August 22, 2007

MY TAKE, at a new address

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO Copy and paste this URL on your address bar;

Or, simply, Click on My Take by GVK

And I've also opened shop at Silicon India blog

August 15, 2007

A cash-for-appointment hoax

We’re not in America where they say that the resourceful can ‘pay’ their way to spending a night at the White House Lincoln’s bed-room. But then our desi mind works in weird ways. A couple of ‘enterprising’ Mumbai guys are reported to have claimed that they could arrange a meeting with the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan for anyone paying Rs.22,000. Their claim was reportedly telecast in a private channel.

I first learnt of something so preposterous from an R Bhavan denial: “This is to clarify that no such person by the name Sanjay Bhide and Niranjan Ganjawala as reportedly mentioned in the message or any other person has been authorised to bring people to meet the President." Dismissing the claim as mischievous, the R Bhavan spokesman reiterated that anyone could meet the President after taking an appointment.

Wonder how Bhide & Ganjawala came up with the idea that anyone would want to pay, in thousands, for an appointment with the President? It is not as if you tip the peon or office clerk to slip you into the office of a thanedar or tehsildar to get a file moving.

That the nation’s highest office is constrained to take note of such claim speaks of the influence of the electronic media. That a TV channel chose to telecast the cash-for-R-Bhavan-appointment claim smacks of irresponsible reporting and poor editorial judgement. Wouldn’t you say any responsible news media ought to have cross-checked such claim with R Bhavan before rushing to telecast ?

August 11, 2007

Taslima and the media

Far from condemning their attack on Taslima Nasrin a section of the Urdu media in Hyderabad is reported to have found fault with the three accused MLAs for their alleged failure to cause injury to the Bangladesh writer. An Urdu daily reportedly expressed disappointment that the assailants went into action “with nothing more lethal than bouquets”.

Frankly, I found it hard to take that anyone, notably from the media, could express such sentiments in cold print. A Deccan Herald report cited the Urdu media hitting out at the MLAs for making a hash of it, considering that the police reportedly arrived on the scene some 30 minutes after the event. For the unfamiliar the event refers to the widely televised physical assault aimed at the Bangladesh writer by an unruly group led by three MLAs at a Hyderabad Press Club function to mark the release of Telugu translarion of Taslima’s novel Shodh.

The writer who had to leave Hyderabad in haste under security escort later told Deccan Herald in Kolkata that she had been attacked elsewhere on earlier occasions, but “it was never like that Thursday (assault in Hyderabad)”. Expressing her gratitude to the press Taslima said that if it were not for the media persons at the venue, “I wouldn’t have returned here alive”.

I stand corrected. In an earlier post, based on my viewing of live telecast of the assault, I suggested that the media on the scene was perhaps less enthusiastic about rushing to the rescue of the helpless victim than capturing the attack, blow by blow, on camera. Here is what Taslima told DH interviewer Prasanta Paul: “The photographers could have just clicked on and on as they (assailants) would kill me, but see, they chose to save me”.

August 9, 2007

Attack on Taslima: Some questions

The attack on Bangladesh writer Taslima Nasrin by an unruly bunch led by three MLAs at a Hyderabad Press Club raises some questions.Extensive visual coverage of the incident was possible because of the media presence in strength at the scene of violence.

A couple of TV channels went ‘live’, with reporters in the thick of it all giving us a running commentary. The camera focused on vandals hurling books, bouquets (used as brickbats), furniture and things at a baffled Taslima. She was being shielded from taking direct hits by a grey-haired middle-aged gent who chivalrously stepped into the line of the missles-throw.

What intrigued me was that the foul-mouthed protestors made no attempt to block the photographers. They went about their vandalism in the full media glare; in utter disregard of the TV presence. This was unusual.It seemed as if they played to the camera. And the crew wouldn’t stop shooting as long as action continued. You may ask why the TV crew couldn’t put aside their camera and go to curb the attackers, instead of capturing their attack on film in graphic details. It’s a question that is easier asked by us than answered by the media persons.

The Taslima book release function was planned to be low key affair, in the presence of a group of invited media persons. Some of them were heard saying that there was no advance announcement of Taslima’s appearance. But trouble-makers apparently knew enough to mobilize a strike force. The police, on the other hand, appeared blissfully unaware, till after the attack started. Question is, how come the intelligence people didn’t know or didn’t alert the police.

Read in the papers the next morning that the assailants were charged, arrested, produced in court and freed on bail. And the visiting Bangladesh writer was whisked away by the police under security escort to the airport and put on the first available flight to Kolkata, where Taslima is living in exile.

August 1, 2007

Made-in-China toys

News is the US toy company Fisher Price is pulling out of stores in US and Canada nearly a million plastic toys, many of which are ‘Elmo’, because they contain potentially unsafe amount of lead. And those who have bought them in the last four months can exchange them for a safer toy. The toys for pre-school children were made in China.

I wonder where the recalled toys go. Shouldn’t be surprised, if they find their way to the Third World, notably ours. In recent times we have been flooded with consumer items that are sold at half the price at which our own products are made available. China-made toys look slicker than those turned out by many Indian toy makers; they are much cheaper.

In smaller towns (I know about Coonoor) itinerant traders organize full fledged exhibition/sales of China made items every other month. In Mysore a couple of dollar-shop type of outlets have sprung up to flog made-in-China products.

Factory seconds and third-country rejects appear to have a huge market in middle-class India.