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Nitin A. Gokhale is one of the leading Strategic Analysts in South Asia. He has been in the media business for over 40 years as a conflict reporter, Editor, and author, and now he is a media entrepreneur. He is the founder of the two most prestigious defense-related websites and 

In this amazing conversation, Nitin Gokhale sheds light on his career as a media reporter and how he has experienced the most disturbing situations. He dwells on his time as the Kargil War reporter and where he faced the most outrageous injuries incurred by the Indian soldiers. He talked about multiple topics, such as the Legacy of Indira Gandhi, the history of India, the Indo-China War, the violent phase of the 1990s, the current situation in the North East, and much more.

I love talking about history. 

We spoke about the History of India post-independence. If you enjoy our episodes with Abhijit Chavda, you will love this one.

Happy Reading!

His Journalism Journey

“I am an accidental journalist. I wanted to join the air force but got seduced by the mechanism of journalism and the passion that this field has. And here I am forty years in with no regrets. I started as a trainee sports journalist. Then I started putting pages together in a local newspaper in Assam. After that, I started reporting about Municipal authorities not working. At that time in Assam, there was violence, and military and militants were stapled lads for news, and that’s how I became a conflict reports or defense strategist.”

“I report on wars and conflicts, but primarily I am more interested in the history and texture of war. How wars pan out interests me. I have reported the Kargil war and Sri Lanka war with LTT. I have learned a lot from both sides. I am a conflict observer now.”

Most Shocking Incident In His Career

“Mother Teresa died in 1997, and our elder son came home early because the school declared a holiday in Assam. After half an hour, he came and asked me who killed her. I said nobody did. Later, to realize every day, my son was listening to people being murdered. It had become casual as I used to discuss that with people. And for him, death meant that someone killed that person.”

“I suddenly realized I had become inhuman and casual with death. After that, I became more conscious. Then I started bringing in the story behind the people. I have seen a family of seven to eight people in Assam that was gunned down, but nobody knew who did it. A 3-year-old toddler was splashing in the pool of blood. That was shocking to see.”

Violence In India

“Every era has violence. India was violent in the 80s and the 90s. There was a Punjab insurgency, and the deployment of an Indian peacekeeping force happened in Sri Lanka against the Tamil Tiger. At the same time, Kashmir violence started. In the northeast, there was an insurgency group. India has gone through a lot of troubles at that time. Many riots were going on at that time.”


“The biggest riot I remember was in 1969 when I was seven. It happened in Ahmedabad. People were roasted alive in the bakery. I remember watching a man tied to a pole and people hitting him. All this happened and continued because of the divide and rule by the Britishers.”

Indo-Chinese War

“The Chinese played along with Jawaharlal Nehru and humiliated him. He didn’t apply his mind to getting advice from the right people, and we paid for it. I blame Nehru for the way we dealt with the Chinese back then. Nehru looked at his interest. We lost because the military was unprepared, and people didn’t hear their solutions. They did fight well, but we lost because the planning was improper.”

About Indira Gandhi

“I was a young reporter when Indira Gandhi was assassinated. She did make a few mistakes. One of them was the imposing of emergency. She became prime minister under unfortunate circumstances. The leaders in Congress thought to control her, but she grew in her job. By 1969, she had become her person in making decisions.”

The Gandhi Family

“Rajiv Gandhi was a pilot and wasn’t much in politics. Indira Gandhi lost the judgment from Allahabad high court for electoral malfunction as we didn’t have EVM. Sanjay Gandhi took hold and started controlling her. After the emergency, she was isolated. She came to power, but Sanjay Gandhi was the power behind the throne. But he died in a plane crash. Then Rajiv Gandhi was forced into politics.”

“Indira Gandhi made many strategic decisions. She merged Sikkim with India and helped Bangladesh and RA & W formed under her guidance. Till her decision of sending the Army into the Golden Temple, which she had to pay with her life.”

“With time, Rajeev Gandhi had learned and matured. He had learned his lessons and was ready to implement many new policies to improve things, but unfortunately, he was assassinated. If he would have been the Prime Miniter in 1991, he would have done far better, and India would have been much ahead now.”

“Rahul Gandhi has no ministerial experience. The government is not only about policies. It is also about implementing and scaling. He is lacking there right now. To put it clearly, he does not have enough experience.”

Reporting Kargil War

“The credit of my reporting in Kargil goes to my editor. I got a call that comes to Delhi, and from there, you are going to Leh. It was a big opportunity and responsibility. But I was scared because I had a family. I was excited.”

“I went there on Wednesday morning, and the report needs to be in Delhi by Friday night. We took some food along. It was a difficult situation, but the tougher part was after the war. We covered stories that were uncomfortable for the government and military. We raised questions about intelligence failure and what went wrong.”

Situation In The Northeast

“There is no comparison between the Northeast now and back then. The belongingness towards India was not there. But now it has improved. The effect of partition was more towards the northeast. Development and connectivity suffered. Jawaharlal Nehru didn’t bother much about the northeast. Vajpee did many things and helped along in developing, and Modiji has continued on that.”

Thank You!

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