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Archives for : Ethics

#SundayReading – Violence, voices and visibility #socialmedia #mediaethics

BY LAXMI MURTHY

What are the ethical implications surrounding graphic depictions of sexual violence in the media?

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EU – transparency of clinical trials data #healthcare

Europe backs more transparent, simpler clinical trial rules
April 2 Wed Apr 2, 2014 2:18pm EDT

(Reuters) – European Union lawmakers voted on Wednesday in favour of new rules that will ensure more open reporting of clinical trials results, even when they are negative, and also simplify the process for getting studies started.

The legislation approved by the European Parliament is expected to take effect in 2016 and will require results of all new clinical trials to be published within a year of the trial ending.

European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly, whose office investigates complaints about maladministration in EU institutions, said the move was “a triumph for transparency” in European healthcare.

There has been a growing clamour for greater disclosure of detailed clinical trial results by pharmaceutical companies following a series of scandals over the safety of drugs such as Merck & Co’s now withdrawn painkiller Vioxx.

A number of senior doctors have argued that in too many cases the decision on how and when to prescribe drugs relies on selective evidence controlled by manufacturers.

The new rules mean it will in future be possible for independent researchers to verify whether medicines are as safe and effective as they are claimed to be.

Ben Goldacre, a British doctor and author of “Bad Pharma”, who has led a campaign called AllTrials urging study disclosure, welcomed the vote by parliamentarians as “an excellent small step forward”.

But he remains concerned that the new EU Clinical Trials Regulation only covers new clinical trials and does not address access to full study results carried out on older medicines already on the market.

In addition to forcing greater transparency, the new law will also reduce the red tape surrounding the approval process for studies on medicines, including simplifying rules for running multinational trials.

Taken together, the measures should save research institutions and companies conducting clinical trials in the EU some 800 million euros ($1.10 billion) a year in regulatory costs, EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said in a statement.

($1 = 0.7263 Euros) (Reporting by Ben Hirschler, editing by David Evans)
Over a dozen Ombudsman inquiries about the Medicines Agency

Activists will recollect that phramaceutical MNCs have steadfastly opposed the idea of disclosing clinical trial data under the Indian RTI Act. They claim that this information attracts the protection of Section 8(1)(d) of the RTI Act which exempts disclosure of information that is in the nature of commercial confidence or trade secret or intellectual property if such disclosure will harm their competitive position. I remember assisting an NGO SAMA to access clinical trial data about HPV vaccine under the RTI Act a few years ago when the DGHS refused to part with this information. Subsequently political parties took up the issue in Parliament. I have not followed up on this case since then. Perhaps readers may educate us in the regard about the latest developments in INdia.

Many companies in the pharma sector and their advocates in the legal fraternity in India have treated this category of information as confidential. They argue that disclosure will adversely affect their ability to innovate and provide effective medicines at competitive rates. Their main concern is about access of such kind of data by companies that manufacture generic equivalents of such drugs and supply them at cheaper rates to developing countries that cannot afford to buy their astronomically priced medicines.

The RTI jurisprudence on this issue is not well developed in India. I could find only a handful of cases on the website of the Central Information Commission (CIC). In 2011 the CIC accepted the arguments of the pharma MNCs that clinical trial data contains information in the nature of intellectual property and may not be disclosed (1st attachment). However in 2012 the CIC ordered disclosure of clinical trial data in another case (2nd attachment). The Supreme Court has been moved in a similar matter through a public interest litigation suit though not under the RTI Act. See news story at: http://www.biospectrumasia.com/biospectrum/analysis/155515/indian-apex-court-raps-govt-clinical-trial. I have not been able to find out if this case has been decided at all now.

The new law in the European Union should make the multi-national pharma companies reconsider their arguments to prevent disclosure of clinical trial data to the public. However as most major pharma MNCs have their base in the USA it would be interesting to watch their reaction to this new law. The European law requires even negative results of clinical trials to be made public. Come to think of it, do not pharma MNCs have a fiduciary duty of disclosure of the truth to the people in general and medical practitioners in particular? I hope Information Commission in India take note of this change in law in the European Union and deal with appeals relating to access to clinical trial data with greater alacrity even to the extent of erring on the side of transaprency.

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#India – Tehelka, Jhatka and now Tamasha #mustread

DECEMBER 2, 2013

Guest post by Satya Sagarjustice

Eight years ago I remember listening to Tarun Tejpal in Bangalore as he held forth on how the news media could change the world for the better. It was a gathering of journalism students from Catholic institutions around the country and Tejpal was impressive in his defense of media freedoms.

He was passionate, charismatic, extremely articulate and as Chief Editor of Tehelka- with some of the best stories of Indian journalism behind them- very credible too. After his speech Tejpal left in a hurry, like a star priest dashing off to his next flaming sermon and fawning audience.

I was the following speaker and was openly skeptical of Tejpal valorising the profession of journalism and the potential of the media in general to transform anything beyond superficialities. (At that time I had no idea Mr Tejpal would turn out to be the complete fake he has proved to be now.)

My simple point to the students and the media studies professors before me was –  there is no such thing as ‘journalism’ outside the framework of the media industry. The so-called fourth pillar of democracy was in fact the fifth column of capital- this role being somewhat hidden in the past but flaunted quite openly these days.

The business interests of the media owners were the single most important factor shaping the limits of journalism and the biggest threat to the ‘freedom of the press’ lay within the media organisation itself. Every journalist who ever roared like a lion at a press conference was sure to tuck tail between legs, while in his own office.

The security of a job and privileges of the trade were, for most journalists, far more important than the values of the profession they claimed to stand for. Nothing unique or surprising about this of course, as this is the norm in all industries- not just the media.  However, this abject surrender of most mediapersons to their paymasters is the real reason why they deliberately miss out on all the really important news stories that stare them in the face every day and instead pass off frivolous triviliaties as ‘scoops’.

Just as it is not possible these days to find religion in temples, mosques or churches; health in the hospitals; education in our schools; or revolution in the revolutionary parties – it is meaningless to expect any truth from the news industry. To rub it all I added, while there was a good chance of getting some insights into the society we live in by watching soap operas or cinema – for pure entertainment news channels are the medium to go to.

