Saturday, 31 July 2010

TV Channel For Rural Masses

24 July 2010
The rural development ministry is planning to launch a dedicated TV channel for the rural masses to ensure that information about the government’s various policies and programmes reaches the target group.
Rural development minister C P Joshi is working out the modalities with the information and broadcasting ministry. The channel is being planned along the lines of the Lok Sabha TV and is expected to be ready in a few months.
Joshi said unless people know about their rights, it is as good as not having those rights. The TV channel will air a variety of programmes, including a quiz show – along the lines of Kaun Banega Crorepati – where representatives from rural areas could participate and win prize money of Rs 1 crore. The questions would be based on village life, the right to information, government policies and programmes for the rural areas.
The channel would also focus on programmes – like the panchayat system, the schemes under NREGA, the need of watershed development and success stories from across the country in various villages – that will be of interest to and provide information exclusively for rural audience.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, who attended a workshop to determine the contents of the rural information drive, said democracy demands that the public broadcaster be used for building public awareness. The programmes will be entertaining as well as enlightening, said Soni.

Source: Business Standard Quoted by

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

‘Paid news could mark death of journalism’

Source: Express news service Posted: Fri Jul 23 2010, 03:49 hrs New Delhi:
New Delhi On Thursday, after the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism awards celebrated the finest ideals of journalism, the ability to write without fear or favour, the attention shifted to a somewhat darker side of the profession — the phenomenon of paid news.
Is the credibility of journalism up for sale? Is there a “conspiracy of silence” in the media about the way the business of journalism is conducted? How deeply are politicians involved in the practice? Isn’t it time the media drew the line somewhere? What makes journalists strike deals in exchange for space and sound bites? These are questions that came up at a panel discussion held after the awards were given away at the Taj Palace in New Delhi.
At the show moderated by Nidhi Razdan of NDTV 24x7 and Archna Shukla of The Indian Express, the panelists broadly agreed with India Today Group chairman Aroon Purie who flagged off the discussion saying that paid news was self-destructive and would some day mark the “death of journalism”.
“The business of paid news is a dangerous trend which has got institutionalised by certain media managements. This goes against the mission of practising journalism,” Purie said.
“Credibility can’t be for sale, that’s the one currency for good journalism,” echoed K V L Narayan Rao, CEO, NDTV Group.
At this stage, Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi, who was in the audience, stood up to ask why journalists weren’t doing anything about this business of news. Why, he asked, weren’t there disclosures at the end of written articles or programmes on TV explicitly stating if the news had been sponsored.
Arun Shourie, veteran journalist and BJP leader, agreed that there was a conspiracy of silence in the media, just as in all other professions. He said, “The media, for its own sake, must write about the issue candidly and put an end to the nefarious practice of private treaties.”
Uday Shankar, CEO of Star India, said the media was silent because everybody is a potential beneficiary — “someone who hadn’t considered it yesterday may want to do so today”. He spoke of the need to look into the financial aspects of running a media business.
Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP stood up from the front row to ask if that meant journalism is nothing but simply “trade and commerce”. Is that line blurring somewhere, he wanted to know.
Social activist and RTI champion Aruna Roy made a forceful point when she said that the media had a role to play in a democracy. “I demand that the media behaves like the fourth estate, not as a profit and loss venture. You have to define your role: is it to be a guardian of democracy or to raise resources?”
Adman and lyricist Prasoon Joshi said the problem was becoming apparent because “greed has crept into the media. Every industry can’t make the same kind of money. Media houses can’t think of making the same money as, say, oil and gas firms. Somebody has to put a filter somewhere.”
The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta asked politicians present in the front rows if journalists had ever approached them with offers of coverage in exchange for money. Congress leaders Kumari Selja, Sachin Pilot and Deepender Hooda said they had all been “approached” at the time of elections and they had all spurned these offers.
Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said in a lighter vein that he didn’t believe politicians when they said that they had turned down such offers. “There is both good news and bad news. The good news is that politicians are all victims and are therefore, united on the issue. Similarly, the media is united on the need to stop the practice. But the bad news for the Election Commission is that the entire transaction is in black. We know the problem exists but can’t catch it,” he said.
When Raj Nayak of AIDEM Ventures spoke of the need to differentiate between paid news on Page 3 and paid news on elections — “that’s more worrisome” — and suggested legitimising whatever is paid with voluntary disclosures, the other panelists disagreed. “How can you legitimise corruption? Media is a business but can be run by certain values,” said Purie. He spoke of the need to correct the “distortion” in the media business that made media houses dependent on advertisers and which in turn was responsible for the phenomenon of paid news.
So what is the way forward? Is there a way the media can free itself of this malaise?
Aruna Roy said there was a need to create a platform where people can talk about the practice. The Press Council of India, she said, needs to be perform its role more effectively.
Shourie pitched in, saying he was with Roy on that point. “There is no need to debate who is going to start working to put an end to this practice. Like Aruna said, anyone can. The media has to start writing about itself and do something about its self-serving rules.”
Purie said the onus was on media managements not to institutionalise paid news. “We will have to do it without the government getting its sticky fingers into it.”
Among the guests present at Thursday’s function were P Chidambaram, L K Advani, Sharad Pawar, Jitin Prasada, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Manish Tewari, Rajiv Shukla, D Raja, Nandan Nilekani, Sanjaya Baru, Mark Tully, Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik, British High Commissioner Richard Stagg, French Ambassador Jerome Bonnafont, Bangladesh High Commissioner Tarique Karim and Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Nuances of Hindustani Classical Music

