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Exclusive: Senior journalist Padampati Sharma reveals truth behind stings, paid media

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By Nishtha and Ishan Kukreti

Senior sports journalist Padampati Sharma started his career in the 1970s. Having worked with media organizations such as Hindi Daily Aaj, Dainik Jagran, Amar Ujala, Hindustan, News Nation among others, Sharma, is a known face in the world of Hindi journalism. In an exclusive interview with NewsGram, Sharma talks about his career, sting operations, rotten journalism and how the profession has deteriorated in the last three decades. Excerpts from the interview:

Tell us about your journey in the field of Sports Journalism, and what impelled you to join it.

Padampati Sharma: When I came into this profession, the situation of sports journalism in India was in a bad state. We didn’t have even one permanent sub-editor, let alone country heads. I had studied English and that had ignited a passion in me. I was well aware of people like K.N Prabhu and M.S Ramaswamy and understood what they wrote. I wanted to be like them, but lack of means served as an impediment.  But I did not let that deter me.

I used to listen to Australia Broadcasting Corporation’s commentary at 4 in the morning, and by the lunchtime, I would be ready with a story based on a detailed critical analysis of the radio commentary. Gradually, it began receiving heavy readership and by 1978 I had become the first Hindi Sports Journalist to have covered Cricket spontaneously.

How did you manage to introduce spontaneous coverage of matches?

PS: Earlier, match updates were sent through Telegram, which was a delayed means of communication. People were unaware about Telex (a telecommunications programme) through which immediate coverage was possible. When I was sent to Pakistan, I was told to relax and write the story late at night, after which they’d edit and modify it the next day. But I had a plan in mind. I used Telex to send my story in Roman and it came out at 4:30 PM on the same day.

How did the Editors react to this essential development that you brought about in terms of coverage?

PS: The General Manager saw the story and ran to show it to our boss. Impressed, our boss gave the peon Rs 100 to offer ‘bhog’ at the nearby Bada Ganesha temple. Later, sweets were distributed in the entire office. Next morning, the front page of the newspaper (Hindi Daily Aaj) was seen carrying a byline in the name of special correspondent Padampati Sharma from Faisalabad, and the next line read in brackets, “Today’s special Telex service.”

There was no turning back after that. Day in and day out, detailed coverage and analyses of matches were sent. Taxis would be called at 5:30 in the morning to send newspapers. But no one complained. People were receiving updates of matches that would get over at 4:30 AM (India time), the same day around 7:30 AM. They were happy.

You have levied strong allegations against your former employer, News Nation and another company called, Oxxy International. Can you explain the matter?

PS: Sting operations were conducted on diagnostic centres and labs in July by News Nation. While footage of about 12 to 14 centres was shot, only seven centres were shown on air. On December 18, a girl named Sheetal Kapoor, representative of Oxxy International approached the director of a diagnostic centre and claimed that there is a second part of the sting. She further added that she can get rid of the footage, if the director pays her Rs 36 lakhs. Through this money, the diagnostic centre will receive positive marketing and publicity. But this money will be valid only for six months and this same agreement will be renewed after that. She stressed on the fact that after taking their commission, the company will send the rest of the money to the top management of the news channel.

The police with the help of the doctor laid down a trap for her. On December 23, Sheetal Kapoor visited the diagnostic centre and the doctor gave her a cheque for Rs 6 lakhs. While she was filling the details of the company on the cheque, the police conducted a raid and detained her.

After an FIR was lodged against her, she named three people who were conducting the sting – one person was from a different news channel and the other two were from News Nation.

After her bail plea was rejected by the court, in the second week of January, Hindustan Times and Navbharat Times had published the news about the money extortion and the police’s role.

The case has now been transferred to the crime branch. But neither Sheetal of Oxxy International nor the news channel have been implicated till now.

You have been a journalist for more than three decades now, how do you think journalism as a profession has evolved since the time of independence?

PS: The truth is that currently journalism is at its lowest surface. When I had joined the profession in the late 1970s, it was different. The editors were respected and respectful. The editors used to be like teachers and used to groom the journalists.

To be honest,  paid media started developing around the time of India’s independence. Despite being a democratic country, we were following economic policies based on the Soviet pattern. The media was also included in this category. Newspapers who had helped in the freedom struggle were given land by the government to set up their business for nominal rates. The media houses located on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg (New Delhi) have got their lands in the similar manner.

The government has never spoken against the newspaper lobby. Instead, they have given them advertisements, supplements, land for use and newspaper import license among others.

The government has turned a blind eye towards these issues as long as the media does not question their moves. I had joined News Nation on the insistence of Shailesh Kumar (former editor-in-chief and CEO of News Nation) but I was not aware that even he will be asked to leave. My contract was not renewed and several others were asked to leave. But that day, I realized that the news channels are working for money and the TRPs. The ethics of this profession are lost.

