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Kashmir: The difference between journalism and propaganda

By A.S. Panneerselvan

Since the terrorist attack in Pulwama that killed 40 CRPF personnel and the subsequent military response, there have been two distinct narratives in the media. On the one hand is an uncritical group of people who constantly whip up patriotism and construct nationalism in a narrow sense. They are keen to reduce journalism to propaganda. On the other is a set of professionals who continue to retain their commitment to the core values of journalism and opt to report events instead of becoming a tool of war.

Reporting war and conflict

The reportage and headlines of The Hindu exhibit a commitment to facts as well as a desire to minimise tension between two neighbours. Here journalism is a public good and refuses to become an instrument of deceit. The headline of Feb. 28, “IAF plane shot down, pilot taken captive by Pak. army”, was both appreciated and vilified by readers. The people who felt that the headline was not patriotic enough drew their inspiration from many broadcast journalists. I would urge them to watch senior journalist Sashi Kumar’s video, “Parasites of prime time”, in which he clearly establishes how dominant TV channels have become cheerleaders for hate politics and intolerance.

My friend and the founder of the Ethical Journalism Network, Aidan White, never tires of pointing out a simple fact: that journalists who work in or near a conflict zone see first-hand the brutal and inhumane consequences of war. The act of bearing witness helps them refrain from promoting propaganda based on what he calls “skewed notions of romantic patriotism or tribal allegiance”. There is a huge corpus of literature on war and conflict journalism. One fact emerges from such literature and from war reporters — from the time of the World Wars to my colleagues who have covered more recent wars in the neighbourhood: those who bay for blood are far removed from the sites of violence and do not have a sense of the loss and pain experienced by families. In his insightful book, The First Casualty, Phillip Knightley gives us an important warning: “The sad truth is that today government propaganda prepares its citizens for war so skilfully that it is quite likely that they do not want the truthful, objective and balanced reporting that hero war correspondents once did their best to provide.”

Fact and fiction

Soon after India’s air strikes in Balakot, Pakistan, many TV channels citing anonymous sources claimed that the attack across the LoC killed 300 terrorists. However, when the official version was put out, the government spokesperson refused to speculate on the number. Meanwhile, international media persons, who have access to Balakot, visited the site. Their findings made a mockery of many of the tall claims that were being made from India’s TV studios. In this newspaper, a sober and responsible analysis was made much before Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman’s capture. For instance, in his comment piece, “India’s options after Pulwama” (Feb. 19), Happymon Jacob examined the option of using strike aircraft to carry out precision strikes in locations across the LoC. He presciently warned: “But such air incursions are likely to be detected and intercepted by Pakistani radars and air defence systems. If an aircraft is shot down or pilots are captured, it could become a bigger headache for the government. Pakistani retaliatory strikes cannot be ruled out either.”

Writer Namita Gokhale made an important observation recently: “One of the greatest life learnings of the ever-contemporary Mahabharata is the lesson of the Chakravyuh and the consequences of entering it without full foreknowledge.” Her tweet doesn’t apply only to governance and military affairs, but to journalism too. The very act of verification that differentiates this profession from all other forms of communication tells us not to be an Abhimanyu, one who knew the entry strategy but not the exit one.

Indian journalists have made some of the most incisive arguments against the pernicious idea of embedded journalism (the practice of placing journalists under the control of one side’s military during an armed conflict). The difference between journalism and propaganda lies in the language that is used in reports. Ethical journalism will report the killing of a soldier as the killing of a soldier and refrain from using loaded propagandist words like martyr.


A.S. Panneerselvan is the Readers’ Editor of The Hindu and an adviser to the Ethical Journalism Network. This article has been republished with permission. Read the original here.

