Tag Archives: Mathrubhumi

The journo married to the Rs 100,000 crore heir

In all the wide-eyed reporting on the gold tumbling out of the vaults of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum, reporters have (generally) missed out on one delicious fact: the fact, that one of our ilk is married into the erstwhile royal family of Travancore.

That lucky somebody is M.D. Nalapat (left), former resident editor of The Times of India in Bangalore and Delhi, and the eldest of the three sons of the late poet Kamla Das.

‘Monu’—as Nalapat is known—is married to Thiruvathira Tirunal Lakshmi Bayi, the 12th princess of Travancore.

By a happy coincidence both husband and wife have a column on the discovery of humongous caches of gold in Padmanabhaswamy temple in the latest issues of the newsweeklies: Monu in India Today, and Lakshmi Bayi in Outlook.

Despite their extraordinary wealth—the discovery is now valued at between Rs 100,000 crore and Rs 500,000 crore—the erstwhile princess and the commoner had a simple, civil wedding, and the buzz in media circles has long been that it cost them all of Rs 125.

In the late 1980s, Monu, who was then at Mathrubhumi, was at the centre of a share-swap deal with The Times of India, an arrangement through which the English daily was to print from Kerala and the Malayalam daily from Bombay.

Opposition to the deal from Mathrubhumi shareholders led by the paper’s current chairman and managing director M.P. Veerendra Kumar saw the deal crumble. Consequently Monu and his two brothers Chinnen Das and Jayasurya Das were accommodated in The Times.

After leaving The Times, Nalapat is currently a professor of geopolitics at Manipal University and writes a weekly column in M.J. Akbar‘s The Sunday Guardian. For her part, Lakshmi Bayi is a published poet who also played a part in the Mallika Sherawat film, Hisss.


3 deaths, 14 attacks on journos in last six months

GEETA SESHU writes from Bombay: The killing of Mid-Day (special investigations) editor J.Dey on Saturday, 11 June 2011, was the third death of a journalist in India over the last six months. In all three instances, investigations are on but no arrests have been made; much less is there any headway as to the killers or their motives.

The impunity with which these attacks have taken place only shows that, in India, freedom of speech and expression cannot be taken for granted. “The Free Speech Tracker” set up last year by the Free Speech Hub to monitor all instances of violations of freedom of speech and expression reveals that attacks on journalists and intimidation of editors and writers continued unabated.

# On 20 December 2010, Sushil Pathak, a journalist with Dainik Bhaskar in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, was shot dead while returning home after a late night shift. The general secretary of the Bilaspur Press Club, Pathak is surived by his wife and two children. An investigation began into his death but till February this year, no headway was made into it.

Following sustain protests from journalists’ organisations as well as opposition parties in Chhattisgarh, the state’s Chief Minister Raman Singh ordered that the investigation be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

# On 23 January 2011, Umesh Rajput, a reporter with Nai Duniya was shot dead by two masked assailants on a motorcycle. A note, stating “Khabar chaapna band nahi karoge toh mare jaoge” (If you don’t stop publishing news, you will be killed), was found near the crime scene.

Apart from these deaths, there have been 14 instances of attacks on journalist in this year alone.

# On January 3, Sudhir Dhawale, dalit activist and editor of Vidrohi, a Marathi magazine, was arrested and charged with sedition and links with Maoists.

# In January, Somanath Sahu, reporter of Dharitri, was prevented from attending a press conference at the office of the deputy commissioner of police, Shaheed nagar, Bhubaneshwar, and threatened with dire consequences for writing reports that went against the police.

# Rajat Ranjan Das, a reporter of Sambad daily, sustained fractures and head injuries by alleged supporters of Saikh Babu, a ruling Biju Janata Dal leader from Pipili, Orissa in February.

# In the same month MBC TV reporter Kiran Kanungo and cameraperson Prasant Jena were roughed up by a group of BJD workers in Banki. And, in a separate incident the same day, OTV reporter N.M. Baisakh and his cameraman Anup Ray were beaten up by anti-social elements in Paradeep when they were covering a protest dharna outside the IOCL main gate by local people demanding jobs and compensation.

# In February, an NDTV team of journalists and camera crew were harassed and illegally detained allegedly by staff belonging to the Adani group when the were filming  a report on the large-scale destruction of mangroves in Mundra, Gujarat, due to the construction of a port by the company.

# In April, Bikash Swain, the publisher of Suryaprava, an Odiya daily alleged intimidation by police, following a series of adverse reports that he published. Last September, Swain was arrested by police and protests by journalists about vindictive action by police have obviously failed to have an effect.

# On May 3, ironically on world press freedom day, Goan Observer journalist Gary Azavedo was attacked and illegally detained by security staff of a mining company in Cauverm, Goa when he went there to cover the on-going agitation against mining companies.

