[MJR] Mamata’s antics dominate the news

17 Apr,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


The strange doings of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee continued to dominate print, TV and social media. The arrest of a Jadavpur university professor for forwarding a cartoon about her was compounded by news of another arrest of another professor for protesting on behalf of slum-dwellers in Kolkata. On Times Now, one lone “sort of” Trinamool Congress-Mamata Banerjee supporter said yes, but, maybe, should not, but. In print, edits and edit page pieces have consistently made fun of her and social media has of course been rife with criticism.


It is also true that a lot of this anger is middle class rage which does not always translate but it is interesting nonetheless.


Mumbai newspapers were not unnaturally taken up with Monday’s autorickshaw strike which crippled the suburbs. In the north, it was the chief ministers’ conference on matters of “federalism” and their general beefs with the Centre. Beef is the wrong – or is it right? – word to use here as a “beef-eating festival” organised by Dalit students at the university in Hyderabad has led to near-riot conditions with the right wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad objecting.


The Taliban attack on Afghanistan was an important part of the news cycle. The last couple of weeks have been minus the sort of media hysteria which has gripped us recently. This means that news can get its normal play without being whipped up and re-packaged as end-of-the-world scenarios.


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The murky underbelly of fixers and operators which trawl the paths of Mumbai’s hopeful newbies searching for money, fame and glamour has been exposed by the three murders currently in the newspapers. Intriguingly, the same people are somehow involved in three deaths or connected at any rate.


Although the cases have got much coverage, thankfully the sort of breathless hysteria which has coloured cases like the Aarushi Talwar-Hemraj murders or the J Dey murder-Jigna Vora arrest has been missing here.


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It was a joy to read about Nari Contractor by Makaran Waingankar in Tuesday’s Times of India in what appears to be a nostalgia series called “Bombay Boys”. Made a change from the sniping and/or hagiography about current players practised by some young sports journalists these days!


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Also interesting in TOI is an interview with Google co-founder Sergey Brin about how apps are reducing web freedom! Since I am app-less am guessing I should celebrate my freedom!


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