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Thursday, October 6, 2022

"India most sought after destination for foreign journalists"


Jason Burke who was the first journalist to interview Pervez Musharraf after he seized power in 1999 and the first Western reporter to enter the Afghan city of Khost during the US war in an interaction with Aditya Raj Kaul
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You are among the few reporters who has covered India in depth. Do you think it is slowly turning out to be a sought after destination for foreign correspondents to explore?
India has always been among the most sought after destination for foreign journalists. Not because it is a huge news story –  but because of the richness and interesting nature of the stories here. In fact, when it comes to hard news,  there is little attention paid to India compared to say, the Middle East, China or of course the US, in global terms.

What do you think is the most striking feature of Indian journalism – both in the print and the electronic media?
The electronic media in India tends to be a bit breathless, a sort of parody of American cable TV. It is as if every piece of news is supposedly breaking news when in fact it might be of little, if any, real importance. As far as the print media is concerned, it tends to spend too much time and energy reporting the usually not very interesting statements of individual politicians or officials. But by and large India is blessed with a vibrant and effective media which has real influence and power. I am consistently impressed by the quality of Indian reporters.

Is there a vast difference in the way news is approached in the UK as compared to India?
Not really. I do not find any major difference in the way news is covered in India and the United Kingdom.

In your books, you’ve closely studied the growth of radical Islam through Al-Qaeda and the 9/11 episode. Do you think the Kashmir conflict comes close to your study?
At the moment, the violence in Kashmir is at its lowest level for decades and the al’Qaeda has never been involved in the conflict there. So clearly, radical Islam plays a role in Kashmir but if we compare the overall strategic picture, the role it is playing in Kashmir may be considered to be merely a peripheral theatre.

India witnessed one of the worst terrorist attacks in the form of 26/11 in Mumbai. Do you think India has not been as aggressive to seek justice as the  US after 9/11?
I do not think so. I agree with India’s sensible, patient, legally sound and reasonable approach. I feel it is absolutely the right one.

What do you think is the most challenging aspect of India’s growth story in the present day?
The biggest question that faces India today is: how will you deal with the hundreds of millions of young men who will be flooding the job markets, with limited professional and social skills? Moreover, given the gender imbalance, how are you going to provide wives for them either?

Was it a difficult task to adjust to the local environs and culture in India when you landed here initially?
Not really. I had been a frequent visitor to India for many years before my posting here. I had seen India before, travelled a bit and known what India would  be like. I have lived in a variety of different countries as well thanks to the demands of my profession. The changes in Delhi were surprising however. Delhi is not the same as it used to be some years ago. And, it has changed for good.  

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017