How do you see your two decades in Journalism?
I have witnessed so many changes in family, society, state and in journalism. So many issues have been raised and a lot of efforts are in pending.
Sir, how do you see your journey with The Hindu?
One thing I would like to share with you that I am a great aficionado of The Hindu since my education period. The Hindu was (is) a paper with difference and it attracted me towards itself. It was a matter of proud for me to work in an organization like The Hindu, which is your source of admiration. And this is the reason that is why I have never thought to leave The Hindu.
You are in The Hindu with a so long period. In your opinion what is one best policy of The Hindu, which retained you for so long?
The hundred percent liberty of expression and justice on job.
Tell me about your early days. How were you inclined towards journalism?
After completing my M. A. in Ancient History from JNU, New Delhi, getting a job was my first priority. Meanwhile, I received an invitation from Kelvinator to join the company as a Branch Manager and I joined. Serving in The Tata Group was my second and last job in corporate world.
Why you left the corporate job despite earning a handsome salary?
It was not like the Buddha’s incarnation. In fact, it was a whole process. I worked a lot. But I was not satisfied with performance. There was a feeling of frustration in me. Actually, I was willing to do something for the society.
And it lead you towards journalism?
Earlier I was passionate to make my carrier either in the field of Journalism or in Administration. These are the positions from where you do something revolutionary work for the society.
I am telling you an interesting story. I was preparing for IAS exams. I filled the form. Meanwhile, the exam was postponed for one month due to the infamous Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
It was the turning point. I felt strongly that all these happened only due to the negligence of the administration and finally I decided not to join this corrupt system. And lastly, I joined Journalism.
I was totally shocked with the BGT (Bhopal Gas Tragedy). I started my own investigation. I was finding the reasons, affected people and the culprits of BGT.
And are you satisfied with your performance, which you have served in last two decades?
See, one individual can’t change everything but what is satisfactory for me is that I have given my contribution to the society by raising the issues of corruption, infrastructure, health, poverty, etc. But there are so many issues that should be addressed by our system.
What is the essence of your investigation on BGT?
In my book (The Bhopal Disaster, Account of an Eyewitness) I found that it was a Gross Negligence of Administration. The Union Carbide along with the Government of India and the Government of Madhya Pradesh were totally responsible for the accident.
Can you please elaborate it?
During my investigation, I revealed that there was a dual policy of Union Carbide regarding the stocking of hazardous chemicals in huge amount at one place. It was following certain different norms for its West Virginia (USA) plant. Despite knowing this fact our local Govt. approved the license to the company and provided a plot in Bhopal, where a large number of people were living.
But ultimately it was the Govt. who initiated the rescue operation and later financial assistance.
More painful was the attitude of these culprits of mass murder. Everyone was talking about the number of affected people. The Operation Faith was only a tactics. No one was caring and the fact is that still affected people have not got justice. Still the condition of affected people (especially poor) is not satisfactory; they are struggling because they are not vote bank.
Has the government and the system taken any lesson from this tragedy?
It was more and more awareness level about these hazardous plants among the common men and attention paid by different institutions (including media) and organizations that no other similar accident happened after the BGT.
You have written two books. Any new book in near future?
Now-a-day, I am paying my attention on making a documentary film on Environmental and Wildlife issues. The theme of film is Central Indian highland as the best habitat for Tigers in the world but how it has been destroyed.
What about your inclination towards the environmental issues?
I was not so passionate about wildlife and environmental issues. But in the year of 1992, I took a long tour of Madhya Pradesh to study about the situation of ground water level all over the State. During my tour I found that there are so many issues of environment and wildlife like poaching, mining, threats for biotic system, which should be raised otherwise there would be some certain wrong repercussions in near future. So I took up my social responsibility and started to raise the issue.
You are doing a lot on the conservation of Bhopal Birds. How is your experience?
It is due to my wife Rajshri. She has a great knowledge about the bird community. In fact, she taught me everything about the birds. She gifted me camera and it was the beginning of a new journey with electronic media.
You are a reporter in essence. Have you never thought to join the commanding post?
I have worked as the in’ charge of Central Chronicle (then MP Chronicle) for 5 years and interestingly, in my early periods of journalism. I wrote each and every word of editorial published in the newspaper for a period of one and a half years, which, I think, is a world record in itself.
Interesting, how was those days?
I countered the English publication of Dainik Bhaskar twice. Firstly, it was English Bhaskar and the last was National Mail. Both were closed after a short span of launch.
In your opinion what is your best ever story/report?
I consider the Exposure of corruption of fertilizer subsidy is my best ever story. There were long impacts of this exposure. Another story was of Bhopal Riots, which out broke in the city after the incident of Babri Masjid demolition. It ultimately exposed the inability of system. A story on mining conditions in the Sate was another storming reporting.
What is your pet beat in reporting?
Accountability is my beloved beat in reporting and I think it is the basic of journalism.
Do you favour sting operations to expose corruption?
No, not et al. I think it is an unethical way to expose corruption. I support trapping for the desired result instead of making a drama like situation.
You are a permanent resident of this beautiful city. How much change you have witnessed in the city of Bhopal?
Everyone, who was in the position to take decisions, captured some plots in the city. There was a Zamin Harpo Movement like situation. No one is talking about the problems.
Something about your family?
My father was a freedom fighter. After independence, he served in different departments of the Government of India, Govt of MP, and other autonomous bodies with different posts.
Anything special would you like to share with me (readers)?
I am a lover of Music of all kinds.
Something which others don’t know about you?
To become a Pilot was my dream. Although, today I know to fly the plane but it was my dream to become a professional pilot in my young age.
Thank You Very Much Sir.
March 16, 2008