Zero-TRP anchor Ravish Kumar pours his heart out in an open letter to MJ Akbar

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In an open letter to the journalist-turned-minister,MJ Akbar, the NDTV journalist Ravish Kumar has poured his heart out on constant trolling and being abused by right-wing trolls.

The journalist, who calls himself zero-TRP anchor, has asked the new junior foreign minister of India some difficult questions. He’s also drawn a parallel with the freedom that journalists enjoyed during the UPA government with that of existing environment.

Here’s the letter published on NDTV website.

Respected Akbar ji,

Greetings,

Eid Mubarak. That you have become the Minister of State for External Affairs is no less a special occasion than Eid. We journalists should be very happy that you first became a spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party and then a parliamentarian and now a minister. You fought an election on a Congress ticket. Then you came back to become an editor. Then you again went from an editor to a spokesperson and then a minister. Perhaps I will never know what you thought about journalists becoming netas and the work ethics that come into play with that.

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Did you ever pass through a crisis of conscience? Even though there are no Gods in journalism, during these times, did you ever fear God?

Akbar ji, I am writing this letter to you with a certain degree of bitterness as well. But you are not the reason for that. You may help me out of it. For the last three years I have been called a pimp on social media. The political change that veteran journalists like you call great for India has also forged the culture of shouts of “pimp” and “hustler” trailing news stories and news bringers. It has come so far that even my mother has been called a whore – a woman who could never go to school, who does not even know what an anchor is, or what is prime time. She has never seen the studios of NDTV. All she asks is if I am keeping well. But she does read the newspaper very closely. When she found out that I am abused like this, she could not sleep well for days.

Akbar ji, when you came from journalism into politics, did people call you a pimp too, abuse you, vilify you – like they do me (especially after the episode with the black screen aired?) Then when you came back from the Congress into journalism, did people – especially the then opposition whose member you are today – see you as a pimp for 10 Janpath (the headquarters of the Congress) or any other party? What explanations did you give yourself then to carry on? Can you share those explanations with me? I need your help.

In journalism, I have done many a bad report. Some have been exceptionally terrible. But until three years ago, no one used to call me a pimp. Neither did they drag in my sister or mother into it. Akbar sir, I am not a pimp. But do tell me what should I do to become Akbar. When Murli Manohar Joshi used to be a minister in the Vajpayee government, I used to debate the saffronisation of education a lot. Back then, no one in your party office spoke to me with hostility. Dr Joshi even had tea served to me after interviews and asked for sweets to be brought in. He never said you are asking these questions because you are a pimp of the Congress. Due to his age, he often got angry but never did he decline an interview or hint the government was annoyed at me.

But now everything has changed. There is a new culture of political control. There is now a horde of people who try to find political leaning and meaning behind every news story. This horde is flagrantly abusive. They often use the photo of our Prime Minister on their profiles and use symbols of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Many of them follow ministers and many are followed by ministers. They identify some as against the BJP and heap praises on the rest.

Definitely there has been a decline in journalism. It wasn’t there at all when you fought an election, won, lost and came back to become an editor. That must have been the golden age of journalism. It can be called the Akbar age if those who abuse us don’t take offence. All this means that today some journalists have become an unannounced extension of the spokesperson. Those who abuse me don’t call these people pimps. The section that does is the same that trolls Smriti Irani.

As a colleague, in your Foreign Ministry, you will find General VK Singh who coined the word ‘presstitute’ for journalists. In Hindi, the crowds that agree and support him call us ‘preshya’ – a combination of press and vaishya (prostitute). Because I work for NDTV, they replace N with an R and call it Randi TV.

Do you think when journalists ask difficult questions, they are pimping another party? Which question can make one a pimp? If editors like you can tell me, I can learn a thing or two. I can tell young reporters don’t become Ravish Kumar, if you must become somebody become Akbar because maybe even Ravish Kumar will one day become an Akbar.

I am a bit of an emotional person. I’ve definitely been shaken by these attacks. That’s why after seeing you, I thought you could help me. For the last three years, before every report, I have been struck by the thought that those people who are celebrating India’s cultural ascent may call me a pimp and my mother a whore, but my mother is the only real Mother India. I am bringing up my mother again and again because people of your party understand ‘Ek Ma ki bhavna’ the best. When you take the name of your mother, it’s the end of an argument.

