Radia tapes controversy

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The Radia tapes controversy relates to the telephonic conversations between Nira Radia, an influence peddler[1] and an acquaintance of the (then) Indian telecom minister A. Raja, and with senior journalists, politicians, and corporate houses,[2] taped by the Indian Income Tax Department in 2008–09. The tapes led to accusations of misconduct by many of these people. Nira Radia used to run a public relations firm named Vaishnavi Communications,[3][4] whose clients include the Tata Teleservices[5] and Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries.[6]

Description[edit]

After getting authorisation from the Home Ministry, the Indian Income Tax department[7] tapped Radia's phone lines for 300 days[8] in 2008–2009 as part of their investigations into possible money laundering, restricted financial practices, and tax evasion.

In November 2010, OPEN magazine[9] carried a story which reported transcripts of some of the telephone conversations of Nira Radia with senior journalists, politicians, and corporate houses, many of whom have denied the allegations.[10] The Central Bureau of Investigation has announced that they have 5,851 recordings of phone conversations by Radia, some of which outline Radia's attempts to broker deals in relation to the 2G spectrum sale.[11] The tapes appear to demonstrate how Radia attempted to use some media persons to influence the decision to appoint A. Raja as telecom minister.[12]

In the recorded conversations between Nira Radia and prominent figures, referred to as the Radia Tapes, several prominent figures are heard in conversation with Radia:[13][14]

Politicians[edit]

Businessmen[edit]

Journalists[edit]

  • Barkha Dutt, Group editor, English news, new delhi television(ndtv),ndtv also has a hindi news channel "ndtv india"
  • M.K. Venu, then Opinion Editor, The Economic Times. Outlook weekly published unconditional apology for naming M.K.Venu on its cover.
  • Prabhu Chawla,[2][15] then editor of India Today magazine
  • Shankar Aiyar, then with India Today Group
  • Vir Sanghvi, HT advisory editorial director
  • Casual conversations with Radia of Editors of The Times of India, The Economic Times and The Hindu Businessline also figured in the tapes published by Outlook magazine.

Others[edit]

Political lobbying[edit]

According to the transcripts of the tapes, Radia lobbied against the reappointment of Dayanidhi Maran to the post of Union IT and Communications minister.

  • Radia spoke with Ms. Barkha Dutt at 0948 IST.

Dutt: 'The stalemate (between Congress and DMK) continues, ya
Radia: 'my honest advice is that you tell them (Congress) that they need to tell him (Karunanidhi) directly ..
Dutt: 'OK, let me talk to them'.[18]

In a later conversation at 1047 IST, Barkha says that it (conveying the message to Congress) was 'not a problem' and that she would talk to Ghulam (Nabi Azad).[19]

  • Radia, in a later conversation with Ranjan Bhattacharya, who also appears to be acting as a conduit to the Congress,[1] mentions the above conversation, where she says, 'I made Barkha call up Congress, and get a statement from Congress whether the Prime Minister has actually said that he doesn't want Baalu, which she carried that he had never said it'. She also mentions to Bhattacharya, that 'your friend Sunil Mittal, has been lobbying against Raja (for Maran).'[20]

Media blackout and reactions in social media[edit]

The news gained prominence following sustained pressure on social networking sites Twitter[21][22] and Facebook[23] against an attempted blackout orchestrated by many prominent Indian TV channels and newspapers.[16][24][25] According to the Washington Post, "Twitter has played an important role in launching what has become an international conversation on the issue, with the Indian diaspora weighing in".[26]

Initially, only a handful of the mainstream newspapers in India, like The Deccan Herald,[27] Indian Express[2] had openly written about the tapes. Some newspapers like HT Media, Mint (the business newspaper also owned by HT media)[28] and NDTV said "the authenticity of these transcripts cannot be ascertained".[25][29] CNN-IBN's Sagarika Ghose discussed with a panel of experts, if the corporate lobbying is undermining democracy, on the "Face the Nation" programme on the channel.[30] The Radia tapes is seen to have also made a dent in the image of the media in the country.[1][16][24][31][32][33][34] "The complete blackout of the Nira Radia tapes by the entire broadcast media and most of the major English newspapers paints a truer picture of corruption in the country," wrote G Sampath, the deputy editor of the Daily News and Analysis (DNA) newspaper.[16][35] After it became an international news, more and more media houses covered the story. The Deccan Chronicle commented, "The 'Radia tapes' may have torn the veil off the nexus between information hungry journalists, lobbyists and industrialists, and opened everyone’s eyes to what has long been suspected — the ability of a small but powerful group to use their connections to influence policy."[36] The largest circulated English newspaper in India and the world, The Times of India finally opened up on 25 November 2010, commenting "The people are showing who the boss is. The weapon in their hands is the internet, ... has seen frantic activism against "power brokering" by journalists in collusion with corporate groups and top government politicians..."[37]

