used it at anyone and everyone, for any random reason. In my teens, I learnt he was a socialist and politician, who had been close to the late Jaya Prakash Narayan. Also, that his father had disowned him, when he joined the freedom struggle. Apart from that I didn’t know much else, and didn’t care. As I grew old enough to think for myself, I knew he was what I never wanted to be.

My first brush with journalism was when I was fourteen. I wrote an angry letter to a film magazine about a film I saw. They published it. I was shocked. Even more shocked when they sent me a cheque for 50 bucks. That was my brief flirtation with journalism, because I ended up working in the hotel industry in the 1980s.

In my twenties, rebellious and unemployed, a friend offered me a sub editor’s job at a local daily in Pune. I grabbed it. My father once came from Patna and asked me if I would ever become a News Editor. I said I didn’t know. I was a trainee sub editor earning 600 rupees. In the thirteen years after that, I became Assistant Editor of the daily. Then in 1994 my father passed away and neither I nor anyone from my family went for his funeral. It wasn’t possible anyway although I flew in to see him a week before he died. I don’t know who performed his last rites.

From Assistant Editor in a single-edition newspaper in Pune to a Chief Copy Editor at a seven-edition national newspaper in Chandigarh, to a Deputy News Editor at the same newspaper in Lucknow, I was now running the news desk. The day the editor called me to hand over the letter appointing me News Editor of the Lucknow edition, I broke down in her cabin.

Some years later, I settled again in Pune. I had quit journalism and gone into corporate communication. I took up teaching on a friend’s advice.  After all, twenty years was a long time to be in journalism. At my first lecture at a local college, I froze. Thankfully, that never happened again. I’ve been teaching journalism and occasionally PR for seven years now and a few hundred youngsters around the country are now my ex-students.

Then, like everyone else interested in writing, I began blogging (http://mohansblog.worpress.com), even as I returned to journalism a few years back. One day I was trolling the worldwide web and out of sheer curiosity I typed out my father’s name, and something popped out that left me stunned and turned my world upside down.

It was my father’s bio data in a book on the politicians from Bihar. It read: Educated in Darbhanga, Patna, Banaras and London; Left studies to join the non-cooperation movement, 1920; Assistant Editor and later Editor, Desh, 1921-23; Sub-Editor, Searchlight, 1924; Went to England for higher study and law, 1926-31; took part in the Civil Disobedience Movement, arrested and sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment, 1934-35; founder member, Bihar Socialist Party, 1934; Secretary, Bihar Socialist party, 1935-36; taught in Kashi Vidyapeeth, 1936; Editor Sangharsh, 1937-48; Secretary, UP Congress Socialist Party; Principal National High School, Lucknow, 1939-42; participated in Quit India Movement, 1942; arrested and detained, 1943-45; member, National Executive, Socialist Party, 1948; Editor Janata, 1948-69; member Praja Socialist Party, 1955-69; left politics and resumed teaching at Patna; died in 1994.

Truth be told, I really didn’t know my father at all.

(Published in Tehelka Magazine, Volume 11 Issue 28, Dated 12 July 2014)


How many of you will believe me if I told you that I not only saw one of the most beautiful women in the world a foot away from me, but also travelled in her car? Well I did. I used to be a receptionist at the Hotel Blue Diamond in the 1980s. It was, then, the only five-star hotel in Pune and the only one where the rich and the famous stayed if they were in the city. The hotel was abuzz because (then) Sir Richard Attenborough’s unit for the film Gandhi was checking in  and the CEO Arvind Pandit was telling the housekeeping and everyone else to ensure that everything went off smoothly.

I still remember the palpable excitement in the hotel and at the front office where I worked. The chief receptionist and others were filling up the check-in forms in advance. Computers were still some years away. We didn’t want the VIP guests to wait, so all formalities were completed in advance. When the guests arrived, Sir Richard Attenborough and the rest of them got the traditional aarti and tilak welcome and were whisked away to their rooms. If I remember right, Attenborough requested that the best suite be given to Candice Bergen. She was the STAR, back then. She was playing the role of Margaret Bourke-White, the Life magazine photographer.

I was really excited to see Edward Fox. I had read Fredrick Forsyth’s book The Day of the Jackal and Fox had played the role of the assassin, so seeing the Jackal in the flesh was thrilling. If I sound an excited schoolboy, pardon me, because that is how I felt and I am sure most of you would have felt that way too! Saeed Jaffrey was there too, so was Geraldine James, but Ben Kingsley stayed at the Turf Club, I think. He would drop in at the hotel in the evenings to meet Sir Richard and the rest of the unit. The foreign crew members all stayed at the Blue Diamond, while the rest of the Indian crew were scattered around in the other cheaper city hotels.

