MR. PARANJOY GUHA THAKURTA
Mr. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta is an independent journalist and an educator. His work experience, spanning 35 years, cuts across different media: print, radio, television and documentary cinema. He is a writer, speaker, anchor, interviewer, teacher and commentator in three languages: English, Bengali and Hindi. His main areas of interest are the working of India’s political economy and the media, on which he has authored/co-authored books and directed/produced documentary films. He lectures on these subjects to general audiences and also trains aspiring – and working -- media professionals. He participates frequently in seminars, is a regular contributor to newspapers, magazines and websites and is featured on television channels and radio programmes as an anchor as well as an analyst and commentator.
Born on October 5, 1955 and educated at St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi (1972-75) and at the Delhi School of Economics (1975-77) in the same university from where he obtained his Master’s degree in economics, he started his career as a journalist in June 1977 and has been employed with various media organizations including companies bringing out publications such as Business India, BusinessWorld, The Telegraph, India Today and The Pioneer. He worked with Television Eighteen (now Network 18) for almost six years between 1995 and 2001 when he anchored a daily discussion programme called “India Talks” on the CNBC-India television channel -- nearly 1,400 half-hour episodes were broadcast. From March 2007, he has been anchoring two one-hour-long weekly programmes for Lok Sabha Television (the channel owned and operated by the lower house of the Parliament of India) – a panel discussion called “Talktime” (earlier “Headstart”) and an interview called “1-on-One”. He has anchored programmes for other television channels.
He is (or has been) a visiting faculty member at over a dozen reputed educational institutions including the Indian Institutes of Management at Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Kolkata, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia (both in Delhi) the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, the Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie and the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi. In September 2010, he became a visiting professor in the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Delhi, teaching M.Phil students.
He served as a member of the Press Council of India nominated by the University Grants Commission between January 2008 and January 2011. In April 2010, as a member of a two-member sub-committee of the Council, he co-authored a 36,000-word report entitled “Paid News: How Corruption in the Indian Media Undermines Democracy”.
He is a media trainer and a consultant/adviser on India’s political economy. He was the founder director of the School of Convergence (SoC). He has been a consultant at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, making presentations and writing papers on Indian politics. He has been associated with a number of projects of the United Nations Development Programme and the International Labour Organization (ILO). He moderated two panel discussions at the International Labour Conference at Geneva, Switzerland, in June 2009 and at the ILO’s Asia Pactific Regional Meeting in Kyoto, Japan, in December 2011. He is currently president of the Foundation for Media Professionals, an independent, not-for-profit organization.
He is a director/producer of documentary films. One entitled “Idiot Box or Window of Hope” which examines the impact of television on Indian society – was produced by the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) in 2003 and was broadcast on Doordarshan. In 2006-07, he produced and directed a five-part documentary series in partnership with the PSBT entitled: “Hot As Hell: A Profile of Dhanbad”, different versions of which have been broadcast on various television channels including Doordarshan and NDTV 24x7. In 2007, he directed a documentary film “Grabbing Eyeballs: What’s Unethical About Television News in India” for PSBT that was followed up by another entitled “Advertorial: Selling News or Products?” in 2009. In 2010, he produced and directed a three-part documentary film series entitled “Blood & Iron: A Story of the Convergence of Crime, Business and Politics in Southern India” on the political, economic and ecological consequences of iron ore mining in Bellary (Karnataka) and Ananthapur (Andhra Pradesh). The film has been translated into six Indian languages and broadcast on different television channels. In 2011, he produced and directed a documentary film entitled: “The Great Indian Telecom Robbery”. He has produced/directed a number of other documentary films. (He was one of the first journalists to write about the telecommunications spectrum scandal in November 2007 and was one of the petitioners in public-interest litigation petitions on the subject in the Supreme Court of India.)
He has co-authored a book with Shankar Raghuraman entitled: “A Time of Coalitions: Divided We Stand”, published by Sage Publications India in March 2004. The book was able to anticipate the outcome of the 14th general elections in India, the results for which came out in May that year. A substantially revised, updated and enlarged version of the book titled “Divided We Stand: India in a Time of Coalitions” was published in December 2007. He has written “Media Ethics: Truth, Fairness and Objectivity, Making and Breaking News” published by Oxford University Press India in March 2009 – the second enlarged edition of the book was published in December 2011. He has contributed articles and chapters to books such as “Realizing Brand India” edited by Sharif D. Rangnekar (Rupa, 2005) and “India: The Political Economy of Reforms” edited by Bibek Debroy & Rahul Mukherji (Bookwell, 2004). He is currently engaged in co-authoring a number of books and producing/directing documentary films.
He is a partner of Media Network of India, a firm engaged in designing and creation of content for all media, contract publishing, media training, establishment of radio stations and business development.