Books

An inspiring life

N.Gopinathan Nair addressing a meeting   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

“It is not a biography,” K.Saradamoni says at the very outset of the interview. Wife of N.Gopinathan Nair, also known as Janayugom Gopi, founder editor of Janayugam, the first weekly and daily newspaper of the undivided Communist Party in erstwhile Travancore, she was referring to the bilingual book, Janayugam Gopiye Orkkumbol (The Scribe Remembered – N.Gopinathan Nair – His Life And Times), which she has conceptualised. The book, which will be released in the capital city on June 19, records incidents from the life of an individual who played a significant role in the media and political affairs of the State and nation.

“I wanted to do something to keep his memories alive for generations to come. I could have opted for instituting a scholarship or setting up a foundation or a building… But, finally I decided upon compiling what he wrote,” says Dr.Saradamoni, a social scientist and writer, who retired from the Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi. The book, except for the preface which she has written in Malayalam (and translated into English by her daughter G.Arunima), is a collection of articles written by Gopinathan Nair during his stint with Janayugam and later with the Patriot and United News of India (UNI) in Delhi. Another section is devoted to obituaries that were published when he passed away in 1991.

The elaborate preface chronicles his birth and childhood at Uliyakovil on the outskirts of Kollam, his days in American College, Madurai, and his tryst with journalism. “It was the highest point of the struggle for Independence and he decided that journalism was his way of politics,” says Saradamoni.

Gopinathan started his career with Ram Nath Goenka's Indian Express in Madras [Chennai], from where he was sent to Calcutta [Kolkata] to join Eastern Express. But he returned to Kerala and joined the newspaper, Prabhatam. There soon emerged a small group, comprising Gopinathan, K.N. Pankajakshan Pillai, Crispy (Constantine Romanz), R. Gopinathan Nair, Ramachandran Pillai and A.R.Kutty. They all wanted to start a newspaper. K.K.Chellappan Pillai, a Congress worker, invested and Yuvakeralam was born. But it didn't last long.

Janayugam

In 1948 they got the licence to start a newspaper, but had no money. Finally, Janayugam Rashtriya Varika (Janayugam Political Weekly), a tabloid, was born on January 21, 1949, with Gopinathan as the editor. But soon he was arrested, and others went into hiding. The publication was renewed after Gopinathan's release in 1951. On November 16, 1953 Janayugom became a daily newspaper. But what made Gopinathan leave Janayugam and relocated to Delhi in 1962? “Many say, it was for me (she married him in 1952), since I was already working there. But he himself has written the reason. He always believed that the party newspaper wasn't a party gazette,” she explains.

Delhi years

The couple lived in Delhi for 28 years. “We always wanted to come back to Kerala and start a weekly or monthly. But during each trip we realised the increasing hold of money over journalism. Also, we reached Delhi during a decisive period in independent India's history, with regard to economics, foreign affairs and political situations. In addition, Gopi liked his work at the Patriot and later UNI, since he could cover diverse topics, the Parliament and travel to many places in India and outside,” she says.

His bout with Parkinson's Disease and his daily routine after they came back to Kerala in 1989 have been described touchingly by Saradamoni. He passed away on June 16, 1991, at the age of 68.

Saradamoni is happy that she could trace A.R. Kutty, the only one left of Gopinathan's friends' circle, who will be present at the launch of the book in Kollam (on June 22). The book will be released by Left ideologue P. Govinda Pillai at the Fourth Estate Hall, Press Club, Thiruvananthapuram, on June 19 at 5 p.m.


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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 10:21:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/an-inspiring-life/article3533218.ece

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