I have completed 62 years of journalism in 2017, and I call my active years in journalism as golden period. I joined the profession as early as 1955 under the late Baleshwar Agrawal, the editor of Hindusthan Samachar. In 1957, I joined The Indian Express to move to The Times of India in 1965. Since Bharat Prakashan (Delhi) Ltd had decided to launch its English daily in 1971, under Organiser's editor KR Malkani, the latter invited me to join The Motherland. In fact, Malkaniji consulted me in all editorial appointments to see that no undesirable person was allowed to join it. I was appointed as deputy Chief Reporter and then promoted as senior correspondent.
Malkaniji was very sincere and fully devoted to the newspaper. After a few months, the paper faced a great financial crisis and the management decided to close it down with immediate effect. Since most of the colleagues knew me and I was president of the Motherland Employees Union, I was asked to meet the Chairman Lala Hansraj Gupta to persuade him to continue the only voice of the opposition at that time with the full cooperation of the employees. Lalaji agreed to the Union's proposal that the employees would accept wages, increments and bonus etc whenever available. The same will be credited to their account though. Malkaniji and the manager also agreed to minimise their expenditure by accommodating their departments with lesser space and thus reducing the overhead expenditure.
Finally, mutual cooperation led the management to continue The Motherland under adverse political situation. Indira Gandhi not only denied the government advertisements, but also pressurised the private industry not to patronise the newspaper. However, the newspaper survived against all odds. Apparently, it became the voice of the common man. All opposition parties depended for voicing their grievances through The Motherland. The ministers and the bureaucrats waited for the paper to expose the scandals of the government, ranging from Indira Gandhi's younger son Sanjay Gandhi's Maruti car project, Sonia Gandhi's insurance agency to Safdarjung flyover golmaal. Even Marxists found that only The Motherland could publish their news exposing the government. They used to contact us to voice their concerns.
Unfortunately, the country was passing through a grave economic crisis after India liberated Bangladesh at a great cost. There was chaos everywhere; prices of everything skyrocketed coupled with unavailabiity of essential items. Indira Gandhi had lost whatever popularity she had gained by partitioning Pakistan. People were hostile and the youths, particularly students, were very much agitated and prepared to plunge into politics. This led to the agitation by students in Gujarat and Bihar. Even retired politicians like late Jayaprakash Narayan came out to lead the youths and the countrymen to throw away Indira Gandhi's most corrupt government. He led all opposition parties against the Indira's rule so much so as asking armymen not to accept government's wrong orders.
Thus, The Motherland played the most crucial role in voicing the people's concerns and grievances. The Motherland's voice echoed in Parliament every day. Thanks to our most sincere and honest editor Malkaniji aided by his editorial team for the extraordinary success of The Motherland. Even Indira's Congressmen loved the Motherland at heart and helped us expose the ruling clique. The proudest moment of our career was when the Emergency was imposed on June 25, 1975, and Malkaniji along with thousands of other political leaders were detained in the night under MISA, and we brought out Afternoon Supplement giving news of political leaders' arrests.
This was in contravention of the Censorship. However, all our staff came to office and not only produced the edition but also got it circulated throughout the country by selling it in trains. Though we had no newsprint, our managers borrowed it from outside. What a cooperation among all departments from editorial to circulation to the printing press and that too at a risk of arrest under MISA! No sooner did the authorities come to know than they seized the office and ordered us to get out of the premises. Another significant thing is that the management even though underground tried to help the needy employees. Our regret is that The Motherland didn't come out though the Emergency was lifted in 1977. Wish it to come out some day, as there is a need for such a daily ever. I remained unemployed for months and gave an interview to National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) of America introducing myself as reporter without work and my daily travel to my office, Press Information Bureau and home. NBC interviewed my children at my Gulmohar House and smuggled the TV interview through Nepal to the US. It was widely broadcast there and resulted in the expulsion of foreign correspondents from the country.
The Motherland spirit kept me pursue my profession even during Emergency and Censorship days. I joined The Economic Times and tried to serve the cause by removing some of the censored news. When the Censor gave reports of some opposition members favouring Emergency, we censored them, though the Press was asked to bend, but it kneeled. We keenly awaited for the end of Censorship and Emergency.
I retired as News Editor of The Economic Times in 1992 and then worked as bureau chief of Views and News Agency (VANA) and later as freelancer. Presently, I am editor of the PIO TV (People of Indian Origin) TV.