Tag Archives: Bach

A song for an unsung hero: C.P. Chinnappa

The passing away of journalists and editors barely gets a mention in Indian media outlets these days, not even in their former or current places of work, under the rather specious and cynical belief that journalists and editors should report the news, not make it.

It’s even worse, in the case of faceless non-journalists, like advertising, printing, circulation, technical and other allied personnel, such vital cogs in the giant wheel, who spend the best years of their lives in the service of their masters, only to be forgotten like a fly.

As for the carefully crafted obituary, forget it.

Chottangada Ponnappa Chinnappa, better known as C.P. Chinnappa, the long time publisher of one of India’s most successful evening daily newspapers, Star of Mysore, breathed his last on Friday. His friend and partner of 40 years, Star of Mysore editor-in-chief K.B. Ganapathy, pays a royal salute.



Erich Segal‘s famous novel Love Story began with an immortal opening sentence: “What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful. And brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me.”

In the same refrain I would say, with appropriate change in words, about my friend C.P. Chinnappa, my partner in business and later director of the publishing firm, Academy Newspapers Private Limited, till his last breath on 16 April 2010 at 5 pm.

What can I say about a seventy-nine-year-old man who died? That he was handsome. And disciplined. That he loved racing and dressing. And newspapers. And me.

Yes, all these attributes fit him well like a cap.

And I would add one more—hospitality.

Chinnappanna, as I called him (for my children he was Boji) loved hosting parties to his friends and, as a bachelor, was caring to his vast extended family members. Always immaculately dressed, he attracted attention in a group by the magic of his mature looks and handsome personality. Rather conservative in speech, he won everybody’s love by his gentle manners.

For a time, in his young age, he worked in the then Kodagu state’s chief secretary’s office as the latter’s close confidant. Probably it was here that he imbibed the virtues of a good officer: the British sense of punctuality and discipline which he practised in his daily life.

This stood us in good stead while establishing our printing unit and later the flagship of our venture Academy Newspapers Pvt. Ltd., publishers of Star of Mysore and Mysooru Mithra.

As the editor and managing director, I have an erratic daily routine. It is not always possible to be punctual to the office. It was Chinnappa who filled the space most competently by his punctual presence in the office at 8.30 am, thus disciplining even the wayward employees of the firm without uttering a word of reprimand.

He led the staff and workers by his personal example, always. I don’t remember a single day when he had left the office without releasing Star of Mysore to the presses, for printing.

His mere presence made a difference.

Sadly, his health began to fail about a year ago and I personally perceived the deterioration.

His suffering during the last days was also my suffering, only I was unable to share it.

Such was our bonding that he was not just a business partner or a director of our company but a loving member of my extended family, so much so nothing in my family happened without his benign and gracious presence and participation.

With his passing away, Academy Newspapers Pvt. Ltd., has lost a mentor. And personally, while I feel a bit diminished myself, my family has lost a well-wisher.

Chinnappanna is no more, but the glorious happy memories of the times we both spent together as friends and entrepreneurs will linger with their subtle fragrance all my life.

May his soul rest in peace.

Also read: Naresh Chandra Rajkhowa: journo who broke Dalai Lama story

Chari, a lens legend at The Hindu

Harishchandra Lachke: A pioneering cartoonist

T.N. Shanbag: Man who educated Bombay journos

Rajan Bala: cricket writer of cricket writers

Jyoti Sanyal: The language terrorist and teacher

Russy Karanjia: The bulldog of an editor

Sabina Sehgal Saikia: The resident food writer

M.G. Moinuddin: The self-taught newspaper designer


For Indian journos, April 1 comes 9 months early

Infallible Indian journalists have been spooked by a delightful Da Vinci Code style hoax played on them.

On Sunday, almost every newspaper reported the arrest of Johann Bach, an 88-year-old Nazi war criminal, in the jungles of Khanapur, close to Goa, on Saturday.

A classified advertisement inserted by the “Waffen SS” fugitive to sell an 18th century piano was supposed to have led Perus Narkp detectives to the “senior adjutant” who reportedly had a role in the “extermination” of 12,000 Jews at the Marsha Tikash Whanaab concentration camp in East Berlin.

Bangalore based newspapers went to town with the news:

# “Hitler’s stormtrooper held in Karnataka,” headlined Deccan Herald.

# “World War II criminal arrested?” asked The Hindu

# “Cops stunned over Nazi man’s arrest,” said The Times of India

# “Antique piano ad leads police to Nazi colonel near Belgaum,” said the New Indian Express.

On Monday, the up-country papers went a step further.

# “Traced to Goa, Nazi war criminal tried to enter Karnataka, arrested on way and flown to Berlin,” said The Indian Express, Delhi

# “Goa piano ‘thief’ found to be Nazi war fugitive,” said The Telegraph, Calcutta, with a helpful graphic (above) of the flight of the Nazi criminal.

Wanted by Interpol, octagenarian Bach, it was reported, had escaped the Nuremberg trials and evaded justice for over half a century. On the German government’s “Most wanted list” since the end of WW II, he had spent time in Argentina, Bulgaria, Yemen and Canada.

Apparently, the Israeli media had reported his sighting in Calungute, Goa, though V.S. Acharya, Karnataka’s home minister, denied any knowledge. Hemant Nimbalkar, Belgaum superintendent of police, said he was unaware of the incident.

But the papers said Bach had been picked up by detectives of Perus Narkp who are part of the German chancellor’s “Core” team in collaboration with Indian intelligence.

Anil Budur Lulla of The Telegraph “exclusively” reported that “Berlin also had information from Tel Aviv that an old German had bragged about overseeing the genocide of Jews to an Israeli tourist couple in Goa during a rave party a few months ago.”

Deccan Herald quoted a press release issued by “Perus Narkp”. Times of India said the press note was circulated by email. DH had this telling line: “A brilliant musician like his illustrious 18th Century namesake, this eccentric Bach later rose high in the Nazi SS hierarchy.”

The Telegraph, quoting “sources”, said that “after further investigations in Goa, proceedings would begin to take Bach to Germany, with whom India signed an extradition treaty in 2004.”  Deccan Herald said he would “be facing trial at the International Court of Justice at The Hague.”

And on and on it went.

Well, it turns out, it was all a super prank, obviously played by someone with some taste in western classical music.

churumuri bravely deduces that it was played/devised by someone called Bhawana Shakti Sharma or by someone who knows someone called Bhawana Shakti Sharma, because it is an anagram of “Marsha Tikashi Whanaab”. “Bach” is obviously a bastardisation of Johann Sebastian Bach, with the piano thrown in for good measure. “Perus Narkp” is an anagram of “Super Prank“.

Considering that the story has Goa as its epicentre, churumuri also sticks its neck out to declare that the “super prank” was played by a Goan/ Goans who have had their axe for their local media for some time now. Indeed, one Goan blog says “The Truth Behind Perus Narkp” will be revealed tomorrow with the teasing tagline: “One of the most telling stories on the Goan as well as Indian media.”

Why the prank was played, is a long story.

Maybe to show how gullible journalists have become in this age of instant news and even more instant analysis. Maybe to show how little research and background checking goes into modern-day reporting populated by greenhorns barely out of their teens. Maybe to show what a bunch of cultural ignoramuses we are, with scarcely any knowledge of music, Indian or western.

Or maybe to show how smart the prankster is.

Whatever the reason, it’s a lovely prank for which all of us fell. We have been had. Lie back and enjoy—and spare a thought for those stung by us.

Cross-posted on churumuri