I am extremely delighted to receive the news that Dr Hema Hirlekar’s book ‘Nuances of Hindustani Classical Music’ has been published recently. I am happy not only because I know how she has laboured to write the manuscript during the last few years, but also because it is the kind of a book lay people like me need.
It is for the people interested in understanding and enjoying Hindustani Classical music. The lovers of Hindustani Classical music may find the writing too basic, but it will benefit those who want to take the first step in making Hindustani classical music an inalienable part of their lives. I have not yet read it but the publishers, Unicorn Books, tell me that the Nuances of Hindustani Classical Music is organised for extremely easy understanding of the terms, the music, the genres, the gharanas, and the concerts. Anecdotes she has written about add a human touch. She has provided with the book a CD illustrating the finer points of the music.
I know Hema as a PhD scholar who completed her study at the Department of Communication and Journalism, University of Pune in 2007. Her topic for the thesis was new to our area of studies: ‘The Role of Communication During Change Management in Infotech industry’.
I was amazed to notice her enthusiasm to keep herself engaged even after the tedious thesis writing was over. Immediately after the coveted degree was awarded to her, she had began meticulously collecting data for her new venture that turned out to be this book.
Hema has worked within media and communications for well over two decades in a multitude of roles. Her literary experience includes a book co-authored with Dr. Prachee Sathe, Head ICU, Pune’s Ruby Hall Clinic on intensive care and critical medical cases. This book was translated into Marathi and has won the prestigious 'Maharashtra Sahitya Sanskriti Mandal' award in the Vidnyan Lekhan Category, in 2008. She has also translated a Marathi book on Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj into English, which is now in its fifth year of publication.
She had told me that the Hindustani Classical Music has been her lifelong passion. She is an avid listener of classical music and has gained her knowledge on the subject by extensive research, reading music literature, interacting with top music scholars, and talking to other classical music enthusiasts. Her interest in writing this book is to share her knowledge and passion and in turn help others interested in music to enjoy it fully, with a good understanding of its roots and background. 

Hema has a Bachelors in Science, a Masters in Chemistry, a Masters in Fine Arts and a Doctorate in Communication. She lives and works from Pune, India and can be contacted on:

Briefly about the book
: Paperback
Language: English
ISBN: 9788178062068
Code: 9704D
Pages: 200
Price: Rs. 395.00
Published: 2010
Publisher: Unicorn Books

Saturday, 17 July 2010

This Journalist goes beyond his duty: Saves a 17 year old from flesh trade

It is rare that a journalist writes about a peer praising his act of courage to help a stranger. Vinita Deshmukh, Editor of Pune-based weekly Intelligent Pune, wrote this article in its latest issue highlighting how Sunil Kaduskar of Marathi daily Loksatta went out of the way to rescue an Assamese girl from a brothel.

