Barkha Dutt

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

Articles by Barkha Dutt

Stir by wrestlers uncovers a dark nexus of abuse

Our sportswomen have brought home global laurels. They have battled social and economic odds to get to where they are. Yet, as the ongoing protests against the wrestling federation chief show, taking on patriarchy, sexism, power and bullying remains an unwinnable fight

Phogat’s protests have pulled the lid off a simmering cauldron of similar experiences by women trying to make it in Indian sport. (ANI)
Phogat’s protests have pulled the lid off a simmering cauldron of similar experiences by women trying to make it in Indian sport. (ANI)
Updated on Jan 20, 2023 07:34 PM IST

Another depressing year of normalised gendered violence

From a woman being hit and dragged for several kilometres by a car of men to another being urinated on by a drunk man on a flight, women are suffering. Worse, every Indian woman can imagine being on the receiving end of this kind of violence. This is an indictment of our society

There are judgmental, scurrilous whispers about girls who drink, women who stay out too late — women who take too many risks. The subtext: Stay at home, don’t work, don’t party, don’t have a good time; the ‘be practical’ moralising, which is just an excuse to confine us, restrain us, shackle us, and bind us to timidity. (HT Archive)
There are judgmental, scurrilous whispers about girls who drink, women who stay out too late — women who take too many risks. The subtext: Stay at home, don’t work, don’t party, don’t have a good time; the ‘be practical’ moralising, which is just an excuse to confine us, restrain us, shackle us, and bind us to timidity. (HT Archive)
Published on Jan 07, 2023 12:37 PM IST

Elections 2022: Three parties, three messages

If the BJP’s mega win in Gujarat is a reminder of the remarkable support for PM Modi, the other big story of the election season is the arrival of the AAP on the national stage. And for the Congress, despite the win in Himachal Pradesh, there is more trouble ahead

The cult of personality, welfarism, nationalism, Hindutva are all fragments of the Modi brand, stronger than ever before after the dazzling win in Gujarat, one that broke a 37-year-old record to become the best performance by a political party in the state (Hindustan Times)
The cult of personality, welfarism, nationalism, Hindutva are all fragments of the Modi brand, stronger than ever before after the dazzling win in Gujarat, one that broke a 37-year-old record to become the best performance by a political party in the state (Hindustan Times)
Updated on Dec 09, 2022 07:45 PM IST

Shraddha Walkar case: Ask the right questions

Instead of zeroing in on what this tells us about the violence that women experience in relationships and why they find it so difficult to walk out instantly, the media and political debates have been swamped by the rhetoric of “love jihad”.

Shraddha Walkar’s murder has been reduced to a salacious soap opera. (ANI)
Shraddha Walkar’s murder has been reduced to a salacious soap opera. (ANI)
Published on Nov 25, 2022 08:24 PM IST

Hijab: The fight in Iran and Karnataka is not the same

The hijab debate must not become a sordid excuse for Muslim bashing, especially in the context of identity assertion in the age of majoritarianism. And, the priority must be the education of girls

Female Muslim students wearing burqa and hijab talk to a police officer during their protest, outside the Shivamogga District collector's office, in Shivamogga, February 17, 2022 (PTI)
Female Muslim students wearing burqa and hijab talk to a police officer during their protest, outside the Shivamogga District collector's office, in Shivamogga, February 17, 2022 (PTI)
Updated on Nov 11, 2022 08:33 PM IST

Pakistan is at war with itself. Can Khan reset the ending?

