Ravish Kumar | Pxhere | Sumer Singh Rathore
Ravish Kumar | Pxhere | Sumer Singh Rathore
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Ravish Kumar’s Ramon Magsaysay Award speech left me at once proud and troubled. Proud, not because a desi had won a global award (honestly, I don’t put much premium on these awards, even if the Magsaysay Foundation has managed an honourable record so far), but because of the kind of desi Ravish is. Troubled not just by what he said but what was left unsaid.

Ravish Kumar’s journalism is a testament to the travails of truth in our times. He inspires you to believe that truth matters. He also invites you to ask: does truth have to be so lonely? So risky? And so loud?

Hindi medium-types

As he spoke about ‘knowledge inequality’ faced by smaller towns and villages, my mind raced back to 1994-95. I had just moved from Chandigarh to Delhi and was living in a rented flat in the Delhi University area. That is where I met a bunch of bright and passionate students – mostly undergraduate and from Bihar, all of them from small towns and villages – who wanted to launch a serious Hindi journal, ‘an EPW in Hindi’ as some of them called it. Ravish Kumar, that lanky, sharp boy, was one of them.

The group met often at my flat and we had endless debates about the state of Hindi, the state of our public life and the state of our English-speaking intellectuals. We did not call it ‘knowledge inequality’ but a strong sense of being at the receiving end of a linguistic and cultural divide brought the group together. These were all what Delhi would call ‘Hindi medium-type’ students. So was I, except that I was a bit senior and was beginning to get noticed in the charmed English circles. Eventually the magazine, Deshkal, did come out and I wrote for its inaugural issue. But like many such experiments, it died in infancy.

Life kept connecting me with Ravish, though never very intimately. I got to see him graduate, struggle against all odds, from a researcher to a reporter and then to an anchor. We kept in touch, and so did our wives (both academics at Delhi University) and children (all in the same school) – enough for us to call ourselves friends, but never close enough for this to affect our professional relationship. We don’t have a television at home, so I cannot claim to be one of his loyal viewers, but I did follow what he was doing on and to television, something that was well-captured in the award citation.

I recalled all this as I watched him standing tall, literally, speaking English with just that touch of unease. I felt Hindi was standing tall. I thought of Rajendra Mathur, Raghuvir Sahay and Prabhash Joshi who shaped Hindi journalism post-Independence. And I thought of Surendra Pratap Singh, or “SP”, who started Aaj Tak as a 20-minute bulletin on Doordarshan and pioneered independent Hindi news television. (He had special affection for me and was singularly responsible for dragging me to the world of television, before he passed away in 1997). His passion in life was to make Hindi ‘first rate’, not a poor cousin of English media as it was then. Almost the entire first generation of top TV journalists in Hindi came from the team that SP had recruited for Aaj Tak. Ravish Kumar was not one of them. But I could almost hear SP turn to me with a glint in his eyes: “Motihari ka ladka hai” (the boy is from Motihari)!


Also read: Why covering the environment is one of the most hazardous beats in journalism


Substance trumps form

As the award ceremony played some of the clips from his television programmes, it also affirmed something else that SP passionately believed in: substance trumps form. Ravish’s popularity is a living proof of that. When I first encountered the long monologue that he uses to open Prime Time, I feared for him. A single talking head on the screen for more than a few seconds violated the elementary rules of television grammar. I could not have been more wrong. The viewers loved that 3-5-minute long introduction, filled with facts and figures, straight-faced irony and sarcasm, and jibes at powers-that-be. The success of Ravish’s show proves that good substance does not copy a readymade template, it evolves its own form.

As Ravish thanked millions of his viewers, I could see those faces. Frankly, I do not know what is the TRP of Prime Time and I do not care. I do know that whenever I travel outside Delhi and interact with idealist youth, aspiring journalists or activists working on the ground, they hero-worship Ravish in a way that would frighten him.

