In their coverage of news, most dailies with multiple editions are becoming regional newspapers. The Hindu of Chennai is one paper about which my impression is that important developments in any region of the country are seldom missed. Its coverage is thus truly nation-wide.
I remember when before independence, I first saw this paper, it seemed to me a unique daily, whose page- one carried no news, only advertisements. Banner headlines used to be taboo even on inside pages.
A colleague drew my attention to the fact that lately page one of Hindustan Times is becoming similar. But while the Hindu ads of yore were single column, more like classified ads, H.T. ads these days are massive, and so big revenue-earners. Last Saturday (February 4, 2012) for instance, both page 1 and page 2 carried advertisements of 7 UP, Real Lemon Juice and 7 UP, Natural Lemon Flavour (reproduced here along with this blog).
However, the context in which I am writing this particular blog is a two column news items I saw in this same issue on page one. This news item has been described as ‘ADVERTISEMENT’, and carries the caption split up into 5 lines, thus:
First Victory Down Under: India Beat Aus by 8 wickets in Second T20
When at Lucknow the next day the media asked me my reaction to the verdict of the CBI Trial Court on Swami’s case I said if even after dozens of ignominious defeats in U.K. and Australia in Test Matches and One Dayers, the Cricket Control Board can feel so ecstatic about a single T-20 victory as to put out the news as PAID NEWS, why cannot the Government of India emulate the Cricket Board by using the front page of Hindustan Times to highlight as Advertisement the remarkable relief Palaniappan Chidambaram has received from a court, coming as it does after an avalanche of judicial reprimands and admonitions from the Supreme Court and several High Courts, administered to the Government of India.
Taking the cricket analogy still further, if the 2G Spectrum Scam Series were to be regarded as a Match Series, obviously crusader Subramaniam Swamy has to be acknowledged as Man of the Series.
In respect of the 2G Scams, the operative part of the Supreme Court’s landmark judgement has been: all the 122 transactions executed by former I.T. Minister A. Raja are quashed. The Supreme Court has held these licenses as illegal and unconstitutional.
subSubramaniam Swamy has announced that he would appeal against the Trial Court’s decision. The key question the judiciary has now to decide is: Is A Raja the former Telecom Minister the solitary villain of the piece, and the only person responsible for these fraudulent transactions?
If a comprehensive history of corruption scandals in independent India were to be written, I have no doubt that both in respect of the number of these scams as well as in terms of their financial dimensions and/or their gravity, no earlier government can outbeat the stinking record of the UPA Government.
This Government is headed formally by Dr. Manmohan Singh, but by now there is no doubt in any one’s mind that this government is actually run by UPA Chairman Smt. Sonia Gandhi, and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh!
Here below is a tally of the ten murkiest matters that come to mind :
1. Cash for Votes scandal which has besmirched the name of Indian Democracy
2. 2G Scam Cases
3. Commonwealth Games Scandal
4. Quattrochi case
5. Adarsh Housing Case
6. Appointment of Chief Vigilance Commissioner, P.J. Thomas
7. Abysmal failure to get back the enormous wealth Indian black money earners have stashed away abroad in Swiss banks, or other such tax havens. Following U.N’s Convention against Corruption, not only major countries like U.S., Germany and France, but also smaller countries like Peru and Nigeria have succeeded in securing their wealth.
8. Supreme Court admonitions in respect of IMDT Act and continuing massive illegal immigration from Bangladesh into Assam and other North Eastern States.
9. Telgi Stamp Paper Case
10. Pune stud-farm owner Hasan Ali’s scandal.