Monday, March 17, 2008

THE PEOPLE'S DAILY OF CHENNAI

B.RAMAN

Tibet and Sichuan have seen some determined protests by the long-suppressed Tibetans since March 10. The protests were initially started by Tibetan monks, but subsequently a large number of students and other sections of the general population joined in. The Chinese Army, which was taken by surprise, is in the process of putting down the protests ruthlessly.

2. There is no doubt they will ultimately succeed in ruthlessly crushing the protests, arresting those who participated and sending them to their own Gulags.

3.There can be different views on what the Government of India's attitude to the protests should be---sympathise with it or disaprove of it or adopt an ambivalent attitude? A decision on this has to be taken by the Government after taking the national interests into consideration.

4. But there can be no different views on what should be the attitude of the media to the developments in Tibet and Sichuan, particularly of a newspaper which projects itself to be independent and objective, with no agenda of its own. It has to inform the public of the various versions of the developments----the Tibetan, the Chinese, the Western etc--- and leave it to the readers to decide which version to believe.

5. If it has any views as to which version is more credible, it can express those views in its editorial columns for the benefit of its readers.

6. But, when a newspaper censors the various versions, blacks out the Tibetan version and disseminates only the version as put out by the Government-owned Hsinhua news agency of China, one has reason to feel shocked----- and sad.

7. Read the report as carried by that newspaper on its front page on March 17,2008. At the bottom, its says "Hsinhua, PTI and Reuters" as if the entire report is based on the versions put out by these three agencies.

8. It is not so. The portion regarding the disturbances in Tibet is totally the version of the Hsinhua with no clarifications or additions as to what the Tibetans have had to say. The Dalai Lama held a press conference on March 16,2008. Truncated versions of the press conference as disseminated by the Reuters and the PTI have been added on to the main Hsinhua version.

9. The Dalai Lama made two important points in his press conference. He accused the Chinese of cultural genocide in Tibet and asked for an international enquiry into it. At the same time, he made it clear that he did not want the Beijing Olympics to be disrupted. In its headline , the paper played up only what he said on the Olympics and remained silent on what he had to say about the alleged cultural genocide.

10. A few years ago, the paper came under a new leadership of the same family. Since then one could see a change in its editorial policy towards China and Tibet---- no publicity to the statements and activities of the Dalai Lama, no dissemination of his pictures, no publicity to the views and hardships of the Tibetans, no negative comments on China, only the positive to be highlighted and not the negative about China. Beijing to be projected as an angel in a world of villains.

11. More and more Hsinhua despatches started finding their way into the columns of this paper. The readers were told what a wonderful country China was, what a wonderful people the Chinese were, how there is nothing for India to fear from the Chinese.

12.Its Washington office was closed and shifted to Beijing indicating where its heart lay.

13. A Chinese interlocutor recently mentioned to me the names of two persons from this paper----one in its headquarters in Chennai and the other in its office in Beijing-- and remarked that if only all journalists were like these two, journalism must be the most beautiful profession in the world. I asked him why he thought so.

14. He replied that they write only positively about China. They never say anything negative.

15. All of us, who were born and brought up in Chennai, grew up on the mother's milk of this daily. Whatever little we achieved in our life and career was due to what we imbibed from its columns.

17. What a great family it was! What great names it had in its staff in its headquarters and in its field offices!

18. When we travelled abroad and mentioned that Chennai was our home town, people would immediately say " oh, the city of that famous newspaper". Chennai was known as the city of the Music Festival and this newspaper.
19. I am 71---- well on the way to making my peace with My Maker. How cruel to see this daily with which I grew up reduced to its present status!

20. Its founding fathers and the giants who served in it must be shedding tears in heavens over the way their child has been reduced to being the "People's Daily" of Chennai.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

13 comments:

Anand said...

This newspaper you mention was truly the last one that expected to take such a turn. It is unfortunate and most despicable. These people have shown they can sink to truly bottomless depths.

SUNDAR said...

I grew up in Chennai but my grand father who spent his days in Kumbakonam used to love this newspaper. Lucky he is not alive today to see the deterioration in quality. The editor gives space to the left tinted news and views to far greater extent . Even a look at the 'letters to the editor' shows his choice. Thanks Mr. Raman for an excellent article on this supposedly national newspaper.

Ananya55 said...

