Saturday, January 12, 2019

Goa trip - Day 3 - Bird Sanctuary, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Archaeological Museum, Russians, and flea market at Arpora

(This post continues from Goa trip - Day 2 and Goa trip - Day 1)

The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
On the third day of our Goa tour, December 1, we went to Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary. It is on the island of Chorao, which is about 7 km from the State's capital Panaji, along the Mandovi River, mid-north of Goa.

Salim Ali, who passed away in 1987 at the age of 91, was India's most renowned ornithologist and naturalist. He was the first Indian to undertake a systematic survey of birds in the country. He wrote a number of books and popularised the study of birds and amateur bird-watching. He, along with the famous American ornithologist, Sidney Ripley, wrote the 10-volume Handbook of Birds of India and Pakistan.

View of Mandovi River from the sanctuary
It is a mangrove forest that spans over 178 ha (440 acres) housing a variety of birds. Not all of the densely wooded premises is accessible, more so during the rainy season when the water level rises. We went on a nature trail, around 900 metres one-way.

The sanctuary is of relatively recent origin. According to the literature available here, the place where the sanctuary stands now, was until the 1970s privately owned rice fields. When the fields were neglected, for various reasons like people moving to cities, the embankments started to collapse and the area began to get flooded with saltwater from the Mandovi River. Soon, mangroves began to grow and also various forms of aquatic organisms.

The mangroves -- which are highly specialised ecosystems with salt-resistant plants -- house a number of fish and other marine species. There are ducks, waders, raptors, kingfishers, seabirds,  herons etc.

FERRY SERVICE

The island is accessed by ferry, wherein vehicles and people are transported between Ribander and Chorao island, free of cost, except for cars that are charged a nominal fee. Ferries used to be very common in Goa, but now in many places bridges have replaced them. For those who haven't seen people and vehicles being transported like this, it's quite a sight. Watch the video below.



We could spot only three or four birds, since it was around 11 am when we reached. If you want to see birds, make sure you are there very early in the morning, maybe as early as 7 am when the sanctuary opens. But we enjoyed the walk of around 1 km into the forest and back. The thick foliage and tranquillity of the surroundings are undoubtedly soothing.

Here I got to learn about 'Roots that Breathe'. Red Mangrove has, what is called, 'prop roots' that not only support the tree but also filter out the salt from the sea water so that it gets the water it needs without the harmful salt. They also have small holes through which it takes in air. In the case of White Mangroves, there are pencil-like tubes that transport oxygen to the roots below the ground.

OLD GOA, BODY OF ST FRANCIS XAVIER

From here, we went to what is called Old Goa, about 6 km from the sanctuary. This area used to be the capital of Portuguese India and a thriving business centre from the 16th to the 18th century during Portuguese reign. Most of the remains of those times are now preserved as part of Unesco's World Heritage Site.

The Basilica of Bom Jesus
Old Goa has many churches, but the most important of them is the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which has the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier. He was one of the missionaries who spread the teachings of Christ in Asia, with a lot of success in India. When he was on his way to China, he passed away on December 3, 1552.

It was found that his body was incorrupt, and a year after his death, the body was brought to Goa, where the mortal remains are preserved at the Basilica in a silver casket. Once in 10 years, the body is lowered to ground level for devotees to pay respects. The last time this was done was in December 2014. We also went to the nearby Church of St. Francis of Assisi.

The entire area was decked up, getting ready for the annual Feast of St Francis Xavier, which is held on the 3rd of December.

COLLECTION OF HISTORICAL ARTEFACTS

Opposite to the Basilica and adjascent to the Church of St Francis of Assisi is the Archaeological Museum. (This is different from the Goa State Museum in Panaji, and the Museum of Goa in Pilerne.) Here there are various historical artefacts like sculptures, pillars, stones, postage stamps, lamps etc. There are also portraits of Governors and Viceroys of colonial Goa.

