Tag Archives: NDTV

Obama presses the Tweet button to deal with deficit

Barack Obama is on a tweet spree. “Make a phone call, send an email, tweet,” he said in his bid to garner support to reach a compromise for taking US out of debt.

Unable to reach a consensus on the debt crisis ahead of the August 2 deadline, Obama urged people to Tweet and reach their local congressional member urging them to compromise on the debt ceiling.

The unprecedented move of the American president is a unique combination of sorts; the world most powerful man using one of most public tools to quickly pass the message.

The move also showcases how the most powerful leader acknowledges the real house of power – people.

With every message reaching out to 9,362,843 (at the time of writing) people there was no other way by which the president could reach these many people. Not only that 692,518 people also can directly reach him on his tweet handle.

As a result of the tweet spree by his Obama2012 campaign phone lines of the House were running at peak traffic volume.

The move allows Obama to reach out to the Republicans via people and make his point heard. Twitter gives the president a people’s advantage to convince or pressurise his political rivals and in turn reach Republican supports.

How effective the campaign will be remains to be seen, but the tool of social networking which led to Arab and African revolutions is being used by leaders to establish a connect with their people.

@BarackObama sets the precedent by seeking people’s support via twitter, but its usual for politicians and leaders in west to use this medium to make their stand.

Recently president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez used twitter to work from hospital; the UK Prime Minister though doesn’t have a personal twitter account No. 10 Downing Street has a tweet handle which is functional.

Few months back on news channel Al-Jazeera world leaders like Barack Obama and David Cameron in a series of world view interview were put questions collected using You tube, which they readily answered. Though not a social media tool, the drive allowed people to pose questions in person and seek response via web.

While the west is embracing social media to gauge the people’s moods, politicians in India shy away from any social media.

As the debate in the country heats up over the Lokpal Bill, could the PMO have not used social media tools to gauge what the people think? Why is it that the leaders shy away from meeting the people who matter? Why is it that it takes a huge uproar and public outcry for the PM even address the media?

When I was in India recently I asked a senior Congress leader who has a berth in the Union Cabinet and when asked about use of social media the response was: “Let it be with Shashi Tharoor Sahab, why keep unnecessary headache.”

If this is the attitude that top politicians have, they are light years behind reality.


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CBI acts on Raja, Kalmadi: too little,too late

CBI moves!

Suresh Kalmadi’s house and offices in New Delhi and Pune were raided and former telecom minister A. Raja was questioned for almost nine hours by the premier investigating agency of the country.

No mean feat. They questioned at last.

It seems the premier investigating agency woke up (presumably after enjoying its festivities) on the eve of festive season.

Not too long back, they questioned Niira Radia after a sizable pause.

With these developments, at least for the sake of argument they did act.

But is that enough? Is their pace of action justified? Are they alone to be blamed for this? Or have the law brokers outnumbered the watchdogs?

A report by DNA in April 2010 said CBI has 9000 cases pending in various courts across country.

Another report few days back in The Hindu pointed that despite CBI’s plea to remove Kalmadi and his lieutenant Lalit Bhanot be removed for they obstructed the probe, but the government claiming to fight corruption said Kalmadi can’t be removed as CNN-IBN reported.

Raja buys time, Kalmadi can’t be removed how bad can be too bad for law enforcing agencies.

Giving those under scanner a lifetime to apparently put things in place and then fighting against the lack of political will shows why there are no results in corruption cases.

At times one wonders when the last time CBI was brought the culprits to justice.  It was in January 2010 when it brought culprits in techie Ansu Kuruvilla to justice after four years.

This speeding act of CBI seems to be too little too late, in fact going by the dismal record of the investigation these move don’t hint at looking at improving the score.

Along with catching those culprits, it should also learn to safeguard its site, which was hacked earlier this month.

Jokes apart.

Wish CBI improves its strike rate. High time some examples are set to install some fear of law in the mind of culprits.

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Let people filter the Wikileaks

Is information knowledge? Does more data mean greater understanding, even minus context and editorial filters?

This was a tweet from Barkha Dutt for her show We the People debating Will Wikileaks change Diplomacy forever?

