Ravish Kumar: The Fearless Voice of Independent Journalism

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The best form of combat is speaking the truth in front of a tyrant ruler– goes a saying. India is going through a dark phase where journalists are threatened and killed for their views, where activists are harassed and students are rounded up for speaking out. From Narendra Dabholkar to Omar Abdullah and from Gauri Lankesh to Kanhaiya Kumar, there are countless cases where individuals with independent opinions were imprisoned or killed for exercising their freedom of expression. In such a difficult time, a person is working tirelessly for years to become the voice of the marginalized section of the society and to demand justice for those who are not in a position to do so. That bold voice is Ravish Kumar, a valiant journalist hailing from Bihar who has come under fire multiple times for his fearless reporting and no-nonsense attitude. His impeccable command over language and his use of apt metaphors during commentary makes him a class apart from other journalists of his stature.

He is a Bhumihar Brahmin by caste but he has completely given up his caste identity and follows the ideology of Ambedkar against the evils of casteism. He has expressed time and again how casteism has devastated the social structure of the country and how it should be denounced if any political party is garnering votes along caste-based identity.

Even those who do not follow him know of two shows he has done — the first was a mime to protest censorship, which came after the government announced a 24-hour ban on NDTV India for alleged State security infringements in its news coverage while the other was his use of a dark screen and a soundtrack filled with sneering voices from TV debates to make a statement on Arnab Goswami style of journalism.

This shows the insecurity of the BJP-led government that it could not handle criticism and sought to ban the whole news channel that was doing fearless journalism on the ground. When PM Narendra Modi says that he likes criticism, it feels like his party does not echo these sentiments.

Ravish Kumar is a self-made man who started his journey with NDTV in 1996 and slowly rose to fame first as a ground reporter and then as a studio anchor. His show Prime Time with Ravish reached cult status with the youth and the valiant demeanor of Ravish Kumar has a huge role to play in its success.

It is alleged that he caters to the agenda against BJP/RSS and its affiliates only but that is not the case. He has been a fierce critic of UPA government as well when it was in power at the Centre. He is a man of integrity and such remarks are a shameful attempt to tarnish his efforts. He is often called anti-national by the Hindutva fundamentalists for his criticism of the government policies but he argues that he criticizes the wrong policies of the government because he himself favours national interest.

Ravish Kumar has also won the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award 2019. Popularly known as ‘Asia’s Nobel Prize’, it is among the highest honours in the region. Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is named after former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay who represented courage, integrity and idealism. The award is given every year to individuals or organizations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late and beloved Filipino leader.

His fearless journalism has not only earned him accolades and fame but vitriol as well. He has been a target of many smearing campaigns against him for his views but this warrior of words has continued his efforts undaunted, proving himself to be an inspiration for young journalists.

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