Monthly Archives: November 2010

Day II Wikileaks, whats in it?

Day two of Wikileaks cable expose did manage to keep world media at large interested.

Most media houses across the world were busy to figure out what was in for their local leaders and in turn audience as they flipped through the 250,000 files leaked by the whistleblower website.

For me two statements stood out on Day II.

First, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton condemns the leaks and secondly the editor of the Guardian Alan Rusbridger stresses that it is not the job of the media to worry about the embarrassment of world leaders.

Politically correct

Clinton in her address to the media condemned the Wikileaks and I quote excerpts from the video of the same uploaded by the BBC website.

Will bring forth the lines as I understood, the secretary of state mentioned: “I condemn the illegal disclosure of classified info.” (Lets bear this in mind for the following lines) . “It puts people’s life in danger, threatens security and undermines effort to solve global issues (Quite out of the book).

In the end Clinton says: “I will not comment or confirm on what are alleged to be states stolen cables and US deeply regrets to the disclosure of any info that was indented to be confidential.”

This is bit confusing, firstly condemning the illegal disclosure of the classified information, implying it was something to do with the state and ending it by saying won’t confirm or comment on what are alleged to be state secrets? In the end she regretted the entire episode for disclosure of what was indented to be confidential.

When something is not confirmed why regret on it or make an issue out of it?

Hard Talk

Secondly the editor of Guardian Alan Rusbridger told BBC Radio 4 defended the publishing of reports. “I think newspapers should bring these things in public arena. It’s not the job of media to worry about the embarrassment of world leaders.”

A clean stand and he back its saying its good newspapers bring  these conversations wherein world leaders have been caught saying  different thing s in public and private arenas.

With journalists upping the ante, its time leaders and bureaucrats watch their words.

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Leaked again: Wiki third time lucky, How?

Whistleblower website Wikileaks quarter million leaks of backstage diplomatic conversations of the US diplomats have put the USA in a tight spot over its international relation issues.

The western big daddy taking shots at its allies and calling world leaders names is something that the US leaders would have not liked the world to know.

250,000 cable leaks after two revelations first 90,000 records of US military incidents about the war in Afghanistan and followed by 400,000 similar documents on Iraq, is a big jolt for the image of the US.

The western superpower spares no effort in propagating its mission of equality, democracy, fairness and democracy, but this leak does more harm to its image.

Calling allies names and serious allegations of spying over the UN leadership puts US in a not so comfortable position. Though secretary of state Hillary Clinton spun into action a couple of days back, it will be difficult for it to do damage control.

These are issues of global relation, complex sensibilities and volatile dynamics but what comes as a surprise to me more than the revelations is the way and frequency with which these revelations have been made.

Claims have been made that US military official Bradley Manning is the man behind the leaking diplomatic cables and other classified documents to WikiLeaks.

Leaks on these scale being made thrice makes one suspicious about the approach the US authorities have adopted in curbing these damaging leaks.

How can Julian Assanage, the founder of Wikileaks managed to irk the USA thrice and achieve this feat is what leaves me wondering?

The Washington correspondent of the BBC said this is being linked to the system of the US adopted after 9/11 to share intelligence across its various positions (base) worldwide which enabled Manning to download these state secrets and leaking them.

Simple logic given to decode the biggest leaks in the living memory is hard to digest.

What implications these leaks will have on the future of global relations for US is a matter I leave to thinking minds.

Will there be fourth, fifth and subsequent leaks is something that draws my interest.

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Where will this lead Journalism in India?

At last the debate on the ‘Journogate’ (popularly being called Barkhagate) has begun to gain some momentum in India.

Ever since the tapes involving some leading names in Indian journalism in debatable conversation with a high-profile public relation executive Niira Radia have been made public by two news magazines, some platforms have started discussion.

The credit to this late yet timely development goes to the bloggers and social networking sites where the issue is a hot debate.

Journalist Karan Thapar who debated the issue on The Last Word a prime time news debate show on CNN IBN started saying that the topic ‘has set the websites aflame’ despite the issue being ignored by media houses.

The debate for me was a step forward, but it added a few more questions to the already complex scenario.

Panelists debated that why did those involved in the tapes not report that a publicist for the leading business houses (Tata and Mukesh Ambani) with Tata’s having a sizeable presence in telecom sector was acting as a power broker for DMK.

It also justified the stand of Open Magazine and Outlook to go ahead with the story sans versions of those involved. N. Ram, editor, The Hindu said: “it’s a part of journalistic practise, did we (journalists) asked Vin Chadda before publishing the Bofors expose?”

What was missing from the engaging session was that neither Barkha Dutt nor Vir Sanghvi participated despite being called for the show. This was predictable.

However both have tweeted and posted their explanations for one last time to set the record straight.  Dutt has published her argument on NDTV website giving links to the stories that she did against A Raja and Sanghvi too after putting a letter last week on his website has explained his stance in his weekly column Counterpoint, which appears in Hindustan Times on Sundays.

