MEDIA WATCH

Why CNN-IBN's Sagarika Ghose may no longer criticise Modi

Ghose, as well as her colleague in Network 18, Nikhil Wagle, are the most recent examples of journalists who appear to be under pressure from the management because of their independent views about Narendra Modi.

Sagarika Ghose, deputy editor of CNN-IBN who anchors the prime time Face the Nation programme, received instructions from the management of Network 18, which owns the news channel, not to post disparaging tweets about Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate, highly placed sources at the media and entertainment company told Scroll.in.

Ghose has been posting a series of tweets this month not only about Gujarat's BJP chief minister but, ironically, also about the increasing threat to independent journalism.

"There's a disturbing new trend in the Indian media of measuring objectivity and bias," she told Scroll.in, even though she declined to comment about whether she had received any instructions from the management. "Journalists who believe the politician is their natural adversary and systematically question all politicians are seen as biased, but those who attack only certain politicians and sing hosannas to another politician are seen as objective."

She said she was angry that Modi's supporters were making it increasingly difficult for journalists to criticise the Bhartiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate on the internet, particularly on Twitter. Moreover, the climate of intolerance towards Modi's critics is spreading beyond the internet, she said.

On February 1, in response to an interview with Narendra Modi's wife, Jashodaben, 62, a retired school teacher, that the Indian Express had published that morning, Ghose tweeted, "Poignant interview in IE of Jashodhaben, married to @narendramodi at 17. So many women married off at young age, time to restore their dignity."

Then on February 6, Ghose posted a series of tweets about the threat to independent journalists.


Original tweet here.


Original tweet here.


Original tweet here.


Original tweet here.

Sagarika Ghose is not the only senior journalist who might be in a spot of trouble for expressing her views. Nikhil Wagle, editor of IBN Lokmat, Network 18's Marathi channel, known on Twitter to be a critic of Modi , is also under pressure from the management, sources said.

He also posted a series of tweets on February 6:


Original tweet here.


Original tweet here.


Original tweet here.

The Caravan, a highly reputable monthly magazine, published a detailed cover story in December on Network 18, in which it alleged that the organisation had taken a turn to the right.

Network 18 is not the only media company that is perceived to be placating Modi and his supporters, even before the general election has taken place. Siddharth Varadarajan, a highly respected, award-winning journalist, was negotiating with India Today magazine after resigning as editor of The Hindu in October. But the talks fell through because sources said that he had made it clear he wanted full editorial freedom, including the freedom to be critical of Modi when warranted. Varadarajan confirmed to Scroll.in that he had been in talks with India Today but declined to say what had transpired.

But on February 6, in response to Ghose's tweets, Varadarajan tweeted:



Further, Hartosh Singh Bal was fired as political editor of Open magazine in November without being offered a reason. But in an interview to The Hoot, a media criticism website, the weekly magazine's editor, Manu Joseph, indicated what the reason was.

Joseph revealed that the magazine's proprietor, Sanjiv Goenka, had told Joseph that he was "making a lot of...political enemies" because of Bal's writings and utterances on TV news channels. When the magazine's management decided to appoint PR Ramesh as the new political editor, Joseph also resigned, to be replaced by S Prasannarajan.

In an article, Bal wrote that Ramesh was considered close to BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley, who is regarded by some as the BJP's "bureau chief" because of his influence over the media. Ironically, one of the last stories commissioned by Bal before his exit was about the Modi campaign's increasing hold on the media.

Intolerance towards independent-minded journalists is not limited to the Delhi-centric national media. Thiru Veerapandian reportedly lost his prime time show on Sun TV for merely saying that people should think before voting for Narendra Modi.

In Gujarat, chief Minister Narendra Modi's regime has also gone after journalists, filing cases under a sedition law that the Supreme Court has ruled should be used only in cases of violent rebellion against the state. In 2006, Manoj Shinde, editor of a Gujarat paper, was charged with sedition for merely criticising the Modi government's tardy flood relief efforts. In 2008, The Times of India's Ahmedabad editor, Bharat Desai, and a photographer for the Gujarat Samachar newspaper were charged with sedition for exposing corruption in the police.

After Vidya Subrahmaniam, a senior journalist at The Hindu, wrote an op-ed about Sardar Patel in October 2013 that appeared to have irked Modi's supporters, she received so many threat calls and intimidating messages that she filed a police complaint.

