Tag Archives: Indian Express

Tarun Tejpal, Manish Tewari and relief at PBC

From Off the Record, the Monday gossip column in Deccan Herald:

Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal‘s fall from grace has brought a sense of “divine justice” in Prasar Bharati, where the invisible presence of Tejpal—thanks to his closeness to the information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari—was one of the contributing factors behind a long-standing “difference of opinion” behind Tewari and Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar.

“Tejpal is believed to be one of the outsider journalists, whom Tewari wanted to rope in Doordarshan in an attempt to revamp the image of the public broadcaster. Sircar opposed the move and favoured full time government employee in the DD.

“The public broadcaster’s experiment with journalists from outside like defence analysts Ajai Shukla ended in a whimper as Shukla too resigned within days. Later a Tejpal company reportedly received contracts to prepare two different programmes for the DD and there was pressure on the top brass of Prasar Bharati to air those programmes in slots with high viewership.”

For the record, Tarun Tejpal’s name was removed from the board of Prasar Bharati after the alleged sex scandal felled him, and the Indian Express reported that just before the fall, Amaraman India Pvt. Ltd, a firm owned by him, had bagged a contract for 52 shows.

Photograph: courtesy Jitender Gupta/ Outlook*

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

Aroon Purie and Vinod Mehta on Tarun Tejpal

***

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

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Lift yourselves up, dearie, or get into my elevator

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Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal receiving the IPI Award for Excellence in Journalism for 2010, from Union minister Veerappa Moily.

Tehelka editor Tarun J. Tejpal‘s 312-word letter to managing editor Shoma Chaudhury, expressing his “offer to step down” and not attend office for six months following a “bad lapse of judgement, an awful misreading of the situation” with a younger female colleague, has received plenty of negative acclaim for its sheer lack of contrition.

Inspired by the high-falutin’ prose of the non-apology apology and non-resignation resigntion, B.V. Rao, former editor of the Indian Express in Bangalore and Bombay, and currently editor of Governance Now, attempts his own apology-cum-resignation to the staff of the apocryphal newspaper, Dhamaka.

***

Dear All,

It is a sad day when our organs threaten to bring down the organisations we erect. That sad day has visited upon Dhamaka.

I am devastated. I can’t bear to see the painstaking work of more than a decade come unstuck over one instance of bad judgement. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to repent. I don’t even know how to make out with all of you…

Wait, don’t pounce on me; that’s my job. I know I mixed up the phrase there…Normally I’m better than this but today words are failing me.

Luckily, I’m told, Tarun Tejpal of Tehelka is also in a similar situation and has written a fab confessional. So I’m going to borrow liberally from his letter. I’m not separately marking out my debit transactions with Tarun but whenever you see elevated prose cover up lowly misdemeanour, you know it’s not mine.

As all of you are aware, Dhamaka has been born and built, day on day, with my blood, toil, tears, sweat and other semi-fluids.

I have been a conscientious editor and publisher. Through bad, and worse, times I have protected Dhamaka and its journalists from the inevitable demands of power and corporations.

I have always allowed every journalist’s sense of the right to flower and express itself. No one has ever been asked to do what they don’t believe in.

But perhaps I was a bit overzealous. On occasion I might have been guilty of discharging more than my duty required me to.

I have already unconditionally apologised for my misconduct to the concerned journalist, but I feel impelled to atone further. I am therefore offering to recuse myself from the editorship of Dhamaka and from the Dhamaka office, for the next six months.

Some of you might say that I have been very considerate on myself with this light, self-indictment and you might be right. So, to increase the degree of difficulty of my penance, I undertake to move my office to the building elevator for these six months. Maybe at the end of it I will master the trick of keeping it in circuit long enough.

As I bid a temporary goodbye to all of you, let me assure you, I’ll make it up to you (that came out right!). Don’t let this one unfortunate incident bog you down. Always remember we have a lot to be proud of. We are the Dhamaka.

Brace yourselves for the tough times ahead. Lift yourselves up. And if you can’t do that on your own, help is in an elevator close to you.

