The more things change, the more they remain the same—and nostalgia is no longer what it used to be.
Two-time, stop-gap prime minister Gulzari Lal Nanda‘s death in January 1998 didn’t get its due on the front pages of newspapers because, well, market forces had taken hold of the media in post-reforms India.
In a column in the Delhi tabloid Mail Today, the architect Gautam Bhatia writes:
“Some readers may have noticed that former prime minister Gulzari Lal Nanda’s death could not be covered because Colgate and Coke had both given full page ads that day.
“Editors went so far to request the Nanda family to postpone the death by a day, but Nanda, being an obstinate politician, carried on with his original plan; his death was a two-line obituary below an oversize Coke bottle.”
The bad news is Mahatma Gandhi‘s assassination in 1948 didn’t make it to the front pages of The Hindu either because “India’s national newspaper” only carried ads on page one in the heady days of pre-liberalisation India.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même Coke?
Also read: What a newspaper editor told Mahatma Gandhi