Interestingly, Sanghvi has made it clear that battered by the allegations he will discontinue his column in for the time being.

He writes on his website and I quote “I have no desire to subject counterpoint to this filth. It deserves better. So, Counterpoint will be taking a break. When life returns to normal, so will counterpoint.”

It seems the controversy has hit hard.

The debate was also discussed at Foundation for Media Professionals, in New Delhi.

Some question the debate arises are firstly is it alright to go ahead with an expose despite the tapes not being officially and secondly is it fine to go ahead without securing the views of those questioned?

While Ram answered the latter for the first I feel if something is there for a larger public interest the journalists are well within their rights to bring it out.

Will this bloodletting improve journalism standards in India? The question looms large over the fraternity.

I would quote N.Ram from the CNN IBN debate that had this happened at the BBC, the New York Times or the Financial Times, such behaviour would not have been tolerated and the career would have been over.

Will the media houses come clean on this issue is a big question for future of Journalism in India?

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Modinaama

Oops he did it again!

The former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi on Thursday launched his website and aired his first interview in recent times. What made it interesting was the choice of platform- YouTube.

For a man who would once have media in India eating out of his hands, this was yet another ‘out of the box’ effort or a desperate measure to reach out? He chose former BBC journalist Mihir Bose for the interview.

Might be the media perception has changed over the last seven months that he has been out of the country or the reasons best known to him. But the choice of platform has been very unusual.

Wonder if it will have any impact, for usually reports featuring him catch eye balls.

Having reported on two fierce elections Modi contested at the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) I can say he functions in his own way.

Love him or hate him, but you just can’t ignore him.

He’s got restless attitude to get things done and goes for the results by all means.

The man who transformed the game of cricket did rub some people the wrong way and finds himself in the position he today is.

Ways to work or conduct business in India are as complex and diverse as the country itself.

Despite rules being laid down to conduct things in a set way but they work differently more often than not.

Modi is no different.

He created his own field, formulated his own rules, set his own standards and played his own game- he created Indian Premier League(IPL) and turned cricket into a money-making machine.

Instead of runs it was raining money in the IPL, for the first couple of years everyone was happy.

It gave Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) mega buck deals, gave owners profits along with platform to build brands and above all transformed the nervous looking Lalit Modi(TOI Crest report April 17,2010) into a swashbuckling cricketing czar of modern times.

All he touched turned gold, in doing so he allegedly did some ‘Mend it like Modi’ antics (the much debated Rajasthan Sports Act change of enter RCA).

Having gone a bit back in times, it’s interesting to see the man in the position he is in… not drawing any conclusions or passing any judgement on means he used to achieve the ends, what amazes me is never say never attitude of the guy.

With his back to the wall he pushes (or strives) his way back and this too looks like an attempt again.

With the administration seemingly against him, his political fiends betraying him, media turning a deaf ear, the guy is anything but out of the game.

I can’t resist recalling something that one of the official at RCA who was a part of the uprising against him once told me: “Only had softened changed his (man-handling) attitude, he would never have been out of the RCA fray.”

Come to think of it, he in that case would not have been out of the BCCI, but he would than not be the man that he is.

Though he iconized the slam bam cricket, he possesses an endurance of a test match batsmen, the game I feel is not yet over.

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Planned Protest

PLAN ! It was the one word that defined Wednesday for many Londoners.

With the students taking on the streets for second time in a fortnight protesting against Education CUTS it was amazing to witness how everything went according to a well -orchestrated and meticulous planned development of events.

After the November 10, violent protest at the Milibank, there was a lot of anticipation in the air as I set out to cover the second protest.

I felt alive as a reporter after a hiatus, had my plan in place to go about the day(follow the procession from School of Oriental and African Studies(SOAS) to parliament )

Gearing up

Around 300 demonstrators began the march from amidst heavy police surveillance, “No violence,” urges the student leader. “Move in team of three,” said a Sargent to his people. The plan was working.

Moving with the march it felt like being part of a carnival, ‘it’s slogans and songs all the way.’ The party continued till the demonstration reaches the Australian House where cops divert the route towards Trafalgar Square blocking the Strand road it forced the mob to Arundel Street.

Moment the demonstration moved, sounds of choppers filled the airspace.  Every move was watched from up above.

Towards Whitehall

Gathering momentum at Trafalgar Square with school students joining the party it was a march towards Whitehall. The cops were ready.

It looks they kept the bus which was broken by protestors purposefully in one open end towards the house of parliament in the centre of the road.

Youngsters filled the galleries surrounded the bus and the cops cordoned the students and squeezed them in. They warned those who wanted to break the line, ‘Once you are in, we won’t let you out,’ cops tell students.

After getting them in and weaning their attempt to provoke (ignoring the bottles and sticks hurled) the cops stood their ground.  The idea was to squeeze them in the cold.

