February 17, 2009 1:07:01 am
Senior journalist and writer Tarun Tejpal differentiates between journalistic writing,writing as an author and the changed viewpoints that follow
It might be difficult for the world to isolate his two identities,but for Tarun Tejpal,senior journalist,writer,juggling between journalism and writing is a routine task. In the city to attend the reading session of his latest book- The story of my assassins,Tejpal,the man behind Tehelka uncovered various facets of the thin line between journalistic writing and book writing. “As a journalist,my job is to set the ball rolling. The journalist in me might be able to differentiate between right and wrong in five minutes,but as a writer,even five years might be insufficient. Writing as an author is an unending process,” says Tejpal as he further adds,”I would be pleased if readers look at my books as thoughts,neglecting my journalistic background. But that does not happen. My identity as an author in India can’t have an independent existence.”
Tejpal calls his writings,a reflection of his experiences. “I have never met the characters in the book in real life. I have just come across them during some events and court trials,” smiles he and explains,”Empathy,I believe is the most important characteristic of an effective writer. We have lost the ability to step into somebody else’s shoes,not only on an individual level but also as a nation. For instance,rather than empathising with a person who,for his basic needs,migrates from other state,we make politics out of it. I see no reason why we call ourselves a harmonious nation; instead,we are the most violent nation in the world. We have discrimination on the basis of caste,gender and so on. The change will come when we realise that we are the system and we are unequal!”
Commenting on the vicious circle that we are caught in,where people blame politicians,media claims to be the watchdog and politicians point each other; Tejpal explains,”Politics is extremely effective tool to bring about the change,but the ‘so called’ elite class that we feel we are a part of,prefers to treat politics as a game we wouldn’t want to belong to. We’ve forgotten the teachings of our founding fathers where highly educated people like Gandhi,Nehru gave up their qualifications for the betterment of the nation.” Without excusing the media he further adds,”Media today is very effective but they have unfortunately changed their priorities. There are 200 million Dalits in the society who are struggling for their basic rights. How often do we read about them in newspapers? The idea of being effective is not- to be intelligent and sit in a room,instead,it is to be intelligent and be out on the field.”
Tejpal logically reasons out the causes behind the current situation in the country adding,”Our problem has been that we are a bunch of inward-looking intelligent,people. There have been countless visionaries,who advised us to look outside and change with times. We have not realised that modernity is not about cars,fashion and exotic lifestyle. It’s about values that we already had,but never valued.”
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