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ನೂರೆಂಟು ಸುಳ್ಳು (nUreMTu suLLu)

You may not be a "Dhrutharashtra", but we want to be the Sanjaya for you!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Bet On Bhat?

In Mr.Bhat's recent article, he writes about an incident which he says happened in the life of the Telugu writer Yendamuri three years back while the Telugu movie "Rudranetra" was being shot.

There is one small problem; Rudranetra was released sixteen years back in 1989.

Does it make any difference in the matter being discussed by Mr.Bhat in his article? Most definitely not. But, many readers use the newspapers as references. Suppose, based on Mr.Bhat's article, a reader who is not familiar with the Telugu films bets that Rudranetra was indeed shot just three years back, she may not win. So, does this error make any difference for the reader? You bet it does.

More importantly a reader who is well aware that the movie was indeed released sixteen years back may start wondering what else could be factually not right in the article thus questioning the credibility of the writer.

Note: The entire staff of 108 Sullu HQ recently exchanged a few e-mails with Mr.Bhat. He was quite kind towards us. In fact he even wrote a very positive editorial about us. This is especially remarkable considering some of the things we have written. We thank him for that.

Did N.Y.Times Sai-nath?

Yesterday the entire staff of 108 HQ was reading this opinion piece in The Hindu. The main gist of this article is that the people of Andhra Pradesh are still punishing Chandrababu Naidu for his " pro-rich, anti-poor measures". And that this may have significance beyond the borders of Andhra Pradesh.

It is written by P.Sainath, a well respected journalist.

In the article -- an anti-Naidu polemic -- writes:

"Also, Mr. Naidu's union-bashing (so richly praised in The New York Times) did not help his party much."
We wanted to find out what kind of "rich praise" Mr.Naidu's "union-bashing" got from The New York Times. So, what did we do? Yes, we went and read all the New York Times articles where Mr.Naidu's name gets mentioned - from Jan. 19th 1996 to May 15th 2004. There were 30 articles and we read each one of them.

Out of the 30 articles, there was only one article that mentioned about Mr.Naidu's "union-bashing". On December 27th 2002, Keith Bradsher wrote in his report:

Under Mr. Naidu, Andhra Pradesh has enacted a law requiring union leaders to be workers from the factory or office they represent. Outside political activists have sometimes used Indian labor unions in struggles between political parties instead of seeking better contracts for the workers. Andhra Pradesh has also relaxed some of the restrictions on laying off workers, removing a major obstacle that has discouraged many businesses in India from hiring additional employees.

To the anger of public-sector unions in a country famous for its slow-moving and often unresponsive bureaucracy, Mr. Naidu has begun measuring state employees against one another and preset targets, and he has instituted surprise inspections. He has fired 50 people just in the state's agriculture department and disciplined many more for nonperformance.

Yes. That's it. Is that a "rich praise"? For you and us it may not sound like much of a praise. But, Mr.Sainath is not just a well respected journalist. He is also a left winger who takes part in a workshop organized by The Student Federation of India -- Communist Party of India's student wing.

Is he a card-carrying member of the Communist Party? We have no idea. But he seems to carry a lot of water for them.(We will write more about that later.)

He of course is also an editor at the India's "national newspaper", The Hindu. Does that bother any one?!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

All Are From Earth

In our previous post, we wrote about John Gray. As per this press-release from American Psychological Association, Janet S. Hyde Ph.D., of University of Wisconsin has found that all of us belong the same planet: Earth. Money-quote:

"According to the meta-analysis of studies on gender differences reported on in the current issue of the American Psychologist, males and females from childhood to adulthood are more alike than different on most but not all psychological variables, said psychologist Janet S. Hyde, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Psychological differences based on gender were examined in studies that looked at a number of psychological traits and abilities to determine how much gender influenced an outcome. The traits and variables examined were cognitive abilities, verbal and nonverbal communication, social or psychological traits like aggression or leadership, psychological well-being like self-esteem, motor behaviors like throwing distance and moral reasoning.

Gender differences accounted for either zero or a very small effect for most of the psychological variables examined, according to Hyde. Only motor behaviors (throwing distance), some aspects of sexuality and heightened physical aggression showed marked gender differences."

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Even Martians Want Ph.D.s!

