Mark Tully

British journalist

Sir William Mark Tully, KBE (born 24 October 1935) is the former Bureau Chief of BBC, New Delhi. He worked for BBC for a period of 30 years before resigning in July 1994.

Mark Tully in 2011


  • I am very proud to have worked with the BBC for 30 years. I had hoped to continue to work for the corporation but that is no longer possible.
  • Since I expressed my July last year, I have sought to negotiate a position which would allow me to defend my stance in public, especially when it is questioned. The BBC has required that I do not speak on matters on which my stance is already known. That is not acceptable to me. I have therefore asked the corporation to accept my resignation as South Asia correspondent.
    • In: Peter Victor, "Tully quits BBC," The Independent (10 July 1994)
    • When he left the BBC due to differences with John Birt, then Director General of BBC.
  • Whenever I go and give a talk on Hinduism, and when I say something nice about it, invariably someone from the audience will object: "I think Hinduism is a disgusting religion because of the caste system."
    • Quoted from Elst, K. The use of Dalits and racism in anti-Hindu propaganda [1]
  • There are many arguments about the role of religion in the history of this country. But the fundamental fact still remains that India has been a historic home to all the great religions of the world. I believe this pluralism and this ability to have an individual element in your religion is culturally specific to India...I came to India as an orthodox Christian thinking there was only one way to God. I now believe there are many ways to God and that came from living in India.
  • I am amazed that Roli Books should publish such thinly disguised plagiarism, and allow the author to hide in a cavalier manner behind a nom-de-plume. The book is clearly modelled on my career, even down to the name of the main character. That character's journalism is abysmal, and his views on Hindutva and Hinduism do not in any way reflect mine. I would disagree with them profoundly.
  • It was the promotion of the ancient Indian tradition of religious tolerance, a tolerance which owes so much to Hinduism's own pluralism. .. This tradition provides a basis for Hindus and for Indians who believe in many of the many other religions of this country to live with self-respect, in peace, and proud of their national identity. This is very much an Indian tradition, a tradition, which is very different too from the tradition of countries where Semitic religions like Christianity and Islam have dominated. It is the tradition which could meet the needs of so many other countries in the world.

It's Sir Mark Tully in UK honors list, 2001

"It's Sir Mark Tully in UK honors list" CNN (31 December 2001)
  • I hate to lose my connection with the great city of Calcutta.
    • On his application to obtain a copy of his birth certificate from the municipal authorities in the eastern Indian city of Calcutta at the age of 78. to be an "Overseas Citizen of India" (OCI)
  • Though I was born in India (Kolkata), I was taught how not to become an Indian.
  • It struck me that a sense of uncertainty about ways of reaching God is what makes Hinduism different. Because of its ability to adapt, so many faiths could thrive here.
  • Hinduism can survive modern times if only the people learn to bend with the wind. People will have to find a balance between the new and the old.
  • It is not too difficult to find people in that country [Ireland] crying over what they have lost.

"Why Mark Tully needs a Calcutta birth certificate at 78" (2013)

