How a Bangalorean changed the nation’s view

The bumper 318-page eighth anniversary issue of Impact, the media magazine from Anurag Batra‘s exchange4media group, features dozens of print, electronic, digital and radio professionals recounting their personal stories.

Among them is the 2012 television editor of the year, Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of Times Now*:


In August 2007, Sanjay Dutt was being moved from Arthur Road jail to Yerawada jail in Poona and we were following it keenly. Everybody was in the middle of this crazy chase, looking desperately for a shot, a sound byte, a picture….

In the midst of it all, I received a phone call from a viewer in Bangalore who said that he had been following my career and Times Now for a long time, but he wouldn’t do it anymore.

I was very surprised and asked him why he felt that way.

The person said he had a friend, a colonel in the Indian Army named Vasanth Venugopal, who had died fighting on the border. His body was being brought back to Bangalore but not a single news channel was bothered, so busy they were covering Sanjay Dutt.

There wasn’t even a mention of this martyr on any channel, while Dutt was being covered like there was nothing else happening in the world.

I was very upset and felt very guilty.

I told the gentleman that we would send a cameraman and get pictures of the cremation and do a story on it. That night, after we had done the story, I requested this gentleman and come and talk about his friend.

When I started my programme, and asked the producer whether the person had come, he said, ‘She is here.’

I told him I was expecting a gentleman, not a lady.

The producer replied, “Colonel Vasanth’s wife has come.”

Subhashini Vasanth had witnessed the last rites of her husband barely four hours back, yet she came to our studio.

Nothing has ever moved me as much as what she said that day.

She spoke about her family and her husband’s martyrdom, making me realise that journalism can sometimes lose its way and that we have an obligation to our viewers that goes beyond the narrow perspective of covering a movie star.

Since then, the way we cover the armed forces, internal security, issues relating to Pakistan is far more detailed than any other channel. That incident shaped the work that we do now.

* Disclosures apply

Photograph: courtesy Apoorva Salkade/ Outlook

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12 Responses to “How a Bangalorean changed the nation’s view”

  1. Mumbai Paused (@mumbaipaused) Says:

    This sounds like an advertisement for Times Now. Very few can trust the Indian media even if he means it.

  2. jayashree Says:

    A Great confession. One learns by mistakes. An example for all who matter!

  3. ramanath maiya Says:

    let me confess that Times Group off late has seen some qualitative change, thanks to efforts of some of the passionate ones like Arnab. Though the intellectual input is on the increase, I see many social issues being debated and thus shredding lot of exposures during the process. Because of this passion, Arnab sometimes crosses his limits which is tolerable.

  4. Rahul Says:

    I am sure they would cover the funeral of a armyman since nationalist fervour can bring in trps even if not as much as celebrity madness. But then is that what the media is for. I would have thought it is to faciliatate sane discussion and debate rather than run behind sound bytes of whatever nature. The only passion i have seen in Mr Goswami is the passion to be as loud as possible.

  5. jayashree Says:

    Mumbai walas will trust only Thackeray family!

  6. Abdulraheman Patrawala Says:

    Thank you Arnab for your journalistic sensitivity cum humanity towards your fellow beings. Every system of human endeavour is in dire needs of the same. Well done and carry on, sir.

  7. the colonel Says:

    its not a bangalorean.

    its a lady from the indian army. a very distinct breed.

    we are unique.

    now start howling; civilians.

  8. harkol Says:

    The colonel:
    Good for us – we are not Pakistan. Otherwise what you said would actually be true!!

  9. the colonel Says:

    dear harkol:

    I am deeply indignant and distressed to learn that a discredited army general of a neighbouring country, who clandestinely launched the Kargil intrusion against India, which cost the precious lives of about 680 men of our armed forces, who then proceeded to overthrow his own democratically elected Prime Minister and grabbed power, who assaulted his country’s independent judiciary and who was eventually driven out by his compatriots, gets invited to speak at a Leadership Summit, hosted by a section of the Indian media a few days ago.

    It is difficult to come to terms with the desperation and irony of the invitation to an ex-dictator, with a track record of perfidious deeds, to offer insights on, of all things, leadership! Another question that arises is has not our government, by again granting a visa to such an individual, compounded the insult to the memory of those noble, courageous men of our armed forces who laid down their lives during the Kargil conflict and also during the fight against militancy instigated in Jammu & Kashmir, during that time.

    do you still do not understand, harkol

  10. the colonel Says:

    and harkol, today’s paper.

    He was branded with burning cigarettes, his eyes were gouged out, bones broken and private organs chopped off.

    In the past 13 years, a number of Presidents has given him automated replies — “his case has been forwarded to appropriate authority for appropriate action”.

    Dr Kalia says he does not want his son’s case to meet the same fate that the families of 54 prisoners of war (POWs) of the 1971 war, where the government failed miserably.

    and further harkol,

    Saga of a father’s fight

    * May 15, 1999 | Captain Saurav Kalia and his men captured by Pakistani troops near Bajrang post.

    * June 9, 1999 | Mutilated body of Captain Kalia and his men handed over to India by Pakistan Army.

    * The then Prime Minister, defence minister and minister for external affairs promised to take up the issue for action against culprits.

    * 1999 | After the war, Dr Kalia wrote to the Prime Minister of Pakistan through its high commission in Delhi but there was no response.

    * November 17, 1999 | He moved an RTI seeking information from Army authorities about the Army’s action on the issue. The application was referred to MEA and MoD on November 24 but did not elicit any response.

    * April 17, 2000 | PMO writes to joint secretary rank officer dealing with UN issues in the MEA but to no avail.

    * 2001 Agra-summit | He sought 10 minutes audience with the then Pakistan President, General Parvez Mussharaf but it was not permitted.

    * Approached MEA to take up the issue with Pakistan but no initiative was taken.

    * Approached National Human Rights Commission, received information that commission is not competent to act on such issues.

    * 2010 | Approached the principal bench of military tribunal, which expressed helplessness, citing jurisdiction issue. Directed that government of India should take up the issue with Pakistan. No action on this so far.

    * 2011 | One UK-based activist Jasbir Uppal of an international NGO on human rights tried to take up the issue with the UN but it could not be considered on technical grounds.

    November 2012 | Dr Kalia moves petition before the Supreme Court of India for specific directions to the government to take up his case before ICJ.

    harkol can you help mr kalia, or do just post

  11. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Finally some sensible Army man, Colonel wakes up! Yes I really don’t understand why we continue to invite this Pervert Musaffir over and over again to India. What is wrong with our moronic media?!!

  12. Brand Arnab Goswami: National Asset of India and Indians - Says:

    […] blog churmuri has a brilliant article “How a Banglorean changed the nation view’s” . The story […]

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