M. J. Akbar

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M.J. Akbar
M. J. Akbar.jpg
Born Mobashar Jawed Akbar
(1951-01-11) 11 January 1951 (age 64)
Occupation Journalist, writer , National Spokesperson for Bharatiya Janata Party
Political party
Bharatiya Janata Party (since 2014)
Indian National Congress (1989-1991)
Religion Islam
Spouse(s) Mallika Joseph
M. J. Akbar's Blog

Mobashar Jawed "M.J." Akbar (Bengali: মবাসের জাবেদ একবার) is a leading Indian journalist and author and national spokesperson of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He was the Editorial Director of India Today, India's leading weekly English news magazine published by the Living Media group till his resignation in October 2012. He also had an additional responsibility of overseeing the media conglomerate's English news channel, Headlines Today.

He has written several non-fiction books, including Byline (New Delhi: Chronicle Books, 2003), a biography of Jawaharlal Nehru titled Nehru: The Making of India, a book on Kashmir titled Kashmir: Behind the Vale, Riot After Riot and India: The Siege Within. He also authored The Shade of Swords, a cohesive history of jihad. Akbar's recent published book is Blood Brothers, a skillfully crafted family saga covering three generations and packed with information of events in India and the world, particularly the changing Hindu-Muslim relations.

His book Blood Brothers has been translated into Italian as Fratelli di Sangue. It was released in Rome at the headquarters of Adnkronos on 15 January 2008.

He published his latest book "Tinderbox: The past and future of Pakistan" in January 2012 discussing the themes of identity crisis and class struggles in Pakistan.

Early life[edit]

He was born on 11th January 1951. As per semi-fictional book written by Akbar, Blood Brothers – A Family Saga, he suggested that his grandfather was a Hindu named Prayag, who converted into Islam in Telinipara Situated in Hooghly District of West Bengal, a small jute-mill town north of Calcutta, acquired the name Rehmatullah and married a girl.[1] Akbar attended Calcutta Boys' School and later Presidency College, Calcutta where he attained a BA(Hons) in English between 1967 – 1970.[2]


Akbar joined The Times of India in 1971 as a trainee. Within a few months moved to the The Illustrated Weekly of India, then India's largest selling magazine, as sub-editor and feature writer, and contributed a prolific number of stories. In the weekly till 1973, when he was named editor of the news fortnightly, Onlooker, owned by The Free Press Journal Group in Mumbai. In 1976, he moved to Calcutta to join the Ananda Bazar Patrika Group as editor of SUNDAY, a political weekly.[3] Within just three years of its launch, the investigative reporting pioneered by the magazine established its national circulation and number one position. The magazine took an uncompromising stand against the Emergency and fought press censorship and dictatorship. SUNDAY not only established major trends in journalism but also spawned a new generation of journalists in the country.

In 1982, after the success of The Sunday, Akbar launched what is considered by some to be India's first modern newspaper. He conceived, designed and edited the daily newspaper, The Telegraph, which had a major impact on newspaper journalism in India.

Akbar was also the editor-in-chief of The Deccan Chronicle, a Hyderabad-based news daily.

In 1989, he took a brief detour into politics with his election to the Indian Parliament in November 1989 from Kishanganj in Bihar on a Congress(I) ticket. He lost the seat in the 1991 Lok Sabha elections.[4][5] He served as late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's official spokesman.[6]

In 1991, Akbar joined the Government as an advisor in the Ministry of Human Resources, and helped policy planning in key areas of education, the National Literacy Mission and in the protection of heritage. He resigning from the post and quit politics in December 1992 and returned to journalism and full-time writing. In 1993, Akbar started a new media company with the aim of creating India's first newspaper that would not only include an international focus within its editorial range, but also be the first Indian daily with an international edition. This newspaper appeared in February 1994. The Asian Age, India's first global newspaper, was launched with initial editions in Delhi, Bombay, and London, and by 2008 had grown, in collaboration with the Deccan Chronicle, to eight editions, into a major media presence nationally and internationally. In 2004, the group began publishing The International Herald Tribune in India, and became a publishing partner of The New York Times.[7]

In 2005, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, appointed him as a member of the committee to draft a ten year charter for Muslim nations on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.[8]

In March 2006, Akbar Joined The Brookings Institution, Washington, as a Visiting Fellow in the Brookings Project on U.S. Policy Towards the Islamic World. During the late 90s, he diluted his stake in the Asian Age, eventually selling of a major part of it to the Reddys, the owners of the Deccan Chronicle group.

In March 2008, Akbar was removed from The Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle due to differences with the owners over editorial policy, as some newspapers have reported it.

Akbar Launched a Fortnightly Political Magazine named 'Covert' on 13 May 2008 in Delhi with the first issue on stands on 14 May. Simultaneously, the Covert website[9] was launched two days later. Later this website got discontinued.

Akbar launched a new Sunday newspaper from 31 January 2010."The Sunday Guardian" is published from Delhi and simultaneously from London with Akbar as the Editor of the Weekly Newspaper.[10]

In September 2010, he joined the Living Media as Editorial Director of the leading weekly English news magazine India Today and the English news channel Headlines Today.

He launched "The Sunday Guardian", a weekly newspaper in 2010, and was Editor-in-Chief until May 2014, when he resigned. He is also the founder and former editor-in-chief and managing director of The Asian Age, a daily multi-edition Indian newspaper with a global perspective.


Akbar was a Congress MP from Kishanganj in Bihar between 1989 and 1991, he was also a Congress party spokesperson in 1989. M J Akbar joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in March 2014. He was appointed as national spokesperson of the party[11][12]

Personal life[edit]

Akbar is married to Mallika Joseph, his contemporary at The Times of India. They have two children, Prayaag and Mukulika.[13]


  • Nehru: the Making of India (1990)
  • Riot After Riot (1991)
  • Kashmir: Behind the Vale (1991)
  • India: The Siege within - Challenges to a Nation's Unity (1996)
  • The Shade of Swords: Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity (2003)
  • Byline (2004)
  • Blood Brothers - A Family Saga (2006)
  • Have Pen, Will Travel (2010)
  • Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan (2012)


External links[edit]