Posts Tagged ‘C.R. Irani’

When a fine magazine shuts down, it is news

14 January 2014

After 15 years of publication, Housecalls, the first-class bimonthly magazine published by the Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy‘s Laboratories, is shutting shop this year.

In her editorial in the penultimate January-February issue, its editor pens a touching lament for the printed word—and the sanity that comes with it.

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By RATNA RAO SHEKAR

Increasingly these days, we are surrounded by a cacophony of soundbites and instant news.

It is not just I, but several people I know who cannot bear to watch prime time news. And this is mostly because well known anchors by the sheer force of their voice not only thrust their judgements on us but kill every other opinion ruthlessly, even if they come from respected citizens.

Our print media is no better in its over-indulgence of socialites and celebrities who air their views on everything from fiscal deficit to fashion trends (with the same élan), which are carried along with photographs that are bigger than their opinions.

Gone are the days of independent journalism when we opened the day’s papers to read the sane and sober reflections of a Chalapati Rau, a C.R. Irani or a Kuldip Nayar.

These days, when media ownership itself is suspect, funded as it is either by a business or a political group, we do not get the kind of objective and unbiased views we could fall back on in the past.

Sadly, as many of us have come to realise, even news can be bought, and you can get column inch space in proportion to the cheques you are willing to write for the media house.

How skewed the vision of both television and print media are, can be seen from the way they have recently been going on ad nauseam about celebrity sexual assaults, a high profile murder and the retirement of a cricketer.

This in the election year, when they ought to be focusing on the other India where there are rapes and murders of young girls on a routine basis! But these are not sensational enough for the mainstream media to take up so these stories are not discussed or dissected.

Added to this cacophony of half truths and dishonest opinions, we have the unrestrained chatter on the social media.

In the absence of any self-censorship, or editors who are in effect gatekeepers (and not just people who draw big salaries), the social media for all its freedom is a far from perfect way of receiving news.

In fact, there is such a slew of one-sided opinions, even hatred by certain right wing groups, that many want to shut their Twitter and Facebook accounts and move on.

More than ever in these times we need unbiased and nuanced writing that helps us in formulating independent opinions.

We need the resurrection of the common sense gene.

For this, certainly, we don’t need television news that numbs our senses so hopelessly that we begin to believe in a truth as given to us by CNN-IBN, or NDTV. We are ready to lynch or take out a candlelight march all based on the opinions of newscasters.

I have pointless arguments with people who believe that books, magazines and in fact writers themselves are dead, or should be dead. I say pointless, because in this intolerant world where there’s both sound and fury, we need the insight and wisdom offered to us in a good book or in a good essay.

We need the repose of the printed word.

We need to feel the heart of writers, and beauty of their ideas.

We need time to sit back and reflect.

Now, more than ever, we need the independent voice of a magazine like Housecalls which despite being supported by a pharma company was never about the sponsor or their viewpoints.

Nor were the articles Googled as is common nowadays.

Rather they were  written with integrity by writers who travelled the breadth of this country, often at a risk to their lives, looking for the good story to tell.

Since the last issue, we have been deluged by letters from distressed doctors and readers asking us why Housecalls is closing down, and if there was any way they could contribute.

I am not sure how they can help us, but am touched by the letters and feel vindicated that we were on the right track with the magazine – that what we had to say mattered and made a difference.

Now more than ever I believe in Housecalls.

Just as I do of the printed word.

Also read: A good dosa is like your first love: unsurpassable

The loud and noisy Punjab-ification of India

Why N.J. Nanporia bought a carved table

27 August 2012

sans serif records with regret the demise of N.J. Nanporia, the half-Parsi, half-Japanese former editor of The Times of India and The Statesman in Poona. He was 88 years old.

Sunanda K. Datta-Ray pays a warm tribute in Business Standard:

“No other Indian I have known in 54 years in journalism has been so reluctant to push himself into the limelight. George Arthur Johnson, my first editor, and Nanporia were both silent men whose power lay in their pens. Neither was a pretentious phony prancing around the country and world. Both knew everything that happened without venturing out of the editor’s room. Nanporia’s editorial maturity, wisdom and breadth of knowledge were sorely missed in the vacuum after he was pushed out in 1975.

“One manifestation of his catholicity was the expansion into other fields of his collection of Chinese porcelain. A Ming vase needed a carved table, so he bought one. The table couldn’t stand on the bare floor. He got the right period carpet. The wall behind called for suitable decoration. And so it went on. I didn’t see his treasures. But he showed me photographs and letters from Christie and Sotheby authenticating his pieces.”

In his recent memoir, Kuldip Nayar wrote about Nanporia:

“I was unhappy in the Statesman. C.R. Irani had reduced me to the position of consulting editor from resident editor. He then wanted me to vacate my room as well, and asked me to sit somewhere else. Subsequently, he withdrew my peon and telephone too.

“The only person who stood by me during those days was my secretary, G. Barret. She refused to work with Nihal and preferred to stay on with me. I was reduced to writing only my weekly column, ‘Between the Lines’. Irani tried to stop that too but did not succeed because the editor N.J. Nanporia refused to permit that.”

Photograph: courtesy The Times of India

‘N. Ram is stalling Malini Parthasarathy’s ascent’

5 April 2010

The veteran journalist, author, civil rights activist, and former Indian high commissioner to London, Kuldip Nayar, weighs in on the tussle within the boardroom of The Hindu, in the latest issue of M.J. Akbar‘s weekly newspaper, The Sunday Guardian:

“I wonder why N. Ram, 65, is so reluctant to retire. People may have differed with his views and the manner in which he projected them, but they cannot deny that he is a successful journalist. Yet, he too, has to give a chance to his successor, N. Ravi, still waiting in the wings for his turn to give shape to his ideas about running the newspaper.

“Next in line is Malini Parthasarathy, who will possibly be the first woman editor of The Hindu. Strangely, although Ram is all for women’s reservation and other progressive causes, he seems to be stalling her chance to become the editor of the family newspaper.

“As a self-proclaimed leftist, N. Ram swears, ideologically, with the working journalists’ Act. According to this legislation, the journalist’s age of retirement is legally restricted to 60. If working journalists are compulsorily retired at 60, then why should not the editors?

“True, no retirement age is stipulated in the memorandum and articles of association of the company, relating to the directors of the The Hindu. What rules do exist apply only to the journalists working for the newspaper, who retire at 60.

“What happens to an editor who is also a director? Logically, he should also retire from the position at the age of 60, because that is the rule for the journalistic staff of The Hindu. Departing from this practice is neither fair nor proper.

“As it is a concession has been made to Ram, allowing him to continue till the age of 65 (which, in his case, will come in May 2010). Ram accepted the concession, despite it being a violation of the working journalists’ Act.

“For him to now say that he will not step down is to defy the norms of both journalistic tradition and democratic practice. He reminds me of The Statesman‘s late managing director C.R. Irani, with whom I worked. Irani’s obsession was to retain full control at all cost.”

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

Also read: Indian Express vs The Hindu. N. Ram vs N. Ravi

Not just about the brothers, it’s the children too

Now, it’s Malini Parthasarathy vs The Stalinists

Express declares ceasefire, brothers declare war

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