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ನೂರೆಂಟು ಸುಳ್ಳು (nUreMTu suLLu)

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Tale of Two Papers

Recently former Prime Minister of India Mr.Deve Gowda wrote a letter to the Chief Minister of Karnataka Mr.Dharam Singh. He also made that letter public. In that letter Mr.Gowda raises many questions about the land being given to I.T. companies. He further demands that Mr.Singh's government -- of which Mr.Gowda's party is a partner -- release information about how much land has been granted by the government to various I.T. companies and how many jobs these companies have created.

He also demands that a comparative study be made about the jobs being created by I.T. companies that are using leased land/buildings Vs. the companies which have been granted land by the government. (Companies like HP, IBM, Intel, Wipro etc. fall in the first category and Infosys is the prime example of the seconds category of companies.)

Mr.Gowda further expresses fears that some of these I.T. companies may use the land granted by the government for real-estate business instead of the stated purpose.

Most newspapers in Karnataka have interpreted this letter as a thinly veiled attack on Infosys and its Chairman Mr.Narayana Murty. (Here is an article from Prajavani)

Since this dispute involves major personalities -- not to mention the possible impact on policies -- in both government as well as business, we thought it would be a good idea to see how this was being covered by the Three Musketeers of Kannada newspaper filed (Kannada Prabha, Prajavani and Vijaya Karnataka). Especially in their editorial comments.

Vijaya Karnataka in its editorial (dated October 18th, 2005) states that Mr.Gowda's letter brings the matter of "contribution of the I.T. companies & the government towards development to debating platform". Further it supports the demands of Mr.Gowda for information about the government grant of land and also job creation statistics. While it does not say anything negative about Infosys, it also emphasizes that there is "nothing wrong in expecting that the government granted lands be misused".

Commenting about Mr.Dharam Singh's assurance that he would look into Mr.Gowda's letter, the editorial states that "the letter is not important" and ends with the following note: "curtain should fall on this dispute between I.T., B.T. companies and the government."

Vijaya Karnataka's new coverage (or lack of it) similarly reflects the similar sentiments.

Kannada Prabha on the other hand takes a different tack.

Its editorial starts with a comment that "it has been a long time since Mr.Gowda wrote a letter to bring certain matters to public attention and to get public attention". Since Gowda's party itself is a partner in Mr.Singh's government, it's the opinion of Kannada Prabha that the motive behind Gowda's letter is to " make public the desires of Infosys and Narayana Murty to own land" rather than "collecting the information".

The editorial also clearly defends Infosys in this dispute by saying that it's a common practice for companies --including public sector ones like N.G.E.F. -- to buy land if the capital is available. Further it states that the information about how the granted lands are being used is not "secret". (This is clearly in reference to Mr.Gowda's expressed concern about misuse of lands.)

In the opinion of the Kannada Prabha editorial writer, Mr.Gowda is upset with Mr.Narayana Murty and others because, whenever they complain about lack of infrastructure, such complaints get the attention of "powerful people" at the center. (The editorial however does not say who these "powerful people" are. It also does not say why that should make Mr.Gowda upset.)

Unlike the Vijaya Karnataka editorial, the Kannada Prabha editorial chastises Mr.Gowda by saying that writing such letters do not befit the dignity of a former prime minister.

Kannada Prabha news coverage also reflects an anti-Gowda bias. For example in this article with the heading "Gowda ko gussa kyo aayaa.." , there are many speculations. And these speculations are always sourced to unnamed individuals: a) Unnamed "JDS sources" claim that Mr.Gowda is upset with Mr.Murty because of an article in "The Business World". b) It has been "said" (by unnamed people) that in the private meeting between Mr.Murty, Mr.Gowda and Mr.Dharam Singh, Mr.Gowda took Mr.Murty to task in no uncertain terms; others would have walked out but Mr.Murty with his "rock like mentality" heard what he wanted to hear and said what he wanted to say. c) Talks are being heard (again unnamed people are the ones who are talking) that Mr.Gowda's actions are to satisfy his vote-bank. d) Finally it says that "the whole world knows" (since it it is the "entire world", no need to name anyone!) that Mr.Gowda cannot digest anything done by the former Chief Minister S.M.Krishna; it is being "heard" that that in fact could be the reason why Mr.Narayana Murty is caught in the "hostile gaze" of Mr.Gowda.

If the above article clearly shows an anti-Gowda bias, Kannada Prabha also covers his letter more extensively than other papers. For example, it covers his side of the story here and also BJP's reaction to this dispute here.

For some reason, till now (October 18th, 2005) Prajavani has not found this dispute important enough to comment in its editorials.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Osho and The Art Of Making It Up

Why do some of our journalists find Rajanish fascinating? We don't know. This has always been a mystery to us. We have tried reading some of his stuff and found them pretentious, boring and full of bromides.

Mr.Bhat seems to like him. A lot. Especially so when Osho talks about journalists and journalism. See the articles here and here.

The most important thing that a journalist must not do IS providing false or incorrect information. Then again, Osho was not a journalist.

In the second article linked above, Mr.Bhat approvingly quotes Osho extensively. As per Osho, Abraham Lincoln's father was a shoe-maker and when Lincoln was elected the US President, one of the senators used that 'fact' in his efforts to embarrass Lincoln.

