Siddharth Varadarajan

Siddharth Varadarajan (born 1965) is a journalist and editor in India.[1] He was editor of the English language national daily The Hindu from 2011 to 2013. He is one of the founding editors of the Indian digital news portal The Wire, along with Sidharth Bhatia, and M. K. Venu.

Siddharth Varadarajan
Image of Siddharth Varadarajan
Born (1965-04-10) 10 April 1965 (age 58)
Alma mater
SpouseNandini Sundar
  • Muthusamy Varadarajan (father)
  • Usha Varadarajan (mother)
RelativesTunku Varadarajan (brother)

Early life, education and activismEdit

Siddharth Varadarajan was born to an IAS officer, Muthusamy Varadarajan, and Usha, a businesswoman.[2] He did his initial schooling at La Martiniere in Lucknow and Mayo College, Ajmer.[2]

After 1978, Varadarajan studied at the Brockley County state school in London, his father having been appointed to a position at the Indian High Commission in London.[2] He received an undergraduate degree in economics at the London School of Economics[3] Left-wing politics in the UK came to influence his journalistic career.[2] He then studied at Columbia University.[2] While a student at Columbia, he met his future wife, Nandini Sundar.[2]



Times of IndiaEdit

In 1995, Vardarajan returned to India to work as a journalist, before joining The Times of India as an editorial writer in 1995.[2]

The HinduEdit

In 2004, he joined The Hindu, as Strategic Affairs editor, before going on to succeed Harish Khare as the Chief of National Bureau.

In May 2011, Varadarajan was appointed as The Hindu's editor via an extraordinary general meeting called by the Board of Directors. He was the first editor to have been not drawn from the family of primary shareholders in its 150-year history.[4]

On 21 October 2013, Varadarajan publicly announced his resignation from The Hindu, citing a change in policy by the owners of the newspaper to go back to being a family-run-and-edited newspaper.[5] The Hindu on its website reported defiance of code of editorial values by Varadarajan.[6]

During Vardarajan's tenure as the editor, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy filed a case in Delhi's High Court challenging his appointment as editor on the grounds that Varadarajan was not an Indian citizen, and further complained to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.[7][8][9] The petition was ultimately denied by the Delhi High Court.[10] Varadarajan later claimed in an interview to Tehelka that Swamy had demanded more coverage in The Hindu of his statements through an intermediary, and that the court case was a mode of exacting revenge after Vardarajan rebuffed Swami.[11]

The WireEdit

In 2015, Varadarajan along with Sidharth Bhatia and M. K. Venu founded the non-profit online news portal called The Wire.[12]

Academic positionsEdit

In 2007, Varadarajan was a visiting professor at the Graduate School of Journalism, University of California, Berkeley.[13] In 2009, he was a Poynter Fellow at Yale University.[14][15] He has also served as a senior fellow at the Center for Public Affairs and Critical Theory at Shiv Nadar University in Delhi.[16]

Other affiliationsEdit

Varadarajan is a member of the International Founding Committee of The Real News,[17] and was, until 2015, a board member of the inter-governmental B.P. Koirala India-Nepal Foundation.[18]

Until 2015, he was also a member of the Executive Council of the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies,[19] and a member of the Indian Council of World Affairs. He continues as a member of the editorial board of India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs.[20] and in 2019, joined the International Advisory Council of the Sydney-based Judith Neilson Institute of Journalism and Ideas.[21]


Awards and AccoladesEdit

In November 2005, the United Nations Correspondents Association awarded Varadarajan the Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize Silver Medal for Print Journalism for a series of articles, Persian Puzzle on Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency.[22]

In March 2006, he was awarded the Bernardo O'Higgins Order by the President of Chile—that country's highest civilian honor for a foreign citizen—for his contributions to journalism and to the promotion of India's relations with Latin America and Chile.[23]

In July 2010, he received the Ramnath Goenka award for Journalist of the Year (Print).[24]

He received the 2017 Shorenstein Journalism Award for outstanding reporting and for significant contributions to promoting freedom of the press in the Asia-Pacific region.[25]

