Category Archives: People

In the middle of an inexorable conflict situation in Kashmir, despite a brutal, undemocratic crackdown on civil liberties, there’s only one thing on the mind of a ‘saas’ who was once ‘bahu’

Mothers will be mothers, but reporters can be saviours. Vijaita Singh, a journalist with The Hindu, on assignment in Kashmir, met a woman in Srinagar, at a so-called “helpline” where citizens are allowed to make a phon calls, like prisoners. In the midst of a massive clampdown on communication networks in the Valley, Harvinder Singh…

Ravish Kumar’s citation (878 words) compared to Arun Shourie’s (575 words) is a testament to how much media freedom has shrunk in India under “popular authoritarianism”. It is a tight slap on Narendra Modi’s tax terrorists—and a salute to Prannoy and Radhika Roy.

In 1982, in the wake of Indira Gandhi‘s Emergency, the Ramon Magsaysay foundation awarded Indian Express editor Arun Shourie with the Magsaysay Award. Shourie’s citation was 575 words long. In 2019, NDTV India’s Ravish Kumar has been honoured with what is considered to be the “Asian Nobel”. Kumar’s citation is 878 words long. The length…

When a journalist feels great about his profession these days, it is news—and it is news to celebrate

These aren’t the days when journalists wake up and feel great about the world—or their profession. But Man Aman Singh Chhina of the The Indian Express has enough reason to feel proud of the power of the press even in these gloomy times. On Friday, July 26, his paper front-paged a report on a Kargil…

Wisdom at the ‘Sangam’: Journalist Jawid Laiq has called seven elections in the last 42 years with greater accuracy than exit pollsters just by dipping his finger in the Ganga. Will 2019 reverse that trend?

After watching Indians at a polling booth and failing to read their mind on which way they were inclined to vote, James Reston, the late executive editor of The New York Times, grandly concluded that an election was a secret communion between a voter and democracy—it is sacrilegious to pry.  Now, where “Scotty” wrote this…

How five Prime Ministers before the ‘Divider-in-Chief’ dealt with the media—from the pen of a Kannadiga who (honourably) served four of them, under three different political formulations

Today is the second death anniversary of I. Ramamohan Rao, the genial Kannadiga who served as the principal spokesman of the government of India under four prime ministers and under three different political formulations. There is an advertisement (above) in the Delhi papers to mark the date. Rao, who like most Dakshina Kannada boys of…

The amazing rise and dramatic fall of Ravi Prakash, a competent but colourful journalist who built one of India’s biggest, most influential news networks: TV9

TV9 “chairman, CEO and editor” Ravi Prakash, who shared the stage with prime minister Narendra Modi at the launch of ‘TV9 Bharatvarsh’ just 40 days ago, has been shown the door by the network’s new owners whom he, ironically, brought in to buy the company from its original promoter six months ago. An official spokesman (see statement,…

From ‘what’ to ‘why’ and ‘what’s next’: four ways in which robots and Artificial Intelligence will change journalism in the future, according to Bloomberg News’ editor-in-chief

From Johannes Gutenberg‘s printing press to Tim Berners Lee‘s world wide web, and the telegram, radio and television in between, journalism has been constantly shaped and changed by technology—and not always for the worse. In the 21st century, the news media business is grappling, like other industries, with the prospect of machine learning and Artificial…

It is World Press Freedom Day today. It is a good day to salute Kalki, Padmini and Kajal: the transgender media personnel who also serve in their own quiet ways

May 3 is World Press Freedom day, to celebrate “the fundamental principles of press freedom, to evaluate press freedom around the world, to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.” “3 May acts as a reminder to…

In Gauri Lankesh’s home-state, a frighteningly real story of ‘fake news’, with the clumsy footprints of BJP and RSS—and embedded ‘sangh’ journalists and newspapers. (And, yes, a fake news peddler followed by Narendra Modi.)

*** A leading Kannada newspaper owned by a former three-term BJP MP and a serial fake news peddler followed by Narendra Modi on Twitter, have been embroiled in a forged letter scandal, following the arrest of a “journalist” owing allegiance to the RSS. # The newspaper is Vijaya Vani owned by former Dharwad (North) MP Vijay Sankeshwar. #…

“The ‘Golden Hour’ is the most important hour in your life”: On the third anniversary of his second life, six lessons Sachin Kalbag learnt when he collapsed in ‘The Hindu’ newsroom

Journalists strut around as if they are masters of the universe. As if nothing can happen to them. As if nothing can stop them. As if the Chief Editor Up Above (or down below) has different plans for them, unlike other mortals. Not so, of course. Sachin Kalbag was just 42 and in the prime…

Everybody’s favourite MP, P.Rajeev—the Chief Editor of ‘Deshabhimani’—is digging deep in Ernakulam to find out which side of the brain makes voters decide: left, or right?

