Search Results for “aroon purie”

Aroon Purie and Vinod Mehta on Tarun Tejpal

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As former Tehelka editor Tarun J. Tejpal faces imminent arrest for the alleged sexual assault of a junior employee at a conclave organised by the magazine, two veteran editors—Aroon Purie of India Today and Vinod Mehta of Outlook*—write about the callow Chandigarh boy who branched out to become a brand.

At India Today, Tejpal was in-charge of the books pages and at Outlook, he was the features editor who briefly became managing editor.

The latest issue of India Today has Tarun Tejpal on the cover with the headline “Disgrace” (above), while Outlook has a cover-corner, on “Tehelka after Tarun”.

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Aroon Purie, editor-in-chief of India Today:

“Tarun Tejpal worked in this magazine 25 years ago for six years. Dare I say I liked him. He was a talented writer and knew it. In today’s terms, a ‘real dude’.

“Even at the age of 25 when I interviewed him for the job of a senior sub-editor he had an intellectual swagger about him and unabashed literary ambitions…. When he resigned in July 1994, Tarun was honest enough to say that there ere “only so many essays and reviews I can churn out before ennui drowns me.

“Everyone has their own theory on why a man of such intellect, talent and success ended up being charged with sexual assault. Mine is a simple one. It is the ‘God’ complex which I have seen in so many talented men. They reach such heights of success that they live in their own world and think the normal rules of social behaviour don’t apply to them, neither do the laws of the land.”

Vinod Mehta, editorial chairman, Outlook*:

“TarunTejpal was my deputy at Outlook for nearly six years. Professionally, his contribution to the magazine was immense….

“To say I do not endorse Tarun’s conduct would make me sound like a lunatic.  How can I, even tangentially, defend sexual molestation? Tarun has committed a horrific blunder and compounded it with clumsy efforts to vilify the victim….

“The abuse of power in the media, especially in the higher echelons, is rampant. Editors sexually exploit and harass trainees and junior staff with a crudity which is unbelievably cynical. The threat is always the same: if the girl “cooperates” she not only keeps her job but enjoys rapid promotion. If she doesn’t she is shown the door.

“It is the worst kept secret in our profession but it dare not speak its name. Some of the biggest luminaries in Indian journalism stand accused. Who they are is known both inside and outside the trade. The shameful silence needs to be broken.”

* Disclosures apply

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: Fear and self-loathing in Goa

***

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

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Aroon Purie’s daughter Kalli has a story to tell

PhotoShop™ is a crucial piece of software in the laptops of Indian celebrities—and Botox™ a vital vial in their make-up kit—especially when they have to deal with a newspaper or magazine profile. And brave is the bold-faced name that appears in print with neither weapon having been deftly employed to perform its optical illusions.

India Today founder Aroon Purie‘s elder daughter Kalli Purie shows she is one.

Chief creative officer Kalli, who is in charge of the digital side of the magazine group’s operations and is widely expected to take over the mantle sooner than later, has recounted her “story of weight lost and a life gained” in Confessions of a Serial Dieter, published by the India Today imprint HarperCollins.

And this week’s issue of the weekly newsmagazine carries a spunky three-page excerpt of the Oxford mom-of-two’s journey from “fat to fabulous”; from an “ugly duckling” of 103 kg (in picture, left) to a “beautiful swan” of 59 kg (right) in three years flat (all adjectives courtesy the author).

An accompanying infographic tracks the “fatline” of the pioneering publisher’s daughter at various stages of her life:

Age 4: weight 32 kg, jam toast diet

Age 16: 63 kg, garbage soup diet

Age 24: 59 kg, coconut water diet

Age 35: 103 kg, the panjari ladoo diet

Age 38: weight 59 kg, the champagne diet

Kalli details the 46 diets that made her lose 45 kg, to slip from a size 18 to a size 8, and explains the role love played as an antidote: “Love is a super motivator. I stuck to a (weight-loss) programme because I had a deadline, a loveline.”

Eventually, though, she lays it all at the door of a sparkling white liquid.

My brother-in-law is French. He drinks champagne like the English drink tea. Anytime, anywhere. He would come for tea to the house it would be the standard chai-samosa-jalebi affair. When I asked what he would like to drink he would look uncomfortable for a moment, look at my sister (Koel Purie) for reassurance and when she sighed with resignation, he would say ‘Champagne, please!’ At four in the afternoon!

“For as long as I can remember, our traditional Sunday family lunch has been chicken biryani and parantha, a menu handed down over generations. There have been many aberrations but since the inclusion of a Frenchman in the family, champagne has become an essential addition to the Sunday routine. It is now a family tradition. As a result I have become a champagneholic. And that is the origin of this diet.”

End result: today people often ask Kalli, ‘Hey, where did you leave the rest of you?’

Images: courtesy India Today

Buy the book: Confessions of a Serial Dieter

Watcha video of the book launch: Kalli Purie

Also read: Aroon Purie: Indian papers are in a time warp

‘Rule no.1 of journalism: there are no gods’

An Aroon Purie tribute worthy of emulation

Why Aroon Purie elevated Prabhu Chawla

Why Aroon Purie ‘elevated’ Prabhu Chawla

After being badgered left, right and centre online for his jetlag-inspired plagiarism, India Today editor-in-chief Aroon Purie finally gets some old-fashioned good press, courtesy the “dirty old man of Indian journalism”.

Khushwant Singh uses a session on the couch with Headlines Today host Koel Purie Rinchet to throw light on her father and grandfather Vidya Vikas Puri, in the Hindustan Times:

“Her grandfather Vidya Vikas Puri, migrated from Lahore after partition in 1947, and set up business as a financier in Delhi. He became a multi-millionaire. He decided to buy himself a Rolls Royce which was, and is, the ultimate status symbol of success. He went to London to get one.

“The salesman of the showroom snubbed him and told him he could not afford it and not to waste his time. He bought one, brought it to Delhi. At that time only descendants of erstwhile princely families drove in chauffeurs-driven Rolls Royces.

“Puri was the only commoner driving one on Delhi roads.

“His son Aroon added an ‘e’ to his surname and became a legend in his life time. He owns the largest chain of media consortiums in India: four TV channels, over a dozen weeklies, including India Today, Reader’s Digest, Harper Collins and The Thompson Press to print his journals and books. A new addition is the tabloid daily Mail Today.

“Aroon is as generous an employer as he is ruthless towards those who fail to deliver the goods.

“A case in point is the ‘elevation’ of Prabhu Chawla, his subjantawala [the man who knows everything] editor of India Today and get M.J. Akbar on Akbar’s terms to take and run it, as he sensed it was losing on its readability to Frontline, The Week, above all, to Outlook*.”

Khushwant’s column is the third piece in old media that has come to the rescue of Aroon Purie, after Sanjaya Baru‘s Business Standard nixed a column on the subject and DNA published a piece by its executive editor R. Jagannathan in defence of plagiarism.

* Disclosures apply

Read the full article: Falling in love with a TV show host

Also read: Prabhu Chawla out, M.J. Akbar in at India Today

How to write an editorial when not jet-lagged

‘Plagiarists speed up the spread of knowledge’

Khushwant Singh on his last day at the Illustrated Weekly

An Aroon Purie tribute worthy of emulation

Farewell speeches and circulars in Indian media houses—where good HR practises are somewhere between 18th and 19th century—are usually grim, graceless, god-awful affairs.

