Tamil Nadu

Delivering the daily news to five Chief Ministers

Remarkable career: Sixty-year-old K. Balakrishnan joined service in 1987.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

For years, K. Balakrishnan had to wake up at 4 a.m. every day, irrespective of the weather, to do the most important part of his job — clip important news articles from the morning newspapers and deliver them to the residence of the Chief Minister.

In the pre-Internet era, as an office assistant attached to the reference section of the then Information and Tourism Department, he delivered the news clippings to the residences of five Chief Ministers — M.G. Ramachandran, V.N. Janaki Ramachandran, M. Karunanidhi, Jayalalithaa and O. Panneerselvam — between the late 1980s and the early part of the millennium. On Friday, the 60-year-old attained superannuation.

“I would cycle from my house in Royapettah to Kalaivanar Arangam, where the newspapers were collected at dawn and articles selected and clipped for the reference of the Chief Minister. I had to reach the Chief Minister’s house before 7 a.m.,” recalls Mr. Balakrishnan.

The clippings from Tamil and English dailies would broadly fit into five categories — news of public importance, politics, demands to the government, law and order situation and protests/demands by opposition parties.

As someone who joined service in 1987, he considers himself lucky to have been served tea every day at the then Chief Minister MGR’s bungalow in Ramapuram. “The guard there, Manickam, would say Thalaivar does not want anyone leaving the residence on an empty stomach. I had tea every day until Thalaivar died in December 1987. He once saw me and patted me on my back for my duty!” he says.

His routine continued when MGR’s wife Janaki succeeded him. “Eventually, I went to Gopalapuram and Poes Garden, and later to Greenways Road, when Kalaignar [Karunanidhi], Amma [Jayalalithaa] and OPS ayya [Panneerselvam] became Chief Minister. Kalaignar’s assistant Shanmuganathan would receive clippings from me,” he recalls. Later, he was assigned a different role.

In 2006, when the then Information and Tourism Department was bifurcated into the Information and Public Relations Department and Tourism, Culture and Religious Endowments Department, Mr. Balakrishnan was posted in the latter, until his retirement last Friday. Balki, as he is fondly called by his colleagues, hopes for a peaceful retired life.

Does he have any regrets? “None! When I got the job in 1987, my father advised me not to take bribe, and I can now say with pride that I kept my word. I am happy with my life. I have two granddaughters and a grandson,” he adds with a proud smile.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 12:10:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/delivering-the-daily-news-to-five-chief-ministers/article35659974.ece

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