How much can we really learn or understand from news reports and what are the actual facts
The recent instance of attack on the media by lawyers in Karnataka has drawn widespread criticism from all quarters. Yet, many citizens have raised their doubts as to why the media remains silent when it comes to self-introspection.
The Broadcast Editor’s Association (BEA) has condemned the attack on media persons by the lawyers in Bangalore while reporting a strike by the Karnataka State Bar Council.
“The BEA has decided to constitute a five-member fact-finding committee to go into the Karnataka Assembly incident and subsequent developments. The committee will be headed by NK Singh, general secretary, BEA,” said the BEA in a media statement.
While acknowledging that the attack is unwarranted and unjust, many activists and journalists have also pointed out that while the media has every right to protest against the attack, it is high time that it also needs to be equally active when it comes to issues related to its own workings.
Veeresh Malik, a veteran seaman and journalist, says, "Please note the absence of any set points, agenda, or even inviting the public for their views and opinions on the issue. Also, why not make the unedited footage of the incident available? Most importantly, after the attack, why did the media regroup and go back in the second part of the day to the place again?"
Mr Malik opines that the media itself has many things to answer for. "I would like to know as to what the BEA has been doing about the paid news phenomenon,” he asked. "Where is the BEA when the media pounces on people without any regards for privacy? What about the broadcasters’ (and publishers’) liability to people for the ads they carry?”
It is well known that controversial entities like SpeakAsia and IIPM legitimize their positions by placing ads, and sometimes, even advertorials in leading publications.
The inconsistency of media reportage on issues is also glaring. A prominent example in this regard is the case of the murder of veteran crime journalist, J Dey and an alleged conspirator in the case, Jigna Vora, the deceased’s former colleague and another senior crime reporter. Right after the murder, speculation was rife as to the motive behind the murder. Some suggested that Dey was silenced because he was pursuing a story on the oil mafia, while others pointed fingers at a senior police who has issues with Dey. At the same time, senior journalists have publicly discussed Dey’s closeness to a particular senior police official, who seems to be silent after his death.
After the underworld don Chhota Rajan claimed that he had got rid of Dey because he suspected that “Dey was getting close to Dawood Ibrahim”, the ruckus died down. However, soon Jigna Vora’s name appeared in the case. It was revealed that she had supplied Dey’s description, bike number and exact location to the contract killers. The startling revelation and her arrest led rise to a situation of palpable confusion and embarrassment within the media.
“Jigna was working under a senior crime reporter. Has he been questioned? And for that matter, why did even Dey’s friends and colleagues not raise the demand?” commented a journalist who had worked with Dey earlier.
Dey’s murder is not a solitary case where the public as well as most of the media is clueless as to what really happened. A more recent example is that of the reportage on the court battle between the army chief and the government. After the Supreme Court disposed of General VK Singh’s petition about his birth date, it was declared that the chief has lost the battle.
The judgement, however, read, “As a matter of fact, the question before us in the writ petition is not about the determination of actual date of birth of the petitioner, but it concerns the recognition of a particular date of birth of the petitioner by the respondent (Union of India) in the official service record. In view of the statement made by Goolam Vahanvati, attorney-general, and the limited controversy in the writ petition, counsel for the petitioner does not wish to press the matter further and he seeks withdrawal of the writ petition. Writ petition is disposed of as withdrawn.”
None reported of a petition which has been forwarded to the president, signed by retired veterans, to ask for her interference into the matter in the capacity of being both the head of the Union and the supreme commander of the armed forces of the country. The petition can be viewed here http://www.satyamev-jayate.com/ .
On the other hand, the media was quick to publish dubious reports suggesting that the army chief’s office had a role to play in bugging Union defence minister AK Anthony’s office. The army chief has vehemently denied this and pointed fingers at a retired army official already embroiled in the Adarsh housing society scam.