Drawing room chats on the state of Indian politics almost always end up in collective kvetching, before everyone drowns their miseries in a glass of hypocrisy—and returns to forward the latest WhatsApp bile with their signature emoji. 🙏 “Wish we didn’t have to choose the best from among the worst.” “Wish our parties would stop…

Nine journalists arrested in Telangana for reporting and recording EVMs being shifted in the middle of the night in private vehicles

Mohammad Mohsin, an IAS officer of the Karnataka cadre posted as an election observer in Odisha, has been suspended for “dereliction of duty”. His offence: checking the helicopter of Narendra Modi, days after a black box had been hurriedly carried off the PM’s chopper in Karnataka. *** Now, nine journalists in Telangana have been arrested…

“We have very few checks and balances. Almost none. That is a dangerous, and depressing, situation to be in”: Tony Joseph, author of the most important book ever written by an Indian journalist

There was a time when young journalists in Bombay used to hear, in awe, that Aveek Sarkar, the paterfamilias of the Anandabazar Patrika (ABP) group, secretly considered Tony Joseph as the “ideal journalist”. That was high praise coming from the sophisticated owner of Anandabazar Patrika, Business Standard, and The Telegraph newspapers, and Sunday, Business World, and Sports World magazines.…

How N. Ram’s reporting of the #Rafale scandal in ‘The Hindu’ sped across the digital world and into the phones of readers before the Narendra Modi government could put its pants on

Behind the investigation of India’s two biggest defence scandals—the Bofors deal under Rajiv Gandhi and the Rafale deal under Narendra Modi—is one common newspaper and one common byline, The Hindu and N. Ram. But with one big difference: the first scandal was reported when hard-copy, ink-and-paper journalism was king; the latter in the digital age, when…

How an ‘Economic Times’ reporter’s tweet enabled a 68-year-old Wayanad woman, who survives on Rs 36 a day, to get the photo (and a hug) of a lifetime

  On Wednesday, April 3, Indulekha Aravind, a feature writer with The Economic Times, was in Kalpetta town, in Wayanad in Kerala, meeting people a day before Congress president Rahul Gandhi was to file his nomination papers from the constituency. It is the cliched election vox-pop—a big-town reporter in a small town trying to gauge public opinion,…

‘The Indian Express’, Shekhar Gupta and Manu Pubby: a textbook example of how Narendra Modi’s attack dog ED bit the hand that fed the BJP the AgustaWestland scandal in 2014

The Indian Express which broke the AgustaWestland helicopter scam in 2013 and added to the UPA’s mountain of scandals from which Narendra Modi pounced to power, finds itself being bizarrely accused by the BJP regime of toning down coverage. Manu Pubby, then with the Express, was first to report that former air chief marshal (retired) S.P.…

How a newspaper Editor inspired a spunky English mom to name her first son Ranga—the amazing life and times of possibly India’s first woman columnist, Freda Bedi

Who was the first woman to write a column, and a stridently feminist column at that, in a mainstream Indian newspaper? Unless there were others before her in the languages, could the answer be Freda Bedi, the mother of the actor Kabir Bedi, who wrote in The Tribune, Lahore, in pre-partition India? *** In his…

Pritish Nandy was the reason Daler Mehndi made the hit number ‘Tunak Tunak Tun’. As at least one answer in every interview in the ‘Illustrated Weekly of India’ would start, “You know, Pritish.”

The big, booming voice of Daler Mehndi, the superb sufi and bhangra singer, no longer rocks pubs, clubs and dinner parties. Bollywood has moved on to his brother Mika Singh, and Daler’s own legal tangles with alleged human trafficking have cast a dark shadow over him. But, Holi Hai! In an interview to Seemi Pasha of…

‘The Daily Telegraph’ journalist who found Nirav Modi in London was, er, not quite looking for the diamond fraudster that Narendra Modi had happily let go

Journalism doesn’t always happen by design. When The Daily Telegraph found the fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi hailing a taxi in London, and peppered him with questions, it was not because a crack investigative team was actively looking for the man who had defrauded banks in India of Rs 13,000 crore. It was because the paper’s magazine…

100 years ago, today, the greatest Editor-in-Chief to have walked this planet had a dream, an epiphany—in the home of the owner of ‘The Hindu’—that changed India’s course

One hundred years ago, today, India’s struggle for independence from the British took a decisive and inspired turn, when Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi had a dream that would catapult him towards ‘Mahatma’-hood. On March 18, 1919, Gandhi met C.Rajagopalachari in the City that used to be known as Madras, in a home on Cathedral Road that…