Posts Tagged ‘Pratibha Patil’


Watching some of the big names of the Indian media making a fool of themselves today reminds me of that old fable of the emperor’s new clothes. I didn’t think they would be hoist on their own petard so easily, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not just cornered the opposition, specifically the Gandhis and the Congress Party when he announced the nomination of Ram Nath Kovind, but the mainstream media (MSM) as well.

How else do you explain the way the MSM was made to look like utter idiots when the Bharatiya Janata Party announced Kovind as its nominee? First, they tried to bluster their way through with the “Kovind who?” and “Everyone’s googling Kovind” stunt. That fell flat because it turned out that not only was Kovind the Governor of Bihar, a two-term Rajya Sabha MP, a government counsel for many years, but he had also represented India at the United Nations. Then they mentioned the D word, about how Modi was using Kovind’s Dalit background to woo the community, but that didn’t cut ice either.

Nothing could be more apt than this tweet from a Biju Janata Dal MP who had worked with Kovind in pointing to the ignorance and condescension displayed by the MSM.

When that failed, they made disparaging comparisons between Kovind and Pratibha Patil who Sonia Gandhi had anointed president. Their point was that Kovind was a worse choice than Patil. Obviously, that did not matter when they were accepting hospitality and awards from President Patil.

Anyway, thanks to social media, the MSM found that its feigned ignorance of Kovind had been exposed. But that didn’t stop them. They went a step ahead and pulled out a 12-year-old piece where Kovind made his views known on the caste system and his views on Dalits and Christians.

Comparing the caste system to the trade guilds in feudal Europe (in that certain groups performed specific jobs), he added that under the caste system, persons acquire their trade at birth, while the guilds allowed job mobility.  Caste factors are now used to protect jobs and livelihoods more than anything else.”

Let’s be honest, he did not say anything out of the ordinary or very wrong. Not just in jobs but in many government-run educational institutions most general category students are denied admissions and are forced to opt for private colleges. It has affected so many middle-class families who don’t depend on their caste to get admissions for their wards in colleges and jobs thereafter.

When these barbs failed to hit home, the MSM subtly changed track. In more than two decades or so, Lal Krishna Advani was the man who had been vilified by the MSM as the face of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. It was his Rath Yatra that fuelled a sense of insecurity in Muslims all over the country and drove a wedge between the two communities, they said. He was also one of the conspirators who watched as kar sevaks climbed atop the mosque in Ayodhya and brought it down on December 6, 1992. The MSM never failed to remind us that this was the man who was singularly responsible for destroying India’s secular fabric.

However, in the past few years, just because Narendra Modi and Amit Shah had sidelined Advani, they forgot all that and had been writing pieces about what a nice guy he was and how sorry they were to see him being sidelined – all done purely to rile Modi. And now, just to oppose Modi’s choice of Kovind they also rediscovered his hidden charms, democratic values and ethics. Suddenly “A man who has the wisdom and courage to say sorry is someone I would trust to safeguard our democracy and our values as president.” Amen.

By the way, has Advani ever said ‘SORRY’ for the demolition of the mosque?

Conveniently forgotten also was the fact that just last month the MSM went after Kalyan Singh when the court named him as a co-conspirator in the Babri case, and rightly so because they believed he escaped trial as he was governor. But, now they had no problem letting Advani off the hook.

The MSM also suffered selective amnesia with the minor matter of Advani’s age. He is 90 years old. In their rush to pull down 71-year-old Kovind’s nomination, they forgot they had roundly criticised Modi when he forwarded the name of 76-year-old Najma Heptullah for governor. So, they were okay with a 90-year-old Commander-in-Chief of the Indian armed forces?

And finally, on June 22, when Congress President Sonia Gandhi decided on Meira Kumar as her choice for president, the MSM began promoting the former speaker, known only for her closeness to the Gandhi family and for being one of the most ineffectual Speakers of the Lok Sabha with her patented “baith jaiyee, baith jaiyee” which never really worked. Her other claim to fame is the fact that she is Babu Jagjivan Ram’s daughter. Oh wait, there’s another – she is a Dalit, which of course some well-known journalists, who were accusing Modi of using the Dalit card while nominating Kovind, now have no problem with. All these flip flops, twists and turns by the MSM are only because their hatred for Modi surpasses all else along with the fear of seeing him come back to power in 2019. SO HE HAS TO BE STOPPED AT ANY COST.