In May 2020, he is among 17 journalists from across the world recipients for the Germany based prestigious Deutsche Welle Freedom of Speech Award.[26][27] The Freedom of Speech Award 2020 is for all courageous journalists worldwide who are suffering repressions because of their reporting on the pandemic.[28]

He received a Red Ink Award in December, 2022 in the politics category for articles on Pegasus spyware.[29]

Legal casesEdit

On 31 March 2020, The Wire had published a news report on a Ram Navami fair being conducted amidst the coronavirus pandemic in Uttar Pradesh. The report had misattributed a quote to the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the paragraph containing it was tweeted by Varadarajan. On the following day, the report was corrected and Varadarajan himself issued a clarification, attributing the quote to the Hindutva stalwart Acharya Paramhans.[30] The Uttar Pradesh police registered a case against Varadarajan calling it an "objectionable article" and on a number of charges including promoting enmity, cheating by impersonation and creating false alarm leading to panic.[30][31] The cases were filed after the correction and was followed by a tweet from Adityanath's media advisor who claimed that the action was taken because he had apparently not apologised or deleted the tweet, along with a warning that "[I]f you too are thinking of spreading lies about the Yogi government, please remove such thoughts from your mind."[32]

Varadarajan issued a statement to the police asking for a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) and the details of the specific actions that had been grounds for the registration of the cases, the statement was endorsed by the chairman of The Hindu Group, the editorial director of NDTV, the editor of Frontline magazine, the former editor of Jansatta daily, the consulting editor of the India Today Group and various other senior journalists.[31] The founding editors of The Wire described the cases as a politically motivated attack on freedom of the press in India,[33] and a condemnation against the cases was issued by a group of over 200 journalists from various media outlets who described it as "brazen attempt to muzzle the media".[31]

In January 2021, The Wire published a report which was tweeted by Varadarajan and quoted the grandfather of the farmer who had died during the farmers' protest in Delhi.[34] In the report, the grandfather had claimed that his grandson had been shot by the police and that one of the doctors who had performed the autopsy had told him that the injuries he had sustained were caused by a bullet but was prevented from reporting it, in contradiction to the official post mortem report.[35] The police at Rampur, Uttar Pradesh registered an FIR against Varadarajan on charges of public mischief and imputations against national integrity for publishing and tweeting the report.[34][35]

Varadarajan described it as malicious prosecution, stating that it has become a crime in the state of Uttar Pradesh to report statements of relatives of the deceased if they questioned the official narration of events.[34] FIRs on similar grounds were also lodged against six other journalists including Vinod Jose of The Caravan which had reported on eyewitness claims that the police had shot the farmer and against the member of parliament Shashi Tharoor.[34][35] The FIRs received condemnation from various media associations across the country who described it as a symptom of executive overreach.[36]

Personal lifeEdit

Varadarajan is married to Nandini Sundar, a sociologist and anthropologist and Professor of Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics.[37] His interests include Hindustan Ambassador cars, old maps and cigars.[37][38]



  • Gujarat The Making of a Tragedy. Penguin. 2003. ISBN 978-0143029014.
  • Nonalignment 2.0: A Foreign and Strategic Policy for India in the 21st Century. Penguin. 2014. ISBN 978-0670086986.


  • "Global threats and India's quest for strategic space" in Great Powers and Strategic Stability in the 21st Century (Ed: Graeme Herd) ISBN 978-0-415-56054-2