With thanks to Tarun,

Venkat

***

Also read: Tarun J. Tejpal steps aside as editor of Tehelka

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

Bangalore reporter who became a ‘RAW agent’

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In Lounge, the weekend section of the business paper Mint, the columnist Aakar Patel doffs his hat to Prakash Belawadi, the Bangalore engineer who became an Indian Express reporter, who became a magazine correspondent, who became a television chat show host, who launched a journalism school, who launched a weekly newspaper…

Who made a national-award winning English film, who makes a hit TV serial—and who is winning accolades for his role as a Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) agent in the just-released Hindi film, Madras Cafe:

“Prakash Belawadi started and edited a weekly newspaper, Bangalore Bias (it shut down). He has begun so many enterprises, a media school among them, that I have lost count just of those he has been involved in since 2000, and would not be surprised if he has too.

“Belawadi began his career as a journalist and worked for Vir Sanghvi’s Sunday. He remains a columnist and a first rate one. He has the best quality a columnist can have and that, according to Graham Greene, is never to be boring.

“Belawadi has a dangerous lack of ideology that makes him an aggressive and unpredictable debater. He can casually assume a position, often contrary to one he held a couple of days ago, and unpack a ferocious argument. Like all good men, he likes a fight, and like all good men it is promptly forgotten. He has a quality that is admirable among men.

“He is restless and tireless, and totally uncaring for the middle-class ambitions that most of us cannot let go of, and few of us ever achieve.”

Read the full article: A restless Renaissance man

Also read: For some journalists, acting is second string in bow

Finally, Karnataka gets an acting chief minister

External reading: Dibang of Aaj Tak, NDTV India is ex-RAW agent

‘Media ignores rural rapes, downplays misogyny’

The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)’s mouthpiece ML Update has an editorial on the gangrape of a young photojournalist in Bombay and the street protests in its aftermath.

According to the Indian Express, ML Update claims the existence of double standards in the media in the treatment of rape, depending on the power and clout of the accused.

“In the case of the Delhi and Mumbai rapes, the accused, based on identification by the survivor, were arrested and charged with rape. But godman Asaram, charged by a minor girl with sexual assault in the custody of his ashram in Jodhpur, is yet to be arrested, 10 days after the complaint…

“The media largely ignores rapes happening in rural India, rapes accompanying caste atrocities and communal violence; or those committed by security forces. The media focuses almost exclusively on some gangrapes, also downplays and even questions the veracity of the daily misogyny and violence faced by women in their ‘normal’ lives…”

Also read: Correction: Indian Army didn’t rape 200,000

Shekhar Gupta gives up charge as Express CEO

Below is the full text of the “global” email shot off by Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta on Monday, August 26, in which he formally announces his decision to relinquish his managerial functions at the newspaper group.

***

Dear All,

Looking at the flurry of communication from me over the past few weeks, mainly on corporate and business issues, some of you may have wondered what was going on. This is particularly because it hasn’t been my method to write “dear all” mails often.

Or, more likely, that I am too lazy to be doing so.

Those of you in the New Delhi newsroom know this well, since you see me pacing up and down every Friday evening, wrestling with those 1200 words for National Interest, and in the dread of delaying City-I once again.

So here is the story.

This series of mails was by way of completing a great deal of unfinished business. All of you know what a procrastinator I am. So everything that can be put off till the last moment, is put off. Or, as we like to say in cliched journalism, put on the backburner. Until a deadline takes away the excuses.

The deadline we had given ourselves was end of August (and on a personal note, August 26, my 56th birthday). And both ways we are getting there now. Hence, this note.

***

As you may have seen from my earlier communication, as also the buzz in the market, our company is now in an unprecedentedly robust shape.

We have already had six stellar quarters and, on all evidence as I track revenue figures for this month and the projections for September, are heading for an even better seventh. Businesses have to now work in this brutal QSQT (Quarter-se-Quarter-Tak) environment. And it is a truly brilliant achievement on the part of our various teams given the mayhem in media markets.

