The journey from a small-town upbringing to now a well-known face for the country:
I belong to a small town in Uttar Pradesh. Back in my days, it was very different from how it is today. We had electricity access only for a few hours. There were no computers and internet around us, and our town only considered Civil Services, Teaching, Law or Armed force and police as the possible career options. I completed my education from a very ordinary government school and college and later we, four of the college friends took this decision to pursue Journalism. It was the call of destiny I guess, that only I could enrol in and thus became the fortunate one to be in this industry.
It was a time when the development of various private satellite news channels in our country was at an initial stage. I started off with a Rs.5000 pay in a Media house as my first job. As times rolled by, in 2006, I got selected as an Anchor at Indian parliament's Lok Sabha TV. I worked there for 11 years and grabbed the opportunity to learn and understand the world's biggest democracy through dynamic angles. During my tenure of work, I had covered almost all the major parts of the country, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Gujarat's Somnath to Sikkim's Nathula.
Around those years, my career started to escalate- I got the golden opportunity to cover 22 State Assemblies with Indian parliament right from Vidhan Sabha & Lok Sabha to the elections of the President and the Vice President. I was honoured to meet so many MPs, Politicians, Policy Makers and higher dignitaries coming to my show and got the golden opportunity to interact with diverse faces of the democracy. I also started writing articles for some of the country’s most famous Hindi newspapers like Dainik Jagran, Amar Ujala, Rashtriya Sahara and Dainik Hindustan. Soon enough, in 2017, I got the chance to become a part of one of the leading TV news channel of India, News Nation to host two prime time shows- 'लाख टके कबात' (7-8pm) and 'दमदार दस' (10-11pm). With my current venture, I was able to cover two of the biggest happenings of contemporary Indian politics- The abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir and Ayodhya Ram Mandir Dispute and Resolution.
As I look back now, my entry in the industry was during the time when we had relatively less competition or perhaps my fate was good enough too, that I didn't face huge roadblocks in my journey. Perhaps my small-town upbringing was a big help as my simple, raw days of growing up were far from luxuries. Thus, the harsh exposure was never felt, as a result of which, my journey was always satisfactory.
Despite a great deal of manipulation linked to journalism, why did you choose this distinctive career for yourself:
Yes, it's true that today the media is often in question. Although it isn't true that all those questions have only been asked today! The lack of trust in media is very unfortunate but we cannot forget that these questions have always been raised and there's nothing new in it. I have seen many media houses who were, and who are doing great work for the democracy. I spent 11 crucial years of my career in Lok Sabha TV, where I got the opportunity to strike the conversation with leading political leaders of India. Lok Sabha TV could easily have been a perfect platform for any anchor to develop ‘close contacts’ or be in their vicinity but I always maintained a required decorum and distance. I always knew the demarcation between a journalist and a spokesperson of a political party so I made sure to perform my duties only as a journalist.
Maybe some people easily fall into manipulations because of their extra political ambitions or other reasons but the question here is about the priority and the honesty one needs to render towards their profession. This belief system primarily helped me do away with the tag of having a tilt or pro stance towards any political party throughout my career.
Motivation behind becoming a healthier version of yourself and how are you able to maintain the balance between your health and work:
Today it's often said that the anchor should be presentable on TV. Although I realised this fact very late but it is better late than never. When I realized that my weight was almost touching 90 kg, I was also facing certain health issues during those times. I joined the gym and started taking advices from various health nutritionists like Smriti Jha. It was under their guidance that my weight-loss journey began and progressed. My strong intentions along with the strictness towards my diet and exercise routines made me loose almost around 18-20 kg of weight. The decision to work on my fitness completely carved me into a different personality- it was a complete changeover for me and also for the people around me. This change not only gave me more confidence in my life but also filled me with tremendous passion. Although I keep on gaining and loosing few kilograms now and then, I learnt how to be fit and healthy consistently. To me, fitness has only one key and that is a consistent regime.
In the world of Whatsapp forwards and Instagram trends, how has media evolved and where is it heading:
The News world is changing indeed. We have many social media platforms today along with the conventional Television and News Papers. Leading social media platforms like Facebook have whooping monthly active users of around 1.08 billion people or even more! With this increase in the use of social media platforms, news channels or print media have also started making their own social media platforms. On the contrary, due to lack of awareness and literacy in our country, social media is becoming a major platform to spread fake news. Although government and some institutions are working towards solving this issue and are becoming stringent towards certain rules and regulations in this regard, social media firms have also formulated policies to help resolve this issue. We can all hope that these platforms will slowly improve with respect to news consumption.
Given the fast-track life of the upcoming generation, how do you think journalism will need to evolve in the coming future in order to stay relevant:
With the changing times, media is trying to change itself as well. The hurdles are manyfold with the increasing social media platforms, to the lowering credibility of them! With this Increasing rush in everyone's life, the news content and its projections are changing. I feel that more work needs to be done on this front. Positive news stories should be given priority over the negative ones. Instead of showing lame news, the shift should be towards showing real stories. I am thankful that my team works immensely and regularly for our shows to portray the best quality of work. I think media owes the responsibility to deliver credible, sensible & informative news on all available media platforms to stay relevant and evolve for the better.