"Dr."John Gray "Ph.D.", is an American author of pop-psychology books. A self described expert on relationships, he has been able to sell millions of copies of his books. His 'Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus' alone has sold 6 million copies and has been translated world over into 40 different languages.

'Men Are From Mars, Women Are Fom Venus' is now being made available to Kannada readers. It is being serialized on a weekly basis in ThatsKannada.com

We at 108 Sullu H.Q. generally stay away from pop-psychology and self-help books. And we have not read any of John Gray's books including the most famous one. So, we won't be able to directly opine on his books. But, we can tell you a bit about his background. And also what others -- others who have better academic qualifications than John Gray -- think about his books. We will do just that.

What are his credentials? From Wikipedia entry:

After high school he attended St. Thomas University and the University of Texas, but did not receive degrees from these institutions. He lived as a Hindu monk for nine years in Switzerland and studied with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He received his BA and MA in Creative Intelligence from the Maharishi European Research University, a non-accredited institution[1].

Gray's books and other publications typically refer to him as 'Doctor John Gray' or 'John Gray, Ph.D. According to his website, he earned a Ph.D. in psychology at Columbia Pacific University[2]2001[3]. In one instance, "a Ph.D. dissertation written in Spanish was approved by four faculty who cannot speak the language." Gray's website[4] notes that degrees issued by CPU before June 25, 1997 are legally valid (although it is not clear whether these degrees were ever accredited. Gray's site further claims that "at the time John Gray graduated and received his degree CPU was a highly respected school in its field"; however, in 1997 California's Deputy Attorney General Asher Rubin called it "a diploma mill which has been preying on California consumers for too many years"[5]. - an institution that was forcibly closed by the California Department of Consumer Affairs in after a judgement that found that CPU "awarded excessive credit... to many students" and "failed to meet various requirements for issuing Ph.D. degrees"

In other words, the only accredited degree "Doctor" John Gray seems to possess is a high school diploma. Does that mean his books and the advice he gives have no merit? We don't say that. We say, we don't know.

For a man who is an "expert" in the human-relationships, does he even have license to practice psychology. According to this Psychology Today article:

[Gray] isn't licensed to practice psychology but is allowed to work as a "spiritual counselor" in California because of his nine-year stint as a monk.
(The same Psychology Today article also says that 'for a few thousand dollars, plus a yearly renewal fee, you too can buy the right to call your therapy practice a "Mars & Venus Counseling Center."')

So, what does John Gray say in his books? As we noted, we haven't read his books. We can tell you, what others -- others who are academically and professionally more qualified than Gray -- have to say about his works:

The women who pick up a copy of one of John Gray’s Mars and Venus books should know that the book ought to be stamped with a warning for female readers: Caution-- this book could be hazardous to your health.
Gray's Rx for relationships is for the woman to leave the man alone while she supervises the kids' homework, cooks dinner and cleans up. That's advice that gets people into trouble, not out of it. A woman who takes Gray's advice at face value may be at serious risk for high stress. Unable to express her anger openly, to ask for what she really needs, always on edge because she must sense a man's every whim and need, she is likely to turn her anger inward. ... [Rosalind Barnett and Caryl Rivers]

Gray isn't into scare stories; stereotypes are his specialty.

He writes that male and female children are very different from each other and have different needs. Girls need to be supported, cared for, understood and helped. He depicts all female children, the researchers say, as dependent on others.

In contrast, he portrays boys as requiring independence, space, and opportunities to solve their own problems.

Mothers should avoid helping boys, Gray says, because it "insults them" and boys don't need help. Girls, in contrast, feel loved when they are helped. [Rosalind Barnett and Caryl Rivers]

In their book Same Difference: How Gender Myths Are Hurting Our Relationships, Our Children, and Our Jobs. Rosalind Barnett and Caryl Rivers dismiss the Mars-Venus concepts as “junk science, no science, or bad science.”

In 2001, after studying the ten top selling self-help books including John Gray's Mars-Venus books, Colorado State University researchers had this to say:

...the messages in four of the top 10 books are detrimental to relationships. ...

... Books that the study found to be inconsistent with accepted best practices were "Men are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" by Gray; "The Rules" by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider; "Mars and Venus on a Date" by Gray; and "Mars and Venus in the Bedroom" by Gray. ...