“Sir, he is one man who has the guts to speak the truth” is the most common refrain. I know this is very unfair to many other journalists in Hindi and all other languages who are equally courageous and truthful, who do not have the kind of platform and organisational backing that he enjoys at NDTV. And I am glad Ravish said as much in his speech. Still Ravish Kumar’s cult status assures us that there is nothing called a post-truth age (distinct from post-truth media and post-truth politics that do exist), that there is hunger for truth.


Also read: Shashi Kapoor’s New Delhi Times gives a true picture of journalism, warts and all


Darkness in India media

Yet my pride and hope were not unmixed. When Ravish said “a democracy can thrive only as long as its news is truthful”, everyone knew it was an indictment of our democracy. This year India has slipped from 138th to 140th position (out of 180 countries) in the Global Index of Press Freedom. It is not just about reporting from Kashmir, which he did mention. It is all over: Just the week before, an FIR was lodged against a journalist for reporting a truth about mid-day meals in schools. Ravish used the occasion to highlight the plight of “uncompromising journalists” who “find themselves being forced out of their jobs by news organisations”.

The last 10 days have seen a spate of exits: Ajit Anjum and Smita Sharma left TV9 Bhartvarsh, Faye DSouza stepped down from her position at Mirror Now and Nitin Sethi has left Business Standard. No one has blamed the owners or the government for easing them out. But the message is loud and ominous. As we celebrate Ravish for being the bright spark of integrity that he is, are we not commenting on the darkness that surrounds him in the Indian media today?

I could not help but notice that Ravish has greyed before time. The pettiness that he faced from some of his fellow professionals in the wake of the announcement of the award is nothing compared to the systematic trolling, abuse and threats that he has been subjected to all these years. I wondered if all this has started getting to him and taken its toll.

And then came the final somber note: “Not all battles are fought for victory – some are fought to tell the world that someone was there on the battlefield”. Does that explain what I notice in Ravish of late: a touch of despair, just that extra sharp tone? I should ask him.


Also read: Not just Adityanath, UP journalists have been jailed, thrashed under Akhilesh & Mayawati too


The author is the national president of Swaraj India. Views are personal.

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38 Comments Share Your Views

38 COMMENTS

  1. Ravish Sir is a good journalist and probably is truthful, his story is very inspiring too. But he is so negative that the brand of journalism he has come to represent is repulsive for which he is also to be held responsible. His own words – ” Patrakar ka kaam hai sarkar ki alochana karna, jo kaam sahi ho rahe hai uske liye govt ki itni badi communication machinery hai” shows his attitude. There is silver lining to everything and at the very least he should start finding that and highlighting it a bit. Everything may not be right here but everything is not wrong as well, at least for the majority. In the end, we cant tell people what to like and what not to. Despite these awards, Ravish Sir needs to still find that sweet spot for his brand of truth and when that happens it will be another feather in his cap because thats when he would have made change where it matters, with the people of this country.

    • The real problem is “too positive, too proud, and too hollow” [ Yes, the sentence is not ungrammatical ] . With the passage of time, one masters a skill, an increasingly deteriorating one, called positivity. Positivity of “submission”.

      Let us close our eyes for a moment, and take a long, nostalgic breath. Remember those days of early 2014, the excitement and euphoria surrounding the upcoming 2014 general elections. Do you Remember! Let those feelings sink in your heart all over again. Those chantings, those slogans, and those hopes. The feeling, as if we were venturing into a new, different world.

      Now open your eyes. See ! you’ve mastered that skill as well.

      And yes, we can’t tell what to like and how to feel. Is that clear to EVERYBODY !

      Likeness is an art, sometimes natural evolution, and sometimes persuasion– self or otherwise.

      • I respect your opinion and let continue to hone whatever skill you have mastered and enjoy whatever state you are in. Also i hope you read it :).

  2. Ravish is plain rubbish. Mr Yadav himself in his AAP avatar was asking Delhites to vote for candidates with questionable credentials in his party. Same he is doing with this so called journalist with dubious credentials.

