Tarun J. Tejpal: The Story of My Assassins – Part 2

By Tom Meade

A descriptive portrayal of Indian political life and culture was painted by journalist and author Tarun J. Tejpal on Tuesday, 25 September as he discussed the background to his novel The Story of My Assassins.

Tejpal founded Tehelka, the news organisation that has become renowned globally for its aggressive public interest journalism. Explaining the differences between it and other mainstream media outlets he said:

"There is a kind of mood at Tehelka that when they join, they don’t look to chase film stars, they don’t want to chase fashion designers, they don’t look to chase sport stars, they get in there and they want to make a difference."

Tejpal‘s position as founder of Tehelka and as a former editor of India Today gives him a unique insight into the Indian press and legal system, what he calls "the belly of beast."

He describes his reasoning for setting up Tehelka, which indirectly lead to an assassination attempt on his life following the breaking of an arms procurement and government corruption story ‘Operation Westend’.

"You had a sense of personal agency in that decade, that was extraordinary, you felt you were at the heart of things and you were actually doing what journalism was meant to do which was to inflect public policy, inflect public decision making in a huge way. And in the 1990’s I felt we had lost that totally."

"When you live in a country as big as india, even if you sell a million copies it’s a drop in the ocean, its nothing. But if you can convince one politician, one public figure, one minister to take one right decision – that, can impact tens of millions of people."

Tejpal‘s philosophy behind Tehelka is aligned with India’s founding fathers. He wants to help many of the 1.25 billion people in India who live in poverty.