Anita Pratap is an award-winning journalist, author and documentary film maker with 35 years of experience in print, television and web journalism in. She is the former South Asia Bureau Chief of CNN based in New Delhi. She has also worked for Time Magazine, India Today, Sunday, The Telegraph and Indian Express. Widely regarded as India’s first war correspondent and international breaking news journalist, Anita was a trailblazer in trench reporting from the 1980s, reporting on war, riots, insurgencies, assassinations, natural disasters, elections and fall of governments. She was equally dedicated to “Development Journalism” reporting on issues such as health, education, women’s rights, inequality, unemployment, poverty and pollution. She also carved a niche for “Journalism with a human-face” highlighting the problems and injustices faced by the disempowered and marginalized sections of society.
Her first book, “Island of Blood- Frontline Reports from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and other South Asian Flashpoints”, published by Penguin, was an instant bestseller, having sold out the first edition within six days of release. Penguin describes her as “One of the finest journalists India has ever produced, faithfully reporting on war, ethnic conflict, prejudices, and the mindless hatred and fear that has hurt so much of the world.”
In her second book “Unsung”, Anita profiles ordinary Indian men and women who bravely overcame all kinds of obstacles to do extraordinary service to society. Her book was used as course material for a “leadership program” in the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. In the preface of her book “Unsung”, Anita writes:“They are symbolic of the pantheon of ordinary people with extraordinary qualities who live and toil in India. The persons profiled in these pages are some of the real heroes who ought to inspire us all, especially our youth.” Unsung” received rave reviews and the book helped generate millions of Rupees to benefit the causes of Heroes featured in the book.
Apart from writing columns for various Indian and International media organizations, she has contributed chapters to several books. She has made TV documentary films, including on the war in Kargil, Indian classical dance and how Mizoram transformed from a land of insurgency to democracy. Anita has done media-related projects for the United Nations and also conducted workshops to train young Saudi journalists, especially women.
She has given lectures, chaired and addressed seminars and conferences organized by the UN, Asiatic Society, Governments, International Women’s Forum, schools, universities, and prominent think tanks, across the world, ranging from United States to New Zealand, on issues such as terrorism, media challenges, inclusive economic growth, sustainable development, social justice, wealth disparity, cultural diversity, protection of environment, the phenomenon of public protests etc.
Anita was born, brought up, educated and worked as a journalist in India. She was born in Kottayam to Nancy and the late K.J.Simon, senior manager at Tata Steel. Her grandfather, the late Chevalier V.J.Joseph was a Physics Professor, Philanthropist, legislator and authored India’s first Physics text book in English. He was the first Panchayat President of Varapetty in Kothamangalam Taluk, near Muvattupuzha, Kerala, her paternal Kandoth’s family’s ancestral village. Her mother’s family hails from Thodupuzha.
Anita started her education in St.Teresa’s convent, Ernakulam and completed her Senior Cambridge from Kolkata with distinction. She did BA Hons from Miranda House, University of Delhi, where she won the “Founders Day” Prize for topping the college and the G.Pershad Memorial Prize for “being the best in English in the Honours course”. She did her Journalism Degree course from Bangalore University and started her career as a journalist with Indian Express under the editorship of Arun Shourie. During her career, she did many investigative stories exposing corruption, mafia activities and the plight of the poor.
She has won several Indian and International awards, including the prestigious Chameli Devi Jain award for being adjudged “An outstanding woman media person”. The citation stated that the award is “testimony to Anita Pratap’s talent, dedication and courage as a reporter,” adding the Media Foundation “is proud to honour and recognize her sensitive portrayal of the human condition”. Anita won the world-renowned American George Polk Award for excelling in Television Journalism for her coverage of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. She won the FICCI’s Lifetime Award for Journalism in 2007. In 2009, she was honoured by her Alma Mater, Miranda House in Delhi for her “Outstanding contribution to International print, television and web journalism”. In November 2010, she received the Media Citizen Karmaveer Puraskaar award in New Delhi. She received the Shree Ratna award from Kerala Kalakendram on the International Women’s Day on March 8, 2013.
Here is my chapter from a book titled "BREAKING NEWS, BREAKING NEWS - HER OWN WAY" edited by Latika Padgaonkar and Shubha Singh, which comprises chapters contributed by the Chameli Devi Jain Award, India's most prestigious women journalists' award given annually to an "Outstanding Woman Media Person". This book was published in 2012, before AAP was born. This chapter is an expression of my failure and disillusionment with not only the deteriorating situation in India, but also my personal sense of failure as a journalist - my primary mission was social service, to be a medium through which public grievances could be highlighted so that governments could do course corrections, adapt or adopt correct policies and implement them. Alas, the reality is that corruption, inequality and injustice has only increased since I first became a journalist in 1979. I felt thoroughly helpless. No longer. I joined AAP to continue my quest to contribute to a people's movement that aims to bring about change. What do I mean by saying "The answer has found me"? You will understand this title if you read my chapter in this book
In many media interviews and in my note on "Why I joined AAP" which I submitted on February 6 to the Ernakulam AAP Lok Sabha Candidate Selection Committee, I mention that AAP fit me perfectly because there was a perfect alignment of views between Arvind Kejriwal and me. Again, long before AAP was born, in this article, published in January 2011 by the Rotarians of Ernakulam on the occasion of a short films festival titled "SCRIPT" in Ernakulam, I state that corruption is our biggest evil. The short films festival was part of a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) undertaking and was a platform for the public to view documentary films with a social conscience from India and abroad. I was one of the judges for the festival, the other judges being film actor Revathy Menon, Beena Paul, Ajithan Kurup, K.P.Unny and Jose Dominic.