Protests and developments[edit]

Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi, and others have refuted the allegations. M.K.Venu had filed a criminal defamation case against Outlook magazine for mentioning him on its cover. Outlook gave an unconditional apology in the court for mistakenly naming M.K.Venu and acknowledged his consistent writings against Telecom Minister A.Raja. News of the apology was published in Outlook, Indian Express and The a Hindu.[10][38][39] Open Magazine maintained that the conversations were carried as they appeared in the recordings.[40] Dutt defended her reputation through her Twitter account. "Struck by the bizarre irony of being accused of favouring a man i have never met (raja) and have always attacked in print and on TV. Gnite!," she said via one of her tweets on Twitter.[26]

New Delhi Television Limited posted a strong rebuttal on its website terming the insinuation that Barkha lobbied for A Raja as "unsubstantiated, baseless and defamatory" and threatened action against Open Magazine.[7][29][41]

Hindustan Times cited Sanghvi's clarifications on his website, and stated that the authenticity of these transcripts cannot be ascertained.[42] Vinod Mehta wrote opposition leader Arun Jaitley said Barkha Dutt pleaded to him not to mention about the conversation in the parliament while attacking the government on the 2G Scam.[43]

On 26 November 2010, Barkha Dutt released a detailed statement, addressing questions raised by the tapes, which she claims were edited.[44] On 27 November 2010, Vir Sanghvi released a detailed statement, clarifying his role.[45]

Writing about the controversy in the Hindustan Times, Rajdeep Sardesai said that "The robust Indian tradition of adversarial journalism has been mortgaged at the altar of cozy networks."[46] Tavleen Singh said it was "very, very disappointing", and added that "corruption when it involves ethics" was worse than "taking money".[47] Sumnima Udas of the CNN wrote that the tapes revealed that Dutt served as a power brokers for a deal considered to be one of India's biggest ever scams.[47]

Nira Radia has served a legal notice on The Pioneer, on the report titled "Tapped and Trapped" published by the newspaper. The notice asserted that The Pioneer '​s report regarding corruption and manipulation in the allotment of 2G spectrum to telecom operators, in so far as it referred to Radia's connections with Telecom Minister A Raja, are "absolutely false, baseless and malicious and constitute gross defamation".[48]

The original tapes are now annexures in a Supreme Court petition seeking Raja’s prosecution. The opposition parties in India have demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam, which could also to be extended to include a probe into the Radia tapes to ascertain the media's role in the controversy.[12] The Government is also accused of selectively releasing merely 10 hours of the 2000 hours recorded of the Radia tapes.[49]

The CBI in its affidavit in the Supreme Court in the 2G spectrum allocation case, on 22 November 2010, had stated that Radia will be approached for investigation at an appropriate time.[5] and that the probe would be completed latest by March 2011.[50] On 24 November 2010, Nira Radia was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials[51][52] and recorded her statements in relation to the 2G scam probe.[53]

