Skip to content

Dear Friends,

We are living in times where groups which win the battle of media often succeed in serving their purposes/propaganda. Our founders had expected that media shall stand as a fourth pillar of Democracy to make it vibrant. Media shall provide power to the people and make them believe in Democratic principles. Reality however did not encompass the expected. This fourth pillar of Democracy, instead of standing up with people as a fourth underpin, as a fourth guard is apparently dominating even the other three pillars. Instead of strengthening the people, it is often making them weaker, helpless and undermining the essence of Democracy. Media, therefore cannot be ignored now. It is an inescapable fact of life. Ravish Kumar of NDTV India says, "Sanchar madhyam bimar ho gaya hai, aur wah janta ko bhi bimar kar raha hai".

Architect of Indian constitution, Dr. Ambedkar's below thoughts are relevant and apt here. He says, "Journalism in India was once a profession. It has now become a trade. It has no more moral function than the manufacture of soap. It does not regard itself as the responsible adviser of the public. To give the news uncoloured by any motive, to present a certain view of public policy which it believes to be for the good of the community, to correct and chastise without fear all those, no matter how high, who have chosen a wrong or a barren path, is not regarded by journalism in India its first or foremost duty. To accept a hero and worship him has become its principal duty. Under it, news gives place to sensation, reasoned opinion to unreasoning passion, appeal to the minds of responsible people to appeal to the emotions of the irresponsible. Never has the interest of country been sacrificed so senselessly for the propagation of hero-worship. Never has hero-worship become so blind that as we see it in India today. There are, I am glad to say, honourable exceptions. But they are too few and their voice is never heard".

IMG-20160228-WA0016IMG-20160228-WA0019

We, a group of young Indians in Mumbai began our journey with the Initiative of 'New India Debate society' in 2014 with the below idea in mind:

New India debate society has been making an attempt to interpret and comprehend Ambedkar in a holistic manner trying to locate the missing thread of 'his nationalism'. This we do and shall continue to do so in a strict academic discipline and hence the initiative has been considered only as an academic pursuit with no ulterior motives of any social or political action.

Though, we were always of a mind that we will welcome any action springing out as a result of this exercise which would give India a push towards its ultimate destiny – a destiny common for all the elements of the national life.

In line with the said thoughts, we lately came up with the idea of IFIL - INDIAN FIRST INDIAN LAST.

ABOUT IFIL:

IFIL - (which may also be read as I-Feel) is an initiative which envisages to generate and provoke a kind of Public conscience among Indians which rises above the closets of Caste, Creed, Religion, Language, Region, even Nationalism and creates a mindset to fight against any form of Injustice.

Meaning of I-FEEL(IFIL) is that 'I am Sensitive'. I feel the joy and pain of each Indian and I pledge to stand-up for the people in need with full sincerity.

IFIL also means 'I-FILL', I shall determine myself to fill the expected democratic and progressive leadership which at present, is regretfully lacking in Indian society.

IFIL initiative shall time and again continue to put forth various activities, programmes, demonstrations, symposiums, events workshops, lectures et al.

We intend to launch the IFIL initiative with one such activity. We have organised a demonstration 'In solidarity with the emerging democratic, progressive voices in Indian media' on Monday, 14th March 2016 at Azad Maidan, Mumbai between ⏰3:00 p.m to 6:00 p.m. ⏰

432204-sindhusooryakumar
Sindhu Sooryakumar, chief coordinating editor of Asianet News TV, threatened, abused after moderating debate on Mahishasur Jayanti

12804794_1662805560635944_6791857146694512395_n

hqdefault (1)
Sansad Marg on 14 April 2015: Shannon, a young student of journalism, came running towards me. I thought she was approaching me for a selfie, but she wanted to show me a selfie of my profession. She asked a question that had troubled her all morning. ‘Why isn’t Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar on television screens and in the newspapers?’ The media routinely broadcast images of festivals and anniversaries, but when it comes to Babasaheb there is a blackout. Shannon’s question actually hints at a larger concern from which we have insulated ourselves. Though Shannon was smiling, she was also angry. She kept stating, ‘There is such a massive crowd on Sansad Marg, but absolutely no coverage of the event. Even when there are only a few people protesting at Jantar Mantar, the media is there to cover of the issue.’ I could have answered her, but my response would have sounded (and rightly so) hollows  - Ravish Kumar
images
" Bheedtantra se Jung mein, hum hai tere sang mein - IFIL"
896281518
" Loktantra ki baat mein, hum khade tere saath mein - IFIL "

