Barkha Dutt

Barkha Dutt is consulting editor, NDTV, and founding member, Ideas Collective. She tweets as @BDUTT.

Articles by Barkha Dutt

A new Covid-19 wave is here. Junk old rules

Omicron is not the last variant. A new way has to be found of living with it — and despite it. Stop random testing, spread the message about the latest home isolation norms, and open educational institutions with necessary safeguards
It is not my argument that anyone who wants a test should not be able to access one. It should remain the right of any citizen to get a Covid-19 test. And we need to make home-testing kits affordable, accessible, and interlinked to official data systems. (AFP)
It is not my argument that anyone who wants a test should not be able to access one. It should remain the right of any citizen to get a Covid-19 test. And we need to make home-testing kits affordable, accessible, and interlinked to official data systems. (AFP)
Updated on Jan 07, 2022 09:33 PM IST
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Let’s not normalise hate speeches, mob violence

The Haridwar hate-mongering is not just vile; it is a national security issue. It goes to the very heart of the people we are and the people we want to be
The irony is that at a time when anyone who does not agree with the dominant narrative is called an anti-national, here we have an actual case of harming the idea of the Indian nation. (PTI)
The irony is that at a time when anyone who does not agree with the dominant narrative is called an anti-national, here we have an actual case of harming the idea of the Indian nation. (PTI)
Updated on Dec 24, 2021 08:28 PM IST
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Covid-19: It’s time to make vaccines mandatory

More than 120 million Indians have not taken their second dose. As our primary armour, vaccines are the only way to fight variants such as Omicron. Pass an executive order
Not just is this vaccine bulge unforgivable given the inequality globally, it is an insult to doctors, nurses, and every single one of us who lost someone we love to Covid-19 at a time when there weren’t enough shots to go around (Santosh Kumar /Hindustan Times)
Not just is this vaccine bulge unforgivable given the inequality globally, it is an insult to doctors, nurses, and every single one of us who lost someone we love to Covid-19 at a time when there weren’t enough shots to go around (Santosh Kumar /Hindustan Times)
Updated on Dec 10, 2021 08:14 PM IST
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Ajay Mishra Teni’s position is untenable

Teni’s statements about the incident, the SC’s intervention, his remarks on protesting farmers, and the language he has used, all point to the need for him to step down
Ajay Mishra Teni should have been asked to go right at the beginning, if the BJP wants to do right by its men who were beaten to death by an angry mob after the minister’s son’s car ran their comrades over (PTI)
Ajay Mishra Teni should have been asked to go right at the beginning, if the BJP wants to do right by its men who were beaten to death by an angry mob after the minister’s son’s car ran their comrades over (PTI)
Updated on Nov 12, 2021 07:15 PM IST
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The Aryan Khan case is about constitutionalism

There has been a complete lack of proportionality in the system’s response. With the lower courts taking little risk, and the NCB dragging Aryan Khan’s name through the mud, the case is now a spectator sport, with little to no evidence
Silence offers no protective shield if a State apparatus decides to turn vindictive. Because silent is essentially what Shah Rukh Khan has been for several years. But he, like other actors in the film industry, must ask themselves, what that has got for them (AP)
Silence offers no protective shield if a State apparatus decides to turn vindictive. Because silent is essentially what Shah Rukh Khan has been for several years. But he, like other actors in the film industry, must ask themselves, what that has got for them (AP)
Updated on Oct 29, 2021 06:57 PM IST
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The SRK son story: Deflection or escapism?

The Shah Rukh Khan-Aryan real life starrer is not just about easy ratings for TV media; it is also the perfect distraction from more troubling and important issues exploding all around us
In a redux of the Rhea Chakraborty case, private WhatsApp chats are being treated as fair game, pronouncements of guilt and innocence are being made from studios, and in a perverse twist, Shah Rukh Khan’s stardom is being used to sell hatred for Shah Rukh Khan (AFP)
In a redux of the Rhea Chakraborty case, private WhatsApp chats are being treated as fair game, pronouncements of guilt and innocence are being made from studios, and in a perverse twist, Shah Rukh Khan’s stardom is being used to sell hatred for Shah Rukh Khan (AFP)
Updated on Oct 15, 2021 06:34 PM IST
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Punjab’s message: The eroding authority of the Gandhis

What used to be said off-the-record in the Congress is now out in the open. The family is harming the party
Sonia Gandhi joined politics to preserve the legacy of her husband and his family. The best thing she can do to keep that legacy alive now is, in fact, for the family to get out of the way (PTI)
Sonia Gandhi joined politics to preserve the legacy of her husband and his family. The best thing she can do to keep that legacy alive now is, in fact, for the family to get out of the way (PTI)
Updated on Oct 01, 2021 03:32 PM IST
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The age of competitive communalism

Think of the agony and struggle of an Indian Muslim today, sandwiched between the Hindu Right and Islamist extremism
Representational Image. (File photo)
Representational Image. (File photo)
Updated on Sep 17, 2021 05:13 PM IST
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Afghanistan: The world is making a fatal error

The whitewashing of the Taliban is a mistake. It is not the good cop in the battle against IS-K. India will suffer. But the rest of the world won’t be spared either
Taliban forces with their armoured vehicles block the road near the presidential place in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 2. (REUTERS)
Taliban forces with their armoured vehicles block the road near the presidential place in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 2. (REUTERS)
Updated on Sep 03, 2021 05:56 PM IST
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When will the US pull back from the real challenge — Pakistan?

