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H R Venkatesh
Monday , August 26, 2013

A Conversation About Rape

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As I waited at the Delhi-Noida toll booth on the drive to work on Friday, I rang a friend. Don't you know a woman has been gangraped in Mumbai? she said, watching CNN-IBN, the channel where I work from home. You're calling the coverage 'No Country For Women', she said. She gave me a few more details. The woman is a photographer who went to an abandoned mill in South Mumbai with a friend. 5 men gangraped her after they tied her friend up. I groaned. I wasn't looking forward to a newsroom with blanket, non-stop coverage of the incident. I said something like, had she not been from the upwardly mobile, upper-middle class, we wouldn't have bothered with so much outrage. You're an a**hole, she said. To which I said, c'mon that's a little too much, you know I'm not one. No, you....

Saturday , April 09, 2011

The scent of 'middle class' revolution

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H R Venkatesh recorded impressions during a night out at the agitation in Jantar Mantar. "Is there even one person here who is not going home tonight to sleep within four walls and a fan?" The young man is almost shouting amidst all the singing and chanting. "Is there even one person here who cannot afford to catch an auto [rickshaw] home?" he asks. The sweat on his face is at odds with the coolness of the night at Jantar Mantar on Day 4 of Anna Hazare's hunger strike. He is angry, but not at us. He is angry at the irony that almost every 'satyagrahi' here - me included - isn't really a victim of the crushing corruption that is crippling this country. I'm only half-listening since there is so much to see. Close to me, a TV correspondent is preparing for a live link.....

Sunday , May 25, 2008

Looking for Yeddyurappa?

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H R Venkatesh sent updates from his phone, till 5 pm in the evening on Counting Day, Karnataka. Here are excerpts. 4:30 pm: I'm out on Brigade Road to catch a few peoples' reactions, now that the BJP looks like it will rule for 5 years. Roughly half the people I go to shake their heads and say they are not Bangaloreans. A college student says the new government should do something about the city's night life. A mother of three says she will be happy if the new government fulfills even 10 per cent of their poll promises. Most people say something should be done about the traffic. None of them talk of farmers' problems or price rise, but then again, Brigade Road is hardly the place to find such reactions. 3 pm: Still no sign of the CM-to-be at his house. There's a....

Saturday , May 10, 2008

Bangalore Votes: Live Updates via Blackberry

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As Bangalore votes, H R Venkatesh blogs live on his Blackberry. 8:30 pm: A quick rejoinder to those who questioned, in the comments section, as to whether I should have disclosed who I'd voted for, or if I was flippant in my choice. Is it okay for a journalist to have political leanings? That's an old question and I believe the answer should be no. So I did not want to vote for either the Congress, the BJP or the JD(S). However, I did not want for anyone else to vote in my name - hence my decision to pick an independent candidate. 8 pm: The Chief Election Commissioner reads out the astonishing statistics in a packed conference room at the Election Commission. 60 percent of the registered voters turned up through Old Mysore, Bangalore, Tumkur and Kolar, in some cases, despite the blazing heat. The....

Friday , February 08, 2008

Does Mumbai belong to Maharashtrians?

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Is Mumbai exclusive to Maharashtrians? This should be a no-brainer, but since Raj Thackeray reignited the debate, it's an issue worth exploring, if only to see what turns up. The timing first. What pressed the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena founder to drum up the issue now? That it was the Bachchans laying the foundation stone for a girls' school in U.P. is too convenient an answer and the theory doesn't hold up anyway. He could have turned the pages of any Mumbai daily and picked up a 'reason'. Elections are a year away, so there's a danger of his campaign peaking too early. Perhaps it is simply that he saw an opportunity to settle one issue once and for all - that of succession. Uddhav, Bal Thackeray's son was of course chosen to head the Shiv Sena in 2004, eventually leading to a parting of ways between Raj and....

Tuesday , September 11, 2007

In sight of Twenty20

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Like most people I was ambivalent about Twenty20 cricket. Sure, the name was eye-catching (pun unintended) but it seemed like a distraction for a guy who was only beginning to appreciate the finer nuances of test cricket. Yes, I was happy that the format had re-ignited interest in England where cricket was dying a slow death, but if I ever thought about it all in the Indian context, it must have been only in passing. Until a few months ago. Channel-surfing, I happened onto one of those anonymous recordings on a sports channel, a South Africa-Australia game (or was it?), in which something strange was happening on the field. The captain Graeme Smith seemed to be having a running conversation with the commentary box while fielding during the game, discussing tactics. At first I was puzzled; then it dawned on me. This was clearly some fun show, somewhat on....

