Narayan Pargaein: Tall Tales

We speak to Narayan Pargaein, the agile journalist from News Express, to find out why he did what he did.

Narayan Pargaein

In the last few days, one man has managed to hog the limelight in Uttarakhand. No it’s not Rahul Gandhi, nor is it Narendra Modi. It’s a man who has managed to take journalism to new heights and stand head and shoulders above anyone else in the field. It’s Narayan Pargaien, the television reporter for Dehradun-based News Express. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, take a look at this video first.

Just in case you think this is a spoof video, it isn’t. Narayan Pargaien is simply doing his job, reporting, while sitting on the shoulders of a man in Uttarakhand. Someone who’s survived the floods. Before we cast any stones and cry ethical dilemma, unprofessionalism, subaltern conundrum, exploitation and basic stupidity – we decided to give Pargaien a chance to explain the method behind his madness. Maybe Pargaien wanted a vantage point to view the floods from? Who knows? Since we believe everyone deserves to put across their point of view, here’s his conversation with us.

1. The video of you reporting from Uttarakhand has become an overnight sensation. Is it difficult to report in such harsh conditions?

The conditions were more heart-breaking than harsh. I was stuck there for more than three days and witnessed flood victims who had no food or water, homes destroyed, and so on. So we actually helped them by offering monetary help and food.

2. Have you ever reported from a calamity zone or conflict zone before?

No. This is the first time for electronic media. Otherwise I have done it a few times for print.

3. What made you come up with the idea of reporting while sitting on a person’s shoulder?

It wasn’t my idea to begin with, but there was this man who took me to his home and asked me to report the damage he had suffered. His house was in a miserable condition and he had lost a lot in the flood, and was left with very little food and water. We helped him with some food and some money and he was grateful to us and wanted to show me some respect, as it was the first time someone of my level had visited his house. So while crossing the river he offered to help by carrying me on his shoulder, between which, I thought of reporting the flood. We offered Rs 50 as well for the help he gave me.

4. What are the comments/compliments you’ve been getting for this report?

I have received a lot of flack, as you know. But the intention wasn’t what the media has portrayed it to be. People are talking about us being inhuman and wrong but we were actually helping some of the victims there.

5. Whose shoulder were you sitting on? What is his name?

He was one of the Uttarakhand flood victims, whose identity I would not like to disclose.

6. Did you not want to get your feet wet? It is dirty water after all.

I have no problem getting my feet wet. But I was offered help and he was quite insistent so I complied.

7. Do you feel the criticisms coming your way are fair?

I don’t think they are all fair. On the one hand what I did was journalistically wrong, but how it’s being portrayed now on Youtube and Facebook, like a joke, doesn’t feel like it’s fair. Also the report was supposed to be telecast only with footage of me chest-up. This was entirely the cameraman’s fault, who, it seems, almost tried to sabotage my career by shooting from that distance and angle and releasing the video mocking this whole incident, and making me the villain.

8. So would you say it was entirely the cameraman’s fault?

See, I do agree I was wrong as well. That was the wrong thing to do, and the wrong time to have shot that sequence. But what my cameraman did was even more unacceptable. More so because I am receiving all the criticism for it and there isn’t even a trace of his name anywhere. I would say, releasing that video, with the intent of it being harmful to me, or mocking me, was wrong on his part. It could cost me my career.

9. How long have you been working with News Express?

I have been a journalist since 17-18 years and been in print before this but only about 2 years in electronic media.

10. Have there been any repercussions with your bosses?

I have been advised by them not to speak to anyone about this incident officially without their permission but nothing more than that.

Nice to see that while stranded for 3 days it didn’t slip by Pargaein that someone of his “level” had deigned to enter a local’s house. And played benefactor, no less, by offering the man food and Rs 50. Taking a feather out of the hats of most politicians, Pargaein seems to believe that once you’ve helped those less fortunate than you, you’ve earned the right to walk all over them. Or in this case, climb on their shoulders and give a piece-to-camera. There’s one question though, which we forgot to ask Pargaein. Where was the cameraman standing? Readers are requested to send in your guesses.

