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Embodiment of Humility

Sheshadri Chari

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As a pracharak of RSS I was asked to work for the BJP in Mumbai as General Secretary of the Mumbai unit. One of the important persons I met was M.V.Kamath. He supported some of the policies of the party but also disagreed with a few decisions. In 1992 when I was asked to work as Editor of Organiser, I went to seek his blessings and also expressed my trepidation on accepting this responsibility in the background of veterans like K.R.Malkani and V.P.Bhatia. He tried his best to allay my fears and finally agreed to contribute a column and also guide me. After about six months when I met him I apologised for not meeting him often as promised. He laughed and said that it means that I have settled in my work and recounted an anecdote. In his childhood his town had very few cycles and it was considered important for any youth to learn cycling. The trainer would hold the cycle and guide the raw rider as he pedals. After the learner falls half a dozen times, the trainer would encourage the learner to keep pedalling assuring him of his support. But he would not run after the cycle anymore while the learner still thinks that the support is there and this keeps him stable. “If you have survived for six months without my support you will go on for long” he said and patted me.
“Never take a decision when you are angry and never promise anything when you are happy, they say. But I will add one more, never print anything without reading it yourself”, he said. In one his columns in ‘Moving finger writes’ he once wrote, probably out of frustration on Pakistan’s repeated claim on Kashmir, that Pakistan cannot hold on to Kashmir for even one week even if we hand it over to them. I was not very comfortable with the words “even if we hand it over to them”. I called him and suggested that he should either change the lines or allow me to hold the article till it is corrected. Without even waiting for me to finish he said politely but firmly, “Mr. Editor, it is your prerogative to withhold the article. Don’t even ask me. If you need another write up to fill the gap I will send it by evening”. Later when we met, even before I could apologise, he shot back, “Thank you for not printing that article. I would have had to go to grave with that burden.”
Madhav mama, as he was fondly known to his inner circle of friends and relatives, was a man of few words but profound wisdom. During one of his many visits to Delhi I invited him to talk to my colleagues in Organiser. He recounted how he became a journalist. As a reporter he was asked to cover a speech of Socialist Party veteran Ashok Mehta. He dutifully filed a long report on Socialism with a line or two attributed to Ashok Mehta. The founder editor of Free Press Journal Mr. Sadanand called him and said, “I give you ten minutes to decide whether to be a Socialist or a journalist.” “I did not need ten minutes. I touched the five rupees in my pocket and decided to be a journalist”, Kamat said. Those were the days when journalism was a mission and editors knew how to keep ideology and ego far away from their desk.
Between the journal or paper and its editor who is important, I asked him once. He recounted how he brought the Illustrated Weekly of India to a formidable stature and respectable circulation but never allowed his name to overshadow the fame of the Weekly. His successor Kushwant Singh called him “a faceless editor” and promptly shot to fame. The Weekly suffered, lost its sheen and finally wound up under another editor. There was no rancour in his voice for the epitaph he got but there was a tinge of sorrow that the Weekly was shut down.
He taught me humility. Journalism may not see a man of Kamath’s stature for a long time to come. (The author was editor of Organiser (1992-2004)
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Chari Talks

Good Drama Bad Governance

Sheshadri Chari

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Delhi chief minister Mr.Arvind Kejriwal seems to be suffering from a pathological condition of confronting with any constitutional authority. His constant theatrics and instant dramatics has ruined his party’s credibility and chance of winning future elections

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If Terrorism has no Religion what is the logic behind ramzan ceasefire ?

Sheshadri Chari

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If terrorism has no religion, how can ceasefire have religion? Ramzan ceasefire failure. It was a one-sided announcement by the GOI which was not respected by the terrorists. The GOI will have to serious rethinking on its policy towards fighting terrorism. Also, there is an urgent need to infuse fresh blood into teams that are entrusted with the task of taking care of internal security in Jammu and Kashmir or in Naxal-Maoist affected areas or elsewhere.

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North East votes for development

Sheshadri Chari

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 The BJP’s spectacular victory in the recently held elections in three states of North East reiterates the faith people have in its development agenda. The victory also underlines the need for BJP to take the electoral victory seriously and develop North East so as to be the gateway to South East Asia.
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