The Smiling Buddha of Indian Television


Padmaja Shaw

For those who came in late, Smiling Buddha was the codename for the first Pokhran nuclear test done in May 1974. It can do a lot of violence but has been benevolently named after the apostle of peace.

The Wikipedia entry on Sudhir Chaudhary of Zee News, which has since been edited out just a few hours back, charmingly described him as the “anchor with the best smile on Indian television”. And why ever not?

He is believed to have worked for the TV news industry for 19 years now. And for whom? Zee News, India TV, Live TV and Zee News again.

Also Read | JNU मुद्दे पर ZEE न्यूज़ के पत्रकार का इस्तीफा, कहा ऐसा नहीं किया तो खुद को कभी माफ़ नहीं कर पाउँगा

When he was the CEO of Live TV, the channel, which telecast a ‘sting’ about a Delhi school teacher, Uma Khurana, accusing her of running a prostitution racket and inducting school kids into it.

This led to her being publicly lynched by the parents, her arrest and complete humiliation. It was later found that the sting was done to settle scores and the accusations were false.

Also Read | Zee breaks silence on journalist’s allegations, says statements by Vishwa Deepak mischievous and incorrect

Sudhir Chaudhary merely called his reporter a criminal, dusted the opprobrium off, only to be welcomed by Zee News.

Such was the intensity of the crime that the channel Live India was taken off air for over a month.

After joining Zee, there was this Rs 100 crore extortion case filed by industrialist Jindal supported by a counter sting, for which Chaudhary was arrested and sent to Tihar jail, but is now out on bail.

The Broadcast Editors’ Association stripped him of Treasurer’s position and his primary membership.

Under his watch again, videos have been doctored to paint JNU students as anti-nationals. Again lynch mobs were out attacking anyone who spoke in support of the students. The students have been arrested on non-bailable charges based on the doctored videos of Zee and are undergoing extreme harassment by the police.

Chaudhary once again calls the journalist who resigned from his channel in disgust, a disgruntled employee and dismisses the issue.

As the head of news operations of a channel whose owner’s autobiography titled, “The Z Factor: My journey as the wrong man at the right time” (!!!) is proudly released by the Prime Minister himself, why won’t Sudhir Chaudhary have the best smile on news television?

Whoever took that line out of the Wikipedia entry has to be a certified anti-national.

The author is a senior journalist, now teaching media students. Views expressed here are the author’s own. doesn’t subscribe to these views.