NationalismOpinion

How Arnab Goswami virtually destroyed the lutyen’s media who stood against India!

Thirst for independent unbiased coverage of news is still in great demand. This is what NDTV looked like in the beginning when Pranoy Roy, Rajdeep Sardesai, Burkha Dutt, Arnab Goswami and several others began their career. Unfortunately, like the great Congress party it got splintered and gave birth to several anchors heading channels. Except Pranoy and one time compatriot Vinod Dua (Who didn’t join) none of them were well known at that time.

It is a strange coincidence that both Congress party and NDTV have ended up disastrously in public opinion and charges of fraud, corruption, nepotism filled the air. So much to their controversial stands on national issues that people felt disgusted and even boycotted the channel. Now they are facing a complete rout or a remake.

It is another big debate on how Rajdeep Sardesai also became very popular and even his wife Sagarika Ghose bringing her also to lime light. But again, they earned the wrath of the people when they distorted and tried to upstage their hidden ideological convictions. Thus, Rajdeep had even succumbed to the desperation of working under Rahul Kanwal comparatively less known and starting his career with Headlines Today now India Today.

It was Arnab Goswami who tasted phenomenal success and popularity joining Times Now, and built up the English news channel to achieve an average daily reach of 1.7 million people.

For those who know the Times group well, which I do, it will not sacrifice its business interest at any cost and likes cultivating Corporates, Celebrities.

An anecdote to demonstrate my viewpoint; Allan Mendonca started his career while in college, working for Southern Speaker, then moved to City Tab and Evening Herald, before joining Indian Express. His penchant for being forthright and unsparing in his comments that too in the print media earned him a gutsy reporting. He joined the Times of India, Bangalore as Head of the Business Bureau before taking over as the Head of the Metro Bureau. His pithy column ‘Metro Matters’ took up cudgels for the travails of the city. His Sunday columns where he interviewed writers, artists and their ilk brought to splendid life his felicity with words. He was unsparing in his criticism of bureaucrats and politicians if they crossed their line. He was always `hungry’ for people centric information and unsparing in his vitriolic comments mostly laced with local sarcastic lingo.

He grew very fast and well but when he took on a powerful then popular Congress CM in his weekly column; it was not relished by the leader. So, it appears that a mention was made to the owners of the Times Group and Allan was summoned and asked to be more sober, “Mend his ways & language” which is interference in Editorial.

This didn’t go well with him and he contested, Ultimately the management cautioned him either to change or quit. He decided to quit rather than compromise his principle.

As providence had it; In 2005, he co-founded Rain tree Media as Director. He was simultaneously Editorial Director of Explocity group of multi-city publications. He continued to write for several national and international magazines and books. His popularity and demand increased multifolds. He was a teaching faculty also and wrote many books.

Sadly, he passed away in his sleep on Sept 28, 2009. He was 49. His wife was also into journalism and was working for a business daily.

Though a Christian, he admired Hinduism. He once told me that he was fascinated because of its catholicity and worship of nature in various forms whether it be Cow, Plants, Sun etc.

Perhaps if he was alive, a lot of similarity can be found with Arnab. So, I was certain that what happened to Allan would one day definitely be the fate of Arnab. Because he was unflinching in flogging Pakistan Panellists like nobody ever did in other channels.

Like he often says, he would never allow anybody to make use of his channel for propaganda and immediately slice them or even cut them off with contempt. His phrase that we don’t give a platform on this channel still rings in our ears. His most popular “The Nation wants to know” has almost become a brand. To the extent that stupidly Times Group even sent him a legal notice without registering for an IPR or holding a patent.

CPI leader Atul Kumar Anjan once quoted Times of India and compared his views which was different. Much to the surprise of the viewers he openly declared that he doesn’t have to follow any other view irrespective of the fact that it could be of the group! That was yet another indication that he is carving out a niche for himself.

Another incident that is unforgettable is when he shockingly asked Tehseen Poonavala to leave the show and viewers were stunned to silence.

I will do the journalism I like because people like my style of journalism. There is a want/desire for this kind of news. Lutyens media should go into deep introspection. It is not connected with the rest of India, metaphorically and literally”

Today he is in the receiving end. While Dr Subramanian Swamy objected to the term “Republic”, which forced him to include “…TV’ for compliance. Tehseen Poonavala has shot off a series of queries on his claim of `Independent’.

Also, the fact that Arnab has hinted that there were several impediments in starting his channel and going on air. It is now much delayed.

Today, the moment you speak about issues of Nationalism, cultural identity and vexatious issues including Uniform Civil code, Triple Talaq, Cow slaughter and the like you are identified as a `Safron supporter’; `Sanghi”, “Hindutva Brigade” and so on. These are not complimentary and more with contempt, derogatory.