The moment the exit sign lights up over an employee’s head, the good times are over: bosses suddenly bare their fangs, colleagues start hissing amongst themselves, and management chamchas slither around suspiciously.

Take a bow, Aroon Purie.

The India Today bossman has penned a touching farewell note for his Bombay bulwark, Mohini Bhullar (in picture), whose exit from the group was announced on Wednesday vide an email.

Below is the full text of Purie’s syanora laden with grace, goodness, gratitude—and civility—something that pumped-up managers and accountants would do well to ctrl-x and ctrl-v.

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“Please join me in making this announcement very special.

“Because, it’s about a very special person.

“Because, it’s perhaps the most important and emotional formal announcements I have ever made in my life, and one I thought I would never make. It’s about someone who stood by my side for nearly a lifetime, and helped me steer the company from its inception to the enviable position it occupies today. It’s about someone who’s an integral part of the India Today group – and my professional life.

“Mohini has decided to move on from the India Today group effective September 30, 2010, after a glorious innings spanning over 40 years. She came on board with our group company Thomson Press as part of the sales team and was the first to establish a beachhead sales office in Bombay for Thomson Press. When we entered publishing, this became the very critical ad sales office for LMI [Living Media India] which she headed. The rest, as they say, is history. What a journey it has been!

“Mohini’s unflinching zeal, conviction and never-say-die attitude are some of the personal traits that have made her an indispensable part of the company. I can say this without any hesitation that the success we enjoy today is primarily because of her contribution and her enormous dedication.

“There was one common thread that kept her going in her entire career with the India Today Group, be it as editor of Bombay magazine, as publishing director of ITMB, as marketing director of the entire company, or for that matter, as the executive director in charge of the events SBU. It was her indomitable will, energy and her total professionalism. She is revered as the ‘Mother Queen’ of Indian print media by advertisers, agencies and the media alike – a fitting tribute to her competence and accomplishments. She has handled all her diverse and challenging roles with her usual aplomb.

“Now at the golden age of 77, Mohini is still very young in every which way. She still takes early morning flights, climbs up 3 flights of stairs at our F14 office in Connaught Place, probably faster than most of us, parties till late, shares the latest jokes with the young trainees who work with her and even supervises the event set-up for the IT Conclave at 1 am! And I also know for sure that she responds to calls, emails and text messages within a few seconds. Truly amazing!

“When I was running Thomson Press, and we were trying to figure out how to create our own work for the press, we came up with the idea of creating our own children books. Not finding any willing authors, she and I even wrote children books. We had great fun together. That’s the way it has been ever since.

“She brought to India from the Thomson UK the rights (for free of course) to publish a medical journal called the Journal of Applied Medicine, and that small publication was our first foray into magazine publishing and a precursor to India Today and all that followed.

“Mohini has single-handedly helped to build the brand India Today, while leaving me and the founding edit team to concentrate on the various editorial challenges when we launched India Today in 1975. Thanks to her, I didn’t, and still don’t have to make a single sales call to any company or ad agency. She completely insulated the editorial team from the commercial pressures advertisers are prone to exerting and established the abiding cornerstone of the company of uncompromising editorial integrity.

“Mohini has inspired the key younger generation of leaders in the Group. Our CEO, Ashish Bagga, tells me that his first interview as management trainee was with Mohini in Bombay in 1983, at her office in Jolly Maker Chambers. Malcolm Mistry, publishing director, was Mohini’s understudy for over 6 years and was handpicked by her. Most of the advertising and media professionals in India have at some point in time worked or interacted with Mohini. She has represented the Company on the INS, ABC, NRS, ASCI, MRUC, AIM and many other premier industry bodies.

“But alas, I guess, all good things have to come to an end. Mohini has decided to move on and I on behalf of the entire 5000 employees of ITG, comprising TP, LMI, TVTN, IDIL, MT, ITAS, Bagit, HCI and all the ones that are currently being incubated, wish her an amazing and successful journey ahead. A journey full of good health, happiness, prosperity and satisfaction.

“It is my good fortune to have found a wonderful colleague like Mohini so early in my working life and I am filled with sadness that our ‘lucky shining star’ will be leaving us. But I know for sure that she will continue to cast her lucky charm on us and guide us to even better and happier times.

“We will all really miss Mohini. No words are sufficient to thank her for her contribution to the Group. We will continue to reap the benefits of that for the years to come.

“Please do join me in wishing Mohini the very best in all her future pursuits and to radiate happiness to all around her with her ever so charming smile and demeanor.”

Aroon Purie: Indian papers are in a time warp

In the West, newspaper readership is falling and advertising and circulation revenues are sinking. In India, existing newspaper groups are trying to consolidate through their web presence, etc, before the bad news arrives, as it must.

Brave, therefore, is the media baron who, with no newspaper experience, decides to launch a brand-new newspaper from scratch. Aroon Purie, the man behind the India Today magazine empire, has just done that with Mail Today, a tabloid newspaper in collaboration with the Daily Mail of London.

In what can only be considered a thundering slap on the faces of newspapers that have been around for tens of years, Purie believes—pinch yourself—that the time is just right for a new newspaper. And like every movie maker, he believes his offering is going to be “different”.

In an interview with the media magazine, Impact, Purie says:

“I believe that the newspapers which exist today are somewhere in a legacy, a time warp. They are trying to cater to everybody and in the process, I think, fall between many stools. They are neither a proper broadsheet, nor a proper tabloid, nor a middle ground paper. They try to appeal to everybody and to my mind, have become quite dull.

“There is a space to address this in a modern newspaper, which is bold, which takes stands, which addresses your concerns, which doesn’t necessarily get stuck in the same old topics of politics and jargon, which simplifies complicated issues, which is brought out in a bold and vibrant manner that makes you want to sit up and want to read.

“I don’t believe that newspapers need to be dumbed down. I believe there is an intelligent readership out there, who will read if you give them something worthwhile to read.”

Read the full interview here: It’s the most appropriate time to come in

Photo courtesy: Indiantelevision.com

Why is BCCI rolling out the red carpet to one “ultra-friendly English news channel”—India Today TV if you really want to know its name?

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Girilal Jain, the late editor of The Times of India, used to say that, in India, politics sets the pace and everything else follows in its wake.

So, just like some news channels are completely in the thrall of some political parties, some news channels are also the go-to stations for cricket bosses.

After the Board of Control for Cricket in India issued show cause notices to cricketers K.L. Rahul and Hardik Pandya for off-colour comments made on the TV chat show Koffee with Karan, The Telegraph reports that BCCI bosses are themselves not beyond reproach.

Lokendra Pratap Sahi, the veteran cricket writer, points out that the former Comptroller and Auditor-General of India, the Supreme Court-appointed administrator Vinod Rai and the CEO Rahul Johri are guilty of “breach of protocol”…

“…giving permission to an ultra-friendly English news channel for interviews immediately after a historic Test series win.