The last bit of the question set me thinking. Does Wilkileaks require an editorial filter?

NO. Was my initial and intuitive response.

After a pause I thought, how different will editorial filter make Wikileaks look like? What will form the basis of filtering the information? Finally in the era of information sharing will it be possible to curtail the raw information going out to people?

In my opinion, which could be challenged, it’s alright at times to let the information flow out in raw form and let people make a judgement. For there is no guarantee that people will agree and toe the line editors dish out.

What Julian Assange has done is going to change the way people in power communicate, though it might not have an impact in the way diplomacy is conducted.


As Mukul Kesavan on the NDTV show pointed out that the New York Times went ahead and took the cables to the US government and after a check published them shows where not to go for reading the cables.

I agree, for the fact that one can’t be sure reading NYT in that case if that is the complete information.

Beyond Assange

A blog in the economist suggested WikiLeaks needs an ethical review board? It further observes WikiLeaks is an important organisation that’s doing something the world needs. But like other human-rights and humanitarian organisations, it needs to lay down some clear, public ethical guidelines about how and why it does what it does.

I trust the way they handle it, in part because I know who they are. Who’s WikiLeaks? Besides Mr Assange, I don’t know, and they’re not really telling. Do you know? If so, start a wiki about it.

Wonder how different this would have made the situation, agreed that nobody except Assange is known to the world, but what if that is the organisation policy?

Right now one persons motives are being doubted, if there were more than one then sceptics or critics would have questioned more motives.

This would also have given governments irked by leaks more people to make targets and drift the focus away from the actual issues at hand.

As of now there are five reputed media outlets apart from Wikileaks to make a choice from, it for the readers to pick their choice. There is raw data as well as filtered one available, make your choice and take a call.

In fact the readership of Wikileaks and others post disclosures will give an indication what people want.

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Time to walk the talk

The Niira Radia tapes interestingly are still being debated. The matter is far from over and marks a new page for me in the way Indian media functions or will function in the days to come.

The blog by Rajdeep Sardesai, editor in chief, CNN-IBN brought the ‘sting stung’ expose involving journalists back to mind.

Sardesai who doubles up as president, Editor’s guild of India, though late in putting his views across on the debate makes few candid points.

I quote few of his points which struck me:

1.       In recent times, the media has lived by the dictum of guilty till proven innocent. Guess the concept of trial by media has now come back to sting the media itself!

2.       At one level, the ethical decline is a consequence of changing market realities?

3.       In a highly competitive news universe, access is the key, a privilege which is often dependent on building personal equations.

4.       When was the last time corporate corruption was exposed with rigour in the media? Most business interviews are soft focus profiles, designed as image-building exercises rather than genuinely inquisitorial.

All valid and ironically dangerous questions concerning the way media market is booming in India.

The questions are for real, but what surprises me is the media apathy to the subject, and whatever has been coming out has largely been acquisitions and counter cleansing exercises or mere pressure cum need based debates.

NDTV ran an hour long unedited show to give a chance to Barkha Dutt to put her point across, CNN IBN too did a shown where the anchor said, the issue has set websites on fire and hence the debate. Vir Sanghvi posted his views in his column and website and few discussions on who is to be questioned and basics not being followed was the end of the issue.

Why are editors not coming forward on a collective forum to address the larger issues? Why when Sardesai says when was the last time corporate corruption was exposed with vigour he does not provides an alternative or a way out? Why the dependence of advertisements and advertorials not being debated? Why is the issue of leading media houses(The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Indian Express to name some) abstaining from the debate not being discussed.

Two very senior editors Dileep Padgaonkar and N. Ram on two different platforms raised similar thoughts. While Padgaonkar on NDTV said: “In my times we would not allow PR guys to come near the editorial section.” Ram on CNN-IBN said, “I don’t believe in the theory of stringing sources to get information.” He added, “Has this been the BBC, the NYT or WSJ, the careers of those involved would have been over.”

I feel the controversy provides a unique opportunity for media as a whole to come together and set the rules straight for the new breed and established lot of journalists to follow.

Time for editors and media organisations to walk the talk.

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