The writer Rudyard Kipling was once on its rolls; the former British prime minister Winston Churchill served as its war correspondent.
Now, The Pioneer, New Delhi, has announced its best editor who wasn’t: Eric Arthur Blair
In a front-page story, the right-wing paper reports that the left-wing novelist and political thinker (born in Motihari, Bihar) received a letter from The Pioneer offering him a job as editor.
And on February 12, 1938, Blair wrote to the India Office in London:
“My object in going to India is, apart from the work on The Pioneer, to try and get a clearer idea of political and social conditions in India than I have at present. I shall no doubt write some book on the sub-continent and if I can arrange it, I shall probably contribute occasional articles (to English periodicals).
“ps: I should have said that I usually write under the name of ‘George Orwell‘.”
Cover image: courtesy Time
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One of India’s oldest English dailies, The Pioneer, has undergone not so much a transformation but a transmogrification in recent years.
Once a paper which had Rudyard Kipling on its rolls, and for which Winston Churchill served as a war correspondent, the low-circulation paper has returned to its politically conservative roots and become an unabashed mouthpiece of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Under Chandan Mitra, the Oxford-educated Marxist who now is a Rajya Sabha member nominated by the BJP, The Pioneer is one of the few mainstream English language publications to experiment with and articulate the right wing view, providing “the other view” as it were in an ocean of liberalism and so-called “pseudo-secularism”.
On Monday, Mitra told a “packed news conference” in Dehra Dun on how he managed to wear two hats with aplomb—one of an “independent” journalist and the other of a BJP ideologue:
“When I enter the newspaper office, I wear the journalist’s hat and once I come out of it, I wear the politician’s cap. In office, a journalist enjoys full autonomy. For instance, our bureau chief Navin Upadhyay had been to Orissa to cover the election and wrote a report that Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was a good chief minister. Later, I received 50-60 letters asking how a pro-BJP paper can publish such a story. I replied that this is how I maintain balance between the two roles. Once I realise that I am unable to do justice to my professions, I would leave one of them.”
Photograph: courtesy Rajya Sabha