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Sashi Kumar

Entrepreneur, Journalist

Sashi Kumar, born on February 23, 1952, in Kerala, spent his formative years in various cities across India, including Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras, with the majority of his schooling in Madras.

Sashi Kumar

Last Updated: May 1, 2024

Sashi Kumar, born on February 23, 1952, in Kerala, spent his formative years in various cities across India, including Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras, with the majority of his schooling in Madras. He completed his post-graduation in history from Madras Christian College in 1975. Over the last four decades, Sashi Kumar has been a trailblazer in the media industry, contributing significantly as a journalist, TV anchor, media entrepreneur, filmmaker, and educator.

Kumar’s journey in the media landscape began in the late 1970s when he emerged as one of the earliest English newscasters on Doordarshan, India’s national television network. He swiftly transitioned into becoming a familiar face in Indian households, serving as a news and current affairs anchor, film critic, and producer/director of topical features on television. Notable among his contributions were programs like “Money Matters,” the pioneering independent program on the economy, “Tana Bana,” a cultural feature, and “Jan Manch,” an interactive forum with government ministers and societal representatives.

During the mid-1980s, Kumar focused his critical and creative energies on producing a series of documentaries on international issues, providing an original perspective on global events. His travels took him to significant regions during pivotal moments, including the Soviet Union during glasnost and perestroika, East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and Romania following the overthrow of Nicolae Ceausescu.

As a print journalist, Kumar wrote analytical features and critiques on Indian, regional, and world cinema, later expanding his scope to politics and international affairs. Notably, he became The Hindu’s first West Asia Correspondent, opening the West Asia bureau in Bahrain in 1984. During this time, he extensively covered the Iran-Iraq conflict, West Asian politics, the Palestinian liberation struggle, and the status of Indian labor in the Gulf states.

In 1986, Kumar returned to India and played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of Indian television. He set up PTI-TV, the television wing of Press Trust of India, which quickly became a prominent banner on Indian television. His tenure at PTI-TV, from 1986 to 1992, saw the production of a series of acclaimed political and international docu-features.

A significant milestone in Kumar’s career came with the founding of Asianet, India’s first satellite TV channel in the regional language, in late 1992. Simultaneously, he launched Asianet Satcom, a pioneering state-wide cable system in Kerala, setting new standards in programming quality.

In 2000, Kumar divested his stakes in Asianet and founded the Media Development Foundation (MDF), a non-profit trust dedicated to excellence in journalism education. Under MDF, he established the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) in Chennai, which quickly became the premier institution for journalism education in the region.

As a filmmaker, Kumar’s directorial debut came in 2004 with the Hindi film “Kaya Taran” (Chrysalis), exploring identity crises in multicultural societies against the backdrop of the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 and the post-Godhra anti-Muslim carnage in Gujarat in 2002. The film garnered critical acclaim, winning him the G. Aravindan Award for Best Debut Filmmaker in India.

Beyond his professional endeavors, Kumar has been actively involved in various capacities, including serving as a member of the Empowered Committee on Information, Communication & Technology in the Prime Minister’s Office and as a Trustee of the Elizabeth and Malcolm Adiseshiah Trust. He has received numerous awards for his contributions to media, including the Swadeshabhimani Award and the first Lifetime Achievement Award for Television Media instituted by the government of Kerala.

Kumar’s multifaceted career reflects his deep commitment to excellence, innovation, and integrity in media and education. His continued involvement in shaping the media landscape underscores his enduring impact and influence in the field.

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