LUNCH AT CASA DA CHA

It was around 2 pm, and we were really hungry. We thought we must try out typical Goan lunch. On the way back from Old Goa, at Ribander, we saw a small, traditional restaurant, named Casa De Cha, which claimed to serve 'authentic traditional Goan food.

Casa Da Cha restaurant at Ribander
We enjoyed the fare. Unlike typical north Indian food items which tend to have masala, this instead had coconut. The course had rice, a couple of curries, including one of fish, apart from fried fish. In the end, they served water with Kokum syrup. Kokum is a fruit-bearing tree, commonly found in Asia and Africa. The juice/syrup made from the fruit is said to have a number of health benefits.

The owners of the restaurant are original Goans who still speak Portuguese. The gentleman at the cash counter explained to us what the name of the restaurant meant. Casa is house and cha is tea, and Casa de cha means a cafeteria

AN ELDERLY GOAN'S REMINISCENCES 

We then went around a bit of Panaji, and headed to Arpora, to see the night market. Though there was some time to kill, we didn't want to go back to the hotel, since we would have felt so lazy to stir out again. So, at a small village on the way called Parra, we halted, and sat on the bench on the pavement, stretched our legs and relaxed, comforted by the gentle breeze.

There we got talking to an elderly man, who was sitting on the bench beside us. On seeing a motorcyclist who hadn't put on the indicator before taking a turn and narrowly missed brushing against a car, the man on the bench, who evidently was someone who has been a long-time resident of the place, launched himself into a lament-filled diatribe on how the youngsters nowadays have no discipline and how value systems have all plummeted in today's world. Least interested in getting into either a debate or an intellectual conversation, we agreed with everything he had to share, and we took leave after some time.

Near the Arpora Junction, we saw the Benz Celebrity Wax Museum. The general online reviews of the wax statues there, some 200 in total, was that they weren't worth the ticket price, we decided to give it a miss; and instead had a good cup of tea from the restaurant nearby. By then, it was around 6 pm, and it was time to head to the night market.

RUSSIAN INFLUENCE 

One can make out that a large number of Russian tourists visit Goa from the signboards on streets, especially outside shops displaying the products available there and the prices. Not quite clear why Goa is a favourite of Russians. Shops play Russian songs and many shopkeepers are fluent in Russian. There is an increase in the inflow of tourists when it's winter in Russia. As someone said some tourists even continue to work from here, thanks to the fast and cheap internet connection.

ARPORA NIGHT FLEA MARKET

At the market, there were at least 200 stalls on the wide open ground selling mostly clothes, besides consumer durables, and interesting curios. It's a flea market, and there is no fixed price for anything on sale. You need to bargain. So, unless you have a very good idea of what the product is and what the usual pricing is, there is a high risk of getting cheated. Though we don't like shopping in such places, we ended up buying a few clothes and convinced ourselves that they were a good bargain.

A food court -- having a wide variety of dishes and drinks, including south Indian, north Indian and western besides alcohol -- and entertaining English and Hindi pop songs being belted out from a stage, this flea market is a good place for an outing. After dinner there, we headed back to the hotel.

(Goa trip - Day 4 follows)

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Goa trip - Day 2 - Mario Gallery, Museum of Goa, Anjuna Beach

(This post continues from Goa Trip - Day 1)

Mario Gallery
On the second day, November 30, we set off for the Mario Gallery in Calangute. It has a delectable collection of illustrations by India's well-known cartoonist late Mario Miranda. Mario Gallery is not an imposing structure; it is a small store on the side of a busy road, and can be missed, but for the statues of some of the characters in front of the store.

"Please wipe that expression off
your face; people might think
we're married!"
This place was of particular interest to me because I grew up laughing my heart out over Mario's cartoons (with characters like Miss Fonseca, Bundaldass, and Rajani Nimbupani) that used to appear in The Illustrated Weekly. He brought out not only the subtle ironies and humour that punctuate the fast-paced lives of upwardly mobile Indians caught in the urban maze but also the tranquillity of the traditional Goan culture.

