Much ado as Sen does a Katju

10 Jan,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


Amartya Sen has done a Markandey Katju on the Indian media, but unlike the outspoken Press Council chief, the Nobel Prize winning economist has piled on some flattery first – free, fair, objective, pillar of democracy and so on.




But his basic grouses are lack of grievance redressal protocols and a somewhat ambivalent approach towards accuracy. Do these problems sound a bit like from someone who has been at the receiving end? Well, yes. He explains his personal problems in great detail anyway, mainly to do with being misquoted.


The other issue is one of having some sort of ombudsman (person?). Not too many newspapers bother and I am not sure of what happens in the world of TV.


But what was intriguing was the whining and moaning by journalists on social media sites. No one ever talks about consumers, said one (the implication being that readers are to blame for the rubbish that goes into papers and on TV) or that Sen was just saying the same old thing. The comments under the article, of course, praised it wholesale – media bashing is such fun!


Like Katju, Sen also pointed out that the media largely ignores the concerns of Unfortunate India, while concentrating on celebs, moneybags, film stars and the middle class.


Still, one would imagine that journalists, being so used to dishing it out, should also learn to suck it up. Sen is not the Press Council chairman telling us what to do with a toothless threat hanging over our heads nor does he harp on about our inability to quote Ghalib couplets at the drop of a hat. It’s just a point of view.


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Katju has come to the defence of Bigg Boss occupant (I think the latest edition is over) and porn actress Sunny Leone, saying that she’s not done any of those not-yet-respectable things in India so no one should target her. It’s an interesting way of getting round our moral policing hounds. Will it work for Salman Rushdie too, do you think?


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Arnab Goswami tried to hold a discussion on the Deoband request to deny a visa to writer Salman Rushdie. However the guests were such that it would never have made for a fair or even constructive debate – Asaduddin Owaisi, MP, All India Majlis-e-Ittihad al-Muslimin; Alka Raghuvanshi, curator, India Habitat Centre; Sheebha Aslam Fehmi, Islamic feminist writer  and journalist and Zafaryab Jilani, Convener, Babri Masjid Action Committee. Jilani looked tired (been there, done that), Raghuvanshi hardly managed to say anything, Fehmi put up a lone defence for the liberal voice and Owaise shouted louder than everything else. Goswami pointed out that he could not single-handedly solve the problems of the nation, on being baited by Owaisi.


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Now that Tuesday morning’s papers have told us that some prospective medical students were caught cheating in an entrance exam, there is hysteria in TV land over the fact that merit is being murdered. Please.

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