This is to express our solidarity and support to some exemplary voices we heard and observed during the tragic Rohith Vemula or JNU episode. These voices (like Ravish Kumar of NDTV India, Nikhil Wagle of Maharashtra One TV, Sindhu Suryakumar of Asianet etc) went against the flow of otherwise Profit-making, Capitalist, Brahminical & populist image of Indian media. Amidst the noise of 'deshdrohi, deshdrohi', these mediapersons gave a voice to the oppressed in unprejudiced manner and discharged their duty of digging out the truth behind the stories. For such courageous journalism (fourth pillar of democracy) and their democratic spirit, they certainly deserve a word of recognition from the responsible citizenry.

2bebcfe4-180e-42cc-9a06-3dfc66f842dd
A day comes when you have to take call of your conscience. When principles are more imp than small benefits of life, u become a free bird! - Nikhil Wagle

hqdefault12718124_1662806193969214_2106683381187478419_n

Therefore, do join us at Azad Maidan on Monday 14th March 2016 between 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. to be a part of this solidarity demonstration and help us make it a big success.

P.S: The demonstration is not in support of some specific people in media but with all those sincere democratic voices in Electronic, Print or even Social media.

Do contact, Sumedh , Pratik, Kiran, Pathak, Vivek, Anita, Mrs. Geeta, Chetan, Chandrashekhar, Prasad,  and Team IFIL (I-feel) INDIAN FIRST INDIAN LAST  to join the demonstration mail: pratikse_2007@rediffmail.com; .

You can also register through the below Facebook event link.

Demonstration in Solidarity with the emerging Democratic, Progressive voices in Indian media'

1

Last night, it emerged that after several shows that may have showed content embarrassing to the BJP, NDTV had gone off air in many places. Several "insider accounts" seem to allude to a picture of NDTV being perceived as showing footage embarrassing to the BJP (watch after 30 minutes).

NDTV coverage of Modi speech different from BJP official feed
NDTV coverage of Modi speech different from BJP official feed

The indication is that cable operators have been asked to block NDTV till the 7th of February - the day when Delhi Assembly Elections happen.

While this information cannot be confirmed, multiple reports of NDTV going off-air have been shared on social media, and a post compiling them was put up on this blog and is being regularly updated.

Another viewer has pointed to a link on the Times Now website where the video of the confrontation between AAP and AVAM last night during Arnab Goswami's News Hour that was extremely embarrassing to AVAM and BJP appears to have been removed.

Yesterday, All India Bakchod took down the videos of their Roast. For those who don't know, a roast is a comedy format based on humorous insults. It is intentionally offensive and insulting and all the participants participate knowing this, and the audience participates expecting this. In other words, consensual. In an ideal world, this should not have required any more attention than the kids under the window going "behen ke *****" as they play cricket. Profanity is common on our streets. It appears to be the idea of being open about it offended people who threatened to file cases. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena threatened to block films of actors participating in the roast - surely a matter of criminal intimidation, given that they have no constitutional authority to do any such thing. In the end, the roast was taken down. The government will now be probing All India Bakchod. Almost seems like the roast continues. AIB is so unsexy that they had to do a roast before anyone would probe them.

On a more serious note, Shireen Dalvi, the editor of Avadhnama's Mumbai edition is being hounded by Muslim organizations with multiple FIRs filed against her. She has been forced to wear the burkha for the first time in her life to protect her identity and has not been able to return to her home for weeks for fear of retaliation for her "crime" of publishing a Charlie Hebdo cartoon on the newspaper. And before we scream and faint about obscenity and racism, it was a cartoon most law abiding Muslims would unhesitatingly appreciate. It showed Prophet Mohammed holding a sign saying "Je Suis Charlie" in solidarity with the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack. In effect, the cartoon said that the massacre was by criminals and what the Prophet Mohammed stood for. Larger Muslim organizations in Mumbai had no problem with this. Stray organizations persecuting her found no resistance from the state.

In a world where Muslims are criticized for not doing enough to combat religious extremists, here was one who stood up tall and spoke up. And the state failed her. She should have got a bravery award. Instead, she is on  the run, her newspaper shut down, 15 employees out of a job and her children living with relatives with this stress hounding their exam preparations. All for doing a job and doing what a newspaper editor should do - stretch the scope of thought for readers.

