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What India was thinking about yesterday, the fourth of May

May 5, 2009

The Elections and the IPL has been dominating the news for awhile, but the pre-election coverage by the media hasn’t been exciting. The politicians are simply using the media to put forward their agenda and add their two paise bit. Even the analysis about why Mumbai voters did not come out to vote has been lacklustre mostly…apathy they said, and lack of good candidates. Well, this was always the case and it wasn’t going to change overnight. I still feel that more young educated people came out to vote this time in Mumbai, in much larger numbers than in earlier times. However, there has been a marked decrease in Muslims in Mumbai voting this time, said to be due to their disillusionment with the Congress. Apparently during the last Lok Sabha elections there was a very good response from this community as they wanted to overthrow the BJP.

I thought it would be a good exercise to take a look at what the India was talking about currently and here are samples from English newspapers from across the country. It was interesting to see how different the newspapers were in their content, although the turmoil in Nepal dominated the news a fair bit.

Here is what Kolkata’s English daily had to say:

Several newspapers have been reporting that the Congress party is worried that they will not make it to the centre this time. As for the Shah Rukh story, it isn’t even a story. It’s a nonsensical piece of news, not worthy of being on the front page of any non-tabloid newspaper.

Deccan Herald, a Bangalore newspaper, talked about Nepal too. The other bit of news was about a doctor’s strike, a ragging incident, and at the bottom of the page there was something about an uncle beating up a lover. Stuff of the tabloids. On the extreme right there is some mention of the government stockpiling the antitode to the swine flu virus, Tamiflu. Maybe the real news is inside the newspaper…

Another southern newspaper, the Hindu, also talks about the events in Nepal, and the other news is serious as well. There was more news about the Sri Lanka conflict in this newspaper. In fact it was disturbing to read about an army convoy being attacked by pro-LTTE militants because they thought the convoy was carrying arms to give to the Sri Lankan government. Paranoia, because it turned out to be wrong.

Delhi’s Hindustan Times seems to be on an entirely different tack with some news story about India leasing land in Africa. There is news about an imminent blackout (well, the headline is alarmist) and no swine flu in Delhi they say. The news about Nepal is less prominent.

The Assam tribune has some news pertaining to Dhaka. Border security is an important issue here.

DNA has written something that everyone already knows about. About the Congress Central Bureau of Investigation. This has been coming in all the newspapers of late, that the UPA government uses the CBI to either stall or expedite a criminal case against a politician depending on how badly they want her/him. This is an open secret. And I think the next government, whether it’s the UPA or not, will do the same. The CBI has little credibility today when it comes to investigating politicians or for that matter any powerful personality.

And here is the Kashmir Times, naturally focused on the border security situation and ofcourse the tensions due to the separatists’ call to boycott elections. Amazing that the people came out to vote despite the threats from the terrorists.

I liked the editorial in the Kashmir Times. It said:

Resurrecting peace process
It should not remain hostage to terrorism and
political convenience of the ruling elite

The political elite both in India and Pakistan must understand that the present tension between the two neighbouring countries is not in the interest of their people suffering from the growing terrorist menace on the one hand and the lack of mutual trust on the other. The prolonged conflict has only served the cause of anti-democratic forces and fundamentalists in the two countries…

Here are the two widely read daily English newspapers of India, the Times and the Express…the Times of late has been harping a lot on the Swiss bank money parked there by the Indian criminal class, and in fact is quoting various political parties vying with each other to promise the electorate that they will expose the criminals. No one believes that this will actually happen. Unless the banks which accept money from criminals release their names. I think this needs to happen because developing countries suffer the most as corrupt politicians siphon away public funds.  There is no point in World Bank giving donations to poor countries, they should instead apply pressure to stop politician criminals from stashing away their loot in safe havens. Possessing stolen property is a crime, unless ofcourse it’s some fancy bank in Switzerland. Talk of double standards.

The news item at the bottom of the newspaper is about the increasing competition amongst various coaching classes in Mumbai.

The Indian Express has highlighted the same same news item as the DNA. Yawn…

There is an interesting news item about how journalists in Sri Lanka are being persecuted. This is really sad…one doesn’t know what exactly is happening in Sri Lanka, and according to this article it’s not just the Sri Lankan government which threatens journalists. The LTTE does it as well.

Related Reading:  What India was thinking on 29th of October 20007
What India was thinking about on the 16th of April 2008
What India was thinking about on the 25th of August 2008

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2009 8:57 am

    Thanks for another very comprehensive post, Nita.

    It is interesting to see the difference in news coverage across different papers.

    Funny to see how Swine flu is getting so much coverage in India when there are hardly any cases in the entire country. For that matter, even in the US the media is creating so much paranoia when there are just (relatively) a handful of cases yet.

    Thanks AD. And your observation about swine flu is something I agree with! There are no cases here so far. There is a lot of hype about it, and I have my doubts that the virus can survive the scorching heat of India! 🙂 – Nita.

    • May 5, 2009 4:53 pm


      Flu spreads in winters because the interiors of homes are dry and warm. So alas, India, especially with its cheek-by-jowl population, will provide perfect ground for the swine flu to spread rapidly person-to-person (which is the variety that is scaring the public health folk right now), should it come to pass. :-/ We are not very good with contagion.

