Ranjona Banerji: Of Shekhar Gupta’s switch to an advisor at India Today

05 Sep,2014

By Ranjona Banerji


Movements in the media are hardly surprising. There was a time when if you spent three years in a job you were an old-timer – barring those who stayed put in the more venerable organisations, no matter what biding their time and their pension. But when three big names move out of the same media house from more or less the same job after more or less the same big noises made when they were taken on, well, there’s something to think about.


MJ Akbar had a short stint at the India Today group after Prabhu Chawla’s departure but left before all the big ticket changes he was going to make transpired. Siddharth Varadarajan was supposed to join after he quit The Hindu but that appointment turned out to be a non-starter. And then there was Shekhar Gupta who quit The Indian Express after 19 years to return to the media house where he had made his name. And two months later, he goes from vice-chairman of the India Today group to some sort of advisor which is a one-size-fits-all designation, akin to “Editor, special projects” in its all-purpose meaninglessness.


So is the problem with India Today itself and the Purie family or is it because the three names did not fit the bill. The thing is, none are unknown entities. Akbar is perhaps the best known of all, Varadarajan a younger force and Gupta between two but perhaps someone that Aroon Purie knew best…


In the old days though, people would think a few times before considering the next such offer from India Today, if there is one. But in today’s times, I see a young, ambitious 30-year stepping up to the plate with great fanfare and then rolling over to play possum. As so many journalists seem to do these days when they meet the might of the management. Ah well…




Prime minister Narendra Modi presented Emperor Akihito of Japan with a Gita during his visit to Japan. A fine gesture indeed. However, he ruined it a bit by making a little jibe about how his “secular friends” would respond to the gift. If you listen to some TV media you would have heard some idiotic questions about why not a Bible or a Koran or some such, trying to create controversy out of nothing. But if you want to read about the pointlessness of Modi’s comment about “secular friends”, here’s a link to a fine piece by Siddharth Varadarajan (he who is mentioned above): http://www.ndtv.com/article/opinion/modi-s-gita-comment-was-dangerously-loaded-586159?site=classic




And here’s a little controversy from Huffington Post: was managing editor Jimmy Soni, sent to New Delhi to work on starting an India edition, made to step down after he was investigated on sexual harassment charges? Some lesson here to Indian media companies to take such charges more seriously?





Since today is Teacher’s Day, can only comment on the media hysteria (or not, do you think? Naaah!) over the PM’s speech to students in the next update…


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2 responses to “Ranjona Banerji: Of Shekhar Gupta’s switch to an advisor at India Today”

  1. Guest says:

    At Shekhar Gupta’s stage of life, after IE had given him so much, including financial stakes, this was a big leap of faith. There ought to have been iron clad guarantees on his role and powers. This is Koel and Kallie territory.

    • aayeff says:

      Good dig. Shekar is clever but very cautious. This explains the endless years in IE before he built up the escape velocity but probably landed on a wrong planet. All is not over still. Picture bakhi hai…professionals don’t have a destination… just direction

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