All this I recollect now as Tejpal – the much feted journalist, publisher, novelist, impresario turned alleged sex offender – faces arrest and is hounded by the rest of the Indian media. His story has hogged headline space for an incredible five days in a row already as if nothing more important is happening in a land of 1.2 billion people!

There is no doubt at all in my mind that what Tejpal is accused of – sexual assault on a defenceless young woman employee – is a shocking act of pure criminality.

Tarun Tejpal happened to operate in a circuit that was like the IPL of sexual abuse – where the high and mighty do whatever they please with anybody lower down the pecking order. He was part of a planet where power, wealth and fame not only acted as aphrodisiac but offered the bonus of endless impunity too. Preying upon (known in these circles as ‘scoring’) a young female, even one the age of your daughter, was just part of the daily ’20-20’ routine.

Further,  as the skeletons fall out come dancing out of the Tehelka cupboard, it turns out Tejpal and those in the top echelons of the magazine (at least in recent years) had turned against every principle they themselves preached the loudest. Suppressing stories in order to ‘monetize’ them, plugging on behalf of corporate sponsors, using media privileges to amass property and forging business alliances with known crooks. All this while getting employees of Tehelka to constantly ‘tighten’ their belts and slave on for the cause of ‘great’ journalism.

For this Tejpal should be tried and punished as severely as the law permits. Uptil now it seems difficult for him to escape a long time in prison and rightly so too.

Having said all this, I am not very sure if the rest of the Indian media has the credibility to do endless talk shows or write pompous editorials about the Tehelka editor as if he were a freak accident in their midst. Nobody it seems wants to investigate the fact that Tarun Tejpal’s behaviour was perhaps the norm and not an aberration in the media industry.

First of all I don’t even think most of the news channels or newspapers are  covering the story because of the gravity of the crime Tejpal is supposed to have committed. Anyone, who has followed how the 24 by 7 media really operates, knows all this frenzy is because the idea of a ‘rape in a 5 star setting’, with celebrities (Robert de Niro in a cameo role) at the center of the story to boot can send the hearts of their audiences racing and TRPs of their channels zooming.

“CCTV cameras show woman journalist walking out of lift and adjusting her skirts” said a ‘Titillation’ Times of India headline recently. Many journalists routinely punch out obnoxious sentences like that on the front pages of their newspapers every day deliberately insensitive to the context involved.

Years ago, working for this idiotic media group, I was pulled up for doing a story on the growth of the poultry industry. In an official letter I was informed that it was the group’s policy ‘not to promote the meat industry’- presumably because the owners were vegetable-loving Jains. Today even a casual look at the stories and visuals on their website would reveal the ToI is foremost in projecting all women as ‘meat’. Rape in particular is a favourite subject for this newspaper (being an important pillar of India’s ‘erectoral democracy’) and it would be very nice if Mr Arnab ‘Outrage’ Goswami grills  his bosses about this some day (the Nation wants to know you @#$%&!)

Secondly, some of the glee evident among mainstream journalists at Tehelka’s downfall is because the outfit was always an upstart interloper in the world of Indian media and never really accepted it as ‘one of its own’. As a new entrant in the media market Tehelka was willing to break with convention, both in terms of content and methods, immediately earning the suspicion of the defenders of old-style and more conservative journalism.

The ToIs, the Hindu, Indian Express, Hindustan Times and the numerous noisy TV channels that have emerged in the last two decades are mostly run by well-entrenched, family-run business groups projecting a facade of civilised norms while protecting the colonial kleptocracy called ‘India’.  When it launched with a bang over a decade and half ago, Tehelka’s operation was based on little more than sheer audacity, something the rest of the media (emascualted by the vested interests of its owners) had lost a long time ago.

Interestingly, despite its reputation for ‘rocking the boat’ there was  little that Tehelka’s famous sting operations revealed that the rest of the media did not already know or the public already suspect. Many journalists for example knew that top Indian army officials were purchaseable for bottles of Scotch or that cricket matches were being fixed for money and leaders of ‘nationalist’ political parties were taking bribes to sell national security. However, no news outlet had thecojones to take them up for the simple reason that attacking the Indian army, cricket and Hindu nationalism – all holy cows of the great Indian middle-classes-  meant bringing down their idea of what ‘India’ was all about.

‘Sabko nanga karne wala ab khud nanga ho gaya’ goes the typical refrain one finds on social media platforms posted by anonymous characters who have an opinion on everything and a stake in nothing. Some of this middle-class anger is now being reflected in the way the Tejpal story has also been taken up by the media – as a way of showing him ‘his place’.

(This is not to say that those who admired Tehelka’s coverage of communalism, state atrocities or other important issues have not been angry too at Tejpal’s criminal behaviour or at subsequent revelations of his organisation’s corruption. There is a deep sense of betrayal among many who had sought to use Tehelka as a media platform to raise issues of significance to the Indian public.)

If maintream Indian media really had an iota of shame or honesty – along with following the Tejpal story- they should be ‘outing’ the numerous other Tejpals who continue to occupy exalted status within their own hierarchies. Those cameras chasing the former editor of Tehelka, should go back to their media offices and record how junior employees- particularly women- are being treated every day by their bosses.

Some of them should also examine the track record of their bosses both present and from the past. Does anyone in the Indian media have the guts to investigate long-standing charges of sexual predation against women employees by the late and ‘legendary’ founder of a newspaper that claims to do ‘journalism of courage’? Will every journalist who ever won an award in this ‘great media defender’s’ name return it if they found evidence of his atrocities? Is anyone within the media even interested in finding out by tracking down and talking to the survivors of his predations and gathering such evidence?

Why confine coverage to just the news media sector- is the media willing to touch the sexual  shenanigans that happen within the Indian corporate and business sector in general? The case a few years ago involving a senior executive in India’s top IT company – was just the tip of the iceberg as far as rampant sexual harassment within India Inc. goes.

And if one chooses to look beyond middle and upper middle class India then the cases of sexual assault and rape are equally numerous and horrific, particularly in the construction industry where women are routinely forced to give ‘sexual favours’ in order to get daily wage work. Or for that matter among agricultural labour where institutionalised forms of sexual exploitation of women by landlords are passed off as ‘tradition’.