While he claims he knows he crossed the line of journalistic ethics, we’d cut him some slack if he seemed as upset about straddling that man’s shoulders as he did about the betrayal by his agent saboteur cameraman. Granted, tragedies and calamities make people behave in strange ways. And when you’re a journalist shoved into reporting on a calamity, it’s understandable that you’d want to do anything to make your news report stand out from those by the rest your peers. But standing on someone else’s shoulders is taking that desire to another level altogether. All we can say thinking of the state of journalism and to borrow Kamaal R Khan’s words, “Narayan Narayan”.

Interview conducted by Arushi Kapoor.

All our articles are run through a software to avoid the possibility of unattributed work finding its way into Newslaundry.

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Contribute Your Views
  • Chor

    Some retards have actually tried to claim that this was a video of somewhere in Bangladesh, even though he clearly talks about ‘Rajdhani Dehradun’ in the video.

  • NewFangled

    This guys is colossally stupid and stupidly arrogant! Unbelievable… Not worth being a journalist…

  • Chor

    The journalist is a bullshit artist. If he could not understand what he was doing was wrong, is he really suited to be a journalist in the first place? And he is actually claiming that it was the cameraman’s fault, and that he would have gotten away if the chap had composed the frame in a certain manner. He is apparently a believer in system of ‘You are only a thief if you get caught’.

  • guru

    One question to the journalist…The water was not neck deep. What was the need to jump on the shoulders of a malnutrition-ed man? He could have given Rs 50 anyways (which is peanuts if he is claiming credit for it) refusing such propaganda. The cover-up story cooked up is even worse than the truth on camera.

  • ritwam

    What an asshole !

  • Indian_ThinkPad

    It’s “Peepli Live” !!!

  • unclewalker

    Pack of lies…..If it was “OK” for him to climb on that poor man’s shoulder why is he blaming the cameraman ? and 50 bucks ?? Get a life jerk…….

  • Linkaddict

    I dont understand where do the human rights and ethics come in? You dont cry gung-ho when the same thing happens on the hike of Vaishno Devi ! That is profession for some people. The guy below does not seem oppressed, actually he seems somewhat happy to me. And any man, even in his place would want to earn his money rather than getting it as a pity.

  • vikram

    Justice Katju is right when he says that Journalist should have mandatory training (Education in Journalism). That can be a way to get rid of these quacks!!

    • Jonty Rhodes

      The unfortunate part is that even with the journalistic training, we still have to suffer at the likes of Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghavi, Karan Thapar, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarikha Ghose, Srinivasan Jain, N Ram, Shekhar Gupta, Arnab Goswami, Rahul Kanwal, Sunetra Chaudhary, Sankarshan Thakur, Nidhi Razdan, Suhasini Haider, Sonia Singh, Bhupendra Chaubey, Ashutosh, Nidhi Kulpati, Dilip Padgaonkar, Rajeev Shah, Ajay Umat, Vinod Sharma, Kumar Ketkar, Vinod Mehta, Ashish Khaitan, Shoma Chaudhary, Aakar Patel, Akshaya Mishra, TK Arun, Prashant Pandeyand I can go on and on. I am sure there will be more names added to these. These are journalists who had journalistic training but are morally and ethically bankrupt and corrupt. They suck up to government and are hard core pro-establishment. Kowtowing to the Government should not be the job of media. In fact, they should be doing the exactly opposite. Lately, lot of opinions of people are being paddled as news and with the kind of corruption that is present in media these days, it is not surprising that they have lost their credibility. So whether they are educated or not trained in journalism does not matter. Ultimately if they are going to be sold out, what difference does the education make, except that they can make lie in a more sophisticated way if they are trained.

      You quote Mr. Katju (He is not justice anymore) but that megalomaniac is a big problem in himself that can be discussed on another day. After hearing this man, I am really scared and concerned at the quality of judges in Indian Judicial System. Wouldn’t you be concerned also?


    anything for fame walking tall on some hapless man,s shoulders with a huge tragedy in the background great potential for a bollywood movie this guy must be already on his way to mumbai

  • Ankit

    this is more complex than what it appears to be. I won’t be surprised that the person the journalist is sitting on might have actually felt indebted because someone from the other side of the economic divide (maybe that’s what he refers to as ‘level’) came to his house when no one from the administration seems to bother. (Well minus Modi I guess 😛 ) So in a life long experience where the ‘haves’ have made the ‘have nots’ bereft of any self respect that they deserve, such comment can be plausible, Whether the journalist should have done that or not is another clash between global ethical model and local situation at hand. I am not saying this was right. I am only saying that when a person makes dumb choices, he should be given another chance 🙂

  • Dev Kumar

    This reporter is a complete idiot. A donkey and nothing else.

