Derek O'Brien (quizmaster)

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Derek O'Brien
Derek O Brien - Kolkata 2016-01-31 9376.JPG
Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) for West Bengal
Assumed office
19 August 2011
Personal details
Born (1961-03-13) 13 March 1961 (age 56)
Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Nationality Indian
Political party All India Trinamool Congress
Spouse(s) Tonuca Basu
Alma mater Scottish Church College
Occupation Member of Parliament from Bengal, Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party Leader (RS) & Chief National Spokesperson
Known for Quizmaster

Derek O’Brien (born March 13, 1961, in Kolkata, India) is a prominent Indian politician, author,[1] television personality,[2] public speaker[3] and quiz show host.[4] He is a member of the Rajya Sabha [5](Upper House of India’s Parliament) from Bengal, representing the Trinamool Congress. He is national secretary and chief national spokesperson of his political party,[6] as well leader of the Trinamool Congress’ parliamentary party[7] in the Rajya Sabha.[8]

Early life and career[edit]

O'Brien was born in Kolkata, India to an Anglo-Indian family on March 13, 1961. He went to St. Xavier's Collegiate School in the city and studied English, St. Columba's School in Delhi, India. After two years at Scottish Church College, Kolkata, he began his professional career as a journalist for Sportsworld magazine, but soon shifted to advertising where he worked at Ogilvy for eight years. His father Neil O'Brien is considered a pioneer of quizzing in India.

Professional and quizzing career[edit]

O’Brien’s first job was as a journalist at Sportsworld magazine. After a short stint there, he joined the advertising agency Ogilvy in 1984 and rose to become its Creative Head for Kolkata and Delhi. Simultaneously, he embarked on a career as a quizmaster and quiz show host, having been introduced to quizzing by his father, Neil O’Brien, who had conducted the first open quiz in India in 1967.[9][10]


In 1988, O’Brien hosted his first all-India quizzes as a professional quizmaster: the Bata North Star Quiz and the Maggi Quiz for Schools. In 1990, he joined hands with Economic Times for the Brand Equity Quiz for business corporations. In 1991, he finally quit Ogilvy and set up his own knowledge, education and publishing company, Big Ideas – since renamed Derek O’Brien and Associates.[12][13][14][15][16][17]

O’Brien became a well-known quiz show host across the country and overseas, conducting quizzes in the UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi), Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the United States. In 2008, he travelled to Pakistan to host a television quiz for schools from Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. For three years in a row (2003–05), O’Brien won the Indian Television Academy award for Best Host in a Television Gameshow.[18][19][20]


Acknowledged for his witty manner, thirst for knowledge and ability to make information relevant to soft skills and self-actualisation, O’Brien is a much sought after speaker on leadership and public issues. He has spoken at, among others, Harvard, Yale and Columbia Universities in the US, several Indian Institutes of Management(IIMs) and Indian Institutes of Technology(IITs), the National Law School of India University in Bangalore, Hindu College and Sri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi, and Loreto College, Kolkata.[22][23][24][25][26][27][28]

Political career[edit]

O’Brien joined the Trinamool Congress in 2004, when the party was still in opposition in Bengal.[29] He later wrote that he was drawn to the charisma and personality of the Trinamool Congress leader (now chief minister of Bengal) Mamata Banerjee, and felt she was the only one who could defeat the then CPI(M)-led Communist government in the state.[30][31]

O’Brien soon became a prominent spokesperson for the Trinamool Congress and was identified as the rare white-collar, English-speaking politician in the party.[32] He came to national media attention during Mamata Banerjee’s protest against the CPI(M) government’s land acquisition attempt in Singur(2006), and then in the run-up to the 2009 Lok Sabha election, in which Trinamool Congress handed the CPI(M) its first defeat in Bengal since 1977.[33][34] He pioneered his party’s social media outreach.[35][36]

In 2011, following the Trinamool Congress victory in the Bengal assembly election, O’Brien was sent to the Rajya Sabha, where he quickly established himself as an articulate and combative presence.[37][38]

He currently serves on parliamentary committees relating to Home Affairs, IT, Telecom, HRD, the Business AdvisoryCommittee and the Ethics Committee.[39][40] He also serves on the Railway Convention Committee, which he says is very dear to him because his maternal grandfather and uncles worked in Indian Railways.[41][42] O’Brien has also been a member of parliamentary Select (specific issue) Committees,[43] on the Goods and Services Tax Constitutional Amendment Bill,[44] the Insurance Bill,[45] the Land Acquisition Bill,[46] the Citizenship Act Amendment Bill,[47]

