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Thursday , 19 July 2018
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Investigation in the case of ‘investigative journalism’

Couple of weeks back, National Capital witnessed two resignations of public interests. BSP Chief Mayawati resigned from Rajya Sabha and Paranjoy Guha Thakurta resigned from Economic & Political Review. Mayawati resigned alleging that she is not allowed to put across her views on atrocities before the members of Rajyasabha. And Thakurta had to resign after he failed to convince members of Sameeksha Trust on atrocious articles he wrote against diversified Adani Group. And his allegations are now falling flat since then. 

Thakurata was an editor for 15 months at the Economic & Political Weekly which is run by the 50 year old Sameeksha Trust. On the first day, Thakurta told media that he resigned so that he can spend more time with the family. In next 48 hours, a section of people speculated that legal notices from Adani Group had triggered the storm and Thakurta started riding the wave but with little success. As against his image of a firebrand editor, Thakurta admitted that he kept trustees of Sameksha Trust in the dark about the legal notices and had to apologize for publishing responses on their behalf without consulting them. It was clearly an evidence of Thakurta’s insecurities  and his lack of faith in the system. Even before Sameeksha Trust could come up with the public statement, Thakurta was on a backfoot and started knocking doors to seek the support of so called intellectuals.

As expected in such controversies, Thakurta managed to attract support of usual suspects who are known for their allegiances with certain political parties, philosophies and even certain corporate houses and lobbyists. They hailed four writers (Thakurta and three more journalists) and their claim of four month long ‘investigation’ as an example of independent journalism even before reading the article. They did not pay heed to series of tweets by one of the most respected editors of The Economic Times to offer the clear picture. These cheerleaders, including a media watchdog, started ranting against the reputed members of Sameeksha Trust and Adani Group that expressed willingness to appear before the judiciary instead of succumbing to the self-proclaimed defenders of freedom of speech and national interests. 

While Thakurta was busy lobbying for support with the help of cheerleaders such as news portal The Wire, he failed to realise that people cannot be misguided for long. Last week, key functionaries at EPW came together to write a letter to the members of Sameeksha Trust and circulated the same in the social media subsequently.  They questioned Thakurta’s decision to pay 20 times higher to certain ‘columnists’ from the coffers of Sameeksha Trust that largely depends on the public funds. Interestingly, these columnist friends are some of the most vocal supporters of Thakurta now. The letter also disclosed the way Thakurta assaulted egalitarian work culture at the iconic publication with his inappropriate, sexual and sexist comments. Thakurta emerged as not much different from the corrupt and pervert politicians whom he has been targeting throughout his career. (Read: 

Before Thakurta and Co can comprehend the ground realities, reputed news portal The Quint dropped another bomb. Analysis by young legal mind, Vakasha Sachdev destroyed the Thakurta’s arguments. Thakurta could not defend his so called investigative article – just the way it failed to convince Sameeksha Trust about the authenticity of the article. ( 

Interestingly, the media watchdog that published two detailed stories against ‘self respecting’ Thakurta is mum about exploitative mind of Thakurta since then. In past, this watchdog has always taken stand against mere allegations of inappropriate, sexual and sexist comments. But, Thakurta has been an old contributor to this watchdog now. Nobel economics prize winners Amartya Sen and Angus Deaton who supported Thakurta initially by writing letters to the editors of Indian Express are also silent now. Similarly, Thakurta’s key supporter The Wire is making desperate attempts to save its own credibility. Today morning, it published a piece in defence of Thakurta by Ashok Mitra, former finance minister of West Bengal. But are they really giving explanation or is it firefighting and face saving exercise?  

Let us all hope that better sense will prevail among those who are trying to prove rotten apple healthy for the food for our thoughts.


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