Within days of the Adani Group slapping a defamation notice on the Economic and Political Weekly, its editor Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, one of India's most respected journalists, resigned from his position today.
He had assumed the editorship just a year and a half back. His predecessor Rammanohar Reddy had also quit in less than ideal circumstances.
The Adani Group's defamation notice was in connection with a report about the conglomerate bending rules with regard to Special Economic Zones. The story had alleged that the group availed a Rs. 500 crore refund as a result of this stratagem.
Just last Saturday, as India's foremost development journalist P Sainath delivered the Durgabai Desmukh Memorial Lecture 2017 at the India International Centre, Guha Thakurta sat outside the hall, listening intently. No one had any inkling that a resignation was in the pipeline. Sainath quoted Guha Thakurta repeatedly in his lecture.
The two represent the finest in Indian journalism. Sainath's exit from The Hindu was also in circumstances that did not add much to India's journalistic freedom record.
Following a meeting, the board of the Sameeksha Trust, which brings out the EPW, ordered that two articles published earlier this year about the Adani Group be removed from the EPW's online avatar. While one of the articles in question – ‘Did the Adani Group Evade Rs 1,000 Crore in Taxes?’ – was published in the EPW editon of January 14, 2017 – the other article – ‘Modi Government’s Rs 500-Crore Bonanza to the Adani Group’ – was featured in the weekly's June 24, 2017 edition.
The development comes just three days before The Media Rumble, a huge interactive event of journalists in Delhi being organised by Newslaundry, a media critiquing website. With some of the country's top news professionals, news makers and news consumers gathering at the two-day event on July 21, Guha Thakurta's resignation is likely to be a hot topic of discussion.
Incidentally, Guha Thakurta's resignation comes on a day when Smriti Irani became the country's Information and Broadcasting Minister. With Venkaiah Naidu being nominated as the BJP's vice presidential candidate, one who is likely to win and become the boss of Rajya Sabha TV also, the liberal media is set for some major losses in its ranks.
Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.
— Team PT