Sri Rama Krishna once said “In this age of kali, truth should be our highest dharma. All of us must have our mind and our mouth in sync.” How we experience day in and day out, that truth remains the biggest casualty in our lives. We say one thing in public, while we act and believe something that is exactly the opposite of what we speak.
Mr. Tarun Tejpal is an experienced journalist, an accomplished writer, a brilliant publisher and a successful business man. He has published a Booker Prize winning abook, he has organized sting operations that had unsettled government/s and forced ministers to resign. In a decade, Tejpal has been named twice among the fifty most powerful people in Asia and in India.
Tarun Tejpal, by his own admission, gets bored of routine activities. Like a maverick, he wants to do new and exciting things. In the process, he never cares about blurring the line between legal and illegal. Tejpal had created Tehelka. He has seen it brought to ground following his sting against NDA government. With Shoma Choudhury, his loyal deputy and managing editor, Tejpal had resurrected Tehelka, as a news magazine that takes up position for the marginalized and underdogs of our society including issues related to women. Professionally, both Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhury have positioned themselves as left of centre, they have targeted through their publication political right and big business with a zeal. Shoma is scathing in her criticism of media, of big business and of politics. Some of her notable quotes and writings:
1. “contrary to some of the optimism on this panel, I think journalism in India is in a pathetic state” and that “journalism has become “a corporate rather than a political act;
2. ”India’s political, corporate and media establishment sounds like a mobile cocktail party, gliding, champagne glasses in hand, in and out of each others’ drawing rooms, television studios, boardrooms and award ceremonies like actors in an elaborate charade.’’
Yet, neither Tarun Tejpal nor Shoma Chaudhury had shown any compunction in accepting money from corporate houses, that too from not so clean business groups. To start his THiNK Fest in Goa, Tarun Tejpal had sacrificed his own reporter Raman Kirpal’s investigative report on illegal iron ore mining in Goa. According to reports, the mining had cost exchequer nearly 3000 crores in lost revenues. With the political blessing of central command of congress party, Tejpal had traded the report for permission to start THiNK Festival. Grand Hyatt, the conference venue,was funded by mafia money, whom Tehelka journalist target, as well as the venue had come up violating environmental guidelines against construction activity on beachfronts.
However, double standard does not end here. In the same venue where Shoma chaired a session on rape survivors, Tarun Tejpal assaulted a junior colleague sexually. Shoma can be shrill, scathing and uncompromising when it comes to people who she considers her opponent, yet when it came to complaint against Tarun Tejpal, the first thought that crossed Shoma’s mind was survival of her institution. Who will finance it, if Tarun Tejpal is gone?
It reminds me of a story where a scholar of Bhagwat Gita used to preach everyone about fleeting nature of life. How son, daughter, wife, parents all go away some day or other. He would quote Gita so glibly. One day he was found lamenting the loss of his son, who passed away. When reminded of his own preachings, scholar responded “this is my son”. I smell such hypocrisy in Shoma’s action.
Bigger question remains where does Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhury stand on their often publicly professed positions. Definitely, both of them failed the young journalist in their organisation, while vociferously fighting women's cause in ther professional lives. They have no sense of shame in taking money from people, with clean or shady past, whom they tear into shreds in their professional lives, whom they vilify day in an day out, especially if they fall in the other end of political spectrum.
Tags: Tarun Tejpal, Shoma Chaudhury, Tehelka, THiNK Fest, Goa, Writer, Publisher, Journalist,