“It is possible that the chief, who is known as an upright, honest man has become a thorn that needs to be removed,” said a retired IAS officer, who has also known the chief during his stay in Haryana. “We know that many arms deals are going to take place. India will be buying armaments, vehicles and other technology soon. There is a high chance that efforts are being made to fix the deals. General Singh may thwart such plans, so his absence from the scene is preferable.”
There have been several instances of attacks on journalists and even murders. But none of that has been reported in the media. In November, the Supreme Court upheld the Bombay High Court’s decision to fine the channel Times Now Rs100 crore. Former Supreme Court judge justice PB Sawant had sued the channel for wrongly displaying his photo; instead of the then sitting judge of the Calcutta High Court, justice PK Samanta; in a provident fund scam-related news report. While media bodies were quick to slam the judgement, the mistake was not acknowledged.
However, journalists have defended the method of reporting. On the Karnataka assault, a reporter said, “At one point, it is the very nature of journalism. A reporter has to report on things that are happening. You get beaten up, but you go back and write about it and revisit the place where you were beaten up, because that is your job. You get information, and write your story based on the available facts. If you are proven wrong later, you have to say that, too. We cannot expect journalists to stop relying on ‘insiders’ and sources, because without such information, there will be no news.”
A similar argument has been made by Mihir Srivastava in the last issue of Open, where he talks about the denouncing of his story on the Batla House encounter by a section of intelligentsia and civil society. “I did what any journalist must do—report a story on the basis of available facts,” he says. While his article got a quick rejoinder from Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association that slammed his article and his stance, he hit back by saying: “By all means continue to struggle for justice. Just do not sacrifice facts while doing so.”
But then, when facts lie in between the lines, how much truth can we hope for?
Our primary effort should be to strengthen the immune system to keep the population healthy. Many of the infectious diseases give life-long immunity after the first attack. This should be harnessed in children instead of trying to vaccinate a child for every mild childhood infection that would otherwise make the child immune for the rest of the child’s life
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear"—George Orwell
Vaccination comes from the root vacca, the cow. This is a misnomer as cow pox virus was not the one used in regular small pox vaccination, as was originally thought. The recent revelation that the cow pox and smallpox are genetically two distinct viruses proves the point. The only one disease that mankind has so far been able to eradicate from this globe, smallpox, was successfully conquered using the Indian system of vaccination which existed here for “times out of mind.” This Indian system of vaccination was shown to be 90% effective in protecting the population from smallpox while the unvaccinated segment of the population had 90% death rate in any epidemic, by a great physician-scientist, TZ Holwell, FRS, FRCP (London). Holwell was in India as a part of a team of twenty scientists, all Fellows of the Royal Society, sent here by the East India Company in the eighteenth century to study Indian science and technology, which were in their peak at that time compared to the West. Holwell was a distinguished physician in addition and was a Fellow of the London Royal College.
Holwell stayed on for twenty years in Bengal to study the Indian system of vaccination prospectively, probably using the so called gold standard of medical science today, the randomized controlled studies (RCTs), unbeknownst to him at that time, to get at the truth. Indian vaccination was practised by the Gurus from the great universities of India in Banaras, Nalanda and Taxila annually well before the epidemics started in summer. They used naturally attenuated smallpox virus from the previous year’s epidemic. Natural attenuation consisted of keeping the smallpox pus in chamois leather pouches for a year! The graphic details of the vaccination methods using some of the most sophisticated methods of inoculation as also the results of the 20 years prospective observation are available in Holwell’s original paper presented to the president and Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians of London. This document is available even today inside a glass case in the main library of the Royal College in Regent’s Park in London. That could also be accessed online. That report was later presented to the king to make Indian system to be used universally by a Decree of the King.
