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February 26 , 2010

Tehelka as a Metaphor

Prism me a Lie Tell me a Truth


In March 2001, the website Tehelka broke Operation West End, the biggest undercover news story in Indian journalism. Using spycams and masquerading as arms dealers, Tehelka's reporters infiltrated the Indian government, bribed army officers, gave money to the president of the ruling party and the defence minister's close colleague right in the defence minister's residence. This eventually forced both the ministers'resignations. In a rigorously researched and searing authentic account of the Tehelka expose and its aftermath, Madhu Trehan does a forensic study of the imperatives at the root of it, the characters and heroes and villains of the story, and of how the system got back: by obfuscating, by attempting to destroy the investors without leaving any footprints. In the style of Rashomon, the story is related by numerous participants of the same incidents and, of course, none of the stories tally. With exhaustive personal interviews, this is a must-read for anybody who wants to understand modern India - or even better, modern international journalism.

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