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Reporters on the Job

Insights from an Indian Novelist: Staff writer Scott Baldauf turned to prominent Indian novelist, Khushwant Singh, to get some perspective on the uproar in India over a Minnesota professor's book about a 17th century Hindu general (page 1). "I've interviewed him three or four times in the past few years. I turn to him when I want somebody who can explain Indian culture with some historical depth, and is not afraid to speak his mind," says Scott. During this latest interview, Scott visited Mr. Singh at the novelist's apartment. "The man surrounds himself with all the things that matter - lots of books and religious icons," says Scott,

But sometimes Scott has called and Singh has brusquely told him he's feeling ill and hung up. Scott was somewhat worried about his health. But he's less concerned now. "During our interview, someone called. He used the same line on the caller, and explained to me: 'Sometimes you have to lie to make some of these people go away.' "

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Parent and a Journalist: Correspondent Mark Rice-Oxley says that Monday's story about children being removed from their parents by the state tested his objectivity (page 1). "As a parent, the interview I conducted with the Carters was a case in point," says Mark. "The thought at the back of my mind was that these people are either guilty of a hateful wrong or victims of a brutal witch hunt. There's no middle ground or other comfortable explanation. And that was very unsettling. Sympathy, revulsion, sorrow, condemnation - how do you feel about these people?

"The only way out was to push all sense of judgment out of your mind, listen to their story, and tell it straight," he says.

David Clark Scott
World editor

Cultural snapshot

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