He was sworn in as Member of Parliament on August 19, 2011 [48] and is one of 16 MPs elected to the Rajya Sabha from West Bengal.[49] In 2012, Trinamool Congress named him as its Chief Whip in the Rajya Sabha.[50]

In 2012, O'Brien cast a vote in the presidential election to elect the 13th President of India. His vote is believed to be the first presidential vote cast by an elected member of the Anglo-Indian community—as members of the community have previously been nominated to the Lok Sabha and other assemblies and are not eligible to vote.[51]


  1. ^ "DEREK". Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  2. ^ "DEREK". Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  3. ^ বসু, ঋজু. "বাংলাতেই ভরসা, জানাল বই-আড্ডা". Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  4. ^ "Derek O Brien Biography - About family, political life, awards won, history". Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  5. ^ "Members Page". Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  6. ^ "Derek O'Brien appointed Trinamool Congress chief national spokesperson". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  7. ^ "DEREK". Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  8. ^ "DEREK". Retrieved 2017-03-11. 
  9. ^ "Derek O'Brien - Penguin India". Penguin India. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  10. ^ Gupta, Gargi (2008-08-09). "Let`s get quizzical". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  11. ^ "Champion of class & decency". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  12. ^ "The Hindu : It's a quizzer's world". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  13. ^ "DEREK". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  14. ^ "Dad's hobby is my profession: Derek O' Brien - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  15. ^ "DEREK". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  16. ^ "Forbes India Magazine - Print". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  17. ^ "Man of questions to man of answers". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  18. ^ blsmr. "The Hindu Business Line : What makes Bournvita quiz tick again?". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  19. ^ "DEREK". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  20. ^ "Author Summary : Derek O' Brien - Pearson Education, India". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  21. ^ Derek O'Brien to quiz Pak children, retrieved 2017-03-14 
  22. ^ "Harvard University keen on inviting Mamata Banerjee: Derek O' Brien | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dna. 2016-10-31. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  23. ^ বসু, ঋজু. "বাংলাতেই ভরসা, জানাল বই-আড্ডা". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  24. ^ "Day 3 of SRCC Business Conclave 2016 ends with Adi Godrej and Rajat Sharma". DU Beat. 2016-02-06. Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  25. ^ "National Law School of India University, Bangalore". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  26. ^ "Making Knowledge Interesting to People – Derek O'Brien's Mission Statement |". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  27. ^ "Harvard University keen on inviting Mamata: O Brien". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  28. ^ "Twitter". Retrieved 2017-03-14. 
  29. ^ "DEREK". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  30. ^ "Opinion: Why I Cannot Discuss The CPI(M) Calmly". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  31. ^ "DEREK". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  32. ^ "The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Nation | Team Mamata". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  33. ^ "Opinion: Why I Cannot Discuss The CPI(M) Calmly". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  34. ^ "DEREK". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  35. ^ "Maa Mati Manush :: M3 Leads - Election campaign on social media". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  36. ^ "Election #2014: As cyber war rooms get battle-ready, BJP and Congress are reaching out to a new constituency spread across social media 18022013". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  37. ^ "BRAND BENGAL". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  38. ^ "Elected Representatives : All India Trinamool Congress". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  39. ^ "Derek O Brien Biography - About family, political life, awards won, history". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  40. ^ "Rajya Sabha-Membership of Parliamentary Committees". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  41. ^ Rajya Sabha TV (2016-08-09), Sh. Derek O'Brien’s comments on a resolution approving recommendations of Railway Convention Comm., retrieved 2017-03-15 
  42. ^ "DEREK". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  43. ^ "Rajya Sabha-Membership of Parliamentary Committees". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  44. ^ Derek O'Brien (2016-08-17), Derek O'Brien makes a point of order in RS on GST Bill, retrieved 2017-03-15 
  45. ^ "Insurance Bill" (PDF). 
  46. ^ "Derek O'Brien speaks on Land Acquisition Bill, 2013  : All India Trinamool Congress". Retrieved 2017-03-15. 
  47. ^ "Citizenship Act Amendment Bill" (PDF). The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. 
  48. ^ Yechury, Ahmed Patel take oath in Rajya Sabha
  49. ^ [1]
  50. ^ "Derek O’Brien is TMC Chief Whip in Rajya Sabha". Aug 3, 2012.  C1 control character in |title= at position 8 (help)
  51. ^ President poll: Derek O' Brien first Anglo-Indian to vote, IBN Live, 19 July 2012.

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