At the gallery, the cartoons are kept alive are on multiple fancy stuff like figurines, key chains, t-shirts, cups, wall-hangings, etc. I bought a few framed illustrations and refrigerator magnets, some as gifts for my friends and some for myself. They can be bought online too from the gallery website.

Museum of Goa
If you are riding around Goa in a motorbike (like we were), or in a car, then keep an eye on the fuel level. There aren't many petrol stations so it will be a good idea to have your tank topped up. That's what we did after the visit to Mario Gallery.

With a full fuel tank, we headed to the Museum of Goa, at Pilerne. This is a three-storied art gallery, that spreads over an area of 1,500 square meters, curated by artist Subodh Kerkar. The best thing is about this place is that you can enjoy looking at the works of art, even if you are not such a great art fan. Not a surprise, considering that one of the Kerkar's aims is to take art and local history to the larger audiences.

Each of the works has a historical context to it, and there is an informative write-up beside each of them that makes understanding the art easy. The art gallery is a sort of confluence of the historical legacy as well as the innate culture of Goa.

The section on chillies, a major component of
Indian recipes, but a foreign import  
There is one section on chillies, which is a major component of many Indian recipes. But chillies are not originally Indian. They came to India for the first time in the 16th century on a Portuguese ship at Goa from South America. Now, India the world's largest producer and consumer of chillies.

Read more on the museum website and on Wikipedia

It was almost 3 pm, and after lunch, headed back to the hotel. Changed our dress, and left for Anjuna beach.

Anjuna beach
This is arguably the most well-known beach in Goa. More than natural beauty, it is known for the wild trance parties youngsters have here. If there is a loose equivalent to Las Vegas in India, it is along the beaches here. One can sense the "no one cares" attitude hanging heavily in the air.

The culture goes back to the 1960s when foreign tourists, especially of the hippies of the flower generation, started flocking to the beach. Now you won't find so many of them. The place is actually swarming with crowds of young Indians who are looking for some fun. There are also plenty of shops from where you can buy anything from clothes to curios.

Sunset from Anjuna beach
Anjuna is also famous for the Wednesday flea market. We missed that as we arrived on Thursday, and would be leaving on Monday.

We watched the sunset from the Anjuna beach and headed back to the hotel.

(Goa Trip - Day 3)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Goa trip - Day 1 - Assagao, Vagator beach, Mapusa Hanuman temple

On way to Goa, somewhere in north
Karnataka, as seen from the train.
Goa is the smallest state (by area) and the richest state (by per capita GDP) in India. It is globally renowned for its beaches and natural beauty. It was a Portuguese colony for over 450 years, from 1510.

On way to the hotel from Margao railway station, in a cab
Not many, including Indians, know that Goa continued to be under Portuguese rule, for as many as 14 years after India won Independence in 1947. After Portugal repeatedly rejected Indian demand to leave, India had to send the military and annexed the State in a 36-hour battle called Operation Vijay, in December 1961.

Vagator Beach
Though the Portuguese left, the State continues
to have their influence, which makes it culturally a bit different from the rest of the country. Wild parties are common, and a carefree ambience generally pervades the coastal belt. In a sense, it's the Vegas of India. What happens in Goa, stays in Goa!

Vagator Beach
A trip to Goa has been long-pending. And finally, it was happening. On November 29, we, my wife and I, alighted at the Margao station around 6.15 am.

We had breakfast at a restaurant in the railway station and booked a cab from the pre-paid taxi counter. We reached our hotel (which was around 40 km away) in Assagao, Bardez sub-district, around 8 am.

The lush green landscape and the undulating roads and the quiet streets reminded me of the small towns in my home state of Kerala. This was a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle (even early in the day) in Bengaluru.

The cab driver was a deeply religious person but was driving at a very high speed. I was at times a bit worried and was tempted to tell him to drive slowly. I could see he was drawing a cross and saying a prayer every time we passed a church.

