Posts Tagged ‘R.D. Burman’

‘Hindu and HT were worst offenders in 1975′

29 June 2010

With  nearly 60% of India reputedly being under 25 years of age—in other words, with three out of five Indians having been born after 1985—it stands to reason that the 35th anniversary of the declaration of Emergency by the Indira Gandhi government should have come and gone without creating a ripple.

That, and the fact that the news channels and newspapers were too busy celebrating panchamda R.D. Burman‘s birthday and the World Cup to be bothered of the more serious things affecting life and democracy.

Nevertheless, the press censorship during the Emergency is one of the darkest periods in contemporary Indian media history, when promoters, proprietors, editors and journalists quietly acquiesced to the firman of the government to not publish anything that was considered antithetical to the national interest.

Censors sat over editors in newspaper offices and crossed out material (including cartoons and pictures) that didn’t conform to the official policy; criticism of the government was a strict no-no; over 250 journalists were arrested; 51 foreign correspondents were dis-accreditated, 29 were denied entry, seven were expelled.

In The Sunday Guardian, the weekly newspaper launched by M.J. Akbar, the veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar recounts life under censorship, names the pussies and lions, and says the media today is “too niminy-piminy, too nice, too refined” if such a disaster were to strike again.

***

By KULDIP NAYAR

L.K. Advani was right when he told journalists, “You were asked to bend, but you crawled.” Even then, the courageous part was that nearly 100 journalists assembled at Delhi’s press club on 28 June 1975 and passed a resolution to condemn press censorship. But subsequently, fear took over and they caved in.

They were afraid to speak even in private.

The press council of India (PCI), the highest body to protect press freedom, became a part of the establishment. The then chairman, Justice Iyengar, stalled a resolution to criticise press censorship by local members of the PCI. Justice Iyengar informed the information minister V.C. Shukla about his achievement in not letting the resolution of condemnation passed.

Except for the Indian Express, the leading light during the Emergency, practically all papers preferred to side with the government.

The two of the worst were The Hindu and the Hindustan Times.

Hindu’s editor G. Kasturi became a part of the establishment. He headed Samachar, the news agency that was formed after the merger of PTI, UNI and Hindustan Samachar. He obeyed the government diktat on how to purvey a particular story or suppress it. He could not withstand government pressure.

The Hindustan Times, owned by the Birlas, was always with the Congress. K.K. Birla, then its chairman, took over as chairman of the Indian Express and changed its editor by replacing incumbent S. Mulgaonkar with V.K. Narasimhan, who proved to be a tough nut to crack. Birla was the complete opposite of Ramnath Goenka, the owner of the Indian Express. Goenka fought the government tooth and nail and staked all that he had built in his life….

The Times of India was edited by Sham Lal, who had impeccable credentials. Girilal Jain, the resident editor in Delhi, too stood by the principle of free press. Both were pro-Indira Gandhi but against press censorhip. However they felt handicapped because the management wanted to play it safe. Not that Shantilal Jain, who owned the paper, was in any way pro-Emergency, but he had burnt his fingers when the paper was taken over by the government at the instance of T.T. Krishnamachari, then the finance minister, who doubted the paper on certain matters.

Leading regional papers were against the Emergency but did not want to face government wrath. Eenadu, under Ramoji Rao, refused to toe the government line but stayed within the contours of the Emergency to avoid trouble.

Ananda Bazaar Patrika owner Ashoke Sarkar was a man of courage and gave his blessings to his principal correspondent Barun Sengupta’s fight against the emergency. The paper, however, managed to escape the wrath of the then West Bengal chief minister Siddhartha Shankar Ray, who was the author of the Emergency.

My friend K.M. Mathew, the owner of the vast empire of Malayala Manorama, stood his ground and despite the pressures on him showed where his sympathies lay when he invited to open a photo exhibition at Kottayam after my release from jail. The country was still in the middle of the Emergency. Yet, Mathew showed his annoyance in his own way.”

Text: courtesy The Sunday Guardian

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

RAJAN BALA: Cricketers, write your own columns

10 October 2009

KPN photo

The death of the veteran cricket writer Rajan Bala has thankfully not gone unnoticed.

