Posts Tagged ‘Aroon Purie’

Aroon Purie and Vinod Mehta on Tarun Tejpal

29 November 2013

tto

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”.

***

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

How to say ‘goodbye’ to a departing Editor

4 October 2013

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

21 November 2012

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

21 August 2012

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

7 August 2012

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’

19 May 2012

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’

5 March 2012

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!

16 January 2012

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

Aroon Purie’s daughter Kalli has a story to tell

17 December 2011

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

Straight drives from the man behind Seedhi Baat

1 March 2011

Former India Today editor Prabhu Chawla has taken his interactive “Ask Prabhu” column to The New Indian Express, which he recently joined as editorial director, answering questions on this, that and the other with earthy candour.

Many of the media questions directed at Chawla and his responses are illuminating. Chawla confirms market rumours  that the New Indian Express is on the verge of reviving the Sunday Standard title owned by the group.

Here’s a sample.

Q: Why were you fired from an outstanding media like India Today? Did your poor knowledge in journalism particularly about current affairs and useless questions in Seedhi Baat make you go? Have courage to answer.

A: You have already answered your own question. Be happy with it.

Q: You had a great platform with the other media company? Why take a position with The New Indian Express, which caters mainly to the southern region?

A: I hugely enjoyed my previous job which gave me recognition. But I was missing the challenges of a daily newspaper.

Q: Is there any possibility of the New Indian Express and the Indian Express coming together to make a wider national presence ?

A: It is not within my purview or authority to answer such a question.

Q: How should I book my copy for Sunday Standard from Delhi? Will it be available in all the shops? Please do give a good advertising campaign for this new endeavour sir.

A: You don’t have to book. Just order your newspaper hawker to drop Sunday Standard along with your other papers. We will be promoting it as well.

Q: Persons like you, Arun Purie, Rajdeep Sardesai and Arun Goswami are loved by us. Why don’t you join openly with Baba Ramdev in his pursuit of a political career? Instead, you openly discourage him?

A: I can speak for myself only. I am not interested in joining politics. I support Baba’s cause but not his politics. I have interviewed him nine times.

Q: Why is media being called the fourth pillar of democracy although it is only doing business here?

A: I haven’t understood your question. Media is not just a pillar it is mirror for everyone to see his or her face.

Q: In England, even the monarch is under media scrutiny and the royal heirs and other family members are hounded by the UK media for juicy stories. Why is the Indian media being shy of doing investigative stories on Priyanka and Robert Vadra?

A: Media can’t chase a mirage. It was media which exposed Bofors. And it is the media which has exposed series of scams. We chase scandals without thinking about individuals.

Q: Forgive me for asking you about your fellow journalist Vinod Sharma of the Hindustan Times. He appears to be brazenly pro-UPA in his appearance as a panelist in the Times Now TV. He makes no bones to show his admiration for Manmohan Singh.

A: He is entitled to hold an opinion. It is for the viewers to accept or reject it.

Q: Why don’t we see interviews in any media with Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi for the last 2 to 3 months during the scams and price rise? Media are happy to give them titles like Woman of the Year, Young Face of India etc.

A: Media can’t force them or anyone else to give interviews.

Also read: Should Prabhu Chawla edit The New Indian Express?

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