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Her twitter account shouts that she’s a rebel. An honest unbiased journalist who is feared by politicians. She is the one who has lifted the veil of the face of the Indian politics and is not afraid to speak the truth. From the 1999 Kargil War to the 2002 Tsunami, Barkha Dutt is known for her breakthrough journalism in all her coverage. She is known to stand out in the field of journalism and report live news from the ground, not fearing any condition be it war or riots. Her primary breakthrough was the 1999 Kargil War, which earned her the title “First Woman War Correspondent.”
Her reporting of the Kargil warfare as well as her interview with the then Captain Vikram Batra earned her major recognition and prominence in Indian journalism.
In an interview, when asked about her coverage of the Kargil war, Ms. Dutt said that it was a learning period for her. The war front proved to be a classroom. She did not have any major experience before that and covering the Kargil War in the initial stages of her career was a landmark in itself. After the Kargil War, it was the 2002 Gujarat riots where Barkha Dutt’s excellence in journalism earned her the limelight again.
For the first time in the history of communal conflicts in India, Violence was reported live on the Indian Television.
Although, Ms. Dutt along with her fellow journalists, was openly criticized for not following the guidelines that asked not to reveal the identities of the attackers and victims; yet she felt that she was doing justice to journalism while doing the same. Taking inspiration from her mother, Barkha Dutt says that the kind of journalism she practices is exactly the kind her mother would do during her time. In an interview, Barkha said that it is not true to call me the first woman war correspondent, as she has grown up listening to the stories of how her mother, Prabha Dutt, made it to the war front.
In 1999, when Barkha won the prestigious Chameli Devi Jain Award for her reporting on the Orissa cyclone and the Kargil War, it was one of the most special recognitions given to her because her mother won the same award in the year 1982.
A graduate in English Literature from Delhi, today she is one of the leading journalists in India. Barkha Dutt is not just a prominent face in Indian journalism but has delivered lectures and attended significant conferences overseas as well. In the industry that is generally not considered suitable for women, Barkha Dutt has smashed all the stereotypes and has turned out to be a Top Inspiring Woman for many young aspirants. She has been known to cover many women oriented issues and raise strong opinions regarding them. Barkha Dutt has been challenging patriarchy ever since she has entered the field of journalism. She has even talked about her own experiences of being a victim to child sexual abuse.
She believed that she could not talk about issues of violence against women while being silent on her own experience.
In her book “The Unquiet Land,” She talks about the landmark gang rape case of Bhanvari Devi that acted as a stairway to the Vishakha guidelines on sexual harassment. She said that it is extremely disheartening to see that the nation has completely forgotten about the Bhanvari Devi Case, and as a journalist, she feels it is her duty to remind people about it.
As a speaker at Tina Brown’s ‘Women in the World Summit’ in New York, She addressed the issues on gender stereotypes and women rights by saying:
“There are many problems and challenges we are battling in India. I believe every country is struggling with entrenched misogyny in varied ways. The gender debate, in effect, is a global one.”
The Padma Shree Award winner, Barkha Dutt has often been called as an Anti-Indian and heavily criticized for speaking against the government in power. People have even called her as a boon for terrorists, but she has never paid heed to such baseless criticism and has continued to speak out fearlessly. In her article she mentions:
“I also argued that the asymmetry of power in the global discourse around gender influenced `comments about the country. Could I, I asked my American Audience, have the space to come to Ferguson and make the definitive film on race?”
These words are a testimoy to the fact that she is not Anti-India. Barkha Dutt is one name that has outshined in the journalism industry and irrespective of all the controversies, one cannot neglect the fact that she speaks what she believes in, and is not afraid of anyone. Whenever the stories of Indian Women Achievers will be discussed, Barkha Dutt is one name that will definitely top the list. Her success is proven by the fact that so many film-makers in India have taken her as an inspiration for their characters.
In the movies like Lakshya, No One Killed Jessica, Firaaq, the respective actresses have portrayed Barkha Dutt’s character and her real life coverage.
Barkha Dutt now is a consulting editor with NDTV, and has launched her own multimedia content company called as Barkha Dutt Live Media. We wish her a successful entrepreneurial journey and hope to see Barkha Dutt’s name in the success stories of women entrepreneurs.