London. “No, I do not ever want to write a book about my working with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. This is what I promised to Dr Singh when I saw how betrayed he felt when his former media adviser Sanjaya Baru’s book (Accidental Prime Minister: Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh) came out,” says Pankaj Pachauri, former Communication Adviser to PM Manmohan Singh (2012-2014). Pankaj adds, Dr Singh told me at that time “I have been stabbed in the back.”

If I were to advise PM Narendra Modi on holding a presser…

Pankaj Pachauri is in conversation with Pervaiz Alam in Cineink’s podcast series: London Vārta – Freedom Of Speech. In a wide-ranging interview, former Communication Adviser to PM Singh, Pankaj Pachauri says: If I were to advise PM Narendra Modi, I would try to convince him to hold a big press conference for at least two hours at the new Media Centre in New Delhi. Let the journalists ask all sorts of questions. This would help him in softening his image of a ‘dictator’. Personally, I think he should do it because he is a great interviewee.

Pachauri adds: I hope PM Modi will hold a press conference during the ongoing election campaign. There’s a perception that PM Narendra Modi does not believe in democratic values whereas questioning the govt is actually a democratic value.

‘London Vārta – Freedom Of Speech’ podcast is available in both audio and video formats on Apple, Spotify and YouTube.

PM Manmohan Singh’s Last Press Conference: The preparation and a last minute surprise…

Pankaj Pachauri reveals: PM Manmohan Singh addressed 167 press conferences in his 10-year rule. But his last press conference as PM was a masterclass. It took us three months to prepare for the presser. Anticipating at least 100 possible questions, we sought facts and figures from various govt departments, and prepared a 100-page document to assist Dr Singh but he barely looked at it. He just skimmed through the information we had collected.

Pachauri explains: One hundred and thirty journalists attended the press conference on 3rd January 2014 in New Delhi. This was the last press conference of PM Singh. Sixty two questions were asked. Dr. Singh was spot on. However, we were ambushed by one question, asked by a journalist from Assam. I confess, we had not anticipated this question. The journalist asked: What steps the govt has taken to address the depleting population of rhinos in Assam.

Before joining Dr. Manmohan Singh as his communication advisor, Pankaj had reported from Delhi, Hong Kong, London & Boston. He started his journalistic career at the Patriot, followed by The Sunday Observer, India Today, BBC and NDTV. He was producer of news and current affairs at the BBC World Service & Hindi Service in London for 6 years.

At NDTV, he anchored popular TV progs such as Money Mantra and Hum Log. He was also channel’s Managing Editor.

BBC is not the BBC it used to be…

Discussing the state of media in India, Pankaj criticised the restructuring of BBC in India. According to BBC, in the month of April, 2024, its operation in India separated in two. BBC said the changes were being made to meet the country’s foreign investment rules. A new Indian-owned company called the Collective Newsroom has started producing content for the BBC’s six other Indian language services. BBC admits that the move came a year after BBC India’s Delhi offices were searched by Indian authorities. Those searches by income tax officials came weeks after the broadcaster aired a documentary in the UK – but not in India – critical of PM Modi.

“BBC is not the BBC it used to be. By outsourcing its news output, it has become another media outlet just like other media companies of India. Therefore, it ought to be treated just like any other Indian outfit, now, and has to face same pressures.

Pankaj founded an online platform GoNews in 2017 and ran it for 5 years.

Ayodhya Temple and a Qabristan in its vicinity…

Talking about his work as a reporter in the 1990s, Pankaj says: I have been covering Ayodhya issue since 1987. It’s all politics, full of contradictions. AB Vajpayee said guilty should be punished after the demolition of the mosque. LK Advani called it the saddest day of his life. Once I reported from Ayodhya that there used to be a Muslim graveyard near the site where the new temple has come up.

Pankaj Pachauri has been a member of the Academic Councils at the IIMC, Jamia Millia & MA National Urdu University. He has been a Guest Faculty at the Kautilya School of Public Policy, Hyderabad.

Pankaj tweets @pankajpachauri

Pervaiz tweets @pervaizalam

Cineink tweets @cineinknews

Cine Ink ( has been founded by former BBC broadcasters, Achala Sharma and Pervaiz Alam.