We want to again stress that we have NOT read the book. Now that John Gray is being introduced to Kannada readers by thatskannada.com, we just wanted to provide you the parts of the picture that are missing.

Tail Piece: John Gray's main idea is that men and women are fundamentally different. But, Ms.Sudha Prasanna, Principal of Martin Luther School in Bangalore and Mr.Arunachalam of Bangalore are not that different. Based on reports in Sanjevani [June 4, 2004 and September 7, 2004], both of them got Ph.D. degrees in Psychology from Cosmopolitan University of USA.

If one look at Cosmopolitan University's website or not having a ".edu" in their Internet address does not give away their accreditation status, they themselves tell you that they are not accredited by any one. If that's not enough, here is a rather stern warning from the state government of Oregon:

Degrees from all of these suppliers are invalid for use in state or licensed employment in Oregon and the use of such degrees can result in criminal prosecution or civil penalties depending on the circumstances of the use.

The "all" in above of course includes Cosmopolitan University and Columbia Pacific University -- the university that conferred Ph.D. degree to "Doctor" John Gray.

If you want to read more about the "diploma mills" in US, you know what to do here.

On the other hand, if you WANT to get a degree (MBA, Ph.D., M.A.) in a hurry, we will provide you more specific instruction; click the left mouse button after pointing the cursor here.

Tip of the tail piece: The Oregon list of unaacredited universities includes a bunch of "universities" based in India. One such institute is "Bangalore Inst of Science, Tech. and Mgt". Does any one know anything about this?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Crocodile Tears?

Damayanti Tambay is the wife of Flt.Lt.Vijay Vasant Tambay a pilot officer in the Indian Air Force. During the 1971 war, while on a military mission in Pakistan, Mr.Tambay's plane was hit. Damayanti heard over the radio that her husband had been captured by Pakistan. Later, there was also a report in a Pakistani newspaper that mentioned the capturing of an Indian Air Force pilot with the name "Tombay".

After the war finally ended and India and Pakistan signed the Shimla Agreement in July 1972, prisoners of war were released to their motherlands. However, Mr.Tambay was not one of the released prisoners. He has not been released till now.

As per Indian government there are 54 prisoners of war missing (or still) in Pakistan. Pakistan, however, denies that they have any prisoners in their jails.

Meanwhile, the relatives of these POW have kept their vigil. They keep meeting the Indian government officials and political leaders to put pressure on Pakistan to release the prisoners of war still languishing in Pakistani jails.

Are these POW still in Pakistani jail? We don't know. What about Fl.Lt. Vijay Tambay? Again, we have no idea. All we know is his wife Damayanti still believes that he is being held in the Pakistani prison.

Mr.Bhat has written two articles about Damayanti's plight. Want to read them? You know what to do: Click here and here.

In order to prove that Vijay Tambay was in the Pakistani prison, Mr.Bhat provides two bits of evidence: 1) a Time magazine article that mentions Tambay's name and 2) a book by Victoria Schofield, a senior BBC London reporter that again mentions Tambay's name.

As usual Mr.Bhat is upto his game in both the above "evidences" he mentions in his article.

It appears that Time magazine article does not actually mention Vijay Tambay's name. In fact, in that issue of the article there is a picture identified as an Indian prisoner of war. The relatives of that man believe that it is actually Major A.K.Ghosh who was earlier declared as killed in the war. (Sources: The Tribune & The Telegraph)

As far as Victoria Schofield's book, again, there appears to be no mention of Tambay's name.
From Organizer:
A book published in 1980 from Lahore titled Bhutto—Trial and Execution written by Victoria Schofield, a senior BBC London reporter, covering the period of 1978 when Mr. Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, was detained in Kot Lakhpat jail, Lahore (page No. 59) reads: “(Bhutto’s) cell separated from a barrack area by a 10 foot high wall, did not prevent him from hearing horrific shrieks and screams at midnight from the other side of the wall. One of Bhutto’s lawyers made enquiries amongst the jail staff and ascertained that they were in fact Indian prisoners of war who had been rendered delinquent and mental during the course of the 1971 war.” “Fifty odd lunatics were lodged in the ward next to mine. Their screams and shrieks in the dead of night are something I will not forgot,” wrote former Pakistan Prime Minister, Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, referring to Indian prisoners of war of 1965 and 1971 who were kept in a cell next to his in Kot Lakhpat prison.

