The tale of a book

Vaishali R Venkat
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Revived at last:Completed Manuscript: Hindu S. Kasturiranga Iyengar
Revived at last:Completed Manuscript: Hindu S. Kasturiranga Iyengar

Vaishali R Venkat

It’s after all a small biography, on the surface. But, the deceptively simple pages camouflage a saga of struggle spanning over seven decades. If one ventures to chronicle the events that have culminated in the publication of the book, it may end up being yet another book out-sizing the biography.

The book that I stumbled upon in my personal collection, the other day by way of serendipity, is ‘Hindu S. Kasthuriranga Iyengar’ published in 2005 by the ‘Alliance’, the first Tamil publishing house based in Mylapore, which has crossed a century and is counting.

It is the first biography written about ‘The Hindu’s proprietor, who bought the company in 1905. Of course, it throws up a lot of interesting anecdotes about the stalwart’s life.

The youth might have known him only as the proprietor of a very famous English newspaper. But, if they happen to read the book and know that it was he who helped leaders of yesteryear such as S. Sathiyamoorthy and R.K. Shanmugam Chettiyar in their political life, they will be surprised.

A man of few words... a keen listener to a wide spectrum of ideas... a journalist who is always objective, unbiased and works without fear or favour... countless are the descriptions of the titan and galore are the episodes.

As V. Srinivasan, current proprietor of the publishing house, puts it, the manuscript was ready in the 20{+t}{+h}century and published in the 21{+s}{+t}century.

K. Sundararaghavan, author of the book, who was working in the ‘Sudhesamithran’, Tamil daily, got the manuscript ready in 1939 and handed it over to V. Kuppuswamy Iyer, the founder of the company. The latter, who suggested a lot of corrections, returned it to Sundararaghavan in 1942. But unfortunately, Sundararaghavan died in 1946 and Kuppuswamy Iyer in 1949. So, the manuscript sank into oblivion.

In 1985, Srinivasan, the grandson of Kuppuswamy Iyer, took over from his father the reins of the administration of the publishing house.

He was afire by the idea of publishing books about the greats who made it big by virtue of sheer hard work. Then, the idea of publishing a book on Kasturiranga Iyengar struck his mind and made efforts but in vain. In 1989, while rummaging through the diaries and letters left behind by his grandfather, he accidentally laid his hands on certain records about the manuscript.

Then started the treasure hunt. While speaking to K.L.N. Ragavan, Srinivasan came to know that he was the brother of the manuscript’s author. Ragavan admitted that he had the manuscript. Now, the phoenix rose from the dead.

Even though Srinivasan got back the manuscript, he wanted to incorporate the suggestions as given by his grandfather. So, he sought the help and support from ‘The Hindu’ family.

T.S. Rangarajan, belonging to ‘The Hindu’ family and legal consultant, amid his busy schedules, took lot of trouble to set the manuscript in order, revise it and polish it.

It was only in 1997 that a totally revised and rehashed manuscript got ready.

And then it took eight more years for the manuscript to see the light, maybe for reasons unknown.

So, it’s nearly a 73-year-old journey for a book to become what it is. And, the book is worth taking such an arduous and wearisome journey for.

It took 73 years for the book to become what it is now




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