One would think that we cannot blame the state for this. Oh but we can, because something even more stupid has happened. Two newspaper sellers,Tariq Ahmed Sheikh and Salman Kalam Sheikh were arrested for selling Avadhnama - why? - because they understood Urdu, and "could have refrained from selling it". This is Mumbai Police, JJ Marg police station. Proactive. Acting without even a complaint to act on. Without even a crime being done. What right does anyone have to harp on about the intolerance of Muslims when the establishment itself appears to be complicit in keeping them that way by hounding voices of sanity instead of empowering them?

And oh. The DEN Network block of NDTV has gone unreported by all - including NDTV. A media that can keep quiet while it gets strangled, perhaps deserves to be dead.

These are dark days for Indian media. I hope more independent voices emerge from fearless masses to take up the torch, because slaves of money fear poverty more than imprisonment.

18

Final Update: DEN Network customers now reporting that NDTV has been resumed on their service. No further reports of blocks seem to be happening. Any fresh information will result in a new post. This one will not be updated further.

 

Various reports of NDTV not being accessible through cable operators since approximately 8pm in Delhi are flooding social media. Insiders claim AAP supporters claim that this is because the BJP leadership perceives the channel to be carrying anti-BJP content. BJP supporters are saying this is "AAP drama". In the meanwhile, while the reason for the block remains unclear, it appears to be only for cable operators and DTH users are facing no problems.

So far, further enquiry on all reports seems to show that DEN are blocking NDTV citywide. Some reports of Siti +

[mapsmarker layer="17"]

This post will be updated if more cable operator names get reported, or if DEN starts showing NDTV again. A map with areas will be added if required.

Update: ABP news too seems to have been blocked. "Insider" accounts (completely unreliable gossip) claim that there is no official word to block, however some pro-BJP channels have done so on own initiative. Example tweet:

Update 2: Several reports of other channels being blocked as well as one unconfirmed report of Tata Sky blocking NDTV - this would be DTH.

Update 3: North Delhi SITI set top box user reports all channels working.

Update 4:  Another user reports that cable operators have been instructed to not broadcast NDTV till the 7th. Awaiting information on the source of this update.

Update 5: TATA Sky showing all channels in Lajpat Nagar and probably several other places going by tweets without locations.

Update 6: Several people reported that DEN Network seems to have removed NDTV from its channel search list as well - this probably means that this is not a technical failure (as some BJP supporters are attempting to suggest) but a deliberate removal.

Update 7: no further reports of NDTV being off air. No reports of NDTV being available where it was blocked either. Perhaps the morning will bring more clarity.

Update 8: Sreenivasan Jain tweeted "We are looking into complaints of NDTV not being available in parts of Delhi.

CCN DEN appears to be showing NDTV but not Total TV and NewsX in East Delhi.

However other areas like Vikaspuri still reporting DEN blocking NDTV. One user reports that he called them up and they say they have orders.

Reports of possible other media censorship coming in as well.

When you speak truth to power, you inspire others to stand by you. When you fabricate lies and engineer perceptions for profit, they come back to bite you.

It began with an innocent reply of a gullible Modi supporter who thought to assert Modi's honor with a claim that is popularly doing the rounds. That Assange had called Modi INCORRUPTIBLE. Is Assange corrupt? Well, Assange may not be corrupt, but the person who told you he said that could be, yes?

Wikileaks burst Modi's claim of incorruptible
Wikileaks burst Modi's claim of incorruptible

But then this was hardly news. Even when Modi made the claims of "America and Wikileaks declaring after their investigations that Modi was incorruptible... not just not corrupt, but incorruptible" there were news reports of this absurd interview even at that time that pointed out the utter inaccuracy of his claim.

The cables simply reported the beliefs of politicians (in this case Congress) the Ambassador interacted with and no investigations or comparisons. They were neither the opinion of United States of America nor Wikileaks. But facts are never a strong suit of the serial faker rising to fame faster as "Feku" than any of his many titles. Every public appearance brings embarrassment over some or the other lie he peddles - be it history or geography or economy or... an endorsement his party now claims he doesn't need. If he chose to present a cable reporting perceptions of him in India as a true endorsement of him by the United States or Wikileaks, here was an entire bevy of media to merely report what he said. Not for the hridaysamarat (Emperor of Hearts) would be the "well researched" exposes by a pliant media (read open browser, read cable out to camera, tell people how to verify).

Modi's official website flaunts the lies with pride.

Modi's claims about Wikipedia and the US on his official website
‘On one side it is being said, ‘Indian government is completely corrupt’. Then there are reports by America and WikiLeaks, which refer to the state of Gujarat where the leader is un-corruptible,’ ~ Modi's official website

Gujarat Assembly Elections came and went without these lies contested.

