Shoma Chaudhury's resignation: Why not earlier?

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On Thursday, Tehelka's Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury decided to step down over the recent scandal which allegedly involved the editor-in-chief of the magazine, Tarun Tejpal. But was it a decision taken far too late by Chaudhury?

She wrote in her resignation letter (read here) than since the allegation was first brought to her notice on November 18 (the alleged harassment took place on November 7 and 8 at a hotel in Goa), she took a series of action. She said she "acted on instant outrage and solidarity for our colleague as a woman and a co-worker".

But our limited questions to the former managing editor are: Why did it take ten days for Chaudhury to realise that the damage done was extensive? Or did she decide to jump into the water after sensing that the last lifeboat of the sinking ship called Tehelka was gone?

Shoma Chaudhury tried too much to convince the media but failed

One feels Shoma Chaudhury couldn't manage things as they should have been done. She kept on taking stands, sometimes going to the offence while at other times to the defence, but she never took care of a simple fact and that is: The controversy involves the honour of a woman and as another woman I should decide at once where I stand. In favour of a humiliated woman or professional interest? If it is the first, I should draw the line of toleration beyond which I will not compromise with anything. If required, not even with my stay in Tehelka because as a journalist who speaks in favour of women, this is the ultimate test of the feminism in me.

But more than the moral stand, Chaudhury, because of some unknown reasons, continued to mend an irreparable damage. She tried to convince each media person who spoke to her and gave too many versions. In her letter, Chaudhury put up a defence saying an anti-sexual harassment committee was about to be set up but the story's breaking in the press disrupted the process. She regretted that after the news broke, it was all about misconstrued facts and the snowballing of the crisis. What were you thinking Shoma Chaudhury? When politicians are exposed, it is the same BREAKING NEWS and snowballing noise that make the media victorious in most of the cases it handles. So the rule of the game was certainly not changed this time. It is only that Tehelka saw itself at the receiving end this time.

It is a great irony, isn't it ma'am? When political parties try to self-certify themselves whenever allegations of corruption break out, the media refuses to recognise and begin a trial by itself. So what is the base of believing that your media house could make a difference? Moral decline isn't a political subject, dear Chaudhury, it is a social menace today and the media is not above the society.

Chaudhury rejected the allegations of a cover-up as is being spread across all circles and reasserted her "feminist positions". What is a feminist position, if we may ask you, Shoma Chaudhury? Talking big about some distant happening? When the biggest test of that so-called feminism came at home, you failed miserably. Your timing of the resignation is a pointer.

Not many will remember the self-proclaimed moral stands taken by Chaudhury. The lapse of judgment, a term popularised by your former editor-in-chief recently, was also seen when it came to her.

The ploy of resignation was the last resort of both the editors to try to make a decent exit from the scene. But for the journalistic fraternity, the Tehelka episode will remain a burden.

Chaudhury concluded her letter by saying: "I deeply regret any inadequacies or lack of clarity I may have displayed in my leadership." Well, the regret is not without a basis.

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