For the second time in five months, Khushwant Singh, the former editor of the now-defunct Illustrated Weekly of India, stands up for the beleaguered NDTV group editor and anchor, Barkha Dutt, in Hindustan Times:
“I shudder to think what would be left of Indian television if Barkha Dutt decides to call it a day.
“For many years I made it a point to watch two programmes to keep myself abreast of what were the main issues facing the country. One was Barkha’s We, the People and the other was The Big Fight by Rajdeep Sardesai.
“Both Barkha and Sardesai did their homework in order to ask right questions from the people they had invited to appear in the programmes. They also took care to have eminent people who had conflicting views so that viewers would get different viewpoints before making up their own minds.
“Barkha does a lot more than We, the People. Wherever riots and violence erupt, Barkha is the first TV personality to give viewers an idea what is going on and why. Our countrymen rely heavily on what she says because she never takes sides but gives participants an occasion to put across their views to a huge audience, which runs into millions.
“Recently when Osama bin Laden was killed by American commandos in Abbottabad and viewers round the globe wanted to know how Pakistanis felt about the entry of foreign forces in their soil without their permission or knowledge, Barkha was in Pakistan in order to know what Pakistani leaders had to say about it. Next to Americans Pakistanis hate Indians.
“Barkha is a fearless woman. Her good looks and dress-sense add to her acceptability. Some people say that Barkha Dutt has a swollen head. I have no means of checking if that is true. I have met her only once for a few minutes. Far from being swollen-headed, I found her totally unaware about her iconic status.”