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Here the Buck Passes

Here the Buck Passes Nireekshak ONE thing that the Press cannot be accused of is lack of awareness of itj infirmities. At the AINEC seminar on "What Ails the indian Press" in New Delhi last month, participants vied with one another to point out the many things wrong with the fourth estate. This readiness to be self-critical was commendable indeed

Skeletons and Cabinets

Nireekshak NO paper squeezed as much drama out of l'affaire Chandra Shekhar as Free Press Journal, "Crisis in Congress", the paper proclaimed over five columns of its front page on March 12, This was followed by streamers: "Bickerings Will Ruin Party: Morarji", "No Regrets for Utterances: Chandra Shekhar" and "Indira Puts Up Poor Show". The Prime Minister's handling of the "vital issue of indiscipline" at the Congress Working Committee meeting had been, the paper's Delhi correspondent reported, "rather feeble". Her defence of Morarji had been "very weak" and it was only when "support to the case of the Deputy Prime Minister mounted" that she had agreed to meet Chandra Shekhar to try to persuade him to express regret.

The Proprietorial Pen

The Proprietorial Pen Nireekshak FOR Birla's Hindustan Tims, reporting the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha debate on the allegations against companies of the Birla group was admittedly a ticklish task. Plainly the paper was not up to the challenge.

Time for Propaganda

free market has been unable to absorb these supplies. Cement producers have been looking frantically for export markets, and have also pruned their expansion plans.

Once Too Often

Once Too Often Nireekshak WITH so much news emanating from Government, the newspaper reporter has to locate and nurture contacts in officialdom. Apart from the occasional Exclusive', the contacts are necessary for checking on the numerous, and often contradictory, leads' that populate the reporter's daily beat. As a price, he has once in a while to slip in a story at the instance of his source. This is accepted all round. But what happens when planted stories get too frequent?

Carrying the Can

Carrying the Can Nireekshak WHAT a week that was! The DMK succession, Bombay in flames, election bombshells in the North and, finally, the snap reshuffle of the Central Council of Ministers. The last-mentioned caught the Capital's sharpest news-hounds napping. For months the Press had been speculating about Cabinet changes, but last week, preoccupied with the poll results, none of the papers had any thought to spare for it. The one exception was Times of India which, in a report dated February 11 from New Delhi, mentioned the possibility of a "Cabinet reshuffle in the next few days, before the commencement of the Budget session''. The Prime Minister, the report said, had been discussing various alternatives with unnamed "top advisers" who had "worked out a series of 'contingency plans' for a Cabinet reshuffle of different dimensions . . . ranging from routine adjustments to a major reshuffle which could drastically alter the present power equations in the Cabinet". But having gone so far the report hedged its bets by adding that the Prime Minister might not after all give "final shape" to her plans until, first, it was definitely known whether Kamaraj would accept her invitation to join the Cabinet and, second, the Congress Working Committee had taken stock of the post-election situation. Actually, the PM decided to wait for neither.

Ad - Lobbying

ist point to which any official and semi-official visitor is taken. These visitors are given VIP treatment and taken in full gaze of publicity. Foreign military attaches who stay with high- ranking Indian officers and bring their families with them are taken to Nathula and other adjoining 'la's as to picnic resorts. Considering that the job of a military attache is to gather information about the strength, organisation, deployment, structure, and training methods, etc, of the armed forces in the country to which he is accredited, this all too eager tourist treatment the Indian officers lavish on them shows the latter's oddly poor sense of security. Indian officers even take foolish pride in the fact that the Chinese photograph them beside their foreign visitors. And the foreigners prove more resourceful than the Indian officers suspect. When correspondents of Life and Time magazines were taken there last year, there were specific instructions from New Ddhi that they were not to carry cameras with them. These they did carry, however, in their pockets, and used them freely. Only a few days ago, in spite of repeated 'no's from New Delhi a well known British journalist was taken to this point. The Chinese on the other hand conduct themselves quite differently. And they do not allow anyone, not even delegates from fraternal communist countries, to come to the point from their side.

Lack of Hindsight

Lack of Hindsight Nireekshak THE race for Sunday sales is on and the laurels are for the surest. Closely following Times of India, another of the Bombay Sundays, Bharat Jyoti, has switched over to the separate eight-page magazine section. Bharat Jyoti, which in Sadanand's days steered clear of astrology and paid dearly for it, now relies heavily on it with almost one whole page devoted to this esoteric science. Indeed, it is said, this page is the paper's mainstay, though Bharat Jyoti has a very good and extremely readable film page run by that old-timer Ajit Merchant. It does not, however, carry cartoons which are a must these days; on the other hand, it sells at 16 paise when both Sunday Standard and Sunday Times of India sell at 20 paise. The latter provides a children's section with colour comics and with Naylor back and a happy choice of writers, almost all Indian for a change, it is becoming hard to beat. But Bharat Jyoti is giving valiant fight and if only its management would unloosen its purse and make possible more decent payments to a wider variety of writers, it could stand on its own. Bharat Jyoti has a steady clientele, but it has always been the least cared for in the Free Press stable. It carries few advertisements (editorially this should be considered an asset!) and has never been able to make the grade. It has great potentialities, though.

ExA in Action

February 1. 1969 a major British company have been shown as remarkably inefficient. A final embarrassment is that in February Cunard begins a huge advertising campaign for the Q E II (it is now too late for the company to cancel THE FOURTH ESTATE ExA in Action Nireekshak COULD it be that the departure of George Verghese from the Prime Minister's entourage has left the Ministry of External Affairs entirely bereft? How else can one explain the palpably silly stones that the Ministry has been putting out?

Aged Hearts

Aged Hearts Nireekshak THE Old Lady of Boribunder, wrote Hitavada sometime ago, has donned a new bonnet. And sure it has, but some of the criticism to which it has been uncharitably subjected has had some strange repercussions. One criticism was that the paper was cheating its readers by making the pretence that it was modernising. There was much more to 'modernising', wrote one irate Western reader, than changing the mast-head. The Old Lady evidently took this to its aged heart and decided, one morning, that its first lead should be the story of a young Indian engineer who had saved the State of Pennsylvania a million dollars or so by a feat of engineering that involved "rolling" a bridge from its existing site to a new site.

Exit Gothic

January 18, 1969 its role outside the region in its immediate vicinity. By failing to evolve a socialist commonwealth based on consent the Soviets may have to be content with a relatively insignificant role in other parts of the world. It may also force it to seek "arrangements" of various kinds with the West, thus further limiting its capacity to function as a reformer.

Centennial Stresses

of facts denied to others, but his recent comments on the activities of the communists, even though part of an electioneering campaign, will be treated as significant. The Home Minister is not given to subtleties and usually means what he says. We can only hope that political management of the post-socialist phase will not mean a drastic curbing of the democratic process. The Naxists are too obvious and too easy, in excuse.


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