Pakistan took American money and backed the Taliban. India is now left with a security nightmare, with implications for Kashmir
US President Joe Biden arrives at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington on Monday, August 16. Biden addressed the nation about the US evacuation from Afghanistan, after the planned withdrawal turned deadly at Kabul's airport as thousands tried to flee the country after the Taliban's takeover. (File photo)
US President Joe Biden arrives at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington on Monday, August 16. Biden addressed the nation about the US evacuation from Afghanistan, after the planned withdrawal turned deadly at Kabul's airport as thousands tried to flee the country after the Taliban's takeover. (File photo)
Updated on Aug 20, 2021 03:43 PM IST
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The true test of Indian patriotism

Instead of getting caught up in vaccine nationalism, India needs to get all the vaccines it can to enhance supplies and achieve its target of universal vaccination
A vaccination centre wears a deserted look at Kharadi Davakhana in Pune on Thursday, August 5. (Shankar Narayan/HT photo)
A vaccination centre wears a deserted look at Kharadi Davakhana in Pune on Thursday, August 5. (Shankar Narayan/HT photo)
Updated on Aug 06, 2021 06:37 PM IST
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Acknowledge the brutality of the second wave

Passing the blame and writing a revisionist history of the summer — either by the Centre or states — is an affront to citizens who lived through the crisis and lost loved ones
Representational image. (PTI)
Representational image. (PTI)
Updated on Jul 23, 2021 03:52 PM IST
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The reshuffle is meant to secure Brand Modi

The exits and expansion were motivated by the need to protect the PM’s image and send a signal to OBCs, crucial to the BJP’s electoral prospects in UP
PM Modi. (File photo)
PM Modi. (File photo)
Published on Jul 09, 2021 06:24 PM IST
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After the storm, when Delhi and Kashmir meet

Both the Centre and Kashmiri mainstream politicians are chastened. Delhi knows it needs to work with the same elected politicians it derided. Kashmir’s leaders know that Article 370 isn’t coming back
Prime Minister Narendra Modigreets Kashmiri leaders during an all-party meeting at PM House, in New Delhi on Thursday. (HT Photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modigreets Kashmiri leaders during an all-party meeting at PM House, in New Delhi on Thursday. (HT Photo)
Published on Jun 25, 2021 06:22 PM IST
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Covid-19 and the invisibilisation of rural India

Even as cities open up, in India’s villages — from the north to the south — the Covid-19 pandemic continues to devastate the poor. And we don’t even know the scale of the tragedy
Representational image. (REUTERS)
Representational image. (REUTERS)
Published on Jun 11, 2021 04:46 PM IST
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From the holy river, a story of human tragedy and State callousness

Indian citizens deserve more respect, in life and in death. The State’s refusal to acknowledge many graves, linked to Covid, is unacceptable
River Ganga in Kanpur. (File photo)
River Ganga in Kanpur. (File photo)
Updated on May 28, 2021 06:45 PM IST
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From UP, a tale of the failure of the Indian state

Sending teachers to death on forced election duty, even as the second wave of the pandemic was engulfing the country, represents outright criminality
Polling officials check polling materials at a booth on the eve of the fourth phase of gram panchayat elections, in UP’s Mathura on April 28. (File photo)
Polling officials check polling materials at a booth on the eve of the fourth phase of gram panchayat elections, in UP’s Mathura on April 28. (File photo)
Updated on May 14, 2021 05:44 PM IST
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Where personal tragedy meets systemic State failure

Like an oncologist who gets cancer or a dermatologist who battles skin disease, this week, I became the story I have reported for the past fifteen months
Representational Image. (HT archive)
Representational Image. (HT archive)
Published on Apr 30, 2021 04:00 PM IST
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India’s health system has collapsed

As human tragedy unfolds, there is a shortage of everything — oxygen, drugs, beds, vaccines, even cremation space
Representational image. (AP)
Representational image. (AP)
Updated on Apr 17, 2021 06:44 AM IST
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As Covid returns, India must not repeat the mistakes of 2020

Don’t return to lockdowns. Instead, approve more vaccines and ramp up vaccination — especially in the most affected states and cities
As the country that produces 60% of the world’s vaccines, India can ramp up the vaccination process. But a conventional, bureaucratic mindset appears to be holding us back. The vaccination programme needs to be reset and targeted (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
As the country that produces 60% of the world’s vaccines, India can ramp up the vaccination process. But a conventional, bureaucratic mindset appears to be holding us back. The vaccination programme needs to be reset and targeted (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Apr 03, 2021 04:37 PM IST
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What Bollywood could learn from Munawar Faruqui