Also, given that the Tehelka story has gone beyond just sexual abuse to one of molesting the core values of journalism, the coverage today should be of how every single media organisation is in the vice-like grip of one major corporation or the other. Is the Indian media willing to tell us what are the kinds of bribes it accepts to publish promotional stories or suppress uncomfortable ones on a daily basis? Or even tell us who really owns their bloody publications and channels? Or, how many senior journalists have acquired land, houses, free junkets abroad or other favours from either the state or corporates for acting as their PR agents?

The list goes on but I do not expect the Indian media to investigate itself or its wealthy patrons- that is something  for the rest of the country to take up. The least one can do in the meanwhile is to switch off the television at home, throw the newspaper back at the newspaper boy and look out of the window to see what is happening in the real world out there. We don’t need big media to brainwash us and set our agenda as if we were the walking dead.

And some words here for activists, however well-meaning, who like to appear on TV talk-shows. The fresh experience of jhatka given by Tehelka to liberal and leftist causes should caution them against blindly lending credibility to the tamasha of the Indian media by rushing to participate in their hypocritical debates.

It is time to understand that the media is not a mere neutral messenger but among the masters of the vast slave-camp this country has become. What we need today are ways to directly communicate with the people of India while putting the 24×7 ‘StinkFest’ called the Indian media where it really belongs- in the dustbin.

Satya Sagar is a former journalist and public health worker based in Santiniketan, West Bengal. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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#India- Tehelka is Dead, Long Live Tehelka #Sundayreading

BY   NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND NOVEMBER 27, 2013

T

tehelka tarun tejpal stinkfest
Amit Sengupta was one of the editors at ‘Tehelka’, when it was still called the ‘People’s Paper’. In a heart-breaking account he narrates the fall of the magazine from the highest pedestals of soulful journalism into the shallow depths of corporate sponsored, self-glorifying and pompous reportage. With the latest incident of sexual assault by its Editor-in-Chief Tarun Tejpal, the mirror has finally cracked… 

 

 

Like those slick, spoofy movies about con artists who start believing that that they are actually artists and seem to completely forget that they are basically con-guys, or like the hugely talented painters of fake paintings who start believing that the fake ones are really the original ones, the Tehelka bosses too have suddenly rediscovered their stunning originalities and self righteous narcissism in the cracked mirror of our times. So much so, they might still believe that it is the mirror that is cracked and hence it is finally the fault of the mirror. The mirror can go get damned, and who cares if it cracks many times more and falls with a jarring sound in a room replete with silence?

Indeed, the fall was always there, only that there was too much sound and fury, while the silences of white spaces in the colourful supplement of the holy ghost always seem to get buried and crushed. Routinely, there was a splash of addictive and repetitive celebration of megalomania, ritualistically glorified by its photogenic Managing Editor, perhaps like the point-size of the by-line with a mug shot becoming larger than the headline of a story or column. Do more readers read you if they see your mug shot? It’s like saying that China is a multi-party democracy. It’s like writing with shameless pomposity that M.F. Hussain had once asked me to write his autobiography, and that too after he had died in exile.

The cracked mirror? They never really cared. Like original painters of fake paintings, they turned public interest journalism into an art form. Perhaps Shiv Khera can start teaching marketing executives in five star hotels, with a hefty price of course, on how brand Tehelka became a commodity and victim of its own fake longings and mirror images, outsourcing and marketing public interest into a ‘buy one get three’ brand with a lot of dubious sponsorships and mining mafias thrown in for both spice and spirituality. In this Stinkfest everything smells of Old Spice, which Tarun Tejpal loved so much, so much so, there was always that lovely red plastic bottle next to him on his desk at GK II in Delhi.

In the end, their pockets only got deeper and deeper, and it did not matter if Soni Sori was jailed and condemned on fake charges, her body violated and brutalised by the Chhattisgarh repressive state apparatus led by the BJP. All that mattered was Shoma Chaudhary’s eternally flowery prose of elevated self righteous morality, even while the company (Essar) officials who were alleged to have paid her as an intermediary for the Maoists were all out there flaunting their muscles, as free as freedom, honourable citizens of a fat cat millionaire mining cartel, laughing their way to the bank. The Tehelka incestuous leadership too seemed to be laughing at our faces even as they lined their public interest journalism with big sponsorships and funding by dubious companies with impeccably shady track records, such as Essar in Chhattisgarh or the mining mafia in Goa.

Perhaps Shiv Khera can start teaching marketing executives in five star hotels, with a hefty price of course, on how brand Tehelka became a commodity and victim of its own fake longings and mirror images, outsourcing and marketing public interest into a ‘buy one get three’ brand with a lot of dubious sponsorships and mining mafias thrown in for both spice and spirituality.

Eat. Love. Pray and make hay. For them the sun was always shining.  Xerox another fake painting. Make Love. Make evangelism. Become Jesus Christ on a crucifix. Make big money. Sell your soul. Sell your sob story. Sell your high end fake ethics. Buy big cars. Celebrate big property. Hoist your pseudo revolutionary flag on the republic of chicken. Remember Tarun’s inaugural speech at the last Stinkfest in Goa? So whatever happens when all the chickens come home to roost?

The decline started long ago, even when a group of talented, committed, sensitive journalists, many of whom left cushy jobs to choose the rough and passion of the zigzag by-lane, precisely to create a parallel cinema of the ossified, fossilised, corporatised, stagnating, soul less journalism of the mainstream big media. This ‘alternative-mainstream’ defied the tyranny of the mediocrity, broke all the barriers of stasis and conformism, challenged all the clichés of establishment journalism, and pushed the threshold of professional excellence, hard-nosed journalism and deep sensitivity. They changed the rules of objective and subjective coverage of both bitter realism and the realism of hope. Where else could you have, week after week, pictures and stories splashed in full pages on the rights of the cyclists on the roads of Delhi and street hawkers across all metros in India, or multiple stories of the Bhopal gas victims and women of the Narmada Valley, or Dalit writers writing their autobiographies, or face to face with underground Maoists? Or, how the Modi regime tried to buy off Zaheera Sheikh, or why journalism should stand for secular pluralism at all cost.

This was a refreshing stream of consciousness which turned the entire media dialectic upside down and rediscovered the rational kernel of pulsating idealism in journalism without compromising on high professional standards. Small is beautiful, but small can also change the world.

