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What India was worrying about yesterday

August 26, 2008

India is a worried nation today and a look at the newspapers across the country will give us an idea as to how the Kashmir Issue has dominated headlines…however it is interesting to note that Kashmir has taken second place in almost all newspapers, except the Kashmir Times. This is what this post is about…to see how much weightage the media (English) in different parts of the country gives to different issues. At the end of the post I have mentioned an American newspaper, the New York Times.

In my earlier comparisons, once for 29th October 2007 and once for 16th April 2008, I had tried to show how some newspapers sensationalised news, while some didn’t. Today’s exercise is slightly different because when a major crises is facing the country most newspapers tend to drop the sensational news and concentrate on the main issue of the day. However it is interesting to see how differently they handle it.

(Click on the image for a larger picture).

In the Kashmir Times, headline after headline screams out…Entire Valley under seige, Separatists under house arrest; Curfew continues in Poonch; Shri Amarnath Shrine Yatra Board extends bandh; Separatists go ahead with march; Congress favours alternative models of talk in Jammu & Kashmir; Stark divide between Jammu based Congress leaders

The Assam Tribune (epaper image was not available) did not mention the Kashmir Issue on its front page at all. The headlines went thus: Curtains on Olympics with fireworks, PM arriving in city today, Tribal Sangha for expulsion of aliens, Indian behind major UK cyber crime, Mixed response to ATASU bandh, Arunachal major tourist hotspot, Concern over Dibang project…(A planned dam which is raising environmental concerns).

Another newspaper from the East, The Telegraph, Kolkata is full of the Tata-Mamta spat over the land issue (she wants the government to take back 400 acres of land allotted to the Tatas). Surprisingly, the Kashmir issue isn’t anywhere on the front page in this newspaper either. I guess the Tata land issue is very big for West Bengal because if the Tatas pull out their Nano project, it will be a big blow for West Bengal government. And the Tatas said they will do it if necessary even if it means losing Rs 1500 crore! The headlines from the front page were: The seige is on, Good for UP not for West Bengal, The Olympics medal math. (The image below has been cut as there was more of the same story)

The Asian Age (published from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and London) doesn’t have the Kashmir Issue as its lead story either…instead the newspaper highlights a story about the Maoists debating the forming of suicide squads. An important section of the Maoists feel that “since they were not a “fundamentalist” outfit and believed in the right to life (for loyal soldiers), forming suicide squads would not be “ideologically correct.” On the other hand, there are those who feel that they “could not ignore the lethal success of suicide squads and (their) fearsome impact on the psyche of the Indian State and security forces.” Looks like India has a real problem on its hands…and it’s not just the Kashmir separatists.

The other headlines on the front page of the Asian Age were: J&K simmers, Army changes seniority rules, Big tender soon for Afghan projects, Indian behind the greatest cyberheist in the world, Pak rulers head for showdown, Mamata: I don’t want Tatas out. This paper has more international stories on its front page.

Now let’s go to the other end of the country…and see what The Hindu, Chennai has in store for us. The headlines are: Government cracks down in J&K, 8 patients still have critical vision problems (about messed-up eye operations). The front page has a large photograph of the Olympic closing ceremony and a short description.

The Deccan Herald, Bangalore has the Kashmir Issue as its main lead story (could not get an image of the epaper). The front page has these headlines: Curfew continues in Kashmir Valley, US, India to jointly push for clean NSG exemption, Trinamool protest chokes highway in Bengal, Bandh hits normal life in Orissa (Hindu parties, including the ruling coalition partner in Orissa the BJP, called the bandh to protest the killing of VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati), Soren stakes claim, Koda supports (Shibu Soren is set to become the chief minister of Jharkand).

The Daily News and Analysis (DNA) is disappointing, as always. The headlines are: Belly dancers spice up NCP’s dahi handi at Bandra, Terror email traced to city college, Nano unit under siege in Singur. There is nothing about the Kashmir Issue or the Olympics. However, in a small little box in the middle of the front page they say: INSIDE: One killed in Srinagar Firing, Indian in cyber heist, India’s ultimatum, Pak govt. in crises.

