Media Watch (October 18)

Monday 13th October 2014 05:53 EDT

Prime Minister Narendra Modi set the tone for the Gandhi Jayanti celebrations cross India by, among other things, visiting a slum to participate in a cleanliness drive, a national programme on which he has clearly set his heart. To associate this with the Mahatma’s birth anniversary was an appropriate act of remembrance, for public cleanliness and good hygiene are the hallmarks of a socially aware community. The squalor that disfigures much of urban and rural India amid the general indifference are living proof of a serious deficiency in civic sense., of which Mahatma Gandhi was painfully conscious and sought to remedy through personal example and unceasing exhortation. The ashrams in which he lived were run on principles of cleanliness and proper hygiene. Then came individual and collective probity, living the good life within the framework of mutual care and collective responsibility. Unbridled greed, according to the Mahatma was one of the major causes of violence, to which the Mahatma was opposed in a life of constant endeavour for the betterment of the poor and needy. Modi has taken up this cause in earnest and called on the young people of the country to make cleanliness their and the nation’s on the birth anniversaries of Jawaharlal Nehru on November 14 and Indira Gandhi on November 19 respectively. The Prime Minister sought to enlist a number of eminent persons to help in whatever they could to make this goal a reality. Among these personalities was Shashi Tharoor. Tharoor responded to the call with affirmative grace dignity, for which he has been pilloried the Kerala wing of the Congress party. How petty and absurd. To what depths has this once great party, which took India to its independence, now sunk. O tempora O mores! (Times of India, Hindu, Telegraph October 8)

Jayalalitha in the pits

The former Tamil Nadu Chief minister, Jayalalitha, who for years been the monarch of all she surveyed, has earned a 4-year prison sentence and a hefty fine of Rs 100 crore, having been found guilty of massive corruption and the gross abuse of power by a Sessions Court judge. Her appear for bail was turned down by the Karnataka High Court. The case was transferred to Bangalore from Tamil Nadu because the judicial authorities felt that due process, in this instance, would have been tampered with. The plea for bail by the high profile lawyer, Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the defence, was rejected by the court. The law, being no respecter of status or reputation, had to take its course. It seems unlikely that Jayallitha, once so mighty and imperious, will escape imprisonment when the appeal against conviction is heard. Her political career, it would appear, has hit the buffers. The wheels of justice grind slow, they grind exceeding well. This should serve as a warning to other politicians who think they are above the law, and it should strike a blow for honesty in India’s public life. (Hindu, Times of India, Telegraph October 8)

Jihadi terror in West Bengal

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, has been in the wars lately. Her untutored mind, capricious ways and an inflated ego gave her the exalted idea that she could be a power broker in Delhi. She had a rude awakening that this was far from true. The good lady is now confronted by a sea of troubles. The Sarada ponzi scam, run by a man named Sudipto Sen, presently under arrest, has led a trail to the Trinamool Congress top brass. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has taken over the investigation of this murky affair, putting Ms Banerjee and her cohorts very much on the back foot. The scent grows stronger by the day and the noose tightens. Trinamool cries of a conspiracy against the BJP and the Communist party have a hollow ring.

Bomb blasts

If this wasn’t enough, worse was to follow. Two bomb blasts in a flat in the State’s second city, Burdwan, in which two men were killed, and one seriously injured, revealed that the occupants, including the wives of the deceased, were running a bomb-making establishment, with all the necessary tools of the trade on the premises. The accidental explosion brought the police and the local fire brigade hotfoot to the site. It transpired that the building in which the flat was located belonged to a Trinamool Congress bigwig, who had rented his property at a high price without asking questions of a tenant whose livelihood appeared none too secvure. Undetonated bombs were taken to the Damodar River nearby and disposed through controlled explosions. The DIG Police gave permission for this, although the National Investigation Agency (NIA) anti-terror squad hadn’t arrived on the scene to examine the evidence. Possible clues were thus lost. The plot thickens. Watch this space Telegraph, Times of India October 6-10)