“The news channel, which kept quiet right through the inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment against Johri, was alone given the okay to interview head coach Ravi Shastri, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, man of the series Cheteshwar Pujara, and bowling coach Bharat Arun.”

Two members of the support staff of the team are quoted as saying:

“That news channel got permission from the higher authorities. It had to be implemented.”

“Why is Vinod Rai doling out favours to one news channel and one news agency?” writes Lokendra Pratap Sahi, while pointing out that the woman cricketer Mithali Raj‘s email had been leaked to the same news channel.

***

It takes no genius to come to the conclusion that the “ultra-friendly news channel” in question is India Today.

India Today bossman Aroon Purie is a neighbour of Vinod Rai’s (and Karan Thapar‘s) on Palam Marg in New Delhi’s plush Vasant Vihar locality.

And the reporter in question is Boria Majumdar, who left his post at Times Now in dramatic circumstances at the height of the Lalit Modi-N. Srinivasan kerfuffle, and joined India Today on a consulting basis.

If nothing else, The Telegraph story shows what a minefield cricket reporting has become in the era of big bucks, where reporters openly align themselves with players, administrators (and indeed sponsors and advertisers).

18 factoids in ‘Caravan’ profile of Shekhar Gupta

shekhar The December “media issue” of Caravan magazine has a 20-page profile of former Indian Express editor-in-chief and shortlived India Today editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta.

Authored by Krishn Kaushik, the profile is titled “Capital Reporter”, with the strapline “How profit and principle shaped the journalism of Shekhar Gupta”.

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# The son of a minor bureaucrat from Haryana, Shekhar Gupta‘s annual salary at The Indian Express sometimes exceeded Rs 10 crore ($1.6 million) per year. Current chief editor Raj Kamal Jha got Rs 1.25 crore, Jaideep “Jojo” Bose of The Times of India was paid under Rs 2 crore.

# Shekhar Gupta made Rs 36.67 crore in “capital gains” in 2009-10, through the demerger of the Indian Express‘s real estate wing and the newspapers, which resulted in the sale of the iconic Express Towers at Nariman Point in Bombay.

# Gupta is not too bothered with his exit from The Indian Express or his even hurried exit from India Today: “Look, I am a bit of a big fish right now for these factors to bother me now.”

# A senior television journalist is quoted as saying: “He is a social terrorist. He will look at you for five seconds, then look at the next person coming in.” Congressman Mani Shankar Aiyar says Gupta once “cut me dead and walked away” at a party.

# Paranjoy Guha Thakurta: “He looks down upon you [if you are unable to make use of the opportunities the free market throws up, work hard and make it to the top].”

# After interviewing over 50 people, the reporter Krishn Kaushik writes that “detractors of the ‘Shekhar Gupta phenomenon’ contended that Gupta’s wealth compromised the “Journalism of Courage” he promoted at the Indian Express.

# Gupta categorically says: “Nobody can ever find a paisa which will be a surprise to my taxman or to any of my employers.”

# Fallen Tehelka editor Tarun J. Tejpal who is quoted several times in the story, says: “If in reviving the Express he made money, not just the lala, I don’t know what the problem is.”

# When an Indian Express report on the alleged violations in the acqusition of land for Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani‘s Antilla tower was to appear in the Bombay edition, he called resident editor Samar Halarnkar “from a train in Italy” although in fairness, he did not block the story.

# Krishn Kaushik writes that at least half-a-dozen current and former members of the Express news team gave the reporter “specific instances” of stories being killed, allegedly without discussion with those reporting them—stories that went against a top industrialist, a cabinet minister, a real-estate group.

# One journalist described how Gupta once had him debrief a foreign government agency, which seemed irrelevant to any of the stories he was working on.

# Former Union home and finance minister P. Chidambaram was the ‘holy cow’ in the Express newsroom. “You could not criticise him.” The Express staff “sort of had the feeling that the Ambanis were untouchable.”

# Around the time Shekhar Gupta became CEO of Express, a gentleman called B.S. Raman would come to Express Towers in Bombay for a few hours every day from the nearby Reliance Industries’ office at Maker Chambers. Raman tells the reporter he was asked by his office to help Viveck Goenka‘s company.

# A Express staffer told the reporter that the C-story  “The January night Raisina Hill was spooked” had been pushed by P. Chidambaram, who was then the home minister, and Nehchal Sandhu, then the director of the intelligence bureau.

# Kaushik writes that Chidambaram pushed for Shekhar Gupta to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2009, which was eventually given to former Tribune, Express, TOI and Hindustan Tims editor, H.K. Dua. However, both Gupta and Chidambaram deny the claim.

# “Ashutosh Rais” was the pen name of former Business Standard editor T.N. Ninan, for pieces which he wrote for Democratic World, where Shekhar Gupta held his first formal journalism job as an assistant editor.

# Shekhar Gupta had been in touch with Aroon Purie of India Today from around the time he relinquished the CEO role at The Indian Express in August 2013.

# Gupta’s mentor Arun Shourie said the jump to India Today as vice-chairman and editor-in-chief was a mismatch: “Yeh shaadi galat ho gayi hai.”

Anant Goenka, the son of Viveck Goenka who heads Express‘ online push and whose arrival in 2010 is widely seen as propelling Shekhar Gupta’s exit, did not speak to the Caravan reporter, saying he did not want to discuss an “ex-employee.”

Also read: Shekhar Gupta gives up his managerial role

To all Express employees. From: Shekhar Gupta

From Viveck Goenka. To: Indian Express employees

The Indian Express, Shekhar Gupta, Gen V.K. Singh

The Indian Express, Reliance and Shekhar Gupta

Indian Express, India Today teach NYT a lesson

To say that the Indian media is in a tizzy of seismic proportions would qualify as the understatement of the year. So far.

Editors are quitting, being sacked, or finding ever new ways of being quietly eased out. Promoters are exiting their dream projects after acquiescing to giant business houses. Reporters are making discreet enquiries. Etcetera.

Still, in the midst of all the bloodbath, there has been a palpable sense of grace in the manner in which Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of the Indian Express has been sent off by his organisation, and the manner in which he has been welcomed to his new port of calling, the India Today group.

Despite Gupta’s exit being in the air for nearly a year, the Express went out of its way to promote his new book, and Express chairman Viveck Goenka (to whom Gupta dedicated his collection of columns) was at hand at the book’s launch. Gupta’s last columns for the paper have been given pride of place on page one.

Goenka’s graceful letter below announcing Gupta’s exit—and Aroon Purie‘s dignified letter welcoming him back into the fold—are a lesson, in an era when even the supposedly great New York Times removed the name of its first woman editor Jill Abramson in a matter of hours.

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EXHIBIT A: VIVECK GOENKA, Chairman, The Indian Express

My dear colleagues

With much regret, I accept Shekhar Gupta’s resignation as Editor-in-Chief of The Indian Express. I truly​ appreciate his letter to all of us and I wish him the very best.

Shekhar leaves on June 15, just a year short of his 20 years here — another moment of transition in the long history of this ​great institution.

When I chose him for the position of Editor​ in 1995, I was taking no leap in the dark. I was absolutely convinced that Shekhar, then 38, was the best person to guide this newspaper into the future. And I feel more than vindicated today.