The entire staff of 108 Sullu World H.Q. (the grand total of one!) tried hard and long to confirm the 'facts' that Lincoln's father was a shoe maker, and that Lincoln was ridiculed in the Senate on that count. Tried as hard as we did, we found nothing to back these claims. Except of course, Osho's own words..

Did Lincoln's father ever make shoes? We don't know. But, it is fairly well known that Lincoln's father was a farmer and a carpenter.

It also appears Lincoln did not particularly get along well with his father. In fact when his father was in his death-bed, Lincoln did not visit him. Nor did he attend his funeral. (Source:The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1953–55 )

We have two complaints about Mr.Bhat's article: 1) He should have fact-checked Osho's words before quoting them as truths. 2) Mr.Bhat's article, as written is not very clear as to where Mr.Bhat's words end and Osho's words begin; a bit more clarity in writing would have been helpful.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It's Not Even Wrong

We at 108 Sullu World H.Q. do not know whether the eminent Kannada writer/Socialite Socialist U.R.Anantha Murthy and the man milking the cash-cow at Crime Diary Ravi Belagere are sworn enemies are not.

But, if you read this, this & this it's not too difficult to conclude that there's not much love left between them. Mr.Belagere even suggests - without naming him- that Mr.Anantha Murthy is the kind of person who would ask a partially burnt woman whether her private parts also got burnt.

Now that both of them of them are voicing their opposition against the growth of the I.T. industry/call-centers in Bangalore, suddenly Mr.Anantha Murthy starts appearing Gandhiesque to Mr.Belagere.

Mr.Anantha Murthy has written -- in our opinion -- a really dumb article about the impact of the I.T. industry/call-centers on India. Mr.Belagere loves it so much that he decides to publish it verbatim in his own column.

You can read it here.

The article is so bad, to paraphrase Wolfgang Pauli, it's not even wrong.

What is so bad, you ask?

First of all it romanticizes rural poverty in India. As per Mr.Anantha Murthy, the people who cant afford to eat anything but ragi balls twice a day, sleep in their dilapidated houses and can't even afford to buy a bicycle are not poor. Coming from cocktail sipping, globe trotting Mr.Anantha Murthy this comment is so rich in irony.

Then there is the needless yet necessary bashing of Western countries. If you are from a Western country, your expression of concern about hunger in India is just "duplicious politics". But, when Anantha Murthy does the same after attending cocktail dinners, it's "truly humane".

You have to have some stupid comment about modernity don't you think? Of course. According to Anantha Murthy one true benefit that modernity has brought to India is -- drumrolls please -- "women now don't have to die while giving birth!" Other than that, he says: "we don't have to worry about them".

Let those rural folks live in their huts, he tells us. See, how happily they are singing and dancing in groups?! Forget about them. After all, we the Sophisticated Socialists must attend a Chinese Opera programme in a five-star hotel that is introducing a new Chinese menu.

And so it goes on and on.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Katrina's Toll: Truth and Accuracy

In the immediate aftermath of Katrina many if not most American media organizations grossly overstated the atrocities and violence in New Orleans.

About a month after these reports, now it is being reported that what were once reported as facts were actually unsubstantiated rumors.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune, the local newspaper of New Orleans had this to say:

"Four weeks after the storm, few of the widely reported atrocities have been backed with evidence. The piles of bodies never materialized, and soldiers, police officers and rescue personnel on the front lines say that although anarchy reigned at times and people suffered unimaginable indignities, most of the worst crimes reported at the time never happened."

The L.A.Times now says "Katrina Takes a Toll on Truth, News Accuracy". You can read it here.

Mr.Bhat also wrote about Katrina, specifically how Katrina uncovered the "selfish", "evil", "cold hearted", "inhumane" and "racially divided" American society for the world to see. In addition he also wrote about how woefully inadequate America and American government were in their abilities to handle a storm like Katrina; especially when compared with the recent floods in Mumbai.

As proof for the the barbaric nature of American society, Mr.Bhat wrote about "American whites" who were engaging in "rapes" and "atrocities" against the "African Americans" who were trying "just to survive".

There are no reports to indicate that there were any racial elements in the widely reported violence and atrocities in the immediate aftermath of Katrina; specifically there were no reports that said that whites were targeting African Americans.

As an example of lack of preparation on the part of the Bush Administration to handle Katrina, Mr.Bhat writes that America had to "bring in thousands of doctors from inconsequential countries like Cuba and Venezuela".

This again is untrue.

While it's true that Cuba offered the service of thousands of doctors, US did not respond to that offer.

In his article, Mr.Bhat writes about incidents where coast-guard helicopters that were trying to rescue flood victims came under gun fire. Such incidents were reported during the "live" coverage of the storm. Both by American media as well as others. Now, Knight Ridder says that there is "no evidence" to "backup reports of rescue helicopters being fired upon". Specifially it says:

Two Coast Guard spokesmen who were asked in recent days about helicopter shootings said there were no incidents of any Coast Guard personnel or vehicles taking fire.

"We don't know of any shots ever fired directly at us," said Capt. Bob Mueller, commander of the Guard's New Orleans station.

(Note: The same report says that "a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security - which oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency - contradicted that statement, saying Superdome flights were temporarily suspended because of gunfire.")

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