Posts Tagged ‘K.D. Singh’

‘Tarun Tejpal was trapped in a skin not his own’

25 November 2013

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Former Outlook* publisher, Maheshwar Peri, who now runs Pathfinder Media, the magazine company which publishes Careers 360, on his friend and former colleague Tarun J. Tejpal**.

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MaheshPeri

By MAHESH PERI

The stupidity of our nation gets greatly exposed with the extreme reactions to Tarun J. Tejpal—the cult following of his journalism at one end, and the lynch mobs baying for his blood, following the outing of his sexual escapades, at the other.

Tarun comes across as a sexual predator, on the prowl, in search of his next victim. He used his power and influence over young women half his age. The girl is his daughter’s friend and his friend’s daughter.

However, this should not take away some of the most seminal work that the journalists of Tehelka have done over the years.

***

Tarun’ s story in itself is an alchemy of desire. He was like most of us: chirpy, fun-loving, naughty. However, post Tehelka, he donned the robe of a saint. He became preachy and started espousing causes that he never stood for and never could.

He was nothing that the nation started acknowledging him for.

He was a normal guy with all the flaws, fallacies and weaknesses.

It was a facade he had to put on for the survival of Tehelka, which was losing money, each year. Only the power exuded by Tehelka could make it viable.

He glorified himself when not due. He “owned” the company when the money came from others. He acted the hero while he was just a team member.The existence of Tehelka is not just because of Tarun.

Tehelka exists because of:

1) The financial contributions of many citizens, celebrities and most importantly [the banker] Shankar Sharma, and,
2) The work of Aniruddha Bahal and Ashish Khetan.

If Tarun’s lofty objective was to start a not-for-profit free and aggressive media enterprise, he could have made all contributors as shareholders. He crowd-funded Tehelka but did not part with ownership. The new shareholders include K.D. Singh, a Trinamul Congress MP, who bought his way into Rajya Sabha.

Any intelligent person should have cried foul then.

It is too late now.

***

Sometime in 2009 when my fledgling publication wrote against an educational institution with doubtful credentials, we got into a lot of trouble.

Editors like Aditya Sinha (New Indian Express), Vir Sanghvi (Hindustan Times), Shekhar Gupta (Indian Express) personally supported us.

We were going through multiple cases and draining all our resources.

When Tehelka decided to do a story to the subject, we were too happy. Who can espouse the cause of investigative journalism better? Only till we got the questions from the journalist. We realised that it was a story being done on behalf of the institution to throw insinuations at us.

I was very upset because I knew Tarun personally but for him, it didn’t matter. We responded professionally, sticking to facts. I dared them to do a story despite the facts. It was no coincidence that the dubious institution is Tehelka‘s biggest advertiser taking all its back covers.

The story never appeared, because our response didn’t leave any gaps. And the owner of the institution was at the THINK fest in Goa, rubbing shoulders with the then HRD minister Kapil Sibal and gained access to a ministry that should have punished him.

Kapil Sibal later attended a special screening of a movie produced by this institution, and the picture was advertised/showcased all over to unsuspecting parents and students. For me, THINK became a place which conducted an orgy over social issues.

I stopped following it.

***

This is not just about Tarun.

It is about abuse of power, by a journalist, an editor and a man. A self-styled messiah. Each time, they believe they can get away with unfair demands, they push the envelope further.

People in power with no humility can destroy like nothing else. The desires, fantasies and a coterie is a very potent combination.Tarun is a victim of his own facade, fantasies and greed. He was never what he was portrayed, then and now. He was never a saint and neither can he be a rapist.

He is trapped in a skin not his own. We couldn’t stop people from hailing him as God, as much as we cannot stop them from calling him a devil.

Alas. It is too late now.

* Disclosures apply

** This comment was first posted by the author on Facebook

Photographs: courtesy Karamchand Jena, and Campaign India

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

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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: Haven’t violated or bent any rules

31 October 2011

Although he wasn’t named in the original piece by Hartman de Souza in the Hindustan Times, Tarun J. Tejpal, the editor of Tehelka, offers a spirited defence in today’s paper on the alleged irregularities in his under-construction house in Goa:

“When I tell him [Hartman de Souza] the reporter he has cited was asked to leave the magazine on account of poor performance, he rages that the world will soon run out of water and power and food (and love).