It is not uncommon for a newspaper office to receive a call asking for help beyond news columns. It is also not uncommon for the scribe at the receiving end to put the person on to some official contacts that he knows and then forget about it. What is uncommon is for a journalist to actually go out of his way and help out a stranger. That’s exactly what senior journalist Sunil Kaduskar did and thereby saved the life of a beautiful 17 year old, educated girl from Assam, who was trapped into flesh trade in Pune.
The news feature that appeared as the mainline story on page one in Loksatta dated July 10, the newspaper that Kaduskar works for, was a rare piece of journalism. The story goes like this: At 9 pm on July 5, Kaduskar received a phone call at his office from a youngster who says that “A young girl from Assam has been forced into prostitution and she needs to be freed. Will you help her?’’ The caller said that he had been warned not to go to the police but to contact a journalist and the name suggested was that of Kaduskar’s.
Kaduskar decided to meet the two youngsters after his office hours at 10.30 pm. One of them had visited the red light area in Budhwar Peth where he had met this girl. On her hand she had written ‘please help me out’ and that’s what propelled this youngster to seek help. Kaduskar wanted further proof of her genuine intention so he asked them to go back to her, click her picture on the mobile and get a chit from her establishing her identity. After that he would decide whether to pursue the case or not.
The next day, the two youngsters, Amol Paydhan and Praveen Tapkir, both college going students, came back with her photograph and a note which read thus in English:
“xxxxx from Assam; Mara naam xxxxx xxxxx (Intelligent Pune is not disclosing for obvious reasons),
Pita Naam – xxxx xxxxx – written in English. She had been nicknamed as Rina and Poonam.’’ According to Paydhan, she had passed her 11th std and aimed to become a doctor.
Convinced that it was a genuine case, Kaduskar decided to rescue her. He was adviced not to approach the Faraskhana Police Station or the Shukrawar Peth Police Station although Budhwar Peth comes under their jurisdiction as apparently both the outfits had become apathetic to such cases. He was also warned from taking help from social organizations that work for the
sex workers as they too would not respond the way they should. Kaduskar, who has been reporting crime for many years, decided to meet Joint Police Commissioner Rajendra Sonawane. He in turn directed him to Additional Commissioner Anant Shinde who assured him of all help.
Shinde designated Inspector Rajendra Bhamare who was formerly with the social security cell and Shivaji Deokar, the present Inspector of the social security cell to form the team along with women constable to lay the trap.
On July 7, Kaduskar and the two youngsters accompanied the police team and stood 1.5 kms away from the ‘New Building, Budhwar Peth’ – the prominent landmark where several brothels operate in this newly constructed multi-storeyed building and the girl was in one or them. However, the matron of the brothel recognised the two youngsters and shooed them away,saying they can’t meet ‘Rina.’ Thus, the trap had to be aborted.'
The youngsters did not want to give up. So, they convinced another of their friend to pay a visit to `Rina’ while the police laid the trap. They showed him her photograph on the mobile so that he could recognize her. The friend agreed and so on July 9 at 3.30 p m, the exercise to rescue ‘Rina’ was revived. However, the ‘friend’ developed cold feet as he was walking up the stairs and retreated.
Kaduskar appealed to one of the two youngsters to take up his role and head toward the ‘kothi.’ Once he spotted her there, he messaged his friend who in turn just walked past Kaduskar who was standing on the road a little far away and nudged him. That gesture prompted Kaduskar to wave his hand which was to be the green signal for the police party to get cracking.

