Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A tale of two interviews

Ms. Shirin Ebadi, human rights activist and 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, is on a visit to India. She was interviewed by both the Hindu and the Times of India, with contrasting results.

The interviewer for the Hindu is its highly knowledgeable Deputy Editor Siddharth Varadarajan (who has also posted the interview on his blog). He asks questions that allow Ms. Ebadi to tell us about her work, the purpose of her visit, her views on global terrorism, her anti-nuke stand, Iranian politics, and so on. In short, it's what one calls a wide-ranging -- and very good -- interview.

In contrast, the ToI sent someone called Ratnottama Sengupta, whose questions appear to slot Ms. Ebadi into a little box labelled 'Muslim woman', without giving us any clue about the other facets of her life and work -- including the work for which she won the Peace Prize. The published interview features only three questions; take a look at them:

You're a Muslim arguing for dynamic interpretation of Islamic laws to make women equal before law. What's your message to those who believe Islam condemns women to an inferior status?

Is it possible to follow every tenet of Islam in today's world?

Why is Islam among the most powerful religions, also the most dreaded?


To her credit, the Nobel winner provides classy answers to all these questions. Here's a punchline with which she opens her answer to the third question:

Don't fear Islam, fear the dictators who hide behind the flag. ...


  1. Rahul Siddharthan said...

    Whoever Ms Sengupta is, surely she managed to ask more than 3 questions to Ms Ebadi... I'd suspect the TOI's editorial department of wanting to put Ms Ebadi into a box, presumably the other questions didn't fit in.

  2. Gracchi said...

    Christ almighty what questions- I can see what Rahul says but those are pretty bad nonetheless. Classy answers though you are rihgt.