Anil Thakraney: Tehelka: Must drop bombs

09 Apr,2012

By Anil Thakraney


Very good sting operation by Tehelka. Totally in public interest, and their findings are pretty frightening. They have carried out a sting on some Delhi cops to find their sensitivity (or the lack of it, as it turns out) to rape victims. And as we all might have suspected, yes, the stung cops’ attitude is medieval. They do believe women often ‘ask for it’. And this in turn leads to lackadaisical investigation process.


This particular sting operation reminds me of the kickass way Tarun Tejpal started out his Tehelka. It used to a bomb factory, the sensational website carried out many stinging exposes, and each one shook the nation. Subsequently the portal faced the wrath of the then government and went through horrible financial difficulties. All this is well documented and discussed so I shan’t go into the sordid details.


However, some years down the line Tehelka was relaunched as a rather serious magazine. Tarun seems to have left the edit room, and now the stings are few and far between. I don’t know the mag’s exact readership figures, but am quite certain they aren’t earth shattering. And that’s because the brand has lost its edge, its USP; it shut down the bomb factory.


The latest expose on the cops is a reminder that Tehelka must do many more sting operations. They can continue to do the intellectual stuff, but what will get them serious readership is if the bombs get dropped on a regular basis. And the team doesn’t need to worry anymore. The Indian media has grown real mighty in the last decade, and if Tehelka were to get persecuted by the government circa 2012, the entire Indian media’s weight will fall on the ruling party like a tonne of bricks. Surely Tehelka needs to forget about the past. It will never repeat itself.


And most importantly, I do believe that with the sort of mess that goes around in this nation in all walks of life, there is an urgent need for many intelligently done sting operations. Obviously those that serve a larger public purpose, like their sting on cops. And Tehelka is good at this game, no one does it as smartly as they have been known to do.



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Yes, Tarun Tejpal must come out of his self-imposed exile. And re-open his ammunition factory.


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PS: Good advice from Brit author Martin Amis. On the importance of avoiding dead words and clichés in writing. Valid for both, literary writers and copywriters.


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