As a BBC intern, Sachin Pilot, now in the race for Rajasthan CM’s post, had scripted and edited a radio package for BBC and earned £20-30.
New Delhi: Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee president Sachin Pilot, the man who is in the race to be the next chief minister of the state, may possibly not even remember this: In 1996, then a young man, Sachin earned his first salary as a journalist.
The BBC, where I worked and where Sachin was an intern after having graduated in Arts from Delhi’s St Stephens College, paid him a handsome amount of around £20-30 for working on a report.
I still remember the day Sachin walked into the Rafi Marg-located BBC India office to start as an intern in the Hindi service.
His father, late Congress politician Rajesh Pilot, then minister for surface transport in the government of P.V. Narasimha Rao, had requested Satish Jacob of the BBC to allow Sachin to intern and learn the tricks of radio journalism.
Sachin’s first story, first salary
A BBC team was working on a story on prohibition in Haryana. The state, then ruled by Bansi Lal, was debating prohibition as a policy. Sachin went with the BBC team and was given the task of collecting views and recording opinion. He came back and with our help scripted and edited a radio package which was also aired on the BBC.
We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.
Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.
And for this Sachin was paid £20-30.
Sachin was extremely happy to receive what was possibly his first salary cheque, so much so that he announced that he would “never encash it”. More importantly, apart from the salary, he also made his debut as a radio journalist. To show his gratitude, Sachin sent sweets to the BBC office around New Year.
Thereafter, he went to pursue his MBA degree at the University of Pennsylvania.
I remember engaging him and asking him if he also intended to follow his father into electoral politics.
He said, in jest, that he would join the BJP so that his family could cover the whole ground. However, he soon explained that he was not interested in politics and was hoping to build a career elsewhere.
‘No VIP treatment’
A former BBC colleague, Ram Subramanium, remembers that when he came to the BBC office, the first thing Sachin was told that he should forget that he was a big politician’s son. “Forget you are Rajesh Pilot’s son. You will not be treated like a VIP’s son.”
And, here’s how Sachin responded: “I also want this. I do not want to be under my father’s shadow. I want to become something on my own.”
I remember he used to have security guards with him and this created problems when he went out for stories. So, later he was asked to work from office. The reason for the security cover — we could see that Sachin was uncomfortable with the securitymen around him — was that his father Rajesh, who was earlier the minister of state for internal security, a job which made him in-charge of militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir, was under threat.
A few years later, Sachin’s life changed drastically when he lost his father in a road accident. First his mother Rama and then Sachin himself took charge of carrying forward his father’s legacy.
And he hasn’t done a bad job.
PS: The next time I meet him, I will certainly ask him if he ever encashed the cheque.
News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.