Tarun Tejpal: Hubris and self-loathing in Goa

Tunku Varadarajan in the Daily Beast on l’affaire Tarun J. Tejpal:

“What made Tarun Tejpal do this?” everyone asks. Some answers suggest themselves, the most unsettling of which is that, for all his rhetoric in the cause of women, Tejpal is, perhaps, just another unreconstructed, predatory Indian male who was playing the part of PC editor for commercial effect.

“A more complex explanation might be that his assault on his young reporter was the result of self-loathing: The “Think” festival in Goa is an ambitious affair, of a piece with Tejpal’s growing sense of himself as a media entrepreneur who has outgrown the relatively modest confines of Tehelka.

“To bankroll his new dimensions, the once-crusading editor has to go cap in hand to sponsors, some reportedly rather unsavory, with questionable civic records. This, surely, has had a corrosive effect on Tejpal and his self-image. None of this explains attempted rape, but it could explain the astonishing absence of moral guardrails and the alleged exercise of dominance as salve.

I’ve begged from the powerful, now I’ll take from the vulnerable.”

Read the full article: The fall of India’s conscience

Also read: Tarun J. Tejpal steps aside as editor of Tehelka

Life yourselves up, dearie, or get into my elevator

POLL: Is sexual harassment rampant in Indian media?

Online petition to protect Tehelka journalist’s privacy

Tarun Tejpal was trapped in a skin not his own’


Tarun Tejpal on the five facets of his life

How Congress regime stepped in to help Tehelka

A magazine, a scam, a owner & his Goan house

NYT, WSJ weigh on Tehelka‘s Goa controversy

Tehelka promoter says he didn’t turn off FW tap


  1. “Power corrupts. Absolute power….”

    Simpler explanation?

    1. Sam

      In the court, you are innocent until proven guilty. In a media trial, your guilt is a fact and the only thing left to decide is how to punish you.

      1. Hats off to this girl, whoever she is. What courage in speaking up.
        You think it would’ve been easy to write about those infamous digits?
        Knowing that she would be lampooned, picked on?
        Power, they say, goes to people’s heads. Here, it took a detour.
        Yes, the courts and due process, please.

  2. Karma2

    Excuse me, but the man was never “India’s conscience” as The Daily Beast headline calls him. Tehelka’s capital came from a massive and cruel chicken-killing operation founded by K.D. Singh, a chronically corrupt politician who purchased his way into the Rajya Sabha (upper house of Parliament) and was once stopped with a cache of cash headed to polling areas in eastern India. Tejpal’s so-called “Think” conference in Goa — a jamboree of a few famous achievers and many gasbags (like Tejpal himself) — was underwritten by corporations neck deep in allegations of illegal mining, undervaluation of mineral ore, and abuse of tribal rights. Mr. Tejpal and his protege, Ms. Shoma Chaudhutry, Tehelka’s managing editor, also obtained taxpayer money from the Goan government — in exchange for, many environmental activists pointed out, nixing of intrepid Tehelka reporter Ashish Khetan’s (now with Firstpost) expose of the great Goa ore-mining scam. Khetan was let go when he became increasingly inconvenient for the duo’s scam. Along the way, Mr. Tejpal acquired for himself a plush house in Goa, funded by a conference underwriter in exchange for, quite possibly, nixing another mining-scam story.

    Does any of that indicate a man that represented “India’s conscience”? Or any conscience? Sorry, dear sir, but your headline is a joke!

    The fact — and shame — is that thanks to a team of fine writers and famous patrons, Tehelka and Think devolved over the last five years into perhaps 80 percent good journalism — even if it used unethical methods such as “entrapment” or unlawful methods such as “stings” and took a sanctimonious, self-righteous tone — that too often targeted leaders of the BJP. Tehelka at its worst did not make a pretense of giving fair coverage of the BJP and its leaders; conversely, there was never a sting targeted at any of the infamously corrupt ministers of the Congress party that Mr. Tejpal invariably supported. Tehelka’s journalism was supported by quid-pro-quo deals chronically mediated by Mr. Tejpal and Ms. Chaudhury. Is that what you mean by “India’s conscience”?

    I would believe India has a nobler, greater society than The Daily Beast headline suggests.

    1. Sam

      > Tehelka’s capital came from a massive and
      > cruel chicken-killing operation founded by …

      Haha. Thanks for the laugh. I know people like to lay it on thick when insulting someone they don’t like, and it is usually always in a bad taste, but this really made me guffaw!

      (On a side note, this indian chicken killer is a billion dollar company (give or take a few rupees because of the fluctuation).

      1. Karma2

        yes, “bad taste” is the correct lexicon, and no, it was not intended to be a personal insult

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