I also remember that quite a few people working in the hotel got bit roles in the film. One was Sonal, who worked at the hotel reception and she was among the ladies with Kasturba Gandhi when Gandhi decides to burn the pass in South Africa. It was shot on Fergusson College ground and I remember I had gone there too see the shooting from Vaishali! We weren’t allowed to get too close so I lost interest.

There was a gentleman called Graham Ford, who was the location manager and one who I struck up a rapport with because I went out of my way to help him get something. Ford liked his Irish Coffee every evening, but couldn’t find the right quality of cream to make the perfect drink. One evening, when he was telling me about it, I asked around and managed to get someone to deliver it to the hotel especially for him. He was over the moon and invited me up to his room for a drink. Since I am not going to be hauled up, now, for fraternising with the guest, let me admit that after my shift was over, he insisted I come up and made me an Irish Coffee. It was his way of saying thank you.

On another evening, Saeed Jaffrey, lisped his way up to us a little before midnight to ask where he could get some Biryani and Banarasi paan. A bell boy was dispatched pronto to get both. He travelled all the way to Cafe Good Luck by autorickshaw to bring the biryani and the paan. While waiting at the reception, he started to chat with us and someone said “Haan ji” and Jaffrey retorted “Haan ji, nahin Sahab, Ji haan kahiye. Aap hijre hain?” (Don’t say Haan ji sir, say ji haan. Are you a transgender?). I think the next day, he along with some of the Indian unit members went out again for Biryani.

One day a friend asked if I could persuade Ford to let him watch a day’s shooting, since he was an avid film buff. Ford was more than happy to oblige. After all, I had gone that extra inch to get him his cream! So after a night shift at the front office, the friend and I were ready to travel to the location. As we were waiting in the lobby with Graham Ford, Candice Bergen walked up and he asked her if she would mind taking two extra passengers with her in the car. It was the good old Ambassador, so the driver and the two of us could fit comfortably in the front seat while Ms Bergen sat in the back. The driver, of course, had no clue he was in the presence of Hollywood royalty. If Rekha had been in the car, I guess it would have been different for him. But we were stunned into silence, completely overawed by the magnetism and beauty of the woman sitting behind us. This was one of the most beautiful women in the world and WE were travelling in her car! Our day was made.

We watched Sir Richard shooting the famous scene from the film where Mahatma Gandhi is chatting with Bourke-White as she shoots his pictures during his incarceration at the Aga Khan Palace. We watched the shot a number of times and after a while I got bored. As far as I was concerned, I had travelled in the same car with Candice Bergen! Who wanted anything else?


They say you can take a man out of journalism, but can’t take journalism out of the man – however hard some people might try! How cynical we are about everything we see or hear has a lot to do with the way we are conditioned in our job.  And the longer we have been in journalism the more cynical we become. The funny thing is when we actually say something with all honesty, people refuse to believe us.

This thought came to me again the other day as I watched a show on a news channel about a young man who had been a victim of police excesses. I was visibly moved by his story. It is the tale of hundreds of young men who are allegedly picked up in the dead of night from their homes and put in solitary confinement. They are allegedly tortured, beaten and whipped until they ‘confess’.  It started during the Emergency and it has continued till date. Well, it started during the days of the British rule, but let’s not go that far back.

So anyway, my wife and I I watched the show with growing dismay at the way the man had been treated. After the show ended I thought about the manner in which the law enforcement authorities behaved all around the country. Look at the way they have been behaving in Uttar Pradesh and knowing their history nothing surprises me anymore. I sat brooding for a while and then my scepticism and cynicism got the better of me. There are always two sides to a story, I said to myself.

I called a very senior reporter I knew and asked him about this case, since they were both from the same state. What he said to me for over an hour in very minute detail left me quite shaken. Having worked with him and having known him to be a thorough professional I have no reason to doubt his word. After he had explained the entire case to me, since he had covered it, he went on a tangent.

He said something I have been hearing rather frequently in recent times, “I am getting tired of journalism. All we do is public relations.” He then launched into a diatribe of what journalism had become today.

“Leave alone investigative journalism, journalism itself is dead,” he said.

“Editors don’t want a story, all they want is PR couched as news,” was his next line. For a guy who prided himself on his journalistic skills and who I considered a crack reporter, it was a pretty astounding statement.

Just thought it was worth sharing, because we tend to carried away by what we see on the Idiot Box. Is that why it’s called that?

Of course, now everyone is agog about some industry veterans shown the door, and how corporate India is taking over the media.

But after what I saw about the chap who was ‘wrongly accused’, I really don’t know whether it really matters who owns the airwaves!