NE News

Fruit export from NE up

: The Centre’s newly framed agriculture export policy — which
aims at reinvigorating the entire value chain from export-oriented farm
production and processing to transportation, infrastructure and market
access — would lay prime focus on exporting fresh fruits and vegetables
from the northeast to foreign markets.
Export of vegetables from Assam has gained momentum since November
last year, when the government of India launched direct custom clearance
facility for agri-export from the Guwahati airport to foreign destinations.
In the northeast, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export
Development Authority (APEDA), the coordinating agency of the Union
ministry of commerce and industry, has created five packhouses for fresh
fruits and vegetables with state government agencies in Assam, Sikkim and Mizoram. A walk-in cold storage at Aizawl airport
has been established under the infrastructure scheme for maintenance of quality to enhance export from the state.
The agri export policy, announced in January this year, aims at providing an institutional mechanism for pursuing market
access, tackling barriers and dealing with sanitary and phytosanitary issues and enabling farmers to get benefits of export
opportunities in overseas markets.
For creating awareness among the farmers and other stakeholders, APEDA is organizing a buyers-sellers meet in March, roping
in importers from the Asean and the Middle East. APEDA has been exploring various aspects of agri export and the procedural
requirements for export of fresh fruits and vegetables from the northeastern region.

“The agri export policy will pave the way for organizing the supply chain of agri exports from Assam, benefiting the farmers
from grassroots,” said APEDA chairman Paban Kumar Borthakur.
The agriculture export policy has been framed with a focus on agriculture export-oriented production, export promotion, better
farmer realization and synchronization within policies and programmes of the Centre. “It is required to have a farmer-centric
approach for improved income through value addition at the source itself, which will help to minimize losses across the value
chain,” said an official of the Union ministry of commerce and industry.
“The objectives of the agriculture export policy are to diversify our export basket, destinations and boost high value and value
added agricultural exports including focus on perishables, besides promoting novel, indigenous, organic, ethnic, traditional and
non-traditional agri products exports,” he added.

_____________________

Hypermarket chain with a presence in the Gulf, and are exploring options to procure fruits from the North-East. Procuring agri-commodities from India for their stores in West Asia is nothing new to the group. But coming to Guwahati for strawberries or bananas is new. The credit goes to the Assam government’s year-long promotion of agri-horticultural exports.Struggling farm sectorThe issue is tricky. When it comes to farm production, the region is largely dependent on supplies from the rest of India. Except in Lower Assam, agriculture is a single crop affair. The yield is low as farm techniques are conventional. There are only 29 soil-testing laboratories in the entire region.Yet, the North-East produces some of the finest varieties of seasonal farm products. But either the production is small or scattered in pockets.All the four processing units of the North-East Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation are idling. Bangladesh-based PRAN, which had set up a pineapple processing unit in Tripura, imports concentrate as the local procurement is low.Four years after it was set up in Nalbari, Assam, the North-East Mega Food Park is yet to push local value-addition. Half of the 27-acre facility is unused, while the other half has units making pastries or noodles with materials sourced from outside the region.“Failure of the Food Park project was inevitable as it was not customised for the region. The region’s agri-production profile demands innovative solutions to procure in low quantities from a wide area,” said Ronn Pakrashi, former CEO of the Food Park.The World Bank recently initiated a project to promote agri-processing clusters in Assam. But these will take years to deliver.To address the issue of low returns for its produce, the Commerce and Industries Department of Assam turned to exports.“Farmers here barely use chemical fertilisers. We are trying to capitalise on it,” said a State Government official.It tied up with some 450 farmers for supplying products graded and sorted to customer’s choice.According to State government sources, the initiative worked. A dozen trucks carrying vegetables left for Nepal every month this winter. Some buyers from Maharashtra and Karnataka procured potatoes. Bhutan imported a fair quantity of mushrooms.However, the crowning moment came in November 2018 when SpiceJet ferried a consignment of farm products from Guwahati to Dubai.Tea industry benefitsBenefits of these initiatives helped greatly Assam’s tea industry, which was exporting via Kolkata. According to State government sources, beginning April, SpiceJet will ferry tea to Europe from GuwahatiFarm products may be shipped from July.While tea may be doable as planters are well-prepared, there are some questions about the State’s plan to promote farm product exports.Many problemsM Krishna Saikia, partner of Greencover Overseas, a Guwahati based exporter, flags many issues.Greencover exported 40 tonnes of vegetables by sea over the last couple of months. Due to non-availability of authorised packing services in Guwahati and low availability of refrigerated containers in Kolkata, he is routing exports through Mumbai, taking a hit in profitability.Saikia also flags issues of limited knowledge of farmers on pesticide residue, plant quarantine and quality.Five consignments have so far been sent from Guwahati airport, giving a tough time to airport quarantine officials. At least one was rejected due to pesticide-residue issues.“Infrastructure inadequacies make exports from Guwahati costly, and it will take two-three years of effort for things to improve,” he said.ReplyForward