We are today acknowledged to be one of the soundest news media companies within-our-size category. And no, we never do paid news, or stretch any of the First Principles of Journalism.

Never.

The truth is, it is overly simplistic to say, that we have a Chinese wall between marketing and editorial. We have never needed one. Because it is our colleagues in sales and marketing who have protected our editorial integrity with as much zeal and commitment as us journalists.

And yet, we have built such a fine company. It vindicates our belief, our founder’s and our CMD Viveck Goenka‘s, that there is no contradiction between good journalism and the market.

This is why, I believe, and can say with great satisfaction, that my job on the corporate side is now done.

***

It was in an unusual set of circumstances, and at a critical juncture in the history of our company, that Viveck had asked me to take over the additional responsibility of overseeing the management.

Those unusual circumstances, or any sense of imminent crisis, no longer exist.

From those perilous years, the company has now been nursed into great health.

Credit for this goes to all of you, but most of all to Viveck.

My profound gratitude is also owed to him for placing his trust in me to handle a responsibility I had no skills or training for. It is a perfect time, therefore, for me, to hand over a flourishing company back to Viveck, now that he has the time to take over the management.

And since you can always trust him to pick the most auspicious day in the calendar, he has chosen, for the new arrangement, August 28, Janmashtami.

***

We will share more details with you in the course of time. I am pleased to also inform you, meanwhile, about the return of another Express Group veteran, George Varghese, as the Company’s CEO, to assist Viveck who will be fully hands-on.

Given where the company has reached now, I believe that we need a more structured and formally organized corporate leadership to build on the wonderful platform all of you have created. That is precisely what we will get now. George is a wonderful professional and old-timers among us remember him fondly.

Please join me in wishing him, and Viveck well.

Since I am a story-teller by profession, though, I can’t help but tell you one here. When Viveck asked me to take over this additional charge one winter afternoon, I was petrified. I did not even know debit from credit and thought an RO, our daily bread-giving advertisement Release Order, was some water purifying system.

So I excused myself for a minute, went outside, and called T.N. Ninan, my friend and former editor whose counsel I have sometimes sought with such dilemmas and who has himself done a fine job of balancing edit and business leadership.

He gave me a bunch of quick suggestions and then concluded, in his usual grave tone: but be careful so-and-so…people should not say that a journalist took over a publishing business and made a mess of it.

If I have no such concerns now, it is entirely because of the motivation, talent, commitment and trust that all of you have shown, often surprising even the thick-skinned me with your resilience and optimism.

***

A couple more thoughts. Besides a consistently decent bottomline, we had also set ourselves stiff targets on improving our working conditions, technologies and, of course, compensations. All of you have contributed to turning into reality what had then looked like an impossibility.

We routinely have media websites wondering how we manage to have such nice offices and pay ourselves so well.

Our answer: go check our balance sheets. So thank you all once again for so energetically putting your shoulder to the wheel, even overlooking the unusual fact that I was such a novice to business. And nor did I carry a corporate title, or any title other than the old-fashioned Group Editor-In-Chief.

Which is how I will be working full-time henceforth. Besides all editorial teams (except Loksatta), our tiny but super-productive brand, innovation, archive and CSR teams will continue working with me. I also hope to be able to find more time to build EXIMS, our media school, which is a labour of love.

I will soon be speaking with the team heads individually and answering any questions they might have. I will be fully helping out with transition on the corporate side. Meanwhile, please make sure nothing falls between the cracks. We must maintain total continuity.

If confused, send communication, clearances etc to me with copy to Kumar Gyanam and we will either give you the answers, or be good postmen and redirect you to the correct addressees.

Yet again, before I sign off for the day, thanks and all the best. In any case, I am always around, and accessible and just as chaotically so — as before.