Vagator Beach
The check-in time at the hotel is 2 pm. So we kept our luggage in the cloakroom; freshened up and had breakfast.

One good thing about Goa is that you get cars and motorbikes on rent. That makes moving from one place to another easy and inexpensive. I checked the rates: Rs 400 a day for a
motorbike; if it's for more than a day, then it's Rs 300 a day. It's Rs 1,500 a day for a car. I hired a motorbike for four days. We were to leave on the fifth day.

Fountain in the park in Mapusa
It was 10 am. It wasn't difficult to decide where to head first. A beach, where else?! We chose to begin our tour with the Vagator beach, which is the northernmost beach in the Bardez region of the state. Being early in the day there wasn't much crowd. Clear waters. Gentle waves. Spent about an hour and a half there. Had some snacks in one of the beachside restaurants, and later lunch on way back to our hotel.

Rajasthani folk songs at hotel's poolside restaurant
At the resort, we had a single bedroom house all to ourselves. It was on the ground floor. We would have been happier if it was on one of the upper floors. But, that was okay, since the overall ambience and the environment of the hotel premises was so quiet, peaceful, and refreshing.

The day was the second death anniversary of my father. Traditionally, we go to a temple to pray for his soul. In the evening around 6 pm, we went to a Hanuman temple in Mapusa, about 5 km from the hotel. This is a very old temple, built in 1843. It has a very impressive architecture with marble floors.

A Rajasthani dance at hotel's
poolside restaurant
There is a park nearby, where we spent some time. There were about 20 people, young and old. Some chatting away, others on a brisk walk around the park. Some children were running around. A small illuminated water fountain kept the children entertained.

The ride back to the hotel through narrow and quiet roads (some of them dark with no streetlights) was an experience in itself.

We were back in the hotel around 8 pm. At the poolside restaurant, there was folk music and folk dance performance by artists from the state of Rajasthan. That was really good.

(Goa Trip - Day 2)

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Claire Nelson's miraculous survival from the depths of despair

We Are The World Blogfest
This is an amazing story of hope triumphing over despair.

Thirty-five-year-old travel writer Claire Nelson from New Zealand was hiking in Joshua Tree National Park in California, in May this year, when she accidentally strayed off the trail. She hadn't checked the GPS and she had no idea that she was on a wrong track.

She climbed on a rock, which she thought was steady but actually wasn't. To her horror, she slipped and came hurtling down into a canyon 15 ft below.

It took awhile for her to realise what had happened -- she fallen into a place where she couldn't be heard by anyone nor anyone could see her.  Worse, she had badly broken her pelvis, and she couldn't move.

There was no mobile connectivity; so she couldn't call anyone nor she could text. She survived a scary first night, amidst fears of being bitten by rattlesnakes.

With the sun shining bright. She made use of the material available with her to make a contraption that would shield her from sunlight.

She was getting dehydrated as time went by. She was running out of the 3 liters of water she had carried; and was left with no option but to drink her urine to keep herself hydrated.

She was desperate and fears of not being able to survive was threatening to overpower her. She needed to talk to someone. So she videographed updates, so that in case she didn't make it, her family and friends would know what had happened.

But in the midst of all this, she didn't lose hope.  After nearly four days she heard the sound of a helicopter, and she stretched herself as much as she could and waved the umbrella-like contraption she had made to protect herself from the sun.

The authorities had been alerted by a friend of Claire, who hadn't heard from her for a while and began panicking as to what might have happened.

Claire was rescued and after surgery and  prolonged medical treatment, she is finally learnt to walk again.

BBC's Outlook Weekend, last week, featured Claire Nelson, in which she spoke to presenter Emily Webb narrating the entire sequence of events. The 25-minute programme is worth a listen.

References:

Kiwi hiker Claire Nelson's incredible survival after three nights in US desert

Missing Kiwi woman Claire Nelson found injured in US national park

(This post is part of the We Are The World Blogfest, wherein participants share positive stories of hope and success.)

