The Organiser editorial is on the state of media and underlines the “allegations that around 20 journalists were ‘managed’ by AgustaWestland for favourable reporting on the chopper deal”. It slams “celebrity journalists” and notes that the “subversion tendencies in media are so blatant that people hardly believe in the message of the messenger and social media narratives define the larger perceptions”. The “credibility of (the) fourth pillar of democracy” is being questioned, the editorial argues, and talks about the “‘we’ versus ‘they’ approach of the electronic media” in “Ishrat Jahan case to the chopper scam”.
When journalism emerged in India during the British Raj, the motive was “national service through presenting Bharatiya news and views on various facets of life”. “Many politicians turned into journalists,” who “decided to run newspaper press to give voice to the voiceless,” but after Independence, “trade dimensions were added to the national service.”
However, after the “Emergency, trade superseded the national service aspects in journalism”. “Media became a profit-making industry and co-option by political forces became a common trend,” it says, stressing that the “breaking news syndrome also broke the conventional wisdom and trade became the sole driving force of media house”. At present “we are witnessing” the “connivance of media in sharing the fruits of corruption with key power players in the system”.
An article in Panchjanya is on the raging forest fires in Uttarakhand and notes that it is a result of “administrative laziness and interference with forests”. Snakes, mosquitoes and insects, considered the lifeline of forests, have been killed. Stones rolling down from the smouldering forests in the hills near Nainital are a threat to the lives of local commuters and tourists. “Forest fire in summer is a normal incident in the Himalayan region,” it says. Hill residents know that the fire that spreads through thousands of hectares is mostly doused off by rains or by the efforts of villagers. Hence, when the “first incident of forest fire was reported on February 2, the administration took it lightly”. Simultaneously erupting at several places, these turned into one big inferno charring 2,270 hectares of forests in the past three months.
Among the causes of this fire are, the article says, weak monsoons in the last two years, scanty rain in winter and a heat wave in March. “The entire Uttarakhand became a gas chamber”, the article observes.
The cover story in Organiser describes the AgustaWestland scam as “another symbol of corruption associated with the Congress”. The real issue, it says, are the “allegations against the only holding glue of the grand old party, the most powerful Nehru Gandhi family”.
The verdict of the Italian court mentions hefty kickbacks given to politicians, bureaucrats, defence personnel and journalists to facilitate the deal, it says. The judgment, according to the report, also mentions “some Signora Gandhi” and notes that the “corruption charges in defence deals” are not new for the Gandhi family. It elaborates the history of the chopper deal and says several Indian Air Force (IAF) officers including former chief S. P. Tyagi and four companies have been under the scanner for long.
More than “30 million euros were spent on kickbacks… to ensure smooth passage of the deal,” the report says. It also praises the Narendra Modi government for its prompt action in the case and notes that speedy action by investigation agencies suggests that “the government do not want to leave any stone unturned as far as identifying the culprits are concerned”.