It was collective stream of consciousness, true. It was heady and great. Tears, blood and sweat, as Tarun wrote in his fake atonement letter. I never thought that a great and original writer and editor like Tarun too would resort to such predictable clichés. If there were tears, blood and sweat, surely, it belonged to him as much to all of us, across the hierarchy, even while we, the captains of the ship, walked upon the waters holding the hands of all the young sailors, like sensuous sleepwalkers in an infinite dream sequence of a fantastic, impossible, beautiful rainbow coalition.

That dream now lies shattered, broken into many pieces, and not even the sound of the broken glass can be heard. The cracked mirror has suddenly become one-dimensional. There is neither image, nor sound. The decline of the self and the soul which started long ago, the fall of word, space and text, the apocalypse of idealism, seemed to have moved into another time and space. In this time and in this space, it is humid, dingy and shallow, all the windows are tightly shut, the doors of perception are like prisons of penance, and the dream is forever dead.

Truly, I don’t want to join the lynch mob. I don’t want to become the hangman. I don’t want to die in my sleep. But my heart too is broken. My mirror too has cracked. And the dream I see now, has neither colour nor feeling. It is a dead dream. Like a scream in abject silence.

So, I remind myself of an old slogan. I tell myself that hope and despair are the same thing, like pessimism and optimism. That dream and wakefulness move in synthesis. There is no catharsis. No anti-catharsis. They are all the same. Tehelka is dead. Long live Tehelka.

 

  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/india-tehelka-rape-case-tarun-tejpal-bail-plea-lies-and-denials/" target="_blank"> #India – Tehelka Rape Case – Tarun Tejpal, Bail Plea- Lies and Denials
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  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/india-think2013-of-tehelka-by-tejpals-firm-more-stink2013/" target="_blank"> #India #Think2013 of Tehelka by Tejpal’s firm ,more #Stink2013
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PRESS RELEASE- Statement Condemning the Sexual Assault of Woman Journalist from Tehelka

tarun
Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is in complete solidarity and supports the woman journalist who has made a serious complaint of repeated aggravated sexual assault against Tarun Tejpal – her powerful and influential director/ employer in Tehelka and Thinkworks – despite her personal distress, and the manifold pressures she has been subjected to.

A First Information Report has been lodged, and there is now no question that anything short of resolute action, under the law against accused Tarun Tejpal, could be acceptable. Fake regrets, deliberate falsification and manipulation of facts, character assassination of the complainant and even the claim that the complaint is politically motivated by the Right wing forces cannot be used to deflect the focus from the crime or trivialize its exigency.

There is no doubt that Tehelka and its team of bold journalists have done some extremely courageous investigative journalism at great personal risk in the past, which include exposing the state apathy in regards to sexual violence against adivasi women by the security forces, or the incidents of sexual violence against women of minority communities in orchestrated riots supported by the state agencies in Gujarat. It is therefore, extremely unfortunate, that this criminal act of Tarun Tejpal. has given the gleeful right wingers the ground to strike back  and question Tehelka.

However, it only reinforces our belief in the feminist principle that a person’s behavior in her/his personal life should seek to exemplify the very politics and values which one claims to stand for. It also underscores that the journey of Tarun Tejpal from Tehelka to “Thinkworks”— whose “Think” festival had recently come under severe attack by local people of Goa as being sponsored by unscrupulous corporates and mining barons guilty of gross violations of people’s rights and environmental laws— must certainly have heightened his sense of power and impunity that led to this criminal offense.

The vandalism portrayed by the BJP workers in this instance is extremely reprehensible— especially their selective targeting of the Tehelka’s manging editors house.  It completely exposes the false and patronizing claims, they are seriously dedicated to make this country safe for women.  There is not a single instance, where one recalls them showing any empathy, concern or civil response towards the many cases of repeated custodial sexual violence against women by the state agencies, against honor killings or against illegal surveillance of young women by state agencies. We hope that all those standing for this case, will also stand up for the safety of women at large and not selectively, just for vested political gains.

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression reiterates its demand that in all cases of sexual violence perpetrated by persons wielding power and influence over women— whether as employers, custodians, political leaders, godmen, personnel of the armed forces, police and judges—strict action must be taken against the perpetrators, irrespective of their status and rank, as would be taken against any ordinary criminal accused of the same offense.  In all such cases, it is important that the specified procedure stated by law must be followed.

The speed and efficiency shown by the state government should become the norm for all such complaints of sexual violence.

WSS is a nationwide non funded, autonomous network of women’s groups and women from diverse political and social movements.

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#India – THE Tejpal Who is far more TEZ ! #Tehelka

NOVEMBER 29, 2013

Guest Post by Kishore, kafila.org

So Tejpal allegedly sexually assaulted his lady colleague in an elevator. Criminal charges have been pressed against Tejpal and it seems sooner or later the woman journalist who may not get another job any time soon will at least get justice.

About time we discuss another TEZpal. This one had also harassed a lady colleague in an elevator. That was in 2007. TEZpal after having asked the woman journalist very personal details about her boyfriend repeatedly had not understood she was “not interested”. One night while TEZpal was the shift in charge of the night shift he tried  kissing and hugging this lady colleague in the office lift.

The woman journalist had reported  the incident to her bosses. An internal investigation was done. Many other journalists were called. They asserted that  TEZpal was indeed sexist and out of line a little much too often. Some old HR exit interviews were brought out. TEZpal was asked to leave.

But, all this was done quietly. This was also an “Internal matter” you see.

No criminal charges were pressed against TEZpal. The woman journalist wasn’t informed about VISHAKHA GUIDELINES and how effectively it can be used by workplace. The good thing that came out of all this was that the woman journalist continued to work in the news room. The other women journalists whose version had supported the primary complain also continued to work. But was this really enough?

All news channels and most newspapers knew what had happened but nothing was reported. As TEZpal’s organization was always ‘balanced’, had never really hurt any political party , kept everyone in good humour with their Cones and Caves the state also didn’t take note of the incident.

Then a few years later while eating Poorie- Alu the Big Boss decided he wanted TEZpal back! The HR which generally complies to all that BIG BOSS wants strongly resisted. The CEO also said its not a good idea. The News Director also didn’t want TEZ on MEZ back. But Big Boss is Big Boss. Out went CEO. HR head was on her way out. TEZ came in. News Director was also now on his way out. There were only two people now. TEZpal and BIG BOSS.