The Indian Express is full of the Beijing Olympics but the Kashmir Issue also shares space. Headlines here are: Beijing signs off with another awesome display, next stop London 2012, Separatists to lead march today, alert across Valley, Govt let down athletes: Boxers were sanctioned Rs 1 crore, had to make do with just Rs 13.8 lakh, Amar Singh by her side, Mamata to Tatas: stay, but return 400 acres, Bomb circuits failed in Surat, worked during simulation blasts in labs, To save the girl child, the Golden Temple lends its shade.

Here is the Hindustan Times, and it is full of the Beijing Olympics. The headlines were: Bye bye Beijing, see you in London, Young and Fearless yearn for azadi (about the youthfulness of separatists), Mamta takes the battle to the gates of Nano, Mosques lead attack on terror (about how mosques are denouncing terrorism, a Mumbai-based story), and In God’s own country, Singh is toon king (Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to be presented an album of 123 cartoons and caricatures that feature him when he next visits Kerala)/.

Times of India in keeping with the Hindustan Times, The Indian Express and the Assam Tribune, has the Olympics as its main story. The headlines were: Bejing bows out with a big bang, Nano Plant seige begins, latest terror email traced to Khalsa college (in Mumbai), IIT’s to lower bar for SC/ST’s, Indian hacker steals data worth 3 bn pounds, sex by 18 for 50 percent of women in Maharashtra (because of early marriage)

New York Times had the following headlines yesterday: Anxious Party Hopes to Show Strong Obama, In Nuclear Net’s Undoing, a Web of Shadowy Deals (about how the Swiss government had destroyed computer files and other documents concerning the business dealings of a family of Swiss engineers suspected of helping smuggle nuclear technology to Libya and Iran), Blacks Debate Civil Rights Risk in Obama’s Rise, Holding Out, to Last Isle, as Gulf Takes Cajun Land, After Glow of Games, What Next for China (a discussion as to whether a post-Olympic China will “pursue deeper political reform or whether the success of the Games and the muted Western response to repression will convince leaders that their current model is working) and lastly, Drilling Boom Revives Hopes for Natural Gas (American natural gas production is rising).

I rather liked their analysis on the Olympics and China’s future.

(All images are by me, either screen shots or actual pictures)

Related Reading: What was India thinking of on 16th of April 2008 (screen shots of the front pages of some English newspapers)
What India was thinking of on 29th October 2007 (Screen shots of the front pages of English as well as regional language dailes plus some global newspapers)
Is Print readership falling in India?
In defense of the Indian Media
Indian print media in trouble
About fake stings and fraudulent journalism

Note: This is a pre-scheduled post. There will be no post tomorrow as I am not in town. There will be a delay in replying to comments. Do excuse me! Will post day-after-tomorrow (thursday) as usual. Thanks.

31 Comments leave one →
  1. August 26, 2008 10:55 am

    Kashmir is hardly a crises. They are just whiny. The real crises is East India. No water, no power, no electricity, no roads, nothing. I don’t really care what happens to them. Maharaja Ranjit Singh sold off Kashmir to the Dogras for 50,000 Rupees for a reason! They are whiny! People should learn from their history.

    there is a crises in east india no doubt, and not much reported in the rest of india!- nita

  2. August 26, 2008 11:14 am

    One more thing, Why should a newspaper in Assam publish about the mishegoss in Kashmir or for that matter even in Punjab? We have our own fish to fry here. Not interested! The country is far too big to remain focused on local problems of one part of it. I am sure even the Ladakhi’s are not even bothered about Kashmir yet, they will start thinking about it when the Manali road closes in October. This whole thing started over a temple, my solution is simple if people want to visit a temple, let them pay for the entire thing. If they want to defecate on open land and can not afford a hotel, they should stay at home or they should visit some place nearby. Why should the government be involved in a religious matter over land or anything. This is supposed to be a secular country unless of course someone has changed the meaning of the word “secular”. Oh wait, they have here!

    Well, I feel everyone should bother about everyone, but yeah, I guess Assam shouldn’t as no one here seems to care about them! – Nita.

