Press Esc to close
Tuesday 21 October 2014
News updated at 6:36 PM IST
Weather
Max: 25.4°C
Min : 20.2°C
In Bangalore
Sunny day

Kuldip Nayar, Apr 25, 2012 :

VKN: A journalist of great courage

An editor like him should have been honoured in public for the service he rendered to the press.

V K Narasimhan has not got his due for the role he played during the Emergency. He was editor of The Indian Express throughout the period.

The admiration which the paper has received for its courageous stand during the days when practically all had caved in is entirely Narasimhan’s. He was the editor of The Financial Express but made chief editor of Indian Express when S Mulgaonkar was asked to quit.

 The government at that time re-organised the board looking after The Indian Express and appointed K K Birla as chairman, the darling of the establishment.

Protests by us, the senior staff at the Express, against the induction of a film critic as the chief editor, made Sanjay Gandhi and his cohorts to combine the two post of editor at The Financial Express and The Indian Express to appoint Narasimhan, a quite elderly person who was considered harmless.

They rued the day when they appointed him because he was relentless in criticising the Emergency in one way or the other without inviting any ‘advice’ from the chief censor. Narasimhan knew how to convey things between the lines.

Making a difference

After a brief stint in jail I was back at the Express writing my column ‘Between the Lines.’ Narasimhan was the one who made the language stronger even when I preferred to go easy to pass the censor’s strict standards. His additions made all the difference.

 Narasimhan’s commitment to the freedom of the press was so deep and intense that he saw to it that he would sustain peoples’ faith in the freedom of expression and credibility in The Indian Express.

It was a tremendous feat to keep the torch of free press burning on the one hand and not inviting the wrath of censor on the others. The newspaper’s circulation increased fourfold from 50,000 to 2 lakh copies because his credibility and clarity had won the general admiration.

The circulation would have gone still higher but Ramnath Goenka, the proprietor, said he had no money to purchase more newsprint.

An editor like him should have been honoured in public for the service he rendered to the press, particularly The Indian Express. But he was humiliated because the day Mrs Gandhi was defeated at the polls he was ousted to bring in Mulgaonkar. Goenka explained that this was his obligation because Mulgaonkar had been forced to quit during the Emergency.

 Goenka had a point but what annoyed everyone was the abrupt change made even in the print line without Narasimhan’s knowledge. In protest he left the paper. Senior staff was at Goenka’s throat for the unceremonious departure of a person who had led them in the fight against the Emergency at a time when editors had compromised with the establishment. 

I was deputed by Goenka to bring back Narasimhan as editor of The Financial Express, his original position but he refused to return because of the manner in which he was treated by Goenka.

I was greatly disappointed because the paper had lost a great editor and a loving fatherly figure. I can never forget the scene when I left his house: Narasimhan and his wife were sitting on the floor of their tiny kitchen and sipping coffee.

He had no job, no position. Nor did he care because persons like Narasimhan drew strength from their faith in values which today’s journalists generally do not pursue, much less cherish them.


Go to Top

Photo Gallery
Army recruits during their attestation parade at Madras Regimental Centre, Wellington, Ooty on...

Army recruits during their attestation parade at Madras Regimental Centre, Wellington, Ooty on...

In this Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014 photo, a Kashmiri woman blocks a road during a protest demanding...

In this Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014 photo, a Kashmiri woman blocks a road during a protest demanding...

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 42nd Convocation of the All India Institute of Medical...

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 42nd Convocation of the All India Institute of Medical...

Devendra Fadnavis hugs his mother Savita after his victory during the Assembly election in...

Devendra Fadnavis hugs his mother Savita after his victory during the Assembly election in...

Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitaraman launching the Online Export...

Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitaraman launching the Online Export...

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP President Amit Shah after the party's parliamentary...

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP President Amit Shah after the party's parliamentary...

In this Oct. 17, 2014 photo, a thick blanket of smoke is seen against the setting sun as...

In this Oct. 17, 2014 photo, a thick blanket of smoke is seen against the setting sun as...

In this Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 photo, an Indian woman uses her hand to put sawdust in an...

In this Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 photo, an Indian woman uses her hand to put sawdust in an...

(L-R) Asha Bhat, Miss Diva Universe 2014 2nd runner up, Noyonita Lodh, Miss Diva Universe 2014...

(L-R) Asha Bhat, Miss Diva Universe 2014 2nd runner up, Noyonita Lodh, Miss Diva Universe 2014...

An Indian man teaches yoga postures to schoolchildren at Delhi Public School in Hyderabad...

An Indian man teaches yoga postures to schoolchildren at Delhi Public School in Hyderabad...

Copyright 2014, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bangalore - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523