Showing posts with label Baba Ramdev. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baba Ramdev. Show all posts

Saturday, June 23, 2012

An expose — Is NDTV free, fair and objective?

An expose
Is NDTV free, fair and objective?

It is a sad commentary on our media that it claims to be free, fair, fearless, impartial, objective and what not, but with just a very few exceptions it is only otherwise. A similar claim is made by NDTV and its CEO Prannoy Roy. But the facts repudiate its boast. Here are two instances.
In 2005-06 NDTV launched a relentless tirade against Baba Ramdev. It gave widespread coverage to Mrs. Brinda Karat's campaign against the Baba alleging that the medicines produced in his pharmacy contained human and animal bones. The NDTV organized many panel discussions to negate Baba's claim that certain chronic diseases could be treated with the pranayam-yoga promoted by him. Incidentally, Mrs. Karat is Mr. Prannoy Roy's sister-in-law.
On the basis of these allegations and samples produced by her, the then Congress government of Uttarakhand got the medicines tested through some trusted laboratories. The then Health Minister held a press conference in March 2006 and declared that government had got the medicines tested and "the samples of the Divya Yog Pharmacy (of Swami Ramdev) had been found free of human body parts or skull". But, surprisingly, the NDTV which had organized a campaign against Patanjali Yog medicines deliberately blacked out this news, thus denying this important information from its readers who had all along been fed with wrong information and allegations about medicines manufactured in Baba's pharmacy.
Immediately, this writer protested to Mr. Roy through e-mail and a letter by post regretting this withholding this vital information from NDTV viewers which amounted to a grave journalistic misconduct. He did have the courtesy neither to acknowledge the letter nor to correct the mistake NDTV had done. This act of NDTV was against the canons of media ethics which NDTV otherwise boasted to hold close to its chest.
Ultimately, this writer wrote to INDIA TODAY narrating the facts and NDTV conduct.   INDIA TODAY was kind enough to publish this as the first letter in its valuable columns. NDTV or Mr. Prannoy Roy did not respond even to the letter published in the Weekly.
The NDTV indulged in another similar outrage against its viewers on June 20. Before going for the last break during PRIME TIME panel discussion, the anchor Mr. Ravish Kumar declared that since many questions had been raised about 1984 anti-Sikh riots, he will put this matter for discussion after the break. But to the surprise of the viewers, no such discussion was taken up and the programme ended. This clearly amounts to cheating the viewers and is against media morals and ethics. This writer wrote to Mr. Roy protesting against this conduct. The NDTV has as yet to acknowledge the letter and regret this mistake during the programe. Obviously, the discussion was not taken up because of certain extraneous considerations during the break.
What else could one say about the boast of NDTV to be free, fair, fearless, objective and impartial?

 PS: If NDTV has to say anything, it could send its comments which will be                                                                                                                                           carried word by word.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gulberg Society and Ramlila Maidan episodes A tale of two amicus curiae

Gulberg Society and Ramlila Maidan episodes
A tale of two amicus curiae

It is a reality — a sad one — that even in independent India the media is still not free, still a slave of its own pride, prejudice and arrogance. For it a thing is not as real as it looks in broad daylight, but as it perceives through the prism of its own subjectivity tinged in the façade of liberalism, secularism and, to an extent, permissiveness. The traits of media being free, fearless, objective, free, fair and fearless remain captive of the written words in the textbooks of journalism. These do not find place on the pages of print media and screens of the electronic news channels.  

The latest is the instance of the media hype generated on the opinion of the Supreme Court (SC) appointed amicus curiae, Mr. Raju Ramachandran’s report on the complaint of Mrs. Zakia Jafri, the widow of Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was among 69 people killed at the Gulberg Society massacre saying "the offences which can be made out against Modi, at this prima facie stage, are offences inter alia under Sections 153 A (1) (a) & (b) of IPC, which means promoting enmity among different groups on grounds of religion and 153 B (1) which says assertions prejudicial to national integration," Further, he added, Mr. Modi  "should also be prosecuted under IPC 166, which says public servant disobeying law, with intent to cause injury to any person and 505 (2) meaning statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will," (

On the other hand, the report of the SC-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) after going through all the records, evidence and arguments for and against had decided to close the case against Mr. Modi for lack of proof giving him a clean chit.

The media is generating the impression as if the law, evidence and logic all stand on the side of Mr. Ramachandran’s opinion and the CBI’s closure report is bereft of all these elements.

Before we delve deep into the case, it is first necessary to understand what the term “amicus curiae” means. According to a law dictionary, it is a Latin term for "friend of the court," a party or an organization interested in an issue which files a brief or participates in the argument in a case in which that party or organization is not one of the litigants. As a practice, sometime courts do appoint certain legal eagles to act as amicus curiae for the court in specific cases of public importance.

It is not that the media gives the same amount of credence to every opinion/report of amicus curiae. It is always subjective and selective. It was not that generous to what amicus curiae said in the case of midnight swoop on Baba Ramdev followers at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi in June 2011 as it is to the anti-Modi opinion.

Still more painful is the failure of the media to discern the distinction between the two cases.