So many news breaks (I have happily lost count) delivered by the finest reporters, editors, sub editors, designers and photographers, a team I am very proud of,  team which is the envy of every newspaper publisher: three International Press Institute Awards for Excellence in Journalism; the most questioning opinion section in the business and the most generous, too, given how it welcomes dissenting voices; a renewal of talent each year by the youngest and the brightest from our campuses – Shekhar leaves the newspaper stronger than ever.

Key to each one of these achievements has been the consistently stellar work of the Express team under the leadership of Editor Raj Kamal Jha.

Raj’s leadership is grounded in his commitment to professional excellence and uncompromising integrity. He brings to the newsroom creativity, clarity and depth, three qualities increasingly rare in our business. This not only inspires his colleagues, it powers them to realize their best potential.

Raj could not have a stronger partner in the newsroom than Managing Editor Unni Rajen Shanker.

Unni has been a reporter, an Editor, a Resident Editor (Mumbai) and Editor of the Express News Service. He brings to his leadership a deep understanding of all the different roles in the changing newsroom and an unrivalled sense of fairness and empathy. It’s this that enables him attract the finest talent and then nurture them. Unni is one of the pillars of the Express.

Since they joined in 1996, both have steered change and are, therefore, ideally placed to help guide the paper into the future. That is why, to facilitate a seamless transition, I am proud to repose my faith in them and redesignate them for their new roles.

Raj will be Chief Editor and will report to me. Unni will be Editor.

I look forward to working closely with them. They will find me every bit as supportive as all their predecessors, including Shekhar did, as we plan and implement exciting new upgrades to all our news brands.

There is​ work to do.

We have witnessed a remarkable election and an even​ more remarkable victory that bring with it challenges for all of us in the news business whose mission is to question, to report, to interpret and to analyse.

I firmly believe and, more so, given the changes in the media landscape, that these are challenges best suited for The Indian Express given how strongly independence and courage are wired in our ​genes​.

I believe that the present news media environment in India offers us an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to what we do best: faithful and courageous journalism.

With all the shrill voices on TV, the paid news in print and the corporate funded or politician backed news organizations, The Indian Express must be the voice India can turn to and trust.

Speaking truth to power is hard wired in the genes of our editorial teams. The “Express” commitment to this legacy, mine and that of the future generation, will certainly endure. The newsroom is and will be the most sacred space in our institution.

I am committed to raising the bar and instilling a fresh new energy in our editorial teams. In addition to revamped content, I  look forward to closely integrating all our news operating systems because our growth is now across platforms. This​ was evident last month, during Verdict 2014.

We had print editions that were reported and produced to the finest standards and a digital edition that broke all our records with over 52 million page views, more than 100,000 active users for eight hours, a live video news stream from the Express newsroom, all of this making us among the five most visited news sites in the country.

Looking ahead, that’s the road we take. Not only reporting the news first but also being the first to understand it and​ question its assumptions. This means better stories, better analyses, better pictures, better everything and ensuring that The Indian Express journalism of courage reaches the reader wherever she is, whenever she wants it, whichever device she wants to receive it on.

Shekhar, whether he is at the Express or not, will always be a part of this journey.​ For, he leaves us with a sense of determination and purpose. And a wonderful tool-kit of ideas and values that we will use and keep adding to.

Please join me in wishing him, once again, the best of luck as he scales what I am sure will be a new professional summit.

And, Raj and Unni, let us​  get to work. I wish you and your teams my very best.

Best always

Viveck Goenka

***

EXHIBIT B: AROON PURIE, Chairman, India Today group

Dear Colleagues

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Shekhar Gupta as Vice Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of all news properties of the India Today Group. It includes all our news and business publications, news TV brands and all related news and business digital brands. This comes into effect July 1, 2014.

This is a homecoming for Shekhar. He joined India Today in 1983 and was here for 12 eventful years during which he was an outstanding journalist. He broke many exclusive stories and covered world changing international events like the fall of the Soviet Union, the first Gulf War, Afghan Jehad and the Tiananmen Square uprising.

In 1995, he took charge of The Indian Express group steering it into a position of editorial leadership and financial strength.

Shekhar is a reporter’s Editor, thinker, author, mentor and active on the international speaking circuit. He typically is an “all sleeves rolled up” hands-on professional who not only leads from the front but works collaboratively and believes in action.

He literally “Walks the Talk”! He is highly regarded  in the profession for his integrity independence and knowledge. That’s why he attracts, inspires and builds fine talent.

As I mentioned in my Founders Day speech I would like us to be the best media group in every which way by our 40th birthday which is two years from now. I believe Shekhar joining us would be a force multiplier in achieving this goal.

He will report to me and will be responsible for the editorial quality of all our news and business brands, and our overall expansion and profitability. He will work closely with Ashish Bagga, Group CEO, and enable him to effectively grow the readership and viewership of our brands, profitably.

Anil Mehra will step down as Vice-Chairman but will continue as consultant to advise the Group on matters of strategic importance.

At a personal level, Shekhar’s return is a moment of deep satisfaction and vindication of my belief, our shared belief, in the power of good journalism to reveal and to inform, to question the unquestioned, to help make sense of the noise rather than to add to it.

We need to work relentlessly to prove our essential belief that there is no contradiction between good journalism and the marketplace.

I have always believed: create good content and money will follow. That will be the principle behind another project that I greatly look forward to with Shekhar’s arrival: the launch of some new editorial offerings that will uniquely blend the best of reporting and analysis.

In his new role, Shekhar has promised to liberate me from day-to-day operations so that I can work to guiding the group into a future of great promise, growth and excitement.

Shekhar, welcome back.

Aroon

***

Also read: An Aroon Purie tribute worthy of emulation

Aroon Purie: how to say goodbye to a departing editor

Tarun Tejpal & the tale of the poor shepherd-boy

Tejpal-AmulMAIN

The elevator implosion of Tarun J. Tejpal and the plight of Tehelka as a result have been discussed ad nauseam after the first emails were leaked on 20 November.

But the commentary, outrage and sympathy have come from the usual set of bold-face colleagues, rivals, friends, socialites, feminists and lawyers, among others.

But how is a scandal like this viewed in smalltown India?

K.B. Ganapathy, the editor-in-chief of India’s most successful English evening newspaper, Star of Mysore, dips into his reading to offer a mythological perspective.

***

kbg

By K.B. GANAPATHY

In a city, on the banks of the sacred Ganga, called Makandika, there lived a Sadhu. He was well-known for his seeming simplicity and piety.

He had taken a vow of silence and lived wholly on alms.

He lived inside the precincts of a temple and often seemed in a state of samadhi (trance). Visitors to the temple were impressed and revered him.

Whenever he felt hungry, he would walk the streets of the town to beg.

On a particular day, he went to a rich merchant’s house and stood in front of the door silently because he was under a vow of silence about which people in the City knew.

The merchant was taking bath.

His beautiful unmarried daughter saw the Sadhu.

In keeping with the tradition of giving to the less fortunate and the holy persons, she came with a measure of rice to give to the Sadhu.

