A rendezvous with Mr. Vikram Chandra
Braving the waterlogged streets and the miserable traffic jams of South Delhi, two Stephanians made their way towards the NDTV Office housed in the Archana Complex. The mission was to meet a third Stephanian - Vikram Chandra.
Mr. Chandra is an alumnus of St. Stephen's College and is the Group CEO & Executive Director of NDTV Group. He is the anchor for The Big Fight, Gadget Guru and the 9 o'clock news. After getting our passes, we ascended the stairs leading to the elevator. Posters of landmark NDTV shows lined the walls and the elevator had four funky screens streaming videos from NDTV 24 X 7, NDTV India, NDTV Good Times and NDTV Profit. Once on the fifth floor, we were escorted to this celebrated alumni's office to be greeted by a warm and friendly Mr. Chandra.
The following is an account of various questions and their interesting answers that we received during the course of our interview.
Chhayankdhar: How did your days in college influence your career choice?
Mr. Chandra: While my college days did not have a profound influence on my career choice, the activities I participated in got me interested in public life and politics. Particularly, debating shaped my journalistic skills. In Oxford University, I was the Editor at the Oxford news feature which also coincided with my journalistic instincts.
2) Would you like to share one of your most memorable experiences during college?
It is definitely my experience in the Debating Society. The Mukarji Memorial Debate is a cherished memory but the most memorable experience was the Freshers' Debate in which you had to speak on the podium while everyone in the hall tried to deter you from doing so. All measures were resorted to dissuade the speaker - tomatoes were thrown at you, people tried to drown your voice in their roars and booing, the microphone was taken away and finally you were physically picked up and thrown off the stage. But in hindsight, it was a good practice of a journalist's job.
3) What was your most worn ensemble during your college days?
A pair of jeans and a Khadi Kurta, all the time. (Thinks) Along with kolhapuris.
(The CoolAge reporter is surprised at the description provided which matches with his own outfit in college. It seems many things would never change at St. Stephen's College.)
4) Very briefly, which was your favourite food item at the College Café, what music did you listen to in your college days and which was your favourite book in that period?
The Mince in the café is clearly an all time hit. In fact, I didn't know that you guys were coming from college; otherwise I would have asked you to get some mince packed for me.
Dire Straits was something I used to listen to very often and definitely the 'Communist Manifesto' was my favourite book. I had memorised every word of it.
5) You have won a large number of awards including the 'Global Leader for Tomorrow' and a 'Young Global Leader' by the World Economic Forum in Davos. You have also won the Indian Television Academy Award 2008 for "Best Anchor for a Talk Show", the Hero Honda Award for Best Anchor person and the Teacher's Achievement Award for Communication. They're all very different awards. What do awards mean to you?
Yes, I have won a lot of awards and mostly anchors win all these television awards but TV is a team game. Every time I win an award, I am conscious of the team effort that has gone behind every single show. It is a time to be grateful to everyone in my team and share that award with them.
6) From all the stories you have covered, what is the one closest to your heart?
It is definitely the time I spent in Kashmir covering the insurgency. It was the peak of the insurgency and it taught me what to do and what not to do. You can have all the knowledge and skills, but at times like this you really need to sharpen your decision making skills and determine which militant leader can be approached for an interview and which one cannot be. In fact I have also written a book on Kashmir by the name of 'The Srinagar Conspiracy'.
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