rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » Diary: The PM gets good press at last, but in Beijing

Diary: The PM gets good press at last, but in Beijing

Last updated on: October 25, 2013 22:27 IST

Li keeps his promise!

     Next

Next
Sheela Bhatt

On his recent China visit Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s team was delighted to see the honouring of a promise made by Premier Li Keqiang. On his visit to India in May 2013, Li had said after the ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in an unscheduled interaction with the Indian media, “I can guarantee you, when Dr Manmohan Singh comes to China, there will be banner headlines welcoming him.”

On October 24, on the day of  his departure for Russia, when Dr Singh woke up in his suite in Raffles Hotel, he got the morning’s China Daily with a four-column front page headline, ‘China and India sign “landmark” border pact’ along with a photograph of him and Li taking a walk in the Forbidden City in Beijing.

In view of the PM consistently getting a bad press in India, Li keeping his promise was a pleasure. 

Click on NEXT to read further...


Image: The China Daily front page


     Next

The press party

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
Sheela Bhatt

Around 34 journalists are invited each time by the ministry of external affairs to join the prime minister on his official trips abroad. The final list is prepared by the MEA and the PMO’s key officials, in a balancing act keeping in mind that non-Delhi media and various language newspapers and regional television channels should also get a chance to experience what is largely an excursion for journalists who are pampered no end on the VIP tour.

Of course, most of the journalists do work on the trip and some work extra hard because invariably, bilateral visits are a learning experience and reporting of history-in-slow motion is an exciting job, but that’s a solid excuse to also see and enjoy foreign lands.

For Doordarshan, Films Division and PTI reporters, cameramen and photographers, such trips means more work and little fun but most times, most reporters on the PM’s entourage find the time to indulge in some hard gossip (like, tangy speculation on who writes Rahul Gandhi’s speeches, who forced the CBI to fix former IAS officer P C Parakh, and why Narendra Modi is unlikely to become PM, how in December 2013 something would happen to scuttle Modi’s chance of becoming PM etc, etc, etc), some do find the time to indulge in excessive booze (at the cost of Air India or MEA, meaning public money!) and some shopping in-between reporting of the high-level meetings and press briefings by Indian diplomats.

Except the actual cost of hotel stay in host countries, which is borne by the publication concerned, the MEA takes care of all other expenses including travel, food and sight-seeing. Reporters even file reports with the help of the latest computers and wi-fi connections provided by the MEA.

Before the economic downturn journalists accompanying the PM were even entertained with Black Label, Lindt chocolates and Marlboro cigarettes but now they have restricted the freebies to Lindt and a pouch of toiletries.

During the Russia-China trip one reporter on board Air India One wondered if, just in case if, Narendra Modi becomes prime minister will his office or the MEA under his government continue giving out freebies? Will it be more or less?

Incidentally, onboard the prime minister’s aircraft there were more than a dozen reporters belonging to different regions, but most of them felt that while Modi is surely getting popular but he still has miles to go.

Click on NEXT to read further...


Image: Dr Singh interacting with the media persons at the Beijing International Airport
Photographs: Press Information Bureau Photos

Prev     Next

Why China rolled out the red carpet

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
Sheela Bhatt

It was not-so-normal respect that the Chinese displayed for Dr Singh, showing sentiment unambiguously for the PM. Many members of the media wondered if it was because in China’s assessment Dr Singh will return to head UPA-3 after the election?

However, the PM had a jolly good time driving around in a golf cart with his counterpart Li Keqiang inside Forbidden City.

Li is a popular leader, quite rooted like his predecessor Wen Jiabao. In Forbidden City he even took Dr Singh to a corner where a crowd was cheering for them.

Li mingled with them with flair while Dr Singh moved his hand typically up and down and repeatedly said in English, “Good afternoon!”

In China it’s difficult to fathom even real-time happenings. One MEA hack in fact thought, “The Chinese have managed the crowds, I think! It wasn’t waiting for the prime ministers!”

Click on NEXT to read further...


Image: Dr Singh with Premier Li during a visit to the Forbidden City
Photographs: Press Information Bureau Photos

Prev     Next

Separated by borders, united by issues

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
Sheela Bhatt

The biggest news in the historic Chinese capital city is “air pollution”, nothing else. The second big news is that it is easy to get a job in one of the most potent power centres in the world but impossible to get accommodation near the workplace.

A reading of Chinese papers, even after irritating censorship, shows how Indians and Chinese both face similar issues.

Most news is related to corruption, police high-headedness, unequal progress and rising aspirations. We, the visiting journalists, read the Moscow Times and China Daily over five days and we read how in all the three countries ordinary people face similar issues.

Neither Moscow Times nor Global Times of China reported Dr Singh’s visit on the front page.

The Global Times carried a story about how the New Express newspaper in Guangzhou published a front page editorial demanding the release of one of its reporters held by the police. The reporter was arrested for “fabricating" stories about a partly State-owned enterprise.

There is nationwide sympathy for the arrested reporter, Chen Yongzhou, and there is public demand to protect the arrested journalist, said the report.

Click on NEXT to read further...


Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the welcome ceremony in Beijing
Photographs: Press Information Bureau Photos

Prev     Next

How Russia outdid India in China!

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
Sheela Bhatt

Yes, Dr Singh’s China visit was substantial but more so from the Indian point of view. Were the Chinese people interested in the visit?

Not particularly. A senior reporter of Xinhua news agency told Rediff.com, "On the day Dr Singh arrived in Beijing Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a $85 billion deal to supply oil to China. It’s the largest ever deal signed between the two countries. Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, will be supplying 70 million barrels of crude oil to China over the next 10 years.”

In fact, in Russia, a reporter from an international business news agency, while waiting for the joint address of Dr Singh and President Vladimir Putin inside Kremlin, commented, in a chat with Rediff.com, that Dr Singh’s Russia visit will not be extra-ordinary because the “appetite” of the chief controllers of Rosneft is such that Indians have not been able to meet their expectations on this tour. The Chinese have done just that, he joked. 

Click on NEXT to read further...


Image: Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev meeting students and faculty at the Chinese University of Science and Technology
Photographs: Russian Prime Minister's Office

Prev     Next

The confident PM

Prev     More
Prev

More
Sheela Bhatt

Take it or leave it but the fact is that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is appearing as a confident person in spite of the extraordinary negative news he is facing day after day.

Imagine the day if and when Dr Singh will be “interrogated” by the CBI in the coal scam. With dirty details coming out everyday about the coal scam, the day is not impossible to conjure.

If one observed him closely while he was interacting with the media onboard Air India One, he wasn’t being evasive.

He was confident and kept to the point, all the time.

But then, one wonders, is Dr Singh such a brilliant actor to hide his anxiety, concerns or tensions if any about the scams engulfing his government and himself, or is he simply insensitive towards his public image?

What gives him so much confidence while facing serious charges against him and his office for not following proper procedures while allocating the natural resources of the nation?



Image: Dr Singh interacting with onboard media enroute from Beijing to Delhi
Photographs: Press Information Bureau Photos

Prev     More