Monday, November 26, 2018

The night that shook Mumbai, India

This day, ten years ago, around 11 pm, I was in the office giving final touches to the India pages of The Times of India, the newspaper I worked for then. Our attention was drawn to a news item on one of the TV channels.

It was about a suspected terrorist attack in Mumbai. The report said several armed people were on a shooting spree in the megapolis. Many were feared dead. There was not much clarity except that it seemed to be a very major terror strike.

As every minute passed, the enormity of the situation began to unfold. Unconfirmed death toll was mounting, as we followed the live footage streaming on multiple TV news channels. We waited for confirmation from police or the State government on what exactly was happening.

SHOTS OF THE ATTACKER

One of the scenes of the carnage was the CST Railway Station, which is very close to the The Times House, where our Mumbai office is. We got to know from our colleagues there that one of the terrorists had climbed over the foot overbridge beside the office to reach the railway station across the road.

Shriram Vernekar, our photographer, managed to click a photo from the window of our Mumbai office of one of the attackers going up the staircase. We got that photo (besides many others) in our office in Bengaluru, but only much later we knew that it was that of the lone terrorist who was captured alive, Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani citizen belonging to the Lashkar e Taiba terror outfit.

Sebastian D'Souza, the photographer of our sister publication Mumbai Mirror, was at the railway station, and he too got the photo of the backpack-carrying, gun-toting Kasab walking in to the station.

BRAVE POLICE OFFICIALS

Later, we got to know that it was the bravery of Assistant sub-inspector Tukaram Omble, who had only a cane with him at that time, which resulted in the capture of Kasab. Omble, who followed the vehicle that the terrorist had hijacked, was fired at five times. He later confronted Kasab, managed to pin him down, and hold on to the attacker's weapon, helping Omble's colleagues to capture Kasab alive. Omble succumbed to the bullet wounds.

Kasab was executed on November 21, 2012, after the case went through a nearly four-year-long, due judicial process, with the terrorist being given the chance to defend himself. Since no lawyer was ready to defend him, the government provided him an amicus curiae.

The images clicked by our photographers, turned out to be critical in the case. Incidentally, Sebastian D'Souza won the World Press Photo award for the photograph.

Then came another shocking bit of news: three of the top police officers of the city had fallen to the terrorists bullets -- Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare, Additional Commissioner of Police (East) Ashok Kamte and police inspector and well-known anti-terror specialist Vijay Salaskar. We all wondered if any city in the world had faced such a situation where three of its top cops had been killed.

Then news trickled in that terrorists had entered the iconic Taj Hotel and that people had been held hostage there. The operations in Taj turned out to be the hardest and the longest: it lasted over three days.

BATTLING DEADLINE

While we all in the office were quite shaken by the unfolding events, at the professional level we were wondering how to get news on to the paper, considering that there was hardly any confirmed information coming by with the whole city under a siege at midnight. There was not much news coming in on this on the wires of the Press Trust of India, India's premier news agency. Nor our correspondents were getting any details how it all started or the extent of the carnage. The pages had to be transmitted to the press by at least 1.30 am.

Whatever we had got was just enough to be carried on the front page as the lead story. There weren't any details to be carried in an inside page. But we were getting many photographs. So, we cleared one page of the news items, and carried photos (the ones that were not graphic and could be carried) with a brief write-up of the terror that had hit the city.

The pages went to the press one-and-half hours late. Obviously, all newspapers faced the same challenge with such an important news breaking close to the deadline.

A WAR OF SORTS

We all went to bed not knowing what lay in store for Mumbai and the country: scores had died, hundreds injured, three top police officers too dead. And, no indication that the attack had ceased.

It officially ended only on November 29 -- must be the longest terrorist strike anywhere in the world -- resulting in death of 165 people and injuries to over 300. Nine of the 10 attackers were also killed.

