Nationality - Indian
Lives in - New Delhi
Appu joined India’s second largest English daily, Hindustan Times, in 2016 as its Editor (Special Assignments) to spearhead the newspaper’s investigative efforts. There he has promoted evidence-based journalism while reporting on social issues. Traditionally, reporting on riots in India tends to be episodic in its examination of the local causes of Hindu-Muslim conflict. However Appu secured a vast database of police and intelligence records, spanning over five years from three communally sensitive states of India and, using field reporting to illuminate trends that were evident in the data, he made a significant contribution to public understanding of a sensitive and complex topic. Most importantly, Appu mapped the shifting paradigm of communal conflict from large scale violence to high intensity low-key communal tensions, which remained unnoticed till then.
Appu also has a deep interest in the political economy and followed the rise of crony capitalism in India. In documenting this, he has produced an original estimation of the size of the black economy in the country, based on previously unavailable data.
Appu graduated from St.Stephen’s college, Delhi where he started reporting while still a college student. During the same time, he was associated with civil society movements, particularly land struggles and campaign against state led human rights violations.
In a decade long career, he has reported from 20 provinces on issues ranging from conflict to corruption. Prior to joining the Hindustan Times, Appu was an Assistant Editor with Indian Express and was part of the team that collaborated with International Consortium of Investigative Journalist to work on tax havens.
Appu is currently working on two book projects. In his spare time he likes to travel, play golf and swim.
In the last decade, India has gone through many changes and I have been mapping the most pressing social issues. Based on my vast experience of covering riots and sectarian clashes, and the data that I have collected over the last 5 years, I believe inequality is at the core of social disruption. I am interested in investigating how income inequality subverts the idea of a just society.
My approach has been influenced by Martha C. Nussbaum’s Political Emotions: why love matters for justice. In her book she elaborates the significance of public emotion in achieving a just society.
“Public emotions, frequently intense, have large-scale consequences for the nation’s progress towards its goals. They can give the pursuit of those goals new vigor and depth, but they can also derail that pursuit, introducing or reinforcing divisions, hierarchies, and form of neglect or obtuseness,” Nussbaum noted.
Since reading this book, I began to look into social problems from the point of view of how emotions play a role in social disruption. I was able to understand the reasons why certain emotions such as envy, fear and anger from insecurity play the lead role in social disruptions like communal conflict. I believe inequality appeals to these same set of emotions that form the basis of new political emotions.
I believe that the rise in speculative income is leading to increase in wage inequality. Also, the cronyism that surrounds policy making is leading to a declining faith in honest labour. On the other hand, the prevalence of speculative income sets off the desire to rise above others. As the aspiration to a better life becomes distant, new political emotions are formed, one which is founded on narcissistic emotions and ultimately destabilising the society and democratic political systems.
I believe that this will manifest in two ways: 1) less compassion for fellow human beings resulting in wave of violent crime 2) desire to outdo others in social status and thereby dominate other groups.
Therefore my concern for inequality emanates from the threats posed by inequality to the social and democratic political life.
I would like to pursue further research on the links between inequality, social disruption and xenophobia. A significant contribution to public understanding of the subject can only come from evidence-based study.
I would like to conduct sociological enquiries into reducing inequality. I intend to use the vast set of primary and secondary data that I have secured to identify areas and industries that generate inequality and then examine its association with social disruption and new political emotions.
I am also looking forward to leverage my experience of India to the study of comparative politics.