  1. ^ Osborne, Lawrence (15 November 2013). "In Myanmar, Retracing George Orwell's Steps". The New York Times Style Magazine. The Indian journalist Siddharth Varadarajan noted on a visit to Myanmar's capital that it is "the ultimate insurance against regime change, a masterpiece of urban planning designed to defeat any putative 'colour revolution' — not by tanks or water cannons, but by geography and cartography."
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Dave, Palash. "Making News - Palash Dave profiles brothers Tunku and Siddharth Varadarajan". Indian Quarterly. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  3. ^ "A Conversation on Indian Media: Interview with Siddharth Varadarajan". 18 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Siddharth Varadarajan appointed Hindu editor". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 19 September 2013.
  5. ^ Varadarajan, Siddharth [@svaradarajan] (21 October 2013). "With The Hindu's owners deciding to revert to being a family run and edited newspaper, I am resigning from The Hindu with immediate effect" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  6. ^ Choudhary, Vidhi (21 October 2013). "Siddharth Varadarajan quits The Hindu; family rift resurfaces". mint. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  7. ^ Registrar sends letter to The Hindu on editor's appointment, Business Standard, 24 January 2013.
  8. ^ Subramanian Swamy's complaint, scanned copy,
  9. ^ Ram's comment on Dr. Swamy's case as sword, livemint, 22 October 2013.
  10. ^ Not for court to legislate on definition of Editor, says Delhi High Court, The Hindu, 18 December 2013.
  11. ^ "Yes, There Is Bitterness. 'The Hindu' Was on the Cusp Of Something Great: Varadarajan", Tehelka, 23 October 2013, archived from the original on 24 October 2013
  12. ^ "The Wire". Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  13. ^ Reality, one bite at a time: On sabbatical
  14. ^ Siddharth Varadarajan, Indian Journalist, Visits Yale
  15. ^ Varadarajan lecture on C-Span: Understanding India-Pakistan relations after the Mumbai terror attack
  16. ^ "Modi and the World". Time. 22 May 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  17. ^ The Real News: International Founding Committee
  18. ^ BPKF website Archived 9 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies ----Members - Executive Council Members".
  20. ^ "Sage Publications". 21 July 2011. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  21. ^ "Judith Neilson's $100m search for truth". 2 May 2019.
  22. ^ The Hindu : National : UNCA award for Siddharth Varadarajan
  23. ^ Latest India News @ NewKerala.Com, India
  24. ^ Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards Archived 1 August 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ "Siddharth Varadarajan, Founding Editor of The Wire, to Receive 2017 Shorenstein Journalism Award".
  26. ^ Scroll Staff. "Journalist Siddharth Varadarajan among recipients of Deutsche Welle Freedom of Speech Award". Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  27. ^ Welle (, Deutsche. "Deutsche Welle Freedom of Speech Award: 17 laureates from 14 countries | DW | 03.05.2020". DW.COM. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  28. ^ "India's Siddharth Varadarajan among DW Freedom of Speech Award winners | The Indian Awaaz". Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  29. ^ Team, N. L. "Red Ink awards: Barkha Dutt and Siddharth Varadarajan among winners". Newslaundry. Retrieved 6 April 2023.
  30. ^ a b Rashid, Omar (2 April 2020). "Uttar Pradesh police lodge FIR against the editor of The Wire for 'objectionable article' against Yogi Adityanath". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  31. ^ a b c "Journalists condemn FIR against Siddharth Varadarajan". The Hindu. 13 April 2020. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  32. ^ "FIR filed against 'The Wire' editor for allegedly making 'objectionable comment' about Adityanath". 2 April 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  33. ^ "UP Police books The Wire editor over 'disreputable' Twitter remarks on Yogi Adityanath; website's founding editors call charges 'politically motivated'". Firstpost. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  34. ^ a b c d "FIR registered against wire editor Siddharth Varadarajan provocative tweet". The Hindu. Ghaziabad. 31 January 2021.
  35. ^ a b c "Journalist Siddharth Varadarajan booked for report on farmer's death on Republic day". The News Minute. 31 January 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  36. ^ Patrakar, Chhetria (3 February 2021). "Too keen to withhold?". Himal Southasian. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  37. ^ a b Sandar, Nandini (9 April 2019). The Burning Forest: India's War Against the Maoists. Verso Books. ISBN 978-1-78873-146-1.
  38. ^ "Hindustan Motors' Ambassador sold to Peugeot: All you need to know about the car". Hindustan Times. 11 February 2017. Retrieved 7 April 2023.

External linksEdit

Preceded by Chief of the National Bureau
The Hindu

2009- 2011
Succeeded by
Preceded by Editor
The Hindu

Succeeded by