Barkha Dutt

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Barkha Dutt
Barkha Dutt World Economic Forum Nov 2010.jpg
Barkha Dutt at the World Economic Forum
Born (1971-12-18) 18 December 1971 (age 42)
New Delhi, Delhi, India
Education St. Stephen's College, Delhi
Jamia Millia Islamia
Columbia University
Occupation News Anchor and group editor with NDTV
Years active 1991–present
Notable credit(s) We the People
The Buck Stops Here

Barkha Dutt is an Indian television journalist and columnist. She is a group editor with NDTV.[1] Dutt gained prominence for her reportage of the Kargil War.[2] Dutt has won many national and international awards, including the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour.[3] Dutt was one of the journalists taped in the Radia tapes controversy, and was described as the "face of the tapes scandal".[4][5]


Barkha Dutt was born in New Delhi to S. P. Dutt, an official in Air India and Prabha Dutt who was a well-known journalist with the Hindustan Times.[6] Barkha credits her journalism skills to her mother, Prabha, a pioneer among women journalists in India. Prabha Dutt died in 1984 due to a brain haemorrhage.[7] Barkha's younger sister, Bahar Dutt, is also a television journalist working for CNN IBN.[7]


Barkha graduated from St. Stephen's College, Delhi with a degree in English literature. She received a Master's in Mass Communications from Jamia Millia Islamia Mass Communication Research Center, New Delhi. She started her journalism career with NDTV and later rose to head the English news wing of the organization. She also obtained a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, New York assisted by an Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation scholarship.[8] Her reporting of the Kargil conflict in 1999, including an interview with Captain Vikram Batra, brought her to prominence in India.[2][9] She has since covered conflicts in Kashmir, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.[10]

Awards and accolades

Barkha Dutt's Sunday talk show has won the most awards out of any show on Indian television, winning the Indian Television Academy award for Best Talk Show five years in a row. In 2012, the Association for International Broadcasting awarded Barkha Dutt the title of "TV Personality of the year" with the following citation: "a reporter of considerable stretch and depth, still passionate and fearless in bringing the issues closer to her viewers."[11][12] Dutt was the recipient of the C H Mohammed Koya National Journalism Award in 2009.[13] In 2008, Dutt received the Indian News Broadcasting Award for the Most Intelligent News Show Host.[14] Dutt received the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association award for Journalist of the Year, 2007.[15] She was awarded "Best TV News Anchor (English) for her programme "We the people" at the first Indian News Television Awards in 2007.[16]

In 2008, the Indian government awarded Barkha Dutt the Padma Shri, a civilian honor, for her coverage of the 2004 Tsunami.[3][17]

She has twice been named on the list of 100 "Global Leaders of Tomorrow" compiled by the World Economic Forum (2001, 2008).[18] In 2005, she was among 50 Indians who were 35 or younger and listed for their achievements and impact on society.[19]

In 2010 she was appointed as a member of India's National Integration Council.[20][21] She was named an Asia Society Fellow in 2006 and serves on the International Advisory Council of the Asia Society.[22]

Controversies and criticism

In the 2012 book Corruption Free India: Fight to Finish, Yasir Hussain described Barkha Dutt as a "controversial" and a "pro Sonia Gandhi" journalist.[23] Once on live television, Dutt described Gujaratis as "traditionally effete people".[24] Britta Ohm wrote in 2011 that Dutt has attracted "substantial criticism" over the past few years for her various aspects of her reporting.[25] Ohm wrote that Dutt is criticized for "secular shrillness", betraying the cause of Kashmiri Pandits, over-the-top nationalism in the reporting of Kargil conflict, and for soft-pedalling Hindutva.[25] A 2012 article in Mid Day stated that Barkha Dutt is one of the anchors who do not do any homework for their shows, try to be the only speaker, do not allow show participants to speak, and try to show off their smartness at the expense of guests on their show.[26] In April 2012, columnist and novelist Shobhaa De reproduced on her blog a funny article which ranked Barkha Dutt as the worst Indian journalist "by a whopping margin", describing her as the foremost promoter of Rahul Gandhi, and one who will have to live with the "taint of Radiagate" and other indiscretions including accusations of causing deaths in the Kargil conflict and in the 2008 Mumbai attacks.[27]