# In May, three journalists were beaten up allegedly by CPI(M) supporters in Burdwan district in West Bengal.

# On May 8, in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, a group of youths, allegedly supporters of Nabam Tuki, Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee president and State PWD minister, attacked several media offices, including the local office of PTI and a local newspaper Arunachal Front, apparently to protest a report in a leading daily involving their leader.

# On May 19, MiD-DAY reporter Tarakant Dwivedi, better known as Akela, was arrested under the Official Secrets Act by the Government Railway Police (GRP) for an article written over a year ago in the Mumbai Mirror that exposed the poor condition in which hi-tech weapons procured after the 26/11 attack were being kept by the railway security forces.

# On May 21, unidentified assailants waylaid V.B. Unnithan, Kollam-based senior reporter of the widely circulated Malayalam daily, Mathrubhumi, and assaulted him with iron rods. Unnithan was heading home after work on April 16.

(Former Indian Express reporter Geeta Seshu is co-ordinator of The Free Speech Hub at The Hoot)


Also read: The unsung heroes who perished before J.Dey

J. DEY: ‘When eagles are silent, parrots jabber’

And thus spake the Editor-in-Chief of ‘Harijan’

The veteran editor, columnist, author and activist, Kuldip Nayar, recounting a seminar held recently in Thiruvananthapuram by the Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi, in The Sunday Guardian:

Mahatma Gandhi‘s is an example which every journalist must emulate. He tells us journalists that the sole aim of journalism should be service.

“In his autobiography, he says: ‘The newspaper is a great power, but just as an unchained torrent of water submerges the countryside and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled pen serves but to destroy. If control is from without, it proves more poisonous than want of control. It can be profitable only when exercised from within.’

If this line of reasoning is correct—and there is no reason to challenge it—how many papers in the country would stand the test? But who would stop the useless? And should be the judge? I think that the useful and the useless must, like good and evil, go on together. The reader must make the choice. Any interference by the government would make a mockery of the freedom of the press.

“Today when editorial space is sold and where ‘paid news’ conceals falsehood and propagand, Gandhi’s advice that a newspaper is not meant to make money but is an insturment to serve the public, cannot be to the liking of those who have an eye on the balancesheet. They are not bothered with the indignation of people over the projection of celebrities and models as icons of society.

“Writing on the role of newspapers, Gandhiji said: ‘In my humble opinion, it is wrong to use a newspaper as a means of earning a living. There are certain spheres of work which are of consequence and have such bearing on public weflare that to undertake them for earning one’s livelihood would defeat the primary aim behind them.’

“When a newspaper is treated as a means of making profit, the result is likely tobe serious malpractice. It is not necessary to prove to those who have some experience in journalism that such malpractices prevail on a large scale.”

15 things you didn’t know about K.M. Mathew

The passing away of the doyen of Malayalam journalism, Kandathil Mammen Mathew, better known as K.M. Mathew, on Sunday has resulted in a rare outpouring of coverage, with Indian media proprietors burying their usual pettiness about competitors to salute one of their own.

So much so that the news of the death of the chief editor of Malayala Manorama is the front-page lead in its closest competitor, Mathrubhumi, accompanied by a front-page editorial. But the English language papers have a wealth of detail on the deceased doyen, too.

# That he was the eight child of his parents, which is why he titled his memoirs Ettamathe Mothiram (eighth ring).

# That his nickname was Mathukuttichayan ; that he was a hands-on editor; that he attended office till almost the last day.

# That he had short stint in the family’s balloon business in Bombay and as a planter in Chikamagalur before taking over the reins of the paper following his brother’s death.

# That he took the circulation of Manorama from 30,000 copies in 1973 to 18 lakhs in 2010; from one printing centre to 18.

# That the Manorama group now publishes 46 publications, and has presence in radio and television.

# That he maintained a low profile despite the soaring circulation of his paper. That, “KM never shouted; he smiled. He wouldn’t say, ‘ You’re wrong, that’s a crazy idea’.  He’d say and it was sincere, ‘Very interesting, would you help me understand your thinking?'”

# That he said: “Mistakes might appear on a newspaper. I too have made mistakes. The solution is not to write a resignation letter but to ensure that such a thing does not happen in future”.

# That he kept himself abreast of even the most minute developments in the media world.

# That he introduced reader-friendly editorial packaging techniques and professional page designing, and that he got a bunch of foreigners to work on the Manorama‘s design at various stages like Edwin Taylor (The Times, London); Peter Lim, (Strait Times, Singapore);  Peter Ong (American society of newspaper design) and Mario Garcia

# That he pioneered the hyper-localisation of news before “zoning” became a trend; that he thought a newspaper should reflect even the subtle issues of a region; that he brought out local editions for two or three panchayats, with less than 50,000 population.

# That he was so close to India’s ruling Nehru-Gandhi family that one of the first condolences upon news of his death came from UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi.

Illustration: courtesy Sudipto Sharma/ The Indian Express