At the end of it all, many questions were asked: Wasn't there any intelligence input? If it was there, didn't anyone act on them? Why was the coast not being monitored? How could so many armed men wreak havoc so brazenly? How could arms be stored in such a luxurious hotel, and go undetected? Did the television media get carried away, providing live footage of the operations, thereby possibly helping the terror network?

References:

Terror attacks in Mumbai; six foreigners among 101 dead -- The Times of India

At Least 100 Dead in India Terror Attacks - The New York Times

Eyewitness Of Mumbai Attack - CBS TV news clip

Mumbai Rocked by Deadliest Terrorists Attacks - Headlines Today TV news clip

Mumbai’s Longest Night, With an Abyss of Terror -- The New York Times

Tracking the Mumbai Attacks - The New York Times

As it happened: Mumbai attacks 27 Nov - BBC

Mumbai Terrorist Siege Over, India Says -- The New York Times

35 photos of the Mumbai attack - Boston Globe
(Some of the photos have graphic details, discretion advised)

2008 Mumbai attacks -- Wikipedia

TOI photographer's iconic picture nailed Ajmal Kasab -- The Times of India

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Perseverance extraordinaire! Teenager crawls to complete relay race in Japan

Rei Iida is determined to complete the race.
This is an incident that happened on the 21st of last month during the annual ekiden (a relay race held on roads) for women in Fukutsu, Fukuoka Prefecture in Japan.

One of the members of a relay team, 19-year-old Rei Iida, fell down and was unable to run. But so intense was her determination not to let her team down, she crawled the remaining 200 to 300 meters on her knees in order to pass on the relay sash to her teammate.

Besides the bloody bruises on her knees, she had suffered a fracture.

While the young girl's perseverance is admirable and inspiring, the unfortunate part of the story is that the young woman didn't know that her team officials, on seeing her fall down, had informed the organisers that the team was pulling out of the race. By the time that message reached the runner, she had already crawled her way, and was very close to sash-passing point.

Here is a report in Singapore's Straits Times news website, which also contains a 3.51-minute Youtube video clip of the incident. The point where the girl falls is after 45 seconds.

KENYAN WOMAN TOO DID IT

This is the not the first time someone is crawling to the finish. In February 2015, in Austin, Texas, a 29-year-old Kenyan marathoner, Hyvon Ngetich, crawled to the finish line, after collapsing just 50 meters ahead of the finishing line and declining a wheelchair. When she collapsed, she was leading the race, but she still managed to end the race in the third place.

Here is a video from the BBC.

Truly inspiring stories of determination to overcome challenges.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Trump vs Acosta: White House media relations plummet to a new low

Photo credit: Time
I watched the entire one-and-a-half hour press conference President Donald Trump had with the White House media on November 07.

There was nothing unusual in the way he responded to the journalists. That is the way he is. He snubbed many of them, and called many of them part of fake news.

But the extent of frustration and anger seemed to be unusual. So also the revoking of the press pass of a White House correspondent, and the seeming warning to other journalists not to ask uncomfortable questions.

Here is the full video and transcript of the entire press conference, from C-Span. The now-well-known confrontation with CNN's White House correspondent Jim Acosta is after 27 min 30 sec.

Trump has a history of quarrels with Acosta. In Jan 2017, Jim asked him a question about "Russian meddling" and the President-elect lost his cool. Then the confrontation with Jim when addressing a joint press conference with British PM Theresa May in London. In this presser too, Trump displayed the same sort of frustration with the questions.

FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS

When the President called Jim for his turn, and the latter began asking the question, it was evident Trump was getting irritated; more irritated than with other journalists. He remarked, "Here we go ..."

To be fair to the President, he was encouraging Jim to ask questions. And his early remarks looked sporting though sarcastic, as usual. Trump very patiently explained to Jim that the immigrants can come into America, but they can come only legally.