Well said Mr Raman on the deteriorating standards of The Hindu. I am half your age and like many of my generation, I grew up with this newspaper, eagerly awaiting the arrival of this paper in the morning and fighting with other family members to get an early insight into the articles even with the little english I was familiar with. To see the paper that consistently preached and associtaed with the middle class virtues of honesty and integrity going downhill to become a mouthpiece of CPM is a sad reflection of N.Ram's journalism. Even after this was brought to the attention of the readers' editior time and again by the readers, no satisfactory response has been given. I never got any of my letters published on various issues (particularly on the partial coverage of the paper on issues such as Hamas and Mugabe). Though this paper has an association with The Guardian (UK) and frequently reprints articles published in that paper, no article that is critical of the left's pet issues (such as Hamas and colonialism, for example Robert Mugabe) has been published. Still Atun Aneja is talking about how Hamas/Hizbollah are challenging the might of Israeli army, he does not mention the destruction of houses/lives caused by Israeli retaliation in Southern Lebanon and Gaza. While writting about the Palestine issue, he becomes a Hamas'ites to talk about how valiant they are and to forget that they are getting pounded day in day out. Even in the 'letters to the editor', you see mostly the letters that are appreciative of the articles published in the papers and critical letters are censored. Most of these letters are still referring to about anti-colonialism, US hegemony, US's hidden design, etc. Still the first choice for N. Ram's daughter to study was the den of global capitalism: US. No wonder we have people like Rajamohan leaving The Hindu to take up a dignified teaching position rather than selling his soul. He has been replaced with strategic affairs editor Siddhardh Varadarajan who is jack of 'all trades and master of none' (propably the only strategic affairs editor capable of writting on anything and everything: caste, reservation, affirmative action, politics, social mobility, godhra, communalism, communism, etc.). His contributions are like the courseworks of undergraduate students consulting a couple of online articles and views and write something to scream about the US. There is nothing scholarly in his contributions. So much so for his strategic acumen that he did not write a single piece on his pet topic Kosovo, which he steadfastly opposed during the NATO intervention. When the region became an independent nation recently all we could hear from him was a "Big Bang of Silence". With his chest-beating, anti-American and pro-socialist/communist scream, you might still be thinking that he is at the Hindu office in New Delhi or on sabbatical working on a project in Chavez or Castro's dreamland. But he is on sabbatical teaching (about journalism and not strategic affairs) in the craddle of global capitalism: US. The last I heard is that he is looking for a tenure in the US universities. What a hypocrisy of this paper and its crew. While you say, to my sadness, that you are in the process of making peace with My Maker, I get the delight of reading The Hindu's articles along with the articles of The Heritage Foundation to take my own view on extreme journalism. In these two lie the virtues of journalism buried and cemented deep under a concrete bunker.

Ananya

Ananya55 said...

Well said Mr Raman on the deteriorating standards of The Hindu. I am half your age and like many of my generation, I grew up with this newspaper, eagerly awaiting the arrival of this paper in the morning and fighting with other family members to get an early insight into the articles even with the little english I was familiar with. To see the paper that consistently preached and associtaed with the middle class virtues of honesty and integrity going downhill to become a mouthpiece of CPM is a sad reflection of N.Ram's journalism. Even after this was brought to the attention of the readers' editior time and again by the readers, no satisfactory response has been given. I never got any of my letters published on various issues (particularly on the partial coverage of the paper on issues such as Hamas and Mugabe). Though this paper has an association with The Guardian (UK) and frequently reprints articles published in that paper, no article that is critical of the left's pet issues (such as Hamas and colonialism, for example Robert Mugabe) has been published. Still Atun Aneja is talking about how Hamas/Hizbollah are challenging the might of Israeli army, he does not mention the destruction of houses/lives caused by Israeli retaliation in Southern Lebanon and Gaza. While writting about the Palestine issue, he becomes a Hamas'ites to talk about how valiant they are and to forget that they are getting pounded day in day out. Even in the 'letters to the editor', you see mostly the letters that are appreciative of the articles published in the papers and critical letters are censored. Most of these letters are still referring to about anti-colonialism, US hegemony, US's hidden design, etc. Still the first choice for N. Ram's daughter to study was the den of global capitalism: US. No wonder we have people like Rajamohan leaving The Hindu to take up a dignified teaching position rather than selling his soul. He has been replaced with strategic affairs editor Siddhardh Varadarajan who is jack of 'all trades and master of none' (propably the only strategic affairs editor capable of writting on anything and everything: caste, reservation, affirmative action, politics, social mobility, godhra, communalism, communism, etc.). His contributions are like the courseworks of undergraduate students consulting a couple of online articles and views and write something to scream about the US. There is nothing scholarly in his contributions. So much so for his strategic acumen that he did not write a single piece on his pet topic Kosovo, which he steadfastly opposed during the NATO intervention. When the region became an independent nation recently all we could hear from him was a "Big Bang of Silence". With his chest-beating, anti-American and pro-socialist/communist scream, you might still be thinking that he is at the Hindu office in New Delhi or on sabbatical working on a project in Chavez or Castro's dreamland. But he is on sabbatical teaching (about journalism and not strategic affairs) in the craddle of global capitalism: US. The last I heard is that he is looking for a tenure in the US universities. What a hypocrisy of this paper and its crew. While you say, to my sadness, that you are in the process of making peace with My Maker, I get the delight of reading The Hindu's articles along with the articles of The Heritage Foundation to take my own view on extreme journalism. In these two lie the virtues of journalism buried and cemented deep under a concrete bunker.