ANI reveals that his real name was Natarajan Balasubramaniam. Cricinfo, the Bhagwad Gita of the Beautiful Game, has a short obituary. The Times of India‘s Satish Vishwanathan uses a Sachin Tendulkar anecdote to demonstrate Bala’s hold.

His protege, Suresh Menon, writes of walking into the offices of Deccan Herald in Bangalore over a quarter of a century ago:

“On my first day at work, fresh out of university, I asked hesitantly, “Is it all right to smoke in here?” and was welcomed with the memorable words: “So long as you don’t f**k on my table, you can do what you want.”

Here, Hemant Kenkre, the former Cricket Club of India captain, a first cousin of the legendary Indian opening batsman, Sunil Gavaskar, pays tribute.

***

hemant kenkre

By HEMANT KENKRE in Singapore

I first met Rajan Bala when he came with Sunil Gavaskar to our family house at Forjett Hill in 1971.

The 21-year old maestro had just come back after his epic debut in the Caribbean islands and had brought along Rajan when he came to meet his uncle, Shashikant Gavaskar. As a 13-year old, I listened, with rapt attention, the discussion (on cricket) they had which went on till the wee hours.

Over the years, I kept reading Rajan’s columns in newspapers where he held forth as the sports editor—from Calcutta, Chennai to Mumbai. His views were always forthright and came straight from his heart.

Whether one agreed with them or not, one always admired the way he put things/issues in perspective. Whatever the topic, Rajan had a distinct and a unique point of view.

Once Rajan was convinced that a person had talent, he would back him to the hilt, irrespective of the player’s performance!

A cricket romantic to the core, Rajan essentially belonged to the era of the ’70s, the days when international cricketers carried small kit-bags containing sparse equipment; a bat, few clothes and necessary guards.

The days when Walkmans and iPods did not keep cricketers from discussing the game and the times when cricketers (most of them)—after a game—went straight to the bar before they went into their rooms.

M.A.K. (Tiger) Pataudi, M.L. Jaisimha, Bishen Bedi, Ajit Wadekar, Erapalli Prasanna, Bhagwat Chandrasekar, Gundappa Viswanath, Dilip Sardesai, Salim Durrani, Eknath Solkar and Gavaskar were some of the super humans whom Rajan made superheroes with this dispatches and columns.

Jaisimha, in particular was one of Rajan’s favourite cricketers.

I distinctly remember meeting and travelling with Jaisimha during the India-England series (1992) and the many post-match drinks (not cocktails, mind you) that the debonair Hyderabadi shared with Rajan.

From Chennai to Jamshedpur, most of my evenings were spent in the company of these two titans, soaking in stories about Sir Garfield Sobers and Rohan Kanhai, Pataudi, Wadekar and Gavaskar, and about the trials and tribulations that Indian cricket went through during the ’60s and ’70s.

Rajan was also a keen music buff. Knowing my how obsessed I was with Rahul Dev (Pancham) Burman, it was Rajan who told me stories about Dilip Naik, the guitarist who played most of his opening riffs from Teesri Manzil onwards.

He used to narrate graphic stories about Sachin Dev Burman’s exploits with the tennis racket while he sipped his drink in the company of his senior K.N. (Niran) Prabhu, (Matunga Gym friend) K. Satyamurthy and Priya (Rajan’s lovely wife) after a hard day at work.

It was his encouragement—having given me a weekly column in the Bombay tabloid Afternoon Despatch & Courier (ADC)—that made me write on the game. His (tongue in cheek) quip then still rings in my ear: “You know son, cricketers should write their own columns.”

Whatever the opinions that people may have about Rajan, I will always remember him as not just one who loved the game as a passionate romantic but someone that understood Indian cricket.

Wherever he is, I know, for sure, he is in the company of his mates including Jaisimha sipping a drink and discussing whether two-sided bats, power-plays and the reverse sweep are good for cricket.

RIP Rajan: I will always miss you, and thanks for everything!

Also read: Rajan Bala, a stellar cricket writer, is no more

For our own cricket correspondent, Rajan Bala

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