Friday, March 06, 2009

Letter to Hindu

The following is a letter I received from a reader J.Ravi with the request that it be published. He says that he sent this to the Chief Editor of The Hindu and the MD but (not surprisingly) got no reply. I reproduce here the contents of his letter as mailed to me in its entirety.

The Managing Director

The Hindu


Dear Sir,

Since Mr.Ram took over as the Editor, certain unsavoury changes have taken place in our revered newspaper.

Please allow me to elaborate on these.

* The “letters to the Editor” is filled with letters that totally agree with the editor’s views and many sing paeans to his wisdom. Letters critical of the editor/paper are almost never published.

Also, certain readers have their letters published very often (possibly because they agree with the editor always). The reader Kassim Sait comes to mind – we readers are condemned to read his jaundiced remarks, sometimes twice a week!

* The letters supporting the views of the editor are self-righteous and strongly expressed, while the very few critical letters are meek, almost apologetic (possibly due to heavy editing).

I have been watching this trend for years now and I have analyzed this – please find attached an Excel file for your kind perusal. This file has analyzed the “ letters” and the editorial sections for 100 days – from Sept/17/2008 to Jan/12/2009. On average, each day has about 14 letters with one letter criticizing the editor/paper’s stand – on most of the days, there are NO dissenting letters!

* All the leading English dailies have provisions for the readers to post comments on

editorials/op-eds/front-page stories etc that allow for active reader participation. Abusive remarks/postings are removed periodically even by other readers.

Unfortunately, the Hindu does not have this feature. Your readers have to be content with the editor’s views/opinions/beliefs/values/prejudices presented as news and the gospel truth with no discussion or debate – so important for lively exchange of ideas and free speech, things which the editor often professes to cherish.

* The ombudsman is content to clarify on clerical errors, grammar and syntax mistakes. Please give him the authority to be the true conscience-keeper of the paper.

* Biased reporting – we see this as the basic philosophy of the editor: Samples:

· The general news coverage, the editorials and the opinions sell the premise that the BJP/center-right parties in India and the world/the U.S.A can do nothing right and they are the fountain-head of all evil. Equally, the Left (especially the CPM!!!) in India & abroad, and Russia/China can do no wrong and these are the epitome of the combined wisdom of the human race and are the torch-bearers of righteousness.

· According to the editor, nationalism in India/Japan/rest of the world is fascism, but one-party dictatorship seamlessly integrated with nationalism in China is perfectly acceptable.

· Certain public individuals are above board for the editor – Karunanidhi, Karat, Bardhan, Yechuri, Chandrachoodan, Jayalalitha, several others of the Left and selected regional chauvinists are never criticized.

· Sonia Gandhi was referred to by her full name – then it gradually became Ms.Gandhi and now it is only Gandhi – possibly this is meant to convey to the young readers that perhaps she is related to the Mahatma.

· Issues are deliberately reported partially with malicious intent – in a recent example, the BJP was (as expected) castigated for the Mangalore incident, but utterances against the “pub culture” by Gehlot and Ramdoss were not reported. Another example is the vitriol poured by the editor on CEC Gopalaswami’s recommendations. He was ridiculed, chastised, and his motives were “exposed” by 2 articles on the same day! The CEC’s other recommendations (of not giving government jobs to the commissioners and not allowing them to join political parties after retirement) were published two days after the other English dailies reported it!

· Under the present editor, the Hindu has become a spokesperson for the CPM – he is perfectly entitled to his party membership, but the paper should not be a vehicle to propagate the ideology of one party (any party for that matter). If the editor persists in this, the Hindu is not a national newspaper but merely a party mouthpiece.

· Under Mr.Ram’s editorship, certain issues affecting our country are never discussed: examples:

a) the burgeoning cost of Admiral Gorshkov (the free warship now to cost $2bn) – possibly not to offend “the time-tested friendship”.

b) China ’s claim of Arunachal Pradesh

c) Bangladeshi infiltration into India – possibly not to expose their participation in polls to elect the Left parties in west Bengal and Tripura.

d) China ’s back-stabbing in the NSG – believe it or not, Siddharth Varadarajan actually supported their actions!

e) Riots in India whenever instigated by the Congress and the Left ( Delhi riots and Nandigram pogroms come to mind).

f) Corruption in the Left parties – SNC Lavalin issue is a recent example.

We can go on and on.

The central issue is that under the present editor, the Hindu has lost the stature it had in the past. We remember the halcyon days when it was the beacon of free unbiased reporting during the Bofors issue.

Now the credibility and professionalism have been lost – it reads like a handout from the CPM’s office. In the process, the Hindu has only succeeded in misleading its readers, especially the young minds – and that hurts.

Please excuse me for intruding on your busy schedule.

I have also attached this letter as a Word file for your kind perusal -- I look forward to receiving your valuable comments.

Yours sincerely,

Jay Ravi


Anonymous said...

Mr. J.Ravi,
Very well written letter. The Hindu under the present dispensation will not publish anything factual and unbiased. I also share your anguish that the News paper has lost its credibility and the daily is highly anti "hindu", pro minority and prejudiced.

Anonymous said...

Short of an intra-family coup, it does not look like any redemption for Chindu in the near future. If Malini P were to come back again, it would be even worse.

There are reports about some of the mighty (and arrogant) Yankee newspapers finding themselvs in deep financial trouble and mess-to name just two, the Chicago Tribune and New York Times. Perhpas, Chief should be pondering Chindu's fate.

Anonymous said...

Even before the takeover by the Swiss Church this rag was anti-India. Now, hmmm... its obvious.

Venkat Ramanan said...

I echo the sentiments in this letter. Each and every newspaper's online version has comments section, but not The Hindu's. They know for sure people will expose their biased opinions online!!

Forget it. I stopped reading The Hindu. That is one down for them. Everyone should stop reading and that is how we can force them to change their views. Already heard their subscriptions are way down... TOI and DC are on top in Chennai.

So, follow the market way of forcing someone to change or close down!! perform or perish!!

Anonymous said...

While I strongly support the intent of the letter and blatant misuse of official capacity, the sad reality is that they are being compensated heavily by their mentors and political masters. They depend a little on public views. If public views are so important, then SunTV would not be a no1 channel in South.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. J. Ravi,

I think I should add one point you did not mention...The infatuation of 'The Chindu' with Islam and Muslims. I certainly do not hate Muslims. What I hate is the constant effort of 'The Chindu' to promote Islam and run down Hinduism. Imagine..he is doing this to a largely Hindu readership... Can you imagine this arrogance in a Islamic society?
I think it is high time that sensible readers came together and organise a mass boycott of 'The Chindu' to bring it down to its knees....

Anonymous said...

cant believe u guys still read hindu

Anonymous said...

I have always wondered if N. Ram ever stop and thought that the freedom he enjoys in this company to write against the establishment, democracy and capitalism would be considered as treason in the very country he crows so much about- China.

Arun Srinivasan said...

I have always wondered if N. Ram ever stop and thought that the freedom he enjoys in this country to write against the establishment, democracy and capitalism would be considered as treason in the very country he crows so much about- China.

Note: Edited for typo

Arun Srinivasan said...

Just to add, my father's family have been reading the Hindu for over 70 years but after the rapid deterioration over the last 10 years, we stopped buying the Hindu and I am sure we were the not the only ones to do so.