Then one day away from the main office TEZpal went to the land of Arabian Sea. There he met another woman journalist. He had never messed with this one before. She was an Editor and all in the organization. She had also worked with the organization for a long period. Even though she had never been promoted for over five years of her stint with Tezland she was still to be avoided. But now she was leaving. And she wasn’t apparently joining anywhere. Did she look vulnerable? May be she did! Out came barrage of questions? Why was she leaving her work for a man? Would she marry that man? Why doesn’t she get married? What is the MAZAAA in a long distance relationship? Oh he got to know she had found another man because of her FB status, and ah it was told to him by the boy gang of office. So was it long distance because she was involved with many men? Did she have one man in every city of the country? hahahah! Laughter ! laughter ! just a joke! Bherry Puny!!

The woman we hear was furious. She told BIG BOSS what the fuck! But TEZpal said it was all in MAZAAK! as colleagues! And you thought TEJPAL was the first one to say “Friendly banter”!!! You you you!

Then the new HR head apparently said the woman journalist had cut a cake after her meeting with TEZpal!!! How could she??

Now you tell me friends why did she do that? Shouldn’t she have run out of the room saying “bachao bachao” and cried and whined.and screamed. So what if she was an Editor? Aren’t women supposed to run? dis-engage? Cry? She cut a cake!!! Boo!

So now this TEZpal is doing many meaningful stories on TEJPAL. They are a big channel. Neither the BIG BOSS nor the HR head will ever be behind bars. It is a big channel. No fellow colleague will resign and feel disturbed. The women who had seen TEZpal’s re-entry know there is no point in protesting anymore. After all Big Boss had brought him back with a promotion!

So while we abuse and criticize TEJPAL remember TEZpal is going…strong…fast… and Vey Fast

(Kishore is a development professional and is working in the field of children’s rights for the last two decades)

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Intelligence reporting or embedded journalism?

Why do spooks mostly feed us the apple-pie-cold-coffee stories instead of revealing information of the kind Gen Singh disclosed? Editors must get together to evolve a protocol for covering the intelligence beat says AJAZ ASHRAF
Posted/Updated Monday, Sep 30, hoot.org

Come to think of it, Gen (retd) VK Singh’s disclosure about the Army paying politicians in Kashmir had all the ingredients for a headline-grabbing, career-defining story which reporters on the intelligence beat would have loved to scoop. Yet, for all the cups of coffee they have had with spooks in plush restaurants – obviously, paid by the latter – and despite their periodic forays into the troubled land of Kashmir, they did not have any clue about the subversion of democracy there, until Gen (retd) Singh, in pique or panic or both, decided to out the truth.

During the 48 hours Gen (retd) Singh was shooting from his mouth, which was deemed to have severely damaged India’s image abroad, spooks too mounted a special sideshow of their own. Through them we came to know that Yasin Bhatkal, guilty of killing at least a 100, had flown into Pakistan years ago without a visa, that he had told a passenger – with whom he was sharing an auto-rickshaw – about the bomb he had in his bag, and that he had ordered an apple pie and cold coffee in Pune’s German Bakery before leaving the explosive bag under a table.

Decidedly delicious stories these, yet begging a question: Why do spooks mostly feed us the apple-pie-cold-coffee stories, instead of revealing information of the kind Gen (retd) Singh disclosed? This question tells you a thing or two about those inhabiting the shadowy world of intelligence, and their relationship with journalists. One, there isn’t a whistleblower among our spooks, willing to accord primacy to, say, upholding the ideal of democracy over simply servicing organizational goals. Two, media reporting on intelligence mirrors the ethos of embedded journalism, a term coined to describe journalists who accompanied American army units on their invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Reporters are embedded in Indian intelligence in the sense their environment is controlled – they report what they are told, or rather dictated, and analyse on the basis of information supplied to them. Perhaps the other name for this brand of journalism is stenography, but then you can argue that a reasonably smart steno at least has the independence to replace ‘is’ with ‘are’ when it should be.

The problem inherent to the intelligence beat is that more often than not it is impossible to verify what the sources tell you, thus undermining the defining principle of journalism – corroborate and counter-check the stories of narrators who don’t wish to be identified. Who can, for instance, ever check the number of militant camps operating across the Line of Control or in Myanmar or Bangladesh, which was the staple of intelligence reporting before the dawn of the new millennium?

But over the last decade and more, the leaks from intelligence sources have become richer in description and detail, conveying to us their deep penetration into subterranean terror groups. It is impossible for journalists to verify whether these avowed claims are real or imaginary. Yet, if you were to read today the stories spun in the months following the bomb blast in Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid on May 18, 2007, you can’t but conclude their authors were schooled in the genre of magic-realism. (For a detailed account of this and other blasts in Hyderabad, the reader should read Sharib Ali’s Politics of terror: The Mecca Masjid Blast Case, which the Economic and Political Weekly published in August).

The blast occurred at the time 10,000 people were praying, and perhaps common sense dictated reporters should have been a little skeptical of the information they were fed. Almost all newspapers claimed the Harkatul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) was behind the blast, and its Indian commander, Shahid Bilal, who executed it. Shahid’s real name was Abdul Rehman, and around him breathless narratives were created, based, obviously, on the intelligence the agencies had gathered about him – why and when he left Hyderabad for Pakistan, under whose tutelage he trained, the members of the HUJI network linked to him, and the other bombings in Hyderabad he was involved in. In 2008, who else but the Intelligence Bureau (IB) confirmed Shahid Bilal had been killed in a shootout in Karachi.

For all the masterly knitting together of various strands comprising the story of Shahid Bilal, it turned out to be fiction, albeit powerful enough to destroy many. Nevertheless, it helped justify the picking up of Muslims in midnight swoops, their torture in custody, and the charges against them for organising the blast. Subsequently, though, as is now well known, Swami Aseemanand confessed that he and other members of Abhinav Bharati, a Hindu chauvinist group, organised and triggered the blast not only in the Mecca Masjid, but also at the dargahs in Ajmer and Malegoan, and the Samjhauta Express. In all these cases, too, jihadi groups were declared to have planned and executed the devastations through their Indian partners. So much for the faith journalists repose in the brilliance of our intelligence agencies.