I am very proud not just of my connection with Calcutta but my connection with India which is approaching 50 years now. I do not like being called an expat...
"Why Mark Tully needs a Calcutta birth certificate at 78" BBC News (19 August 2013).
  • My connection with Calcutta stretches back a long way. It goes back at least to 1857, the year of what my maternal great-grandfather would have called the Indian Mutiny. He managed to escape the uprising in eastern Uttar Pradesh in a boat down the Ganges to Calcutta. My maternal grandfather made his living selling jute in the city. He bought the jute in what is now Bangladesh, which is how my mother happened to be born there. But she met and married my father in Calcutta. He was the first of his family to come to India where he became one of the senior partners of Gillanders Arbuthnot, a Calcutta-based firm.
  • I remember, too, the kudos being born in Calcutta gave me by making me stand-out as a rarity when, at the age of 10, I found myself in the highly competitive society of a British boarding school. To boost my kudos even further, I would boast that I was born in the "Second City of the British Empire".
  • During the nine years that Calcutta was my home, I lived a life which would now be seen as thoroughly politically incorrect. From our youngest days, we were never allowed to forget that we were different - we were English, not Indian. We had an English nanny who saw to that. She supervised us 24x7 and once, finding me learning to count from our driver, she cuffed my head, saying "that's the servants' language, not yours". Inevitably, we were not allowed to play with Indian children. There were even class barriers to the European children we were allowed to play with. My nanny would not allow us to play with children who only had Indian or Anglo-Indian nannies because their parents couldn't afford a "proper nanny", as she saw herself. European society in the Calcutta of those days was divided by a strict class system, not dissimilar to the caste system. Members of the ICS, were considered the Brahmins (the elite caste), while the members of the Indian army were regarded as the Rajputs (the warrior caste). As a businessman, my father was a Vaisya (trading caste), dismissed by the snooty ICS and army as a mere "boxwallah".
  • In the 78 years since I was born in what I hope I am still entitled to call Calcutta - not Tollygunge - all this has rightly been swept aside, and my life bears no resemblance to my childhood. Almost all my friends in India are Indian. I have an Indian son-in-law and an Indian daughter-in-law. I do know an Indian language, although I would know it a lot better if more people would speak to me in Hindi rather than English.
  • I am very proud not just of my connection with Calcutta but my connection with India which is approaching 50 years now. I do not like being called an expat. That's why I do hope to become an Overseas Citizen of India. That will mean I will be acknowledged as a citizen of the two countries I feel I belong to, India and Britain. I will bring together the two nationalities which were separated during my childhood.

Quotes about Mark Tully

Michael Holland: Mark Tully is well-known as a thoroughly decent gentleman and one of the finest journalists ever posted to India. This is a badly-written book which should never have passed a lawyer or a publisher. It totally misrepresents his personal life and his work.
  • Few foreigners manage to get under the skin of the world's biggest democracy the way he does, and fewer still can write about it with the clarity and insight he brings to all his work.
  • Mark Tully may also have wanted to atone for his coverage of South Asia. I remember when we were both reporting on the Valley of Kashmir in the early nineties, that he would always highlight human right abuses on Muslims by the army, but hardly ever spoke about the 400.000 Kashmiri Hindus who were chased out of their ancestral homeland by threats, violence, rapes, torture and murder – and today have become refugees in their own countries... Many of us know that since the mid-eighties Pakistan encouraged, financed, trained and armed Kashmiri separatism. But Mark always made it a point to say: "India accuses Pakistan to foster separatism in Kashmir"; or :"elections are being held in Indian- held Kashmir"; or "Kashmir militants" have attacked an army post, instead of "terrorists".
  • I want to recall here my days as a young journalist covering Kashmir because I faced the same incomprehension that sometimes bordered on contempt in my reporting. At that time, the BBC was the Queen, so to say, of all media, because television was still in its infancy here and radio remained, for both the public and us journalists, the best and fastest means to keep abreast of the news. Mark Tully was then the South Asia Chief of Bureau of BBC — he was worshipped by Indian and Western journalists alike, and his word was gospel.
    From 1989, when the first Hindu public figures of the Valley of Kashmir were getting murdered by what was then the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), such as the director of Doordarshan, Lassa Kaul, and Satish Tikoo, people whom I had interviewed earlier, till the first elections in Kashmir in 2000, the Indian government was accusing Pakistan of training, arming, and financing the Indian Kashmiri militants, and sending them back across the border to create havoc in India. Mark Tully, ironically, accused the Indian government of lying and denied that the Pakistani government had a hand in Kashmir's terror saga.
    ...I was there, it touched me immensely and opened my eyes to what a monotheist and intolerant religious worldview could do to other people. What bothered me most was that Western journalists, led by Mark Tully, followed by Indian reporters, only highlighted the so-called human rights violations committed by the Indian Army and paramilitary forces on Muslims of Kashmir, but kept quiet on the ethnic cleansing of Hindus — as if they were responsible for their persecution.
    • F. Gautier, in [3]
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