Birthdays are special, but this particular birthday I am writing about is extra special. Having started its journey in 1995, your favourite Outlook has turned 24—just one short of its silver jubilee, and we are rightfully in a celebratory mood. In the years gone by, we have recorded history and made some ourselves, such as the expose on the betting scandal that shook up the cricketing world. Besides surviving the tough economics of a crowded media landscape, we have educated, enthralled, engaged and embraced both appreciation and opprobrium, and earned what I believe a deserving back pat or two.
The credit for Outlook’s achievements goes to its previous editors who helped shepherd this organisation—no less than an institution now—through rain and shine. Being a member of the Outlook family for no more than a year and half, I see myself more as a custodian of the high values and gold standard that my predecessors set for us. But nothing comes easy and whatever heights Outlook scaled have been hard-earned. Our editorial calls have mostly been solid and have stood the test of time. In some, we did slip and continue to make amends by admitting our guilt, swallowing our pride. But one constant through this unfinished journey has been Outlook’s honest intent. Never has our intention to pursue good, honest and fair journalism been under a cloud.
Given that our heart is in the right place, it is heartening that we will turn 25 next year. We live in times where spectacle is often preferred over substance, and noise is mistaken as informed debate. To stay the course under such circumstances is a challenge, but Outlook, I promise, will never compromise on its core credentials.
Our call of duty demands we take no sides but the side of truth. That being our guiding light, we take pride in that we are neither pro (this side) nor anti (that side). Being impartial poses its set of problems. We are pilloried for not backing one side enough or for not going after the other side more. Yet, we prefer to bear the burden of our impartiality minus the obvious rewards as nothing but a badge of honour.
Our 24th anniversary is an apt occasion for both remembering and renewing our commitment to what we stand for and believe in. In pursuing our preferred path, we have deliberately chosen to be different. In the past year or so, we have dwelt on subjects such as menstruation, malnutrition and rare genetic disorders that impact the lives of millions, and will in the future continue to explore issues that matter but normally do not find adequate mention in mainstream media.
This issue marking our anniversary also has a different feel and flavour. Since it’s our 24th birthday, we decided to tail 24 people—a mix of the famous such as an actor, writer, cricketer and a few not-so-famous personalities such as a Calcutta tram driver and a woman cremation worker—to get a rare peek at how they lead their lives. Though diverse, their stories had similar richness.
Sample these: when not sizzling the screen, actor Sunny Leone is perfectly at ease playing the mother to her three children and plying them with hot aloo paranthas that she enjoys making; alongside hate mail and death threats, TV anchor Ravish Kumar is inundated with fan mail, including requests to hug him and cry for two minutes; 85 years and 130 books old, author Ruskin Bond remains prolific despite jettisoning the typewriter and writing longhand; having found both fame and fortune in cricket, Virender Sehwag remains hooked on to Kaun Banega Crorepati; and though personally neck deep in politics, Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia still has an appetite for Netflix political dramas like House of Cards. The stories are remarkable and will hopefully keep you all riveted. So, here’s wishing Happy Reading!