The durability of their faith was vividly demonstrated in 2002, when journalist Iftikhar Gilani was arrested for violating the Official Secret Act. He was accused of possessing a map depicting the deployment of Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Newspapers reported verbatim what faceless sources from intelligence agencies told the reporters: Gilani had confessed to the violation.

The truth was that the map was part of a paper the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, had published, and could also be accessed on the internet. It was this paper which had marked out the position of Indian troops in what it called “Indian-held Kashmir”. This nomenclature the IB substituted with Jammu and Kashmir to implicate Gilani. He walked out of jail months later, but after having suffered severe beatings and humiliation, including being forced into cleaning toilets with his shirt and then wearing it. In the jail, Gilani also came across a carpenter who claimed he had been framed for violating the OSA because of a scuffle he had with an IB official while boarding a bus.

The egregiously flawed narrative around the Mecca Masjid and the unconscionable framing of Gilani raise another question: considering the blundering, even the bluffing, ways of intelligence agencies, why do we rarely get to read stories which blow against them? The answer: blame it on the phenomenon of embedded journalism.

Perhaps embedded journalism explains the sudden resurfacing of paragraphs which were claimed to have been expunged from the National Intelligence Agency dossier pertaining to the interrogation of David Headley. For months, nobody knew about the suppression of Headley’s purported disclosure that Ishrat Jahan was a suicide bomber until it began to be bandied about that the CBI was to name IB officer Rajendra Kumar as the mastermind behind the plan to kill her in a fake encounter. As lawyer Mukul Sinha has pointed out, the contentious paragraphs, even assuming that they had existed, would have needed to be expunged because these are inconsistent with Headley’s other disclosures.

You can learn about the cynical, callous ways of spooks by thumbing through The Meadow, a chilling account Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark have meticulously pieced together about the kidnapping of five western tourists from Kashmir in 1995. Both the Central and state government kept expressing their keenness to save their lives. However, the authors accessed senior police officers in Kashmir and reports to claim the intelligence agencies were aware of the hideouts of the kidnappers and their hostages, and had even aerial-photographed them.

Let alone mount a rescue operation, the spooks tacitly encouraged their killings, in the hope of giving a bad name to Pakistan’s ISI and sparking off revulsion against the militants in the Valley. Worse, when a senior Kashmiri police officer, who was the negotiator, had stitched a deal for the release of the hostages, its details were leaked to a Delhi-based newspaper – presumably by the IB – to portray to Kashmiris that the kidnappers were mere mercenaries, not freedom-fighters. They screamed betrayal and simply called off what had been protracted negotiations.

IB’s rogue-like behaviour, presumably for the reason of statecraft, is not of recent vintage. Way back in April 1988, the late journalist Dhiren Bhagat published a piece in a London-based newspaper accusing the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of smuggling arms from Afghanistan. His story pertained to an incident at the Delhi airport on November 19, 1987. It had so transpired that custom officials stumbled upon a consignment of 23 boxes, each bearing the recipient’s name as Director-General, Communication, which had arrived on an Indian Airlines flight from Kabul. On inspection the officials found the boxes contained sophisticated arms including rocket-launchers.

But even as they were jubilating over the haul a RAW operative walked in, claimed the consignment and whisked it away. The arms couldn’t have been for the army, Bhagat speculated, as it could have legitimately imported them through official channels. Nor was there a post designated as DG, Communications, in the I&B Ministry. Bhagat’s antennae went up as, weeks later, newspapers quoted sources to report that militants in Punjab had acquired rocket-launchers. Then, in March 1988, the Indian media reported prominently that rocket-launchers had been used in an attack on a paramilitary camp in Punjab, in which there were reportedly no casualties. Perhaps the incident prompted Bhagat to join the dots to write his piece, hinting at the possibility of government-sponsored agents firing rockets brought from Kabul to stoke anti-Sikh sentiments.

Count the number of stories you have read detailing the transgressions of the intelligence agencies. In recent years, one readily comes to mind: the scoop on the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) eavesdropping on telephonic conversations of, among others, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, Union minister Sharad Pawar, Congress leader Digvijay Singh, and CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, using state-of-art technology to intercept telephone signals. Perhaps you could also include the story on the escape of a RAW mole, Rabinder Singh, from Delhi despite the surveillance on him, or the IB’s failure to keep tabs on the cellphone numbers of Pakistani militants that were forwarded to them five days before they attacked Mumbai.

I may have missed a story or two, but the scoops on spooks are decidedly limited in a climate in which deterioration and decay have beset government organisations. They haven’t been tarred largely because of the mechanism underlying embedded journalism: they are the sole purveyors of information impossible to gather otherwise, as also equally impossible to verify. Theirs is a single-window clearance for what goes out and what remains classified. In times of crisis – say, a terror attack – it is they who help the reporter to satisfy bosses keen on exclusive information, however inane and irrelevant. Can they then turn around to bite the hand which feeds them, particularly as the hand has no substitute?

Nobody can grudge the shroud of secrecy the spooks wear. But the shroud loses its sanctity as soon it is used as a cover to float facts manufactured for self-serving goals. This is precisely why editors must get together to evolve a protocol for covering the intelligence beat. For starters, perhaps, invest money and energy in finding out the veracity of Gen (retd) Singh’s claims that the Army was bankrolling politicians to walk the peace in Kashmir, which a clutch of eight former generals have refuted. Or are we to wait to know the truth until such time a journalistic investigation is undertaken by foreign journalists such as Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, who are working on a book on the 2611 Mumbai attacks? Perhaps they will shame us again for reposing faith in intelligence agencies, for being the practitioners of embedded journalism, and for our penchant to devour intelligence stories having the flavour of apple pie and cold coffee.

The author is a Delhi-based journalist, and can be reached at [email protected]

 

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#India – How the Delhi gang-rape revealed the ugly truth about India’s journalists #mustread

By ROHAN VENKATARAMAKRISHNAN

After a brutal gang-rape-murder that inspired not only protests and outrage but also a suicide, new legislation and a heightened awareness of the very nature of womanhood in India, all eyes ought to have been trained on the judge on the day the verdict was to be pronounced.

Instead, most of the drama was happening outside the courtroom.

