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