Coverage of 2002 Gujarat violence

While covering the events of 2002 Gujarat violence, Barkha Dutt identified attackers and victims of a riot as "Hindus" and "Muslims" on television, flouting the guidelines of the Press Council of India.[28] Varadarajan wrote that it was improper on part of Barkha Dutt to recognize a politically mobilized mob as "Hindus".[28]

Coverage of 2008 Mumbai attacks

Dutt was criticized for her coverage of 2008 Mumbai attacks, during which she reported from Taj Mahal Hotel and Oberoi Trident.[29] Dutt was blamed for sensationalizing the events, putting lives at risk and causing deaths by identifying on live television where the hotel guests might be located.[29] Writing for the New York Times, Lydia Polgreen wrote that critics viewed Dutt and some other reporters as extremely "theatrical and melodramatic" in their coverage of the 2008 attacks.[5] Wikileaks in 2009 and Freedom House in 2011 reported that a blogger Chetan Kunte criticized Barkha Dutt in a post titled "Shoddy Journalism" for her reporting.[30][31] Kunte accused Dutt of sensationalism and irresponsibly broadcasting information on movement of India's security forces on live television.[30][31] In response, Dutt and NDTV threatened Kunte with punitive measures and legal action, following which Kunte removed the critical content from his blog.[31] Wikileaks reported that Kunte was possibly "strong-armed" into doing so, and added that there was a consensus in India that "irresponsible" and "indiscreet journalism" of Dutt gave detailed information to terrorists about the ground situation, which led to loss of lives.[30] Freedom House's report said this was one of the rare cases in India where a blogger was forced by the government or private individuals to take down their writing.[31]

Conversations with Nira Radia

In November 2010, the magazines OPEN and Outlook published transcripts of some telephone conversations between Nira Radia with some senior journalists, politicians, and corporates.[23][32] The Central Bureau of Investigation announced that they had 5,851 recordings of phone conversations by Radia, some of which outline Radia's attempts to broker deals in relation to the 2G spectrum sale.[33] Barkha Dutt's conversations with Radia were widely reported and Dutt became the "face of the tapes scandal".[5] In one of the tapes Barkha Dutt assures Radia of getting Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress general secretary, to talk to Karunanidhi to get the portfolios in the Union cabinet fixed.[34][35][36] In another conversation, Dutt said to Radia, "What do you want me to tell them (Congress Party)? Tell me, I'll talk to them."[4] In a subsequent tape, Nira Radia is heard saying ‘Barkha has got Congress (political party) to issue a statement’.[37][38] Critics of Dutt have alleged that she knew about corruption in the government and media, supported this corruption, and suppressed reporting of news on the discovery of corruption.[23] Dutt has also been accused of cozying up to people in power and passing messages to the ruling Congress Party.[5] On November 30, 2010, Dutt defended herself on her own channel before a jury of her own peers in a televised program on NDTV.[5] Polgreen wrote that Dutt parried questions and struggled to control her anger in the program.[5] Dutt apologized over the issue saying it was "an error of judgement" on her part, but insisted that she had not indulged in any wrongdoing.[1]

Writing about the controversy in the Hindustan Times, Rajdeep Sardesai said that "The robust Indian tradition of adversarial journalism has been mortgaged at the altar of cozy networks."[5] Tavleen Singh said it was "very, very disappointing", and added that "corruption when it involves ethics" was worse than "taking money".[4] Sumnima Udas of the CNN wrote that the tapes revealed that Dutt served as a power brokers for a deal considered to be one of India's biggest ever scams.[4] Dutt was criticized for failing to recognize that a corporate lobbyist trying to get a cabinet post for a politician accused of corruption was a story to be reported.[5] After this controversy, some critics of Dutt started a Facebook group called "BarkhaGate", later renamed to India Media Watch.[5]

Booing at Jantar Mantar

On April 7, 2011, Barkha Dutt went to Jantar Mantar in New Delhi for live coverage of the events of 2011 Indian anti-corruption movement.[23][39] Before her live program could begin, Dutt was booed and forced to leave by the protestors, who believed Dutt's presence was "harming the integrity of their movement."[23][39] The protestors shouted slogans in Hindi like Barkha Dutt Vapas Jao ("Go back, Barkha Dutt"), Barkha Dutt Ko Jail Mein Dalo ("Put Barkha Dutt in Jail"), and Beiman Patrakar Hai Hai ("Shame on the dishonest journalist").[39] In response, Barkha Dutt tweeted that this was an act of vagabonds and hooligans.[39]