“When I tell him we don’t do mining, our investors don’t do mining, I have no friends who are mining barons, and that we actively refused sponsorship from all the Goan mining companies for our Think conclave, he rages that all mining is bad, everywhere….

“I don’t tell him that our journalists have in the last few years done more work than anyone else against land and mining violations in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Haryana and other states. I suspect for him if it isn’t in Goa it doesn’t count.

“I don’t tell him that Tehelka’s public interest journalism ends up in crucial PILs, Supreme Court mandated special institutional tribunals (SITs), and impacts policy on a myriad human rights issues on a regular basis. I suspect, for him if it isn’t in Goa it doesn’t count.

“I don’t tell him I go to the courts several times every month to defend ourselves against those whose wrongdoings we’ve exposed. I suspect, for him if it isn’t Goa it doesn’t count.

“I don’t tell him that if the top 100 media editors and owners declare their assets I would be delighted, if included, to declare mine. Such revelations might explode his rage to potentially fatal levels.”

Read the full article: Albert Pinto ko gussa kyon aata hai?

Also read: A magazine, a scam, an owner and his Goan house

Tehelka promoter’s woes just don’t seem to end

Moneybag MP says he didn’t turn off FW tap

A magazine, a scam, an owner & his Goan house

28 October 2011

Be it the Commonwealth Games scam, the 2G spectrum allocation scam, or the demolition of Team Anna, it is increasingly clear that sections of the media are eagerly running with the wolves and hunting with the hounds.

In State after State, in story after story, media houses, owners and professionals are turning out to be players in the very stories they are supposed to be purveying, making nonsense of issues such as integrity, conflict of interest, and crossmedia ownership.

The unravelling mining scams in Karnataka and Goa are no exceptions.

In today’s Hindustan Times, the veteran theatreperson Hartman de Souza writes these telling paragraphs why it took so long for the Goan mining scam to see the light of day:

“The story that broke the skullduggery in Goa first appeared on Firstpost. Later, it was methodically pursued by reporters from Hindustan Times’ Mumbai bureau.

“But what many people don’t know is that the Firstpost story was first commissioned when the reporter concerned was working for another magazine*, which takes pride in being politically neutral.

“The story remained in limbo for two weeks. It saw the light of day only when the reporter left the organisation, took the story with him, made one more trip to Goa and uncovered some more irregularities.

“Environmentalists in Goa were, however, not puzzled by the said magazine’s reluctance to go after the Goa government and its home-grown mining barons, given that it had sent a reporter earlier and had blocked that story then too.

“The magazine’s proprietor had bought an old house in a Goan village. Even as I write this, he is bending rules to get the house refurbished into a new age spa. Just across the house was an old jackfruit tree, which was cut even when the inside of its thick turmeric-coloured centre was still gleaming with moisture.

“It’s anybody’s guess how many more old trees would have been cut inside the vast perimeter of the property to make way for lawns, garden and ponds. It doesn’t end there. The said magazine* will soon hold an ‘ideas’ jamboree in Panjim at a hotel which is owned by a mining company.”

Photograph: courtesy Hindustan Times

Read the full article: You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours

External reading: Everybody loves a good war

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* Disclosures apply

***

Also read: Tehelka promoter’s woes just don’t seem to end

Moneybag MP says he didn’t turn off FW tap

Should media corruption come under Lokpal?

‘Editors are lobbying on behalf of corporations’

Media houses are sitting on plots leased at one rupee!

‘Editors, senior journalists must declare assets’

Tehelka promoter’s woes just don’t seem to end

16 April 2011

K.D. Singh, the controversial promoter behind Tehelka magazine and its shelved Financial World newspaper project, is once again in the news—for the wrong reasons.

