Ravish Kumar is one of the biggest voices in independent journalism in India. Working for television channel NDTV, he tirelessly spoke out against the nationalist hatred fuelling the country and its media. In December 2022 he resigned from NDTV, after a tycoon with ties to the ruling party bought a large stake in the network.
‘If you still believe news channels are educating you, you are dangerously mistaken,’ Ravish Kumar tells an auditorium filled with student halfway through While We Watched, Vinay Shukla’s both exciting and worrying look behind the scenes at Indian television news channel NDTV. ‘We are being desensitized every day.’
Ravish Kumar is the former Senior Executive Editor at NDTV. As can be seen in While We Watched, he represents critical and honest journalism in a country that is increasingly fuelled by nationalist hatred. Under the government of president Modi and his BJP, a fanatic ultra-nationalist sentiment has taken over Indian media. Journalists who go against this are labelled ‘Enemies of the State’ – with all the dangers involved.
Ravish feels these dangers on a daily basis. One of the most astounding features of While We Watched, is seeing him trying to engage in civil conversations with one after another caller phoning in their death threats. ‘NDTV stands against the mob,’ he says at one point. However, in December 2022 he felt forced to resign after Gautam Adani, an Indian tycoon with close ties to the BJP, bought a 30 per cent stake in the network. ‘I am convinced that this entire scheme was hatched to remove my presence from TV,’ he said in an interview.
Under the present circumstances in India, true journalism is becoming extremely difficult. ‘Independent journalism is flourishing in India. But it is now happening on the margins,’ Ravish explains. ‘Mainstream has closed all the doors of journalism. Freelance journalists do not have access to government departments. Access to information is too low and the risk is too high. It is a good thing that efforts are being made, but in terms of impact and spread, they are only on the margins.’ Still, Ravish Kumar is a journalist to the core and we will surely keep hearing from him, whether on his official YouTube channel (in Hindi) or at the Movies that Matter Festival in The Hague.
While We Watched is shown at the Movies that Matter Festival 2023. Please note: it was announced earlier that Ravish Kumar will attend the festival. Unfortunately, Ravish is no longer able to attend the festival due to personal circumstances. However, director Vinay Shukla will be in attendance and will take part in the Q&As after the screenings.