Portrayal in popular culture

As per movie reviewers and critics, Dutt has been a model for the portrayal of female journalist characters in several Hindi movies. Some of these are –

  • In the 2004 movie Lakshya, Preity Zinta played a female journalist reporting on the 1999 Kargil Conflict.[40][41]
  • In the 2006 Malayalam Movie Keerthi Chakra, one of the journalist character was based on Barkha Dutt. The protagonist Mohanlal gets angry for talking pictures in a sensitive war area. In an earlier incident because of the flash photography by the journalist one of the soldiers was killed.
  • In the 2008 movie Firaaq, a TV viewer is shown responding to Dutt's commentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots as "They [English speaking news reporters] all tell lies ... where were they when the Hindus were being killed".[42]
  • In the 2010 satire Peepli Live, the character of the female news anchor was modeled on Sagarika Ghose or Barkha Dutt, according to movie critic Raja Sen.[43] Sen wrote that in the movie, the news anchor only cared about TRPs and "squealed inexplicably in English" even when her subject was Hindi-speaking central India.

Dutt was the model for the female protagonist in Anand Kurian's novel, The Peddler of Soaps.[44]


  1. ^ a b "Journalism ethics row grips India". BBC News Online. December 3, 2010. Retrieved July 15, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Independence Day Thoughts, RaghuKrishnan, The Economic Times, 24 August 2003, accessed on 22 January 2012
  3. ^ a b "Rajdeep Sardesai, Vinod Dua and Barkha Dutt Conferred Padma Shri". 27 January 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c d Udas, Sumnima (December 2, 2010). "Leaked tapes put India, media in crisis". CNN. Retrieved December 5, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Polgreen, Lydia (December 3, 2010). "A Journalist in India Ends Up in the Headlines". New York Times. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  6. ^ "When a journalist ordered firing? : Capital Closeup". Retrieved 2012-11-12. 
  7. ^ a b Express news service (2007-11-30). "Prabha Dutt fellowship goes to Express journalist". Express India. Retrieved 2012-11-12. 
  8. ^ "Inlaks Alumni List". Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation. Retrieved September 5, 2010. [dead link]
  9. ^ Rajdeep Sardesai, Vinod Dua and Barkha Dutt Conferred Padma Shri, MediaWire, 27 January 2008, accessed on 22 January 2012
  10. ^ Three top TV news anchors get Padma Shri, (IANS), 2008, accessed on 22 January 2012
  11. ^ "Kim Hill wins global radio broadcasting award". The New Zealand Herald. November 8, 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  12. ^ "2012 AIBs Winners and Highly Commended". Association for International Broadcasting. 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  13. ^ "Burkha Dutt, Noorani given C H Mohammed Koya journalism award". November 4, 2009. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  14. ^ "Barkha Dutt Gets Most Intelligent News Show Host Award in Airtel Indian News Broadcasting Award (INB) 2008". Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  15. ^ "Barkha Dutt is Commonwealth Broadcasting Assoc's 'journalist of the year'". 20 February 2007. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  16. ^ "> News Room Headlines> TV18 Group & NDTV win top honours at Indian News Television Awards; Prannoy Roy gets Lifetime Achievement". 2007-07-19. Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  17. ^ "Ratan Tata, L.N. Mittal receive Padma Vibhushan". The Hindu. May 11, 2008. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  18. ^ "Lounge | Barkha Dutt". Retrieved 2010-08-30. 
  19. ^ "The 50 on the fast track". India Today. January 31, 2005. Retrieved 2013-06-18. 
