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