Are you aware if any other news channels are indulging in stings and extortion? What can be done to prevent such unethical practices in journalism?

PS: Government intervention is needed at the earliest. I have been informed that these sort of incidents have been taking place in several other news channels. I have heard about money laundering, but this systematic way of obtaining money is shocking.

Journalism is dying. Earlier, we had editors but now we have managers who work on the orders of the owner. There are editors who speak against corruption on news channels while they have themselves indulged in corrupt practices.

Earlier, when stings were conducted to inform people about the corrupt practices in the country. But do you think these stings are motivated for high viewership and the channel’s own vested interests?

PS: I agree that stings should be done in the interest of the country and its people. But the stings today are being conducted for the interest of the news channels. I ask, why stings are being conducted on furniture market or on Snapdeal?

There are such cases where promos are being shown for two days and then those shows are never telecasted. This has been happening repeatedly.

‘Kala Akshaar’, a sting on fake university degrees was never broadcasted. Around 13 universities were involved in the sting. There is an industry for fake degrees where you can purchase a BTech degree for Rs 1.80 lakhs and an MBBS degree for Rs 15-18 lakhs. Eventually, the sting was axed. I am not alleging that money was involved, but I want to know why the sting never made it to television?

Journalism is supposed to be the fourth estate but in India, journalism is turning out to be the weakest profession. I am still hopeful that things will change. I want to see the corruption being wiped out from the media. Either the government steps up or a crusader in the form of an NGO or a journalist tries to make a difference.

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Journalist Gauri Lankesh Shot Dead ; Protests Organized Across the State as Karnataka Comes to a Standstill

Senior Kannada tabloid Editor and social activist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead on Tuesday night by unidentified men at her residence.

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National and international media clike, condemn the murder of Gauri Lankesh, a senior journalist and a fearless critic of right wing politics. Wikimedia
  • Reputed journalist, editor and activist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead on September 5 by three unidentified men outside her house
  • Lankesh was an editor of popular Kannada tabloid “Lankesh Patrike”
  • Protests have erupted in various cities in Kerala following Gauri Lankesh’s murder

Karnataka, September 6, 2017 : Protests erupted across Karnataka on Wednesday morning condemning the dastardly killing of senior Kannada journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead at her residence here on Tuesday night by three unidentified men.

Journalists, activists, writers, thinkers and women organisations were seen among the crowds that gathered in the city and across the state condemning the killing of the journalist.

People were seen gathered at the Town Hall here for a silent protest, holding placards. “You can kill a person but not their ideas,” read one placard.

Silent demonstration was also staged by journalist groups at the Victoria Hospital grounds, where the autopsy is being done.

Across the state, protests were witnessed in Mangaluru, Kalaburagi, Dharwad, Koppal among other regions, where citizens took to the streets.

Journalists in Mysuru, wearing black ribbons around their shoulders, also held a protest in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s Office.

Massive protests have also been planned across the country in various cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad among others.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has also cancelled all his official programmes on Wednesday.

“CM has cancelled all engagements, including a day-long trip to Kerala in view of the developments since Tuesday night,” said an official from the Chief Minister’s Office.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi also expressed shock and distress over the murder on Wednesday, saying “this can’t and should not be tolerated”.

Accusing the BJP of silencing dissent, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said it was a part of their ideology. “Anyone who speaks against BJP is silenced…” Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday.

Gauri Lankesh, 55, was shot dead by three unidentified men who had shot her when she returned home from her office in the city.

Lankesh was an editor of popular Kannada tabloid “Lankesh Patrike”.

In November 2016, Gauri Lankesh was sentenced to six months in jail after a defamation case was filed against her for a report against Bharatiya Janata Party leaders. She was out on bail pending an appeal. (IANS)

 

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Mohammad Iqbal: The Man Behind Partition and a Pariah in India is Still Sung by Secularists

Iqbal is a pariah in India as many regard him a hypocrite, communal Islamist

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Allama muhammad iqbal at Lahore Museum. Wikimedia

Aug 22, 2017: Indian history has been crafted by the leftists who have done nothing more than distorting the facts to put unfit personalities as honourable. One such person which some great minds in India honour are Mohammad Iqbal, the man behind “Pakistan” who held the idea more of a secular symbol. Even in the past, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee praised him to drum up Muslim votes. However, Iqbal is also a pariah in India as many regard him a hypocrite, communal Islamist.

What many secularists till date fight for is the lack of respect for Iqbal. According to them, the song should have been the national anthem of India.  However, it wasn’t made the song of the nation owing to its Muslim author.

