Shoma Chaudhury is a widely respected senior journalist and political commentator in India. In 2011, Newsweek picked her as one of 150 power women who “shake the world”. She is a prolific writer and columnist and the former Managing Editor of Tehelka, an iconic Indian weekly newsmagazine, acclaimed for its investigative and public interest journalism. Previously she worked as a senior journalist with India Today and Outlook.
Ms Chaudhury is well known for her nuanced and complex commentary on the nature of Indian democracy and governance. She has written prolifically on critical issues of economic and social development, including state, caste and gender politics; issues of Muslim identity; Maoist insurgency and terrorism; corruption of the state and, in particular, the impact of irresponsible media and judiciary in national scams. She has also written critically on the politics of water, land and other natural resources that impact development.
Her stories have catalyzed many important conversations in India’s public life due to her rigorous research and analysis and independent thinking. Several of them have been seminal in bringing justice to human rights defenders falsely accused and jailed by the State. In 2009, when she was awarded the Chameli Devi Award for the most outstanding woman journalist, commenting on her range of work, the judges applauded Ms Chaudhury in their citation for “not hesitating to visit difficult and dangerous news landscapes where angels fear to tread” and “for her gift of making even the most esoteric topics come alive with her brilliantly evocative writing”.
Ms Chaudhury has also won several other awards, including the Ramnath Goenka Award in 2009. In May 2012, she won the Mumbai Press Club Award for best political reporting and in 2013 she won the prestigious Sabbiadoro Ernest Hemingway Award for Journalism.
Apart from her writing, Ms Chaudhury is also a virtuoso speaker, both on television and stage, and has been invited to address many forums both in India and abroad, including America, Britain, Edinburgh, Italy, France, Spain, Australia, Singapore and Indonesia. She has interviewed the most cutting edge minds globally on politics, policy, business, science, civil society, cinema, literature, sports and media.
Ms Chaudhury is also the director of THiNK, a widely celebrated and cutting-edge forum of ideas she co-founded. Over the last three years, each edition of THiNK has brought together the most diverse and eclectic thought leaders from across the globe and attracted influential and high-profile audiences. Always praised in superlatives, attendees at THiNK say the sheer range and quality of its conversation surpassed Davos and TED Global.
Ms Chaudhury has also hosted other internationally acclaimed forums, and interviewed national and international leaders including Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition Party, Bhartiya Janta Party, Nandan Nilekani, Shah Rukh Khan, Robert De Niro, Tom Friedman, MF Husain, Aamir Khan and AR Rahman to name just a few.
She has been described by her interviewees as singularly brilliant, exuberant, intellectually explosive, hyper-articulate, rigorous yet sensitive. Ms Chaudhury is currently working on a book on the politics of democracy and development in India.
Shoma Chaudhury has a capacity to bring together people on opposing sides of political divides in ways that is almost miraculous.”
Pratap Bhanu Mehta, director of Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi,
Shoma Chaudhury is a powerful instrument of challenge and persuasion in India’s public life. She is a prodigiously gifted and prolific writer. Her weekly column and long-form narrative stories on a range of issues — always rigorously researched and sensitively argued – has positioned her deservedly as one of India’s finest and most influential journalists.Shoma’s stories stand out, not just for its evocative detail but its deep sociological insights about a country undergoing convulsive change and the dangerous cocktail of frustration and aspiration that underpins it. ”
Tina Brown, Former Editor, Newsweek and The Daily Beast