Journalism

Broadcasters Body Asks Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami to Apologise For Misreporting

A. Singh and his partner Pratishtha Singh filed a complaint after the channel ran a video alleging that the complainant was one of the people who harassed their reporter, Shivani Gupta, while reporting at Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mevani’s ‘flop show’ rally.

New Delhi: The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), an independent body set up by the News Broadcasters Association, on August 30 directed BJP MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar’s news channel Republic TV to air a full-screen apology to its viewers for inappropriate comments made by its editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami.

The complaint was filed by A. Singh and his partner Pratishtha Singh after the channel ran a video alleging that the complainant was one of the people who harassed their reporter, Shivani Gupta, while reporting at Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mevani’s ‘flop show’ rally.

“I want their faces circled more. I want the family members of these cheap, perverse goons to watch their family members doing this … at this event which was the Jignesh flop show. Let’s name and shame these people,” said Goswami at the beginning of the debate as a small video of the event played on the screen.

Multiple times during the hour-long debate, Goswami can be seen calling the complainant a “vulgar thing”, “pervert”, “goon”, “sexist”, “hyena” and “anti-Indian”. The channel reportedly removed the video from its website and YouTube account after the complainant sent them multiple mails. The debate on the topic is still available on the channel’s website.

In the video, Gupta can be seen surrounded by a small crowd as she reports on the lack of supporters at the event. In the end she had to be escorted away by the police.


  1. Jignesh Mevani, Republic TV and the Incomplete Story of Chennai’s Media Solidarity
  2. Why Arnab Goswami’s Banana ‘Republic’ Also Needs to Have a Seat at the Table 
  3. Student Organisation Protests ‘Defamation’ by NDA Politician’s TV Channel 
  4. Rights Lawyer Says Arnab Goswami’s Channel Made ‘Ridiculous, False’ Allegations

In its original reply, Republic TV had claimed that Singh was “interfering with the reporting done by its reporter by moving towards her in an intimidating and aggressive manner and shouting the words “jhooth bol rahi hai (she is lying)” as she was confronting another person harassing her”. They also claimed that the complainant engaged in further sloganeering aimed at the reporter.

Responding to the channel’s allegations, Singh said that in the video he can be seen saying, “Koi aapko tang nahi kar raha, aap jhooth bol rahi hai (You are lying. nobody is bothering you.)” and can’t be labelled a “vulgar thug”, “pervert”, “goon”, “sexist” or “anti-Indian” on the basis of that. Demanding an apology from the channel, Singh and his partner claimed that after the show was aired, many of their relatives called expressing shock and the broadcast has bought shame and loss of reputation to the family.

In its August 30 order, NBSA noted, “The footage does not show use of any objectionable words by the complainant or any gesture which can be described as “lewd” or “threatening”.”

Chastising Goswami for his choice of language, NBSA said, “Use of words like ‘I am going to show these crude, lewd hyenas/show the dirty faces of lewd, cheap, vulgar, sexist, pervert anti-Indian goons‘ by Mr Arnab Goswami who was anchoring the programme was totally unwarranted and unjustified and the same was in violation of the broadcasting standards.”

