Feb 16, 2018

The Whistleblower #1: What does it take to become a whistleblower in India?

BYPankaj Mishra

Welcome to the first episode of The Whistleblower: stories and conversations about the dark side of technology trends, companies and people behind them in India.
I will be honest; the first episode hasn’t been that tough to pull off, at least in terms of finding a topic that matters. Over past few months, I have had conversations with executives, investors and startup employees and even founders flagging how some companies are “riding a tiger.”
It’s the same tiger that carried Satyam’s Ramalinga Raju on the path to rising profitability, quarter after quarter. The numbers were inflated, investors were kept in the dark and members of the top management even embezzled company monies.
Over past few weeks I’ve had conversations with at least four whistleblowers. Three of them settled with their managements when offered a lucrative stock plus cash offer. “You know I’ve a family and it’s even tough to find another job immediately. I’m sorry but I could use this cash,” the first told me over phone in January.
The first episode of The Whistleblower is almost an hour long with two segments—the first one is an interview with a real whistleblower who’s fighting a silent and potentially long battle against one of the fastest growing startups in India, valued at almost a billion dollars. This person wants to stay anonymous.
In the second part of the podcast, we sit down with Shachin Bharadwaj, cofounder of Tastykhana acquired by Foodpanda. Bharadwaj is a very keen observer of the Indian startup ecosystem’s underbelly. He’s also someone really high on integrity and believes that fraudulent practices will deny the country’s investment prospects in the long run.

So why are we doing this?

It is really about the way we see ourselves doing journalism at FactorDaily. We are obsessed about technology and fascinated by how it’s either disrupting or transforming everything around us in India. But like with any good thing, technology too has a dark side. Sometimes, it’s screaming out loud for attention in Seelampur, where our phones go to die. Or, a dark reminder about how and why India is the world’s selfie death capital. And, of course, everything from sextortion to revenge porn and cyber bullying, sexual harassment and the cancerous bro culture
We’ve often wondered in the FactorDaily newsroom about ways to track the dark side of technology with the same passion and zeal we have in covering its bright, inspiring side and it impact.
The Whistleblower is our way of giving a voice to those who want to shine the light on the dark underbelly of technology and startups in India. We cannot track them all, but we will handpick the ones where we can dig deeper and flag issues that matter.
Also, this podcast isn’t only about whistleblowers. It’s about the dark side of technology in India. So we will be bringing real stories and conversations every month on topics ranging from sexual harassment, data frauds, new age crimes and so on.
Whether or not you’re a whistleblower, you can always share tips at whistleblower@factordaily.com or pankaj@factordaily.com . We follow journalism’s best practices religiously and will keep your identity anonymous and safe if you like it that way.


FactorDaily’s journalism is produced by some of the best brains in the story-telling business. If you like our body of work – deep reportage, domain specialist write-ups, data stories, podcasts and the like – consider supporting the FactorDaily journey.

Support FactorDaily

Pankaj Mishra is a writer of FactorDaily.