India’s media sphere is vast, with over 17,000 newspapers, 100,000 magazines and 178 television channels, outlined a recent report by the New York Times.
In the same report, Indian journalists accused the country’s government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, of trying to control the national news media, claiming to feel under attack.
India is currently placed 142 out of 180 countries on Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom ranking list, which means press freedom in the country is under threat, a situation which seems to be worsening during the current pandemic.
In order to show our support for the country’s media outlets and their journalists, we’ve made a list of 20 of the country’s top media leaders to follow this year.
Journalist Venkatesan ‘Venky’ Vembu is currently an associate editor at The Hindu Business Line, where he also covers economics, politics and big data. In author biographies, he tells the story of his way into journalism, after paparazzi photographed him with Indian politician Maneka Gandhi in 1984. Since then, Vembu has spent a quarter of a century writing for some of the country’s most recognized media outlets: The Indian Express, Frontline newsmagazine, Outlook Money, First Post and now The Hindu Business Line. He has also been published in The Times of India, Hindustan Times and Outlook, among others. Vembu also worked part of his career in Hong Kong, covering geopolitics and economics in East Asia, where he admits he was frequently mistaken for Mr. Bean!
Rajesh Kalra has been Chief Editor of The Times Internet, part of India’s leading media house –The Times of India Group — since 2006. In total, Kalra has been a journalist for almost three decades, during which he also spent seven years as an entrepreneur, managing content for websites such as Yahoo India. Before moving to digital journalism, Kalra was the youngest ever editor of computer publication Dataquest, and worked in the print divisions of The Economic Times, Business Standard and The Times of India. In his spare time, Kalra is also a member of the All India Council of Sports and the Olympic Task Force, a program developed by the government of India to improve the country’s performance in the upcoming Olympic Games. He is also involved with the Information Technology Institute, which offers education for tribal children in India.
Lalit K. Jha is the chief US correspondent for the Press Trust of India, the country’s largest news agency, where he has worked for over a decade covering US politics from an Indian perspective. His skills lie in breaking news coverage, investigative interviews, crisis communications, headline writing, documentaries and monitoring media trends. Jha has also worked for news agencies and magazines in Afghanistan, Burma, and New Delhi, where he was a reporter at India’s national newspaper, The Hindu. He also spent a year as the North America Bureau Chief for the Indian Express in New York. Jha describes himself as a results-orientated journalist with extensive experience reporting international affairs.
Pavan Lall is an associate editor of Business Standard, one of India’s largest English language daily newspapers. Lall is also the author of the book “Flawed: The Rise and Fall of India’s Diamond Mogul Nirav Modi,” published in 2019. Previously, he was also associate editor of Fortune India — where he covered corporate news — and Deputy Bureau Chief at Bloomberg TV, as well as a research reporter at the Dallas Business Journal. Journalism is not his only strength, however, with additional skills in web content writing, content strategy and media relations.
Ritu Marya is the Editor-in-Chief of Franchise India Group, which includes the India Region and Asia Pacific section of Entrepreneur Magazine, covering entrepreneurship, startups, small business management and business. The group — where she has worked for over 20 years — also includes Men’s Health India, The Franchising World Magazine and Retailer World Magazine. Given her extensive experience in business journalism, Marya is widely regarded as a voice of authority on entrepreneurship and technology, meaning she frequently speaks at business and leadership summits in India and abroad.
Prateek Panda founded The Tech Panda — a news outlet focusing on entrepreneurship and tech developments in India — in 2012. Five years later, the publication was acquired by Espacio Media Incubator, in Medellín, Colombia. Panda has extensive experience with tech startups, having co-founded three and worked at three. His working roles have been in operations, business development and marketing and growth. In his spare time, he mentors and advises startup founders.
Chirdeep Shetty is the CEO of Quintype, a data-driven publishing platform for modern media organizations. It allows teams to streamline content creation and management and then, with the help of smart analytics, targets this content at relevant audiences. The SaaS platform’s leveraging of big data also helps media outlets reduce tech costs and increase revenue, via its integrated ad monetization solution. Although Shetty’s background is not in journalism or media, the tech platform — which he joined as the Director of Product in 2017 — is used by top media outlets such as Bloomberg and Mother Jones’ mother.ly.
Aashika Jain is currently the India editor for Forbes Advisor, which publishes news on financial advice, banking, insurance and product reviews. Jain recently moved into this position last month, after spending almost three years working at Entrepreneur Magazine in New Delhi. Previously, Jain wrote for the Economic Times and worked as a financial correspondent for Reuters, as well as at India’s most popular business news channe,l CNBC-TV18. She also writes a column on home entrepreneurship in Hindi for India’s biggest newspaper Dainik Bhaskar.
Nupur Amarnat is a Senior Assistant Editor at The Times of India, where she has worked for four years editing and writing for the Sunday supplement of the newspaper. Amarnat writes on travel, health, fitness, fashion, decor and relationships. She also writes a weekly column on etiquette. Before being employed full-time by The Times of India, Amarnat was a freelance journalist, when she wrote for the Economic Times Magazine, guest edited Robb Report India, and raised her children at home. Throughout her career as a writer and soft features editor, she has also worked at Men’s Health India and Business Standard.