At the sight of the beautiful daughter of the merchant with her perfectly moulded breasts, her slender but not too angular hips, her graceful movements and her lustrous smile and sensuous eyes, the Sadhu was overwhelmed with desire for her.

As she poured the rice into his begging-bowl, he forgot his sacred vow of silence and let forth a groaning sound from his lips: “Oh no, oh no, oh yes, oh no…”

The merchant, who heard the Sadhu groan, looked out through the window only to see the Sadhu walking away in haste, moaning and groaning.

The merchant was disturbed.

Such a sacred person leaving his house with such seemingly hurt feeling! He rushed to the temple post-haste and begged the Sadhu to tell him the cause for the agonising sounds from his lips.

The Sadhu remained motionless and the merchant thought he would not speak, continuing with his vow of silence. But the Sadhu spoke — in a feeble, disembodied voice: “I was distressed at your house as I suddenly saw into the future. That beautiful daughter of yours carries a curse. When she marries, you and your wife, your sons and other daughters will all die”.

“What do I do?” asked a distraught merchant in great anxiety.

“There is only one solution,” said the Sadhu. “Put your daughter in a basket, close the lid and set her adrift in the Holy Ganga. However, tie a lamp to the basket and tether it to the bank of the river with a rope.”

Unquestioning piety has its dangers.

The merchant carried out the Sadhu’s instruction at night to the letter by doping his daughter, without telling anyone in the house.

As the basket with merchant’s daughter was wobbling in the water like a buoy, the Sadhu put his own plan into action. He called his two disciples and asked them to go to Ganga, look for the basket with a light and bring it to him without opening the lid, no matter what.

However, before the disciples could reach the Ganga and sight the basket, a local Prince who had gone to the Ganga for bathing, saw the basket, took it to his Palace and on opening the lid, was overwhelmed looking at a sleeping beauty.

When she opened her eyes, her peerless beauty mesmerised the Prince instantaneously and she too was immensely pleased and overjoyed to see a handsome Prince by her side.

They get married.

The Prince then orders his soldiers to put a monkey in that basket and leave it in the place where he had found it.

At last the Sadhu’s disciples sight the basket, carry it dutifully, despite the jumping noisy animal inside and place it before the Sadhu who by then had become impatient and even a bit angry too towards his disciples whom he asked to leave the place and leave him alone.

By now, the monkey was exhausted trying to escape and was quiet.

Alone in the shadowy darkness behind the temple, the Sadhu prepared to open the basket with pent-up passion and lust. His body chemistry changed awakening the coiled serpent all set to strike at the merchant’s beautiful, nubile daughter!

But when he opened the lid of the basket he was horrified to see a bony, hairy hideous monkey that sprang and attacked him furiously.

It was as if his own vile lust had jumped out of the basket, to punish and sear him for the rest of his life.

***

Like it was to Tarun J. Tejpal, the founder and editor of Tehelka, where his own vile lust had jumped out of the lift, to punish and sear him for the rest of his life — no matter he is acquitted or not.

However, fate may have a different plan for both — the victim and the tormentor. The victim of sexual harassment and rape (now under the new, amended law after Nirbhaya’s rape and death in Delhi), a junior journalist of Tehelka, if not married, may find her prince charming in time, but I am optimistic of a bright future for Tarun Tejpal as well, knowing my country, its political leaders and pseudo-intellectuals.

Public memory is short.

You can kill innocent Sikhs or you can kill innocent Muslims. You may utter a belated sorry when the day of reckoning comes during the election or use some subterfuge and indulge in rigmarole to soothe the seared souls of the survivors of these pogroms. And the perpetrators of the evil are again seen ruling us!

In a similar manner, who knows, the stigma and painful pecking at his once glorious persona may make him even more successful.

What could be the theoretical cause for Tarun Tejpal’s present predicament and plight suffering the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” to quote Shakespeare in Hamlet.

Aroon Purie, the editor-in-chief of India Today explains it this way: “It is the ‘God’ complex which I have seen in so many successful men. They reach such heights of success that they live in their own world and think the normal rules of social behaviour do not apply to them, neither do the laws of the land.”

How true!

Many of the stakeholders in his mushroom companies numbering about eight, are all suspect. There seems to be reasons for this, which only an IT or ED department can unravel.

We find his business empire stinking and also sinking as we access internet. DLF and 2G Spectrum of Unitech, with names of Robert Vadra floating around, do give us a murky picture of his activities — a kind of Tughlaq Durbar.

When at parties, it was ‘who is who’ of Page-3.

***

I was reading a book titled ‘Tales’, a collection of stories by Acharya Ratnananda. Let me re-tell the story before taking leave.

There lived a proud but benevolent King.

One day he called his Prime Minister and said, “Mr Prime Minister, there is a misgiving in my mind that worries me and it is this: As you know, all of us in this creation have some definite work to do. A King rules, a soldier fights in war, a trader trades, a teacher teaches, a preacher preaches, a mason builds, though as people they do other things also. This is law of the nature. Likewise, even the creator, God, should have a job to do. What is that? I would like to know.”

The Prime Minister, unable to answer, suggested that since the question borders on spiritual and metaphysical studies, it be put to the Bishop. Accordingly, the Bishop was called before the King. The King repeated the question.

The Bishop did not know the answer but sought time for fear of punishment.

Next day, the shepherd boy of the Bishop saw his master worried and silent. “What troubles you, Master?” the shepherd boy asked. The Bishop dismissed him in the beginning but later relented and told him the King’s question, “What is God’s work?”

The boy told the Bishop that he knew the answer but would reveal it only before the King personally. Helpless, the Bishop took the boy to the King and said, “This shepherd boy would answer your question. Please ask him the question.”

The benevolent King, though seemed offended at the audacity of the Bishop, all the same, agreed to the suggestion and repeated the question.

The shepherd-boy heard the question and said that it was a very simple question but since the person asking the question becomes a Shishya, a disciple, and the person giving the answer becomes the Guru, a Master, the Guru should go up and occupy the throne and the disciple must come down and sit on the floor, which is the protocol.

The benevolent King accepts the proposition and vacates the throne which the shepherd-boy immediately occupies.

“Come on, give me the answer. What is God’s work?” The King was in a hurry and impatient.

The shepherd boy said in great aplomb: “Here is my answer. What is God’s work? Well, God’s work is to push down the Haughty and push up the Humble. The God’s work is seen right now here.”

To return to Tarun Tejpal, God seems to be working overtime to cut him to size and put him in his place. For now the Police lock-up in Goa is his place!

Tarun Tejpal and his cronies, always busy partying with social celebrities and political honchos, must have raised their cut-glasses of joy year-round and clinked them in toast to the chorus: “Cheers, let us screw India.”

This kind of non-patriotic cheering must have stopped since Tejpal’s arrest. So be it. And who has the last laugh? BJP!

(A longer version of this piece appeared on two consecutive days in Star of Mysore)

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: Fear and self-loathing in Goa

Aroon Purie and Vinod Mehta on Tarun Tejpal

Tarun Tejpal, Manish Tewari and relief at PBC

***

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

Tarun Tejpal, Manish Tewari and relief at PBC

From Off the Record, the Monday gossip column in Deccan Herald:

Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal‘s fall from grace has brought a sense of “divine justice” in Prasar Bharati, where the invisible presence of Tejpal—thanks to his closeness to the information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari—was one of the contributing factors behind a long-standing “difference of opinion” behind Tewari and Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar.