The police entered the ‘New Building’ which resembles a marketplace. The staircase and corridors are abuzz with men of all ages walking in and out. The cops along with Kaduskar entered the small 8ftx8ft room where25 to 30 girls huddled together waiting for “business.’’ They spotted Rina who was sitting in a corner – fright writ large on her face.
States Kaduskar, “when the police entered the ‘kotha’ the girl knew that they had come to rescue her. She fell at the feet of the constable and clutched them hard. The woman constable pulled Rina away from the inspector’s feet and hugged her. Rina began to uncontrollably tremble as she hugged the lady constable, who also could not hold back her tears.’’ The girl was shivering uncontrollably at the thought of freedom almost becoming a reality.
Rina was taken to the police station. Her story of forced prostitution goes like this: On June 26, Rina came out of her college in Morigaon town in Assam that she lived in and started walking towards her home along with her friend and his friend. Her sister who had had a love marriage and whose ties were severed from the family had just deliivered a baby. Rina was desperate tov visit her. On way, her friend’s friend told her that her sister is in town and he can take her to see her baby. The next thing she knew, she was at the Pune Railway Station. She was made unconscious and brought by train from Assam to Pune. From the rickshaw she was directly taken to ‘New Building’ Budhwar Peth, where she was sold to the Brothel Keeper Sapna Tamang for Rs.20,000. Her mobile and Rs.5,000 which she had on her was also taken away.
Police also took Tamang to the police station and filed a case against her. Rina was shifted to a Rescue Foundation Home in Fatimanagar. The police from Morigaon have arrived in Pune. In the meanwhile, her parents had filed a missing complaint there of Rina.
For a journalist, this story is more than just a precious byline. It is the lifeline and glimmer of hope for a society that has otherwise gone corrupt in many ways. Pro-active journalism has become the need of the hour; Kaduskar took an invaluable step to achieve that. Kudos to him.
Kudos to the two youngsters too who were courageous enough to take up her cause.


Friday, 16 July 2010

दोन तरुणांच्या प्रयत्नांमुळे आसाममधील तरुणीची सुटका

Loksatta's senior correspondent Sunil Kaduskar joined detectives of Crime Branch to rescue a young girl who was kidnapped from Assam and sold to Pune brothel. A rare case of activist journalism. Here is the Marathi story:

