Books

Role reversal

SERIOUS SCRIBE Karan Thapar   | Photo Credit: R. V. Moorthy

Widely acknowledged for his serious and intelligent practice of journalism, Karan Thapar was his forthright best at the launch of his latest book As I Like It at the residence of the British High Commissioner. Interestingly, it was Thapar who has at the receiving end of questions this time as he was being grilled by the inimitable Dr Shashi Tharoor. L. K Advani, former Deputy Prime Minister of India, was also present at the occasion as a guest of honour.

“Karan Thapar plays many parts but he does not obviously fit into any one of those seven ages narrated by Jacques in Shakespeare's celebrated play As You Like It, which has a remarkable resemblance to his book’s title,” said Sir Dominic Asquith, The British High Commissioner while introducing Thapar.

Provoking the reader

In the course of the conversation, Thapar was questioned by Tharoor about his views on him being referred to as the last reconstructed Anglophile left in the country. To which Thapar explained how he has been told that he is being untrue to his country. “But their anger gives me a rather positive response because I see they are reading it and there’s this guarantee that they would read you next week again. And that is what a column ought to do, it should provoke the reader.”

When asked to share his thoughts on his rather blunt comment in one of his columns where he stated that Indians are awfully racist. He exclaimed, “We are deeply colour conscious. We differentiate between people of African origin and others. We treat people who have white skin as if they were special.” Disagreeing with Tharoor’s statement if this racism is a legacy of the British colonial empire, Thapar promptly asserted with a no and stressed that “It is a reflection of our colour consciousness. And you only have to look at the way how we treat South Indians.”

Seconding the observation of Tharoor, Thapar said that it’s true that he has lost friendships over interviews. “There are times when journalists do sadly take themselves seriously; they believe that an interview that they have done has to be shown and kept the way it is done. Because at that moment you convince yourself that freedom to speech, democracy, right to journalism are all at stake.”

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 5:37:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/role-reversal/article23186785.ece

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