On October 5, The New York Times ran a scathing investigation of powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, revealing him as a sexual predator who had harassed actresses and employees over a period of time.
Weinstein initially threatened to sue NYT.
Because it is America…, since then:
# A number of news organisations have followed up the NYT story and added to it,
# Other actresses have come forward to back the charges in NYT story (here, here, here)
# US and UK police have launched separate investigations based on the NYT story.
# Weinstein has been thrown out by The Weinstein Company.
Essentially, Weinstein is toast.
On October 8, The Wire ran a story on the financial genius of BJP president Amit Shah‘s son, Jay Amit Shah, in the year after Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.
It showed that the turnover of Temple Enterprise Private Limited, a firm owned by Jay Amit Shah, had jumped 16,000 times year on year. Its revenues had shot up from a paltry Rs 50,000 to a whopping Rs 80 crore in a single year.
Because it is India…, since then,
# Union minister Piyush Goyal has twice addressed media to rebut the story. (here, here)
# Lal Bahadur Shastri‘s grandson Siddharth Nath Singh has slammed “supari journalism“.
# Legal action to extract Rs 100 crore in damages has begun in the courts of Ahmedabad.
# A government lawyer has taken permission to appear for a private individual.
# The thrice-banned “cultural organisation” RSS has offered circular logic.
# The proud father himself has certified his son as beyond reproach.
Because it is India, the rest of the media has been happy to be let a textbook story of crony capitalism die down and vicariously watch the action from the sidelines.
Because it is India, the media has preferred to be on the side of the accused, although Wire itself terms the story a mere “recital of facts on record“.
Only one (The Hindu) has had a cartoon.
There have barely been any discussions or follow-ups of any value, except on NDTV.
And, of course, because this story deals with business—companies, commodities, banks, brokers, loans, profits, losses, closures—the pink papers won’t touch it.
The lawyer’s threat—“if you or anyone in the print, electronic or digital media carries and/or broadcasts any defamatory and/or false imputations including those which breach his fundamental right of privacy and/or defame him, Jay Shah reserves the right to prosecute and sue such person/entity including anyone who carries or broadcasts a repetition of such libelous/defamatory statement“—seems to have had a salutary effect.
All this is in stark contrast to the carpet coverage Sonia Gandhi‘s son-in-law Robert Vadra‘s countless transgressions have received.
All this is also very much in line with the quislings who pulled out a story about the rise in Amit Shah’s assets just before the Rajya Sabha elections from Gujarat.
So, here are 12 stories the Indian media could have safely approached without attracting charges of defamation:
# What kind of a student was Jay Amit Shah at Nirma University? What do his teachers and classmates think of his business acumen? What are his other business ventures—and the turnover, revenue, profit from them?
# Who is Jitendra Jayantilal Shah, who is a managing director of two companies and sits on the board of eight other companies, besides that of Jay Amit Shah’s? What is the status of those 10 companies?
# What were the specific commodities traded by Jay Amit Shah that resulted in the spurt of turnover, revenue? Did those who deal in the same commodities see similar returns? Who were his buyers, sellers? What is their experience with him?
# What was the change in turnover and revenue of comparable “high-volume-high revenue-low-profit” commodities firms as Jay Amit Shah’s in the first year after Narendra Modi came to power?
# If Jitendra Jayantilal Shah had been in the commodities business for several years, meaning he knew the ups and downs of the business, why did Jay Amit Shah shut down Temple Enterprises the very year its turnover shot up 16,000 times?
# How many businessmen shut down their businesses the very year their company sees an extraordinary spurt in turnover and revenue for the first time, notwithstanding temporary losses?
# How many employees did Jay Amit Shah employ at Temple Enterprises Pvt Ltd? Who were they? Where are they now?
# To how many other companies with scant experience in renewable energy has the ‘mini-ratna’ IREDA lent a Rs 10 crore-plus loan, like it did to Jay Amit Shah, to set up a windmill? Who did the due diligence?
# Was a windmill really set up by Jay Amit Shah‘s stockbroking firm in Ratlam in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh? What is its status now? If it is shut, from where will Jay Amit Shah service his loan outstanding of Rs 8.52 crore?
# Did Rajesh Khandvala‘s NBFC take RBI permission to lend an “unsecured loan” of Rs 15.78 crore to Jay Amit Shah, with whom he is also a partner? Why is it not reflected in the books? How does SEBI look at this misdemeanour?
# Was it just a coincidence that Temple Enterprises shut shop in October 2016, just a month before Narendra Modi announced demonetisation? How many companies similarly downed their shutters ahead of #DeMo?
Cartoon: courtesy The Hindu; Photograph: courtesy BJP via The Wire; Screenshot: courtesy The Tribune