  • Dev Kumar

    if i m this moron’s boss, i will send him to Agartala to report for the next 12 years. Its these kind of people who are disgrace to this profession

    • Sanu Nair

      I take offence to that. Agartala deserves better 🙂

  • Admirer

    What Journalists otherwise do to the people of Bharat … enjoy the benefits of viewers while climbing on them

  • Cohere

    Isn’t this parody? :S

    • Rajyasree

      One would think and hope so going by his answers, but these are his actual answers.

  • Ashwin Mudigonda

    The word is flak, not flack. Editors are asleep at the wheel in virtually every news media.

  • ken


  • Howard

    I n d i a e a r t h ‘s a r s e h o l e

  • dazzla

    what an as*hole

  • K S Narayanan

    Hi Rajyasree
    This comment in response to Dev Kumar efforts to equate Mr Paragein to a ‘Donkey’. There is no point in insulting the animal which has served the human civilization and continues to do so. Pls read a wonderful story book for kids by Peter Ernst Smith on donkey. The title of the book is “A Donkey is not stupid, A Donkey can think’. Are you getting my point Mr Dev.
    KS Narayanan

  • Nag

    Suddenly Katju’s wishes to have journalists well read in the social sciences makes so much more sense, doesn’t it?

  • Jerome

    A great example of the unethical nature of the media in India…

  • Ravi

    The fool is in Dehradun, and spinning an imaginary tale…which is normal on the entertainmentchannels masquerading as news. Silly sad not amusing !!

  • Ravish

    The clown is in Dehradun in a drain and I do not see any flood damage. The water is quite placid. whaaat to do saaar. 24 hour tv filling no?

  • supergyaan

    jaisa desh vaisi sarkar. jaisa desh vaise patrakaar. 80% of India probably found nothing wrong with the antic. pseudo intelligentsia (newslaundry inlcuded) can go jump in the same water.

  • भारतीय मीडिया के स्तर की चर्चा पूरी दुनिया में…
    महोदय को कपडे ख़राब होने का डर लगा तो उन्होंने एक बाढ़ पीड़ित के कंधे पर चढ़कर रिपोर्टिंग की हालाँकि जनाब को अब न्यूज़ चैनल की इज्जत बचाने के लिए निकाल दिया गया हैं !

    आज इस विडियो को पूरी दुनिया के न्यूज़ पेपर साईट ने अपनी खबर बनाया और कहा की ये हैं भारतीय मीडिया का स्तर

  • Narayan

    How many of you ever rode Rikshaw pulled by people in Kolkata? This sort of things happens everywhere in India. Not a big deal.

  • Rakesh

    Enough criticism has been heaped on the reporter and i would not add to it. he has been dismissed by his organisation, a decision which i believe is knee jerk and absolutely insensitive. He must have been punished but sacking somebody is the ultimate penalty and it has the potential of destroying his career. As a fellow journalist, i felt angry at him for his crude reporting and now i feel sorry for him.

  • moina

    The thing is, for most Indians there is nothing wrong in this. Man offered service, man got paid, end of. We are not a thinking people and our journalists reflect that – aka TOI. Journalism is about revealing reality and this is as real as it gets.

  • KB

    Mate you are a douchebag and I hope this is the first and last time I saw your stupid face.

  • Suniti

    I really don’t know what this man is talking about. He was reporting from a slum on the banks of the Bindal River which meanders through Dehra Dun, where no floods or ‘disaster’ happened. The water was certainly dirty, as it would be for a river into which the town’s sewage and garbage is dumped, but barely ankle-deep. The ‘victim’ was probably very happy to receive Rs.50 from a sucker who fell for the whole ‘flood victim’ story. So much for being a journalist. If he bothered to get on a jeep and go up into the mountains where the real disaster occurred, he might have got a legit story. Then again, he wouldn’t have had the pleasure of riding someone’s shoulders for Rs.50.