We had the fortune to interview the “Compassionate, Friendly and Lively” Radhika Iyer, the Chief Correspondent in the UK for NDTV Limited. She shared with us some of her heart-touching experiences in this candid interview. Do read her full interview below:
1. How would you describe Radhika Iyer in just 3 words ?
Compassionate, Friendly, Lively.
2. Kindly share your education and work journey so far with our readers.
I hold double Masters in Journalism from reputed universities in India. At 18,, I was the youngest News reporter at Doordarshan. Moved on to write in the Times of India juggling work and education. A year at India Today and then in 2005 joined NDTV Limited. I am now their Chief Correspondent in the UK.
3. Were you born and brought up in UK or have you spent considerable time in both India and UK? What are the similarities and differences in both the cultures?
I was born in Chennai and grew up all over the South of the Vindhyas. Moved to the UK in 2015.
Similarities between India and the UK : Use of English language in public places, Democracy, Unfortunate practice of high profile persons influencing the system, Stunning stone architecture in both countries.
Differences : Lack of warmth in people and weather, The system of standing in a queue here and otherwise in India, decorum on streets.
4. Would you like to share an experience in your life which has left an indelible mark in your life? What did you learn and how did it change you?
I was covering the Tsunami in 2004 at Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu, India. The district was worst affected with over 4000 deaths. Every home had lost atleast one person. I met a mother who had 3 children, two girls and one son. She could have saved only one child. She had to let go of two of her other children. Kanchanamma was bracing herself and her three children for that big wave inside her home (the second and the more deadlier one that day). Against a pillar’s strength she held the three. The second of her children, a daughter at 6 she kept closest to her. That child was specially abled, she spoke and grew less than children her age. The other two were more able. She chose to keep the one who needed support for a lifetime. If Kanchanamma survived that giant wave which entered thousands of homes, she would have to fetch for her girl at all times in her poverty. Her choice, her vision at that time of crisis was a story I will hold close to my heart always.
What I learnt: The power of sacrifice. The way to tell a story – in a simple, sincere way.
5. If someone wants to pursue a career in journalism, what would be your advice for the person?
Do not take it up! Unless – you are willing to sacrifice your fun time with friends, your family time, your attitude of being judgmental or biased.Journalism and News reporting whether Print or Broadcast is often associated with glamour, confidence, literary skills. It is above all that. It demands willingness to work odd hours, in dangerous locations, constant research and impeccable integrity. It is a tough job. But the perks and incentives are beyond what any other job can give. When you know your report has united a parent with a lost toddler in a terror attack.. you sleep that night well. Ok – not that night because you would be working and the following few nights if it is a terror attack !
6. What does women empowerment mean to you?
Women empowerment can mean different things to women in different parts of the world based on culture. I am an Indian. For me, when a woman is able to make a decision unmindful of the stigma in the society – that is empowerment. Today’s Indian woman is not coy or submissive. She is fierce, independent, capable (she always was) and unforgiving. To be able to make a choice – which is her own and no one else’ – is empowerment.
7. As a woman it is more challenging to manage work and home responsibilities. What is your take on this?
Most certainly. The toughest aspect is to break the notion that home work is the woman’s department. My work is particularly demanding. I do come back home tired but I also feel guilty if I do not put food on the table. This is what women all over face. It is great that they are able to juggle both. But that does take a toll on the health. I could spend more time researching but then there are other things to do. For a woman, who is a mother particularly – work and family doesn’t often go parallel. One will invariably have to slow down.
8. What are the various things, big and small, which make you happy?
A movie, a discount, good food, work, travel, family makes me happy. Courtesy and kindness makes me happy as well. Definitely top of the list will be – pay day.
9. If tomorrow were doomsday, what would you do today?
10. What do you enjoy the most about your work?
The variety it offers. It is of 13th year at work - I seldom am bored.
11. What is your goal or purpose in life?
To be kind. To be happy.