Posts Tagged ‘Benazir Bhutto’

Why Karan Thapar stopped haggling with God

19 September 2010

Karan Thapar has a well-cultivated image of a tough, snarling, bulldog of a interviewer a la Jeremy Paxman.

All the aggressive, relentless questioning and eyeball to eyeball gazing with the crooked and the wicked of the world might leave viewers wondering if the man has a heart at all.

But the Devil’s Advocate has a human side, too. The tragedy, really, of losing a wife when young.

In his Sunday Sentiments column in the Hindustan Times, Thapar, 55, writes of his relationship with God and how it changed with the death of Nisha.

“Right up till my 30s I would often strike a deal with God. When I wanted something so desperately I was prepared to sacrifice for it, I would enter into an agreement: ‘I’m going to give up X, Y and Z and, in return, I want you to do A for me.’

“The change that occurred after Nisha’s death was small, simple but significant.

“From not knowing if God existed and thus being sceptical I switched to not wanting to risk he might be there and thus offending him. My new position became ‘I don’t know for sure but I’m prepared to accept he does exist’.

“From caution — or fear, if you prefer — was this new belief born….

“It’s now over 20 years since Nisha’s death and, except once, I haven’t bargained with God or, rather, with any of the Gods on my list of prayer. That phase is over. I’m now a believer except there’s no single name of God I place my trust in. I believe in God with a capital G and that means all his manifestations and avatars.”

Read the full column: Oh my God!

Visit his blog: Sunday sentiments

Also read: Did Karan Thapar stand a chance with Benazir?

From the desk of Shri Quickgun Chidambaram

Separated at birth: Karan Thapar and Keith Olbermann

93 seconds to knock 93 years of a hero’s life

‘Repeating bullshit doesn’t make it wisdom’

Since promises are meant to be broken…

4 January 2010

… India’s premier television anchor Karan Thapar makes one  in his Hindustan Times column:

“This year I’m taking on a bigger challenge. I’ve decided to give up interrupting my guests. Instead, I shall let them waffle and drone on, regardless of what they’re saying and how off target they may be, till you, the audience, scream in protest. Only when I get the first letter pleading for a return to the old rottweiler style will I resume business as usual.”

Read the full column: Promises to break

Also read: Separated at birth by roughly six degrees

93 seconds to knock 93 years of a hero’s life

Did this man stand a chance with a future PM?

The top-15 media stories (& viral videos) of ’08

6 January 2009

The strange thing about the so-called Global Village is that it has turned us all provincial. We relate to, are interested in, connect with, and remember news events with an insularity that would befuddle Marshall McLuhan. And in the process, we forget that stuff happens outside of the bubble we inhabit.

The Listening Post, the world-class media show on Al Jazeera English hosted by Richard Gizbert, has compiled the stories and personalities that dominated the global media in 2008, in association with Influence Communications, the Canadian media analysts who look at more than a billion TV items from 160 countries.

And the winner? The US presidential election which occupied a grand total of 6.5 million minutes of airtime around the world. On election November 8, and the day after, an average of 21 television news items per second were aired worldwide. The full list is as under:

1) US presidential elections

2) War in Iraq

3) Global economic meltdown

4) The Beijing Olympics

5) War in Afghanistan

6) Oil prices and climate change

7) Nicholas Sarkozy and Carlo Bruni

8) Tibet during the Olympic torch relay

9) Conflict over South Ossetia betwen Russia and Georgia

10) Pakistan after Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf

11) 60th anniversary of Israel’s creation

12) European football championships

13) Iran’s nuclear programme

14) Zimbabwe’s political and economic troubles

15) Earthquake in western China

‘Indian journalists take themselves too seriously’

22 June 2008

A case of exploding mangoes,’ the fictional account of the mysterious death of Pakistani president General Zia-ul-Haq by Mohammed Hanif (in picture), the air force man turned journalist who now heads the BBC’s Urdu service in London, has been acclaimed as the fiction debut of the year. So far.

In an interview with Nikhil Lakshman, editor-in-chief of rediff.com and India Abroad, Hanif handles a series of email questions, including one on journalists, with aplomb:

Nikhil Lakshman: Unlike Indian writers who, to my mind, are incapable of achieving the heights of Swiftian satire which you have scaled, I am always amazed by the breathtaking verve with which Pakistani writers use satire to unveil the deficiencies and foibles of the Pakistani system. Do you think working within the limits enforced by military dictatorships and intolerant regimes like [Benazir] Bhutto‘s and [Nawaz] Sharif‘s have spawned a grand tradition of satire, to bypass censorship and the limits on free speech? Do you believe democracy is a deterrent to great satire?