Edward Jenner’s infamous experiment on his errand boy, James Phipps, aged thirteen, using some of the crudest methods would be considered a criminal act today. Norma Thelms, a cow maid, casually told Jenner, a family doctor in London, that she is immune to smallpox as she suffered from cow pox. Using that pretext Jenner injected cow pox pus into his orphan errand boy who later came down with a near fatal cow pox attack. After James survived by the skin of his teeth, Jenner injected James with live small pox pus from a patient to test his hypothesis. Providentially, as luck would have it, James did not come down with smallpox. That is the proof positive of cow pox vaccination! Unfortunately, distorted history still harps on Jenner as the father of smallpox vaccination. Truth is bitter.
Be that as it may, let us turn our attention to infectious diseases against many of which we claim to have effective vaccines! The list of vaccines grows by the day, thanks to the greed of the pharmaceutical industry. Vaccines, with the whole population as their potential clients, are a trillion dollar industry pushed by some of the top business tycoons on the Forbes list. A child in the US today gets about 20 vaccines before it starts to walk and talk! A gold mine indeed! We claim that we have conquered many fatal infectious diseases because of our interventions. The truth is otherwise! Most of these diseases were on the wane long before the medical science came on the scene. Plague disappeared from Europe by the end of 18th century before any intervention or antibiotics came on the scene, diphtheria death rate plummeted well before anti-diphtheritic serum was made available, tuberculosis deaths had significantly come down long before streptomycin or BCG were discovered.
Affluence with good food and better standards of living coupled with good sanitation had made infectious diseases come down both in Europe since the Second World War and in the US after the 1930s depression abated. Medical intervention had very little to do with the decline. Another biological reason was that most of these diseases are but dynamic ones with their own cycles of waxing and waning. Man claims credit when nature comes to his help. One could only shudder to think that any of the deadly diseases could rear their head at any time in the future when the environment suits them. Give one example of plague. Plague disappeared from Europe when Europe became a degree cooler making it difficult for the rattus rattus (black rat) to survive, replaced by rattus novigenous (white rat). The latter cannot harbor pasturella pestis, the plague germ. If Europe becomes a degree warmer in future, plague might reappear in spite of medical efforts to stop it!
It was Louis Pasteur that wrote that the “soil is more important than the seed” years ago. That golden statement was missed by the medical scientists for ages. The body’s immune system is what keeps us alive and not medical science or the vaccines and drugs. It was a thinking American physician, Theobald Smith, who wrote in 1915 that “any disease might be directly related to the virulence of the germ but is definitely inversely related to the resistance of the host.” How true but forgotten by the medical world until in 1981 a peculiar pneumonia killed two homosexuals in the West. Our attention to the immune system got a shot in the arm only after that. Our primary effort should be to strengthen the immune system to keep the population healthy. That precisely is the essence (bija mantra) of Ayurveda, a great system of medical care. Many of the infectious diseases give life-long immunity after the first attack. This should be harnessed in those non-fatal diseases in children instead of trying to vaccinate a child for every mild childhood infection that would otherwise make the child immune for the rest of the child’s life. A good example is chicken pox, a mild infection in children.
The same in an adult could be a serious malady and could even be fatal. I had a bitter experience myself with virulent chicken pox when I was thirty years old. Even my enemy, if there is one, should not get chickenpox as an adult. With childhood chicken pox vaccination we might be making more adults get chicken pox as the latest research shows that vaccination does not give life-long immunity in chicken pox. May be this applies to many other minor illnesses in children.
It is time to understand the difference in immune response of natural infection vis-à-vis vaccine produced inflammation. There are about 150 genes in the long arm of the 9th chromosome that look after the immune response to infections. The response of the immune system to a natural infection is a very healthy attempt to overcome the infection and stop it when feasible, failing which at least to contain it to a milder form. In the unlikely event of the immune system failing to do either, the victim dies with the germ inside, killing the latter as well in the bargain—teleologically good for the herd. In the ordinary course the immune response to a natural infection gives the patient a full blown life-long immune cover against that particular germ. Every vaccine produces inflammation of a milder degree in most organs of the body including the brain. It is the latter that sometimes suffers a bit more in vaccine-produced inflammations that could be risky.
