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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Didn’t tolerate fudge; pro, anti, in between, Sunil Jain said it like it is

A Master’s in economics from the Delhi School of Economics, Sunil began his media career at India Today after a brief tenure at FICCI where he worked on export policy.

Written by Sanjaya Baru | New Delhi |
Updated: May 16, 2021 1:56:40 pm
Sunil Jain at The Financial Express office. (Express photo)

Sunil Jain, managing editor, The Financial Express, who passed away Saturday night, was a journalist par excellence. A true professional and honest to the core, Sunil combined the journalist’s instinct for news with a researcher’s penchant for verifiable facts. His shocking and utterly premature departure has deprived Indian journalism of a highly talented analyst and a true team leader.

A Master’s in economics from the Delhi School of Economics, Sunil began his media career at India Today after a brief tenure at FICCI where he worked on export policy. My first professional association with Sunil dates back to when we were colleagues at The Indian Express group in 2000-2004.

He was then business and economics editor of The Indian Express while I was Chief Editor of the Financial Express. We teamed up again in 2009 when I became Editor, Business Standard, and Sunil was the senior associate editor in charge of the newspaper’s opinion pages.

Sunil authored a hugely popular column titled Rational Expectations that professional economists, policy makers, business leaders and students of economics read with great interest. His professional integrity was on display when he crossed swords with policy makers and business leaders calling a spade a spade, refusing to be browbeaten on a variety of policy issues.

He was an early and consistent critic of India’s telecom policy as well as of the functioning of various regulatory institutions including the telecom and power sector regulators. He wrote extensively on regulatory capture, often braving severe pressure from vested interests not to do so. Sunil was, therefore, widely admired by fellow professionals, especially his younger colleagues.

As managing editor of The Financial Express, Sunil stabilised the newspaper’s circulation in a highly competitive market, attracting highly respected columnists and bright young reporters. In the past several months, Sunil wrote fearlessly about the policy errors of the government in dealing with the Covid pandemic even as he remained a vocal defender of the government’s policy on farm sector reforms.

Sunil rarely held his punches back be they in support of or in opposition to the policies of the day. Sunil never tolerated fudging and would always insist on saying it as it is. Sunil’s professional example should inspire his colleagues to continue to hold up the torch of honest journalism.

Baru, a policy analyst and author, was Chief Editor, Financial Express. He was media advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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