Panel discussion sheds light on initial career of former diplomat

A panel discussion on former diplomat and adviser to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the late G. Parthasarathi, shed interesting insights into his initial career as a journalist, first with The Hindu in the late 1930s and 1940s and later with the fledgling Press Trust of India in the early 1950s.

Overcoming the handicap that Mr. Parthasarathi, popularly known as GP, did not leave any private papers that could throw more light on this first phase of his multi-faceted career, the panellists, former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu N. Ram and V.S. Chandrasekhar, PTI Executive Editor, came armed with archival material on the former diplomat’s career as a journalist.

Mr. Ram said GP’s journalism career straddled an era that witnessed the rise and fall of fascism, the Second World War, the last phase of the Indian freedom struggle and the first few years of the new nation, and the start of the Cold War. He said that GP joined The Hindu as an assistant editor in 1936 at a time when the paper had begun to devote more space to covering international affairs.

“Though we know that he wrote a large number of editorials for the newspaper on foreign affairs, because they did not carry the name of the journalist, we have no way to credit him for those. But the style, voice, choice of subjects, and the stand taken on these topics give us an idea of the articles that GP wrote,” Mr. Ram said.

Reading out excerpts from an editorial written in June 1937 during the Japanese aggression on China and an editorial written in October 1937 criticising Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s first expression of his separatist intention, Mr. Ram said he was certain that these were written by GP.

Mr. Chandrasekhar said GP, who was appointed London correspondent of the PTI in 1949, was among the first stalwarts of the new agency and that the “robust functioning” of the PTI today could be credited to men like GP. Mr. Chandrasekhar recalled that GP urged the agency’s management to appoint more correspondents to foreign capitals and had advocated a more balanced coverage that gave more space to the views of countries, other than the U.K. and the U.S. which occupied the non-aligned space.

Veteran columnist Inder Malhotra chaired the discussion.

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