Just as extremism, Jihadi supporters and pseudo intellectuals (used for those who masquerade as thinkers and neo tags) Human rights and agrarian outfits are broadly termed `leftists’.

The divide is visible and apparent. So also, the SM trolls and abuses. In this identity war, there is nothing `Centrist’. You are either here or there!

After 12 years with Times Now, Goswami quit late last year to join ARG Outlier Media. ARG, an acronym for Arnab Ranjan Goswami, was set up in August 2016. He has been shuttling between public appearances — 37 so far — a makeshift office and the construction of a studio in Lower Parel. How did a postgraduate in social anthropology from Oxford end up becoming the face of what he refers to as “activist” journalism?

Soon after his post-graduation in 1994 Goswami did not get a job in any of the major newspapers in Delhi. During the course of his interviews he met Chandan Mitra of The Pioneer, (Till recently a Rajya Sabha Member from BJP) who referred him to Swapan Dasgupta (Nominated MP by present Government known to identified with BJP) then deputy editor of The Indian Express.Dasgupta suggested that Goswami go to Calcutta (now Kolkata). That is how he ended up on the editorial page of The Telegraph. However, nine months and about 100 by-lines later, “I got bored, it was too much pontificating. Then TV happened.”

Strangely Arnab never refers them as his mentor or admirers but often recalls Vinod Mehta and openly praises him.  The late Vinod Mehta due to his strong opposition to PM Narendra Modi was tagged a `Congressman’

Infact Times now and especially his show was boycotted by Congress most of the time and one is familiar with `Empty chairs to mock at them. These are the same people who always spoke on `Intolerance’!?

Goswami’s father, an army veteran, fought the 1998 Lok Sabha elections on a BJP ticket, though he never went back to active politics.

His maternal grandfather was a die-hard leftist, the paternal one was a Congressman. One uncle was a Congress member of Parliament from Guwahati in the seventies and another is a BJP member of the assembly from Guwahati. However, the opponents which includes Arvind Kejriwal openly identified him with the BJP.

At a time when Corporate houses are running TV Channels and the competition is very thick, it is very difficult for anybody to attract investment. Especially with the personality like Arnab who is `Admired and hated at the same time.

Only a handful of news broadcasters — TV Today (Aaj Tak), MCCS (ABP News) among others — make money. How on earth does Republic hope to survive, let alone break even or make money on the estimated Rs 150 cores to Rs 200 crores it has raised so far?

He points to a campaign Times Now ran for the Right to Pray on women’s right to enter religious places early in 2016

So, everybody was keen and eager to know who is going to support him more so when he has always stood out speaking aloud about principles and also certain strong positions. He has always criticised his counterparts often with the term “Lutyens Delhi’ or the `Cocktail circuit’, `Peacniks’ etc.

Obviously, he would be watched in a microscope much more than others. Irrespective of the fact that he openly declares “I am pro-India, pro-army, not a right winger,”

So, when two of the big investors in ARG, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP, and businessman T V Mohandas Pai chose to do so and took the plunge, the attack has already begun that it is a BJP supported channel.

Even though his statement “My investors are my viewers. They have invested in my brand of journalism. And I have been boycotted by all parties — BJP, AAP and Congress,”has not been given any credence atleast to his detractors who are cursing him not to succeed.

The real leftist in the media who have had field day all along are also up in arms as if he should have got State support to run his channel according to their avowed philosophy! They along with the likes of Sidharth Varadarajan, Tehseen Poonavala are already asking questions as well as making it uncomfortable. This is definitely a ploy as well as pressure tactics to ensure that he doesn’t succeed in his venture or to make him tone down his vitriolic or at best not vocally support the BJP. Which ever happens they are happy.

But Arnab is shaping well, he has picked and chosen some of the best popular journalists like Chitra Subramanian (of Bofors fame now with The News Minute”) Major Gautam Arya – the young no nonsense and straightforward army personal. Surprisingly he also brought in S A Hariharan, the Senior Anchor and Deputy Assignment Editor of Tamil News Channel – Thanthi TV to show a shift and thrust to south India. He has also roped in many professionals in the media for other assignments.

It now is to be seen how he positions himself in his new `Avatar’ more so he has to make both ends meet Vis-à-vis the bottom line as well as the TRP’s. Tough job indeed. He may not disappoint.

Over to Arnab & his team `Republic TV’


Somasekhar V K

{The author is an accredited journalist and also the Associate Editor of “Spade A Spade” You can reach him one email: [email protected]}

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