Ranjona Banerji: Economy on the front seat

25 Sep,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


After months of political turmoil taking centre stage, the economy is back to dominating headlines. Ever since government went ahead with raising diesel prices and allowing foreign investment in multi-brand retail, we’re back to reading about various economic proposals, which are either going to change our lives or at any rate postpone complete devastation.


This means that the usual political high rollers will have to be off the headlines for a bit unless they can stage some new theatrics. Mamata Banerjee may be the first to feel the pinch. In a story which talked about Banerjee wanting to make sure she is not consigned to oblivion, the Times of India chose not to use the TMC’s beloved leader’s photograph and went instead with US ambassador to India, Nancy Powell. Irony? Self-fulfilling prophecy? One can predict though that Banerjee is likely to see more of that happening.




The Economic Times, in somewhat unfortunate phrasing, headlines the next possible tranche of economic reforms, “PMO’s bucket list”. We understand that the prime minister is going to turn 80 this week but to link reforms to his dying wishes seems as yet a bit premature. Or does the newspaper refer to the prime minister’s office alone, an entity much hated by the residents of twitter?




The Times of India’s Mumbai edition has for a while now taken on Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar of the NCP, for his role in the irrigation scam that has been uncovered in the state. Pawar (nephew) when he was irrigation minister had apparently involved himself in practically every single deal and where subsequently, costs escalated. Another NCP minister Sunil Tatkare is already under the scanner for his tenure as irrigation minister.




The Indian Express has once more outlined for us the frivolous reasons used by police investigators to detain people under tough laws like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. These include children’s magazines and books of poetry – especially if they are written in Urdu. The Maharashtra police have the dubious distinction of considering ownership of Joseph Stalin’s biography a dangerous crime. This is in a country where Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf never gets off best-seller lists.


Perhaps we need a more sustained campaign for better education of the police as well as greater use of forensic science in investigations.




On television, Rajdeep Sardesai on CNNIBN discussed with Arun Shourie why the diesel price hike was necessary and why FDI in multi-brand retail was not the end of the world. Karan Thapar on the Last Word also on CNNIBN discussed freedom of speech in the context of the contentious film on Islam and the needlessly violent protests against it. Arnab Goswami on Times Now took on the killings of sarpanches in Jammu and Kashmir, presumably by miltants. Goswami is very fond of the idea of Kashmir and works very hard to solve its problems – more than any other journalist in the country. One suspects however his rather black and white approach may not help in what is a very complicated situation.




If you want to look for TV news viewing from the main news channels that is minus the hysteria of prime time, the afternoons often pay dividends. Shiv Aroor of Headlines Today and Bhupendra Chaubey of CNNIBN both conduct well-behaved discussions – as was evident on the day Mamata Banerjee pulled the plug on her national role in Indian politics.




I apologise for the delay in posting this link from pointer.org. It discusses why “patchwriting” which is what both Fareed Zakaria and Samar Harlarnkar can be accused of, id as dishonest as plagiarism. Adds more depth to the argument but not more malice. http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/everyday-ethics/188789/patchwriting-is-more-common-than-plagiarism-just-as-dishonest/


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