From my press clippings

Journalists in the pre-Google era relied on their archived press clippings.  Mine are in plastic files, piled up in a cardboard box that moved with me wherever I was posted as The Times of India correspondent – New Delhi to Bhopal, to Chandigarh, and then to Chennai.  I retired in late 90s, but  still retain the box with newspaper clippings of the 70s and the 80s.

Archived newsprint has turned brown, and brittle; and some  clippings, in tatters, are held together with scotch-tape.  Now and then I decide to get rid of them, only to get stuck with  an engaging newspaper or magazine article in the file. This was how I happened by this magazine piece, an excerpt from a bureaucrat’s memoir published in 1979.  The author was Mohammad Yunus,  Ghaffar Khan’s nephew, a Nehru family friend and a trusted Indira Gandhi aide.

Persons, Passions and Politics covers the run of events in the life of a controversial bureaucrat.  And the magazine I have carried excerpts pertaining to the Emergency (1975-77) during the Indira Gandhi regime. Mohd Yunus recounts his insight into the way the media and some of its best known representatives conducted themselves during and after the Emergency. Of particular interest to me was his take on my former editor M Chalapathi Rau, of the National Herald. M C, as he was widely known, represented the face of the National Herald, a newspaper founded by Nehru. M C belonged to an era when newspapers were identified  with their editors – Patriot, with E Narayanan; The Times of India, with Girilal Jain; and Hindustan Times with B G Verghese.  M C believed that the Herald was known by its editorials. Most editors in the 60s and the 70s had a mistaken belief that their edits made waves in the South Block (of the central govt. secretariat).

M C took his editorials rather seriously. While he was at it, writing in long hand on a ruled notepad, M C used to  shut himself in the chambers, not to be disturbed by his staff or visitors. His faithful P A, Varma, wouldn’t let even a fly in while ‘M C is writing editorial’. I knew this, because I was then on the Herald staff.  Mohd Yunus’  memoir said, “M C’s only aim seemed to be to have his editorials see the light of day; he would not let anyone else  give the newspaper a facelift….was averse even to changes in the paper’s layout”.  Yunus, deputed by Indira Gandhi to revamp the Herald, took over Associated Journals as managing director in 1976.  The newspaper’s New Delhi edition,  far from picking up even after a decade of funding  by the Congress, was a miserable failure , and Mohd Yunus blamed it on the editorial staff led by M C –  ‘ no one wanted to look at the paper, save the editor and his friends’.

M C proved a stumbling block when Yunus considered  ‘temperory closure’ of the Delhi edition, in order to get rid of some incompetent staff members. The circulation of the Delhi edition did not exceed 2,500, and, as Yunus put it,  much of the paper’s subscription came from Congress party functionaries,  village panchayats and petrol pumps in Haryana and Punjab.

No one,  not even Mrs Gandhi, could ask M C to leave. So Yunus worked a ploy to persuade him. A grand function was organised in June 1976 at the Nehru Memorial Library to celebrate M C’s three decades with the Herald. Mrs Gandhi presided ; M C was given an expensive memento, in the belief that he would take the hint. Yunus, in his memoirs, said everybody thought he would relinquish charge, but M C wished to prove everyone wrong. Even failing health did not deter M C from continuing to do a bad job.  He was asked to leave, eventually, in August 1978.

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6 Responses

  1. Dear GVK – An interestig piece. Like you, I too have a big collection of my articles, though I have missed some I wrote in ToI. I suggest compilation of interesting ones into a book and its publication. Probably, the Mysore University Journalism Dept or Media Academy would be interested. When you want to get rid of the cuttings, consider handing them over to the Archives Dept. in Mysore. They would be interested.

  2. Funny thing,GVK. I had to weed out a large section of my articles recently as I was running out of space.These related to the time I joined the profession in the beginning of 1970.Luckily,I managed to hold on to a few that I wrote while in ET,Chennai.Perhaps, one of these days,if you are visiting Bangalore, we could share some of our clippings,for old times sake.
    I think Gouri Satya ‘s idea is good though I really wonder whether the varsities/colleges would really be interested in these clippin gs.

  3. First about leaving the Kursi. Except in the case of middle level men in Government or in private sector I have not seen it happening any where. Queen Elizabeth is still there. Nehru did not want two term limit. Politicians and IAS tops never retire. I do remember National Herald. I saw it once or twice when Iwas in Delhi in some libraries
    About the press clippings
    It is a treasure. To discard decision may be easy. But that would be wrong. Perhaps it may have history of growth of some of the ideas, concepts etc young India went through

  4. GVK,
    I too have quite a few cuttings though I have lost as many while on the move from one pillar to another post.

    Don’t throw them away . Show them to some library for possible microfilming of at least a selection of this treasure.

  5. GVK,
    Pl contact Dr.Gayathri, Dy. Director, State Archives, Mysore, instead of discarding them. She may be interested in adding them to the collection there.

  6. […] The busiest day of the year was April 19th with 98 views. The most popular post that day was From my press clippings. […]

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