Barkha Dutt

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Barkha Dutt
Barkha Dutt World Economic Forum Nov 2010.jpg
Dutt at the World Economic Forum, 2010.
Born (1971-12-18) 18 December 1971 (age 45) [1]
New Delhi, India
Education St. Stephen's College, Delhi
Jamia Millia Islamia
Columbia University
Occupation News Anchor
Years active 1991–present
Notable credit(s) We the People
The Buck Stops Here

Barkha Dutt is an Indian television journalist.[2] She was part of NDTV's team for 21 years, until she left the channel in January 2017.[3] Dutt emerged as a prominent figure after her frontline war reporting on the Kargil Conflict between India and Pakistan in 1999.[4] Dutt has won many national and international awards, including the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour.[5] Dutt was one of the journalists taped in the Radia tapes controversy.[6] At NDTV, Dutt was the host of the weekly, award-winning talk-show We The People as well as the daily prime-time show The Buck Stops Here.[7][8]


Dutt was born in New Delhi to S. P. Dutt, an Air India official, and Prabha Dutt, who was a well-known journalist with the Hindustan Times.[9] Dutt credits her journalistic skills to her mother, a pioneer among women journalists in India.[10] Her younger sister, Bahar Dutt, is also a television journalist working for CNN IBN.[10] She describes herself as agnostic who rejects religion.[11] She supports the concept of a Uniform Civil Code.[12] Barkha has expressed her opinion against Triple Talaq and Muslim patriarchy.[13]


Dutt 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 organisation. 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.[14] Her reporting of the Kargil conflict in 1999, including an interview with Captain Vikram Batra, brought her to prominence in India.[4][15] She has since covered conflicts in Kashmir, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.[16]

While covering the events of 2002 Gujarat violence, Dutt identified attackers and victims of a riot as "Hindus" and "Muslims" on television, flouting the guidelines of the Press Council of India.[17] She has received negative reception for some of her work. For 2008 Mumbai attacks, she was blamed for sensationalising the events, putting lives at risk and causing deaths by identifying on live television where the hotel guests might be located.[18] Britta Ohm wrote in 2011 that Dutt is criticised for "secular shrillness", betraying the cause of Kashmiri Pandits, over-the-top nationalism in the reporting of Kargil conflict, and for soft-pedalling Hindutva.[19]

Dutt who was group editor of NDTV moved to the role of consulting editor in February 2015[20] and after 21 years, she left on January 15, 2017[21]

2010 Radia tapes controversy[edit]

In November 2010, the magazines OPEN and Outlook published transcripts of some telephone conversations between Nira Radia with some senior journalists, politicians, and corporates.[22][23] 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.[24] Dutt's conversations with Radia were reported and Dutt became the face of the tapes scandal.[25] On 30 November 2010, Dutt defended herself before a jury of her peers in a televised program on NDTV.[25] Dutt apologised over the issue saying it was "an error of judgement" on her part, but said that she had not indulged in any wrongdoing.[2] Magazine editor Hartosh Singh Bal said that "proximity of NDTV and Tehelka are concerned, their closeness to the Congress is no secret. Dutt’s role in the Radia Tapes did not seem to point to an individual act but an institutional malaise." [26]


  • Dutt has co-authored the chapter "'Nothing new?':Women as Victims" in book - Varadarajan, Siddharth (2002). Gujarat: The Making of a Tragedy. ISBN 978-0143029014. .
  • Dutt, Barkha (2015). The Unquiet Land. ISBN 978-9382277163. 

Awards and accolades[edit]

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 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."[27][28] Dutt was the recipient of the C H Mohammed Koya National Journalism Award in 2009.[29] In 2008, Dutt received the Indian News Broadcasting Award for the Most Intelligent News Show Host.[30] Dutt received the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association award for Journalist of the Year, 2007.[31] She was awarded "Best TV News Anchor (English) for her programme "We the people" at the first Indian News Television Awards in 2007.[32]

In 2008, the Indian government headed by Manmohan Singh awarded Dutt the Padma Shri, a civilian honour, for her coverage of the 2004 Tsunami.[5][33]

She has twice been named on the list of 100 "Global Leaders of Tomorrow" compiled by the World Economic Forum (2001, 2008).[34] In 2005, she was among 50 Indians who were 35 or younger and listed for their achievements and impact on society.[35]

In 2010 she was appointed as a member of India's National Integration Council.[36][37] She was named an Asia Society Fellow in 2006 and serves on the International Advisory Council of the Asia Society.[38]

In popular culture[edit]

As per movie reviewers and critics, Dutt has been a model for the portrayal of 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.[39][40]
  • In the 2006 Malayalam Movie Keerthi Chakra, one of the journalist character was based on 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".[41]
  • In the 2010 satire Peepli Live, the character of the news anchor was modelled on Sagarika Ghose or Barkha Dutt, according to movie critic Raja Sen.[42] 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.
  • In the 2011 movie No One Killed Jessica, Rani Mukerji played a news reporter who is first seen in the movie reporting on the 1999 Kargil Conflict is portraying Dutt's character.
  • In the 2014 movie Singham Returns, Ashwini Kalsekar played a TV journalist role inspired by Dutt.[43][44]

