Karela Fry

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India rotting

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India is compromised. The nexus between business and government is tighter than we imagined. Lobbyist Nira Radia’s facile movement between these two worlds, now revealed in 800 new tapes revealed by Outlook, is indicative of something really rotten. CNN-IBN reports:

The fresh set of 800 tapes of Nira Radia’s conversations, exposed by newsmagazine Outlook on Sunday, allow us a greater and much deeper peek into another ‘spectrum’ – of large corporates, senior politicians, leading businessmen, and veteran journalists. One can only anticipate what might be the corpus of her contacts once all the 5000-plus Radia tapes are brought to public knowledge.

Radia is privy to intimate details of the wrangling within the DMK right before the UPA II Cabinet was formed in 2009. She not only has a minute-by-minute account of what transpired at M Karunanidhi’s house during the tussle for Cabinet posts between the Congress and DMK, she is also an active participant in discussions over portfolios between Dayanidhi Maran, Azhagiri, Kanimozhi, T R Baalu and of course A Raja.

In a brief conversation with disgraced former telecom minister A Raja, Radia asks, “This phone is OK, na?” The question shows Radia knew that her phones were being tapped.

Ranjan Bhattacharya, Atal Behari Vajpayee’s foster son-in-law, also appears in a conversation with Radia where they are talking about Unitech.

The tapes again name journalists Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi who are already in the dock over the first set of tapes. In one of the tapes, Radia apparently tells Mr R K Chandolia, A Raja’s key aide, “Congress ne to statement Thank God issue kar diya. Barkha ne karwaa liyaa us se.” This might be the reference to the work that Barkha has publicly denied.

In another talk with her employees, we get a sense of the control Radia enjoys over NewsX, the news channel.

Among the corporates named in the new set of tapes are Airtel (owned by Sunil Bharti Mittal), Unitech, and of course Tata Group and Reliance Industries. The last two are represented by Radia’s PR firm, Vaishnavi Communications.

In one of her conversations with Ratan Tata’s staff, Radia is heard mulling over arranging a meeting between Mittal and Tata, apparently over the 2G spectrum allocation.

The people named here are just a sampler: go to the outlook site and just look through the headers of the links: a who’s who of corporate, media and political India: all discussing quid-pro-quo.

Is there anything that we can do in answer? Will the whole country have to take after Kashmir: throwing stones in impotent anger?

Meanwhile Mr. Ratan Tata, the doyen of propreity, has petitioned the supreme court to protect his privacy.

Slating for early February 2011 the hearing on Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata’s plea for a ban on publication of the Radia tapes’ transcripts, the Supreme Court Monday asked the central government to submit to it the complaints against corporate lobbyist Nira Radia .

Appearing for Ratan Tata, senior counsel Harish Salve told the court that his client was not seeking any interim relief by way of injunction against the publication of the tapes by media, but he was on a larger issue of balancing the right to privacy with the freedom of media.

Salve submitted eight questions for the consideration of the court that should be addressed by the parties to the dispute.

The question boils down to whether right to privacy also protects from public gaze the conversation between two private people obtained by the lawful agencies by interception of telephonic conversation.

Other questions included whether the power of the statutory authorities to intercept telephonic conversation is coupled with constitutional duty to protect them from coming into the public domain.

Rebutting the eight questions framed by Salve to be addressed by the parties to the dispute as some kind of “presidential reference” to the court, senior counsel Rajiv Dhawan appearing for the Open magazine told the court that Tata’s petition was private interest litigation in the guise of public interest litigation.

Dhawan said that if Tata was aggrieved by the action of someone, then there were alternate remedies in law like filing defamation suit instead of taking recourse of Article 32 of the Constitution, which provided for the right of the citizen to move the Supreme Court for the enforcement of fundamental rights.

Appearing for the Outlook magazine, senior counsel Anil Divan said that it was a well-settled law that the freedom of press and media is to be zealously guarded in a democracy because the objective is to inform the citizen and protect the citizen’s right to know. To guard the freedom of press was the function of the government, he said.


3 Responses

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  1. […] Recall that NewsX channel is accused of having placed news items at Nira Radia’s request. […]

    Hall of mirrors « Karela Fry

    December 14, 2010 at 5:41 pm

  2. […] this man ever apologized to the public? If you thought the Radia tapes left it unsaid is it now clear who elects the […]

  3. […] one finds that a PR firm can wrap the media around its fingers, it is not hard to believe that they all fall in line over a government :suggestion” to […]

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