  3. Journalism is a business, it need money to sustain and profit is not just motive but is compulsion for survival. When the business is down it always becomes lonely. The Journalists like all of us have likes and dislikes. One is comfortable working for a business organisations with similar likes and dislikes, making it easier to tow the employer’s line. Journalists talk of being fair and objective etc. as a good sales strategy just as playing the hindi small town victim card. Of the 30 comments above if majority are of contrary view, the loneliness is obvious.
    With the social media expressing an opinions is easy, and opinion is like a belly button, everyone has one. The business of opinion making is on the decline with associated influence peddling and importance of access journalism. The print and electronic media is more of entertainment, that is why the prime time and the programmes like are, mostly yelling, screaming and running someone down.

  4. Ravish Kumar is a known Modi-baiter and Hindu-basher. Magsaysay awards are connected to Ford Foundation and given to anti-nationals from various nations to destabilise their nations from within. The fact that Kejriwal was another Magsaysay award winner should be proof.

  5. Yogendra ji… with all due respect, i think Ravish is doing a good job but not in a journalistic capacity. He is behaving more like an opposition leader. But no complaints as its needed at a time when political parties are dead and buried. That said blind opposition raises valid questions on credibility and objectivity. Ravish can be a more serious journalist and avoid becoming a voice for Modi baiters.

  6. Ravish style reminds me of the style of the lead protaganist in the American TV series “NEWSROOM” which has a similar opening sequence to introduce the topic of discussion. This series is not running now after 2 seasons were completed & was written by famous screenplay writer AARON SORKIN.
    I do not know how Ravish developed his style but I wonder whether he brought it in after this show aired or was inspired by yesteryear famous American TV anchors.
    I have seen many of his discussions. Nothing wrong for an anchor to be cynical. What is basically probing and questioning to get to the truth maybe viewed by some as pessimism but then they do not seem to understand the journalistic ethic.
    I liked his discussions and even though Hindi is not my mother tongue, I loved his style.
    Being a physician and a scientist, I do find his analysis objective and in most of his discussions, he criticise both sides and provides a balanced point of view.

  7. Raveesh Kumar was very happy during 2004 to 2014. India was fully under democracy and every was good . Governance was great, press freedom was unhindered, no unemployment and economy was doing fine with GDP growth excellent at 5%. There was no arsenic and looting, no religion based problems and Pakistan was very friendly. Post 2014, India become undemocratic, people freedom snatched away, press people could not even speak or criticize govt and everywhere arson and looting and economy is in bad shape with GDP growth badly down to 5%. You give Raveesh Kumar Magsaysay award as he speak truth, nothing but truth. By the way what is the credibility of that award and who all got that?

  8. Ravish is a Rubbish journalist, a chamcha. Nothing new & positive in his reporting. Only negative narratives, biased & prejudiced comment against govt. Is this a journalist approach.? One should be analytical & critical. But his journalism is biased & based on fakes.

  9. First of all , The Print, The Quint and ndtv all are spreading venom because Modi Govt is scrutinizing the assets of their bosses. Now this gentleman is trying to make Rubbish, a hero , because he represents these anti national elements from the front. We all know that they’re two sides of every aspect. If Ram is the face of truth and justice than Rawana is the symbol of evils. Such is the case of media, one section standing with nation while other on payrolls of Pakistan. So awards will not make you people trust worthy.

