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Ira Mathur is an Indian born journalist working in radio, television and print in Trinidad, West Indies.  She has been a regular columnist with two of the leading daily newspapers for over 10 years (Trinidad Guardian 1995 - 2003; Daily Express 2003-2004; and Trinidad Guardian 2004 to date).

The body of work reflected in this website is in many ways the diary of a woman who has spent her childhood in India, her adolescence in Tobago and England, her intellectually formative years in Canada and her adult years, as a working married woman, and mother of two children in Trinidad.

Like most children of the Diaspora, she inhabits many worlds, not quite belonging anywhere, but improvising, choosing, and claiming chunks of them.

The middle child of three children, Ira was Born in Gauhati, India to a Hindu father – and a Muslim mother.

At the age of 12, she left India for the first time, moving, with her parents, older brother, Varun, and younger sister, Rashmi, to Tobago (Trinidad & Tobago) in the West Indies where her Engineer father secured a contract to construct the islands first Highway.

The Mathur family quickly adapted to the beauty of the smaller of these twin islands, revelling in its lush landscape, its sea breezes, its accepting, warm New World people.

At the age of 15 Ira was sent to boarding school in Buckinghamshire in the UK where she was initiated into the mysteries of English adolescence which included changing from uniforms to skin tight jeans on the trains, and Top of the Pops. 

She received a B.A. in Philosophy & Literature from Trent University, Canada in 1985.

In 1987 she gained her a diploma in International Journalism from City University, London.

Most recently, in 2008, Ira did her LLB in Law from the University of London.

Ira’s apprenticeship in journalism in the UK included working as a reporter for the Asian Trader and Garavi Gujarat, as a sub editor and journalist with Gemini News Service and the Panos Institute and as an occasional news presenter/producer for the BBC World Service. 

In 1990 she returned to Trinidad where she has worked as a features producer for 610 Radio and news producer and news anchor for TV6.  Later that year she met and married Imshah Mohammed. At TV6 she worked on award winning documentaries, including one on the late Sir Ellis Clarke, the first president of the republic of Trinidad and Tobago and another on domestic violence in Trinidad and Tobago. She has also produced over 20 special reports on developmental issues from poverty and corruption to adoption and children’s rights. She also worked as a freelance news stringer for The Guardian (UK), and a correspondent for the BBC Caribbean Service.

Ira is currently Sunday columnist and feature writer for The Trinidad Guardian, and produces multi media special reports and series for CNC3, the most recent being one on disasters in Trinidad and Tobago and an 18 part television and ongoing print environmental series titled Cleaning Up The Mess.. 

Ira is the recipient of 10 local and regional awards for excellence in journalism in print radio and television. Her work is also published in various education related books in Canada, England and Germany.

As a journalist she has focused much of her work on highlighting social and developmental issues. Here, from an article written in November 1997, she gives and explanation of why she writes what she does.

Some years back Trevor McDonald the veteran ITN (UK) journalist suggested that the pivot that every journalist needed was to give a voice to the weak, the powerless, the downtrodden in our midst.

At the time about 10 years ago the world was in no less a mess than it is today, actual events differ but injustice, acts of terrorism, political tyranny, war, poverty and natural disasters were as rife.

We strove for objectivity but were not disseminating news in a vacuum. .. We came to see that the power of the published (or broadcast) word and pictures was enormous. Journalism would eradicate ignorance, expose corruption, campaign for the rights of the oppressed. In short it would give millions of poor, ill or war-torn people a voice.

You smile and I do to. But for the journalist who gets the bug, even if it gets covered by world-weary cynicism, the fire never wears out.

She also feels that that she can bring a different perspective to issues both in Trinidad and Tobago and abroad, based on her background (from a May 1995 article in the Trinidad Guardian)

My background although I did not realize it at the time, was a reflection in miniature of India itself, with our Hindu and Muslim parents, one who exposed us to Indian military nationalism and to class-conscious Muslim aristocrats. The British and Indian influences of India meshed naturally. We read Jane Austin, but also spoke fluent Hindi and Urdu, and were comfortable with my father’s traditional Hindu family. We are children of India but if you asked us “where in India?” we would look bewildered, and reply “everywhere”. And which religion? Well, we couldn't forsake either for to do so would be to reject our past.

The tenderness that I feel at the sight of Trinidad’s Northern Range in the green lush rainy season, and now burning with bush fires reminds me that I have a new home. My husband and children are Trinidadian.

Here we live in a “new world” and my children can celebrate their Indian ness as well as partake of the rich heritage of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. This is a land that gave birth to VS Naipaul, and is a second home to Derek Walcott who writes seamlessly of the Ramleela – an enactment of the Hindu scriptures and the Odyssey.

Ira lives in Port of Spain Trinidad with her husband and two children.

 

 

 

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