Mohammed Hanif: I’ll happily swap this so-called grand tradition of satire for a semblance of democracy. But I think you are being unfair to Indian writers by suggesting they have no sense of humour. I think Vikram Chandra is very funny. I think Nayyar Masud has probably written the funniest and saddest stories I have read in any language.

I think more than fiction writers, it’s the Indian media, journalists like you and me, who take themselves very seriously, and try to do their nationalistic duty. We have got Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gillani for that purpose. We should let them get on with their jobs.

I also think equating dictatorships with the Bhutto and Sharif regimes is a bit unfair. It might look the same from the outside but there is a slight difference which we journalist tend to forget.

Read the full interview: ‘A mullah general can only happen in a Bollywood film’

Photograph: courtesy Random House

Neena Gopal to edit Deccan Chronicle, Bangalore

20 April 2008

Neena Gopal, the former foreign editor of the Dubai-based Gulf News who was in conversation with Rajiv Gandhi just minutes before he was blown up by a suicide bomber in 1991, is to be the editor of the Deccan Chronicle edition from Bangalore.

A DC edition in India’s most crowded newspaper market has been on the cards for sometime now, but the plans have taken flight only in recent weeks.

Office space has been bought on Brigade Road, the presses have been installed in Electronic City, the editor is in, and recruitments are on with DC Hyderabad editor A.T. Jayanti meeting dozens of journalists to put together the staff for the paper.

The Bangalore edition is expected to roll off before the elections to the Karnataka assembly slated to begin on May 10. Some sources say the new edition could come as early as this month-end. The current Asian Age edition from Bangalore will cease publication with the arrival of Deccan Chronicle. (Age and Chronicle are owned by the same company.)

With a Bangalore edition, Deccan Chronicle (whose television tagline is “Face of the South”) will have presence in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. Neena Gopal was rumoured to be in the running for the editorship of Khaleej Times before she took the DC offer.

Neena Gopal and Barbara Crossette of The New York Times had accompanied Rajiv Gandhi in the back seat of his Ambassador car as he sped from Madras to Sriperumbudur for an election rally. Minutes later, just yards from them, he had been reduced to a shattered mass of flesh.

Barbara Crossette wrote in NYT:

“For this rally, Mr. Gandhi’s car stopped about 25 yards short of the platform erected on an open meadow. As Mrs. Gopal and I paused to talk to Suman Dubey, Mr. Gandhi’s campaign press adviser, about whether we had had enough time with the former prime minister, and would make way for other reporters, Mr. Gandhi went on ahead toward the stairs to the platform.

“As Mrs. Gopal and I followed there was a sudden burst of what sounded like firecrackers and then a large boom, an explosion and a cloud of smoke that scattered people all around. It was over in a matter of seconds. The crowd at first froze and then began to stampede.”

Eerily, Neena Gopal was to have accompanied Benazir Bhutto on her (wapasi) return from exile to Pakistan in October 2007, which culminated in a failed suicide attempt.

Neena Gopal wrote of that incident in Outlook:

“Seventy-five minutes before Benazir Bhutto’s flight took off from Dubai airport for Karachi, her security advisor Rahman Malik called and said, “Are you packed? Your visa for Pakistan is ready. I didn’t make that flight. But I did get on the next one, landing straight into the bloody reception that most people had predicted was lined up for Benazir.”

Read the full NYT article: Assassination in India

Read the Outlook diary: The castle entered

Photograph: Neena Gopal at a farewell party hosted by the Indian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Talmiz Ahmed, for her and her husband Veenu Gopal, in Dubai, in October 2007.

Did this man stand a chance with a future PM?

27 December 2007

Death is a pretty grim business in Asian media. Unlike in Britain, where obituaries have been turned into a juicy art form, Asian tributes generally play it safe, spiking all the spice out of a false sense of deference. Last night, however, Karan Thapar, India’s premier television interviewer, who cut his teeth on Channel 4, was different.

Thapar was an old friend of Benazir Bhutto, the slain former prime minister of Pakistan. They had known each other since their days at Cambridge and Oxford, respectively, and Benazir had tried to get him remarried (unsuccessfully) for 18 years after his wife Nisha died of cancer.

Thapar says he spoke to her just four days and had asked her to “stay safe”.

Thapar says Bhutto also had a fine sense of humour. At one Oxbridge debate on “sex before marriage”, Thapar recalls that he rang the bell and asked her if she dared to practice what she preached. The hall went up in laughter. And after the last laugh had been heard, Benazir pulled out her spectacles, screwed her eyes, look at her future interlocutor, and said: “Certainly, but not with you.”

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