India Insight

Role of the media in Jessica Lall case

The Supreme Court has upheld the life term for Manu Sharma who was convicted for the 1999 murder of Jessica Lall.

A lawyer holds a book of criminal law as he waits to enter the Arthur Road jail in Mumbai April 16, 2009. REUTERS/Arko Datta/Files

The case became a cause celebre for the media, helping it grab eyeballs in a decade when private news channels mushroomed in the country.

It even inspired a novel by diplomat Vikas Swaroop, the author of the book on which the Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire” was based.

The case was something of a pot-boiler where fashion, high society, crime, political influence and media activism came together.

As Jessica Lall’s family heaves a sigh of relief the media too can pat itself on the back.

India in 2008: The year that was

Yet another year is coming to an end and independent India’s idea of being a republic is a year older. But is it any wiser?

On many counts, 2008 was both tumultuous and memorable for India, testing its men and the manner in which they confronted the challenges.

It was a year which saw the Manmohan Singh government face some of the toughest questions in its 4-year rule.

Whither shareholder activism?

July is the season for shareholder meetings, an annual rite of passage for Indian companies, with directors, shareholders and reporters trooping into large, badly-lit auditoriums to hear the chairman speak glowingly of the achievements of the past year, and a litany of woes from shareholders.

As a reporter who has covered many of these meetings of some of India’s largest companies, I have quickly learned that shareholders’ questions have little to do with family squabbles, succession policy, ill-advised acquisitions, or unflattering media reports.

Instead, they usually range from pleas for factory visits and bigger dividends to the quality of the snack served at the meeting. A few will ask about the cost of printing the annual report, and offer up suggestions for new advertising campaigns or congratulatory verse on the company.

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