 We actually had news media publishing his claims with the contradicting quote of the cable (with link to original NEVER provided for viewer to check). As if the cable contradicting Modi was not an issue that needed clarification or confrontation.

And yet all it took to shred the pretence was one tweet from Wikileaks when they saw the credibility that was being claimed in their name and in the name of Assange. And all of a sudden, Indian media is pretending it just noticed this. Right.

So anyway, yours truly had an inadvertent role to play in this. There is a site called Fek le! which I started after getting fed up of the disinformation provided by the Narendra Modi brigade. It is a fake news site, which uses as "authentic sources" only satire websites, comedy shows, BJP's disinformation products and anyone else acting too ridiculous to take seriously. Routinely BJP supporters come up with some ridiculous propaganda, I take the juciest (or most harmful) and report it with further fabrications and exaggerations on the satire site as entirely true with the tag "BJP Photoshop Laghu Udyog" - which can be a security service, research organization or whatever the tall claim would qualify them as. When pictures of Julian Assange endorsing Modi in Hindi started circulating, it was too good to pass, and of course Fek Le! reported them.

Turns out brains rotted by brainwashing have real poor comprehension skills, because that fake post got BELIEVED by some Namo supporting website and republished in their news round up or something. It is an occasional side effect of satire sites to get picked up by news websites with lazy staff, but this was unbelievable. Julian Assange speaking in Hindi out of loyalty to Narendra Modi, saying that America is scared of Narendra Modi and tagged with "BJP Photoshop Laghu Udyog" AND on a site called Fek Le! I mean how gullible, can anyone be? Plenty, as it turns out.

The fake photo from my site (probably, or the original, where I got it from on Twitter) started circulating again along with its versions I hadn't seen, but were existing all through to the point Wikileaks set the record straight.

I logged in late last night to discover that everyone was tagging me with Wikileaks handle that had minced no words in denying the tall tales or "feks". I was thrilled, only to discover that Wikileaks had linked to the photo on my website. And I set the record straight. Fek Le! only reproduces disinformation already in circulation and all the images and videos on it (so far) have been made by someone else. Usually the people getting "idolized" in the article. The site combats disinformation by exaggerating it, and making it ridiculously obvious and the occasional sprinkling of "news sources" and "documentary films" from satire websties or comedy shows.

But feels great to have contributed a long overdue journalistic and political confrontation .... and all because of a satire website tracking political disinformation. I do hope that this will help bring down some of the false propaganda in time for this elections.

4

So today Dharmesh Thakker who was mentioned in the notice by the solicitors of Lt Col (retd) Gautam Dutta and Anju Dutta on my post has sent me a notice complaining about defamation of him by them. This is his side of things.

=====================================================

Notice for posting defamatory references

Dear Ms Vidyut Kale,

It has been brought to my attention that a legal notice posted on your blog AamJanata (www.aamjanata.com) sent by the legal advisors and counsels of Lt Col (rtd) Gautam Dutta and Anju Dutta makes defamatory references against me.

The legal notice posted on your blog Aam Janata is defamatory with malafide intentions to tarnish my name and strong arm tactics to silence me from exposing their illegal activities. They are by no means the only people I expose and their claim that this as a deliberate targeting is false. As an journalist and RTI activist, I have a keen interest in exposing corruption.

The notice mentions my name thrice blaming me for legal action by authorities on their yacht/boat operations. The wild and baseless allegations are an attempt to discredit and defame me. I would like to inform you that even if a whistle blower does alert authorities, the authorities do not arrest or detain anyone just because someone sent a tip or whatever way the information is conveyed. If nothing illegal is found – they cannot do anything. To blame me for legal actions against their business or themselves, is absurd.

Request and demand to give equal prominence to my notice as you have published theirs. As a supporter of Freedom of Speech, I do not demand that their defamatory words about me be removed, but my response should also be visible prominently

I have built my reputation and career over 14 years of unbiased reporting without fear and favor. The numerous testimonials from media legends speaks about my work and credibility.

