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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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

IT Companies do not fund the election campaign.
Devegowda needs money for mid-term elections.

Don't you get a feeling that he thought IT Services alike Granite business or Contractors. ......

Nov 9, 2005, 8:03:00 AM  

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