Shekhar Gupta

Editor-in-Chief

Photograph: courtesy Impact

Also read: To all Express employees, from the editor

Why India Today had to shut Gujarati edition

Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta in his jottings on the Gujarat elections:

Narendra Modi and Gujarat defy simpler generalisations. Such as the idea that communalism in Gujarat rose with the arrival of Modi, and before that it was a state of perfect secular tolerance.

“If the BJP hasn’t lost power ever since it first seized it in 1995 in the state, through four chief ministers (Shankersinh Vaghela, Suresh Mehta, Keshubhai Patel and now Modi seeking his third term) there may be something peculiar about Gujarat.

“I learnt my lesson two decades ago when, while working for India Today, I travelled to the state often to launch the Gujarati edition of the magazine in the Navratri month of 1992. The magazine immediately picked up circulation and was soon touching the one-lakh mark.

“Within a couple of months, the Babri Masjid was demolished. India Today responded editorially with entirely justified anger, which still makes us so proud. The English edition’s headline was, “A Nation’s Shame”.

“In Gujarati, it was “Deshna Maathanu Kalank”.

“As the cover was going to print, the marketing head came and said if we went with that headline in Gujarat, the edition would soon shut down. He was overruled. He was also vindicated, and almost immediately.

“There was an avalanche of letters, postcards, inland covers, everything (these were still pre-internet days).

“We were described as Islam Today, Pakistan Today and worse. Agents and vendors refused to pick up the magazine. Circulation declined and settled in the unviable twenties. Eventually, the edition was shut down. It was the only language edition of India Today to shut down.

“And the Hindi edition, with the equivalent of exactly the same headline, increased circulation. Now, how do you explain that?”

Read the full article: Conspiracy of the lazy faithful

How Shekhar Gupta busted the ISRO spy ‘scam’

The ISRO spy scandal of the early 1990s has come to an end with the exoneration of S. Nambi Narayanan, the scientist (wrongly) accused by the Malayalam and later national media of selling secrets of the satellite organisation to a couple of Maldivian women.

The son of the then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao‘s son too was merrily reported during the media mayhem.

Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta writes of how he came to report the story in India Today, which was one of the few mainstream media organisations at the time which did not fall for the artlessly woven fiction.

It was towards the end of 1994, when Rao’s minority government was tottering in its third year that the story broke. It was then hailed as the biggest spy story, the most damaging security breach ever in India’s history and it looked as if the entire Indian space and missile programme had been exposed, and destroyed from within, for just a little bit of free sex and quite a bit of money.

I wasn’t directly covering or handling the story yet, but was as outraged as any fellow Indian would have been.

It was in that period that on one of my frequent visits to Chennai (then Madras) I found myself sitting next to a prominent scientist of ISRO pedigree (let’s not name him just now). In-flight conversation veered inevitably to the ISRO spy case.

He did not engage, and was careful not to say yes or no to anything.

His reserve broke only once, when I said, how could such senior scientists be keeping thousands of such classified documents (the police case said 75 kg) in their homes and be selling them to India’s enemies?

He looked into my eyes, and said, deadpan: “ISRO is an open organisation, my friend. At ISRO, we do not classify anything.”

Then what is this case all about, I asked.

“You go and find out,” he said, “You used to be an investigative reporter, I believe,” he said….

The result of that long journalistic investigation, ultimately, was a six-page investigation published in the January 31, 1995 issue of India Today, headlined, ‘The Great Espionage Mess’. Three brilliant colleagues worked with me on that investigation, Jacob George in Cochin, M.G. Radhakrishnan in Trivandrum and Saritha Rai in Bangalore).

Our conclusion was that what was hailed as a great espionage story was in fact a shocking frame-up. It was full of fabrications and inconsistencies….

A couple of years after the story was published… the same distinguished scientist walked up to me. I folded my hands in polite namaste, but he surprised me by poking my chest to the left with his forefinger.

And then he said: “What you did on the ISRO story was like applying balm to our wounded hearts. We had built that organisation and that rocket project with our blood and sweat. You people helped save it from being destroyed.”

That scientist, if you haven’t guessed already, was A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Read the full story: ISRO spy case test