Ananya

Dilip said...

The Hindu's much touted association with the Guardian is really a disgrace to the Guardian. Though even that paper is alleged to have a leftist bias, it never censors coverage and it has many articles that cover the other side of a question - in that sense, it is certainly more thoughtful than ideological. Unfortunately, the Hindu, ananya55 points out here, is rapidly degenerating into a mouthpiece of the communists. The number of examples is simply too many to list but here are a few.

1. The recent Russian parliamentary and presidential elections were a sham with the media coverage completely monopolized by the government, opposition candidates disqualified or intimidated and voters coerced by the government to vote for the ruling party or risk losing their jobs. Yet you would never suspect any of this if you were to read the Hindu. According to its journalist in wonderland Vladimir Radyuchin, there was absolutely nothing wrong and the victory demonstrated how happy the people are with the government, how popular its leadership is and how well the system works.

2. The double talk over the nuclear deal - soon after pronouncing it as sound and honorable, the paper has been trying to backpedal as fast as it can under each and every guise it can find. Of course Ram defends it saying he is only pointing to the reality in Parliament, etc. but one never found the Hindu accepting the 'reality' of the BJP or its policies, so why this great deal of deference to reality here? No surprises for guessing.

3. Hardly any criticism of the genocide in darfur while criticizing Israeli policies no end. If this is not double standards, I don't know what is.

4. The fawning treatment of K.R.Narayan compared to the indifferent treatment of Kalam. Narayan's refusal to go along with the BJP-led government was hailed whereas the same thing with Kalam's defiance of the UPA was criticized. Apparently the former signified high-minded principle, the latter was unwarranted interference (mind you, Presidential powers have not changed inbetween). Again, the difference was only with respect to who voted each person into office. No guesses for figuring out why the sudden change in attitude.

4. The kid-glove treatment of the entire Nandigram episode and the editorial which virtually exonerated the government for the events.

Aano Bhadra said...

Very good post Mr. Raman. Thanks to Internet, *no one* on this earth believes Chindu's version of the story!

Realising the pervert tactics of the "people's daily", youngsters have started actively exposing The Hindu and its dictator N Ram. For eg. see a popular blog:
http://cbcnn.blogspot.com

Praada said...

Gireesh
19/03/2008 04:57:15 Take a Reality check
Mr Raman , You say that you grew up 'on the Mother's milk of this daily'. How touching ! Well, I have news for you. What you have been taking all these years has been adulterated stuff. I am surprised that this paper which is widely known as the unofficial organ of the CPM and its Chinese masters would be considered as a landmark symbol for Chennai. How could you expect a paper whose Editor in chief is the founder member of the SFI to be unbiased when it comes to matters relating to China ? Each and every page of this paper since I remember ( I am 42 yrs old ) has its news slanted to suite the CPM and its transnational masters. And you did not get this drift ? This is the newspaper which condemned the Indian Air force when it shot down a Pakistani reconnaissance plane after the Kargil conflict.( Check the Chindu editorial on August 12 '1999 ). Didn’t you think at that point of time that the milk you were taking had something nasty in it ?

ஜேகே - JK said...

Dear Raman, Thanks for this article. I was a long time reader of the paper and have stopped my subscription to it due to its deteriorating basic journalistic standards, especially with respect to the coverage of Sri Lankan civil war and china-tibet issues.

I am curious to know about your opinion on it's coverage of Sri Lankan civil war.

Jagadish said...

I hunted a lot, but I haven't found a single published letter from a reader in "The Hindu's" Letters to the editor section about the rioting in Tibet!

cowboy said...

i am an52yr old,been reading THE HINDU for 35yrs and i agree with you,Sir.they not only support Communists,are biased against Hindus in general.
It has become a habit or else i would have stopped reading it a decade ago,on that cargil report,
DR.K.G.Bhat
Palace Road.
VITTAL,KARNATAKA

Karthik said...

How true. The decline in the standards is palpable. I've been a longtime reader of The Hindu and the editorial page has turned into a joke. The praise of the recent electoral process in Russia, support of Hugo Chavez's policies in Venezuela and the complete black-out of Tibet stands out. Does Ram not realise that a newspaper like the Hindu will not even exist in Putin's Russia, Chavez's Venezuela or in China?

What a fall.

shiva said...

"It has to inform the public of the various versions of the developments----the Tibetan, the Chinese, the Western etc--- and leave it to the readers to decide which version to believe."

I definitely believe that TOI is doing a far better job at this. For instance, there was an article about how Dalai Lama himself has settled for autonomy and it is to the disadvantage of tibetan struggle..

THE HINDU, after reading your analysis and some comments is definitely going from worse to worst!!

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