Category: Media

Spoof of spook

On 4/4/2012 Indian Express had the headline on front page “The January night Raisina Hill was spooked: Two key Army units moved towards Delhi without notifying Govt.”

The report talked about central intelligence agencies. Were both RAW and IB involved in reporting the movement? RAW is supposed to gather intelligence abroad.

The report was the talking point on TV channels.

Lt. Gen. Satish Nambiar and many former army officers and one former defence secretary said there is no protocol that requires army to notify defence ministry about troop movement.

Rajdeep Sardesai interviewed Shekhar Gupta at 10 p.m. on CNN-IBN. When Rajdeep Sardesai questioned Shekhar Gupta about being pro-establishment and opposing Anna Hazare Group, Shekhar Gupta ludicrously replied that Anna Hazare Group were establishment at the time. That is like saying Mohandas Gandhi and others who fought for India’s independence were imperialists. Rajdeep Sardesai should have said establishment here means government of the day and questioned him further but he let it pass.

Shekhar Gupta said he cannot reveal his sources. He said his sources are credible. That is what Colin Powell said about his source when he made a presentation to UN Security Council about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That source was used as a reason for invasion of Iraq in 2003. That source, known as Curveball, denied everything in that presentation and said he was lying about WMDs and being an eye witness in an interview to Peter Taylor of BBC. Similarly a woman who claimed she was an eye witness when Iraqis took babies out of incubators in 1990 was Kuwaiti Ambassador’s daughter who was in Washington at the time Iraqis were accused of committing the crime. It seems one source is Lt. Gen. H. S. Panag, a member of the Armed Forces Tribunal. Other sources will be known in due course.

Shekhar Gupta said once he could not do a story about a corrupt judge and he gave to N. Ram of The Hindu. He had lot of whisky with someone at that time. Did Shekhar Gupta, Ritu Sarin and Pranab Dhal Samanta drink lot of whisky when they prepared the report on spook?

There is no investigative journalism, only leaks by interested parties.

PM called the report alarmist. DM called the report absolutely baseless. Gen. V. K. Singh said the report was absolutely stupid. Three weeks before the report, in an interview to The Week he had said people will come out with stories about troop movements being something else.

Two other things happened on 4/4/2012.

Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and three vice chiefs appeared before Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence. Shashi Kant Sharma said his early return from Malaysia was because of a case that was coming up before the Supreme Court next day.

A group of people moved the Supreme Court against the appointment of Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh as the next army chief. Among members one is a former admiral (Ramdas), another a former CEC (N. Gopalaswami). How did these two come together?

DNA is silent after some revelations. Saikat Dutta had said he will come out with more letters. He had talked of a letter written in 2004 by Renuka Chowdhury who was tourism minister to Pranab Mukherjee who was defence minister against buying an artillery gun. After that no artillery gun was bought. As per one report PMO and Defence Ministry want to know from Saikat Dutta who leaked General’s letter to PM. Madhu Trehan said PMO and Defence Ministry know who leaked the letter but they want to hear from Saikat Dutta.

SBI and Hotel Leela

SBI did not get back the loan it gave to Kingfisher. Kingfisher was bailed out by converting the loan into shares. Now comes the news that SBI has referred 4,300 crore rupees loan taken by Hotel Leela to corporate debt restructuring (CDR). It is said that Hotel Leela has not defaulted. It wants interest rate reduced from 14% to 11% and longer schedule for payment. Perhaps the owner of Hotel Leela thinks he can default and get away just like Vijay Mallya of Kingfisher did. Hotel Leela perhaps wants the same treatment. Who is next in line for default? How is that SBI gave thousands of crores of rupees as loan and unable to recover them? Pilots of Air India and Jet Airways are likely to go on strike. Will SBI and other public sector banks bail out every airline, hotel, tea estate and so on? SBI and other public sector banks are not private property of Manmohan Singh, Veerappa Moily, Congress or UPA.

What is going on? Where are people who speak against loan write-offs, freebies and subsidies? Where are economists who speak of fiscal deficit?

There was no discussion on TV channels about CDR to Leela. What are they waiting for? Will they discuss after Leela defaults and asks for another loan?

SBI should stop CDR. Those who borrow must pay as per agreement. Interest should not be reduced. Payment period should not be extended. Hotel Leela must have pledged something as collateral for loan. SBI should attach the collateral.

Hitler Didi should remain

A Jewish group known as Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has objected to the title of a serial Hitler Didi on Zee TV. Some in India support them and say the channel should drop the title and find something else.

It seems there are two standards; one for Jews, one for others. When some people do something like books, cartoons, films, TV serials and paintings, that offends Christians, Hindus and Muslims these people speak freedom of speech and expression. They advocate tolerance and say freedom of speech and expression is meaningless if something that offends someone is excluded. When something offends Jews it must be banned. There is no discussion. There is no talk of freedom of speech and expression, tolerance and the right to offend.

When I first heard Mahmoud Ahmadinejad say in some European countries people can be put in jail for denying Holocaust I thought it was a joke. Later I came to know it was a fact and at least one author was jailed for his book on Holocaust. A journalist who covered White House since 1960 lost her accreditation because she said Jews in Israel and Palestine are outsiders and they should go back to where they came from like America, Russia, Poland and England.

In India somebody or the other finds something or the other offensive and there are many restrictions and Books, magazines, films and TV serials. If Indian film and TV serial makers have to change something because in a foreign country some people find something offensive then that is further restriction on creativity. If the Jews had their way The Passion of the Christ would not have been shown in theatres. There was one restaurant in Nagpur named after Hitler and the Jews put pressure on him to change the name. No self-styled liberal or votary of free speech came in his defence.

If Hitler was evil so were his enemies. What about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? What about incendiary bombs on Dresden? Winston Churchill and Harry Truman are not better than Adolf Hitler. More people died under Joseph Stalin than under Adolf Hitler. What about Israel’s evil towards Palestinians?

It is not for someone in America to dictate what should not be a TV serial title in India. What are the Jews doing today in Israel and Palestine? USA speaks of people’s rights in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen. It does not speak of the rights of Palestinians. It has threatened to veto UN membership for Palestine. When UNESCO admitted Palestine, USA, Canada and Israel cut off funding to UNESCO. They should be expelled from UNESCO.

Hitler may have been a fascist dictator and mass murderer but he was not the only one. There have been many like him before and after him. Hitler was a friend of India. He helped Subhash Chandra Bose fight the British. Rudolf Hess came to Britain with a message of peace and Churchill put him in jail. World War II weakened UK and facilitated India’s independence. For some Hitler may be a villain of incomparable evil but for some he is a hero. India has many admirers of Hitler.

Zee TV should ignore ADL and keep the title Hitler Didi.