A democracy of armed soldiers

(Published by the Hindu on August 22, 2014)

To get to the room where Irom Sharmila has spent a majority of her protest life one can pass the corridor of the main block of Imphal’s Jawaharlal Nehru hospital, turn around a flight of stairs and another long corridor. Or one can hope to enter directly from a separate block where she stays.

The long wait for a night of freedom
The long wait for a night of freedom

It has its own entrance. The grill gates are always locked. Sometimes the wooden door is shut as well. Waiting visitors dare not even peep. The doors open for those cleared by the Manipur government. Often, many sit outside on the green granite steps, their heads leaning on the light blue distempered wall. There is nothing else you can do. No window, no crevice opens into Sharmila’s world. Once inside permissions are verified, gifts are checked. The air is mildly sweet and vaguely antiseptic. Entry to the room is possible only when the Jailor arrives. A nurse station is just outside. On the table are scattered sheets with readings of her latest parameters. Opposite, a blackboard lists the names of patients occupying various rooms. Occupant, I Sharmila hasn’t changed for years. (Read the full editorial, published by the Hindu on August 22, 2014)



The revolution will not be tweeted, said Malcom Gladwell. The so-called disgust for the Indian media in Nepal that triggered a hashtag, #GoBackIndianMedia for about 24-odd hours was certainly not tweeted by men and women I met in villages close to the epicenter, even those I interrupted while they were pulling out a large rice drum from the collapsed rubble of their house in Kathmandu. Or those who had trekked down for almost half a day when they heard that a small medical camp had come up. I managed to evade television and print for several days while in Nepal. On my return one of the first things I’d say is that a strong dose of introspection by the media is needed.

When a disaster happens it seems to everyone that the low hanging fruit is to show the destruction and cycle of death. It’s not an easy task when villages turn to rubble, roads are wiped out and bars of your mobile phone vanish. The media then takes all the help it can to witness first hand the situation and file reports. I have taken help of friends, locals, friends of friends, government agencies-essentially anyone I know and their father to get to a spot.

(The piece appeared on ibnlive.com,  The Huffington Post India and The Quint.)





Ground Reportage From Some Of The Worst Disaster Zones

  • The Uttarakhand Floods: A story of nature’s fury and man’s puny attempts to fight it. Ground reportage and follow-ups
  • Nepal Earthquake, 2015: When the earth shook and the bodies piled up
  • Jammu and Kashmir Floods, 2014: Stone pelting at choppers. Video 
  • The Girl Who Started A Movement: An interview with the parents of Jyoti, once known as Nirbhaya, Delhi’s brave heart whose rape and murder awakened a nation
  • The Washington Roundtable: Expectations ahead of Prime Minister Modi’s first visit to the United States Video
  • Marykom, No Show in Manipur:  Why is a film of Marykom, Manipur’s daughter and India’s icon not showing in her home state. Video
  • Nupur Talwar: The murder of Aarushi Talwar, a murder where her parents are prime accused. An interview with Nupur Talwar. Video



A prime time anchor, Anubha Bhonsle has hosted the evening news show on CNN-IBN, India at 9 as well as several other discussions, interviews, panels and public interest campaigns. Most of them can be found on ibnlive.com. A sample below.

  • India at 9: On ISIS

Showreel for Best Anchor

Veer: A public interest campaign for the inclusion of disabled in every sector of society.

The Amitav Ghosh interview

Author Amitav Ghosh spoke to Anubha Bhonsle in Imphal just ahead of the release of his book Flood of Fire, the third in the Ibis trilogy. The interview a day after he had read passages of the book at the Imashi Memorial lecture and had a chance to experience life under AFSPA in Manipur. Amitav Ghosh spoke about what he chose Manipur to give the first peek of his latest book and much more. The interview can be seen here.

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Clean Up India




The Citizen Journalist (CJ) Show is CNN-IBN’s big clutter breaker. A show, which keeps the Citizen at the centre of it’s reportage. It looks at issues and trends often forgotten by the mainstream media. Unlike Citizen Journalism in other parts of the world, this team led by Anubha Bhonsle brings the best of public interest journalism, backed with robust ground reportage, strenuous fact-checking and rigor and often fronted by the Citizen him/herself. The Citizen Journalist Show has won the Best Cross Platform content for three consecutive years at the Asian TV Awards. You can also go to ibncj.com or track the show and it’s social media outreach on @ibncj

  • Span on The Citizen Journalist Show
  • Save the RTI: A Citizen Journalist Special
  • Your issue, your vote: A Citizen Journalist Special from Bangalore
  • Uphaar Tragedy: Over the years the CJ show adhered to one principle, a constant follow-up of every story they reported on, tracking the smallest developments and linking them to the big picture. Over the years the team did extensive, detailed reports on the various issues that the Uphaar cinema fire threw up-the long legal battle, the lack of public safety infrastructure in buildings, malls, the grit of the families and the eternal wait for justice and compensation. One of the latest shows was filed in 2015 and is on ibnlive.com


  • The Citizen Journalist Show: Standing with a martyr’s family