On 1 August 2013 Supreme court asked whether the Income Tax department had informed the authorities which had directed the tapping of Radia’s telephone about the sensitive and serious nature of the conversations.[54]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "The spotlight is on the media now : The Niira Radia episode raises questions about the boundary between legitimate news gathering, lobbying and influence peddling.". The Hindu (Chennai, India). 24 November 2010.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. ^ a b c "Radia tapes featuring senior scribes create stir". The Indian Express. Express Buzz. 20 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  3. ^ http://business-standard.com/india/news/radia-shuts-vaishnavi/454061/
  4. ^ 23 November 2010. "Indian media's mighty stand exposed on wrong side of 2G spectrum scam". International Business Times. 
  5. ^ a b "2G: 'Lobbyist' Nira Radia under ED scanner". Zee News. 24 November 2010. 
  6. ^ "Queen of connections : First a quiz. What connects Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani and Sunil Mittal? Nira Radia.". E Jayakrishnan, India Syndicate,. MSN India. 22 November 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Does media follow unethical, biased journalism?". Oneindia.in. 21 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  8. ^ "'Radia lobbied to get Raja telecom ministry'". Headlines Today. India Today. Retrieved 23 November 2010.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  9. ^ "Some Telephone Conversations: Inside the networks of lobbyists and power brokers that dictate how this country is run.". OPEN Magazine. 20 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  10. ^ a b "Barkha, Sanghvi in damage control mode after Open allegations". Tehelka. 19 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  11. ^ "Leaked tapes: CBI says it has 5,851 recordings". Daily News and Analysis.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  12. ^ a b "JPC on Radia tapes?". Mail Today. India Today. 23 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  13. ^ "Phonegate: India Inc tapped? Copy of a purportedly leaked report says conversations of topmost industrialists, two senior journalists, were tapped with home secretary's permission". Mid-day. 29 April 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  14. ^ a b "All Lines Are Busy : There was not one pie Niira Radia didn’t have her hand in nor any area—media, corporate or government—she didn’t have a contact in". Outlook. 29 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  15. ^ "Prabhu Chawla Gas judgement discussion". Outlook. 
  16. ^ a b c d G Sampath (20 November 2010). "When Radia killed the media star". Daily News and Analysis. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  17. ^ Also by Open. "I am there... you want me to speak to anyone". OPEN Magazine. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  18. ^ "www.outlookindia.com | No. 3 Barkha Dutt: May 22, 2009 09:48:51". Outlook India. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  19. ^ "www.outlookindia.com | No. 7 Barkha Dutt: May 22, 2009 10:47:33". Outlook India. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  20. ^ "www.outlookindia.com | No. 16 Ranjan Bhattacharya: May 22, 2009 16:55:35". Outlook India. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  21. ^ "#barkhagate: Protests in 140 characters leave no space for gray areas". DNA. 24 November 2010. 
  22. ^ "Twitter world abuzz over Radia-Barkha tapes". rediff.com. Mynews.in. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  23. ^ "Barkhagate". Facebook. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  24. ^ a b "Those living in glass houses...". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  25. ^ a b "2G scam: Netizens bark at Barkha, Vir Sanghvi". CIOL. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  26. ^ a b Emily Wax (22 November 2010). "Indian journalists accused of secretly helping politicians, businesses". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  27. ^ "Anchored in mire : Journalists are only expected to be witnesses.". The Deccan Herald. 23 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  28. ^ Sukumar Ranganathan (19 November 2010). "Editor’s note: Why we are quiet on the Open magazine story". Mint. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  29. ^ a b "NDTV on defamatory remarks against Barkha Dutt". NDTV. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  30. ^ "FTN: Is corporate lobbying undermining democracy?". CNN-IBN. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  31. ^ "Outrage as Nira Radia tapes dent image of 4th Estate". India Today. 20 November 2010. 
  32. ^ Lahiri, Tripti (23 November 2010). "Q&A: The State of Indian Journalism". The Wall Street Journal. 
  33. ^ "Oh what a lovely blackout". The Hoot. 
  34. ^ "Companies love to pamper senior journalists". Mail Today. India Today. 
  35. ^ "Indian Media Where Art Thou on Media Scandal". Huffington Post. 20 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  36. ^ Neena Gopal (21 November 2010). "Billions for a few, few for the billions". The Deccan Chronicle. 
  37. ^ "2G scam sideshow: Netizens lambast high-profile journalists". The Times of India. 25 November 2010. 
  38. ^ http://bhadas4media.com/article-comment/7449-2010-11-20-02-28-02.html Article by Amitabh Thakur
  39. ^ Until Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi resign, boycott NDTV & Hindustan Times?
  40. ^ "Open’s response to NDTV". OPEN Magazine. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  41. ^ "og eating dog?". ArabNews. 20 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010. 
  42. ^ "A CLARIFICATION". Hindustan Times. 19 November 2010. 
  43. ^ Mehta, Vinod (2011). Lucknow Boy: A Memoir. Penguin Books India. p. 249. ISBN 0670085294. 
  44. ^ "Barkha Dutt on the Allegations Against Her". 26 November 2010. 
  45. ^ "Setting the record straight". 27 November 2010. 
  46. ^ Polgreen, Lydia (December 3, 2010). "A Journalist in India Ends Up in the Headlines". New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  47. ^ a b Udas, Sumnima (December 2, 2010). "Leaked tapes put India, media in crisis". CNN. Retrieved December 5, 2010. 
  48. ^ "Radia serves legal notice on Pioneer". The Pioneer. 23 November 2010. 
  49. ^ Harish Gupta (24 November 2010). "Outsmarted Congress redraws strategy in Parliament". Daily News & Analysis ( DNA). 
  50. ^ "Radia role to be probed, report latest by March: CBI". The Hindustan Times. 23 November 2010. 
  51. ^ "2G spectrum scam: Lobbyist Nira Radia being questioned". The Economic Times. 24 November 2010. [dead link]
  52. ^ IMRAN AHMED SIDDIQUI (24 November 2010). "Radia takes 7-hour ED test — Lobbyist leaves smiling after telecom quiz". The Telegraph (Calcutta, India). 
  53. ^ "ED questions Niira Radia on 2G scam". The Times of India. 25 November 2010. 
  54. ^ "Why no action based on Radia tapes? SC asks IT dept". The Hindu. 1 August 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013.