सुनील कडूसकर, पुणे, ९ जुलै
बदनाम वस्ती म्हणून ओळखल्या जाणाऱ्या बुधवार पेठेतील दुपारची वेळ.. शरीर विक्रयाच्या या बाजारात वर्दळ सुरू असते.. रेडिओ, टीव्हीवरील फिल्मी गाण्यांचा गोंगाट.. पानाच्या ठेल्याभोवती उभे राहिल्याचे निमित्त करून शरिरांना न्याहाळणाऱ्या बुभूक्षितांच्या नजरा..
तेवढय़ात साध्या वेशातील सामाजिक सुरक्षा विभागाचे पोलीस वेगाने त्या तीन मजली इमारतीत शिरतात. झपाटय़ाने जिने चढत ते तिसऱ्या मजल्यावर पोहोचतात. त्यांच्यासमवेत आलेला तो तरुण मुलगा बाकडय़ावर विमनस्क अवस्थेत बसलेल्या त्या सुंदर तरुणीकडे अंगुलीनिर्देश करतो. या नरकयातनांतून सुटण्याचा क्षण आता जवळ आलाय याची जाणीव होताच या असाहाय्य तरुणीच्या भावनांचा बांध फुटतो आणि त्या तरुणासमवेत असलेल्या महिला पोलिसाच्या मिठीत शिरून ती आपल्या आसवांना वाट मोकळी करून देते. सदैव गुन्ह्य़ासंबंधीच्या वातावरणात राहिल्याने पोलिसांच्या भावना बोथट झालेल्या असतात या समजाला छेद देत ती महिला पोलीसही या मिठीने गदगदून जाते आणि तिचेही डोळे नकळत पाणावतात.
आसाममधील मोनीगावातून (तेजपूर) फसवून आणून येथील कुंटणखाण्यात विकल्या गेलेल्या १७ वर्षीय सुशिक्षित तरुणीची पोलिसांनी आज नाटय़मयरीतीने सुटका केली. २६ जून रोजी कनिष्ठ महाविद्यालयातून घरी परत निघालेल्या या तरुणीला बहिणीला भेटविण्याच्या बहाण्याने मिथुन ऊर्फ बिट्टू चौधरी (तेजपूर) या परिचित तरुणाने व त्याच्या मित्रांनी तेथील रेल्वे स्टेशनवर नेले. त्यानंतर पुणे स्टेशनवर रिक्षात बसतानाच आपण खूप दूर आलो असल्याची जाणीव तिला झाली. स्टेशनवरून निघालेली ही रिक्षा थेट बुधवार पेठेतील वेश्यावस्तीत पोहोचली. तिच्याकडील मोबाईल व पैसे काढून घेऊन एका कुंटणखान्यात तिची विक्री करून ते पसार झाले.
कुंटणखाण्यात झालेली मारहाण व छळ सोसेनासा झाल्याने तिलाही चेहऱ्याला रंग फासून ग्राहकांना सामोरे जावे लागले. सुरुवातीसच ग्राहक म्हणून आलेल्या एका तरुणाकडे तिने आपले मन मोकळे केले. त्याने या अबलेची कहाणी अमोल पायघन व प्रवीण तापकीर या आपल्या मित्रांना सांगितली. हडपसर येथे राहणाऱ्या या विद्यार्थ्यांंनी मग तिच्या सुटकेसाठी प्रयत्न सुरू केले. त्याचवेळी त्यांच्या एका मित्राने त्यांना थेट पोलिसांकडे जाण्याऐवजी ‘लोकसत्ता’मधील या प्रतिनिधीशी संपर्क साधण्याचा सल्ला दिला. त्याप्रमाणे सोमवारी (५ जुलै) रात्री जरा घाबरत घाबरतच त्यांनी फोन केला. विश्वास बळावताच हडपसर येथे राहणारे हे दोघे रात्री साडेदहा वाजताच भेटायला आले. मोठय़ा धाडसाने त्यांनी आपल्या मोबाईलवर घेतलेला त्या मुलीचा फोटो व त्या मुलीने स्वहस्ताक्षरात लिहिलेली चिठ्ठीही दाखविली. दुर्दैवाच्या फेऱ्यात अडकलेल्या या मुलीच्या सुटकेसाठी काहीही करण्याची त्यांची तडफ पाहून मीही त्यांना सर्वतोपरी मदत करण्याचा निर्धार केला.
काही सामाजिक कार्यकर्त्यांंशी चर्चा केल्यानंतर मदतीसाठी फरासखाना पोलिसांकडे गेल्यास काय होईल, याचा अंदाज आला. त्यामुळे या प्रकरणी थेट सह पोलीस आयुक्त राजेंद्र सोनावणे आणि अतिरिक्त आयुक्त अनंतराव शिंदे यांनाच साकडे घालायचे ठरविले. त्यांनीही गोपनीयता पाळत गुन्हे कार्यप्रणाली शाखेचे (एमओबी) निरीक्षक राजेंद्र भामरे यांच्यावर ही जबाबदारी सोपविली. सामाजिक सुरक्षा विभागाचे प्रमुख शिवाजी देवकर व त्यांच्या सहकाऱ्यांची मदत घेऊन आम्ही या तरुणीच्या सुटकेची योजना आखली. ठरल्यानुसार बुधवारी (७ जुलै) दुपारी प्रवीण व अमोलला या तरुणीची भेट घेण्यासाठी धाडले. परंतु, कुंटणखान्यातील अन्य मुलींनी प्रवीणला ओळखल्याने त्यांनी तिची भेटच घेऊ दिली नाही. त्यामुळे निराश होऊन हे दोघे तरुण परत फिरले. या घटनेनंतर त्यांना चैन पडत नव्हती. रात्रभर ते याचाच विचार करीत होते. काल त्यांनी आपल्या एका तिसऱ्याच मित्राला बुधवार पेठेतील त्या ‘नव्या इमारतीत’ पाठविले. फोटो पाहिलेला असल्याने त्यांच्या मित्राने त्या मुलीला ओळखले. ती तेथेच असल्याची खात्री झाल्यावर काल रात्री त्याने मला तसे कळविले. त्यामुळे आज दुपारी भामरे व देवकर यांच्याशी चर्चा करून तिच्या सुटकेची नवी योजना आखली. प्रवीण व अमोलऐवजी त्यांच्या नव्या मित्राला तेथे पाठवायचे ठरले. तो तेथे गेलाही परंतु, तेथील वातावरणाला घाबरून माघारी फिरला. त्यानंतर अमोल मात्र धाडसाने पुढे सरकला. ती तेथेच असल्याचा इशारा त्याने प्रवीणला केला आणि मग काही मिनिटातच सामाजिक सुरक्षा विभागाने सापळा आवळला.
या विभागाच्या सहायक पोलीस निरीक्षक विमल बिडवे, पोलीस शिपाई धनश्री मोरे, ऊर्मिला भंडलकर, सहायक फौजदार सुभाष सुळके, पोलीस नाईक, तानाजी निकम, विनायक पाठक, सोहनलाल सिटुले, दत्ता जाधव, हरिदास बांडे यांच्यासह मीही या इमारतीत शिरलो आणि तिची सुटका केली.
कुंटणखान्याची मालकीण सपना मनबहादूर तमांग (वय ३५, घ. नं. ९९४ बुधवार पेठ, नवीन बिल्डिंग, तिसरा मजला, मूळ गाव-सोनखणी, नेपाळ) हिला पोलिसांनी अटक केली असून तिच्याविरुद्ध अल्पवयीन मुलीला डांबून ठेवून वेश्याव्यवसायास भाग पाडल्याच्या आरोपावरून गुन्हा दाखल केला आहे.
नजरेतूनच व्यक्त केली कृतज्ञता
या तरुणीच्या सुटकेसाठी मोठी जोखीम उचलत सर्वस्व पणाला लावणाऱ्या अमोल व प्रवीणने सायंकाळी सामाजिक सुरक्षा विभागात जाऊन पुन्हा तिची भेट घेतली. याच तरुणांनी तुझ्या सुटकेसाठी प्रयत्न केल्याचे पोलिसांनी सांगताच तिचे डोळे पुन्हा पाणावले.
भरल्या डोळ्यांनीच तिने त्यांचे आभार मानले. तिच्या सुटकेसाठी आपण काही करू शकलो याचा आनंद त्यांच्याही चेहऱ्यावर होता.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Media has lost its sense of priorities: Sainath