An unprecedented speech by the ISI chief spotlights the battle between Imran Khan and the army. But doubts persist about his success in a country where the military has always decided the balance of political power

Today, Imran Khan has been able to set the terms of the political debate in his country. This is despite being forced out of office — and now, possibly out of electoral politics. Hard-nosed Pakistan analysts explain that this capacity for survival would not be possible without at least some factions of the military backing him. (Reuters)
Today, Imran Khan has been able to set the terms of the political debate in his country. This is despite being forced out of office — and now, possibly out of electoral politics. Hard-nosed Pakistan analysts explain that this capacity for survival would not be possible without at least some factions of the military backing him. (Reuters)
Published on Oct 28, 2022 07:35 PM IST

What the row over mass conversion says about politics

The attempt to criminalise conversions has been building up in India. With several elections around the corner, this issue will dominate political discourse. Unfortunately, what will not be discussed is the plight of marginalised communities

The BJP’s political project would naturally prefer to subsume caste hierarchies within a larger, consolidated Hindu identity. Its ambitions to court the Dalit voter in the North Indian heartland have met with success, especially among non-Jatav Dalits (PTI)
The BJP’s political project would naturally prefer to subsume caste hierarchies within a larger, consolidated Hindu identity. Its ambitions to court the Dalit voter in the North Indian heartland have met with success, especially among non-Jatav Dalits (PTI)
Updated on Oct 14, 2022 08:32 PM IST

Congress needs a disruption. But will it take the risk?

In Mallikarjun Kharge, the Gandhis may find the sort of leader they are comfortable with. In contrast, Shashi Tharoor has remained his own person. In him, the Congress has a chance to offer a new face to the country, when it is jaded and battling for relevance

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor addresses the media after filing his nomination for the post of the party president, September 30, 2022 (Ayush Sharma/ANI)
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor addresses the media after filing his nomination for the post of the party president, September 30, 2022 (Ayush Sharma/ANI)
Updated on Sep 30, 2022 07:56 PM IST

Places of Worship Act now seems redundant

While a protracted legal battle over the Gyanvapi mosque may help preserve the status quo, it may not provide a sustainable resolution. If India is to avoid religious strife and maintain social harmony, solutions will have to come from the people

This week the Varanasi district court ruled that the petition demanding the right to daily worship inside the Gyanvapi complex was not in violation of the Places of Worship Act because it was not asking for the mosque to be reclassified as a temple. (PTI)
This week the Varanasi district court ruled that the petition demanding the right to daily worship inside the Gyanvapi complex was not in violation of the Places of Worship Act because it was not asking for the mosque to be reclassified as a temple. (PTI)
Updated on Sep 16, 2022 07:42 PM IST

For India’s women, a time of heartbreak, horror, and betrayal

We are witnessing in India the worst side of human behaviour — with the release of Bilkis Bano’s rapists, Seema Patra’s inhumane treatment of Sunita, her house help, and Ankita and Naina, who faced cruelty and torture by men whose harassment they fought. We need to remember their names

In some cases, there is selective silence, and in others, there is selective outrage. The religion of the criminal and of the survivor has been made a basis for who speaks and on what. Effectively, there is no politician who will speak for every woman. So, we have to speak for ourselves. (HT Photo)
In some cases, there is selective silence, and in others, there is selective outrage. The religion of the criminal and of the survivor has been made a basis for who speaks and on what. Effectively, there is no politician who will speak for every woman. So, we have to speak for ourselves. (HT Photo)
Updated on Sep 02, 2022 08:51 PM IST

The Bilkis Bano case should matter to every woman

Despite devoting 17 years of her life to battling for justice, the 11 men who violated Bilkis were released early from jail. This is an unspeakable injustice. Can any woman’s fight for justice end like this?

Even for the most hardened, jaded hacks, some stories feel personal. Bilkis Bano is one such for me. (AP File Photo)
Even for the most hardened, jaded hacks, some stories feel personal. Bilkis Bano is one such for me. (AP File Photo)
Updated on Aug 19, 2022 08:09 PM IST

What Indian liberals might want to learn from Jon Stewart

I can’t think of a single Indian figure who, like presenter and satirist Jon Stewart, is fiercely pluralistic and progressive, but also has a sustained focus on the armed forces and the rights of soldiers and veterans