Akbar ji, I am writing this letter with a lot of hope. Your response will be an example for future journalists who these days pay Rs. 10 to 15 lakhs to study journalism. In my eyes, a generation that pays so much to study journalism is not worth much, but your response can boost their confidence.

When you returned to journalism from politics, did you worry about the party and its ideology when writing about them? Were you able to hold your ground? How firmly? When you returned to politics from journalism, did you start doubting what you wrote? Did you ever feel that you wrote what you did expecting a reward? I believe that we journalists write in the pressure of our times and context. Switching between journalism and politics, can one be free from these moral dilemmas? Did you manage to do it?

To avoid being like Twitter trolls, I don’t want to bring up what you wrote about the riots in the country including Gujarat. I am just asking this on a personal level. Even before you, people from a number of media organisations have gone to the Rajya Sabha. With the Congress, you fought for the Lok Sabha, and with for the BJP, you fought for the Rajya Sabha. I am happy that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has kept this tradition of the Congress government alive of putting journalists in Parliament. People singing the praises of Indian culture perhaps did not notice that popular Atal ji was himself a journalist and after becoming Prime Minister, he could not abandon his love for his paper Veer Arjun. You can find quite a few other examples.

I haven’t jumped into politics just yet. If I do, you will be of great help. That is why you should tell me what journalists should do. Should they fight elections, become ministers, and then become journalists again? Will they be able to report then? When one becomes a reporter in the name of national interest, should they always be on the lookout of political opportunities?

I hope that in the name of principles, those who hurl abuses are welcoming you. They should also shower flowers on you. Your competence is without doubt. You are a hero for all of us. Those of us who consider journalism to be a religion could not see how you have upheld its rituals. Because anchors these days show their importance based on their TRPs, I would say I am a zero-TRP anchor. The TRP meter tells me no one watches me. On these grounds, you can overlook my letter. But being a minister, you are principally answerable to each and every citizen of this country. So based on this, you can respond. The one with the top TRPs won’t ask you how a minister can respond to someone with zero TRPs. And that too a Minister of State for External Affairs. Once again, Eid Mubarak. From the heart.

Your minion,

Ravish Kumar

12 COMMENTS

  1. अपने आप को,अपने लेखन का इस तरह प्रस्तुतीकरण कर के ओछी पत्रकारिता का सबूत दे दिया है।आपके प्रश्न का जबाब आपके ही ऊतर में छिपा है।आप में एक भारी कमी ये है की एक पछ की ज्यादा ही सुनते हो,दूसरे को उतना समय नहीं देते।अपनी सहुलीयत ज्यादा देखते हैं आप।हां, जो गाली देतें,वो गलत है।आप भी अपने सवालों के(खुद ही जो जबाब दे देतें हैं )जब आप एक पछ से पूछ रहे होते है,जो आपके बिपरीत लगता है।उसको आप समय नहीं देते।पत्रकारिता के सही मापदंड की परिभाषाा आप जानते हुए भी इसकी मर्यादा भूल जातें हैं ।ऐसा ही दृष्टिगोचर होता है।