National security imperilled

Four arrests have been made, including the widows of the two dead bombers, Gulshan Bibi and Alima Bibi. Both are hardened operatives who have withstood the interrogation and given misleading answers to investigators in a bid throw them off the trail, which appears to have a Bangladeshi angle. Media reports suggest that their group has links with the Bangladesh Mujahideen. The bombers and their handlers – some still at large and sought by the police – were apparently preparing to hit targets in Kolkata. The investigation has some way to go. The State government is desperate to keep the NIA out of the investigation. National security is involved. Bengal has become staging post for jihadi terrorism in the rest of India.(Telegraph, Times of India, October 6) See page 3 for cvomment.

$2 trillion economy in India’s sight

India’s economy is poised to reach a $2 trillion value by the end of the current financial year, 2014-15. The challenge is to achieve 5 per cent growth for this period (the growth thus far is 5.5 per cent) and the value of the rupee remains broadly constant until then. At the turn of the millennium, the Indian GDP was about $480 billion, by 2007 it stood at $1.2 trillion – a period of exceptionally high growth which continued to 2010-11. The global financial meltdown was a major factor behind India’s declining growth figures thereafter, touching a low 4.7 per cent in the last financial year 2013-14. Delayed structural reforms also played a role in India’s economic downturn (Mint October 9)

Declining poverty

The rapid growth of the Indian economy has led to a significant fall in Indian poverty levels. In 2005 the basic poverty benchmark was an income of $1.25 per day, the number of poor at that level has declined from 41.6 per cent of the population to 32.7 per cent of the population in 2010, according to World Bank estimates. The rapid economic growth has spurred urbanization. However, employment generation has yet to keep pace with the high GDP figures. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has admitted that its growth forecasts for India were excessively low due to faulty methodology in the calculation of the statistics. IMF projection for India’s growth for the current financial year 2014-15 is 5.6 per cent, up from its earlier estimate of 5.4 per cent. India’s second quarter growth this reached 5.8 per cent. (Mint October 9).

China, Japan, Korea banks ease lending

Chinese, Japanese and South Korean banks in search of greater returns on their capital have increased lending to Indian companies, stepping into the space vacated by Western banks squeezed by the Wall Street financial meltdown in 2008. Three recent loan deals bear out this reality. Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL), the Reliance Industries Ltd-owned telecom services provider said it had signed up for a $750 million loan backed by Korea Exim Bank. The loan will be used primarily to finance goods and services from Korea’s Samsung Electronics for RJIL’s roll-out. IndiGo airline has taken out a loan of $2.6 billion to finance its purchase of 30 new aircraft, while India’s largest power plant NTPC Ltd has $250 million from Japan’s Mizuho Bank to finance NTPC’s capital expenditure on ongoing projects renovation and modernization of power stations. (Mint October 6)

Mahindra’s 51% Peugeot stake

In a bid to extend its global reach, Mahindra Two Wheeler Ltd (an arm of Mahindra & Mahindra) is set to acquire a 51 per cent stake worth 28 million euros in the French company, Peugeot Motorcycles, which manufactures scooters and mopeds across the world. “India accounts for 21 per cent of the global two-wheeler market. The focus will be on Europe and India,” said Mahindra Executive Director, Pawan Goenka. (Business Line October 8)


Apropos of the overwhelming presence of scientists and engineers on India’s Mars mission being from the country’s southern states, the sentence should have read “where life is less burdened by petty politics….” (Media Watch October 4)  


1 Shashi Tharoor with top story

2 Jayalalitha under X head Jayalalitha in the pits

3 Mamata Banerjee under head Jihadi terror in West Bengal (Include See page 3 in caption)

4 Jammu & Kashmir border during, after Pakistan shelling (Caption to say, See page 3)

5 Police Superintendent, Burdwan, West Bengal, SMH Meerza, with caption See page 3

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