Stewart did not hold back on expletives as he lashed out at lawmakers trying to stall legislation on benefits for US veterans. Eventually, the Senate passed the Pact Act in support of soldiers who have been exposed to toxins in conflict zones, and Stewart had reason to celebrate. (Getty Images)
Stewart did not hold back on expletives as he lashed out at lawmakers trying to stall legislation on benefits for US veterans. Eventually, the Senate passed the Pact Act in support of soldiers who have been exposed to toxins in conflict zones, and Stewart had reason to celebrate. (Getty Images)
Published on Aug 05, 2022 07:12 PM IST

Don’t overlook the demands of Kashmiri Pandits

The suffering of Kashmiri Hindus has long been at the heart of Right-wing politics. Unfortunately, today, as they protest, asking only that they not be coerced into working where they don’t feel secure, it seems no one is prepared to listen

A rehabilitation scheme, by definition, should be aimed at delivering justice and compensation for the violent trauma of the past. Employment by diktat surely cannot be an illustration of compassion (Waseem Andrabi/HTPHOTO)
A rehabilitation scheme, by definition, should be aimed at delivering justice and compensation for the violent trauma of the past. Employment by diktat surely cannot be an illustration of compassion (Waseem Andrabi/HTPHOTO)
Updated on Jul 22, 2022 08:11 PM IST

Zubair, Chitale and why we all should care

The cases are a signal to all to watch what we say, be cautious before we express ourselves, and be aware, chillingly aware, that if the law enforcement agencies decide to come after a person, a substantive accusation is not even necessary

I am unequivocal in my belief that whatever be one’s views of the coarseness of language on social media, criminalisation and jail time are unacceptable responses by the State unless there is a deliberate incitement to violence (PTI)
I am unequivocal in my belief that whatever be one’s views of the coarseness of language on social media, criminalisation and jail time are unacceptable responses by the State unless there is a deliberate incitement to violence (PTI)
Updated on Jul 08, 2022 08:52 PM IST

Maha lessons for family focussed parties in India

The debacle is an instructive reminder from the BJP to its challengers that no battle is too small to attempt a fight. It is also a warning to all dynasty-driven parties that the family name is not bulletproof to the assaults of the competition, both within and from competitors

Banners in support of Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, Vashi, Navi Mumbai, June 24, 2022 (HT PHOTO)
Banners in support of Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, Vashi, Navi Mumbai, June 24, 2022 (HT PHOTO)
Updated on Jun 24, 2022 08:21 PM IST

Prophet row: India must learn to self-correct

The BJP could possibly have avoided the negative fallout from the controversy by removing Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal immediately after what they said about Prophet Mohammed

Protestors clash with police during a protest demanding the arrest of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Nupur Sharma for her comments on Prophet Mohammed, in Prayagraj, India, June 10, 2022 (REUTERS)
Protestors clash with police during a protest demanding the arrest of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Nupur Sharma for her comments on Prophet Mohammed, in Prayagraj, India, June 10, 2022 (REUTERS)
Updated on Jun 10, 2022 08:45 PM IST

When marriage is not a safe and essential space

The ordeal of Sujata Khullar, a victim of domestic abuse, is a reminder of how too many women sacrifice too much of themselves for marriage, assuming it to be a safe space. Her experience — and her courage — should also make us connect the dots to the larger debate around why marital rape is still not a crime in India

Sujata’s story reinforces what the hard facts tell us. More women are abused, assaulted and violated within a circle of trust than by strangers. National Crime Records Bureau data reveals that more than 90% of Indian women know their perpetrator (Shutterstock)
Sujata’s story reinforces what the hard facts tell us. More women are abused, assaulted and violated within a circle of trust than by strangers. National Crime Records Bureau data reveals that more than 90% of Indian women know their perpetrator (Shutterstock)
Updated on May 27, 2022 07:48 PM IST

Why India must come clean on Covid-19 deaths

The WHO may not have covered itself in glory over the handling of the pandemic. But the debate around India’s uncounted deaths is not about arithmetic. It’s about truth-telling. And what we owe as a nation to ourselves. And to the people

t is the cold and clinical insistence that our formal death count is entirely accurate — when evidence on the ground clearly shows otherwise — that, in fact, weakens our argument. That — and a lack of empathy (Praveen Kumar/HT Photo)
t is the cold and clinical insistence that our formal death count is entirely accurate — when evidence on the ground clearly shows otherwise — that, in fact, weakens our argument. That — and a lack of empathy (Praveen Kumar/HT Photo)
Updated on May 13, 2022 05:52 PM IST

