I am often asked why I keep reminding viewers/readers/netizens of 2002 Gujarat. 'Look beyond it, the world has changed,' I am helpfully reminded. Yes, indeed it has. And I am happy to report the new, changing India. When I wrote my 2014 elections book, a friend asked me why I hadn't written more on my experiences of covering the 2002 riots: I reminded him that this book was about the elections of 2014 and how Narendra Modi won them. 2002 was part of the narrative,but was not the dominant issue because, yes, India had 'moved on' at the ballot box.
Let me first say that it is indeed an honour to be delivering the PK Kaul memorial lecture. Mr Kaul was one of the country’s most respected civil servants, a product of an age when civil servants were truly çivil’. Times have changed but I do believe that there will be a core set of values that Mr Kaul represented that will last forever. And so I am humbled to be here today at the NOIDA club where I have spent many a convivial afternoon in the company of friends.
In the 2015 Delhi elections, Arvind Kejriwal didn't just demolish his opposition; he also defeated the media. That might seem a strange thing to say since the general impression for a long time has been that Kejriwal and his AAP party are a creation of the media, and television news in particular. The fact is, February 2015 is not December 2013. Then, we couldn't get enough of Kejriwal: he was popping in and out of tv studios and every move, every soundbite of his, was tracked with relentless energy. 'Would you do it with any other chief minister?' I recall Narendra Modi asking me once in a phone conversation.
There is nothing quite like an Indian election: it is, to borrow from The Times of India's slogan, 'the dance of democracy'. Yesterday, was yet another remarkable moment in India's electoral history. There was a general feeling ahead of counting day that AAP was in the lead. My own figure in the office sweepstakes was a half century for AAP. But no one, least of all Arvind Kejriwal himself, could have imagined 67 out of the 70 seats.
Journalism can leave you with tattered minds and bloated egoes: so were the wise words imparted to me by the late RK Laxman early on in my career. He was right: over the years, I have seen perfectly decent men and women allowing themselves to be overcome by hubris and petty battles. Did I get my byline? What happened to my piece to camera? Why should I share screen space with someone else?
For the first six years and a bit of my professional life, the common man was an intrinsic part of my life. Every morning, a little after 9 am, two individuals would file into the Times of India office, almost like clockwork. One was close to 70, the other was just 23
Every Republic Day brings back memories of another day, another time. I was entering my teens when I arrived in Delhi for the first time to participate in the 1978 Republic day parade as an NCC cadet. My memories are fading but still alive. I remember having to get up at 5 am every morning in the biting cold, get my shirt starched and buckles shining: parade practise was at 7 am sharp.
Dr Kiran Bedi is an accomplished woman, one I respect and admire. A few years ago, I was a media representative at the National Police Academy in Hyderabad and Dr Bedi and I along with other senior police officers were attending a meeting of the NPA. By 6 pm, most of the menfolk were getting restless: the sun was setting and the throat was parched. But Dr Bedi -- the only woman in the room -- determinedly made a stellar presentation on the citizen police equation. The rest of us had lost interest, but Dr Bedi was pushing ahead with her speech.