On Friday, it was revealed that former NDTV Executive Editor Nidhi Razdan was a victim of what she called a sophisticated phishing attack. About six months ago, Nidhi Razdan quit her 20-year long association with NDTV to supposedly join the ranks of Harvard faculty as an Associate Professor of Journalism.
However, as TFI reported yesterday, Harvard University never really offered any post to Razdan, and despite her going around for the past half-year claiming to be an Associate Professor at the Ivy League Institute, it has all turned out to be a big scam – one which has indeed embarrassed the journalist to a great extent.
The two-page statement by Razdan really seems to put it all out in the public domain. Yet, many questions remain unanswered, and Nidhi’s story continues to be replete with loopholes – some of which we will be talking about here. With the journalist stating in no uncertain terms that she will not address the issue any further on social media, it seems that the questions will most definitely remain unanswered until the police probing the scam make disclosures.
– Master course list for FAS: https://t.co/XVE9DRQVRy
– Harvard directory: https://t.co/jT5Jq7OAen
— Suresh N (@surnell) September 4, 2020
In September 2020 itself, a Twitter user had flagged the possibility of Nidhi Razdan stepping into murky waters, as he found that Harvard University offered no full-fledged journalism courses. To add to it, Harvard University has no dedicated faculty for teaching journalism. The Harvard Extension School does offer a degree in liberal arts with a focus on Journalism. However, there is no full-time faculty for such courses as well. Classes are taken by adjuncts and working-journalists.
The question which now arises is this – if Twitter users can find out such basic details about the courses offered by Harvard, did Nidhi Razdan not care to do some research on what she was getting into, or was she just too elated to be allegedly chosen by Harvard to join its ranks?
Yes, but the Extension School doesn't have any full-time professors of its own — nearly all of those courses are taught by adjuncts, working journalists who teach a class on the side
— Joshua Benton (@jbenton) January 15, 2021
Reportedly, Harvard University is not a particularly new venue for Nidhi Razdan, and the journalist has been down Boston earlier as well. In 2018, Razdan was a part of the ‘India Conference 2018’, which is a student-run conference held at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School. At the helm of organising the same conference was Prateek Kanwal – brother of India Today journalist Rahul Kanwal. Prateek Kanwal, in December last year even announced that Nidhi Razdan, ‘Associate Professor’ at Harvard had joined his Kautilya School of Public Policy’s advisory board.
Rahul Kanwal's brother @prateekkanwal, a harvard alumni used to invite @Nidhi to Harvard conferences. He later appointed "Prof Harvard" Nidhi on the adviser board of his highly expensive school @KautilyaSPP. Kuch to gadbad hai daya! pic.twitter.com/EgYkudVA1w
— Crime Master (@CrimeMasterV2) January 15, 2021
Intriguingly, Nidhi Razdan also changed the location settings of her Twitter handle to include Cambridge, Massachusetts as her alleged place of a new residence. This raises many questions. Did Nidhi Razdan travel to the United States entirely based on a phishing scam? If so, who facilitated such travel? Without Harvard University playing a major role in helping Razdan get a work visa, how did the journalist land in Boston? Or were the US Consulate officials in India also tricked by the phishers into granting Nidhi a work visa? If not a work visa, did Nidhi Razdan travel on a tourist visa to the States, on the premise of working for no less than Harvard? This in itself would amount to serious visa violations, and Nidhi could potentially be disbarred from entering the U.S. in future. Of course, it is also very possible that Nidhi updated her location while being in India, effectively lying about her whereabouts.
Hahaha someone just pointed this out on my 5th September 2020 wala Tweet. If @Harvard offered you a job and located yourself in Cambridge, MA 🤔 and you still never knew? Is there something else to this. Say, there was nothing in the first place. https://t.co/7hEPLYI3mz pic.twitter.com/mykN26Mm86
— Suresh N (@surnell) January 15, 2021
Harvard University sources, meanwhile, told Boston Globe that a review had found “no record of, nor any knowledge of, an appointment involving Ms Nidhi Razdan,” and the names referenced as members of human resources in the documents Razdan shared are not in Harvard’s employee systems. The job agreement document also had “a number of irregularities,” the university said. Again, how did Nidhi Razdan give such several irregularities a miss for a whole eight months?
While we all feel sorry for what Nidhi has gone through, there are many anomalies in her version itself. An impartial probe into the ordeal of Nidhi Razdan must be conducted by the police, and findings of the same must be shared publicly so that Indians know what actually transpired in the entire fiasco.