Ranjona Banerji: War scare to boost sales, readership & ratings?

10 Oct,2014

By Ranjona Banerji


Indian news channels have decided it seems to fight their own battle with Pakistan since India and Pakistan have not gone to war yet. I understand the importance of the media and I sympathise with journalists who wish that they were running the world (or assume that they are) but I balk at the idea of TV journalists deciding on India’s foreign policy. This is, undoubtedly, because I am old-fashioned. I still foolishly believe that it is the job of the journalist to report on what has happened, to interpret what has happened and to comment on what has happened.


I know, I know, naive in the extreme. The Indian media is currently desperate to behave like it is acting in the Bond film, The World is not Enough. And media magnates need war to boost sales and readership/ratings figures. Going too far? Anyone who has had the misfortune to watch the sort of war-mongering happening on Indian news television this week might wonder. “Border Betrayal” is what Times Now has called the firing on the border, showing what happens when a sub-editor decides to put alliteration over sense.


One can only hope that all our absentee ministers ignore our fighting fit anchors and carry on with the election campaigning, Hindutva agendas and whatever else it is that they actually do.




Satya Nadella of Microsoft made some, er, unfortunate remarks about women at a conference saying that they should not ask for raises but will get them if they have “good karma”. This caused a massive uproar on social media so much so that Nadella and Microsoft had to issue an apology. The upside of social media is that very little goes unnoticed and you cannot afford to ignore it.






Veteran journalist MV Kamath died on October 9. He was 93. Kamath had a long and varied career with The Times of India, was editor of The Illustrated Weekly after Khushwant Singh was sacked and his vision was very different from that of the irrepressible and irreverent Singh. Kamath also served as Editor of Free Press Journal and was made Prasar Bharati chief in 1998. He was also a columnist with a number of publications and wrote a much-read media review for Mid-Day.


He seemed most nostalgic about his years as Washington correspondent for The Times of India (1969 to 1978) – at least, to us whom he taught at XIC in 1984. He also found it difficult to defend his support for the Emergency and unfortunately this clouded my impression of him since although I did interact with him frequently and without rancour in the 1990s.


Kamath’s career had its ups and downs, high points and lows. The admiration for Indira Gandhi’s Emergency would fall in the “low” category, even if he was out of India when it happened. Later, he turned away from Indira Gandhi and moved very firmly towards the BJP and Hindutva rightwing. He also co-authored a book on Narendra Modi with Kalindi Randeri.


Kamath’s long career makes him one of Indian journalism’s enduring names and he mentored many who remember him with great affection. Who can ask for better than that?




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2 responses to “Ranjona Banerji: War scare to boost sales, readership & ratings?”

  1. Guest says:

    On a wicked note, how does someone go through life with a surname like Randeri ?

  2. Guest says:

    Have long felt that the women / men who guide India’s foreign policy should mute the TV screens in their offices, if it is not possible to switch them off.