  3. August 26, 2008 11:44 am

    Nita, we are confronting so many different problems in different parts of the country. Everybody finds his or her own problem bigger than the others. Kashmir issue is bothering everybody but then the communal tension in Orissa pops up and that seems bigger.Then there are good news like the medals won in the Olypics and people want to read about them. For people in West Bengal Tata- Mamta showoff is important but Uttrakhand may be the winner in this. For a Jharkhandi Soren is back on their heads once again. How many problems can one face at the same time. As they say Bollywood and cricket are the uniting factors in this country otherwise different states are managing their own problems. The reality show contestants appeal for votes to their own states here. This is how India is operating for the last 61 years and I don’t see any change in the near future.

    that’s a practical way of looking at it! – nita.

  4. August 26, 2008 12:23 pm

    Nice research, Anita. Good to see that Kashmir is not on top in all papers. The ones in Delhi are obsessed with Kashmir, as they always have been, rather disproportionately. I agree with Odzer completely. On correction though, Odzer. Kashmir was sold by the British to Gulab Singh for Rs75 lakhs.

    thanks! lots of work went into this post! – nita.

  5. August 26, 2008 2:58 pm

    Well I don’t think DNA is disappointing; they are doing what they are best at.

    I think the Kashmir issue is being continued for such a long time that the newspapers are getting bored. They would want the readers to focus on some other sensational news as well.

    Beijing Olympics was the biggest ever, it deserves the front page.

    true about dna. where kashmir is concerned the boredom factor has set in I guess. but that’s dangerous i think – nita

  6. August 26, 2008 3:34 pm

    Hey
    Nice post. An occasional exercise of this sort is really useful in providing a sense of perspective.

    Kashmir, as one of your comment-ers has pointed out, is fast becomming an old topic. With the passage of some more time, people will get used to it and completely ignore the issue as something that happens all the time in some forgotten corner. The sad part is that it had seemed over the past one year or so that Kashmir was recoveing from that situation.

    But it’s always fun to see newspapers focus on visuals to headd off challenges from cable news channels🙂

    prasanth

    thanks prashanth – nita.

  7. August 26, 2008 4:28 pm

    when i took hold of the news paper in the morning today it left me sad… not a single good news to ponder upon!😦 it was really sad… i am really thinking of leaving reading newspapers altogehter or else one day i will get a heart attack!!

    i know the comment is off-track, but true for me!😦

    sick of bad news huh. happens to all of us! – nita.

  8. August 26, 2008 4:53 pm

    well a few of the papers seem to have a lot of masala🙂

    belly masala huh!🙂 – nita.

  9. August 26, 2008 6:38 pm

    Well this is what comes of having so many states and so many issues happening at the same time. The papers usually cater to the interests of the majority of readers, unless its like Pakistan declared war on India or the Twin Towers were destroyed type of news.
    Very different post indeed. and innovative too. I was really shocked to see that belly dancers news on NDTV. Totally following Krishna’s footsteps,eh? Taking part in Raaslila!!

    thanks Reema!🙂 – nita

  10. August 26, 2008 6:49 pm

    Hope you are having a good time today out of town. Thanks for the headlines, this kind of foreign news rarely makes the papers in the U.S.

    thanks Brian!🙂 – nita.

  11. August 26, 2008 7:47 pm

    Well, its mostly what interests readers in that region. If you take state level newspapers here in US, the San Jose Mercury news, San francisco chronicle or Kansas city star have news of their local region in the front page and then a dedicated World news column inside the papers. We will have to look at national or international news media to see how they project. But the belly dancers news threw me off!

    some papers are local news, and some are national. its irritating when some newspapers purport to be national but aren’t! – nita.

  12. wishtobeanon permalink
    August 26, 2008 7:58 pm

    Thanks for posting these headlines. On a different note, I think if the Kashmir issue is solved, a major hurdle for India will be removed. It is really unfortunate that so many innocent lives are lost or destroyed due to the politics in Kashmir. Will you be posting an article on Kashmir or have you already done so?

    i haven’t written a post on Kashmir, because the issue is too complex. I am not a political analyst, but simply a layman, rather laywoman. My understanding of politics is also limited but I am trying to improved it. – nita.

  13. August 26, 2008 9:15 pm

    @Sakhi: Looks like newspapers gives you heebiedabajeebies.😀

  14. August 26, 2008 9:15 pm

    typo= newspapers give* you.