Tarek Fatah, a well-known journalist expressed his views on social media:

He went on by exposing the dark reality behind the nationwide popular song- ‘Sare Jahan se acha’

Now, if we look into our history books we will be able to spot Iqbal for the patriotic song he wrote- ‘Sare Jahan se acha, Hindustan Humara’.

The song became the anthem of the opposition to British India. ‘Tarana-e-Hind’  (song of Hindustan) became the catchy phrase at that time. The under mentioned line became the new sensation as it carried the sentiments graciously.

“Mazhab nahin sikhata apas mein bair rakhna, Hindi hain hum, watan hain Hindustan hamara”

(Religion does not teach us to hate each other, we belong to Hind, our nativeland is Hindustan)

In no time, Iqbal underwent into an outright transformation after his return from England. The man who discerned Hindustan as an amalgamation of Hindu-Muslim, returned as an Islamic philosopher only to become Pakistan’s progenitor. Sooner he became intolerant of Hindus and wrote Taran-e-mili (song of community), which was the negation of the taran-e-hind he wrote formerly.

From Hindustan humara to Chin o Arab hamaara, this is how Iqbal demonstrated multi-faceted character:

“Chin o Arab hamaara, Hindustan hamaara, Muslim hain hum, watan hain sara jahaan hamaara”

(China and Arabia are ours, Hindustan is ours, we are Muslims, the whole world is our nativeland).

Our history books have entirely omitted the fact where Iqbal proposed the two-nation theory, which ultimately led to the partition of Indian subcontinent and plethora of lives suffered. He is even called the father of the nation (Pakistan).

Iqbal addressed Allahabad session of the Muslim League in December 1930 as president of the session:

“I would like to see Punjab, the North Western Frontier Provinces (NWFP), Sind and Balochistan amalgamated into a single state. Self-government within the British Empire, or without the British empire, through the formation of a consolidated North Western Indian Muslim state, appears to be the final destiny of Muslims, at least of North West India”.

He dreamt of Muslims emerging as a Global Power, rising above the political and geographical constraints. The dream of Iqbal is still lived in Pakistan.

This surfaces the question that how can a person with such dogmatic outlook be ever called great? and How can the person because of which the nation witnessed massive bloodshed be ever called great? 

 


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

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Islamic Custom ‘Nikah Halala’ Practices Sexual and Financial Exploitation of Women

Nikah Halala is the practice imposed on the woman of marrying another man for a night

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Muslim Women are exploited through Islamic custom called Nikah Halala. Wikimedia
  • Another Islamic custom called Nikah Halala has come under criticism in the media
  • The custom is said to practice financial and sexual exploitation of women
  • Through Nikah Halala, a woman can remarry her ex-husband after marrying another man and spending a night with him 

August 20, 2017: At a time when the customary practices of Islam are questioned worldwide and triple talaq is a contentious issue in the country, another Islamic custom, called Nikah Halala, has made it to the spotlights from the media.

It was a sting operation done by India Today that revealed to the country this shocking practice in the Islamic world. Divorced women are taken advantage of in return for Nikah Halala, the tradition which lets a woman remarry her husband.

Also Read: Christianity and Islam don’t have room for a discourse. Hindus must Stop Pleasing their former Christian or Muslim masters, says Maria Wirth

The Islamic scholars and maulanas extort money from the divorced women.

It should be noted that Nikah Halala does not feature anywhere in the Shariah or the Quran. These are constructions of religious leaders to benefit themselves by fooling innocent people.

This is what the Maulanas preach as Nikah Halala.

In order for a divorced woman to marry her ex-husband again, she has to marry another man, spend one night with him, then divorce him the next day. This will “allow” the divorced woman to remarry.

Nikah Halala, hence, is the practice imposed on the woman of marrying another man for a night. Why this practice is absolutely derogatory and absurd is thus obvious. This idea coming from the religious scholars and maulanas who have all the power to influence people in masses is dangerous to the well-being of the Islamic community.

These maualans have distorted what Islam says about divorce. The period of Iddah which is the phase of man and woman living separately before the divorce has been preached differently to exploit women sexually and financially.

Over time, the marriage in the Nikah Halala has been skipped and only one night stands are made permissible to get a quick acceptance for remarriage.

The maulanas have very cunningly taken advantage of women who would do and believe anything to save their marriage from havoc. The Muslim woman makes the choice of spending a night with a total stranger than inviting criticism and remarks on her family from her neighbours and community.

Muslim women also rank low on literacy rate and hence it is usually a terrible thought for them to leave their husbands and survive alone.

But with the Sting Operation showing that such practices have taken place, it is now time for the government to act. Solid actions need to be adopted by the government to save the girls of the country from these monsters operating in the name of religion.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.