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Sucheta Dalal, Padma Shri

ENS Economic Bureau

Posted: Jan 27, 2006 at 0245 hrs IST

A late-evening call on Wednesday broke the news to The Indian Express columnist and The Financial Express Consulting Editor Sucheta Dalal that she can add the prestigious title Padma Shri to her name. Her phone hasn’t stopped ringing since.

“I am quite surprised and happy that the government has recognized my work as a journalist,’’ says Dalal, whose reporting and commentary have become benchmarks in investigative business journalism.

Dalal, who has been with this newspaper group since 1998, says editorial support has made it worth her while to break the big story.

‘‘Many a times during the Ketan Parekh scam, I wondered whether it was worth going after. But continued support from The Indian Express encouraged me to file my stories,’’ says Dalal, who completed her BSc from Karnataka University and later came to Mumbai to get her law degrees.

For someone who has covered Mumbai’s financial markets for over two decades, Dalal is well aware of the pulls and pressures at play.

‘‘The Ketan Parekh scam was worse than the Harshad Mehta securities scam as I received many threatening calls and e-mails to back off,’’ she said here today.

Now, in her new role as investor activist, Dalal is making sure that small investors get their fair share vis-…-vis powerful corporate lobbies and business houses.

Dalal is an administrator of the Investor Protection and Education Fund under the Department of Company Affairs and a trustee of the Ahmedabad-based Consumer Education and Research Centre. She, as a member of the Narayana Murthy Committee on Corporate Governance instituted by the Securities & Exchange Board of India, recommended sweeping reforms that are today bringing disclosure norms in India Inc at par with international standards.

To future journalists, Dalal advises that it pays to pursue investigative journalism even if it means facing pressure from various groups. ‘‘In the long run, it pays to write stories which matter to the people,’’ says she.

Starting her career with the Taj President Hotel, Dalal’s first newsroom entry came in 1984, in Fortune India, a Mumbai-based financial fortnightly.

Later she worked with Business Standard, The Economic Times and in The Times of India. Her 1992 story on Harshad Mehta securities scam, won her the Chameli Devi Award for excellence in journalism.

Dalal is now working on her third book on the capital markets. She co-authored two books with her chartered accountant husband Debashis Basu The Scam: Who Won, Who lost, Who got away and The Scam: From Harshad Mehta To Ketan Parekh.

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