The body has directed Republic TV to air a clarification before the 9 pm debate on September 7, 2018. This story will be updated if and when the channel follows NBSA’s order.

Serial offenders

This wasn’t the sole incident of misreporting by the channel while covering this story. They were forced to apologise to an ABP reporter after Goswami labelled him as one of “one of the thugs who tried to intimidate Gupta”.

#JigneshFlopShow | Arnab: Tonight, I will put out videos circling the pictures of the vulgar thugs who tried to intimidate @ShivaniGupta_5 and failed. Republic reporters represent young India much better than your goons, @jigneshmevani80 http://www.republicworld.com/livetv 

Live TV: Watch live news streaming of your favorite news channel on Republic World. Get live news on politics, sports, entertainment, world and much more. Watch live TV and stay up to date with live…

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Turns out the reporter was actually trying to make sure Gupta is escorted away safely from the mob.View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Dear @republic the person you are claiming to be the man who heckled your female journalist at Mevani rally in Delhi is actually one of the finest TV reporter in Hindi journalism. @jainendrakumar is currently with @abpnewshindi
You should apologies for this ASAP@milindkhandekar

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In its apology, Republic TV said, “On the debate yesterday, we inadvertently circled visual of a reporter from ABP News, Jainendra Kumar, while running pictures of our News Editor, Shivani Gupta, being targeted by individuals present at the Jignesh Mevani rally.” The clarification stated that visuals indicative of Kumar being the heckler was an unintentional oversight by the channel’s video editor, reported NewsLaundry.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

.@republic TV apologises for calling ABP News correspondent @jainendrakumar a ‘goon’ during its report on #JigneshMevani‘s rally. The channel says it was a mistake.

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Republic TV also stated that their apology was issued “as per the highest norms of corrigendum and clarification on such editorial matters” and added that this was a follow up on ABP News’ behest.

NE News

Three Keys to Longevity

A man who says he is 120 years old credits his long life to three things: no sex, no spices and daily yoga sessions.

Swami Sivananda claims he was born Aug. 8, 1896. He is an Indian monk and says he is the oldest to have ever lived, beating out Japan’s Jiroemon Kimura, who the Guinness Book of World Records now lists as the oldest man to have ever lived. Kimora was 116 years and 54 days old,.

In this photograph taken on August 2, 2016, Indian monk Swami Sivananda, who claims to be 120 years old, practises yoga in Kolkata. An Indian monk who claims to be the oldest man to have ever lived at 120 years, says he owes his longevity to daily yoga and a life without sex or spices. Born on August 8, 1896, according to his passport, Hindu monk Swami Sivananda's life has spanned three centuries. He is now applying to Guinness World Records to stake his claim to the distinction. (Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian monk Swami Sivananda, who claims to be 120 years old, practices yoga in Kolkata. (Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images)

Sivanada is applying to the world records book to officially claim the title, based on a temple register confirmed by Indian passport authorities. The register is the only record of many Inidan residents’ ages, including those much younger than Sivanada.

“I eat very simply,” Sivanada said. “Only boiled food without oil or spices, rice and boiled daal [lentil stew] with a couple of green chillies.”

Sivanada said he also does not drink milk or eat fruit because he sees those as “fancy foods.” He noted that, as a child, he lived in extreme poverty and often slept on an empty stomach. Now, Sivanada said, he sleeps on a mat on the floor and uses a piece of wood as a pillow.

The 5’2″ tall monk was born around the same time that electricity, cars and telephones were invented — a time in which he says people were “happy with fewer things.”

“Nowadays,” he said, “people are unhappy, unhealthy and have become dishonest, which pains me a lot.”

“I just want people to be happy, healthy and peaceful,” Sivanada added.

Jon Street

NE News

Summer Salad Recipe

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