Already under a shadow after allegedly buying his way into Parliament last June, and after being stopped at Delhi airport with Rs 57 lakh cash last month, India Today magazine reports that Singh is now under the scanner of the economic offences wing of the Union home ministry.

Reason #1: Singh’s Alchemist group “may have artificially rigged the share prices” in five companies—Usher Agro, Sel Manufacturing, Dhanus Tech, Pyramid Samira and Resurgere Mines.

Reason #2: The stake picked up by two foreign institutional investors (FIIs)—Mavi and Somerset—with links to banned stock market operator Nirmal Kotecha, in Alchemist realty.

The India Today story, authored by former Tehelka business editor Shantanu Guha Ray, says the stock market regulator SEBI is aware of the charges of share-rigging, and is also probing why two Singh companies, Alchemist Limited and Alchemist Realty, did not make mandatory annual and quarterly account disclosures to the Bombay stock exchange (BSE) and the national stock exchange (NSE).

Kotecha had been banned from trading on the stock market in 2009 in a forgery scam involving Pyramid Saimira. (Rajesh Unnikrishnan, an assistant editor of The Economic Times of The Times of India group, and Tatva, a PR firm involved in a joint venture with the Times group, were also banned.)

Shankar Sharma, an earlier Tehelka promoter, too had run into problems with SEBI, and faced charges of manipulating the market with advance knowledge of Operation Westend, a sting operation that caught the then BJP president Bangaru Laxman with his hand in the piejar.

Photograph: courtesy Alchemist

Also read: Moneybag MP says he didn’t turn off FW tap

Moneybag MP says he didn’t turn off FW tap

8 April 2011

For more than two months now, media tongues have wagged merrily as to why Financial World, the new business daily from the Tehelka stable, didn’t see the light of day.

With established players like Economic Times and Business Standard ramping up their offerings, did the publishers see the writing on the wall? Did the promoters tighten the purse strings? Etcetera.

K.D. Singh, the controversial poultry entrepreneur behind the Republic of Chicken chain and a member of Parliament four months ago of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and now of the Trinamool Congress, clears the air in The Economic Times on Sunday:

“Singh seems to share the late Ambani’s fondness for experimenting with media investments. He has bought a big stake in Anant Media Pvt Ltd, which publishes the Tehelka magazine.

“The company’s plans to launch a business daily, the Financial World, were aborted in January because Singh is said to have reneged on a promised 100 crore.

“Singh denies this. He says the decision to call off the venture was entirely Tehelka’s. “I am a silent investor in Anant Media. I don’t interfere in the day-to-day affairs.”

Tarun J Tejpal, editor-in-chief of Tehelka and a promoter of Anant Media, concurs. “All the calls, including the one to scale down the project and rejig it for a far more modest existence, were mine.” Tejpal says Singh has never called asking for anything or suggesting anything. “I hope it stays that way.”

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K.D. Singh with the then speaker of the US house of representatives, Nancy Pelosi, in October 2010, in Washington DC

For a wannabe media owner, K.D. Singh has enjoyed what, at best, can be described as a colourful political life.

On the day of his election to the Rajya Sabha on the JMM ticket in July 2010, Singh was snared by a sting operation masterminded by former Tehelka journalist Aniruddha Bahal‘s cobrapost.com, that showed he had paid his way into the upper house of Parliament.

The sting was aired on CNN-IBN, on which he soon emerged as a political talking head.

His defection from JMM to the Trinamool resulted in violent clashes in Ranchi.

Last week, Singh was stopped at Delhi airport with Rs 57 lakh in cash, as he proceeded to election-bound Assam. He  was let off after he apparently convinced the air intelligence unit of the income-tax department that the money was all accounted for.

In 2009, The Tribune, Chandigarh, reported that he had surrendered “Rs 22 crore of unacounted income” following surveys by the income-tax department on eleven of his business establishments. (View a Google cache of the 2009 annual report of Alchemist here.)

Two weeks ago, India Today published a glowing profile of Singh which revealed that he was close to launching a Bengali news channel.

Also read: After the Niira Radia tapes, the B. Raman letters!

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