For Damayanti and other relatives of the POW, the above two are two more bits of "evidence" to believe that their loved ones could still be languishing in the Pakistani jail. But, note that both of them clearly do not mention "Tambay" by name.

For Mr.Bhat those "evidences" were not good enough. His narration needed a more stronger evidence. And of course, he fabricated them.

Even though in the first article, Mr.Bhat mentions that Damayanti and Vijay got married in 1970 and Vijay left for the war in December of 1971, and even mentions about their 20 day honeymoon in Kashmir, in the second article he changes all that to a week of married life ("maduveyAgi kai hiDidu oMdu vAra saMsAra mADida").

In the second article Mr.Bhat also mentions about Mohanlal Bhaskar an Indian spy who was tortured in the Pakistani jail for 17 years. ("hadinELu varsha"). In truth, Bhaskar was in Pakistani jails between 1968 t0 1974. (Source: Again Organizer and the Times of India)

(Note: To be fair, both of the above could be typographical errors. But with a track record like the one Mr.Bhat has, it is very difficult to dismiss these as mere typographical errors. We report. You decide.)

In both the articles, Mr.Bhat excoriates every one for being "hard hearted". As usual politicians and ministers are paid special attention. ("avaLa duHka avara edeyalli toTTu kanikaravannU mUDisilla") He further asks whether any one member of the parliament asked a single question in the noisy-market called the parliament ("saMsatteMba saMtekaTTeyalli") about the plight of Damayanti. He then firmly answers his own question - No.

We do not know whether the Indian parliament is a noisy-market ("saMtekaTTe") or not. We also do not know whether any MP has ever asked a question in parliament specifically about Tambay or Damayanti. But, we found that the topic of Indian POWs in Pakistani jails has been raised many a times in the Parliament. For example, please take a look here, here, here, here, here , here and here.

Should there be more discussion? We don't know. But, in our opinion the picture Mr.Bhat provides about the Indian Parliament and the Indian MPs is unfair.

The second article about Damayanti Tambay was published in the last week of September 2004. Immediately following that article, in the first week of October 2004, Mr.Bhat writes a very flattering profile of George Fernandes. In that article, he mentions about spending five hours only a few days back with the former Defence Minister of India.

For all the chest beating and heaping of scorns on the politicians, when he gets a chance spend 5 hours with Mr.Fernandes, does he ask the former Defence Minister about Tambay? Sadly, readers never find out. Tambay was last week's news.

Crocodile tears?!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Some Quick Links

Here are a few quick links to some of the Kannada articles written by the single soul who makes up the entire staff of 108 Sullu H.Q. They all deal with media credibility in one way or the other.

US Media and Elections

Credibility and Media

Hoaxes and News-media

Friday, September 09, 2005

Journalism ... drOha chiMtanaM

Does Ravi Belagere really know what he is writing?
We at 108 Sullu HQ have no idea.
But take a look at what he has written here:
"... inta chikkapuTTa vaMchanegaLannu kaMpanigaLu, saMsthegaLU, maMtrigaLU, mAtra mADuttAre aMdukoLLabEDi. amerikadaMtha dEshagaLu atyaMta vyavasthitavAgi mADuttave. AIDS athavA HIVya bhUtagaLannu sRuShTisiddU iMta kutaMtragaLalli oMdu. adu miliyAMtara kOTi DAlarugaLa vaMchane aMta namage gottE Aguvudilla. ... [AIDS] mAtregaLannu namma sarkAra amerikada kaMpaniyoMdariMda kOTyAMtara DAlaru suridu KarIdisiruttade. ..."

("Don't think that only companies, organizations, ministers engage in such scams. Countries like US do that in a very systematic manner. The creation of AIDS or HIV spectre is one such thing. We don't even realize that it's a multi million dollar scam. ... Our government buys AIDS drugs from an American company after paying tens of millions of dollars. ...")
Is the AIDS/HIV scare just a spectre created by US in order to sell American drugs in India? No. No. No. It amazes us that a man who engages in such absolute nonsense and stupidity is one of the stars of current day Kannada news-media.