However, the vaccine-produced inflammation is a very poor cousin of the natural infection. The immune response here, many times, is only short lived, and depends on the nutritional state of the recipient always. Poor children, the majority in the world, with 46.4% of children in India suffering from malnutrition, are risky candidates for vaccinations as they do not produce enough antibodies in response to vaccination since they do not have enough raw materials (serum proteins) to produce antibodies to vaccines. In fact, certain vaccines like the live oral polio vaccine in such malnourished children could provoke the attenuated live virus to mutate to produce a deadly live virus to infect the recipient and other children in the vicinity! Such epidemics have been reported lately from Haiti, Dominican Islands and the Barbados. There have been nearly 27,000 vaccine-related polio deaths in India until 2007!
Now let us take a look at the other side of the coin. With more than twenty vaccines given to a child, many of them in clusters, they might even confuse the 150 genes in the 9th chromosome resulting in, on rare occasions, the genes producing auto anti-bodies that might attack the body’s own cells resulting in the deadly auto-immune diseases dreaded by the father of immunology, Paul Ehrlich, in his own words as “horror auto-toxicus.” A study of African Americans, most of whom are of East African origin, shows that they have much higher prevalence of autoimmune diseases in the US compared to the Caucasians. Curiously, in East Africa the natives have hardly any auto-immune disease. What could be the possible reasons? One possibility is that in Africa the 150 genes in the 9th chromosome are kept busy all the time by numerous bacterial, parasitic and other infections that the genes have to be on their toes all the time on duty. Whereas in the US, African Americans have such sterile surroundings, thanks to the antiseptic industry that the genes might be lazing away doing nothing. If such genes are artificially tickled with vaccines could they, possibly, produce many auto antibodies in the bargain? Horror autotoxicus indeed!
"What Jenner discovered, though hardly original in its general principle, was that it pays far better to scare 100% of the fools in the world—the vast majority—into buying vaccine than it does to treat the small minority who really get smallpox and who cannot afford to pay anything. It was indeed a very great discovery—worth thousands of millions. That is why this kind of blackmail is still kept going"--Dr Hadwin
(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, Chairman of the State Health Society's Expert Committee, Govt of Bihar, Patna. He is former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University at Mangalore and former professor for Cardiology of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London. Prof Dr Hegde can be contacted at [email protected])
“India firmly believes that the situation concerning Iran should not be allowed to escalate into a conflict, the disastrous consequences of which will be in nobody’s interest,” Indian embassy spokesman Virander Paul said in a press statement in Washington
Washington: Warning that any attack on Iran would be disastrous for the region, India has said that a series of recent media reports in the US have distorted its foreign policy objectives and energy security needs, reports PTI.
“Unfortunately, though, a series of recent media reports have presented a picture which not only distorts India’s foreign policy objectives and energy security needs, but also creates misunderstanding about its actions,” Indian embassy spokesman Virander Paul said in a press statement here.
It is one of the rare instances, when the Indian embassy in Washington has issued an official statement in response to any news reports in the American media, which have questioned New Delhi’s decision to continue importing oil from Iran.
These reports, Mr Paul said, overlook the imperative of India’s dependence on oil imports from Iran to serve the energy needs of its people, more than 400 million of whom do not as yet have access to commercial energy.
“Allusions in the media that India’s overall oil imports from Iran are increasing just because its monthly uptake of Iranian oil reportedly increased in January this year are based on selective use of information, misrepresenting the fact that in aggregate terms, crude imports from Iran constitute a declining share of India’s oil imports,” the statement said yesterday.
“Nonetheless, given the imperative of meeting the energy needs of millions of Indians, an automatic replacement of all Iranian oil imports, is not a simple matter of selection, or a realistic option,” it added.
India imports 12% of its oil from Iran.
Asserting that as a responsible member of the international community, India takes its obligations most seriously, the statement said, adding it firmly believes that the situation concerning Iran should not be allowed to escalate into a conflict, the disastrous consequences of which will be in nobody’s interest.