Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Goodbye, Hindu

Though we buy The Hindu out of habit (there aren't many English-language options in Chennai), I long ago stopped giving it more than a cursory read. In particular, I gave yesterday's issue a miss. But today, while blogsurfing, I came across yesterday's editorial -- easily the most jaw-dropping ever in a sordid history of craven red-boot-licking editorials by N. Ram.

You may have read about recent events at Nandigram. You may have heard that local farmers were protesting the appropriation of their land for a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). You may have heard that the recent violence was perpetrated by armed CPI-M cadres, who kept out media, activists and even the CRPF for days until their operation was complete.


According to Ram, the Left Front is appealing for peace, it is the Maoists (who remain elusive, even according to the West Bengal Home Secretary) who are behind the violence, and it is "peasant families owing allegiance to the Left Front" who have been driven out at gunpoint. The CRPF was brought in at the state government's request; presumably they were also promptly deployed (Ram does not say). Governor Gopal Gandhi, who criticised the CPI-M government, overstepped his limits.

Well, N. Ram is welcome to his alternate reality, but there is no reason why I should (literally) subscribe to it. He does not need my money; he has ample other sources.


Space Bar said...

that was one of the most shocking editorials i have read in recent times...by the way, Kafila has been following nandigram rather closely - have you read their stuff?

Szerelem said...

Wow. Just wow.

I remember when we used to Hindu because it provided substance as compared to the other dailies. (And of course in Kerala the TOI would be available one day late.)

Rahul said...

space bar - thanks for the pointer to Kafila. I have seen a couple of articles there earlier but haven't been following the Nandigram coverage.

szerelem -- TOI is a dreadful paper (it was better in the 1980s) but I'd prefer it to The Hindu, I think. It hasn't yet entered Chennai. We have switched to Deccan Chronicle for now, let's see how long we stick with that. I'll forgive them low standards if they lack Ram's holier-than-thou-ness.

km said...

Maybe it was just a satirical piece?

*remove tongue from cheek*

Rahul said...

A sense of humour? Wrong Marx.

Tabula Rasa said...

i love it when you elaborate on your allusions with links to wikipedia :-D

Gautam said...

I couldn't agree more with you. Also, if you look at the letters to the editor which have been appearing on this issue in the Hindu over the past few days, the tone of virtually all of them is either supportive of the CPM line, or at best, neutral. Any informal poll in the neighbourhood would indicate that the majority of people don't take this point of view. I suspect that is Hindu's editorial bias creeping in again, in a more insidious form.

Rahul said...

Out of morbid curiosity I had a look at the letters. Most certainly they have been cherrypicked (and possibly planted). The CPI-M is not that popular in Tamil Nadu.

It takes a certain chutzpah for Ram to claim that the CRPF was there at the government's request, when every other media source has been reporting that the CRPF was prevented from entering the district.

But what the CPI-M did is classical communist behaviour, in the Stalin mode, and the Hindu under Ram is their Pravda.

Anonymous said...

I live very close to nadigram (within 50 km); I am no CPM supporter. However there are few facts that are difficult to understand if you are away and only read it in news papers. To list a few:
1. it is really TRUE that after initial rumour of land grabbing TMC-Naxal-BUPC people made many CPM supporters home-. Really this is true; our village primary school was closed for 4 months. Some of their properties were looted too.
2.Rape claims: Many of them are true but not all of them
3.when cpm reoccupied same thing happened, people became homeless, same rape claims and so on...
But people who lost their lives, who cares about their family? to me it seems their tragedy has also become sublect of politics....shame!

Rahul said...

anonymous -- yes it is true that CPI(M)-supporting families were forced out of Nandigram earlier. But what was the state government doing about it? Where were the police? Why did they eventually resort to armed goons, and keep the police out physically while the goons did their job?

I think every aspect of this episode reflects very poorly on the CPI(M).

I think it is a "subject of politics" only to the extent that a particular political party is involved. Of course Mamta, NDA, etc are trying to exploit the situation. That's always going to happen. But one expects India's self-proclaimed "national newspaper" to be objective about it. Other media seem to be doing a fair job of reporting.