In a year marked by protests and the pandemic, two Newslaundry correspondents – Nidhi Suresh and Basant Kumar – navigate our biggest stories of 2021, and what they learned in the process.
2021 picked up where 2020 left off: with the farmer protests leading up to January’s violence at Red Fort. “It was also during the farmer protests that we realised the importance of the media beat,” says Nidhi. “The media became a part of the protest; the anger against the media had become so obvious.” They discuss the subsequent arrest of farmers in February, and the assembly election coverage through the in March.
April brought the second wave of the pandemic. Basant talks about the of ground reports he did with Ayush from Uttar Pradesh, the emotional turmoil of reporting from the ground during that time, and the establishment’s apathy towards the crisis.
“When the UP government makes a claim that nobody died of an oxygen shortage,” he says, “our stories stand as a testimony to the lives lost.”
In June, Newslaundry did an on the illegal sale of land – involving muscle, money and mega-bond schemes – as part of the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. Nidhi and Basant then take listeners through August’s stories on the of food delivery personnel, the , and the of a bangle-seller in Indore.
In September, Shivangi Saxena did a on the Hindutva men who shouted violent, anti-Muslim slogans at Jantar Mantar. The video was subsequently used as court evidence as well. In the same month, Prateek Goyal filed an about the murky workings of the Osho ashram in Pune.
September also marked one year since the horrific . Describing her follow-up work on the case, Nidhi says, “It’s sad that we still have to report the story. It is still developing, despite being a year since it happened.”
Basant and Nidhi then talk about the in October, and the at the Singhu border.
From November, Newslaundry carried a by Akanksha Kumar on the UP police’s chargesheet against journalist Siddique Kappan. Ayush Tiwari on the communal violence in the state while Tanishka Sodhi covered the . November also marked the end of the farmer protests.
The duo talk about Diksha Munjal’s in December on how the sad state of Delhi’s POCSO courts, with over 9,000 cases pending and just 56 judgements passed in 2020.
The conversation ends with a snippet from Basant’s with Pankaj Tripathi last year, where the actor says, “In today’s time, we tend to limit ourselves with receiving the repositories of experiences and knowledge the world has to offer. That needs to change.”