With the world’s media having descended on the Saket court complex, mismanaged arrangements by the court administration and the police began to cause confusion about which of the journalists would be let in.

And then suddenly, the crowded halls turned into the personal battleground of two reporters who started fighting over who got to go inside first; a petty rivalry that descended into blows and curses right in the middle of the melee.

The day that was supposed to be the culmination of the work of feminist and legal activists the morning after December 16 had become the occasion for an unseemly slap-fest.

Bitter rivalries: Journalists scramble over each other to speak to defense lawyer AP Singh after the caseBitter rivalries: Journalists scramble over each other to speak to defense lawyer AP Singh after the case

 

Behaviour

While the foreign reporting corps looked on, somewhat alarmed – one tweeted relief at the fact that Indian journalists are not usually armed – the more shocking part was that, for local journalists, the scene was all too familiar.

A cut-throat industry made worse by an electronic media that prides speed over accuracy has made it easy for members of the journalistic fraternity to turn into entitled blowhards who believe the letters ‘PRESS’ on a card in their pockets provide them with a power beyond ordinary mortals.

And, although the breakneck take-no-prisoners atmosphere of TV news is plenty at fault here, this problem can’t be pinned entirely on the electronic media; the two reporters trading blows in Saket were, after all, print journalists.

Indeed, ask any reporter in Delhi and you’ll find no dearth of great anecdotes about terrible behaviour. Some of it is personal rivalry, stuff that wouldn’t be out of place in any other industry but is magnified by the public nature of the media: an anchor keeping a studio guest from going to another channel to ruin that former colleague’s show; a reporter resorting to tears to ensure her news channel gets an exclusive interview; an automobile journalist getting drunk before the test drive of a supercar in Italy only to crash the vehicle.

Other stories speak to the simple greed of our brethren, often explained away with a reference to our minuscule paychecks: an Oil India Limited official catching a journalist trying to ferret away more than 50 pieces of cutlery from a special event; an entire hall-full of crime reporters shuffling out of a presser while the Police Commissioner is still mid-sentence, because lunch has been announced; journalists lining up to receive blessings (and 500-rupee notes) from a southern godman after a press conference.

But the ones that truly rankle involve behaviour on the beat that affects ordinary people or sources. Think of the badminton player who was driven to tears because of the clamour, or the IAF officer who got a dressing down from a reporter just because that journalist lost out on a chopper flight.

War of words: Many journalists display an unpleasant entitlement complex around members of the public - and each otherWar of words: Many journalists display an unpleasant entitlement complex around members of the public – and each other

 

A story from the days spent covering the Aarushi case, out in the ‘badlands’ of Noida, takes the cake. Having already made a royal mess of themselves, regularly drinking and leaving trash outside the Talwars’ residence, the reporting ‘mob’ turned up at the home of an old couple who had rented out a portion of their property to Krishna, the Talwars’ servant. After they had trampled all over the property, the old woman had had enough. She came out to complain that the place was being destroyed and the journalists need to handle things with care and be a little quiet.

With the calm resolve characteristic of our species, the journalists began yelling at the woman – using phrases that cannot be printed – and eventually ended up locking the elderly lady inside her own home.

This sort of behaviour is not without consequences. Since TRPs and circulation numbers are no reflection of the credibility of a news organisation, media observer Vanita Kohli-Khandekar turned to Bollywood – that reliable mirror of Indian society – in a recent column. There she found that the stock journalist character in Hindi films has gone from a serious news reporter to “bodies with mikes and cameras but without brains,” who are often stereotypically corrupt.

Entitlement

While the corruption that permeates the industry may be a whole other problem, it doesn’t justify the entitled manner in which journalists regularly behave around ‘civilians.’ And the custodians of the industry ought to be worried. Much of this comes down to trust: you won’t see an unruly battle happening for exclusives in a pool of close-knit reporters who interact every day, such as the Supreme Court corps, simply because they have to face each other the next day.

Pressure is equally responsible; even if viewers couldn’t care less whether one channel has broken news two seconds before the other, editors (whose audiences are each other, not the aam junta) won’t stand for a late newsflash. And entitlement – the belief that reporters have earned some special status within society simply by virtue of their profession – is one that has become deeply ingrained.

Solution

I’m not one to suggest this can be fixed. Kohli-Khandekar offers a three-point formula: increasing investment caps, bringing quality to DD to set the bar, and training editors and reporters. Only one of those measures seems plausible in the current climate, and even implementing the others wouldn’t fix the problem.

The fact remains, however, that the ‘peepli’ media has become a living breathing part of the experience of modern India – one we can’t ignore. Maybe it’s time the Press Council of India urges closer cooperation with other institutions; there really is no reason press representatives shouldn’t be talking directly to the Delhi Police and the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, to set down some norms about behaviour in a city where there will never be any shortage of sensational crimes and ‘trials of the century.’

It does us in the media no good to ignore what we’ve become and how we impact those around us. Maybe norms on some beats can percolate into the rest of the industry, or perhaps we need to be setting better examples within our newsrooms. But until then, I have to say, I’ve seen the face of modern Indian journalism, and it’s not pretty.

The writer is Junior Assistant Editor

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2433772/How-Delhi-gang-rape-revealed-ugly-truth-Indias-journalists.html#ixzz2gSkBn3EH

 

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Complaint against Dainik Bhaskar daily for continuously Publishing misogynist news #Vaw

To
Smt. Mamta Sharma,
The Chairperson,
National Commission for Women,
New Delhi.Subject: Complaint against Dainik Bhaskar daily for continuously Publishing misogynist news against a victim of gender violence, who is fighting for her life in the hospital.

Dear Chairperson,
I am writing to your competent authority regarding a very disgusting and misogynist photo story published by Dainik Bhaskar in its website. The story assassinates the character of a female student of Jawaharlal Nehru University who is battling for her life after getting assaulted by a classmate who later committed suicide.