“Tejpal is believed to be one of the outsider journalists, whom Tewari wanted to rope in Doordarshan in an attempt to revamp the image of the public broadcaster. Sircar opposed the move and favoured full time government employee in the DD.

“The public broadcaster’s experiment with journalists from outside like defence analysts Ajai Shukla ended in a whimper as Shukla too resigned within days. Later a Tejpal company reportedly received contracts to prepare two different programmes for the DD and there was pressure on the top brass of Prasar Bharati to air those programmes in slots with high viewership.”

For the record, Tarun Tejpal’s name was removed from the board of Prasar Bharati after the alleged sex scandal felled him, and the Indian Express reported that just before the fall, Amaraman India Pvt. Ltd, a firm owned by him, had bagged a contract for 52 shows.

Photograph: courtesy Jitender Gupta/ Outlook*

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: Fear and self-loathing in Goa

Aroon Purie and Vinod Mehta on Tarun Tejpal

***

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

How to say ‘goodbye’ to a departing Editor

chaitanya-kalbag_505_081412060353

The following is the text of the internal email sent by Aroon Purie, editor-in-chief of the India Today group, to announce the exit of Business Today editor Chaitanya Kalbag.

Like his 2010 letter announcing the exit of the group’s Bombay bulwark Mohini Bhullar, Purie’s letter is remarkable for its civility and graciousness in acknowledging the positive role played by an outgoing colleague.

***

Dear colleagues,

Am writing this with mixed emotions, since Chaitanya Kalbag has been both a friend and colleague to all of us. CK will be leaving the India Today group at the end of this month.

As most of you know, this was Chaitanya’s second stint with the India Today group. More than 30 years ago he won the group’s first two journalism awards for his investigative and human rights reporting.

During his three-and-a-quarter years at the helm of Business Today, Money Today, Gadgets & Gizmos and Harvard Business Review South Asia, Chaitanya introduced several best practices.

Business Today, in particular, has come to be respected for its balanced, investigative and ethical reporting.  Top CEOs, management professionals, and students, in India and overseas, now follow the magazine both in print and online.

Under  Chaitanya’s stewardship there were many significant changes. Some of them were :

# Training and subject matter expertise were encouraged
# Performance appraisals were fact-based and took in 360-degree feedback
# Good reportage, photography and design were recognised and rewarded on a fortnightly basis
#  He revitalized our digital presence

Most importantly, Chaitanya inculcated a daily-news culture, rare in a fortnightly magazine! It’s not a surprise that, with these ingredients, BT stories have regularly won national awards.

CK, on behalf of the India Today group, I wish you well.

Your presence has made a valuable contribution to the Group….

A.P.

***

Photograph: courtesy Business Today

Read Chaitanya Kalbag’s blog: Upon my word

Follow Chaitanya Kalbag on Twitter: @ChaitanyaKalbag

***

Also read: ‘Media’s mandate is to also chronicle good news’

How Tavleen Singh fell out with Sonia Gandhi

The columnist Tavleen Singh has just penned what she calls her “political memoirs”.

Titled Durbar (Hachette, 324 pages, Rs 599), the book charts Singh’s view of the corridors of power in Delhi from the inside out—from Indira Gandhi‘s Emergency in 1975 to her assassination in 1984; from Rajiv Gandhi‘s rise to his downfall and death in 1991.

The book jacket describes how Singh, at various times a reporter for The Statesman, Delhi; The Telegraph and Sunday, Calcutta; The Sunday Times, London:

“observed a small, influential section of Delhi’s society—people she knew well—remain strangely unafffected by the perilous state of the nation…. It was the beginning of a political culture of favouritism and ineptitude that would take hold at the highest levels of government, stunting India’s ambitions and frustrating its people well into the next century.”

In chapter 14, titled Euphoric Early Days and a Plot, Singh chronicles throws light on how her friendship with Rajiv’s window Sonia Gandhi waned—and the role played by a 1986 profile of the current Congress president in India Today magazine.

***

By TAVLEEN SINGH

By the middle of 1986, my relations with M.J. Akbar had become so fraught that I decided I was better off going freelance. I was writing regularly by then for the Sunday Times, London, which brought in more money than I earned at the Telegraph.

I came to an arrangement with Aroon Purie, owner and chief editor of India Today, to do some freelance work for him as well and with a considerable degree of pleasure sent Akbar my resignation. His tantrums and sulks had now become so routine as to make constant difficulties for me professionally….

So it was that I happened to be in the India Today office on the afternoon the news came that someone had tried to shoot Rajiv Gandhi when he was visiting Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial, Rajghat, on 2 October 1986. The failed assassin was a twenty-four-year-old Sikh called Karamjit Singh, who was such an amateur that he used a country-made pistol as his weapon….

When I heard that Sonia had been with Rajiv at Rajghat, I called her to find out what had happened. She said that what had upset her most was that when they heard the shots the first people to duck were Rajiv’s new and supposedly highly trained bodyguards from the special protection group (SPG).

I must have mentioned our conversation in the India Today office that afternoon because immediately afterwards Aroon Purie summoned me to his room to ask if I could do an interview with Sonia Gandhi.

He said that people were blaming her for the negative stories that were beginning to pollute the atmosphere around Rajiv and everyone was curious about what kind of person she was and whether she really controlled the prime minister as people said she did. Although she went everywhere with the prime minister nobody knew anything about her at all.

What did her voice sound like?

How did she spend her days?

What did she think of India?

I called Sonia and told her that India Today wanted to do an interview with her and emphasised that her image was really bad and that it might help her to give an interview and clarify some of the things that were being said about her.

I told her that she was being blamed for interfering in government affairs and such things as throwing Arun Nehru out of the circle of Rajiv’s closest advisors…. She listened in silence and remained silent for a few moments before saying that she would check with the prime minister’s media managers and see if they thought she should give an interview to India Today.

They did not think it was a good idea. So we agreed to do an interview disguised as a profile and that only Sonia and I, and of course India Today, would know that the profile was done with her cooperation. I asked her all the questions that Aroon wanted me to and produced a profile that was so anodyne that Aroon said, ‘I don’t mind being considered a chamcha of Rajiv Gandhi, but of Sonia…’

I pointed out that I had said right from the start that I would not be able to say anything negative about her since we were doing the profile with her cooperation. Aroon was unconvinced and said that the very least we should do was put in the things that people were saying about her. He suggested that we put some bite into the piece by getting my colleague Dilip Bobb to work with me so that if I had problems with Sonia afterwards I could put the blame on Dilip.

So on the cover of the 15 December 1986 issue of India Today there appeared a profile titled ‘The Enigmatic First Lady of India’.