From Rajasthan, the tragic tale of two women

While the death by suicide of a gynaecologist paints a sordid picture of extortion, blackmail, and a compromised legal process, the death of her patient — a young mother — shows an ugly patriarchal culture that often denies women their reproductive rights

Rajasthan doctors hold protest at Amar Jawan Jyoti after Archana Sharma, a gynecologist at a private hospital in Dausa Lalsot, allegedly died by suicide after being booked on murder charges in the death of a pregnant woman during childbirth, Jaipur, March 31, 2022 (ANI)
Rajasthan doctors hold protest at Amar Jawan Jyoti after Archana Sharma, a gynecologist at a private hospital in Dausa Lalsot, allegedly died by suicide after being booked on murder charges in the death of a pregnant woman during childbirth, Jaipur, March 31, 2022 (ANI)
Updated on Apr 01, 2022 08:38 PM IST

Excerpt: To Hell And Back: Humans Of Covid by Barkha Dutt

Journalist Barkha Dutt’s new book, To Hell And Back (published by Juggernaut Books), tells the story of the Covid-19 pandemic in India and draws from her own reporting on the subject. This excerpt is taken from the chapter Asphyxiated, which deals with the second wave in 2021 and the oxygen-shortage crisis

Excerpt: To Hell And Back: Humans Of Covid by Barkha Dutt
Excerpt: To Hell And Back: Humans Of Covid by Barkha Dutt
Updated on Feb 25, 2022 10:28 PM IST

Muslim women and their right to an education

It doesn’t matter whether you are for or against the headscarf. Or if the conversation should be about legality or religion. At its core, the hijab controversy is about access to education

The larger debate over secularism, the nature of the relationship between religion and the Indian State, Hindutava, Islamophobia, and Islamist politics will rage on. In the meantime, how can you punish teenage girls whether or not you agree with their hijab? (PTI)
The larger debate over secularism, the nature of the relationship between religion and the Indian State, Hindutava, Islamophobia, and Islamist politics will rage on. In the meantime, how can you punish teenage girls whether or not you agree with their hijab? (PTI)
Updated on Feb 18, 2022 08:00 PM IST

In Punjab, the Congress is at war with itself

After Amarinder Singh’s exit, Sunil Jakhar, Navjot Sidhu and Charanjit Channi were meant to be an Amar-Akbar-Anthony troika. The plan backfired and the party descended into a gang war, underlining its inability to urgently resolve the mess

The status quoist instincts of the Congress leadership — do nothing until you have to — is reflected in all of its key decisions in Punjab (ANI)
The status quoist instincts of the Congress leadership — do nothing until you have to — is reflected in all of its key decisions in Punjab (ANI)
Updated on Feb 04, 2022 09:08 PM IST

Punjab elections: It’s Channi versus Kejriwal

If Channi scores a win, it will be despite his party. If Kejriwal does, you will hear more of the ‘Delhi Model’ nationally, as you once did of the ‘Gujarat Model’. For now, it’s advantage the AAP, courtesy the Congress

The marginalisation of a heavyweight leader (Captain Amarinder Singh); the birth of a brand new persona (Charanjit Singh Channi); and the real opportunity for a party to go from regional to national (the Aam Aadmi Party) makes this the poll story with the most interesting protagonists and twists in the plot. (Ravindra Joshi/HTPhoto)
The marginalisation of a heavyweight leader (Captain Amarinder Singh); the birth of a brand new persona (Charanjit Singh Channi); and the real opportunity for a party to go from regional to national (the Aam Aadmi Party) makes this the poll story with the most interesting protagonists and twists in the plot. (Ravindra Joshi/HTPhoto)
Updated on Jan 21, 2022 08:35 PM IST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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