NEW DELHI: Pointing out that a disconnect exists between mass media and mass reality in India today, P. Sainath, Rural Affairs Editor of TheHindu, said the media had lost its sense of priorities and was out of touch with the problems of a vast section of the population of the country.
He was delivering the Silver Jubilee Lecture on “Mass media: But where are the masses?” at the Indira Gandhi National Open University here on Wednesday.
Noting that the media coverage and editorials following the recent oil price hike failed to fully understand the implications this would have on poor people, Mr. Sainath said he was surprised that the coverage given to this issue was dwarfed by a model's suicide in some newspapers.
“In the last 15 years, everything that has become a convenience to the upper middle-class has become cheaper. You take air tickets, computers, cars etc…they are all affordable for us. But in this same period rice, wheat, electricity, water, etc. has become 300-500 per cent more expensive for the poor. Why is this not reflected in the media?” Mr. Sainath asked.
On stories of rural resurgence appearing in various magazines in 2010, he quipped that these stories “timed well” with the National Crime Records Bureau statistics indicating 200,000 farmer suicides since 1997 and three Government-appointed commissions recommending the pushing up of official figures of population living below the poverty line.
The veteran journalist said the media today had a “structural compulsion to lie” as several media companies had interests in various arms of the economy. He commented that “private treaties” and “paid news” were undermining the media's credibility.
“Out of the ruins of private treaties, emerged paid news. Private treaties which gave media companies financial stakes in companies became worthless after the stock market tanked in 2008-09. Paid news enabled these corrupt companies and politicians to make unrecorded cash transactions during the Assembly and General Elections in 2009.”
Mr. Sainath also mourned the disappearance of a number of social sector beats from newspapers.
“Today newspapers have no labour correspondent, housing or primary education correspondent. We are explicitly telling 70 per cent of this country that they don't matter to us.”
During the interactive session following the lecture, Mr. Sainath, responding to a question said he was a die-hard optimist. “I would not have survived 30 years in a field otherwise marked by increasing cynicism.” He credited his optimism to
the “goodness and sensibility of ordinary people” he came across while reporting.