Dutt was the model for the protagonist in Anand Kurian's novel, The Peddler of Soaps.[45]


  1. ^ Fr. Francis M Peter; Carlyle Mcfarland; M Lazer Selva; Illa Vij; Aparna Ghosh Dastidar. Grammar & More 8. Ratna Sagar. p. 143. ISBN 978-81-8332-460-1. 
  2. ^ a b "Journalism ethics row grips India". BBC News Online. 3 December 2010. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Independence Day Thoughts, RaghuKrishnan, The Economic Times, 24 August 2003, accessed on 22 January 2012
  5. ^ a b "Rajdeep Sardesai, Vinod Dua and Barkha Dutt Conferred Padma Shri". 27 January 2008. 
  6. ^ Udas, Sumnima (2 December 2010). "Leaked tapes put India, media in crisis". CNN. Retrieved 5 December 2010. 
  7. ^ "Kumaon Literary Festival". Retrieved 2016-08-09. 
  8. ^ "Celebrity Photo Gallery, Celebrity Wallpapers, Celebrity Videos, Bio, News, Songs, Movies". Retrieved 2016-08-09.  External link in |website= (help)
  9. ^ "When a journalist ordered firing? : Capital Closeup". Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Express news service (30 November 2007). "Prabha Dutt fellowship goes to Express journalist". Express India. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  11. ^ Swimming in the sea of India’s cultural complexity has taught me that I can no longer carry my agnosticism lightly
  12. ^ The fight against triple talaq is a fight for basic dignity
  13. ^ "What India’s liberals get wrong about women and sharia law". 
  14. ^ "Inlaks Alumni List". Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation. Retrieved 5 September 2010. [dead link]
  15. ^ Rajdeep Sardesai, Vinod Dua and Barkha Dutt Conferred Padma Shri, MediaWire, 27 January 2008, accessed on 22 January 2012
  16. ^ Three top TV news anchors get Padma Shri, (IANS), 2008, accessed on 22 January 2012
  17. ^ Sonwalkar, Prasun (2006). Cole, Benjamin, ed. Conflict, Terrorism And the Media in Asia. Routledge. p. 89. ISBN 9780415351980. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  18. ^ Kampfner, John (2010). Freedom for Sale. Basic Books. p. 157. ISBN 9780415351980. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  19. ^ Ohm, Britta (2011). Banaji, Shakuntala, ed. South Asian Media Cultures: Audiences, Representations, Contexts. London, UK: Anthem Press. ISBN 9781843313205. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ Hussain, Yasir (2012). Corruption Free India: Fight to Finish. Epitome Books. pp. 67,68,130,134. ISBN 9789380297248. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  23. ^ "Tell me what should I tell them?". Open Magazine. 20 November 2010. 
  24. ^ "Radia tapes: Scandal in the media". Deccan Herald. 
  25. ^ a b Polgreen, Lydia (3 December 2010). "A Journalist in India Ends Up in the Headlines". New York Times. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  26. ^ Bal, Hartosh. "The Unreliable Source". Open. Retrieved 9 April 2016. 
  27. ^ "Kim Hill wins global radio broadcasting award". The New Zealand Herald. 8 November 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  28. ^ "2012 AIBs Winners and Highly Commended". Association for International Broadcasting. 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  29. ^ "Burkha Dutt, Noorani given C H Mohammed Koya journalism award". 4 November 2009. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  30. ^ "Barkha Dutt Gets Most Intelligent News Show Host Award in Airtel Indian News Broadcasting Award (INB) 2008". Archived from the original on 11 June 2010. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  31. ^ "Barkha Dutt is Commonwealth Broadcasting Assoc's 'journalist of the year'". 20 February 2007. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  32. ^ "> News Room Headlines> TV18 Group & NDTV win top honours at Indian News Television Awards; Prannoy Roy gets Lifetime Achievement". 19 July 2007. Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  33. ^ "Ratan Tata, L.N. Mittal receive Padma Vibhushan". The Hindu. 11 May 2008. Archived from the original on 3 October 2009. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  34. ^ "Lounge | Barkha Dutt". Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  35. ^ "The 50 on the fast track". India Today. 31 January 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  36. ^ "National Integration Council reconstituted". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 14 April 2010. Archived from the original on 19 September 2011. 
  37. ^ [1] Archived 27 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  38. ^ [2] Archived 23 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  39. ^ "Preity Zinta interview". 28 January 2011. 
  40. ^ "Farhan Akhtar interview". 28 January 2011. 
  41. ^ Kurian, Alka (2012). South Asian Cinema – Routledge Advances in Film Studies. Oxon, UK: Routledge. p. 89. ISBN 9781136466700. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 
  42. ^ Sen, Raja (24 August 2010). "Cliche-driven cinema". Bangalore Mirror. Retrieved 11 July 2013. [dead link]
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^ "The Peddler of Soaps". Open Library. 3 May 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2013. 

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