  15. August 26, 2008 10:35 pm

    The Kashmir issue has been a never ending issue..
    so probably the newspapers are tired of putting the same thing again and again..
    and moreover when something has been happing daily. it woould seem too much monotonous for them to write about it daily …

    neverending! but this one is a dangerous situation, created by our politicians ofcourse! – nita.

  16. August 27, 2008 12:25 am

    Interesting nita. I used to informal comparisons between CNN and BBC. CNN’s “headlines” used to be sensationalistic in a contrived way (“Brittany in Rehab” in 48 point size – and yes CNN does keep us up-to-date on Brittany Spears, Paris Hilton🙂 ). BBC is much better

    Arun

    I enjoyed CNN.😉 unfortunately we don’t get it now on our cable. – nita.

  17. August 27, 2008 12:44 am

    You made a basic assumption that our newspaper represent real India and they not worrying about something doe snot means it is not being cared , all it means is that newspaper viewership is dropping so time to change topic.
    Our Newspaper are in the business of making news not reporting issues.

    that’s nicely put, “business of making news not reporting issues”! – nita

  18. August 27, 2008 3:52 am

    That is an exellent overview, Nita!
    I guess it is not only typical for India… I find Austrian media also rather funny in there headlines and what news they consider important. Media is a strange animal…

    the strange animals are driven by commercial interests! – nita.

  19. August 27, 2008 9:22 am

    @ Reema

    LOL Raslila, hun?🙂

    @ Anshul
    🙂🙂 yeah they do… (i really didnt understand the word’s exact meaning, though!)

  20. priyanka permalink
    August 27, 2008 9:23 am

    Nita,

    It’s sad that at a time when the pro-Muslim sentiments and the anti- Hindu sentiments are echoing in the valley, the Kashmir issue isn’t getting as much weightage in some of the newspapers as it deserves. The above pictures draw attention to media’s growing hunger for sensational news than news of national importance.

    I think that is a very good observation Priyanka. I agree, this kashmir issue has deep implications for the unity of India. – nita.

  21. August 27, 2008 9:26 am

    Wow..what an analysis! Each newspaper has chosen a burning issue of its own state!! It is always interesting to dissect media!🙂

    thanks🙂 – nita.

  22. August 27, 2008 9:28 am

    BTW..I am back after a hectic schedule at work and good to see that you have changed the look and feel of your blog. I always like the custom header photos you choose to represent India🙂

    good you liked the look. this kind of feedback is important. – nita.

  23. August 27, 2008 9:38 am

    Brilliant, I say!
    Your research always leaves me with a bit of a complex!!😀
    Kashmir issue is something that won’t be resolved so easily… oh, and by the way, Asian Age is no longer present in Bangalore… It’s been taken over by Deccan Chronicle🙂

    thanks Nikhil.🙂 – nita.

  24. August 27, 2008 2:14 pm

    well first thing is that this is not only a kashmir issue it is an issue of the state of jnk which include both jammu and ladakh which have been routinely getting step child treatment from the spearatist dominated jnk assembly
    this is a complex issue no doubt but neither the local english or the international press even focus on the other regions – it is mostly a tiny fraction of the state – the valley that is in their focus- the biased bbc reporting was ludicrous – i dont think cnn was different.

    true, there is a bias in the reporting, but not everytime. – nita.

  25. wishtobeanon permalink
    August 27, 2008 8:02 pm

    Hi Nita, I was not referring to the political analysis of Kashmir, but rather the injustice thats happening to the innocent people there. I came upon this blog by a Kashmiri blogger –

    http://2virginz.blogspot.com/2008/08/kashmir-burns-blogging-live-from-war.html – the posts are rather touching.

    the comment had got caught by the spam filter…will check out that link! thanks. – Nita.

  26. August 28, 2008 12:47 am

    here is a counter argument link
    http://thekashmir.wordpress.com/

  27. August 28, 2008 2:39 am

    Everybody wants to whine and only whine. Everybody also wants to grab a headline.
    I don’t see where India is headed unless some new political leadership emerges with a new mantra of oneness.