Really guys, your slip is showing. You can have your personal viewpoint about anyone or anything but your flip-flops on a daily basis in the public domain do no good to your reputation as journalists we once admired. I say this because as someone who interacts with students of journalism in media colleges I get asked this question very often. Can you make it any more obvious that the lessons on ethics and morality you speak to budding journalists about is something you have conveniently buried under the mountain of half-truths you’ve been peddling ever since Narendra Modi came to power? And, I am not even getting into the years before that.

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I heard the other day that some students of an institute walked out of their internship, because they were not given a job that was more to their liking.
One of my favourite students (yup even a cynic like me has a few!) asked me how I would rate students of the institute she was studying in, and I told her. I think she was a bit taken aback. In her case, I know she is a bright kid, so that rating is redundant, but I can’t say the same for a lot of others. And we are not talking IQ here, just basic general knowledge. I think the answers given below are a pretty good indicator!
My former colleague and good friend Rema Nagarajan, who works with Times Insight in New Delhi, and is a Chevening and a Fulbright scholar, told me a few days ago that students of Mass Communication display poor GK because they don’t even read the pages they work on and don’t take their internships seriously.
Interns believe that since the company accepted their request, it is not for them to ask but for the company to give. Unfortunately, as we all know and have experienced, that in journalism nothing is ever served on a platter – not stories, not promotions, certainly not internships – and today, not even jobs. You have to grab, pester and demand. If you don’t, you lose. Neither the media house nor the mediaperson cares.
As trainees we had to plead to be allowed to accompany our seniors on reporting assignments. Even then, we were told “just observe don’t ask any questions.” Our seniors were smart enough to ask us to formulate the questions, but we could never directly ask them. We were told to soak in the newspaper environment, watch our seniors at work and see how they write or edit a story, before venturing out on our own. For months, my first boss Joe Pinto made me cut ticker copies – a job normally reserved for office boys – and then read them.
Today interns demand a byline the first time they do a story. That is, in a way, understandable because their course demands a certain number of bylines during their session. But should they walk out for any silly reason? Interns who walk out should remember that it’s a small world and journalists, as we all know, have fragile egos and don’t forget anything, however minor and however much they care to deny it!
Another good friend, babu kalyanpur,who is now Business Editor at Gulf daily News in Bahrain, says one can’t really teach journalism, because the only way to start is from scratch, learn and work your way up. This is why internships are the most important part of journalism. Learning in a live situation is the first step on the ladder and internships provide that.
He gave his own example. He dropped out of the Journalism course after doing a month’s internship in Indian Express, because the then editor of Indian Express Daryl DeMonte told him, referring to the journalism degree, “I don’t want to see that shit piece of paper.”
DeMonte told him to join the Indian Express right away. Babu took the advice and is still a journalist 30 years later and has a pretty successful career with Indian Express, Maharashtra Herald and GDN.
But here are some random gems from the answer papers of students from some of the institutes in the city:
• Pratibha Patil is the Prime Minister of India
• French President Nicholas Sarkozy was involved in the Bofors deal
• Emergency was declared in 1984 after India Gandhi feared a war
• Emergency was declared in 1975 by Rajiv Gandhi
• Ishrat Jahan was a male, Muslim political leader from Kashmir
• Ishrat Jahan was a male Muslim political leader from Gujarat who fought against Narendra Modi
• Ishrat Khan was raped and murdered during the Gujarat riots
and the best one…
• Sorry, but who is Ishrat Jahan?
Prime Minister Pratibha Patil? Rajiv Gandhi in 1975? Sarkozy and Bofors? Nicholas Sarkozy was probably smoking weed and bedding the women in Paris during the time the Bofors deal surfaced!