Barkha Dutt

Barkha Dutt is consulting editor, NDTV, and founding member, Ideas Collective. She tweets as @BDUTT.

Articles by Barkha Dutt

As new House opens, spare a moment for wrestlers’ stir

The wrestlers plan to organise a women’s mahapanchayat on the same day the new Parliament is officially declared open. This might be a mistake.

Protesting wrestlers Sangeeta Phogat, Sakshi Malik ,Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia pay a visit at Rajghat , New Delhi, May 18, 2023 (Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times)
Updated on May 26, 2023 08:20 PM IST

Pakistan crisis is a case of deja vu than real change

Despite Imran Khan’s rebellion, there is no proof yet that anything will change substantively. Expect the same script with new actors

Several viral videos suggest that citizens could not have attacked venerable military fortresses without sections of the military helping or looking the other way. Many argue that all of this is the deft handiwork of the new army chief to contain and manage Khan’s rising popularity (AFP)
Updated on May 12, 2023 08:37 PM IST

Silence over the wrestlers’ stir is a sheer travesty

An inquiry panel cannot fairly investigate allegations against a powerful politician if he still exerts control and influence

Wrestlers Vinesh Phogat with Sakshi Malik and Bajrang Punia during a protest dharna against the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI), Jantar Mantar, New Delhi , January 20, 2023 (Hindustan Times)
Updated on Apr 28, 2023 09:15 PM IST

Why we should all care about the textbook debate

Interpretations of history are often more normative than empirical. But changes made in NCERT textbooks without any public discussion are worrying

A parliamentary debate where citizens have a right to see who stands where on how history should be taught, could have preceded these edits in the NCERT textbooks (Hindustan Times)
Updated on Apr 14, 2023 07:05 PM IST

Don’t let the Amritpal saga damage the future of Punjab

The radical preacher’s sudden appearance, alleged ties to Pakistan, dramatic escape, and video leaks raise unanswered questions.

Unlike Bhindranwale, Amritpal cannot command any significant section of the street. There were only a handful of people who came out to protest in his support. (HT File Photo)
Published on Mar 31, 2023 09:44 PM IST

Will Rahul’s remarks undo hard work of Bharat Jodo?

Had Rahul Gandhi chosen to say, for instance, “My views are on record on multiple platforms in India. …. I don’t wish to be drawn into that conversation here,” chances are the headlines would have been different

While there is no evident upside for Gandhi in talking about politics and the state of the nation abroad, there is a downside (Congress Twitter)
Updated on Mar 17, 2023 07:45 PM IST

SC verdict on ECI marks an inflection point

The historic judgment comes amid a tussle between the Centre and the top court. Don’t be surprised if the action shifts to Parliament and decisions on NJAC and ECI are reopened. The battle lines have been drawn

Both the institutions at the centre of the current storm — the Election Commission of India and the judiciary — have been, unfortunately, politicised (Hindustan Times)
Updated on Mar 03, 2023 08:41 PM IST

BBC row shows Indian politics has come a full circle

Indira Gandhi banned BBC twice, claiming that vested foreign interests were trying to diminish the nation. Today, this theory is a weapon in the BJP’s political arsenal

The tax action against BBC and the BJP’s response may seem to some journalists like a sledgehammer response; but to those taking decisions in the party, it may well be consciously calculated politics (Shutterstock)
Updated on Feb 17, 2023 07:00 PM IST

Stir by wrestlers uncovers a dark nexus of abuse

Our sportswomen have brought home global laurels. They have battled social and economic odds to get to where they are. Yet, as the ongoing protests against the wrestling federation chief show, taking on patriarchy, sexism, power and bullying remains an unwinnable fight

Phogat’s protests have pulled the lid off a simmering cauldron of similar experiences by women trying to make it in Indian sport. (ANI)
Updated on Jan 20, 2023 07:34 PM IST

Another depressing year of normalised gendered violence

From a woman being hit and dragged for several kilometres by a car of men to another being urinated on by a drunk man on a flight, women are suffering. Worse, every Indian woman can imagine being on the receiving end of this kind of violence. This is an indictment of our society

There are judgmental, scurrilous whispers about girls who drink, women who stay out too late — women who take too many risks. The subtext: Stay at home, don’t work, don’t party, don’t have a good time; the ‘be practical’ moralising, which is just an excuse to confine us, restrain us, shackle us, and bind us to timidity. (HT Archive)
Published on Jan 07, 2023 12:37 PM IST

Elections 2022: Three parties, three messages

If the BJP’s mega win in Gujarat is a reminder of the remarkable support for PM Modi, the other big story of the election season is the arrival of the AAP on the national stage. And for the Congress, despite the win in Himachal Pradesh, there is more trouble ahead

The cult of personality, welfarism, nationalism, Hindutva are all fragments of the Modi brand, stronger than ever before after the dazzling win in Gujarat, one that broke a 37-year-old record to become the best performance by a political party in the state (Hindustan Times)
Updated on Dec 09, 2022 07:45 PM IST

Shraddha Walkar case: Ask the right questions

Instead of zeroing in on what this tells us about the violence that women experience in relationships and why they find it so difficult to walk out instantly, the media and political debates have been swamped by the rhetoric of “love jihad”.