    Muslims complain of underrepresentation and repression. Hindus complain about appeasement of Muslims. Lower castes complain about age old repression on higher casts. Telanagana complains about Andhra. Maharasthrans complain about Biharis and Vice versa. Poor complain on rich.
    In all the above cases, i don’t see one worth his/her salt having larger/national outlook. Everybody wants to make a political space for thmselves and raise a problem that is latent and is largely unnoticable just for personal and political gains.

    Geetha or Quran doesn’t provide food. As long as people kill each other in the name religion, region, caste, language etc we will continue to langusih and plunder our own growth.

    –sri

  28. August 28, 2008 11:26 am

    Agree with Sri above.

    Also read the link by wishtobeanon. It’s good to hear what an ordinary citizen in Kashmir feels. Army has been checked for human rights violation in the past and it’s easy to believe what he is saying…I feel sad for Kashmir and all Kashmiris.

    North East gets step treatment there is no doubt. I remember the students from North East who had strong accents and were called chinkies (in Delhi Univ) and once when one of them mentioned how some state in NE never wanted to be a part of India, most of us had never heard of it before, no news papers talked about it (or if they did we hadn’t bothered reading). We were ignorant and indifferent. Years later, when the shocking news of Manorama rape by Army made the head lines, was the first time I realised how terrible it must be to be ignored by the media. (http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0719-03.htm) I am still ignorant, but no longer INDIFFERENT to North East or Kashmir. I think these and not the Olympics should have made the headlines.
    We need to be better informed.
    Media must take the responsibility of informing and reporting …

  29. August 28, 2008 12:20 pm

    Sri, at times I wonder about human beings…why they want to kill their own kind in the first place. Maybe it’s overcrowding, but I think humans always did it! I always wonder what newspapers will report though if killing another human by another human is somehow made impossible! If you know Asimov’s laws of robotics you know that a robot was not allowed to harm humans, well, I wish we could re-wire humans to be that way!

    Indianhomemaker, we are a country so deeply divided aren’t we and that is what strikes one if one looks at the newspapers. Everyone concerned with their own selves. It’s a pity we know so little about the north-east, and one sees hardly any news about it here. About the Dibang dam for example, I think this should have been reported widely in the media.

  30. August 28, 2008 6:22 pm

    nice media analysis..
    and it proves that each part of India is interested in its own back yard and nothing more than that🙂
    it’s a pity that IPL was not happening nor were Ash and Abhishek announcing a baby, otherwise you would have found your all India headlines….
    A bunch of protesters in Kashmir – why is it more important than 1.8 million made homeless in Bihar, or MNS getting the boards redone in devnagiri🙂

    i don’t think that it is about India being divided — it isn’t. It is more that the local or the ‘perception of local’ making more sense in terms of news than someone else’s local. And, it is also upto the newpaper’s own agenda, and what it perceives to be important and in the ‘audience interest’.

    did you know that there is a massive hunger strike in Sikkim against the construction of multiple dams – i didn’t until i read this blog !
    http://weepingsikkim.blogspot.com/

    someone is protesting in a non violent manner and MSM does not even pick it up.

  31. gypsy permalink
    April 28, 2010 8:54 pm

    You guys need not worry about Kashmir, Assam, Bengal, Arunachal pradesh etc coz most of its parts are now in control of China and Pakistan(China is building Highways there). India always says it has won wars with pakistan but geographically we Indians lost lands to them. I dont understand why? Try to locate where the place “Kargil” is?, in genuine International maps (not that supplied in India). if you find the right one you will see how far the enemy has advanced invardly and where this Jammu and Kashmir is??! The government can’t do anything about China. the military is being harassed everyday everywhere across borders. Now the Chinese is even building a base in Srilanka by supporting Lankan Government against LTTE(it will be like fire in the Ass!). So from this we must understand that the Indian Government has found a way to forget about the problems by letting other countries manage their everything, which is a tradition India has done for Centuries (i.e, letting others fu*K). The goverment has starved the Poor Airforce, that the MIG’s starts falling down immediately after taking off. One day Chinese gonna advance further and take the girls for their soldiers pleasure. Still the Indians say, WELCOME– We mean peace, we won’t be the first one firing nuclear arsenal!! thatz the Greatness of India. Hum honge Kamyab- Ek Din!!!

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