  20. ^ "National Integration Council reconstituted". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2010-04-14. 
  21. ^
  22. ^ [1][dead link]
  23. ^ a b c d e Hussain, Yasir (2012). Corruption Free India: Fight to Finish. Epitome Books. pp. 67,68,130,134. ISBN 9789380297248. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Reasons Why Justice Markandey Katju is Right…". India Wires. November 3, 2011. Retrieved July 15, 2013. 
  25. ^ a b Ohm, Britta (2011). Banaji, Shakuntala, ed. South Asian Media Cultures: Audiences, Representations, Contexts. London, UK: Anthem Press. ISBN 9781843313205. Retrieved July 15, 2013. 
  26. ^ "સત્યમેવ જયતે એક જ કલાકમાં લઈ લીધું મૂવમેન્ટનું સ્વરૂપ" [Satyameva Jayate takes the form of a movement in only one hour]. Mid Day (in Gujarati). May 13, 2012. Retrieved July 12, 2013. "પ્રતિષ્ઠિત ન્યુઝચૅનલોના કાર્યક્રમ પણ આ દરજ્જાના નથી હોતા, હોમવર્ક નથી હોતું અને ઍન્કર એટલું બધું બોલે છે કે તે કાર્યક્રમમાં ભાગ લેનાર પાર્ટિસિપન્ટને બોલવા જ નથી દેતો. પ્રભુ ચાવલા, કરણ થાપર અને બરખા દત્ત જેવા સિનિયર પત્રકારો પણ આ બીમારીથી મુક્ત નથી. જેની મુલાકાત લેવાતી હોય તેના પર જનોઈવઢ શાબ્દિક ઘા કરીને અને એ દ્વારા તેને લજવીને પોતાની ચતુરાઈ બતાવવાની લાલચ તેઓ રોકી શકતાં નથી." 
  27. ^ De, Shobhaa (17 April 2012). "India's Worst Journalists. Not my list!". Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  28. ^ a b Sonwalkar, Prasun (2006). Cole, Benjamin, ed. Conflict, Terrorism And the Media in Asia. Routledge. p. 89. ISBN 9780415351980. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  29. ^ a b Kampfner, John (2010). Freedom for Sale. Basic Books. p. 157. ISBN 9780415351980. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  30. ^ a b c NDTV censored blogger over criticism of Mumbai terrorist attack reporage, 27 Nov 2008. WikiLeaks. February 1, 2009. Retrieved July 15, 2013. 
  31. ^ a b c d Kelly, Sanja; Cook, Sarah, eds. (April 18, 2011). "Freedom on the Net 2011 - A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media". Washington DC, USA: Freedom House. p. 168. Retrieved July 13, 2013. "blogger Chetan Kunte criticized NDTV journalist Barkha Dutt for her station’s coverage of the November 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, accusing her of engaging in sensationalism and irresponsibly airing information about the movements of security forces. Dutt and NDTV threatened to seek punitive measures against Kunte through the courts, and the blogger agreed to remove the critical content." 
  32. ^ "Tell me what should I tell them?". Open Magazine. 20 November 2010. 
  33. ^ "Radia tapes: Scandal in the media". Deccan Herald. 
  34. ^ "Transcript: Radia and Barkha Dutt". India Today. 2010-11-19. 
  35. ^ "The Barkha Dutt & Other Tapes". Outlook. 2010-11-18. 
  36. ^ "Scandal: Nira Radia, Barkha Dutt Taped Conversations". Chicago Independent Press. 2010-11-19. 
  37. ^ "‘Barkha has got Congress to issue a statement’". The Sunday Guardian. 12 December 2010. 
  38. ^ "For Radia, medium is the message, messenger". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 13 December 2010. 
  39. ^ a b c d "मैं बरखा दत्त हूँ, मुझे शर्म नहीं आती" [I am Barkha Dutt, I am not ashamed]. Media Khabar (in Hindi). May 3, 2011. Retrieved July 13, 2013. 
  40. ^ "Preity Zinta interview". 2011-01-28. 
  41. ^ "Farhan Akhtar interview". 2011-01-28. 
  42. ^ Kurian, Alka (2012). South Asian Cinema - Routledge Advances in Film Studies. Oxon, UK: Routledge. p. 89. ISBN 9781136466700. Retrieved July 13, 2013. 
  43. ^ Sen, Raja (August 24, 2010). "Cliche-driven cinema". Bangalore Mirror. Retrieved July 11, 2013. 
  44. ^ "The Peddler of Soaps". Open Library. May 3, 2011. Retrieved July 13, 2013. 

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