Shraddha Walkar’s murder has been reduced to a salacious soap opera. (ANI)
Published on Nov 25, 2022 08:24 PM IST

Hijab: The fight in Iran and Karnataka is not the same

The hijab debate must not become a sordid excuse for Muslim bashing, especially in the context of identity assertion in the age of majoritarianism. And, the priority must be the education of girls

Female Muslim students wearing burqa and hijab talk to a police officer during their protest, outside the Shivamogga District collector's office, in Shivamogga, February 17, 2022 (PTI)
Updated on Nov 11, 2022 08:33 PM IST

Pakistan is at war with itself. Can Khan reset the ending?

An unprecedented speech by the ISI chief spotlights the battle between Imran Khan and the army. But doubts persist about his success in a country where the military has always decided the balance of political power

Today, Imran Khan has been able to set the terms of the political debate in his country. This is despite being forced out of office — and now, possibly out of electoral politics. Hard-nosed Pakistan analysts explain that this capacity for survival would not be possible without at least some factions of the military backing him. (Reuters)
Published on Oct 28, 2022 07:35 PM IST

What the row over mass conversion says about politics

The attempt to criminalise conversions has been building up in India. With several elections around the corner, this issue will dominate political discourse. Unfortunately, what will not be discussed is the plight of marginalised communities

The BJP’s political project would naturally prefer to subsume caste hierarchies within a larger, consolidated Hindu identity. Its ambitions to court the Dalit voter in the North Indian heartland have met with success, especially among non-Jatav Dalits (PTI)
Updated on Oct 14, 2022 08:32 PM IST

Congress needs a disruption. But will it take the risk?

In Mallikarjun Kharge, the Gandhis may find the sort of leader they are comfortable with. In contrast, Shashi Tharoor has remained his own person. In him, the Congress has a chance to offer a new face to the country, when it is jaded and battling for relevance

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor addresses the media after filing his nomination for the post of the party president, September 30, 2022 (Ayush Sharma/ANI)
Updated on Sep 30, 2022 07:56 PM IST

Places of Worship Act now seems redundant

While a protracted legal battle over the Gyanvapi mosque may help preserve the status quo, it may not provide a sustainable resolution. If India is to avoid religious strife and maintain social harmony, solutions will have to come from the people

This week the Varanasi district court ruled that the petition demanding the right to daily worship inside the Gyanvapi complex was not in violation of the Places of Worship Act because it was not asking for the mosque to be reclassified as a temple. (PTI)
Updated on Sep 16, 2022 07:42 PM IST

For India’s women, a time of heartbreak, horror, and betrayal

We are witnessing in India the worst side of human behaviour — with the release of Bilkis Bano’s rapists, Seema Patra’s inhumane treatment of Sunita, her house help, and Ankita and Naina, who faced cruelty and torture by men whose harassment they fought. We need to remember their names

In some cases, there is selective silence, and in others, there is selective outrage. The religion of the criminal and of the survivor has been made a basis for who speaks and on what. Effectively, there is no politician who will speak for every woman. So, we have to speak for ourselves. (HT Photo)
Updated on Sep 02, 2022 08:51 PM IST

The Bilkis Bano case should matter to every woman

Despite devoting 17 years of her life to battling for justice, the 11 men who violated Bilkis were released early from jail. This is an unspeakable injustice. Can any woman’s fight for justice end like this?

Even for the most hardened, jaded hacks, some stories feel personal. Bilkis Bano is one such for me. (AP File Photo)
Updated on Aug 19, 2022 08:09 PM IST

What Indian liberals might want to learn from Jon Stewart

I can’t think of a single Indian figure who, like presenter and satirist Jon Stewart, is fiercely pluralistic and progressive, but also has a sustained focus on the armed forces and the rights of soldiers and veterans

Stewart did not hold back on expletives as he lashed out at lawmakers trying to stall legislation on benefits for US veterans. Eventually, the Senate passed the Pact Act in support of soldiers who have been exposed to toxins in conflict zones, and Stewart had reason to celebrate. (Getty Images)
Published on Aug 05, 2022 07:12 PM IST

Don’t overlook the demands of Kashmiri Pandits

The suffering of Kashmiri Hindus has long been at the heart of Right-wing politics. Unfortunately, today, as they protest, asking only that they not be coerced into working where they don’t feel secure, it seems no one is prepared to listen