Riz Khan

 (client)
Riz hired you as a Freelance Journalist in 2005 and hired you more than once

Top qualities: Personable, Expert, Good Value

“Dharmesh is passionate about getting results and has a remarkable contact base in Mumbai and other parts of India. He is genuinely dedicated and persistent.” October 5, 2009

Ram Ramgopal

 (client)
Ram hired you as a Freelance Producer in 2003 and hired you more than once

Top qualities: Personable, High Integrity, Creative

“I have worked with Dharmesh Thakkar on several occasions when he helped as a producer on the ground in Mumbai. I have always found he is full of story ideas and suggests creative treatments for spot news and investigative pieces. Furthermore, he knows what kind of stories will appeal to an international audience. His rolodex is impressive, and he's helped set up interviews and shoots on short notice -- whether it's for entertainment, crime or business stories. Dharmesh is very quick when it comes to passing on information, but he also values accuracy. In fact, it's that aspect that has impressed me the most: his editorial fidelity. He has often helped us trump even Indian networks on getting out accurate (and timely) reports.I wholeheartedly recommend Dharmesh for any field producing/assignment desk job.” October 6, 2009

 

Ben Barnier

, Journalist - since June 2006, ABC News (business partner)
was with another company when working with you

“Dharmesh was instrumental in helping our ABC News team cover features in Mumbai. He was helpful, knowledgeable and witty. Thanks to his contribution we put together a colorful profile of an elderly Mumbai Bollywood Painter. http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=3231079” November 29, 2009

 

Adam Woods

 (client)
Adam hired you as a General Contractor in 2008

Top qualities: Great Results, Expert, On Time

“Dharmesh co-ordinated a complicated TV commercial shoot for me shooting in Mumbai, helping arrange high-level permissions to shoot in airport, and other sensitive areas, and had the contacts on the ground to ensure the shoot went very smoothly.” October 13, 2010

James Wright

, Executive Producer, Al Jazeera English (colleague)
worked directly with you

“Darmesh worked with our team on a freelance basis while we were covering stories in Mumbai. Darmesh has great contacts and was pro-active in coordinating with us to get us top guests for the show. It was a real asset to have a Mumbai "insider" working with us and we were able to accomplish things we wouldn't have been able to without his support” October 30, 2009

Sohail (So) Rahman

 (client)
Sohail (So) hired you as a Writer/Editor in 2006 and hired you more than once

Top qualities: Great Results, Personable, Expert

“Dharmesh has acted as a fixer for my shoots in the Maharashtra state in India. Incredibly knowledgeable and always on time he is a very enthusiastic producer who is consistently on top of the story and the elements required for it. It also helps that he's a nice guy with good sense of fun especially when this industry can be stressful.” May 15, 2012

 

 

Yogesh Damle

, Correspondent, Asst. Output editor, NDTV (colleague)
worked with you

“Though Dharmesh and I worked for different channels within the organisation, Dharmesh's prowess has consistently been a subject of admiration. His source-building, news sense and enterprise are exemplary attributes. His numerous exclusives testify his mettle.” January 20, 2010

 

 

 

Prasad Ramamurthy

, Sr News Editor, NDTV (colleague)

 

managed you

“Dharmesh was part of the reporter pool that I managed. He was one of our lead crime reporters and did his job with great responsibility and sincerity. He is enthusiastic and generates ideas beyond the scope of his own work. I was impressed by his ability to source information, often days ahead of the competition. Dharmesh will be an asset to any organisation he works with" Regards, Prasad January 8, 2010

 

 

 

Ruhi Khan

, Principal Correspondent, NDTV (colleague)
worked directly with you

“It was great fun to work with Dharmesh at NDTV. He has a good news sense and incredible contacts in diverse fields, which he is always willing to share with others. He was also fantastic with fixing up shoots/bytes in pace with the demands of TV news reporting. I’m sure he would excel in a journalist/consulting role and be an asset to any organisation.” May 2, 2012

Rajeev Dikshit

, HOD operations, Associated Broadcasting Company Pvt. Ltd (colleague)
worked with you

“I have had a great time working with Dharmesh at TV 9 Mumbai; he is always on the move, hyper active, & full of energy. He is a focused person, always willing to take responsibility.Dharmesh is a dedicated and very organized worker. He is a very capable media professional with keen eye on detail. I wish him all the best for the future.” April 11, 2010

Ishan Choudhary

, Producer-Input, Associated Broadcasting Company Pvt. Ltd (colleague)
worked directly with you

“It is tough to find easy going seniors, especially when you join a new environment. For his experience, Dharmesh bhai is very down to earth and an extremely resourceful and multi-faceted professional. He does not hesitate to share information which usually other journalists try to pass off as exclusive or breaking and is a very accessible senior. He is an efficient man manager and has a knack of accessing information at first go other than anyone else. It is a good learning experience to be working alongside him.” May 18, 2011--

dharmesh

(Dharmesh Thakker)