The very title of the story in Hindi “बदले के लिए करना चाहता था मर्डर: सेक्स तक कर चुकी थी गर्लफ्रेंड, पर बाद में उड़ाने लगी मजाक” not only sensationalises the gruesome assault for catching eyeballs but also is factually incorrect. How did the author of the story know that the victim has had sex with the attacker? The sick conclusion has been drawn by a line in the suicide note written by the attacker which asserts that ” हमारे बीच बहुत कुछ था”.
As you are aware, such a defamatory story can destroy the life of the survivors of such attacks in our patriarchal society.
I, therefore, request the National Commission for Women to take sternest possible action against the writer of the story as well as the editor of Dainik Bhaskar. I also request you to warn them to desist from publishing such stories in future.
Thanking you,
Sincerely yours,
Undersigned:
Students and Activists of Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Sheeba Aslam Fehmi,
PhD Fellow,
Center for Political Studies,
School of Social Sciences,
Jawaharlal Nehru University,
New Delhi.
Contact: 9871683654, [email protected]CC to all the
• Members of the Press Council.
• National Women Commission

 

 

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#India – Whistleblower Dr K V Babu’s 5-yr battle for #medicalethics drags on #Publichealth #IMA

WHISTLEBLOWER Dr KV Babu has risked his medical career to expose a gross violation of law by India’s largest body of medical practitioners (Photo: MADHURAJ)

Rema Nagarajan
30 May 2013, TNN

May 30, 2013: It is exactly five years since Dr K V Babu took up the issue of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) endorsing the products of various companies in violation of the medical code of ethics. The case continues to drag on as the Medical Council of India (MCI) gave one more chance for Dr Rajagopalan Nair, Kerala state secretary of the IMA to appear before it after he failed to do so on two previous dates given to him.

On May 30, 2008, Dr Babu complained to the IMA national president about IMAs endorsement of products of various companies like Pepsico and Dabur. Instead of being lauded for having prevented the association from violating the code of ethics, Dr Babu has been harassed by the IMA, which had to forego crores of rupees that it used to earn from endorsement of products.

Even the MCI which is supposed to regulate the medical profession has been dragging its feet in helping an individual doctor’s efforts to ensure compliance of the ethics code. The battle goes on  relentlessly as IMA continues to harass Dr Babu for standing up against the system, while Dr Babu persists in fighting his lone battle against the largest and most powerful association of doctors in the country.

The saga of endorsement and harassment: 

April 2008– IMA Central Working Committee met and decided to endorse Pepsico products -Tropicana and Quaker

May 2008– Dr Babu K V complained to IMA national president that endorsement was unethical according to the Medical Council of India’s (MCI) code of ethics for doctors

June 2008– Complaint was filed against IMA endorsement to MCI.

August 2008-MCI sent show-cause notice to IMA on endorsement issue

November 2008– IMA ratified minutes of the meeting regarding endorsement

May, June 2009– MCI sent several notices to IMA

July 2009– Ethics committee of MCI took up the issue and decided that IMA was not under the jurisdiction of MCI

July 2009– Dr Babu approached the health ministry to take action against MCI for not upholding the code of ethics.

-Health ministry asked MCI to take up the issue again

August/September 2009– MCI sought legal opinion on whether endorsement by IMA was unethical and whether IMA was within the jurisdiction of MCI

November 2009-Dr Babu approached Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) as no reply was coming from MCI on RTI application on whether endorsement by medical associations was unethical or not. CIC directed MCI to reply by December 31, 2009.

November 30,2009– IMA decided to stop all endorsements in future but would continue already signed MoUs for endorsement

December 2009– MCI clarified that IMA was within the jurisdiction of the code of ethics and that code of ethics was applicable not only to individual doctors but also to professional associations of doctors

March 2010– MCI ethics committee again decided IMA not within jurisdiction on basis of legal opinion of an outdated legal opinion prior to the clarification

April 2010– Dr Babu complained again to the ethics committee of the MCI

May 2010– Dr Babu wrote to MCI seeking information on why no action was taken against office bearers of IMA for violating the code of ethics or MCI regulations 2002 which prohibits endorsement of any commercial product by a physician or group of physicians.

June 2010– NHRC in response to Babu’s complaint directed Health Ministry to take appropriate action on complaint against IMA

July 2010– MCI claimed that IMA was not under its jurisdiction and that action could only be taken on complaints against individual doctors

August 2010– Dr Babu sent a complaint to MCI again, naming individual doctors, 187 members of the Central Working Committee of IMA who decided on the endorsement

MCI declared that IMA was under its jurisdiction and sent show cause notice to IMA

November 2010– Board of governors of the MCI declared IMA endorsement unethical and asked for it to be stopped immediately. Penal action, if any, was to be decided on November 9, 2010

Health minister informed Parliament that MCI had decided to remove the names of the national president of IMA Dr G. Samaram and secretary Dr Dharam Praksh, for 6 months and censure 61 members of the IMA executive.

January 2011– Dr Babu filed a complaint filed to Delhi Medical Council pointing out that the endorsement had not been stopped despite MCI directions

February 2011– PepsiCo stopped using logo and health message of IMA on Quaker oats and Tropicana

IMA Kerala branch decided to expel Dr Babu from IMA for bringing disrepute to the association by complaining to MCI and going to the media

Dr Babu complained to MCI, DMC and Kerala state medical council regarding threat of expulsion and harassment

March 2011-Pepsico officially withdrew IMA endorsement nine months before MoU was supposed to run out.

April 2011– IMA CWC rejects request of MA Kerala to expel Dr Babu since it was not as per IMA bye laws. Request for expulsion was sent back to IMA Kerala

May 2011– MCI and DMC refuse to intervene saying it is a dispute between a member and an association

August 2012– Notice issued from IMA Kerala to Dr Babu appear in person for being instrumental in the publication of an article on the endorsement issue in the press.

Dr Babu complained to the MCI to intervene in the matter

October 2012-Dr Babu appealed to the Health Ministry as MCI was not taking any action on his complaint of IMA’s harassment

November 22, 2012– Health Ministry sought comments from MCI on Dr Babu’s appeal

Jan 22, 2013: MCI ethics committee examined the complaint and discussed the issue

March 22, 2013: Summoned Dr Babu and Dr Rajagopalan Nair, former IMA state secretary. Both parties could not attend

April 26, 2013: Dr Babu and Dr Rajagopalan summoned again. Dr Babu appeared before the MCI ethics committee and presented his case and submitted relevant documents. Dr Rajagopalan failed to appear

May 24, 2013– Dr Rajagopalan was summoned again. He did not appear and the ethics committee has decided to give him one more chance to appear next month.

And so the quest for justice drags on beyond five years.

 

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