I am going to quote here the first two paragraphs and admit that the writing of them had more to do with Dilip than me. My contribution was to provide information about Sonia’s likes and dislikes, her friends and her life as the prime minister’s wife:

Had fate – in the form of assassins’ bullets – not intervened, she would have probably been quite content to linger in the shadow of her formidable mother-in-law, her assiduously protected privacy undisturbed by the fact that she belonged to the most famous family in the land. But destiny – and dynasty – willed otherwise. Unwarned, Sonia Gandhi was suddenly pitch-forked into the position she would have least wanted – India’s First Lady.

It is, as the last two years have painfully revealed, a role she is not comfortable in. Compared to the relaxed style of her debonair husband, she appears awkward and wooden. Though impeccably attired and carefully groomed, her face, framed by luxuriant chestnut hair, is an immobile mask. Perhaps deliberately, her public personality has given her the image of a mere ceremonial appendage to the Prime Minister. She is not a Lalita Shastri, but neither does she seem cut out to be Nancy Reagan or a Raisa Gorbachova. And the fate of someone who falls between two stools is not a happy one.

The article went on to charge Sonia with being the power behind the throne ‘plotting the downfall of opponents, through cabinet reshuffles (she didn’t trust Arun Nehru) and advising her husband on everything from the Kashmir coalition to Pepsi Cola’s entry into India.’

The profile was not flattering but it was not as bad as it could have been. Considering how much vicious gossip there was about the Quattrocchis by then, the piece was not unfair. There was only an illusion to her friends using her name when they threw their weight around Delhi’s drawing rooms and government offices. This was mentioned in passing.

So, when I called Sonia to find out what she thought of the profile I did not expect the frosty response I got.

I asked her if she had seen the profile and what she thought about it, and I remember being surprised by the icy tone in which she replied that she did not think she was like the person I had described in the profile. In what way, I asked, and she mentioned the reference to her friends using her name.

I said, ‘Look, Sonia, there are people using your name. I don’t want to give you details over the phone. But let’s have coffee and I will tell you exactly what is going on and who is doing what.’

We agreed to meet the next day or the next, but an hour before our scheduled meeting Madhavan, her personal assistant, called to say that Mrs Gandhi was unable to keep our appointment as she was accompanying the prime minister to Kashmir. He had been instructed to tell me that she would call when she returned to fix another time.

She never did.

Some weeks later I wrote to her to offer condolences on her father’s death and got a polite handwritten reply in her neat, carefully formed handwriting. My New Year’s card in January 1987 was not written by hand and signed by both of them as it was the year before. It came from the prime minister’s office and was formally signed by Rajiv Gandhi.

I had been dropped.

***

Book excerpt: courtesy Hachette

Photo illustration: courtesy Amarjit Siddu via Al Arabiya

***

Also visit: Tavleen Singh‘s website

Follow her on Twitter: @tavleen_singh

***

Also read: Vinod Mehta on Arun Shourie, Dileep Padgaonkar

Kuldip Nayar on Shekhar Gupta, N. Ram & Co

B.G. Verghese on the declaration of Emergency

The curious case of Karan Thapar & a flyover-II

After 17 articles on the City pages of The Times of India, Delhi, the 14 owners and residents on Palam Marg—including the media baron Aroon Purie and the TV anchor Karan Thapar—respond to the allegation that they objected to the expansion of a flyover becasue it threatened to eat into the service road in front of their mansions.

Image: courtesy The Times of India

Also read: The curious case of Karan Thapar & a flyover-I

The curious case of Karan Thapar and a flyover

One of India’s top voices, Lata Mangeshkar, earned a fair bit of negative publicity for opposing the construction of a flyover on busy Peddar road in Bombay because it threatened to disturb her peace of mind.

Now, one of India’s top TV faces is threatening to follow in her footsteps in Delhi.

On July 29, The Times of India reported that anchor Karan Thapar had opposed the expansion of a flyover in the posh Vasant Vihar area because it would eat into the service lane in front of his house.

“Arguing that this could become “a matter of life and death”, Karan Thapar has written to lieutenant-governor Tejendra Khanna, pleading that “at all cost the service lane between houses 1 to 8, Palam Marg (Olaf Palme Marg), must not be further reduced in width but retained at its present width.”

In the letter dated July 13, Thapar claimed he was speaking on behalf of other residents. “I know that Aroon Purie, Editor-in-Chief of India Today and Aajtak, and Harmala Gupta, daughter of late Lt. Gen. Harbaksh Singh, endorse and support the request I am making in this letter…”

“The reason this worries me is that even with the present width of 6m, fire tenders cannot with ease access houses on this stretch of the service lane.”

In a follow-up story on August 5, ToI makes mincemeat of Thapar’s claim, quoting residents in the area who see an attempt “to hold the city to ransom for personal benefit”.

“The claim that it will be a matter of ‘life and death’ as fire engines and ambulances will not be able to reach their house is bogus, as is clear from the fire chief’s statement,” said Ratna Sahai, owner of house no 10, Vasant Marg. “The original Rao Tula Ram flyover was meant to be longer and wider. But these people had used their clout to have this altered and truncated into an abbreviated two-lane flyover to protect their precious service lane.” This allegation had earlier been denied.

Refuting Thapar’s claim that he had approached the president of the residents’ welfare association, Gautam Vohra, president of Vasant Vihar RWA, told TOI: “I have never been approached by Karan Thapar regarding the flyover or any related issue. These people have never raised their voice on water or other problems faced by people of the area, nor have they taken any interest in addressing issues of greater public good.”

Rajni Mathur, resident of C block and RWA member, pointed out that these people had themselves reduced the public service road to beautify what they treated as private land. “These are just a few people who don’t even live here and have never come to the RWA. They have encroached upon the service lane with gardens, guard houses and parked cars. They are concerned about their tenants leaving rather than anything else,” she said.

External reading: Express Newsline

Good news: ‘Media sector is a sunrise sector’

What was bazaar speculation for quite a while is now a matter of record. Aroon Purie, the bossman of the India Today group, has divested over a quarter of his holding in Living Media India Limited, in favour of one of India’s richest men, Kumar Mangalam Birla for an undisclosed sum

(Business Standard reports that the deal may have been worth Rs 35o crore).

The stake sale brings one of India’s biggest corporate houses, the Aditya Birla group, into mainstream magazine and television space (the K.K. Birla group owns the newspaper Hindustan Times); sets up a clash of telecom titans for the 4G space (Mukesh Ambani‘s Reliance Industries has bought into the TV18 network); and raises questions over growing corporate ownership of the media.

Below is the internal note shot off by Ashish Bagga, the group CEO of the India Today group, at 9.10 pm on Friday, 18 May 2012:

***

Dear All

I am pleased to inform you of a significant development for the INDIA TODAY group.

Just this afternoon, the $35-billion Indian multi-national, ADITYA BIRLA GROUP (ABG) and your company, which is India’s most respected and diversified media corporation, have come to an agreement for a 27.5% financial investment by a private investment company of the Aditya Birla Group in our holding company, Living Media India Ltd.

Commenting on the investment, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla group said: “The Indian media sector is a sunrise sector from our investment point of view. I believe that the India Today group offers one of the best opportunities of growth and value creation. ITG’s management ethos, values, brands, product portfolio and future plans offer one of the best opportunities for growth and value creation.”