Friday , August 24, 2007

My favourite communist & other thoughts

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My Favourite Communist With all this constant newsroom talk of Leftist politics and Leftist hypocrisy, the only 'Comrade' I can stand these days is a gentleman named Psmith, with a silent 'P'. I'd think Psmith's legendary coolness would be a refreshing change from Comrade Karat's fervent, "if the Centre has any self-respect, it should recall the Ambassador" line. On second thoughts, Comrade Karat's own inspiration to turn the Left into 'biting dogs' rather than 'barking' ones in recent days must have stemmed from Psmith's gentle explanation in Leave it to Psmith, in which our hero casually explains after pinching an umbrella, "other people merely talk about the redistribution of property; I practise it."!! ....

Monday , July 30, 2007

What to read after Harry Potter 7

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You may have finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by now. In the next few weeks, you might even pick up Book One and read the series again. And you might undoubtedly be waiting for the remaining two films in the franchise. But the fact remains that the series is over. There remains the possibility that J K Rowling will find the idea of writing yet another one too hard to resist, but that's leaving things to chance and anyway that will take time. What can you read now that there's that empty void waiting to be filled? Fortunately there are several books to be read in the fantasy genre for young adults, and all of them excellent. You can of course, choose to go back to the Naughtiest Girl series by Enid Blyton, but something tells me you won't. So here goes:

Monday , July 09, 2007

Roger and Rafael: a burgeoning rivalry

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Just when I was thinking it would be better to watch Aicham Qureshi (because he volleys on grass) than all those baseline bashers with titles, Nadal and Federer served up a treat at the final. The first five-setter at a Wimbledon final since 2001 when Goran Ivanisevic beat Patrick Rafter was everything a Grand Slam final should be - fast, furious and unbelievably close. In the end, like tradition demands it at the home of tennis, the usurper had to be content with second place. Federer bawled like a baby after putting away Championship Point and promptly added on a white blazer and white pants. (The wrong way round, according to a few reports)! Who said Wimbledon doesn't make you do quirky things"! And when Federer congratulated Nadal for having made it to a 2nd final in a row, he managed not to sound condescending. Though....

Sunday , April 29, 2007

Aussies champs, viewers tramps

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A bizarre moment during the World Cup final pretty much summed up all the coverage by SET Max through the tournament. Cutting back to action from a commercial break, we were treated to a celebrating Australia in the 33rd over of the Sri Lankan run chase. Apparently, the Lankan batsmen had accepted an offer to walk off because of bad light with three overs to go (in a 38-overs-a-side-final), sparking off premature celebrations in the Aussie camp. Of course, we didn't know that, because we were watching the ads. Many moments later, the channel did it again; just when Australia were about to take off with the World Cup trophy, they cut into Charu Sharma, Mandira Bedi and co. Cricket nuts would agree I'm sure; that the coverage this world cup has been appalling, and we're not just talking about the final. To further embellish the point,....


More about H R Venkatesh

H R Venkatesh is News Editor-Anchor at CNN-IBN. He has just returned from the University of Oxford where he completed an M Sc in Contemporary India as a Shell-Chevening Scholar. He has 9 years’ experience in TV news having worked in several positions. He began as a Business Correspondent at CNBC India in Mumbai where he was asked to report on – hold your breath – the cement, steel and shipping industries. Numbed by two years as an ‘old economy’ reporter, he moved to cover sport at Headlines Today in Delhi. As cricket correspondent he travelled with the Indian cricket team for two years. Highlights from this stint include watching Sachin Tendulkar complete his 10,000th test run, interviewing Sourav Ganguly 18 times and Shane Warne at least 15 times (not so much due to his persistence as to the fact that the duo were contractually bound to do the interviews), and watching Australia conquer the final frontier. Numbed yet again, by the realization that the best way to appreciate sport is to NOT report on it, he moved towards covering politics. Along the way, he began presenting news and moved to CNN-IBN as it was preparing to launch in 2005. He spent the next few years anchoring news & special shows, and occasionally foraying into the field, before taking a break to study. Although nobody’s given him a prize for it, he is proud to have been the first Indian to present a podcast – the News Junkie Podcast – online.


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