As per the estimate provided by Indian government's own agency (NACO), there were about 5.1 million people with HIV infection living in India in 2004. By any measure that's a scary number. In fact, based on that number, "India accounts for almost 13% of the global HIV prevalence and now holds the second largest absolute number of HIV infections in the world, following South Africa"

(Note: With a population of close to a billion, 5.1 million infected people is a drop in the bucket; less than 1%. However, Dr. Richard Feachem, Executive Director, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria says "The official statistics show India in second place and South Africa in first place," adding: "The official statistics are wrong. India is in first place.")

As per UN projections, "there were 2.7 million AIDS deaths in India between 1980 and 2000. During 2000-15, the UN has projected 12.3 million AIDS deaths and 49.5 million deaths during 2015-50."

With all these statistics and figures, if Mr.Belagere wants to be complacent and still think it is just a "spectre" (bhUta) created by US to sell AIDS drugs to India, we have two words for him: "Prove It".

Now about India importing AIDS drugs from an American company: The entire staff of (one!) 108 Sullu HQ searched and searched in vain for some information about Indian government paying tens of millions of dollars to an American company for buying AIDS drugs. Did it ever happen? We don't know. However, by now it is common knowledge that India is one of the major sources for cheaper AIDS drugs. In fact countries from Pakistan to Kenya to Brazil are importing AIDS drugs from India. When that's the case, wouldn't it be strange if Indian government bought the same drugs from an American company?!

Later in his article Mr.Belagere badly confuses AIDS drugs and controlling further spread of HIV. After writing about Indian government spending millions of dollars on American AIDS drugs, he writes about how the "poor-illiterate" African nation of Uganda "controlled AIDS" with "no spending" ("KarchE illade") by just three slogans: Don't engage in pre-marital sex; Say no to extra-marital sex; Always use a condom.

Again we have some words for Belagere. We will be very slow and simple, so that, even our celebrity journalists will understand: "Mr.Belagere, those slogans are for preventing further spread of HIV. The AIDS drugs are used for saving the lives of already infected." We hope he understands this. After all when a "poor-illiterate" country like Uganda can overcome HIV infection, is it too much for us to hope that a rich-educated man like Belagere would overcome his ignorance?!

Ravi Belagere ends his column with the saying: "vyApAram drOha chiMtanaM aMdare idEnA?"

We will end our post this way: "journalism drOha chiMtanaM aMdare idEnA?"

Oh! Brother!!

A region of your state is experiencing floods. Many in that region have lost their homes and livelyhoods. You are the editor and the publisher (not to mention a high profile columnist) of a widely read newspaper. The Deputy Chief Minister of your state talks to you about the floods. He tells you that he personally spoke with all the I.T. companies [in the city? State? Country?] about helping the flood victims and even offered to hand over them the couple of tens of thousands of rupees provided by the central government. He further tells you that the I.T. company officials told him that they would get back to him but later never did. If you are a serious, responsible journalist, what would you do?

How about asking the deputy chief minister why in the god's name he is planning to hand over the public money to a group of private companies? Why can't the government help the flood victims directly instead of channeling through a private group? Before making that proposal was that matter (handing over the public money) discussed in the legislature? Doesn't the government need the consent of the legislature in handling of public funds? How much did the central government really provide for assisting flood victims to rebuild their homes? Why wasn't that sufficient? Did the state government demand more from the central government? How much money is really needed? How is the government planning to raise that kind of money? Since the floods and draughts seem to be happening on a regular basis, does the state government have a long term plan to alleviate the plight of the people? What is the plan? Coming back to the meeting with I.T. companies, how many were approached? What are their names?

If you are a real reporter you might even do a little bit of reporting by actually giving a call or two to the executives from those "I.T. companies" and seek their comments.

If you thought the above sounds right, then, we sadly have to inform you that you don't have the right mind to become one of the top notch celebrity journalists of Karnataka. The questions which seem so very natural to you, have no place in the minds and the brains of these journalists. They don't want answers to real questions; why bother with hard questions and real reporting when you can engage in easy sentimentalism and cheap populism?

And that's exactly what our celebrity journalist Ravi Belagere does here.

He writes a public letter to the wife of one of the I.T. company officials. Calls her "sister" and yet accuses her of "blackmail". Asks her whether she eats "dollars". And repeatedly questions her: "Why did you come here?", "Where did you come from?".

Oh! Brother!!

PS: Want to read (almost) the same in Kannada? You know what to do here.

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