  2. Very well written article.It is time , that all media people learn a thing or two,from the happenings around.

  3. दूसरों को सोशल मीडिया का पेड गुंडा और मानसिक बीमार बताने वाले आप, वास्तव में अात्म मुग्धता के इस मुकाम पर पहुँच गए है की अब आपके लिए वापस आना मुमकिन नहीं है. रवीश आपकी यह कुंठा और अंतर्द्वंद आपके पाखंड और दोहरे मानदंड (दोगलेपन) की वजह से है. जिस दिन आपको आत्म बोध हो जायेगा आप का यह द्वन्द समाप्त हो जाएगा. दिक्कत ये है कि आत्म मुग्धता की इस स्थिति ने आपको “अहम ब्रह्मस्मि” बना दिया है और आपके एक तरफ़ा और थोपे गए विचारों के विरुद्ध एक भी शब्द सुनना आप को गवारा नहीं है. “खाता न बही रवीश जो कहें सो सही” से हम बहुत आगे निकल अायें हैं. आज आपके विचार आपके स्टूडियो तक ही सीमित नहीं रह गयें है. अब आपके पास यह सुविधा नहीं है कि आप अपने सुविधा और स्वार्थ के अनुसार विषयों को पेश कर सकें. अब आपकी जिम्मेदारियों, प्रतिबद्धता और मूल्यों पर भी सवाल उठाने का मंच उपलब्ध है. इस लिए अब वन वे ट्रैफिक नहीं चलेगा. आप सौ अनर्गल सवाल उठा सकते हैं, लेकिन कुछ सवालों का जवाब देने के लिए आपको भी तैयार रहना होगा. अपने पिछले साल भर के कार्यकर्मों को बिना पूर्वाग्रह के देखेंगे तो आपको इस अंतर्द्वंद से निकलने में मदद मिलेगी. हम भी चाहते हैं की आप सक्रिय पत्रकारिता में रहें. लेकिन सवालों का जवाब देने के भय से आपको सोशल मीडिया से पलायन नहीं करना चाहिए था. लेकिन बड़ी सफाई किन्तु बेशर्मी से सहानुभूति पाने के लिए आप अपनी माँ का जिक्र बार बार करते हैं. साथ ही आपकी महानता में चार चाँद लग जाते अगर आपने राजीव शुक्ल से लेकर आशुतोष तक को समय समय पार ऐसे ही खुले पत्र लिखे होते. आपने हमेशा की तरह “सेलेक्टिव” होते हुए बड़ी चतुराई से MJ Akabar को ही केवल लिखा है. वास्तव में मेरी नजरो में अकबर और आशुतोष जैसे वो तमाम पत्रकार आप से काही बेहतर हैं जिन्होंने खुले रूप से किसी राजनैतिक दल का दामन थामा. लेकिन आप तो स्वयं को एक निष्पक्ष पत्रकार के रूप में पेश करते है और दल विशेष की चाटुकारिता में लगे रहते हैं.
    बहरहाल रोहित सरदाना का यह पत्र आपको सटीक जवाब है और आपके मुंह पर तमाचा है…

  4. Thanks Ravish for writing this extremely thoughtful and brilliantly timed article. By raising these important questions you have also raised the level of debate. Many jerks who abuse you for asking hard questions belong to the army of brainwashed bigots. They are blissfully ignorant of their own stupidity.

  5. Ravishing Kumar’s open letter to MJ Akbar must be replied. He has raised many questions which must be answered in order to prove that MJ has not comprised on his principles which he as an editor of the Telegraph had upheld.

  6. Ravish you are azero TRP because you are bootlickers of congress and minorities. You do never highlight plights of hindus in Kashmir , oppression on minorities by paki(mfs),bangladeshis.You speak up as per convenience of your politcal bosses. Your line of yellow journalism is a shame to whole journalistic fraternity.Then you and your ilks will go out in town screaming that you are trolled. Cmplete gang of saudi fed journalists BD, RS and you are stripped naked by AG of TN.Pl run for your pants now….

  7. I am really amazed. Hahaha….. this Modi era’s had put every Social, print and electronic media’s into limelight. Now everyone is eager to see and know about the present situations, if you can’t delivered the fact or entertain us. How you can blame the ministry or some folks of people who are angry with your poor performance. It’s you and your channels responsible. Show us what we have to see don’t make us doubt about your source. Olden days and the News of criticism are gone. It’s the time of happenings and inspiring. So go for it and everyone will love you, AND you will not need to write any letter to anyone.

  8. Dear Ravish ,

    Why do you have a problem, if MJ have been part of BJP and congress ? Isn’t it his choice to be part of an organization he relate to . Just because he spoke on Kashmir you want to defame him by emphasizing on his switch from congress to editor to BJP several time in your letter. If people call you pimp then how is MJ sir responsible for that, why are you addressing this to him, instead address those illiterate people who are at loss of word to utter their disagreement to your ideology. Your Boss has close relations with Gandhi family did MJ sir ever ask him why he always covered them when there were limited electronics Media. We all know how journalism function in this country so it’s better we keep our mouth shut and focus on our work. Just by writing the letter humbly but dipped in sarcasm , you cant fool educated people like us . Seems you have a problem with MJ sir and it appears it’s an old one , this doesn’t mean you insult him in public domain like this. He has been an amazing journalist and an honest man. Behave ! otherwise there is not much difference between you and the people who abuse you, only difference is that you can play with words and be sarcastic. Learn to respect .
    God bless you !!
    regards!

  9. people who could never question congress why Kishore kumar was banned on all India radio are asking questions on intolerance ,ethics and freedom. The article clearly shows Ravish is a crook and does not like that Akbar is part of BJP rather then Congress. no doubt it is called PAK controlled NDTV after Hafeez Sayeed’s comments

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