After The Caravan magazine published its February cover story on Swami Aseemanand in which he accused the RSS of sanctioning terrorism, the magazine received threatening calls, its executive editor, Vinod Jose, tweeted.  "I cannot imagine any other media house in today's environment, where I could have published this story," Jose said.

Modi's supporters on the internet defend their attacks on journalists by saying that the liberal media has been biased against Modi and the BJP and charitable to the Congress. Even if this untenable accusation were true, blanking out criticism of the BJP and Modi is hardly the solution.

"I have been trenchantly critical of the Congress and the Gandhis, but no one has threatened me with death, gang-rape or sacking," said Sagarika Ghose, referring to the online abuse she receives daily.
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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The incredible engineering that can save your life in a car crash

Indian roads are among the world’s most dangerous. We take a look at the essential car safety features for our road conditions.

Over 200,000 people die on India’s roads every year. While many of these accidents can be prevented by following road safety rules, car manufacturers are also devising innovative new technology to make vehicles safer than ever before. To understand how crucial this technology is to your safety, it’s important to understand the anatomy of a car accident.

Source: Global report on road safety, 2015 by WHO.
Source: Global report on road safety, 2015 by WHO.

A car crash typically has three stages. The first stage is where the car collides with an object. At the point of collision, the velocity with which the car is travelling gets absorbed within the car, which brings it to a halt. Car manufacturers have incorporated many advanced features in their cars to prevent their occupants from ever encountering this stage.

Sixth sense on wheels

To begin with, some state-of-the-art vehicles have fatigue detection systems that evaluate steering wheel movements along with other signals in the vehicle to indicate possible driver fatigue–one of the biggest causes of accidents. The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is the other big innovation that can prevent collisions. ESP typically encompasses two safety systems–ABS (anti-lock braking system), and TCS (traction control system). Both work in tandem to help the driver control the car on tricky surfaces and in near-collision situations. ABS prevents wheels from locking during an emergency stop or on a slippery surface, and TCS prevents the wheels from spinning when accelerating by constantly monitoring the speed of the wheels.

Smarter bodies, safer passengers

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CRUMPLE ZONES: Invented in the 1950s, crumple zones are softer vehicle sections that surround a safety cell that houses passengers. In a crash, these zones deform and crumple to absorb the shock of the impact. In the visual, the safety cell is depicted in red, while the crumple zones of the car surround the safety cell.
CRUMPLE ZONES: Invented in the 1950s, crumple zones are softer vehicle sections that surround a safety cell that houses passengers. In a crash, these zones deform and crumple to absorb the shock of the impact. In the visual, the safety cell is depicted in red, while the crumple zones of the car surround the safety cell.

Post-collision technology

While engineers try to mitigate the effects of a crash in the first stage itself, there are also safe guards for the second stage, when after a collision the passengers are in danger of hitting the interiors of the car as it rapidly comes to a halt. The most effective of these post-crash safety engineering solutions is the seat belt that can reduce the risk of death by 50%.

In the third stage of an actual crash, the rapid deceleration and shock caused by the colliding vehicle can cause internal organ damage. Manufacturers have created airbags to reduce this risk. Airbags are installed in the front of the car and have crash sensors that activate and inflate it within 40 milliseconds. Many cars also have airbags integrated in the sides of the vehicles to protect from side impacts.

SEATBELTS: Wearing seatbelts first became mandatory in Victoria, Australia in 1970, and is now common across the world. Modern seatbelts absorb impact more efficiently, and are equipped with ‘pre-tensioners’ that pull the belt tight to prevent the passenger from jerking forward in a crash.
SEATBELTS: Wearing seatbelts first became mandatory in Victoria, Australia in 1970, and is now common across the world. Modern seatbelts absorb impact more efficiently, and are equipped with ‘pre-tensioners’ that pull the belt tight to prevent the passenger from jerking forward in a crash.

Safety first

In the West as well as in emerging markets like China, car accident related fatalities are much lower than in India. Following traffic rules and driving while fully alert remain the biggest insurance against mishaps, however it is also worthwhile to fully understand the new technologies that afford additional safety.

So the next time you’re out looking for a car, it may be a wise choice to pick an extra airbag over custom leather seats or a swanky music system. It may just save your life.

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This article was produced on behalf of Volkswagen by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.

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