PARANJOY GUHA THAKURTA's work experience, spanning over 40 years, cuts across different media: print, radio, television and documentary cinema. He is a writer, speaker, anchor, interviewer, teacher and commentator in three languages: English, Bangla and Hindi. His main areas of interest are the working of the political economy and the media in India and the world, on which he has authored/co-authored books and directed/produced documentary films. He teaches and speaks on these subjects to students, general audiences and also trains aspiring – and working -- media professionals. He participates frequently in, and organises, seminars/conferences. He is a regular contributor to newspapers, magazines and websites. He is featured regularly on television channels and radio programmes as an anchor as well as an analyst and commentator.
Born on October 5, 1955 and educated at St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi (1972-75) and at the Delhi School of Economics (1975-77) in the same university from where he obtained his Master’s degree in economics, he started his career as a journalist in June 1977 and has been employed with various media oganisations including companies bringing out publications such as Business India, BusinessWorld, The Telegraph, India Today and The Pioneer. He worked with Television Eighteen (now Network 18) for almost six years between 1995 and 2001 when he anchored a daily discussion programme called “India Talks” on the CNBC-India television channel. Between 2007 and 2013, he has anchored two one-hour-long weekly programmes for Lok Sabha Television (the channel owned and operated by the lower house of the Parliament of India). He has anchored programmes for other television channels.
He is (or has been) a visiting faculty member at reputed educational institutions including the Indian Institutes of Management at Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Bangalore and Shillong, University of Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration and Visva Bharati University.
He served as a member of the Press Council of India nominated by the University Grants Commission between January 2008 and January 2011. In April 2010, as a member of a two-member sub-committee of the Council, he co-authored a 36,000-word report entitled Paid News: How corruption in the Indian media undermines democracy. He is a media trainer and a consultant/advisor on India’s political economy. He was the founder director of the School of Convergence (SoC). He has been a consultant at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, making presentations and writing papers on Indian politics. He has been associated with a number of projects of United Nations organisations, including the International Labour Organization (ILO).
He served for two years (2011-13) as president of the Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP), an independent, not-for-profit organisation based in Delhi. He is a member of the managing committee of the Media Foundation of India that runs the website, the hoot.org, and has written a series of articles for the website on media ownership in India. He is a member of the governing council of Common Cause, a civil society organisation engaged in public interest litigation, among other activities related to redressing public grievances. He has advised various organisations, including corporate bodies (Indian, foreign and multinational), government agencies (including India’s Ministry of Information & Broadcasting) and civil society organisations.
He is a director/co-director/producer of documentary films. The films, Idiot Box or Window of Hope (2003), Grabbing Eyeballs: What’s Unethical About Television News in India (2007), Advertorial: Selling News or Products? (2009), Freedom Song (2012) were all produced by the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT). Other films include Hot As Hell: A Profile of Dhanbad (2006-07) , Blood & Iron: A Story of the Convergence of Crime, Business and Politics in Southern India (2010-11), The Great Indian Telecom Robbery (2011), A Thin Dividing Line (2013) on the India-Mauritius double-taxation avoidance treaty, Coal Curse: A documentary on the Political Economy of Coal Energy in India (2013) and In the Heart of Our Darkness: The Life and Death of Mahendra Karma (2013).
He is the lead author of Gas Wars: Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis with Subir Ghosh and Jyotirmoy Chaudhuri, published in April 2014. The book has been self-published with Authors Upfront. The book tells the story of how influential corporate captains have benefitted from the way government policies and contracts are structured. Political and social activists, academicians, students, media professionals and representatives of corporate bodies have evinced considerable interest in the book. The authors were served legal notices in April and May 2014 by lawyers acting on behalf of two of India's richest men, Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani, and the companies they control. Till the middle of November 2014, the book had sold around 12,000 copies (including downloads in its electronic form) and continues to register brisk sales.
He has contributed articles and chapters to the following books: Realizing Brand India edited by Sharif D Rangnekar [Rupa, 2005], India: The Political Economy of Reforms edited by Bibek Debroy and Rahul Mukherji [Bookwell, 2004]), Journalism: Ethics and Responsibilities edited by Seema Mustafa [Har Anand, 2013],Strategising Energy: An Asian Perspective edited by Sreemati Ganguli [KW Publishers, 2014], The Indian Parliament: A Critical Appraisal edited by Sudha Pai and Avinash Kumar [Orient BlackSwan, 2014] and The Indian Parliament: The Changing Landscape edited by BD Dua, MP Singh and Rekha Saxena [Manohar, 2014]
In collaboration with Authors Upfront, he has been the publisher of A Million Missions: The Non-Profit Sector in India by Mathew Cherian and a new edition of Calcutta Diary by Ashok Mitra. He is currently engaged in authoring/co-authoring/editing other books and producing/directing documentary films. He has travelled widely in India and across the world. He is a partner of Media Network of India, a firm engaged in designing and creation of content for all media, contract publishing, training of media personnel, establishment of radio stations and other consulting assignments in the media.
Paranjoy served as the Editor of the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) from April 4, 2016 to July 18, 2017.