  10. I am a great fan of Prof Yogendra Yadav and his brand of politics, though I do not agree with many of his views on current day politics.
    It is all nice to have an independent (?) TV news channel like Aaj-Tak. I also congratulate Mr. Ravish Kumar for his Magsaysay award. However I am one of the majorities of TV viewers from Non Hindi states, who do not follow Hindi News channel, not because any extra love for English or any special hatred of Hindi. Hence we are not aware of journalistic brilliance. It is only because we do not know Hindi as well as, to follow his talk show in Aaj Tak.
    In fact talking about ‘National’ English News channels, at least 30 % of the time, the anchor and the participants, have their discussions only in Hindi. This attitude of National Channels, not caring for a majority of people (60%) who do not know Hindi well enough, has driven the Non Hindi people to go for Regional News channels, which give importance only to the local populace. Their biased and parochial reporting of Central Govt Policies, programmes and also about national politics drive the regional population away from joining the national political scene. No National TV news channel has picked up guts enough to start national Channels in regional languages. Here is my suggestion for any new TV channel entrepreneur to try and start a new National News Channel in Telugu/Tamil/ Kannada/ Malayalam/ all combined – say 3 hours for each language, from 9AM to 9PM and repeat the same again form 9PM to 9AM. News breaks and head Lines can be given in English (and Hindi, if you want). If no national channel is interested in taking along the Non Hindi people also in their path of news and information, Let God save this land from further J&K and Khalistan situations.
    Mr. Yogendra Yadav may not be new to my views, as have communicated with him on his email ID and Twitter handle. Please see my views on South Indian Political Scene, in my blog below:
    https://lvnaga.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/south-indian-national-party/
    I hope you will at least publish this comment
    L V Nagarajan
    lvnaga@yahoo.com

  11. It is disgusting to find some people finding fault with the broad objectives of Ravish Kumar’s journalism – speaking truth to power. It is like saying black is white, when it is really black. I do not know how they sleep at night, probably with sleeping pills or something like that.

  12. Ha ha,what a joke,this article is as biased as the anti national Ravish Kumar,his brother is a Congress politician from Bihar and was involved in a sex scandal,the so called unbiased Ravish had nothing to say,he was the one who was supporting Kanhaiya and there are plenty of such instances when he has taken an anti India stand,he is part of a news organisation which is known to spew anti India views in order to please their foreign masters. How people can write articles in support of him is beyond me. These so called unbiased liberal people are the most intolerant when people have a view opposite to what they have. The Print is also known to be a leftist,anti national organisation. It is obvious that they will write such nonsensical articles in support of a person similar to them.

  13. We are proud of you. You are one of the most honest patriotic journalist India produce.
    Morond idiots will keep barking it’s not their fault even their parents are sad why they gave birth to them who ever dumb diseased Indian feel ravish is anti BJP you mentally retarded idiot atleast switch to you tube and watch his work before 2014. If even after that you feel same please take medical help

  14. For Ravish, 5% GDP Growth during Congress Regime was Good and Positive whereas 5% GDP Growth in 2018-2019 is Negative for him… Hypocrisy at its best.. Even I thought at first that he is a neutral guy who talks sense and has the pulse of citizens …. but alas…over the years he has only slandered Modi, India…. Modi-bashing, Hindu-Bashing…etc… He is now clearly seen as biased reporter with a lot of prejudice against certain people and leaders. It has come to a state that 1 of his friends is now forced to write articles praising him as the author did in this piece above… Friends, use your senses, wisdom and pls dont fall for such manipulative media tactics adopted by these news journos.

  15. The Print , the quint type does not reveal anything. new. What they say and will say is already known. So does not reveal any truth. Their line of thought is also stereo typed. I always read to find something valuable but not yet succeeded. Keep it up , one day you alone will be jornalist, reader, writer, follower so there will be no difference in openion.

  16. Not all battles are fought for victory. A very touching, humane narrative. From lanky, sharp boy to has-greyed-before-time. And it paints the entire sketch of Indian democracy at present, in its stride. Wonder how would the man himself reply to this story.

  17. Magsaysay Award has had an interesting history. Philippines where the Magsaysay Award comes from has been mostly ruled by dictators and others who
    were/are mere props of USA. The South East Asia HQ of CIA is incidentally based in Philippines. And the funding for the Magsaysay Award itself comes from Rockfeller and Ford Foundations, long recognised as front organizations for CIA’s overt and covert operations in most countries! Political irony cannot perhaps be better described. Or may be, at some point, objectives of both left liberals and others converge?

  18. Ravish Kumar and Yogender Yadav-Gentlemen,the respect I feel for you is akin to what I feel when I see our men in uniform..
    A life dedicated to service ,not just of the nation,but a higher calling.you are men of extra ordinary calibre ,fame and riches could have been yours for the asking.i can only imagine and wonder at the hardships and travails you must have suffered in your pursuit of your brand of patriotism. I salute you both,and pray God He gives my country an endless supply of MEN of your moral stature.