 The amicus curiae report in the Ramlila Maidan case had the stamp of SC which had, to a great extent, concurred with it. A SC bench of Justice BS Chauhan and Justice Swantanter Kumar had taken a serious note of the contention by Mr. Rajeev Dhawan, amicus curiae appointed by the SC that the June 4-5, 2011 crackdown was pre-planned by the home ministry to derive political benefits. He had also said that it was upon Chidambaram’s advice that the police intervened.
Mr. Dhawan also said that records, which include Chidambaram’s interviews at the time, show that the crackdown on the camp had been planned by the government well in advance. When the crackdown was staged, the yoga teacher had been in negotiations with senior ministers over how they should recover black money stashed abroad.
According to Mr Dhawan the documents including a press release from home minister P Chidambaram’s office on June 8 said, “A decision was taken that Baba Ramdev would not be allowed to organize any procession or to undertake any fast at the Ramlila Maidan ground. If he persisted in his efforts to do so, he will be directed to remove himself from Delhi.”  
“This suggests that the decision was taken at the home minister’s level, but suspended while talks with Ramdev were on... and when talks failed, the police enforced the decision,” he said while rubbishing the police claim that it had acted of its own. (
In Baba’s case, our media goes by the judgement and ignores the amicus curiae’s views and went on to give the impression as if Baba too had, to an extent, been found guilty by the court for what happened on that June midnight. But in Gulberg Society case the same media ignores the SC-appointed Special Investigating Team conclusion and highlights only the opinion of amicus curiae.
Regrettably, it is again the same media which is sleeping over the denial of justice for the past over 27 years to more than 5000 innocent persons killed in anti-Sikh riots in the aftermath of Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s unfortunate assassination — almost double the number of persons killed in 2002 Gujarat riots.
This only betrays media’s double standards and lack of consistency.   ***

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Whose honour safe in media hands?

Whose honour safe in media hands?

There is no gainsaying the fact that the cut-throat competition among our media organs is neither in its own interest nor that of the people. There is a tendency to generate a media hype on any issue and event it can lay its hands on. Sensationalism seems to have become its lifeline. That adds to their TRP and the circulation.
A smear campaign, obviously at the behest of some MNCs, was leashed against Baba Ramdev’s Patanjaliyog  Baba had been leading a vigorous campaign against foreign products by MNCs and some popular soft drink brands. The first shot was hurled by former MP Brinda Karat who exploited her relations with NDTV to the full. First, the issue of exploitation of people working there was raised. That flopped. Then was raised a great hue and cry alleging Baba’s medicines contained bone content and animal oil. A number of discussions and debates were organized by various media channels and print media to run down Baba. Ultimately, the then Congress government in Uttarakhand declared that laboratory tests got conducted by it had disproved the allegations against Ramdev medicines. But, surprisingly, the doyen of news channels, Mr. Prannoy Roy of NDTV suppressed this truth from his viewers.
That speaks high of the absence of media accountability towards its readers and viewers. Not only were they fed on false information and biased views, in the process Baba Ramdev’s reputation and medicines too remained suspect for some time. Who is to be blamed? None has the moral courage to accept responsibility for this malicious campaign based on falsehood.
There is no doubt media did play a great role in preventing denial of justice in Jessica Lall murder case.  But for the media, the guilty would have got scot free. Yet, that does not give it the right to put anybody in the dock without first verifying the facts against a person.
The Arushi murder case is one instance. Its trial stands vitiated only because of the overheat generated by media. Channel after channel and newspaper after newspaper put question marks on the way the investigation was progressing giving rise to a new theory, new leads to the story every other day. After about four years of investigation and various theories the case stands where it started. Things came to such a pass that the investigating agency filed a closure report saying the parents remained the prime suspects though it had no evidence against them. When the court refused to accept the plea, the CBI took a u-turn saying it has a foolproof case against them. Now wait and watch for the final outcome which may take years.
Latest is the case of two BJP MLA of Gujarat allegedly caught viewing pornographic material while attending the Assembly session. Some media persons branded it “porngate” and declared the two guilty. They wanted the head of these alleged accused. On March 23 both were found not guilty of the ‘crime’ after an examination by experts of the evidence against them.
Therefore the question remains: Should our media not be responsible? Should it have the license to declare anybody guilty or innocent without going into the evidence against the individuals(s) and without giving the accused the opportunity to  prove their innocence? Our media is guilty of taking sides — either rejecting or disbelieving the other side of story. The media trial is alright, but, at the same time, it should never be summary and one sided. Media does not only usurp the right to be the investigator but also to be the final judge.
Further, who will compensate the innocent duo who feeling embarrassed had to keep themselves out of public gaze for about four days because of the media channel coverage of their ‘misdeeds’ twenty-four hours of the day. Media wanted them to be most contemptuously thrown out of the house, expelled from the party and even debarred from contesting any election in future. The vituperatives hurled at them have inflicted a deep injury to their reputation and caused mental torture. Some self-righteous may still maintain that the ruling party has manipulated their innocence. But can the media be allowed the right to toss anybody’s hat at will without a simultaneous sense of accountability?