Ranjona Banerji: When Arnab congratulated Rajat Sharma…

09 Oct,2012

By Ranjona Banerji


The business dealings of Robert Vadra and the DLF group remained top of the news. Discussions were held on the major English news channels but of the lot, Karan Thapar’s Last Word and Sagorika Ghose’s Face the Nation, both on CNN-IBN, stood out. That is mainly because unlike Arnab Goswami on Times Now and Nidhi Razdab on NDTV (I did not check Headlines Today last night), neither Ghose nor Thapar invited the spokespersons of political parties to take part. Every time I skipped past Times Now, there was either the BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi screeching at dangerous decibel levels or the Congress’s Manish Tiwari trying to answer her with big words which only prove that he did well in vocabulary in school. I don’t know if the other guests got a chance to speak.


On The Last Word, Shalini Singh of the Hindu was clear that there was some hanky-panky in the Vadra-DLF deal, tax expert Subhash Lakhotia was equally sure there was not and so Thapar had to play referee, Gurcharan Das said he needed more information and lawyer Dushyant Dave said it was common for the relatives of all politicians to behave extraordinarily rich. It seemed clear though that based on the revelations made so far, no laws had been broken by Vadra or DLF. The link between Vadra getting unsecured loans/property from DLF and DLF getting land or other benefits from the Haryana government has not been established. Until then, further action is not likely.


On Face The Nation, all the participants – Madhu Kishwar of Manushi, Siddharth Vardarajan of The Hindu and Jonathan Shanin of Caravan magazine – agreed that the Indian media usually pussyfoots around political figures and does not subject them to intense scrutiny.


The only problem with the show was Ghose’s unfortunate habit of speaking over her guests or speaking on their behalf. She asked Vardarajan a question about the different ways that the Congress and the BJP handled the media and then hijacked the answer when he had barely begun his explanation. Perhaps all Indian TV editors should give themselves a 10-minute window where they speak and the rest of the world listens. After that, they should allow their guests to have their say.


It is not news of course that the Indian media is usually respectful of important people and it is also true that important people in India will not tolerate it any other way. The tough interview is rare. Personal lives are also usually still sacrosanct in India. Some will prefer it this way. But while we don’t have to go as far as stalking Kate Middleton sunbathing on holiday, a little extra scrutiny of powerful people would not go amiss.




India TV’s sting operation on cricket umpires involved in match-fixing – in this instance to do with the Sri Lanka league – was the other news of the day. Rajat Sharma of India TV found himself on Times Now, thanks to the largesse of Goswami who most graciously congratulated Sharma, who looked a bit bemused: should he crow over his journalistic coup or should he be mindful of the tremendous honour bestowed on him by Times Now by acknowledging him?




The suicide of singer Asha Bhosle’s daughter Varsha Bhosle is a blow for the family and for the journalistic community. Varsha had been a very popular columnist for rediff.com for many years and was known for her scathing style and her support for the Hindu right wing. Her column stopped some years ago. She had been suffering from depression and attempted suicide a couple of times before.


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One response to “Ranjona Banerji: When Arnab congratulated Rajat Sharma…”

  1. krishna says:

    Goob and balanced commentary. Anchors should give importance to experts in stead of calling party representatives.