  2. sraboneyghose permalink
    May 5, 2009 9:01 am

    You can’t blame ‘serious’ newspapers for turning tabloidy (I don’t know if there is such a word) – it is what readers want…Ultimately, a newspaper is a product that needs to sell… For voters to vote, they need to educate themselves about politics, India’s problems etc. which most (esp. the under 35’s) don’t…I don’t think many in this age group look at newspapers in a serious way – if they do read at all, they read the supplements…They are more interested in gossip and fashion…

    About Shah Rukh Khan not being a story – well, you don’t know the psyche of Bengalis…Anything to do with cricket and Ganguly is big news and therefore his story is news…As I said, newspapers are products and cater to readers’ interests…

    sraboneyghose, I agree with every word you said! 🙂 – Nita.

  3. sraboneyghose permalink
    May 5, 2009 9:04 am

    P.S. Voters need to reflect and analyse…Unfortunately, this is not happening because most esp. the young have a myopic view of life…

  4. May 5, 2009 11:23 am


    Most interesting to me is the absence of coverage about the slow disintegration of Pakistan, right next door.

    And refreshingly absent is IPL-mania. Don’t get me wrong, I like cricket. It is the Premier League that bothers me for I see what it has done to football in Europe. It is not cricket, as they say.

    Shefaly, there is coverage of Pak but not on the front pages. I think it’s something to do with the fact that our audience is not so interested! – Nita.

    • Vivek Khadpekar permalink
      May 5, 2009 12:49 pm


      For the Indian media to cover “the slow disintegration of Pakistan” would be dicey business. Many otherwise sober Indians (and they do not constitute a majority) cannot conceal a gloating smirk about our neighbour’s misfortunes. The media are no exception. I think the few voices of moderation and reason that occasionally appear on the ed and op-ed pages of the more respectable newspapers are adequate. Anything more than that would amount to fishing in troubled waters — and in poor taste.

  5. May 5, 2009 12:13 pm

    “Resurrecting peace process- It should not remain hostage to terrorism and political convenience of the ruling elite.”I was also strucked by the line of kashmir editorial.It is truth unbiased of any nationalistic or regional feeling.
    The absence of news about civil war like situation in Pak from our newspaper is disheartening. When the whole world is scanning the internal situation of Pak closely,our news media is in whole other mood.

    yayaver, the news is there, just not on the front pages. But overall yeah, our media is not that concerned with Pakistan and this reflects the interest of the readers. In a way I think it’s good. Very unlike their attitude towards India. – Nita.

  6. May 5, 2009 1:40 pm

    Just wanted to ask why u chose yesterday’s day (4-May) for this newspaper analysis. Any specific reason or just randomly.

    • May 5, 2009 4:28 pm

      Vivek M, it’s purely a random thing as you might notice from the dates I have chosen earlier for this kind of post. I had initially planned to do these posts every three months but it somehow never works out that way. It’s a little time consuming as not only do I have to read all the articles on the front page of the newspapers (or at least skim through them) but also download the online pics or take pics. Often I have stitch photos together. May fourth has no significance as a date as far as I know.

  7. May 5, 2009 2:35 pm

    I am not reading the papers…when I do , I respond and then it all finally will come to a blog post and there why bother? I believe that if I do enough to find out , I need to do something about it..

    Vishesh, that’s good then! And you are still very young. Lotsa time! 🙂 – Nita

  8. May 5, 2009 2:47 pm

    If the Maoists in Nepal return back to their forests, you will have a lot of interesting times in India as well. The elections in India are important but what happens next in Kathmandu will have a huge impact on at least a quarter of India that revolves one way or the other around the Maoist rebels.

    odzer, yeah I guess that is why both India and China are busy meddling! – Nita.

  9. May 5, 2009 4:45 pm

    A very comprehensive post Nita. You haven’t covered the business news 🙂 , the upward movement of the Sensex was one of the biggest news yesterday.

    thanks Prerna, but usually I do just the front pages. Kind of want to show what is important to people/media/nation on that particular day. If there was a business crises I think some business news would have appeared as a story on the front page. – Nita.

  10. May 5, 2009 5:32 pm

    Thanks to the entire world being connected via alarmist news … we are prone to the modern day ailment : alarmist paronia

  11. May 5, 2009 10:36 pm

    I’m wondering if the Indian cricketers participating in the IPL tournament got to vote or not.

  12. May 5, 2009 10:38 pm

    Nita, it’d be interesting if you also threw in the headlines from the Hindi and Marathi language newspapers.

    • May 5, 2009 10:44 pm

      Amit I wanted to do that, but unfortunately when something went wrong with my pc and after they finished repairing it I found I was unable to view the fonts. I don’t want to call the pc guys again right now as if I do they will mess up something else! But when I go for an upgrade I’m going to ensure that I get all the stuff.

  13. Dev permalink
    May 6, 2009 4:02 am

    Thanks for this post Nita. It’s incredible the way you put so much effort for such posts.

  14. May 6, 2009 4:12 am

    Nita, a more widely read Kashmir newspaper would be Greater Kashmir. As for the absence of the coverage of the Pakistan situation in Indian newspapers, I think a lot has to do with the fact that there simply arent many Indian journalists in Pakistan.

  15. May 6, 2009 10:53 am

    Ditto Dev above: incredible how much effort you put in these posts!

  16. May 6, 2009 5:48 pm

    good post…! you work hard on your posts.

    its apparent


  17. May 6, 2009 7:39 pm

    very insightful article… thanks..

  18. May 7, 2009 2:49 am

    I usually read the Times of India on the internet at times, but I miss the ritual of reading an actual news paper in the morning. 🙂
    I think you should make this post a weekly feature.

  19. May 8, 2009 6:43 pm

    Your reply to Shefaly is true…I think people are uninterested in Pak news as they feel “it serves them right”. So they couldn’t care less about Taliban occupying Pakistan.

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