A rehabilitation scheme, by definition, should be aimed at delivering justice and compensation for the violent trauma of the past. Employment by diktat surely cannot be an illustration of compassion (Waseem Andrabi/HTPHOTO)
Updated on Jul 22, 2022 08:11 PM IST

Zubair, Chitale and why we all should care

The cases are a signal to all to watch what we say, be cautious before we express ourselves, and be aware, chillingly aware, that if the law enforcement agencies decide to come after a person, a substantive accusation is not even necessary

I am unequivocal in my belief that whatever be one’s views of the coarseness of language on social media, criminalisation and jail time are unacceptable responses by the State unless there is a deliberate incitement to violence (PTI)
Updated on Jul 08, 2022 08:52 PM IST

Maha lessons for family focussed parties in India

The debacle is an instructive reminder from the BJP to its challengers that no battle is too small to attempt a fight. It is also a warning to all dynasty-driven parties that the family name is not bulletproof to the assaults of the competition, both within and from competitors

Banners in support of Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, Vashi, Navi Mumbai, June 24, 2022 (HT PHOTO)
Updated on Jun 24, 2022 08:21 PM IST

Prophet row: India must learn to self-correct

The BJP could possibly have avoided the negative fallout from the controversy by removing Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal immediately after what they said about Prophet Mohammed

Protestors clash with police during a protest demanding the arrest of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Nupur Sharma for her comments on Prophet Mohammed, in Prayagraj, India, June 10, 2022 (REUTERS)
Updated on Jun 10, 2022 08:45 PM IST

When marriage is not a safe and essential space

The ordeal of Sujata Khullar, a victim of domestic abuse, is a reminder of how too many women sacrifice too much of themselves for marriage, assuming it to be a safe space. Her experience — and her courage — should also make us connect the dots to the larger debate around why marital rape is still not a crime in India

Sujata’s story reinforces what the hard facts tell us. More women are abused, assaulted and violated within a circle of trust than by strangers. National Crime Records Bureau data reveals that more than 90% of Indian women know their perpetrator (Shutterstock)
Updated on May 27, 2022 07:48 PM IST

Why India must come clean on Covid-19 deaths

The WHO may not have covered itself in glory over the handling of the pandemic. But the debate around India’s uncounted deaths is not about arithmetic. It’s about truth-telling. And what we owe as a nation to ourselves. And to the people

t is the cold and clinical insistence that our formal death count is entirely accurate — when evidence on the ground clearly shows otherwise — that, in fact, weakens our argument. That — and a lack of empathy (Praveen Kumar/HT Photo)
Updated on May 13, 2022 05:52 PM IST

From Rajasthan, the tragic tale of two women

While the death by suicide of a gynaecologist paints a sordid picture of extortion, blackmail, and a compromised legal process, the death of her patient — a young mother — shows an ugly patriarchal culture that often denies women their reproductive rights

Rajasthan doctors hold protest at Amar Jawan Jyoti after Archana Sharma, a gynecologist at a private hospital in Dausa Lalsot, allegedly died by suicide after being booked on murder charges in the death of a pregnant woman during childbirth, Jaipur, March 31, 2022 (ANI)
Updated on Apr 01, 2022 08:38 PM IST

Excerpt: To Hell And Back: Humans Of Covid by Barkha Dutt

Journalist Barkha Dutt’s new book, To Hell And Back (published by Juggernaut Books), tells the story of the Covid-19 pandemic in India and draws from her own reporting on the subject. This excerpt is taken from the chapter Asphyxiated, which deals with the second wave in 2021 and the oxygen-shortage crisis

Excerpt: To Hell And Back: Humans Of Covid by Barkha Dutt
Updated on Feb 25, 2022 10:28 PM IST

Muslim women and their right to an education

It doesn’t matter whether you are for or against the headscarf. Or if the conversation should be about legality or religion. At its core, the hijab controversy is about access to education

The larger debate over secularism, the nature of the relationship between religion and the Indian State, Hindutava, Islamophobia, and Islamist politics will rage on. In the meantime, how can you punish teenage girls whether or not you agree with their hijab? (PTI)
Updated on Feb 18, 2022 08:00 PM IST

In Punjab, the Congress is at war with itself

After Amarinder Singh’s exit, Sunil Jakhar, Navjot Sidhu and Charanjit Channi were meant to be an Amar-Akbar-Anthony troika. The plan backfired and the party descended into a gang war, underlining its inability to urgently resolve the mess

The status quoist instincts of the Congress leadership — do nothing until you have to — is reflected in all of its key decisions in Punjab (ANI)
Updated on Feb 04, 2022 09:08 PM IST
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