Based in New Delhi, Urmi Goswami is a climate change, environment and sustainable development reporter for the Economic Times, a leading English-language business daily in India. Goswami also has a blog for the Economic Times, where she writes about the social sector, minorities, sustainable development and politics.
Navanwita Sachdev is the editor of tech and entrepreneurship-focused news outlet The Tech Panda. Sachdev is also a freelance contributor to The Indian Express, where she has written about the Indian eSports industry. Previously, Sachdev has also written for other publications at Espacio Media Incubator, including The Sociable, which focuses on the relationship between technology and society. An English literature graduate, she is also the author of the book “Veils and Vices,” a collection of short stories, published in 2015. Before becoming a journalist, Sachdev worked as a content writer and digital storyteller in India. She is also a photographer, trained in glamour photography, and enjoys fashion, lifestyle and travel writing when she is not covering tech news.
Lalatendu Mishra has been deputy editor of The Hindu for a total of 8 years, where he continues to cover economic news for the English-language daily. Based in Mumbai, he has also published in the Sportstar, The Hindu Business Line and The Wire.
Business journalist Dr. Kiran Somvanshi is the chief manager of The Economic Times Intelligence Group, where she is part of the research wing providing reports, economic forecasts and data on personal and public finances in the Indian and Global Economy. In particular, she covers pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, corporate governance, investor protection, gender and corporate social responsibility. Past fellowships in both the US and the UK have meant she has completed short work stints at the United Nations, World Bank and the Financial Times in London. Dr. Somvanshi is also a public speaker on business and journalism, and has written articles on public policy for the Brookings Institute.
Namrata Zakaria of the Mumbai Mirror
Namrata Zakaria is the Trends Editor at the Mumbai Mirror, where she also writes a column called “Let Them Eat Cake” about fashion, aesthetics and culture. Zakaria describes herself as a “chronicler of social and cultural trends,” and has also written a book which is due to be published shortly, about the Moda Goa museum, founded by the late Indian fashion designer, Wendell Rodricks. Before working at the Mumbai Mirror, she worked for 12 years as a senior editor at The Indian Express, where she wrote a column called “Flair and Square.” Zakaria has also been published in Harper’s Bazaar India, GQ, Elle, Open and Outlook magazines.
Pooja Singh of Mint
Pooja Singh is the National Features Editor at Indian financial daily newspaper Mint. Singh is also the host of podcast “The Millennial Mind,” in which she explores what the millennial generation really wants, and why. She has also previously worked as Features Editor for Entrepreneur Asia Pacific, and as a copy editor for Reuters and Down to Earth India. Singh describes herself as “a stickler for details,” she likes telling people stories and holds a master’s in journalism from Columbia University, New York.
Priyadarshini Patwa is currently the Features Editor of Entrepreneur India, where she has created and leads the lifestyle section. At Entrepreneur India, Patwa is solely responsible for creating content for the magazine — whose covers she is responsible for coordinating — and for the digital website. As part of her role, she interviews entrepreneurs, founders, CEOs and celebrities about their businesses and passions. Before working at Entrepreneur India, Patwa worked as an entertainment journalist at MensXP and as Head of Entertainment and Lifestyle at Bayside Journal. At the start of her career, Patwa worked as a creative on feature films and documentary movies.
Rohit Saran is a Managing Editor at the Times of India, where he has worked for four and a half years. His journalism career spans two and a half decades, during which, besides being a writer, he has also worked as a news anchor, data analyst and visualizer. Previously, he was an editor for the Khaleej Times, The Economic Times and the Harvard Business Review. Saran also has experience in launching print publications, such as Money Today and Gadgets and Gizmos, and re-launching print publications, such as Business Today.
Pranbihanga Borpuzari is an Associate Editor at the Economic Times Online, India’s largest business and financial news website, where he leads the vertical on Startups, Entrepreneurship and Small Businesses. Borpuzari began his career in journalism at the news agency United News of India, covering the automotive industry. He then joined the Financial Express, where he covered the coal, mining and steel sectors. Borpuzari was also part of the founding team at Entrepreneur Magazine India, where he covered the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, a beat that he continues to work on to this day.
Nandagopal Rajan is currently the New Media editor at The Indian Express, where he helps the publication on its path to growth, specifically by creating synergy between the print and digital versions of the newspaper, and developing new story-telling methods. He has also contributed to a redesign of the website and the task of adding video content to it. Before working at The Indian Express, Rajan was associate editor at Business Today magazine, where he wrote regular stories about tech trends, and was in charge of the Gadgets & Gizmos magazine, which is part of the India Today Group. He is also a pagemaker and photographer.
Shradha Sharma is the founder and CEO of YourStory Media, the country’s leading media venture for entrepreneurs and startups. Sharma founded the venture in 2008, with the aim of championing the country’s untold stories of entrepreneurship, of which it has now told over 40,000. Sharma — who believes that stories have the power to transform, connect and inspire people all over the world — ensures that YourStory tells them in 12 different Indian languages. Prior to founding the venture, Sharma worked at CNBC TV and The Times of India, which she says allowed her to understand how media businesses run and provided her with the knowledge to be able to set up her own.