Monday, August 16, 2004

Sloppy reporting

The big worldwide news bureaus never cease to amaze with their lack of plain old competence. The same goes for some of the big time sheets of the US - and the biggest ones of them all - Wash.Post and NYT. There is a book waiting to be wtitten about the bloopers, biases, howlers etc. of these 'venerable institutions" when it comes to their reporting on India. Fat budgets, lavish expense accounts, training from the finest schools and now employing desis have all failed to make much of a difference.

Let's take yesterday's August 15 '04 atrocities in Assam and JK thanks to some "liberators" and "freedom fighters"

Associated Press has Ashok Sharma reporting on the Assam outrage where around 20 twenty people (lots of children) were dynamited while they were at school participating in the I-Day festivities. AP starts off by saying who it thinks committed this tragic(?) deed - you won't believe it - It turned out to be a time bomb! When it is pretty apparent that this atrocity is the handiwork of one of those many "liberation" outfits in the Northeast that have made this beautiful part of India into a charnel house, the AP is trying to be balanced! And Sharma and AP tell us that Dhemji in Assam where this foul deed occured is 1015 miles Northeast of New Delhi! Who is running the desk at AP? Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review rightly commented that 9/11 isn't a tragedy. Those 1000s weren't swallowed up by an earthquake or washed away by a tidal wave. They were incinerated in a calculated act of extreme violence.

They was a blooper by Rama Lakshmi of the Wash.Post who reports that that ULFA is one of the "....groups battling.....in the country's Northeastern Himalayan region"! Sure the Himalayas do stretch all the way to India's Eastern borders in Arunachal Pradesh. But that is way-way far away from Dhemji, Assam. WP desk folks need a lot of supervision maybe.

Contrast that with the editorial in the Hindustan Times. I wonder why more people can't read Indian newspapers to learn what is going on in India. The press is riotously vibrant and free and has a vast spectrum of opinion on offer. For those not familiar with the regional languages of India reading can be a little limited - as that's where the real reportage is to be found.

Christine Amanpour when she reported on St.Theresa's funeral service in Calcutta years ago was going around asking politicians and bureacrats on live TV how such a large public Christian religious service could be organised in a (rigidly or some such thing) Hindu country. I do not remember what she said exactly but I know I am not way off the mark. Jaws dropped! Now does she know that Dr. WC Mukherjee (a Protestant) and Fr.Jerome D'Souza SJ were members of India's Constituent Asssembly and piloted the move to abolish communal electrates. HAs she heard of Brig.Thomas Thiagaraj the tanker who screamed karo-ya-maro at Khem Karan in 1965 when the Indian Army launched a counterattack at Pakistani positions? Or about Adm. OS Dawson; Adm.G(eorge) Sushil Kumar? How many know among the fighting men of the Indian Army MMG does not just stand for medium machine gun. It also stands for Mandir-Masjid-Girja-Gurdwara. Temple-Mosque-Church-Gurdwara.

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