Kettled

Once the frenzy settled and the students were done with the bus, the cops moved in, not letting anyone out. Kettling began.

Half an hour into the exercise, they started moving in again from the far end. Forming three chains they came in again from Trafalgar square squeezing every bit of protestor in.

They marched into the McDonalds in white hall and drove youngsters even those not a part of the protest out. The idea was clear; squeeze everyone in a way to punish them.

Within minutes Whitehall was cleared and open to public movement.

Only the protesters were cornered in a part ad from distance it all looked peaceful.

The protestors soon ran out of placards for fire and chill begin to slow their vandal acts. But cops were in no mood to relent.

They carried on and reportedly left the students free late around 9pm. Their job was accomplished, without much use of force they ensured that the horrifying acts of last protest weren’t repeated.

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Britain to foot extra bill to bail out Ireland

Britain comes across as a friend the ‘in need’ Ireland requires in their hour of  grave economic crisis.

The UK will be offering an additional £7 billion direct loan to the Irish republic apart from its contributions the international bail out package,George Osborne confirmed the BBC.

Citing Ireland as a ‘friend in need’, Osborne told BBC: “Ireland is our close neighbor, I judged it to be in our national interest to be part of the international efforts to help the Irish.”

Osborne’s thoughts of footing the extra £7 billion as part of its share hasn’t gone down too well with many.

Sam Bowman, head of research, The Adam Smith Institute, opposes the UK’s commitment.  “The proposed bailout for Ireland is a bad deal for the UK. It puts the interests of the European Union and the eurozone before the interests of Ireland and the British government should have no part in paying for it,” Bowman told the Guardian.  He further added, “The British taxpayer should not be held responsible for past mistakes by Irish politicians.”

Business wise

In 2009 Ireland consumed British products worth £15.9 billion according to a report in the Times.  This was double of what 4.5 million Irish people consumed which was thrice of what the over 1 billion Chinese people consume.

It’s not only about exports, the British banks have given huge loans to the Irish banks and if the Irish banks fail the consequences will be bad for Britain.

Royal Bank of Scotland has given away £53 billion of loans to Irish customers. Similarly the Lloyds Banking Group has to recover its £27 billion outstanding.

Despite the interests the announcement was not good news for British and Irish stocks. According to Bloomberg, stocks of Bank of Ireland Plc took a dip of 21 percent as investors speculated that the bailout will dilute their holdings in the lender. Likewise Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, the U.K.’s biggest government-owned bank, fell 3.1 percent. Pearson Plc rose 1.3 percent after the publisher made an acquisition in South Africa.

Pay back

Concerns arise about Ireland’s pay back capabilities

Tory MP John Redwood told the BBC: “I’m sure many of us will want to know why, how much, how long are we out of the money, what are the prospects of being repaid, what is the interest rate?”

Osborne says: “The details of the entire package, not just the UK contribution but the eurozone and IMF contribution, is all being worked out as we speak and we should, by the end of the month, have the details on that,” he told BBC

The rate of interest and other terms on a UK bilateral loan would be similar to the conditions of the international package, Osborne said.

Having taken the big leap citing its own interest, it remains to be sen, was the friendship worth it.

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Unfair Media Trial

A media trial in the real sense of word is underway in India. Media is under trail, those in question are some of the leading brand names in the world of Indian journalism.

The list of those featured in the infamous tapes in question are Barkha Dutt and Prabhu Chawla, group editors of NDTV and India Today respectively, Vir Sanghvi, editorial director of Hindustan Times, M. K Venu, senior business journalist and the managing editor of Financial Express are there to name some.

While most of the leading dailies and broadcasters have stayed away from publishing (owing to complexities of their names in some way or the other being associated with those who feature in the list) or airing the debate, some magazines and tabloids have kept their focus on the trial.

But there are some inherent similarities in all these none of them dialled these people involved in the tapes for their takes and they were selective.

There are close to over 100 tape conversation according to the Outlook report and have doyens of the industrialist like Ratan Tata featuring in it, but its only two Dutt and Sanghvi who are being portrayed as villains in most reports.

Their responses are nowhere to be quoted making it a one-sided report. Though Outlook is carrying Dutt’s tweets and letters from NDTV and Open magazine on its website, it still misses the simple quote from the duo under spot.

Barkha Dutt tweets: “Question for Mail Today’s so called “campaign.” Why doesnt it mention journalists from its own group who are on the tapes? Convenient.” She raises a valid question, as names of Prabhu Chawla and Shankar Aiyar (then with India Today Group) are also featured.

In the Ratan Tata conversation Radia observes the media has become very greedy and it won’t give someone who advertises heavily bad publicity.

This is a very serious allegation and a harsh reality in some media outlets. The tape scam gives the fraternity to come out clean and ensure that the sanctity of the profession remains intact in public eye.

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