In this patchy, roller-coaster of a fortnight for India’s fundamental freedoms, some individuals have stood up, while others have failed our citizens
Without either the wealth and connections or profile of India’s film industry, Faruqui has shown more courage and almost zero cynicism. It doesn’t matter if you found his jokes funny or not — the jail-time he was subjected to was an abomination. (ANI)
Without either the wealth and connections or profile of India’s film industry, Faruqui has shown more courage and almost zero cynicism. It doesn’t matter if you found his jokes funny or not — the jail-time he was subjected to was an abomination. (ANI)
Published on Mar 05, 2021 06:09 PM IST
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For India’s women, a week of hope — and anguish

The Priya Ramani verdict has shut down the debate on the most banal and common question asked of women: Why didn’t you speak up earlier?
Even as there was a hope-filled verdict in Delhi, think of the two Dalit girls found dead in Unnao and you remember how much tougher it is for millions of women in India than it is for us (PTI)
Even as there was a hope-filled verdict in Delhi, think of the two Dalit girls found dead in Unnao and you remember how much tougher it is for millions of women in India than it is for us (PTI)
Published on Feb 19, 2021 06:33 PM IST
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How not to respond to Greta, Meena, Rihanna

As India sought to stand against propaganda on farm protests, it appeared to be teaching the world a class on propaganda. And not very smartly at that
Since their tweets, posters of Meena Harris, Greta Thunberg and Rihanna have been burnt. Our television channels have lived up to their reputation for dangerous mindlessness by running character assassination campaigns. The police have registered a case, like they don’t have the actual issue of the farm protests in the real world to deal with. (REUTERS)
Since their tweets, posters of Meena Harris, Greta Thunberg and Rihanna have been burnt. Our television channels have lived up to their reputation for dangerous mindlessness by running character assassination campaigns. The police have registered a case, like they don’t have the actual issue of the farm protests in the real world to deal with. (REUTERS)
Updated on Feb 06, 2021 06:38 AM IST
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When invasion of privacy comes back full circle

The sanctimony that a section of the media wears like a second skin comes undone so fast when the scrutiny is on them.
We journalists, so trapped by egos and the ratings wars, have brought this moment upon ourselves (shutterstock)
We journalists, so trapped by egos and the ratings wars, have brought this moment upon ourselves (shutterstock)
Published on Jan 22, 2021 10:39 PM IST
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After anarchy in the US, reimagining the middle ground

Governments have to learn how to engage with those who did not vote for them. Citizens have to learn how to converse amidst ideological divisions
What other, newer democracies find relatively easy — conducting an election, the counting of votes, the peaceful transition of power — seems to have befuddled the US. There can be and must not be any normalisation of gross prejudice or violence(AP)
What other, newer democracies find relatively easy — conducting an election, the counting of votes, the peaceful transition of power — seems to have befuddled the US. There can be and must not be any normalisation of gross prejudice or violence(AP)
Updated on Jan 08, 2021 07:53 PM IST
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How the TMC is fighting the BJP juggernaut in Bengal

The Trinamool Congress has made dramatic changes to its organisational power structure and launched two key mass outreach programmes
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a public meeting, Jalpaiguri district, December 16, 2020(ANI)
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a public meeting, Jalpaiguri district, December 16, 2020(ANI)
Updated on Dec 25, 2020 05:36 PM IST
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Powerful citizens, missing Opposition

The two agitations which have made a mark in the past year have been led by citizens. The Opposition remains absent and redundant
Movements that are seen to be run by people instead of politicians do trigger more popular support. The farmers movement carries the moral advantage of not having party politicians on its stage(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
Movements that are seen to be run by people instead of politicians do trigger more popular support. The farmers movement carries the moral advantage of not having party politicians on its stage(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Dec 11, 2020 07:47 PM IST
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Why Ahmed Patel mattered in Indian politics

With his pragmatism, openness, rigorous work ethic, and absolute commitment to the Congress and Sonia Gandhi, he emerged as a pillar of the party
Though he was low-key and non-charismatic, his great political gift was in building connections. He was skilled enough for you to believe that the conversation with you was individual and personal, not just generic and political(PTI)
Though he was low-key and non-charismatic, his great political gift was in building connections. He was skilled enough for you to believe that the conversation with you was individual and personal, not just generic and political(PTI)
Updated on Nov 27, 2020 08:51 PM IST
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From Bihar, a message for Indian politics, writes Barkha Dutt

The national Opposition does not exist, the Congress’s claim to this role is cosmetic, and only regional parties can be a bulwark against the BJP
BJP workers attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address at party HQ, a day after National Democratic Alliance garnered majority in the Bihar assembly polls, New Delhi, November.12, 2020(PTI)
BJP workers attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address at party HQ, a day after National Democratic Alliance garnered majority in the Bihar assembly polls, New Delhi, November.12, 2020(PTI)
Updated on Nov 13, 2020 08:51 PM IST
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In Bihar, the eclipse of Brand Nitish Kumar, writes Barkha Dutt

Irrespective of the outcome in the assembly elections, the rage against the Bihar chief minister is palpable — and he only has himself to blame
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar at an election rally, West Champaran, Bihar, October 29(SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar at an election rally, West Champaran, Bihar, October 29(SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)
Updated on Oct 30, 2020 07:33 PM IST
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Tuesday, January 18, 2022