Aroon Purie, our chairman said, “I am delighted to partner with the Aditya Birla Group to aggressively address the current and future potential of the Indian media business which is at a tipping point. The Aditya Birla group with its strong leadership, global footprint, diversified business interests and its shared values of integrity, commitment and social responsibility make it a perfect fit with the India Today group.”

By virtue of this development, your company will embark on a high growth and expansion strategy across all its existing and new businesses.

I look forward to a successful and trail-blazing future.

Ashish Bagga, group CEO

Image: courtesy Mail Today

‘Mail Today’ rises in the land of ‘The Daily Mail’

Making use of the five-and-a-half hour time gap, Mail Today, the tabloid daily from the India Today group, has expanded its footprint to the United Kingdom.

Editor-in-Chief Aroon Purie explains the move in a note on page 3:

“Targeting the large south Asian population in London, Mail Today wants to connect with the diaspora by bringing the best of Indian news packaged in a modern avatar. It gives us great pleasure to bring a slice of the new rising India.”

Both The Asian Age and The Sunday Guardian launched by M.J. Akbar, currently editorial director of India Today, have editions out of London.

Power of press belongs to those who own one!

It’s raining daughters in the Delhi papers—daughters of media barons, that is.

Mail Today has devoted at least four full tabloid pages over the past month to herald the launch of India Today founder Aroon Purie‘s daughter Kalli Purie‘s book on weight loss.

Today’s Times of India has a large story on the city pages announcing the exhibition of bossman Samir Jain‘s daughter Trishla Jain‘s new art exhibition at their famous 4, Tilak Marg residence.

In one of its power lists, India Today had mentioned Stanford-educated Trishla’s reported reluctance to return to India as one of Samir Jain’s biggest disappointments.

Also read: The name is Gajwani, Satyan Suresh Gajwani

What Raghav Bahl can learn from Samir Jain

Prabhu Chawla: My greatest feat, and failure

A fresh selection of media questions from readers to the editorial director of The New Indian Express group, Prabhu Chawla, and answered with trademark candour.

Vol 1. No III.

***

Q: Why did you quit India Today group? I am asking this question because I am a big fan of your show Sidhi Baat.

A: I am now 65 year old. I wanted to do something new. You can watch my show Sachchi Baat on all the ETV channels on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.

Q: Once the Indian Express was the largest selling newspaper in the country with an impact which was unmatched. Why don’t the TNIE and IE merge? Please don’t evade the question by saying “I can’t comment”.

A: Of course, I can’t comment on an issue which involves the owners. I am sure both of them know what is good for both the organisations. Future of the Express spirit is great.

Q: What, in your own opinion, is the greatest achievement of your life? What is your greatest failure? If there is one thing that you could change in your past, then what would that be?

A: It is a tricky question. But greatest success has been in creating my successors who are better than me. My failure lies in that I haven’t learnt to be a good listener.

Q: If one analyzes the trend of this column, one can invariably reach the conclusion that some of the questions and answers are written by you yourself. Self praising column…as what more can be expected from you?

A: Please grant me the right to express myself. Don’t try to gag me as you will not succeed.

Q: I thought some of your columnists are anti-Hindu and biased, case in point is Jyoti Punwani‘s write up. Has paid news comes to TNIE? Please reply.

A: I didn’t know that if an article doesn’t support your point of view becomes a paid news? We allow free flow of expression and can’t be intimidated by those who are arrogant and intolerant.

Q: When India Today was facing strong attack from the newly launched Outlook*, in 1990s, Aroon Purie chose you to command the counter charge. Under your command, India Today won the war. Shall we expect a repeat of that feat now at the NIE?

A: Let us hope for the best. NIE is a very strong and credible brand. With the support of loyal readers and well wishers like you, we will make it better than the best.

* Disclosures apply

Also read: Prabhu Chawla out, M.J. Akbar in at India Today

Khushwant Singh: Why Aroon Purie ‘elevated’ Prabhu Chawla

***

Prabhu Answers

Vol I. No.I: Straight drives from the man behind Seedhi Baat

Vol I. No IIHome truths from the man behind Sachchi Baat

Radia effect on PM’s invitees for TV pow-wow?

Prime minister Manmohan Singh‘s much ballyhooed pow-wow with “editors” of television channels to clear the air over the scams dogging his government, was, as was to be expected, a typically tepid, bureaucratic affair.

Only the national English TV channels—Headlines Today (represented by Aroon Purie), CNN-IBN (Rajdeep Sardesai), NDTV 24×7 (Prannoy Roy), Times Now (Arnab Goswami)—were interested in asking questions (and suplementaries, much to media advisor Harish Khare‘s discomfiture) about corruption.

Most of the rest, be they from regional channels like Sun TV, Calcutta TV or Asianet, or “international channels” like BBC and Al-Jazeera, were content with asking questions relevant to their audiences and markets (Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Europe, Middle East).

Questions are already doing the rounds on why some sizeable channels like Star News, TV9, etc, went unrepresented. And rumours are already doing the rounds on why at least one sizeable editor was absent.

Radhika Ramaseshan reports in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“The owner of an English channel had been requested to be present instead of deputing a colleague.

“The owner-editor of another Delhi-based channel was also told he would be welcome. Other channels were sent a general invite.

“The caution came against the backdrop of the Niira Radia tapes featuring conversations of some journalists.”

Also read: Did Niira Radia tapes have impact on Padma awards?

Note to directors: It was Shammy not Barkha

No One Killed Jessica?

Well, someone ‘killed’ Harinder Baweja.

Raj Kumar Gupta, the director of last weekend’s multiplex marvel—in which Rani Mukherji essays the role of a single, bitchy, aggressive, passionate, foul-mouthed, investigative journalist probing the murder of the model Jessica Lal at a Delhi bar—may have made the world believe that his ‘wet dream’ was NDTV’s Barkha Dutt.

But, writes Priya Ramani, the editor of Lounge, the Saturday section of Mint, the sting operation that was key to the reopening of the Jessica Lal murder case was not Dutt’s (or NDTV’s) handiwork, but of Harinder Baweja’s (and Tehelka‘s). And, Baweja gets no credit in the movie whatsoever.

Writes Ramani:

“What a guy, I thought when I read Harinder Baweja’s riveting post-Babri Masjid expose in India Today magazine in 1993.

“The Bharatiya Janata Party was then claiming the demolition of the mosque was nothing compared to the 40 temples that had been razed in Kashmir. Ask them for a list, editor Aroon Purie told Baweja, and go see if the temples have actually been destroyed.

“It was January and snowing in a turbulent Kashmir as Baweja and a photographer trudged from one temple to another—and found all of them intact. They were nearly kidnapped by AK-47 wielding men; at another temple they had to face a mob and firing.

“When I met Baweja a few years later, he turned out to be a she. A 5ft, 1-inch she who prefers to be called Shammy and always wears saris with sexy, sleeveless blouses in summer and winter. When the Taliban captured Kabul, Shammy almost travelled there with her sleeveless blouses.

“Shammy is also the perfect host and believes her parties are a hit only if dinner is served after midnight.”

Read the full article: Journalism’s real wet dream

Also read: Is abusing politicians the nation’s agenda?

The face behind a famous byline behind an award

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