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WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH: Barkha Dutt

Karthika S Nair | Mar 26 2020
Image credits: Twitter

Barkha Dutt: Reporting From Trenches Of Kargil To Major Platforms

"Every achievement would provoke a round of antipathy." - Barkha Dutt.

Barkha Dutt is one of the most influential journalists from her generation. The amount of experience and influence she has had over the years earned her both bouquets and brickbats, owing to her courage to dissent against the government and other institutions. 

She earned national attention after covering the Kargil war from the ground in 1999. She became associated with NDTV and resigned in 2017 to start her own brand. 

Barkha Dutt inspired writers and filmmakers to create feisty female journalists who question the authorities. 

Early Life And Education 

Barkha Dutt was born to S.P and Prabha Dutt in New Delhi. Her father S.P Dutt was an Air India official while her mother Prabha was a well-known journalist who worked with the Hindustan Times. Barkha chose to follow her mother's footsteps and regard her as a pioneer in her field. 

She did her degree in English Literature from St. Stephen's College, Delhi and did her Master's in Mass Communications from Jamia Millia Islamia Mass Communication Research Center. She also received a degree in journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, New York

Barkha, as a person, rejects religion and considers herself agnostic. She has challenged religious fundamentalism over the years. 

Career

Kargil War Coverage

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Image credit: youtube

Barkha made a name while working with the major news platform NDTV and rose to head the English news wing. She entered prominence after covering the Kargil War fought between India and Pakistan. She travelled to the war-stricken areas and reported from the ground with a camera and crew and also interviewed soldiers. This was a major milestone as women journalists were mostly barred from covering from the ground when it comes to war and conflicts. 

Barkha received the “Padma Shri” Award in the year 2009 for covering the Kargil war. 

She had often mentioned the rights of women in the media and against the difficulties and casual sexism they face. 

Career And Controversies

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Image credit: pinterest

Barkha continues to be extremely critical and vociferous against the administration, especially when it comes to minorities and Kashmir issues. She expressed her support for Kashmir citizens amidst the tensions and lockdowns, yet she was called out for the bias against the Pandits, who were forced to flee. 

While covering the 2002 Gujarat riots, Barkha was criticized for citing victims and perpetrators as Hindus and Muslims respectively when it was reported that there were Hindu victims as well. 

Barkha often faced cyberbullying due to her dissent and she herself exposed many brutal instances on her social media handles. She voiced against trolling in a campaign with Hindustan Times pointing out how women are constantly trolled with doxxing, revenge porn, threats, etc. 

She was the consulting editor of NDTV in February 2015 and left the channel after 21 years. She writes columns for Hindustan Times, The Week, Washington post, etc. 

She launched her own brand 'MoJo' (Mobile Journalism) and did several shows such as 'Townhall' and 'We The Women' events in association with other brands. 

She highlighted several issues women face through 'We The Women' such as sexism in film industry, violence against women, religious fundamentalism, legal fight, MeToo movement, Mental Health, LGBTQIA coverage, etc.

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Women The Women: Image credit: Youtube

Barkha expressed her support for the MeToo movement and women's right to a safe work environment. She called out the MeToo accused MJ Akbar along with her colleague Faye DSouza. She wrote a book titled 'The Unquiet Land' which became a bestseller. 

Awards And Achievements

She has a unique record with her Sunday talk show which has won the most awards out of any show on Indian television. She won the Indian Television Academy award for Best Talk Show for five years in a row, making it a clear achievement. 

The Association for International Broadcasting awarded Barkha Dutt the title of 'TV Personality of the year' in 2012. 

In 2009, she won the C H Mohammed Koya National Journalism Award. Barkha received the Indian News Broadcasting Award for the Most Intelligent News Show Host a year before that. 

At the first Indian News Television Awards in 2007, for her show 'We The People', she won the Best TV News Anchor (English) programme.

She was in the list of 100 Global Leaders of Tomorrow compiled by the World Economic Forum, twice. 

In 2000, She was conferred with the Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Women media persons. 

Her news coverage 'The Buck Stops Here - Srinagar Floods Coverage' was nominated for an Emmy.

Pop Culture

Barkha, as a personality, inspired several female characters in films and books. She inspired the protagonist Anand Kurian's novel, 'The Peddler of Soaps'. Similarly, Rani Mukherji's character from 'No One Killed Jessica' was inspired by Barkha Dutt. A version of her character was depicted by Swetha Menon in 'Keerthi Chakra', where she played a journalist who asked difficult questions to soldiers. Ashwini Kalsekar played a version of Barkha Dutt in 'Singham Returns.'

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Image credit: youtube