  19. Well, Hindi is everywhere, our NAtional Language, People in the south have learnt/studied the language. I will not be surprised to find south indians & people from non hindi speaking stages attempting to speak in HIndi though not so fluently, here the matter discussed is about Hindi journalism. i suppose Hindi news channels & newspapers have a very good TRP/Sales as compared to the viewership/sale of English Channels/Newpapsre print media, Knowledge inequality, fighting to bring forth the injustice/the truth/the discrimination/ is what Ravish probably means , but if Hindi has not progressed as a modern language, we & only we are reponsible for it, Great literatures have been written in Hindi worht reading & may be translating in English.

  20. Abhimanyu ko pata tha ki woh chakravyuh bhed nahi sakega phir bhi woh chakravyuh ko bhed ne ke liye yudh maidan me aaya tha. Aaj hum sab ko pata hai ki Abhimanyu chakravyuh se jud gaya hai. Dekhte hai aana wala samay kahega aaj jo ho raha hai sahi hai galat.

  21. Language may not be an issue to serve 4th pillar of Democracy (Journalism), in relation to the ambit of Constitution. Another field, Investigative Journalism, rendered by Washington Post in relation to Water Gate Scandal (President Nixon), subsequently, in Indian perspective Ms. Rana Aiyub, excelled and served the 4th pillar of Democracy on Gujarat Carnage(2002), her well-researched book, the “Gujarat Files”, appeal to judiciary; IAS; IPS lobbyist to take the cognizance for the pending justice of 2002 victims, unlike Shikhs who were massacred in 1983! Can any tax-payers body of India; Civil Society could play a pivotal role for a plea before the Hon’ble Temple of Justice (Apex Court), situated in New Delhi, who is empowered to provide the justice in the Ambit of our Constitution. We feel the justice is still living in our country.

  22. I am sorry. Ravish is not a journalist. His expressed activism has sharp ‘conflict of interest’ with journalistic open-mindedness. Truth has many sides but he makes it to have only one – the one which is on the other side of BJP and Modi. He is a very right person in a very wrong job.

  23. Most of the Indian people are Patriots and they don’t like people who have anti India views Mr Ravish Kumar is a well known baised and pro communist generalist ,in his views criticize and demonizing India and BJP is pure generalism

  24. Whatever, is narrated here, does it mean what ever he has perceived is only the truth, his views about a particular dignitary holding highest position in our democracy, seems to be biased from the days this dignitary was a no.1. Gujarat govt.The international award winner journalist shri.Ravish, had his own views which he keeps on hammering thru his news channel n there are people in democracy who may opined n may prescribe his views. Who so ever hads left any job, they must have their own reasons n might be going for a better prospects like many people changes the job .There is nothing to be of any concern.Just one point , had this PM coming from Hindi origin n speaking state ,would he make same analysis ? Why was he silent about the oil gas prices during the ups time, to other economic issues that time.Did he know atwhat is the price mechanism of oil gas prices?This oil n gas pricing directly affects individual citizen monthly budget, particularly the salary class people.

  25. It really does not matter whether one is a Hindi medium type ( Editor’s phrase ) or speaks English with an accent that even the British have discarded. There should be fruit beneath the foliage. We are incredibly proud of Shri Ravish Kumarji. A man of integrity, doing his job with professionalism and passion. One wishes that were not so rare a quality that people sitting in the Philippines took note of it.

    • apply sri sri 108 sri ravish kumar ji psychophant ashok ..he is good news anchor kudous for him getting award but you appear to be doing prostrate by using ji to his name

      • A country of India’s size ought to have had one thousand journalists doing the sort of work Shri Ravish Kumar does each evening. It should have been the norm, almost taken for granted. Ji isliye kehte hain kyonki who izzat aur samman ke haqdar hain.

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