The point of contention was Trump's characterisation of the movement of immigration as an invasion. Trump said he and Jim had differing views on whether it was an invasion or not. Jim was trying to get an explanation from the President on why he thought that it was an invasion.

Trump wasn't able to convey himself clearly. Or he didn't have a clear answer. Trump then told Jim to let him run the country and that Jim can run CNN. Jim said okay, and sought permission for an another question. Trump didn't allow, and moved to the next journalist. That was when the White House intern came to take away the mike. 

There is nothing unusual in journalists wanting to ask supplementary questions. Each journalist feels lucky to be called to ask questions, and they want to ask as many as possible. Happens all the time with all the journalists and officials who address press conferences. Even in this one, others too asked or tried to ask such questions. Trump allowed some, cut many of them.

Journalists are paid to ask uncomfortable questions; and there was no need for Trump to lose his cool. The President should have just ignored Jim and stuck on with Peter Alexander of NBC, the next journalist. There was no need to say "you are rude", "you are terrible" etc. 

And to make matters worse for the President, Peter said, "In Jim's defense, I've traveled with him and watched him. He's a diligent reporter who busts his butt like the rest of us."

JIM ACOSTA BANNED FROM WHITE HOUSE

What followed was not just unprecedented, unwarranted too. Jim's pass that gave him access to White House premises was revoked. The reason cited was Jim had his hand on the female White House intern who tried to take the mike away from Jim.

CNN's Jim Acosta has press pass suspended by White House, Sarah Sanders announces (Fox News)

Trump Bars CNN’s Jim Acosta From the White House (New York Times)

Jim didn't look angry or rude; and Jim's arm did make contact with the intern's arm in his effort to keep the mike. But surely the contact wasn't intended.

It was very clear that that his pass was revoked only because Jim has been asking unpleasant questions, not just at this press conference but in others as well. It might also have been a warning to other journalists that they might too risk losing their pass.

Then another twist in the tale. WH Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders retweeted a video which is said to have been doctored to emphasise the arm contact.

Sarah Sanders accused of circulating 'doctored' video of Jim Acosta’s interaction with White House intern (Fox News)

White House defends doctored Trump-Acosta clip used to justify reporter's ban (The Guardian)

THIS IS AN OLD ISSUE

President Donald Trump's problems with the media is now many years old. Right from the campaign days he has had the belief that a good majority of the US media are liberal, left leaning, and against him. He used all sorts of words from "scum" and "dishonest" to "sleaze" to describe the "70 to 75%" of the media that are critical of him.

On the day he was sworn in itself there was an ugly spat -- Trump said the media selectively showed vacant areas to illustrate that the crowd that came for the Trump swearing-in was smaller than that for Obama swearing-in.

He has been using the word "fake news" for news articles that either he doesn't like or those that are critical of him. His anger took on a new dimension with his expression that media are "enemies of the people".

MEDIA IS THERE TO ASK QUESTIONS

Though media is not formally recognised as a part of the political system, it is an important social platform that carries all types of information: both plain news as well as interpretative, analytical and opinionated views.

Traditionally, news by definition is all about that is not going right in the society. Journalists by definition are skeptical and they are there to ask questions and seek answers; and sometimes they have an adversarial relationship with centres of power, especially the government. Journalists are always trying to catch officials in an spot. Conversely, the officials are aware of what journalists are up to, and they ensure that don't fall for the journalists' bait.

Trump calls spade a spade, and most of the time he doesn't care much for traditions, courtesies and diplomacies. So, his run-ins with the media are no surprise. Though he generally doesn't like most of the media, from what I have read, he keenly follows all the media. He knows the power of the media, and is quite conscious of the way he is portrayed in them.

BETTER TO IGNORE, NOT CONFRONT

Confronting and attacking the media doesn't help. It only makes matters worse. The best way that is adopted by smart and clever leaders when they handle media, especially a belligerent one, is to be transparent and inclusive with them. But when there are uncomfortable or difficult questions, the smart leaders parry them, if they can't come up with a diplomatic answer.